i think i’m turning japanese

Not really, but last night I dreamed that I was in Japan looking around in this numinously cute clothing store where everything was incredibly appealing, only I had not enough yen for even one item.  SOB.  But when I woke up, the kids and I softly chatting in bed before we had hardly opened our eyes, I told them about my dream and we started talking about how cool it would be to go to Japan for real.  Out comes the ipad for looking at photos and maps and airline ticket prices, and wow, we started getting super stoked.  What a cool long-term project it would be if we could pull it off!

We decided the first thing to do (besides saving money, of course, and I figure it would cost us all at least $10,000, a nice round number, haha *faint*) was to learn Japanese.  Out came the ipad again and we downloaded a couple of  apps for learning hiragana, the phonetic Japanese syllabary.  In a few hours we had most of the 46 characters memorized, woo hoo!  The Dr. Moku app was annoying but surprisingly effect.  AIUEO-Hiragana was pretty and fun to play, although on its own it was not enough.  Kana LS Touch was cool for learning to draw the characters right on the screen.  Sophie is now writing secret notes, English written in Hiragana, haha, and hiding them all over the yurt.  This is the beauty of homeschooling.  You want to spend the morning learning Hiragana, then you do.  Next, grammar, vocabulary and kanji, piece of cake, right?  Or, I should say, piece of .  And then, to conquer the world!

What with all our anime and manga consumption lately, we are steeped in Japanese culture at the moment and have been virtually visiting Tokyo daily for months. We’ll probably be surprised when we get there that everything is live-action, and not animated.  In addition to anime, we just got this fun book from the library, Japan Ai: A Tall Girl’s Adventures in Japan, a memoir-in-comics by Aimee Steinberger, a professional animator (and a nearly 6″ tall girl) living out the otaku’s dream of visiting Japan.  It’s a charming book, totally made me want to go—and reading it yesterday is probably the source of my dream.  An otaku, by the way, is kind of a geek, someone who is really into manga and anime—that’s us!—although, my understanding is that, like geek, otaku used to be quite a put down, but has been reclaimed.  Age of the otaku, baby!

In Japan, Luc wants to eat his body weight in sushi, Sophie wants to visit the Aranzi Aronzo store in Tokyo, I want to see the  Shinto shrines, and we all wanted to visit some hot springs and see cherry blossoms and walk barefoot on tatami.  Doesn’t this sound like a fun project? It will only take, oh, maybe a decade to save up, cough. We can go for Sophie’s 18th birthday!  Or, if we saved twice as fast, we could go in four or five years, that should be plenty of time to become fluent in Japanese, right?  Not that you’d have to be fluent to go to Japan, but why not, right?  If you’re going to do it, might as well go all the way.

Oooh, and we watched this really amazing movie last week, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” about the top sushi chef in Japan, or at least the most famous. A meal made my Jiro costs about $300 dollars and is, by all accounts, a masterpiece.  I totally want to try it!  Watch this documentary about Jiro’s life, highly recommended!  It’s streaming on netflix, and I think the whole thing is up on youtube.

Doesn’t it make you want to visit?  GAH.  There has to be a way.

6 thoughts on “i think i’m turning japanese

  1. Michele

    A couple things of interest to add to your Japan travel plans: 100 Yen Shops (like Daiso – we have some in the San Francisco area and they’re so much fun!) and Eki stamp collecting. http://denshadejapan.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/the-eki-stamp/

    I’m rooting for you to go! What a great experience that would be. Ooooo, what about setting up a Kickstarter and all your devoted readers could contribute just for the joy of getting blog updates about the event? I’d totally kick in for something like that.

    On a side note, I went through a Japanese phase that absolutely mortified my mother, and I blame it all on Pam Dauber. She did a made-for-tv movie where she went to Japan and studied being a Geisha. Oh man! I wanted to be a geisha soooooooooooooooo bad after seeing that movie. My conservative, religious mother was mortified that I had aspirations to be (in her opinion) a tea-serving-lady-of-the-night. I thought it was so lovely and graceful, a bit like doing musical theater, only with snacks and really awesome wigs. Ha!

    Reply
    1. maya Post author

      Hey, what a great story about Pam Dauber, haha! It’s not too late! You could still be a geisha! Or at least dress like one. In that Japan Ai book, Aimee went to a place where they dress you up as a geisha, full make-up and everything, and take your picture. She was the tallest girl ever to grace their door and the helper ladies had to stand on stools to get her into her kimono. It’s cute.

      Reply
  2. Jeff

    There has to be a way to go to Japan? Hmm. Well, if a strange woman approached you on the street and asked, “Are you a dancer?” you could lie and say, “Yes.” She’d explain that she sends dancers all over the world, and you’d go to her studio to try out. She’d say, “You lied,” but a month later she’d forget that you can’t dance and call you in a panic because she needs another girl in Japan in three days, “I know you’re busy, but could you possibly go?” And you’d say, “Yes,” and you’d go to Japan, but the other dancers would hate you because you can’t dance and you’re throwing them off, and you’d have to bust your butt 12 hours a day learning to dance while still doing shows at night. Meanwhile, you’d continue your clothing design work aimed at the club scene, but now strongly influenced by anime, and that would take off, and you’d travel the world to various club scenes. Eventually you’d end up in NYC, still designing clothes and paid to be fabulous at clubs. From there it wouldn’t be long before you were costume designer and choreographer for a gymnastics-based dance troupe. Eventually you’d help your boss develop aerial yoga, which would be pretty cool. And, hey, you’d have had that year in Japan (plus some return visits).

    At least, that’s how a friend of mine from high school did it.

    Reply
    1. maya Post author

      Wow, is that a true story? How cool is that!!! She totally stole my alternate life! I’m really pissed now.

      Reply
  3. Jeff

    Tis true. Small town Kansas girl living her dream and making up new ones as she goes along, all ’cause she’s willing to take “are you insane?” leaps of faith.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: the japanese project continues–reading! | mayaland

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