lusentoj: (Default)
2017-10-17 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.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-10-17 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.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-10-11 07:21 am
Entry tags:

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!
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-10-01 01:04 pm


well my wife didn't manage to toss all her stuff but we did take three trips to the dump (actually, recycling station, but same thing) and she has very little left. she probably has left the same amount i started with before i tossed all my stuff. she's still upset that i'm making her actually toss stuff, but then she always comes back at the end of the day "actually i'm glad you're making me do this, i don't want to be a hoarder like everyone else in my family, i feel like keeping all this stuff isn't ME".

when we were tossing books one of her sisters actually dug through the bags and picked out like SIXTY volumes of books to keep for herself, without asking or saying anything to my wife (who wasn't around at the time but noticed afterwards). wife's parents have been incredibly fucking annoying in general, as to be expected, and the whole family is LITERALLY saying that we're either 1. going to come back home after 1-2 weeks because we miss swedish food, or 2. going to die from north korea, an earthquake, tsunami, plane crash, crazy foreign diseases spread by mosquitoes etc etc. i had to argue with her aunt for half an hour about how no, we're not going to have problems eating in japan, no japan is not more dangerous OR more expensive than sweden. her aunt, by the way, that same day confessed to literally eating nothing but french fries and the occasional piece of meat for almost a year now.

today, for some reason the dad said out of nowhere that we should back up OUR computer files onto HIS computer at HIS WORKPLACE. uhh what? we haven't said anything about needing help backing up stuff? or having anything so important that we'd ever want to do that? when we said no, he just kept pushing it, then kept trying to force us to take spare external harddrives of his, as if he has no idea what "we don't want/need that" means. we also had to stop him from digging through my wife's garbage to find a binder because "he was thinking he wanted a binder". you're an adult who makes more money in one month than we'd need to live (in an apartment, rent+food+etc included) for two YEARS on; i think you can afford to go buy a binder.

i'm really tired as i write this because i woke up at 3 am to try and pack / clean the last bit of my stuff in peace. finally got the computer cleaned out. i had a really good fic idea (as in, actual lines of dialogue and description) for what was it, gintama? but was too tired to write it down and very predictably completely forgot it upon waking up. starting from tomorrow i won't have internet at home, won't even have a cell phone until i figure out how to rent one, so i'll finally stop spamming you guys on dreamwidth haha...
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-28 06:04 pm

old fic

someone commented on a fic i wrote almost 10 years ago and wanted it to be continued (i'd re-uploaded it a couple years ago after deleting it, so they probably didn't notice I had written that it was old in the author's note). i've forgotten all the contents of said fic but from the quotes they liked/quoted from it alone i could tell it's a steaming pile of crap!

it does kinda make me want to write in general though... i mean, reviews spur me on... i'll definitely try writing on the plane trip at least.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-28 03:23 am

mac os9

esperanto clubmate who went to drop off our bedding (he even MADE our BEDS for us!!) took a couple photos of the room, we have a REALLY nice view! as in, we're looking directly out over the school building and it looks like a typical japanese highschool or something, although i assume it's the affiliated university. 3 full days until we leave!

i've spent the past THREE days trying to
1. get my mac using os 10.4 to boot up in os 9,
2. after realizing that's actually impossible because i accidentally bought the wrong computer, trying to figure out how ELSE i can possibly run os9, or install linux

part of the problem is, the "new" mac is so old it can't load modern webpages properly, ex. it loads twitter but you can't attach images to your posts. i wanted to download firefox to try and see if the only addon i REALLY REALLY need ("darker background, lighter font" - increases text size + changes white backgrounds to black and black text to white) can work on it, and i can't even download firefox because safari won't load any of the download pages. you also can't watch youtube. there was a replacement browser in japanese that lets you watch the modern youtube except the site was taken down last year.

i know nothing about computers and this is all really really frustrating... i just want os9 on one partition that i can boot up in, and a newer os in another partition for when i have to do modern stuff... the reason why i'm doing all this is just that i can't read menu or system text without getting 2cm away from the screen because mac and windows don't let you change the menu font size, and i'm really sick and tired of that. os9 lets you change the system font to whatever you want. plus i want to stop being addicted to the computer, and having a really outdated os will definitely help that... but anyway, since i can't even manage to install linux i'm just super frustrated. os 10.4 lets you EMULATE individual os9 programs (without being able to see a desktop or anything), but more than half the ones i tried didn't actually work because the emulation isn't as good as the real os.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-24 12:38 am


jojo's bizarre adventure is really really gay.....

i mean, i kind of knew already. the main character was going around wearing neon pink and everything. but then the evil guy sticks his hand into the other guy's neck, pulls out his artery and starts fondling it and saying how great and soft it feels, and there's a big close-up of it on the screen.

it's an action series but it's... it's... uncomfortable. i didn't know you could make softcore gore this gay.

EDIT: a lot more gay happened after that. one of those "you're the only one in the world for me" and "i only married her because i thought my dead dad would have liked her" things.

the fandom seems pretty bad though. there's TONS of fics but a terrifying amount are stuff like "x reader" and hopping on the transgender trend ("transgender main character" does NOT equal you writing a normal girl character 100%, even one who's fine with their natural body, and then having everyone call them "he" for seemingly no reason).
lusentoj: (布団)
2017-09-23 09:46 pm

new layout

layout is 95% complete, unfortunately i can't figure out how to change the text for (or more ideally, remove completely) the "tags" and "memories" header links:

gonna update the english version of my exchange blog then link it to japanese one; i'll try to make an "i'm leaving soon!" vlog post thing too. i'll be attempting to speak / write / etc ONLY in japanese (or esperanto) as much as possible starting from when i get off the plane, so after this the vlogs will be in japanese (or esperanto if i really need a break).

at this point, even some of the (icelandic) books i originally wanted to keep i just feel like... why bother? if i really want to read icelandic i can do it online. what's stopping me is just that one is a 1940's sherlock holmes translation, the other's a vladimir nabokov translation, so they're kinda rare and stuff (everyone reads in english now)... i'll try to scan them and if i can't manage it i guess i'll keep them. i've never read these books so what's the point of owning them? on the other hand if i do get into icelandic again someday, i can't just find them easily again. those are the only two thoughts battling it out in my head.

i was gonna keep my ratty jacket since it's warm/wool and then realized in sendai it's like 24°C (= swedish summer weather), here it's 14°, and sendai doesn't get down to 14 until a month from now so i'll definitely have time to find a secondhand jacket before it starts getting cold. so i'll just bring a normal pullover and my wool cardigan...
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-23 01:56 am

8 days left

i'm on ep 8 of jojo's bizarre adventure... the vocabulary is SO varied in this series it's kinda amazing, but it seems like it's calming down a little now. spending most of my time these days attempting to get my files off my phone, helping my wife toss her stuff, etc.

wife's parents are being super freaking annoying about health insurance, vaccinations and all this random shit like "check to make sure you passport and bank cards don't expire, omg it'd be so bad if you had problems with this!". look, ignoring everything else (they've magically forgotten that i got a new bank card like last month + we got new passports like 2 months ago??), i heavily doubt we could get health insurance or a new bank card WITHIN ONE WEEK BEFORE LEAVING FOR JAPAN!! so why the hell are they only bringing this up NOW? btw i as an exchange student get full health insurance automatically and my wife's parents didn't even believe me on this so they ended up calling a ton of places to ask about it and ended up printing out 20 pages of very general info that literally anyone can find online in two seconds.

other annoying thing: wife's sisters. they went to go watch a movie in our room with my wife, and apparently the smell of the TEA BAGS in our room were "giving them an asthma attack". nevermind that dust, mold, clouds of rapeseed oil smoke from dad's cooking etc don't give them asthma attacks; they don't even own inhalers or asthma medicine of any kind. btw my brother had asthma as a kid so i know what a real asthma attack is like.

anyway, because my wife's mom is saying she'll pay for it we're going to go to the walk-in clinic tomorrow and TRY and get vaccinations for this one really rare disease transmitted by mosquitoes in japan (protip: if you don't eat sugar, bugs don't bite you. ever. haven't gotten any ticks either. if you eat coconut oil, bugs don't even fly NEAR you!) which, according to sweden's medical site, 1. only exists in certain times of the year in certain locations of japan, 2. EXTREMELY few people get it, 3. only 30% of those who DO get it get any kind of serious effects, 4. you can just get vaccinated for it in japan anyway and it's unnecessary to do it in sweden.

i linked my japanese exchange blog to the international department lady at my japanese school, the one i've been emailing tons over the past few months — so much so that i'm really worried i'm eating up her time / distracting her at work or something. but the school seems REALLY laid-back and she hasn't said a single thing about being busy (even when i've said "you're probably very busy right now..."), in fact it seems like she's a lot happier if she can talk with the exchange students and get friendly with them (she wants to call me and my wife by our nicknames) and stuff so it's probably fine...

anyway, she read and liked the blog and then linked it to some normal japanese students at the school, so it seems like i might have some people interested in being friends with me before i even ARRIVE entirely thanks to me creating this study abroad blog in advance. all the japanese people just LOVE my blog, and seriously all it is is "lots of photos + me writing in bad japanese". i even made a new japanese twitter friend from it today, he saw my blog and came to message me.

she also told me that there's a neon genesis evangelion exhibit in sendai in october; tickets are only 800 yen if you buy in advance. it's only open for a few days and it's the same weekend as my esperanto club onsen trip so we'll see if i can go... my wife doesn't like evangelion so i wonder if i can go with someone else lol. in japan i want to stop being scared of doing stuff/going somewhere alone or doing stuff i haven't done before. and i want to just "ask" if random strangers want to hang out together, that kind of thing; not wait for people to invite me but me actually invite them.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-20 12:27 am

the last days

11 days left until we leave. went to stockholm, picked up the VISAs. the two embassy guys we met were suuper nice; seems like the mean/grumpy guys actually work in another part of the building. wife's sisters are visiting, i have to empty my phone and give it to them today or tomorrow.

in stockholm when we were walking there were two fat old ladies going in the opposite direction, the one with the bright pink hat stopped with a big smile and said "good day! good day, misses! and good day, mister! this is the mister, right?" and we said "yes" and she said good day again and then we said "thanks, good day" and she left. her friend was silent the whole time.

"good day" is really archaic in swedish, no one says it anymore, my wife was super shocked to hear it. and i don't really know why the lady assumed we were married (i mean, we ARE, but literally every time i get on the bus the drivers assume i'm under 18 years old so??). afterwards my wife said "what's wrong with swedes? it's like that old lady had been locked up in her basement for 50 years and only came out for the first time today or something".

bought a suitcase for my wife (neon pink). she's finally started to get a little excited about going to japan, NOT because "it's japan" but because she's actually realizing that we're going to, if nothing else, at least be out of this house. her complaints about her parents / sisters have been increasing by the day, which i take as a sign that she's getting more and more impatient about us leaving.

some stuff with the parents does seem like it's getting worse, ex. her dad just SMELLS really really bad, every time he comes out of the bathroom it's like someone died in there AND the smell sticks to not only him but to YOU and the ROOM. my wife describes it as him being a "walking corpse". definitely wasn't this bad a year ago. also you can tell that his memory problems are reaching his face now; tonight when he talked to me, throughout the whole time he LOOKED completely lost and confused; even just a couple months ago he'd TALK confused but not LOOK confused.

i've also found out that some stuff in japan is cheaper than i originally thought, ex. someone just told me they bought 8 volumes of (brand-new-looking) used manga for 1,000 yen which is like... $1 USD per book i guess. i know it's super easy to spend all your money away in japan but wow, i'll really have to watch out!!

in "japanese-language" news, i've started watching dramas with japanese subtitles instead of just anime. everyone online says that dramas have "more realistic talking than anime" and uh..... no. not at all. not modern anime, anyway.
lusentoj: (布団)
2017-09-17 07:01 pm


ALL my belongings fit into ONE (medium-sized) suitcase!! books, clothes, electronics, everything. my backpack will be for food/entertainment for the plane trip and sensitive stuff like my laptop and important papers, but i could actually fit those things into the suitcase too if i wanted. i'll just have to double-check that i won't be over the weight limit. i wasn't actually aiming for this when i was cleaning (among other things you can actually bring 2 checked bags), it just turned out that way.

it seems like switching from a student/"dependant" VISA to a work VISA is super easy, but getting a work VISA (or any VISA at all really) from scratch is really difficult; so as long as i can still go to all my classes schedule-wise it won't actually be a problem to switch to a work VISA partway through my exchange (which is what i was worried about — in some countries you have to completely leave the country, wait some months and come back). my japanese friend said now is the best time to get full-time jobs in japan since "everyone needs people", and if no normal place will hire me then to try at random American companies.

still have to:
• repair the old Mac i'm taking with me; set it up with programs etc
• remove files from all other comps/phones & put them on the old mac
• sell/send off some old books
• sew slippers and mittens for myself (i have some secondhand leather pants + sheep skin bits for this exact purpose), then toss all the rest of my fabric

i think that's about it for me. my wife still has a bunch to go through but we managed to get through 3 boxes of her stuff today, so we're getting there... she said she's actually been having nightmares about having too much stuff / people randomly giving her tons of extra stuff so yeah, let's clean!!!

updated the page about how my 3-year japanese degree is; i really need to fix up this site a little in general:

i've started re-reading the stories we read in class last semester; i can actually "understand" them now, like all the details, but back then i missed what feels like the majority of the plots except for the easiest story. part of it was how stressed i was during class time, but the other part was just my japanese level. no idea why we were giving such hard stuff to read, it should've been for people a semester or two after us! right now i'm probably two semesters ahead of the basic class expectations.

anime-wise, i'm focusing on jojo's bizarre adventures starting from yesterday because it really has a lot of words i don't know while still overall being easy to understand (as in, there are some series where due to the context, pacing, billions of characters etc even if you DO know the words you're still confused; jojo isn't really like that). read another completely random yaoi manga volume last night and i knew like 99% of everything in it, that's the second time that's happened now and it feels pretty great. if i get depressed about not being able to read novels or something i'll always be able to grab a manga.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-15 04:24 pm


16 days until we leave for japan. VISA guys haven't called yet. bought a (cheap, teal) suitcase; we'll get a second (pink) one if/when we need it. you should always get obnoxiously-coloured luggage containers so you can easily pick them out / people can pick YOU out from the crowd; just a ribbon doesn't work.

been messing with the hand-held sewing machine some more. i've learned a few more things:
• if you sew too close to the edge of your fabric, it won't sew.
• cheap thread will break a ton
• it can use thicker thread; thread type doesn't matter as long as you can get it through the needle.
• turning IS possible; how accurate you can turn, i haven't tested yet
• it CAN sew leather but figuring out the tension for it is too much of a pain in the butt, also you might have to manually move it to the next stitch with your hand because the feet aren't THAT good and the leather doesn't want to self-move. that or it was the weird leather i tried (it had a lining fabric and stuff so i was technically sewing 4 layers).
• technically you should be adjusting the tension or something when you sew over seams (=4 or 6 layers of fabric instead of 2) but you can manually pull the fabric until you're over the seam instead and it'll turn out fine.

as for my sock project in general.... sewing a ton of diamonds together is NOT what i'm meant for, and i'm pretty sure i miscounted and only actually have enough "diamond fabric" for one sock. it's just a test, and i was planning on getting a real tabi sewing pattern when in japan anyway, so it's alright. i'm pretty sure patchwork is why people join sewing circles: you work on my project for a bit and i'll work on yours, PLEASE SEW THESE DIAMONDS FOR ME I'M GOING CRAZY.

finished watching Chobits with my wife, it was just as disappointing as i remembered it but she'd never seen the ending so that's why we watched it. have like 6 eps of From the New World left, which is really killing me because it's too difficult AND is more boring than i remembered. then i've got maybe 15 left of Death Note, and this one nonfiction book from the library i need to read. i probably can't finish another season of any high-level series before i go to japan (where i most likely won't be watching ANY anime unless i go to a friend's house or movie theatre).

i'm really frustrated with my japanese level again... i just feel like i "should" be able to understand more by now. i don't spend 12 hours a day studying or anything so it's to be expected, but sigh. most of my japanese comes from class + anime and manga, so something like a review blog or newspaper article still feels like another world even if i do glance at them on occasion...
lusentoj: (布団)
2017-09-14 10:08 am

hit upon a good idea

i have some scrap fabric i want to mess with before i have to toss it and leave for japan. IN japan, i want to MAKE stuff like traditional socks (tabi), get secondhand kimono and fix/wear them etc. keep in mind i haven't sewn in like 10 years and was never all that good... anyway, all our fabric is pretty ugly and i had a thought. you know quilting? they make shapes with fabric? when you lack japanese fabric you can make fabric shapes in the traditional japanese style instead. google "sashiko" or "刺し子 柄" (sashiko pattern) and you'll get the idea.

the difficulty is finding the "quilt block" names that match the japanese patterns! i don't know anything about quilting (i've watched my grandma make one... once) so i'm jumping into this blind. the basic japanese patterns are:

1. mountains (= "chevron falls"?)

2. flowers 1 (= "pickle dish"?)

3. flowers 2

4. plus-signs 1 + 2 (= "plus signs")

5. pound-signs (= "igeta, hashtag"), diamonds (= "slanted diamonds"), fish scales/shells/scallops (= "clam shells")

6. these rectangles

7. arrow-tails

8. squares (= "nine patch")

9. hexagons (= "simple hexagons")

10. i haven't found it in sashiko yet but another common pattern is "clouds" and this quilter's block looks kinda like it:

so the plan is, find out the quilter's names for all of these, make some, then use that fabric to make socks.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-13 02:54 pm
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tried watching another documentary in japanese... it was much easier to understand than the one about atomic missiles & stuff in okinawa (also had more english), i got about 80%.

in the 70′s some japanese guys went to the USA to track down american soldiers/their families who had to do with hiroshima. i didn’t know this — america didn’t teach it to me in school — but the bomb also killed a lot of american soldiers (there was a POV camp there etc) whether directly or from radiation sickness afterwards. since no one was told about the radiation or real nature of the bomb, american doctors had no clue how to treat the patients, only the japanese ones really had any clue. also america withheld info even just about the fact that certain american soldiers had died for decades; so the guys' parents didn't even know there was proof that they were dead. info that these japanese guys were able to get easily. among other things, it makes you wonder what america was trying to cover up.

a few things really struck me about this.
1. in the 70's they had no translator, it was simply the TV station guy who went there to the USA with his own (decent) English to interview everyone; in the 90's they hired a Japanese lady translator when in Japan; "last year" when Obama came to Japan, his official Japanese translator was a huge, American, scary-looking "military white guy" with a buzzcut. i was like... what? Obama has something against hiring Japanese people?! it looked like something out of a cult.

2. japanese people act exactly like swedes. i know i keep saying this, but they even SAY THE EXACT SAME THINGS AS SWEDES. americans don't make a WWII documentary showing the side of and sympathizing with the "enemy", but japan does (and so does sweden)! japanese people who were literally born and raised in hiroshima and study the bombing as their main profession sit there going "no matter what your home country, the pain of losing your child is the same" etc. americans don't do this. not modern americans, anyway.
lusentoj: (布団)
2017-09-12 08:22 pm

got my sewing machine!!!

it sewed through 6 layers of jeans, 4 layers of cotton T-shirt (with print on it), and I haven't tested anything heavier yet. it actually seemed like it worked a lot better on thicker fabric but that just might be me not knowing how to mess with the tension. it's really tiny and easy to hold and works well with just one hand (and i'm not a strong guy!!). it's pretty quiet, about as loud as a stapler. if the "bobbin thread" becomes a tangled nest it's EXTREMELY easy to get rid of, WAY easier than on a real machine. the "feeders" that hold the fabric stuck to the pressure foot and move it forward with each stitch work really well. it was also a lot easier to thread than a normal machine for me, probably since you can get your face and hands so much closer to this one.

so far all the problems are just "user error": if the tension is wrong it doesn't sew at all (the stitches don't move forward) or they bunch up. if you accidentally cut both threads underneath the pressure foot instead of just the furthest-back one, all your sewing will come loose. if you don't press down all the way it'll skip a stitch (it's possible this also happens sometimes when the tension is wrong). if you don't hold the fabric straight, your stitches won't be straight; if you don't hold it with an even pressure, your stitches won't all be the same length. i tried oiling the machine and it didn't seem to help anything. if you want to replace the needle you need a screwdriver.

due to how you hold the fabric (there must be a way to fix this —get a fabric-holder + fasten the machine to the tabletop?) the stitches LOOK like hand-sewing; but they're extremely strong. i pulled with all my might and they didn't rip or loosen. there's no real way of adjusting the stitch length (all you can do is pull at the fabric to manually draw it through faster or slower) and your stitches are going to be visible. i'm going to try and research/test tension and see if i can't figure out something about the visible stitches.

anyway, for everything where you don't care if the stitches are visible, or if you're going to use another method to hide the stitches later or something, it seems like it'd work great after you figure out what tension you need. for some garments (ex. kimono) it's actually better to have "hand-sewing" because the end garment is more flexible compared to one done with perfect machine sewing, or so i've heard.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-12 06:03 am


i keep wondering if i should switch to japanese with the international department staff at my exchange school, NOT because my japanese is that great but because their english also isn't all that great. it's good, really good for a japanese person, but they're making a lot of comprehension mistakes even though i'm doing my best to write simply.

for example, now i said i found a friend who will give me beds for the year, so i want to know the schedule for our first day in japan so i can tell my friend when i'll be at the apartment and can drop off the beds. and she replied that "the apartments are already furnished with beds, what you need to buy is futon, blankets, pillows, pillowcases..." and didn't say a word about the schedule. so now i had to reply explaining that my friend is going to give me futons, blankets and pillows at least. from this i also learned that when a japanese person says "bed" they actually mean "bedframe", but y'know, i don't even want a bedframe. i want to be like a "real japanese person", sleep on the floor on my futon and roll it up every morning to save space...

tried watching this documentary (about the USA keeping nuclear bombs/missiles in okinawa without telling the local people etc):

it was too difficult, especially without japanese subs. i understood the gist of it thanks to pictures, a lot of english and some sentences that were written out on the page, but it was basically "nuclear" "hydrogen bomb" "missile" "keep this info a secret to all outside parties" and the rest i didn't get when it came to all the actual military stuff. i can barely recognize the word "prezident". i really have to watch some political/military anime...

19 days left until japan. i have like 250 screencapped example sentences i still have to put up on the learning_japanese comm before i can hand my phone over to my wife's sisters... sold one broken computer, still need to put up my textbooks (Tobira + some manga) from last semester up for sale since my ex-classmate doesn't want them (which also means she doesn't intend on continuing her japanese studies anytime soon i guess). i don't actually have contact with ANY ex-classmates who seriously plan on continuing their japanese studies, the one guy who claims he is failed the final exam the first time around and isn't studying in summer either so it's clear he's going to fail the next semester too. for some reason i always make friends with the drop-outs in every language class i end up taking, i guess it's because i like teaching people and those are the people to teach....
lusentoj: (布団)
2017-09-11 11:24 am


so there's this esperanto-teaching japanese yuri dating sim game that came out like last month... and people are already writing fanfic for it. in both japanese and esperanto. they're even using only esperanto that appears in the game! i'm gonna buy it after i get to japan. but anyway, through that i found out that SS is short for "ShouSetsu 小説" (story, fanfic).

lately i can't concentrate so well on cleaning, i keep thinking every two seconds that we're basically already in japan (only 20 days left!) and i'm really happy/excited. every day i'm reminding myself that once we get to japan, like as soon as we get on / off that plane, it's JAPANESE ONLY, no english, no swedish (esperanto's okay though) so i have 20 days left to squeeze out as much english/swedish as i can, right? so i guess that's why i'm talking a lot while i can. it's already clear that the school is going to talk to us in english a lot, at least in the beginning (very unlike what i heard of my stepmom's exchange to japan in the 80-90's where no one at the school knew english apparently).

when i first came to sweden i didn't know any swedish, knew nothing about sweden etc, so i was really quiet and frustrated for a long time just because i couldn't say / understand anything. even now i get frustrated sometimes since i can't say it as coherently/properly/fast as a native swede can. it's not so frustrated that it makes me actually want to improve my swedish, but the thought is still there. like for example, when the embassy called me, when i was speaking i suddenly forgot the word "proof" ("proof that we have money") so i had to pause and then say "proof" in english in the middle of my swedish, which felt really frustrating afterwards not because the guy said anything but because IF I OR HE HADN'T KNOWN ENGLISH THAT WOULDN'T'VE WORKED. aka that was "lazy" of me. in japan they don't know english.

anyway, i responded to the guy who offered to loan me beds asking what exactly "beds" entails so i don't buy stuff i don't need, and it seems the exchange school mailed the other exchange students with a copy of what i had written to them about my eyes, so "everyone knows". which feels really weird as this has never happened before in my life (i've told the teacher, sure, but i've never told the WHOLE CLASS or SCHOOL!"). it's good but it's weird.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-10 07:23 pm


out of nowhere some japanese person liked one of my OLD twitter posts about nålbinding (i hadn't even written in japanese on it), so i checked out her blog and they'd just started learning like, this week. had some posts about how they keep going back and forth between different kinds of instructions trying to figure it out, which is/was exactly my situation. so i found a recent, clear video and started translating the instructions for her (+ any other japanese person who's interested); i figure any mistakes in writing i make will be cleared up by the screenshots anyway. then i checked out her instagram... she's some old japanese grandma(-aged person) whose ENTIRE DAY is apparently spent doing textile work (crochet and weaving mostly), and she's visited Turkey a bunch of times apparently! it really doesn't seem like she's the person you can be "friends" with online though, kinda sad.

anyway, this is really the first time i've felt confident enough to write a "real" tutorial in japanese about anything. and it makes me want to pick up nålbindning again...

a member of the sendai esperanto club had checked out my twitter and blog (i gave the club the links) and saw i was trying to buy bedding, they said they have two beds they don't use that they'll just LET ME BORROW and that they can drop off at my apartment whenever! that means FREE BEDS! (= saving at least $100 USD). now i've asked what "beds" exactly entails (if it's literally just mattresses or if i also get blankets/pillows) so i know what else to buy when i'm out shopping. he said "everyone at the club is eagerly awaiting your guys' arrival!" ;_;; i also got info on where a bunch of secondhand shops are, so we can go buy stuff (= clothes, plates etc) right away when we get there.

i had hesitated a bit on giving everyone my twitter link because who knows what off-putting stuff i've posted or will post there, but in the end it was a good idea eh!

before this month is over i need to finish watching Shinsekai Yori, Death Note, Chobits and possibly one other series: i'm going to assume i can't watch anime in japan due to not having internet at home among other reasons (the irony!). it'll be sad since i won't have a TV at home either so i can't just watch normal japanese TV... i wonder if they have super cheap movie-viewing places or something i can go to...
lusentoj: (布団)
2017-09-10 01:07 am


just watched 10 hunter x hunter eps in 2 days, since animelon updated with some more. in the beginning of july i was looking up like half the sentence for every single sentence, but now i'm only looking up a handful of words per ep (sometimes there's a whole string of sentences where i'm missing lots of words, other times i get all of it).

by my estimates, this show is JLPT N1 level (=hardest level). my original goal was to make it from N3 to N1 from june to september (=4 months); in the end i couldn't/can't make it to N1 but i did get to N2 at least. i have a whole year of living in japan to get to N1 so it's fine, but i hope i can make it there before the end of the first semester.

lately i've been doing stuff like watching/reading product reviews and reading "what to buy/do as a tourist" blog posts in japanese even without a dictionary. i'll edit this post and link a couple examples later once i'm on my own comp. i've slowly been automatically upping the amount of hours i practice japanese; as it gets easier to write/understand, i just naturally spend more time doing it without even thinking about it. now i'm doing 4 hours a day or more on most days (a random mix of typing, reading, watching and listening).

now that i've finally finished that cat book it's time to complete the highschooler's book about "the marketplace" (=basic economics) that i started some months ago and never got back to... it explains things REALLY simply, as if you're a kindergartener and not a highschooler, and that seems typical of japanese (swedish is the same way) so i'm pretty glad. using textbooks for native speakers is a good way to improve your language skills in general (it's how i improve my faroese at least), but for me it's a bit more meaningful than that: i always wanted to go on a high school exchange to japan and couldn't, on top of that i got a very different education (=Very Shitty) compared to the average person/european and always feel super stupid, so reading highschool textbooks is kind of like making up for that time. i never took chemistry, physics or calculus for example; required subjects in most countries. i never learned about or don't remember anything about most historical figures and places etc.... so if i eventually read about all that as language practice it's a pretty good deal.
lusentoj: (Default)
2017-09-09 04:42 pm


cleaned up more stuff, made small gift packages (= tea + patterned napkins) to hand out to special people i meet in japan, now i've started cleaning out my phone of all the "japanese reference sentences" i was taking screenshots of (i have like 300 screenshots and need to grab the sentences and put them on the learning_japanese comm)

It's just free wrapping paper you can get at the grocery store (they change the patterns every so often and there just happened to be a nice-looking one this time).

finished reading my first NON-MANGA book in japanese; it's meant for 4-5 year olds and is about a talking cat who's insulted by everyone for being fat and lazy. runs away from home, makes a cat restaurant that sells food made out of clouds (= daydreams), the restaurant flops because daydreams don't make you full, then he goes back to his owner in the end but at least he loses weight. when i first checked it out months ago it had a bunch of words i didn't know, but by the time (= this week) i finally got around to reading it there were almost no words i didn't know.

Now the bulk of the stuff I have to prepare for the exchange is just all my computer stuff. Sell old broken laptops, fix up the one I'll hopefully take with me, remove all the files from my smartphone and factory-reset it then give it to my wife's sisters, remove all the files from everyone else's computers that I have scattered around and delete my user accounts and move everything to that newly fixed-up laptop...

My wife has a ton of stuff she doesn't want to throw away. By a "ton" I mean it all fits in our room but to me almost all of it is junk: Kid's toys (just toss), old drawings (scan and toss), bits of fabric (just toss), videogame cases (toss the cases, keep the games) etc. She keeps going "but I HAVE tossed a lot of stuff!" and I think you need to stop looking at the amount that you've tossed and start looking at what you have left and where you're going with it. If we move to Japan at the end of our stay, I don't want to take a plane flight back to Sweden PURELY in order to come here and toss boxes of my wife's stuff and then go back to Japan. Or, I don't want to pay like a thousand dollars to mail all of her stuff to us and then have our tiny cramped one-room apartment be full of.... crap like old Barbies. Have maybe 5 toys max: ALL TOYS. Not 5 toys out of each possible category of toys. Crafting stuff (scissors, thread, whatever)? You can rebuy that when you actually need it. I'm trying to get it so all of my belongings are actually able to go with me to Japan: Not leaving ANYTHING here in Sweden. So it's frustrating. Especially frustrating because we already know her parents are going to fill our room with junk while we're gone, they'll probably move around anything we have left and make it so lost we can't find it even if we do come back to get it, and it already happened exactly like that when my wife moved to Iceland so I don't get why she's still thinking she can just leave stuff here with her parents.

When I left the USA I brought 1 backpack, 1 suitcase, possibly 1 cardboard box (hard to remember) and I left 1 cardboard box at my dad's place (which is still there since I've never had the money to visit those guys). The goal is to have even less than that when I go to Japan, because at the time I didn't know stuff like how easy it would be finding household goods (towels etc) in the new country and I had no scanner so I couldn't toss my physical books. But my wife really isn't on board with it.