Friday, December 31, 2010

I HATE JAPAN, the comic

Over on my sketchblog I'm posting mini-comics on my top five reasons I hate Japan. We're already at number 4 so hurry up and get over there before all the fun is over.

In other news, just got back from my South Korean vacation. Will I post pictures and witty observations? Perhaps. All depends on whether or not I find the new TVShack URL.

And happy new years from me and my small tribe.

xmas card rabbit

Monday, December 20, 2010


you ever been so low?
youre at a bar with an infant, leggings, leather boots, your friends are home. sleeping. youve exhausted your mutual language with the bartender. one more vodka tonic. there is a baby here, with his mom, playing pool. well, im not knocked up. good news.

Mickey looks likes he's gunna fuckin hang himself.

1 A M in Tokuyama.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Comic, yo.

Put a new small comic up over on the sketchblog, for those of you who dont subscribe to that feed. There are a few new things over there. Not a lot, dont get all excited.

As a side note, my new favorite word is delase. Coined by Motto, this word is a combination of "delete" and "erase" that only a nihonjin could think up.

(Hint: because R's and L's are interchangeable to them.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another Yatai Night

yatai Tokuyama Shunan Japan

Sometimes I think oh my god, my mother would hate this place.

Then I wanna bring her here so bad.

Dirty glasses, tarp sheets as walls, old oden. How did this become my weekend hangout? None of my friends really come here, except when urged by me (or you're Beth-san). No one enjoys Antonio's brashness, lack of teeth, and random conversation like me and Motto.

Motto yatai Japan Tokuyama Yamaguchi

But when we want a night out yatai is the first place we think of coming. Strangers up for conversation, 711 wine. Peanuts.

Motto just told Antonio I am trying to transfer to Fukuoka. He looked so sad. No one comes to this wooden ramen shack anymore.

Antonio just said he's expecting his first grandchild. すごい!

OK, I'm writing this from the yatai via my phone.

table tennis yatai JapanWatching table tennis. Such an intense sport.

Yatai entertainment center.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ink Painting Class

Motto ink painting Yamaguchi JapanA few months ago Motto and I went to an ink painting class in Yamaguchi City. I'm blogging about it now.

It was one of the most fun things we'd ever done together. We woke up early and drove to the community center. The instructor was apparently a big famous ink painter who really wanted us to learn how to paint asparagus.

Neither Motto nor I really knew what was going on in the beginning. I didnt because I couldnt understand what anyone was saying, and Motto didnt because Japanese people are confusing. We had the wrong supplies. Instead of our bottle of ink we actually needed a black stick (charcoal maybe? condensed ink?) and a block to rub it on. We spent 10 or 15 minutes rub rub rubbing the stick on the block with a splash of water. Then, viola! Ink!

After the ink materialized there was a long explanation that bored me to death as I was itching to pick up my paintbrush. Enjoy the video below to see what I mean.

Finally we were allowed to start copying the teacher's technique to paint asparagus, eggplant, and cucumbers. The teacher painted an example on my paper and then a bunch of old ladies came over and told me it was really good.

After 5 minutes of painting vegetables Motto was doing quite well, creating things fit to be hung on our walls, but my veggies sucked and I was bored of them. So I started painting the teacher (I had been staring at him for 20 minutes with a paintbrush in hand, couldnt resist) and then the girl sitting across from me.

And I almost got away with it. Let's just say there was applause. But I'll never know if they were impressed with my paintings or with a foreigner who knows how to apply ink to paper. Motto acted like the whole putting my painting in front of the class and asking me to sign it and a famous ink painter taking it home as a gift thing didnt even happen. I'm not kidding. He didnt say a thing about it. Which leads me to believe it could have been an elaborate hallucination brought on by owing $18,000 in student loans to an art school.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drunk Vegetarian's Guide to Fukuoka

I never do this, but I thought I should make my blog a little more useful to the Googling public. Especially after Motto had two occasions this month where total strangers mentioned knowing him through my blog. He so famous.

This past weekend Motto and I went to Fukuoka for a little getaway (my two week vacation in Texas the week before wasn't getaway enough, I guess). We left Sunday morning and decided to drive to save money. We didnt take the highway to save money. We added 3 hours to the 2 hour drive to save money. Money saved, lucky me.

Mana burger vegetarian hamburger fukuokaMana Burger
Our first stop was Mana Burger. Motto knew after that drive I needed to be fed. Being vegetarian in Japan, I find few places that serve real food I can eat. Yes, I can find french fries and iceberg lettuce most places, but everything else is covered in meat or fish juice. Honestly, the majority of people in Japan have never heard of vegetarianism, much less met one. Youre not allowed to go against the flow here.

Mana Burger advertises themselves as "Natural Junk." The menu includes 8 veggie burgers, 2 veggie dogs, french fries, tempeh fries, nuggets, soups and salads. I ordered the Garden Mana, which is totally vegan and is topped with sprouts, avocado, and dairy free Island dressing. The burger itself was good and didnt taste like one of those disgusting Burger King veggie patties. And I was totally willing to fork over the 780¥ (about $9USD) for something I could put in my mouth that wasnt deep fried or bland as hell. (Regular burger is just 580¥)

vegetarian hotdog Fukuoka JapanThe Mana Dog on the other hand, meh. It tasted like a nuked tofu dog on a big bun. They also put a big pile of sauerkraut on top, which seems weird. C'mon, isnt relish vegan? But I may just be spoiled from having just been in Texas eating tofu dogs whenever the mood hit me. I could see myself craving those 530¥ weiners in a few months. (They were no Vancouver street dogs by any means...droool.)

I did like the copious amounts of ketchup and mustard available! A rare thing in Japan! They also sell vegetarian food, like ramen packs, tempeh, beans, etc.

Tel 092-986-0759
Monday-Friday 11:00〜21:00
Saturday 10:00〜21:00

Starbucks Motto Fukuoka JapanMarinoa City
Next we went to the mega outlet mall Marinoa City. This was Motto's main reason for wanting to come to Fukuoka. It was pretty cool, I mean if you look at the website there is a Ferris Wheel, Smoking Corner, Children's Restroom. What's not to love? Having just visited America for two weeks I wasnt super impressed, but I could see the appeal if I really needed to get my shopping on. Not like any of the clothes in the entire place would fit me, but there are always accessories and snacks!

Places of note include the LEGO store, Muji Factory Outlet, ABC Mart and Starbucks. Even at discount prices things seemed expensive. Nothing to drive 5 1/2 hours for, especially in the age of internet shopping, but nice nonetheless.

Super Hotel JapanSuper Hotel
Looking for the cheapest hotel possible, but something with a private bathroom and locks on the doors, we found Super Hotel. Located downtown and costing only 4,100¥ for two people (with Motto's student discount), and 700¥ for parking it was a pretty sweet deal. The bed was kind of small but the room had everything one needs: a fridge, hot water and tea, a blow dryer, air filter and a unit bathroom. The room was clean but the bathroom had mold in the cracks. I knew that wouldnt be good for my ritual hangover bath.

There was a buffet continental breakfast that Motto *loved* but I didnt bother waking up for, since it was not vegetarian-friendly (or appealing?). Miso soup, rice, boiled chicken, pickled vegetables, kimchi, octopus calpacho, eggs, fish, hamburgers (that just means round ground meat here), and drinks.

Contemporary Bar 「瀧商店」
We didnt know what to expect when we arrived at Contemporary Bar for our 7:30 reservation. Motto just booked the place (we were meeting up with his old university friends) because they had a 2,000¥ (24$USD) nomihodai (all you can drink for two hours*) that included three food options. Plus he called ahead and they said they can accommodate vegetarians.

We were a little nervous when we went inside. Motto explained it was in the "bad boy" part of town (a store called Four Twenty across the street). It wasnt a big izakaya like we expected, but a small place with seating for two parties and a few stools at the bar. It had a nice atmosphere though, and interesting, funky decorations. A milk bottle lamp hung between the red sofas where we sat.

But we had nothing to be nervous about. The cocktail choices for nomihodai were awesome (my favorites, Absolut Vodka and Disaronno were available) and the two guys working were friendly and casual (you can see one sitting at the bar in the video). They didnt make us feel guilty for making them fetch our drinks every 10 minutes. The food was really good too, surprisingly. First a big salad with an array of vegetables, then minestrone soup (creamy and oishii!) and finally a big plate of french fries. It was all included in the 2,000¥ each. There were five of us there and enough food for all, although we did order more because we felt obliged to given how little we had to pay (and we drank all their beer).

And let me tell you, the drinks were strong. I think I had a rum and tonic, three Bulldogs (vodka and grapefruit juice) and two amaretto orange sodas. But it could have been more (who knows at that point). You can see the direction the conversation was going in the video (meaning: Japanese) and for the first hour I just kind of nodded my head along, but I swear by the end I was fluent and the funniest person in the room!

*Japanese people dont seem to see that as a challenge.

We took a taxi to a yatai so the boys could eat ramen and drink more. I ordered sho-chu (god knows why), took two sips than wondered up and down the yatai-lined street looking for a toilet. I did eventually stumble into a kombini and use the toilet. I think I may have eaten grilled mushrooms, too. I do know that I was to drunk to argue in Japanese about how I shouldnt have to split the bill. And I didnt want to embarrass Motto in front of his friends.

In the morning I put on my sunglasses, my clothes from the night before, swung by Subway for a Veggie Delite and endured the nauseating ride back to Tokuyama.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weird Penis

Yesterday I learned that the same Japanese word means "want to see" and "you look like." So my four year old student wasnt saying he wanted to see my weird penis (by way of introduction, the first time we met). He was saying I look like a weird penis. Precious.
Sometimes I wish I didnt understand so much Japanese.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Make Pie

blueberry pie
Yes, I do. When confronted with a country that doesnt sell prepackaged blueberry pies, and charges 6 bucks for a tiny slice of a pie-like food, I do what any other internet connected American citizen would do. Google an easy pie recipe.

But, my skills are so intense that I merely had to glance at a few recipes to find what they have in common (hint: blueberries, cornstarch, and flour) before entering the kitchen to make my own version of the pie: sugar-free with a whole wheat flour crust. Now Motto and I can pretend the pie is healthy as we devour it in one sitting. Yea, pie!

The whip cream is brought to you courtesy of Motto. I'd like to thank my neighbors for not complaining about our midnight whipping.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Raw Chicken

Motto's tori sashimi dinner (as I pick pieces of fish off my salad).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mr Max Music

Im at Mr Max discount store. Currently playing on loudspeaker: "I Wanna Sex You Up"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That's Customer Service!

japanese customer serviceToday when I got home from work Motto told me the story of his day. He went to the bank in the afternoon to sign up for internet banking and the teller was apparently very rude to him. More like passive aggressive, really. She told him he could fill out the form at home and mail it (instead of taking up space in her bank). He called the bank to complain and said it happened before with that lady.

Then tonight when he got home there was a business card from the manager and two packs of tissues in our mail slot. I think he came here to bow and apologize.

I should say Motto isn't a complainer at all. In fact, whenever I try to complain about someone he dismisses it and says "that's not what they meant." So I was surprised to hear this story.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Antonio-san's obsession with movies led us into an entirely Japanese discussion about the 1998 film Apt Pupil (Japanese title: Golden Boy) and the tragic death of star Brad Renfro, his post-mordeum Oscar snub, and how he was in my favorite movie ever, Ghost World.
Never a dull moment.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rice Fields and Fireworks

rice field Kano Yamaguchi
rice field Kano Yamaguchi
rice field Kano Yamaguchi
Maybe I mentioned a few months ago that my Grandpa hooked me up with a sweet deal on a Canon 40D DSLR camera. I still only understand 1% of its functions, and am trying hard not to use it as a point-and-shoot with an amazing zoom. Yesterday I went into the mountains of Kano with Nao-chan to take pictures of the yellow rice fields. She taught me some things about changing the ISO (I think) and now need to spend another few hours with the manual. If anyone has any tips for me or knows a good online tutorial, let me know (anyone, as in the 4 people who would read this far...).

This summer I also brought the camera out to a festival in Tokuji.

See more of my pictures on my Flickr.

One more announcement, I updated my sketchblog, and it has a new address, so if you were subscribed before you should update your whatchamacallit.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Only in Japan

Popcorn in a bag.

Friday, July 30, 2010


On the train on my way to the beach today an old woman came up to me and complimented my white white skin.
I felt guilty that I was on my way to damage it a little. But, I am wearing a hat and sunscreen.
Not gunna go in the Im not really sure why Im here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tokyo Sciene Museum

You can see my pictures from my trip to the Tokyo Science Museum here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Say My Name

I never thought much about the pronunciation of my name before moving to Japan. I do remember I would get annoyed at Jon every once in a while because I thought he over-pronounced the tt's. It was like he was making a tsk tsk sound at the end of my name.

I, myself, end Jeannette somewhere around the n's.

Since I am in Japan and have all this official paperwork that needs my name written out in characters rather than letters, I had to choose between Ja-net or Je-net. I chose Je. I believe it is for the reason that everyone, including Motto, pronounces my name Ja-net. Or more often, Jaa-netto.

And then there's the Janet mix up. My students always get a big laugh whenever that name pops up in a textbook. I have to explain the difference to seven year-olds; Je-net vs. Jan-et.

Loads of people I have met here have exclaimed, "JANET JACKSON!" after I introduced myself. Surely we non-Asians don't look that much alike.

I thought maybe I should ask my parents how to say my name, have each of them vote. They did it to me after all. Then I remembered, neither of them have ever called me Jeannette. It's either Jen or Jenny (how sweet). I know for a fact my father doesn't even know how to spell my name.

So I was just lying in bed, mulling it over, repeating Ja-net, Je-net, Ja-net, Je-net, trying to remember how I ever pronounced my name before I moved to the land of katakanaization.

So, kids, I've decided it's Juh-net. I will inform Motto in the morning but will continue to let my students call me Japanetto, Gianetto, or Jaa-ne-sensei.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Originally uploaded by JimmyJaneSays

More pictures of Hanami on Flickr.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


You're lucky you cant read Japanese.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


How would one use this particular type of clothing? Foot goes in one hole, neck through another?
But what do I know about style, I'm shopping with a backpack on.

Monday, March 29, 2010

More on Japanese Students

Motto came home today with a 12 pack of pink toilet paper.

It's his last week of work teaching, and he brought on a few students to a yaki niku buffet for a goodbye lunch. Motto told me he spent 3,000¥ on lunch and then when he came back to the office later there was a 12 pack of pink toilet paper waiting for him. The office lady must have said who it was from.

When I pressed Motto for more details about why they would buy him a 12 pack of pink toilet paper, or what he thought it meant, he just shrugged and said he felt lucky, because we could really use the toilet paper.

"Why are you writing about my story?" Motto just asked me, "It's normal."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Today, a room of 3 and 4 year-olds sat in a circle around me screaming as many mean Japanese words combined with "sensei" as they could. It was like something from a nightmare, where you're totally surrounded and just being mocked. By babies. They were dying with laughter and couldn't be controlled. They would get real close to my face if they thought they had a good one. I just sat there at one point, not trying to stop them, because it felt so surreal.

I'll give you the highlights in English:


I can't remember all of them, and there were probably a few I couldnt understand.

(sensei means teacher, they usually call me Jeannetto-sensei)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hey Kids!

Minnie has a delicious treat for you! Yum fun!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Well, ladies, my blog posts are about to get a lot shorter. You see, nerds all around the internets are cracking their backs and rubbing their bellies and choosing not to trade a master knowledge of memes for unhealthiness anymore. I first heard about this trend from my friend Frederik and soon Krijali was joining in. If the two most otaku people I know are doing it, surely I want in.

Yes, I am talking about the stand-up desk. Or SUD, as I am now calling it (coin!).

So yesterday (actually three days ago, I'm writing this post in 5 minute intervals*) I transported everything out of my big Japanese closet and plopped it in my tatami room (Motto is thrilled), leaving me space for my very own SUD! So far, so good.

I'm not sure how long image editing projects or the total overhaul of my website (in hand coded CSS) will go, but I'll wait a while before I get into that and give my muscles time to adjust. If muscles have memories, they need only remember 3 years ago when I stood at a cash register 8 hours a day. Drawing on receipt tape and brown bags.

Unexpected results: tweets (@jeannetto) are instantly more unbearable; I haven't written a single email (sorry mom); my kitchen is damn clean.

Other results of computer geeks around the world abandoning their chairs may be: less sarcastic responses on forums when you ask a question; your IT guy may soon be able to kick your ass (or at least make it to your desk); bandwidth will be freed up for poor people in Africa. Et cetera.

But like any internet trend, or health kick I go on, what goes up, must come down.

*psych! I wrote this all in one go.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Today was one of those days where I woke up chanting to myself, please dont make me go, please dont make me go. But I gratefully ate the okonomiyaki Motto served for breakfast and filled my new tumbler (thanks Sarah) with decaf coffee and off I went. I woke up after noon so it was too late to call out sick anyway.

I love my long train ride into Yanai. I just cant understand how the time seems to double on the way home.

My first class was a trial lesson I was dreading with three 2 year olds and their mothers. The Japanese teacher of the school had set everything up so nicely my anxiety levels dropped a bit when I entered the room. Plus, she wasn't there, so I could continue listening to my podcast. Bonus.

Things started looking up when the first toddler came in and, after being prompted by his mother, announced, "Mayonnaise Shu!*" We played, I danced around like a monkey, and the class went fine.

The next class, though, made me think about the big picture of my life and what the hell I think I'm doing here. It's a bunch of 7 year olds, and they weren't that bad today, they've been worse. As they usually do, two boys just sat in the back of the room playing with their pencil boxes and talking about Pokemon while I wrangled everyone to get their notebooks out and checked homework. No matter how many times I called these boys, how many of my Japanese words I used, how many angry faces I made, how many times I threatened to call their moms, they wouldn't budge.

I realized they are just doing exactly what they want to be doing. And why should I get mad at them, when before the class started I hoped all 8 students were absent so I could be doing exactly what I want to be doing (listening to a podcast laying on my back in the middle of the room)?

And then I started to think, why I am trying to control these kids and what right do I have to? But then I think that the company that pays me would really appreciate me attempting to teach some English and hopefully use the curriculum they trained me to teach. I just hate when the students get to me and I start getting frustrated or caring that they're in balls on the floor wrestling or talking loudly to each other so I can't hear the other students with my good ear.

I'm standing up, pointing my finger yelling, sit down, sit down, sit down. And then it dawns on me I don't really care at all. And I give everyone a piece of origami paper to draw a picture of their favorite toys.

*That's baby Japanese for "My name is Shu."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A friend of mine Krijali (alias), who is also my go-to for any random technology question I have, has launched a website for his future 2,500 km hike around Japan. I know to you and me that sounds like a horrible time, but apparently he finds that kind of stuff "fun." Anyway, here's his plan:
I will be hiking around the island of Shikoku, visiting the 88 temples of the longest walking pilgrimage in [...] Japan. From there I will trek through the historic roots of Japan on my way to Kyoto. Then I will take an Edo era route, the Nakasendo, through the picturesque mountains of Japan, from Kyoto to Tokyo. After this I will walk the Tokaido route back to Kyoto with a detour in order to climb Mount Fuji.

You guys remember my Mount Fuji story, right?

Knowing him he'll do the mission (I dont know about survive) and take some incredible video and photos along the way. So visit his new site,, bookmark it, subscribe, whatever, and live vicariously through his adventure.

And yes, I am writing this post to assuage some guilt about constantly annoying him with my tech emails while I redo my website.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Plum Blossoms

Plum Blossoms I
Originally uploaded by JimmyJaneSays

Spring! Spring! Spring!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Creepy Little Japanese Guys

Sometimes I think I'm in a Miyazaki film. That's one reason I came to Japan. More distinctly Japanese photos up on my Flickr page.

Monday, February 22, 2010


The weather's been getting warmer. Yesterday I went out to the [even more] country side to take some photos with Nao-chan and Kris. I kept bugging Kris with questions about f-stops and shutter speeds. We saw some weird cult-like activity, too. Those pictures were all destroyed.

My Flickr photostream.


He insists on disgusting me with his native diet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Listener Mail

I was laying in the hospital bed this morning, getting a big bag of steroids injected into my veins, listening to a medley of my favorite podcasts, when the "Stuff Mom Never Told You" hosts went to "listener mail" and totally read my view on global deodorantationalism. I just grinned in the bed thinking what a super-geek I am (and how I'm totally going to blog about this later).

If anyone heard the episode already, I am indeed the Jeannette from Japan, with paragraphs and paragraphs to share on underarms. I think Cristen (or Molly) loses her breath at one point while reading my edited down letter.

Click here to download the episode, "Do kids need both a mother and a father?" on iTunes. My email is at the 19:42 mark. I talk about Motto's armpits. Hehe.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

left hand keitai typing

not starbucks, peppermint tea. after 5 hour iv have to work.
today is a bank holiday so the usual entrance and desk was closed. the nurses are different and busy with other stuff, but it only took one try to find a vein today.
i was worried they were giving me the wrong medicine, but they just did it in the opposite order, with the one that leaves a bad taste in my mouth first, pink one second, and im assuming the huge one next.
my usual nurse is actually 2 of my students' mom, who brings me hot towels for my arm. miss her.
hearing status: same.
great, moaning old man just arrived.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Neighborhood

Just got my new Canon digital SLR EOS 40D camera in the mail today! Went around my block to take some pictures. The light wasn't great, but I got a few shots. Still figuring the camera out.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I've been waiting at the hospital for 3 hours and I saw a dead body!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Liquid Candy!

Have I shown you this one?

Thursday, January 28, 2010