Pallet Ingenuity

I’m spending tonight on a little pallet of pillows on the floor, and it is reminding me of that night I had in Japan, where we had all only just moved to Japan, and so, when I spent the night at a friend’s apartment, she had to make me a pallet out of her clothes, since there was nothing else to use for sleeping on the hard, wood-like floor.

We got creative and resourceful, and it was great.

😛

Post-a-day 2018

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Food writing

When you know Japanese Kanji just enough to recognize the everyday ones, but can’t really write much of it…. that’s when you see marks on a zucchini, and think at first that you are seeing Kanji (possibly related to ‘love’ or ‘rice field’).

Post-a-day 2018

the outsider view of a culture, viewed by an insider

Walking around the Japanese garden, I stop when I come to the take.  I stop of just a moment, envisioning myself in Japan, in the real Japanese gardens of the world.  Tears come to my eyes, and I wonder Why?  What’s going on?  Why am I suddenly crying?  Why am I shaking inside from my sternum, as though panic is coming up?

And I realize: I miss Japan.  Not so much for the whole experience, but for some of the experience, and, especially, for the part where I fit in appropriately, in the right way.  I was expected to stand out and not to do exactly as others did.  I was expected to turn heads and to surprise and shock those around me.  And I did.  And I was comforted by the feeling of ‘fitting in’ in that odd sense of it, fitting into the expectations my surroundings had of me.

But it is different being here, where I am expected to fit in one way, but I don’t fit in that way.  I am American, but I am multi-cultural.  I used to think those two a little more synonymous with one another.  But, based on how I look on the outside, – my skin and hair and eyes – I am expected to be on a similar ground with those around me here.  Perhaps we have visited other countries, but that was for vacation.  Living there, being truly part of the culture, is not in the books for most of those around me, unless they specifically came from that country directly, through their heritage, and moved here after having lived there in the earliest years of their lives (as is the case with one in four people in Houston, actually).  However, I am not expected to know how to dress someone in a kimono or yukata better than someone my own age back in Japan.  I’m not even expected to know the difference, unless I am what would be considered a sort of geek of Anime and Manga (at which point one still might not know the difference between them, but it is less surprising for them to know such things).  I don’t fit into that category, and yet I know so much about Japanese culture and life in Japan, and I have experienced so much of it, that I often find no need to talk about it – it’s become so a part of me and my life, it is similar to putting on shoes or brushing teeth.  Sure, we do them both all the time, but hardly ever do we consciously ponder on them and share about them with others.  They’re just part of our subconscious and our mostly-daily lives.

Anyway, that was what I was feeling today at the festival in town celebrating Japan and Japanese culture.  When I ran into a friend who had spent even more time than I had in Japan, I mentioned to him how I wasn’t quite sure what I was feeling, but I felt as though I was about to cry.  Something about feeling like I belong, but then not belonging after all.  ‘It’s your first “Japanese culture” experience post-Japan.’  I confirmed his questioning declaration.  It was, in fact, the first time I had experienced something that was all about Japan from this country’s perspective since I had actually spent time in Japan.  If I had attended the same festival before going, I likely would have felt quite wonderfully walking around the festival.  I had a different view of Japanese culture in Japan back then.

This was something like seeing a “Mexican Restaurant” in northern France that time, and feeling a giddy sense of hilarity at what kind of food could possibly be served in there.  Or the “American Restaurant” (that was it’s name) in northern Spain, where the “american hamburgers” were nothing like our actual hamburgers.  (Think meatloaf, with a slice of thin ham, on fluffy, dense bread.)  But now, instead of it being Texas and US culture, it is Japanese culture.  And so it was also weird to be relating to Japanese culture – a culture with which I struggled greatly at times, and still do – in the same sort of protective way as I traditionally have related to my original home culture.  It kind of added this whole extra layer to my identity semi-crisis.  And all that just because I went to a festival.

Post-a-day 2018

Sharing the Beauty

I did it!  Officially turned an idea into a photo shoot and into a means of sharing it with the world!  Check it out!

Kimono = something to wear ❤

A post shared by Hannah Leigh (@miss.kimono) on

 

 

You can also check out https://kimonomiss.wordpress.com for the website I made.  It’s not great yet, but I’m working on it!

Post-a-day 2018

Rocks with that?

I was reminded today of how I used to have a chunk of charcoal in my water bottle.  I haven’t thought much about that at all recently, (however, I might start doing it again) but apparently the lacrosse team I used to help coach thinks of it often.

First off, the charcoal in the water bottle is something I learned from Japan, though, via my brother before I moved there (and then it was emphasized while I lived there).  It has to do with cleaning up the water, essentially, from what I recall.  (Note: It is not drinking charcoal mixed with water.  It is a stick of this specific charcoal that sits in the water bottle, so that its pores can absorb unwanted stuff from the water.)

Anyway, so I had this stick of charcoal in my water bottle.  I carry my water bottle pretty much everywhere with me in life, so lacrosse practice was included back when I was coaching (and teaching).  Apparently, one of the girls has held on to the fact that I had ‘some kind of rocks’ in my water bottle, though I have doubts as to whether she recalls what the ‘rocks’ actually were (the stick had broken in half, so there were actually two pieces in the bottle, instead of one, but they didn’t really look like rocks).  In memory of my water bottle, in a sense, that particular girl regularly drops rocks into other people’s water bottles, telling them that it is healthy, and reminding them of how I did it.

Yes, my wonderful lifestyle rubs off in the best of ways.  😛  I guess it gives us a new meaning for ‘on the rocks’, now.

Post-a-day 2018

Another letter from Japan

Another letter I found regarding my early time in Japan.  I’m not so sure that I ever sent this one either.  I think they both were intended as drafts, but time kept passing and more kept happening, making me want to add even more… and so I never sent anything. 😛

………………………………

The short version (A Recount in Which I Cut Out the Complaints)
 
I live in Toride, Japan, a suburb of Tokyo, and have an apartment, with about 2/3 of what I need in it (a significant improvement from a couple days ago).
Figuring out how to sort trash took a week, but I mostly figured it out with the help of a Japanese friend I made.
I have a new phone and new bicycle (new to me, at least).  Both were killer expensive.  It’s a 45-minute ride to my main school, 10 to my secondary school.
We aren’t paid until the 21st each month, so I had to bring a boatload of cash for my apartment and initial expenses (apparently credit cards are only used in half the locations the US and Europe use them.  Also, bank cards have single-transaction price limits, so everyone always asks if I want to split my transaction when I use my card. (Not that I understand it, but someone translated it once, and I recognize the phrasing + body language now.)
I have a futon, which is a lame version of a mattress, but practical for the lifestyle here (supposed to hang it in the sun every week to kill germs on it, which is usually needed, because it’s hella-hot, and most people don’t really use A/C, even if they have it), and mine seems to be okay-ish for being able to sleep.
A new friend, Sammi, and I talk every evening/afternoon/night just to check in on one another, and to help each other out with whatever questions we’ve each developed about how to function living here (she lives on a little island and is the token white girl foreigner).  And also just to chat about whatever.  Calls are always free to receive, but dialing out costs after 5 minutes, so we go back and forth setting a timer, and hanging up and redialing every 4 minutes 45 seconds.
I have almost nothing to do at school, but my school requires me to be here.  My whole curriculum is written up for the year, and I am only an assistant in class… so my job is essentially to be present in class, and help in class.  Not spend August preparing for classes.  A drastic difference from what I used to do as a teacher!  So I spend my day working on Japanese, and finding ways not to fall asleep at my desk.  I’m not always successful.
The sun comes up around 5am.  I wake up with it, despite the curtains and my eye covering.
I’ve made four good friends who are part of my program, and one Japanese friend, who is a friend of a coworker of one of those four US friends.  The — (my program) people are Jon(athan), Katarina, Sam(uel), and Sammi.  Japanese friend is Rie (ree from reed + saying the letter “a”). Distances from me: Jon/Rie 25 minutes, Katarina 40 minutes (Tokyo), Sam 2 hours (on the beach), Sammi no clue (she’s on a far-away island).
I’m kind of sick of sushi, but that’s probably just because it’s all I had from 7/11 for several days while I had to wait for my predecessor to give me things she had for me for my apartment (fridge, dishes, etc.)
Sammi is my shopping buddy – we talk on the phone, and she helps send me pictures of things she was given, so that I can find them in the incomprehensible store (e.g. this is a photo of my dish soap, I think… look for the words…).  We both enjoy the adventure of it.
Speaking of the store, the bicycle parking area looks loads like a car parking lot.  And it’s used, too.
I experience my first earthquake last night.  It was a 4.6, and I was scared out of my whits.  I was on the phone with Sam when it happened.  I said, “Is that… I think that’s an earthquake,” and then couldn’t even talk, as I lost the ability somehow.  I was quite shocked at how I responded – I knew logically that it was a tiny earthquake, nothing to cause concern.  Yet my body and emotions went psycho-freakout on me, and I even cried when it ended 30 seconds later. Sam asked if I was okay when it stopped, and all I could say was just, “Give me a minute,” and then could finally function again after I cried.  Totally weird, but I’m glad I had that emotional support for my first one.*
*There actually was one last Wednesday night – a 5.4, I think – , but I was dead asleep in my hotel room, so didn’t notice it.  So this was my second earthquake, but the first one of which I was aware as it happened.
Okay, I think that encompasses plenty, though definitely not the whole.  Send inquiries my way.  ;P  Love you all!!
Peace
Hannah
……………………………………………
Post-a-day 2018

Frosty Fun

Tonight, we watched hockey.  It was grand.  It was terribly cold.  We danced around for a while to warm up, and then chatted while we watched the scrimmage.  We cheered on a Canadian.  (He’s my friend’s husband.)  I kept wanting to holler out cheers for the Ducks. I guess that’s because it’s the only team I know anymore.  😛  Thank you, Japan, for that piece of knowledge.  You see, a California-Canadian friend I met in Japan loves the Ducks and always talks about them when it’s hockey season.  I looked them up to verify that they were actually the Ducks, because the bar that same friend frequented was called The Duck, and I was worried that I might have somehow mixed the two.  But I was correct.  The Anaheim Ducks are a real hockey team, and they’re based in California.  Fun fact about them: Apparently The Walt Disney Company founded them, just after having made the “Mighty Ducks” film, and it originally called the actual team the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.  Cool, huh?

Anyway, hockey was fun tonight.  I really enjoyed the frigid adventure (especially since the weather has been heating up so much this week!).

Post-a-day 2018