Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cheonggukjang: Korean fermented bean and vegetable soup (from a Japanese recipe)

This is an interesting dish I stumbled across while looking for interesting things to do with natto (fermented soybeans; a very traditional Japanese things that is almost always an acquired taste). The recipe I (mostly) followed is on Cookpad here: Korean Style Natto Stew (Cheonggukjang).

Friday, June 19, 2015

Debunking a CNN Japan travel article

Sorry for the radio silence! Got some updates to post, but this is an easy target, so I'm going to hit it first.

CNN (one of those big sensationalist American news outlets, but one I do read pretty regularly, though I keep a shaker of salt nearby) has an article claiming to inform regarding Japanese cultural norms. While I'm all for understanding where you're going, as someone who previously accidentally espoused uneducated advice in this area, I'd like to clear up a few things for anyone who happens to read this.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Chili oil with fried garlic, onion, and other happiness (食べるラー油)

I recently came into possession of a jar of S&B brand 食べるラー油 (たべるらーゆ / taberu raayu), which is basically chili oil in which a great deal of garlic, onion, and other wonderful things have been fried until they're crunchy. Yes, that is correct, this is the perfect condiment, and I will likely need to order it in bulk and buy another jar to hold me over until Tokyo's typical 1-2 day shipping comes through.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Final test schedule, Kai level 3 (a.k.a. Project Impending Doom)

Free talk went well, as did the presentation yesterday (there was a bit of unintentional bribery, since I went all in making a ton of gyoza for the class, and it turns out we had to rate each other); now the less fun stuff starts. Oh, and by the way... another verb form!

Monday, June 1, 2015

US Embassy mailing list message regarding safety in Tokyo

I'm posting this in its entirety just because it's extremely, extremely important information. It addresses the most serious risk of crime you are likely to face as a tourist in (or foreign resident of) Japan. Pay attention to the part about touts! Those bastards are nasty and nothing but trouble.

A listing of this message and others like it can be found on the Tokyo US Embassy's site. If you're a US citizen traveling abroad, it's a good idea to register as a traveler with the State Department (mostly in case of emergency; I don't like Big Brother looking over my shoulder, either, but when you leave the country you put yourself in a complicated position).

"Free Talk" tests at Kai

Today at school (it's still funny to type that), we had our "Free Talk," which is sort of an informalish part of the testing process involving pairing us up with other students and having us talk to Japanese volunteers about whatever asinine stuff comes to mind (usually hobbies, home country, food, and travel).

Kai Japanese Language School: Testing Your Future Self!

In listening practice the other day we got a section on formal Japanese (敬語) that we hadn't been taught, and the teacher was cryptic at best when asked whether the final test would be limited to things we've actually studied (basically: "You will be tested on grammar at your level").

I can't blame this one on myself; it's hard to have confidence in teachers that are obtuse instead of reassuring and mildly uncomfortable instead of apologetic when addressing their mistakes -- or, more accurately, declining to address them.

If I'd expected to pass this level, I'd be more upset, I think... as it is, I guess we'll see, but my feeling is that I'll be taking it again. I have looked at other schools, and I will probably continue to, but it seems they're much more interested in students coming into Japan fresh than in people who are already here on existing visas and are looking to transfer.