Friday, December 7, 2012


It's been over 5 years and I am done. Time to head back to the US and see if there is anything left there for me. Don't ask me my plans, they're all top secret.

I've been saying goodbye to my students over the last few weeks. It has really reinforced how bad I am at goodbyes.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Koh Samet, Thailand

As part of my trip to Vietnam my BFFL Jon and I planned a trip to Thailand. First a few days on a small island, Koh Samet, then a few in Bangkok.

fruit stand on the island
Jon and I arrived in Bangkok in the afternoon. Right now it's a Buddhist holiday where a lot of Thai people go vegetarian, so we stopped for food in the airport cafeteria and got a big plate of spicy stuff. Only a few bucks and a welcome change from Japan where everything is expensive and filled with meat and fish.

We caught a bus and I made Jon do all the work because he's been to Bangkok and Koh Samet before. We took a 2 hour shuttle to this little bus stop on a highway. From there we would catch another bus in an hour or so. We thought we might miss the last ferry to the island so we tried to hail a taxi with no luck. Two Australian ladies we waiting with us and we all became best friends. Jon did, anyway. They kept calling it a "wasted day" because of travel, which I thought was funny. I guess when you have a tiring job back home you stress out about relaxing.

While waiting we saw a dog get hit by a car. He was OK. There are a bunch of wild dogs around Thailand. I'm surprised I'm not scared of them. I'm scared of my mom's dog. I don't know what my deal is on this trip with not having panic attacks. Cars, airports, boats and dogs are my biggest anxiety inducers (oh and manatees, but they don't grow here I don't think). Maybe I used up all my panic before I left Japan. Maybe I don't care anymore.

We caught another bus and it was great. There was a cute kid in front of me doing cute stuff. There was a crazy toilet with a bucket of water sloshing around that you're supposed to use to wipe or flush or both. The Australian ladies had to use it. One did successfully, one reported that she failed.

Once we arrived at the pier it was already dark. We bought a ferry ticket but were told we had to wait for 20 people for it to leave. There were 10 of us and no one around. We waited for about an hour and when no one else showed up I told Jon and the Australians I'll buy the last 10 tickets (about $16). I made Jon go tell the guy that (don't make me talk to people!) and he said he'd ask everyone to pay about $1.50 more if we wanted to leave now. Everyone was willing and relieved. I wouldn't stop talking about how great I was on the whole ride to the island.

At Koh Samet Jon and I stayed in a little beachside bungalow. For this trip I told Jon I want to just go somewhere cheap, on the beach, and with fruity drinks. He delivered. It was nice and seemed like more of a place where Thai people go on vacation than somewhere where whiteys fill the streets with their fanny packs.

breakfast on the beach

We stayed two nights and ate lots of foods, drank lots of drinks, swam on a deserted beach, and got crazy Thai massages. The whole thing cost me less than $200. You can be jealous, I don't mind.

Thai lunch

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

an afternoon in Seoul

I arrived and my first thought was "I wonder if they have a Taco Bell here?" I am the worst tourist. I had a few hours to kill before heading out to my final destination, Hanoi. I stopped by information and got directions to an area Jon recommended for eating and some sightseeing. There were some cute window washer scaling the building. I didn't take a picture. One of my biggest regrets.

I immediately noticed everyone was more aggressive than in Japan. Ladies were swinging their arms around pointing, people were rushing for buses instead of hanging back to make sure they weren't cutting anybody off. It's not a negative thing, people just seem less fragile and nervous. I don't even know if they were Korean (there's no way to tell, right?)
It's not a Japanese animal, I know, but Japan reminds me of a panda. It's so fickle and delicate it is running itself into extinction. Koreas seem hardier. There is something amazing and artistic about being delicate like Japanese, though.

These are just generalizations, but Japanese love to generalize themselves anyway. "We Japanese" was always my adult students' favorite phrase to start of a lecture.

Corbusier is alive and well in Korea. The scenery on the bus ride from the airport was made up of stacks and stacks of identical housing units.

Dunkin Donuts. This is the first place I went. I can't help it, I'm from the east coast. And I was a little lost and needed to spend time with my map. (Shut up unless you've lived away from home over 5 years.)

K-Pop blasting on and off intermittently. I didn't get a donut, but I smelled them and I admired them. I couldn't find the trash when I was done, but then a Korean lady stood up and couldn't find it either, so I felt better and just brought my cup back up to the counter.

It was a beautiful, sunny fall day. I wasnt even sweaty carrying around my bag. I took off my earbuds and listened to all the gobbledygook. I've long since lost the wonder over hearing Japanese people speak, since I can usually pick up enough words to know what they're saying.

I remember last time I was in Korea a woman took Motto and I out to eat. She offered to pay and we insisted we pay some. She got really upset at that. I guess it implies she can't afford to pay. While in Japan it's customary to offer to pay and refuse gifts over and over, even if you know you'll let someone pay for you (cause you're a goddamn lady).

I exchanged ¥5,000. I paid 10,000 whatever currency Korea has for the bus. The coffee was 3,500. I have no idea what those numbers convert to, but people say Korea is cheaper than Japan, so I'm sure it's fine. 

Using a paper map without GPS or google is a pretty fun adventure. Until you have to pee.

I gave up looking for the restaurant I was initially seeking and found a toilet in an open air art museum. Then I remembered something about Korean toilets. They don't flush toilet paper. Pretty gross. Lots of flies.

I was in the artsy area, Insadong. Lots of little galleries. I found some cute shops and bought socks and paper dolls.

Was thinking of going back to the airport and sit around there and not miss my flight, but ducked in to Starbucks to see if they had free wi-fi. No dice! Well, half dice. Snake eyes. I had to enter my name and passport number into a site, and I did so like someone who has never experienced identity theft. It didn't work though.

Staff didn't say thank you or smile anywhere, but this was most jarring at Starbucks, the friendliest place on Earth.

There was a wild baby roaming around. No leash policy on babies in Korea. He came up and wanted to look at my MacBook. He tugged on some lady's skirt. Then he hung out with a young couple and played "peek-a-boo." Then his mom found him. Then he wandered some more. Then he walked behind the counter. I don't know, maybe he worked there.

Yes, my (maybe only) time in Seoul was spent in two American-based coffee shops. Yes, I had my MacBook and iPhone out on the table while I got high on caffeine. But I wouldn't want to hang out with someone who thought they were too cool during international travel to do what they like to do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Peace Tattoo

free paper crane tattoo Hiroshima
For the last three years a group of tattoo apprentaces have been giving away free paper crane tattoos on the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. They start at about 10am and this year did about 30 tattoos. Eight of them were on me and my friends.

The paper crane is a symbol of peace in this city. People fold strings of cranes and add them to the Children's bomb memorial and other statues.

Here's a blog post from one of my friends about the experience: Today, I got a tattoo.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rabbit Island, Okunoshima Japan

Rabbit Island Okunoshima Japan Bunny

I can't believe I lived in Japan almost five years before someone let me know about the magical place that is Rabbit Island. I hate almost everything, but one thing in this world I really like is bunnies. I google pictures of baby bunnies before bed. I'm a crazy lady.

My mom is also a crazy bunny lady. So when she came to visit this summer I knew we'd have to take a trip to Okunoshima. It's only a two hour local train ride from Hiroshima.

How To Get There
From Mihara station (a Shinkansen stop) take the Kure line to Tadanoumi. Tadanoumi is a tiny station in a tiny town, no restaurants or 7-11s nearby. After you arrive you make your way to the ferry port on the opposite side of the station exit. At this point no signs are in English but if you figure that a ferry needs to be in the water I think you can figure it out.

At the ferry port a nice lady pointed to the ¥600 roundtrip button to buy a ticket from a vending machine. The ferry stops at two places and you want to get out at the first stop, 大久野島, a 12 minute ride.

Rabbit Island Okunoshima Japan Bunny
Chillin' on the beach

Rabbit Island Okunoshima Japan Bunny
He made a little house.

One The Island
Once we arrived we could already see bunnies hopping around the trees and welcome center. There was a bus waiting and everything in it was written in kanji. I could only make out the kanji for free 「無料」 and I convinced my mom to get on. The island isn't that big so how lost could we get?

The bus took us to the main hotel and onsen. Inside was a coffee and gift shop. Outside was tons of cute bunnies that run up to you and pyon pyon pyon all over the place.

Luckily my mom brought some veggies so we could feed them.

Why Are They There?
Oh, you know. Horrible WWII poison gas factory reasons. But they're all normal. Mom and I skipped the museum because we had already been to the A-Bomb one a few days before and why spoil the magic?

Rabbit Island Okunoshima Japan Bunny
Feeding some buns.

Rabbit Island Okunoshima Japan Bunny

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Did You Know...

I haven't been posting a whole lot of content on this blog lately, but my sketchblog, has a whole bunch of new comics up. More than three. More than five! Less than ten.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do you hate dentists?

I finally did it. After four years of paying into the Japanese National Health Insurance program, I did something that I should have done a long time ago. I got a wisdom tooth removed.

I'd like to say, "I got my wisdom teeth removed," but this is Japan. For reasons I can only speculate about, they do it one at a time.

I may have mentioned before how I went to a dentist to get a cleaning and they cleaned my top teeth then asked me to return the next week to do the bottom. I never went back.

Luckily this new dentist I go to speaks English pretty well and is not afraid to clean all my teeth at once. I got a few fillings from him this summer (six fillings means at least four visits) but kept putting off getting my wisdom teeth pulled.

My dentist knows I hate him. Not in a personal way. Maybe I would get along with him if I met him at a bar or something.

During my tooth-pulling visit he asked me if I'd studied any more Japanese. I answered, "hai."

He asked me what I learned. I had actually just come from a lesson, but I'm way to shy to speak Japanese to Japanese people, so I said, "haisha" [dentist].

Of course he acted totally impressed then asked me, "歯医者がきらいですか?" [Do you hate dentists?].

"Hai," I answered.

Then I opened my mouth and clenched my hands together and let him do his thing. Took less than a minute.

He asked me if I wanted to take my tooth home. I said no. He told me I should because it's a souvenir. So he put it in a little plastic tooth case and in my hand. So now I have that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hiroshima SketchCrawl

A SketchCrawl is a drawing marathon around the world where people plan meet-ups in their cities. I've always wanted to do it and finally live in a place big enough where I could find other drawers to come with me.

We had a good time, starting at the Peace Memorial Museum (in the Peace Park) and working our way to the A-bomb dome (stopping at a sidewalk cafe along the way for pizza and fresh squeezed orange juice). It was super hot and sunny, but if we followed the trees' shade the heat wasnt oppressive.

A-bomb dome
A-bomb Dome

I felt a little rusty but managed to squeeze out 2 drawings I like. Instead of using a sketchbook I went with a clipboard with different colored papers. In the last few years I've really started hating sketchbooks, wire or bound. The clipboard gives you a nice fresh piece of paper with no distracting edges and no guilt about how many you fill.

Peace Memorial

Thanks to Glenn and Chika for coming! Hope we can do it again soon.


Next SketchCrawl date is August 21st. Visit the Facebook page for details or send me an email.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer In Hiroshima

Rooftop beer gardens, night runs, non-stop fanning, yukata, homemade sangria, coffee Frappucinos, cold showers, sweaty bike rides, watermelon popsiclessticky bars.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The New Apartment

Dear Blog,

I am no longer "Alone in Kudamatsu." Havent been for a few years, actually. I just moved with Motto from Tokuyama to Hiroshima. Yup, that Hiroshima, from your history book. But the name "Alone in Kudamatsu" stays. "Living in Sin in Hiroshima" is too wordy.

I love it here in the big city so far. Ive never lived in a real urban place with a population of over a million. Just today Motto and I were walking back from the grocery store and took a moment to notice how huge the high rise we past was. Like a couple of country bumpkins we stood there, noses pointed up, counting the stories. 33. So tall. We were impressed.

Motto: Can you imagine if you were building that?
Me: What do you mean?
Motto: Standing up there working.
Me: It'd be so windy.
Motto: Would you live on the top floor?
Me: Probably not, I'd think about jumping too much.

This apartment is a lot bigger than the one back in Tokuyama. We got a bedroom, a tatami room, a kitchen, a genkan, and a bathroom with a mirror and sink! I was so excited about that. The last apartment had a sink and tiny shaving mirror in the shower and that was it.

Strange noises:
  • 10 p.m. church bells. Church, really?
  • Upstairs neighbor plays loud 90's Alt rock on Saturday nights.
  • Nightly slapping sound. Like someone is quickly whacking a fat man's back. Duration: approx 20 mins.
Good points:
  • Living downtown and can get a burrito, Starbucks decaf iced coffee, falafel and Subway sandwich in one afternoon. I dont, but I could.
  • Small American-themed cafe downstairs in my building. Serves coffee, cocktails, and Japanese food. The owner has big glasses and a motorbike and we say "konnichiwa" when we see each other.
  • Okonomiyaki restaurant around the corner has a friendly cook who makes me vegetarian food.
  • A young vegetable vendor guy stands downstairs with some cheap random veggies some days. Old ladies walk by and buy single cucumbers and slip them in their purses. They all seem to know each other pretty well.
  • Squeezed 20 guests inside for my housewarming party.
  • Someone keeps their wifi unlocked and it's super fast.
Bad Points:
  • Raspberry-chan's new room is on one of our balconies. Motto got sick of being attacked by her and we cant let her chew up the floors and wooden moulding anymore. So she's outside like some sort of animal.
I bought some new furniture and now I finally own a bed. But too be honest I miss the futons.

Motto got that insane bookshelf (pictured left) at a refurbish shop. I told him if he wants to keep his million DVDs Antonio gave him he'd better find something to keep them in.

I tried to take pictures of the place. But a video tour will probably work better. I'll do that someday. Or you could come visit.

I should make a Drunk Vegetarian Guide to Hiroshima to accompany my Fukuoka one.