23 October 2017 @ 06:38 pm
food stuff  
paid 3,599 yen for a 1.5 liter yoghurt machine that also makes nattou, amazake (rice + kouji = sweet liquid + sweet rice), sprouted rice and whatever else you can ferment at a range of 20-55 degrees C. it claims 1 hour will only cost HALF A YEN in electricity bills. btw japanese people are always shocked when we say we make our own nattou even though it's sooo easy... i'm getting comments like "you're more japanese than us japanese people!". they're also shocked if you like koto, shamisen and rakugo.

paid 530 yen for a bag of soybeans that didn't seem like very much at all... but half that bag (after soaking + cooking) ended up being almost more beans than the yoghurt machine can fit. a 3-pack of store nattou costs 75 yen and i add one pack, so together with electricity costs let's say it's 300 yen for 1.5 liters of home-made nattou. that's at least 5x what 300 yen of storebought nattou would be.

i bought a 3 liter pressure cooker for 3,110 yen, cook the soybeans for around 50 minutes before starting the nattou fermentation. pressure cookers can also make oden (some kind of soup; it's the season right now so i want to try making it), rice (instead of a rice cooker) and all kinds of crazy stuff i had no idea it could do. you can literally cook rice in FIVE MINUTES with a pressure cooker. anyway you can cut like 10 hours of cooking down into 1 hour with a pressure cooker and probably save a ton on electricity!:

i have a bunch of plans to try... ex. dango is just rice flour so we can eat it, i'll try making a sauce out of amazake and rice flour (thickening agent) then making dango... also thinking about miso rice, miso fish...

our regular costs that i want to cut down are:
— grocery store onigiri (100-150 yen each); been eating these for lunch at school / when wandering out in town
— grocery store sushi (500-1,000 yen each) / eating these for dinner when out wandering
— grocery store kimchi (300 yen each) / japanese kimchi is SWEET. i don't like it
— pre-made green tea (120-150 yen each) / 150 for a normal water-bottle sized one in a vending machine, 120 for 2-3x that at a grocery store.
— dried sweet potato strips (300-500 yen per pack) / eating these a lot. the cashiers keep telling us that you're supposed to roast them on the stovetop. we finally tried it and it was good!
— mincemeat (300-600 yen each) / my wife wants to eat this like every day and it's really annoying

btw if you eat out for a meal, it's going to be 1,000-2,000 yen on average. you CAN get stuff for cheaper but it's going to be like noodles without any toppings!! if you eat just a snack (ex. meat on a stick) it'll most likely be 400-1,000 yen. and despite japan being the land of green tea and how just 10-20 years ago tea was always free in restaurants, in many places ordering green tea is like 300 yen now it seems... museums have ranged from 300-1,200 yen so far; apparently the movie theatre is like 1,800. small shops usually don't have any real price difference from big grocery stores, it's just 1-2 items that'll be really different, ex. my local tiny shop often has grapes super cheap (200 yen) compared to other shops (500-800 yen).

the tea, sushi + onigiri i just need to figure out how to make at home, have to figure out where to buy cheap fish. can't make kimchi until i find out how to get the kimchi spice + buy a fermenting container, but lettuce is often on sale for 100 yen a head. can't dry sweet potatoes at home (unless i make some weird contraption for it) but we should really just be eating regular sweet potatoes that we cook, normally one sweet potato is around 100 yen and you get that same amount or less in a bag of dried sweet potato strips... btw sweet potatoes are apparently super healthy, way healthier than all normal potatoes, and japanese sweet potatoes are said to be extra healthy. i think normal potatoes in japan are actually more expensive than sweet potatoes, could be wrong.

it'd really help if we could cut down our transportation costs too but we obviously can't do that until we get more used to getting around town and stuff. a friend i just made THREE DAYS AGO said he might have found a place that'll hire me so i have to hurry up and get that work permission and start working!!
17 October 2017 @ 09:57 pm
class stuff  
sat in on 1. braille class, 2. teaching japanese to foreigners class, and (on another day) 3. teaching japanese culture to foreigners class. these three are meant for japanese students. i thought i'd take them for points if my japanese was good enough but now i'm seriously deciding not to (except maybe maybe the braille course), because they're entirely taught FOR japanese students who don't even know any other languages. meaning ex. today we had almost the whole class for going through the very basics of how to break up a sentence (these kids don't know what a "clause" or "adverb" is in their own language) and another class went through the very basics of pronunciation (voiced/aspirated versus unvoiced/unaspirated etc). which is just, how can i put it, tiring. you have to try and think just like the japanese students and it's kinda too hard on these sorts of subjects that you already know about. pluuus i want to be able to dump all these extra classes and actually work some hours if i get a part-time job somewhere.

otherwise (for actual points/my degree) i've had 1. listening class, 2. reading class, 3. speech class, 4. grammar class, 5. kanji class, i have 3 other mandatory classes but can't remember what they are. each class is only once a week but we get repeat teachers so it's pretty confusing what's what.

i can actually understand the teachers in the first classes (one's even the same as in our degree classes) but the problems i've had so far have been that i didn't get the handout that everyone else got since i wasn't there last week, and then i have no clue what the teacher's saying because i'm actually missing half the information.

in braille class i just practiced the alphabet a bit; i'm going to have to buy a slate and stuff so i can practice at home. i think i accidentally said i've already memorized all the basic letters ("didn't look at anything"), when i meant to say i was making the letters while looking at the handout but NOT looking at the slate when i was writing.

learned the basic history of tatami and how they're made (top part = "igusa", the same grass-like stuff used to make setta and some other traditional shoes; bottom part = 5cm of rice straw/hay) today...

in general, uh, how can i put it.... we're not learning all that much. even in the classes meant for japanese students, when i glanced around i was the only one taking notes that i could see (and most of my notes were words the teacher was saying that i didn't know). it's kind of like class is a game. i think we have the POTENTIAL to learn a lot in the japanese classes IF we take it into our own hands - like if i actually do memorize all the unknown words in every class, and do a lot of handwriting practice. but it's not coming from the class really.

anyway today i came home from school entirely by myself, AND in the dark, for the first time. i had to ask directions to the subway, then get on the right bus (which for some reason always has tons of foreigners but mostly chinese girls), sat in the very front so i could read the electronic sign showing which stop we were at, peered out the window, realized it was probably my stop when all the chinese girls were getting off at once so i hurridly got off, yeah it was correct, then i managed to walk home... only because i had done the same walk in the dark just yesterday with my wife /wipes sweat. basically speaking, i can only see 2-3 buildings away down the street. if it's dark, if there's snow, whatever, then i can't recognize basically anything anymore. it took me around a week just to be able to recognize the outside of my own apartment building despite that we went out walking (and thus walked back to it) every day... sigh.
17 October 2017 @ 02:14 pm
hi again  
well i finally got my student computer account at the school, meaning i can use the wireless at school and THEORETICALLY the wireless in my apartment building (as all unis in japan have the same internet system and my apartment is a student apartment from another university) but the apartment wireless is only accessible between certain hours so i might not end up using it much there anyway.

i'm going to sit in on a braille course and see if i can understand anything, and then i MIGHT sit in on some other course i didn't catch the name of that two of my exchange student upperclassmen are taking that apparently always wants the exchange students to sit in on. these aren't for credit, but if i can sit in on a bunch they should improve my japanese a lot. since coming to japan i basically haven't studied or been reading stuff aside from like, street signs and shop signs. i've just been going out and seeing the town every day and trying trying to talk to people (people don't normally specifically correct you or specifically give you the correct way to say something if you're wrong, as long as they can understand you. so it means you're not normally learning much even if you talk a lot).

in all the classes we're learning JLPT N1 level stuff (kanji, grammar, vocabulary...) BUT the teachers are really lax about everything. apparently my upperclassmen are almost never turning in homework and aren't studying at all and they still passed last semester just fine. each class goes through what classes in my swedish school would have either gone through in 10-20 minutes, or would have assigned as homework. so for example, today we had listening class: we listened to a recording once, then i think once more, then listened again while filling out answers on an answer sheet, then we all went over the answers together, then we all read aloud from the transcript of the audio together as a group while copying after the teacher (no individual reading aloud). and that took an hour and a half, and the only "homework" so far is to mentally prepare how you're going to explain traditional houses/rooms from your country to the rest of the class next week.

there's a speech contest the teacher's trying to get us to do aaaand while the teacher didn't say it, an upperclassman said last time there was actually a monetary reward even just for PARTICIPATING (not just winning!) so i guess i can try that.

we went to a catholic church mass thing last weekend with my one (esperanto) japanese friend who lives in the area, afterwards they picked weeds on the church lawn and then there was "church coffee". it took a while but by the end of the coffee time everyone was chatting with us, and both me and my wife got contact info from some japanese people. some old guys knew a finnish teacher who they were going to ask if they knew anyone who needed a swedish teacher (so my wife could get a job teaching swedish), the one i talked to wanted me to teach his kid (and probably him) english and was actually a teacher at a high school; apparently he's also in the "international club" and his hobby is taking photos. he super loved my exchange blog haha.

it seems like the other exchange students
1. aren't going out (like to neighbourhood/town festivals and other random events)
2. don't really have real japanese friends (just, maybe, classmates)
3. definitely aren't studying
4. somehow have magically forgotten what classes at our swedish school were like, thus have forgotten ex. that we already have to write essays and research papers and things in those and are acting like that's impossible for us lowerclassmen

overall the impression i get is they get home from school, eat then sleep (i guess??) and then if there's a holiday they might go somewhere. i dunno, i think that's a pretty sad way to pass the year. one of them has a real superiority complex, or i'm not sure what to call it, but he really doesn't notice either his own faults or when other people aren't the same as him (ex. i've already started reading novels in my free time since last semester; these guys still are barely doing it now, but this guy acts like i must not know as many kanji as him and thus can't read the classroom name etc; but i can.)

i mean i know i am worse at them in various aspects, most especially speaking and handwriting, but it's pretty annoying. and the vocabulary i know is different from them (ex. they know a lot of "specific to living in japan vocabulary", ex. ID card, nationality, living place, and classroom vocabulary etc) but i'm not sure they're actually all that advanced in general terms because it's not like they use many words i don't know when they're SPEAKING....... well whatever.
Type Wild
14 October 2017 @ 04:11 pm
The new Ducktales is taking the opportunity to overhaul a bit of fifties pop culture mythology  
Are the rest of you watching the reboot yet?

On the Ducktales reboot and the ladies, in light of the comics. Spoilers up to episode 6 )
11 October 2017 @ 07:21 am
not much time  
going to my first day of school in a couple hours; long story short:

- japan is AWESOME buuut not having fluent japanese and not knowing "local knowledge" is really a huge problem. not even train station personell (the kind that sell student bus passes to foreigners) can speak english AND all the exchange students who came here last semester etc have magically forgotten what it's like to have NO CLUE what's going on. these guys also come from sweden and have only been here for 6 months and yet they don't understand that if the train lady asks if a card from x to y is alright, we have no clue where those places even ARE. an old man got kinda irritated at me if i asked when he was from sendai when we weren't precisely in sendai (we were like... 20min by bus away from it?) and i'm like, dude... i can't even remember the name of where i'm at right now since i just learned it half an hour ago, sendai is the closest i can get...

- TONS of food we can eat. most stuff that has sugar also has a "stevia" or "grape sugar" equivalent without normal sugar, including grocery store sushi and rice balls (almost none of the rice balls have real sugar in them). we can apparently eat stevia without getting sick. soy sauce without wheat and sugar is "rare" but you can still find it in the grocery store, same cost etc as all the other soy sauce (it has big DOESN'T USE WHEAT written on the bottle). carbonated water is rare but we still found it at one grocery store; the easiest thing to find and drink is tea (plain green tea is even in vending machines otherwise selling only coffee/soda). haven't yet found any food vending machines. we found 100% buckwheat soba and 100% mochi rice flour mochi (no sugar or anything else added) after a bit of searching in the grocery store. japanese meat doesn't seem to ever have anything added to it (beef seems to be plain beef without sugar etc, unlike in europe and america) except for when they've given it a sauce or breading.

so far we've liked everything we've eaten except for: umeboshi (pickled plums), bonito (dried mini fish you put in soup), some fruit/vegetable smoothies. haven't eaten at any restaurants yet.

some people (strangers, cashiers etc) are REALLY happen to see me, sometimes people stare in surprize (ex. when i was eating nattou in public). it's a lot easier here, ex. you don't ever feel rushed at checkout because the cashiers themselves are so slow and unrushed. they aren't chatty, just slow. if anyone's unfriendly it's not actually because you're a foreigner, they were already unfriendly from the beginning (i know because i watch how they handle the other customers before us too).

well that's all for now!