Once Upon a Tanbo

Archive for January 2008

Posted on: January 30, 2008

Just a quick pic to celebrate our 1x month anniversary ;P 


I am starting to get bad about keeping up with my posting! But the thing

is I write a lot of posts during my day at work, but since my work has a

firewall I can't sign-in to post on blogger. I have to email the blogs

to myself and at the end of the day I re-read them and think they

are too silly or innane to post or I just am too lazy to do it!

to make matters worse, I've had a monster Japanese cold which took a

packet of medicine and about 2 boxes of tissues to finally beat down. I hate being sick! I

have such a hard time concentrating on work and just my luck I had two

huge translation projects come in right in the middle of the heat of

battle with my cold last week. However I feel good now! Nice and



So on the living situation, things are going ok. We had a "fight" I

guess you would call it the other day, although I think it mostly

stemmed from Ryohei taking his stress and frustration out on me. He also

told me that sometimes he wishes that he had more alone time. And, I

understand! We live in a one room apartment and he always gets home from

school after me, so pretty much he has no time to lounge around and be

by himself. I get a little bit of alone time for an hour or two before

he comes home from work so I'm ok. But, I think he was just afraid to

tell me that he wanted alone time because he thought I would get

insulted or mad, but I understand! You can be crazy in love but that

still doesn't mean you have to be attached all the time. Unfortunately

the living situation is not going to change, I do have a very big genkan

area where he has a desk set up but it is too cold to go out there right

now and I don't have any space heaters just a kotatsu which we huddle

under. Its either under the kotatsu or in bed.. but thus is winter in



I can't wait until we move into a place that feels like "ours"

preferably a newer place. At this point, my "home" is a place that is

leased through my work, they pay half my rent, which is great! But its

so old, and all my predecessors have lived in it making it a haven of

junk which is starting to fall apart after probably 10-15 years of use.

The one room space was fine when it was just me, but for two

people its a bit rough. Even in the best case scenerio we will still be

living there together for about another year.

Actually I feel bad for poor Ryohei, I know he is feeling a lot of

pressure to pass his test. He sees all his friends who are graduating

this year, or are successful with the job they picked straight out of

college and feels like a failure. More than anything I know that he

wants to get hired, find a new bigger place and then start a family. I'm

actually really surprised on the last one, as he like me, is only 24 but

already talking about having kids and telling me that as soon as he

knows he has a job placement he would be ok with starting to try (but we

wont since that would interfer with me finishing MY job contract)

Actually I was watching the clip that Illahee put of her baby son on her

blog and he came in and was like "Kawaii!! I want us to have one too!

But to be able to support you I have to pass the test! I have to study

now!!" And then was crazy studying for like 3 hours.. (thanks Illahee for the somewhat random

encouragement to him hehe)


Well in other news, 1 more month until I hand in our paperwork! Ryohei

and I have talked about it a lot, and finally figured that leap year day is

the day we want to have it done officially. For several reasons..


1. we like having a special day for our anniversary, since it 

only comes every 4 years we can plan to do something special like a trip

abroad or a stay at a really nice ryokan for a couple days. of course we

plan to have a small yearly celebration/nice dinner on the day that we became a couple

(October 28th.) ryohei jokes that when hes asked when his wedding anniversary is

he can say "oh.. not for another 2 more years!" or something like that


2. The 29th is Taian or the most lucky day of the week for a marriage. I

guess theres a Japanese system where every week has a corresponding

lucky or unlucky day on it depending on the event., for example one day,

tomobiki (pulling a friend) should never be used for funeral as it means

the dead will be pulling his friends to the grave with him etc etc..

Anyways neither Ryohei or I are too superstitious but if there is some

truth to it then I'll gladly accept the Taian good luck.


3. Well.. this really isn't a great one, but once we get married Ryohei

can get on my insurance which would be good.. I'm not sure what he's

doing for insurance at this point. Hoping nothing bad happens to him within

the next month...


4. We want to start getting everything for my change from work -> spouse

visa started asap. One reasonfor this is that Kobe has an immigration

bureau nearby to both my work and his school which makes it so convient for

picking up visas, going in for interviews etc. We are hoping to go in

and apply for the visa when I get back from my trip to America in March.

Ryohei will *knock on wood* be going to Niigata next April so if we have

to reapply for a renewal he would have to come all the way back to Kobe

on a work day which would be so inconvient for both of us. So we hope

that by getting a Visa that will expire probably around the end of next

March we can reapply before he leaves and hopefully get a 3 year visa

the second time around. 

Well this may be a little late but its still January so I think it still


I don’t really have resolutions as much as things that I want to do by

the end of this year.


Major items within the next year (2008)


Pay off all of my student loans

Get married (on paper)

Visit my family in America in March

Go with Ryohei to America and have a small marriage celebration with my

family and close friends around Chrismas time


I really feel like that year is a shift in to “adult” responsible life.

I think that I’ve always been a really independent individual, having

moved out at age 17 doing college 6000 miles away, finding a job, and

moving to Japan. But I have always felt a little bit like I was just

going with the flow and not really doing anything for me. I think that

this year when I plan to get married, get our of debt,  turn 25, and

start planning for the future is a big step for me. Last year was

difficult.. not only did I have a new job and a big move, but I had a

long distance relationship as well as the gathering realization that I

was “different” from most of my friends, and that I wouldn’t be going

home in a year or two like I thought I was.


However I am thankful because I met a couple people who I consider true

friends last year, and I hope to meet many more. I didn’t meet Ryohei

last year, but I feel it was a very important year for our realtionship

as there were so many twists and turns and ups and downs. But in the

end, I think both of us agree that the way its ended up now has been the

best of all. I think for me last year was really the hardest year I

could have really imagined, but I’m sure that for Ryohei this will be

the hardest year, so I hope that I can support him and that this time

next year we are celebrating and planning for our new life in Niigata.


Cheers to all those for 2008.


Well, I guess its true what they say about time flying when you are

having fun. Its been two weeks since Ryohei and I moved in together, at

first it was so weird having him around all the time, but slowly our

schedule has changed to fit eachother and its been so good having him



Of course, he isn’t around that much, but hes usually home for dinner

every day except Wednesdays and Fridays. He does go to school from 12-7

on Saturday which is a little bit lonely, but during that its good for

me to get out and see my few friends who live in the area. I actually

have quite a schedule.


Wednesday I usually go see Mandy and baby Toshi and the Friday I either

go to my beloved Starbucks for coffee or relax at home if I need the

alone time.

Ryoheis studying has been going alright. Hes only been doing it about

two weeks but he seems very into it and I think it been going well.

We’ll often sit under the kotatsu with me reading up on Japanse Civil

Law or the Constitution while I surf the web or play Kanji learning

software on my DS Lite. (addiction… I have gotten way too many games

lately) Anyways, sometimes he’ll just chuckle and go “wakatta wakatta!”

its very cute. I love him!!


So far no big issues with living together, he’s so helpful around the

house and always will do the dishes when I’ve made dinner, and he will

do laundry and general tidying up on his own. I should probably learn

from him 🙂 Actually for me, having someone around is so nice. I just

get so lazy on my own and would much rather sit in front of the tv or

curl up with a good book in bed than vacuum or cook a meal. Actually

I’ve been cooking dinner and bring a leftover bento with me to work

almost every day since he got here! Yay! Not only is this helping to

save money, but its more healthy and I think I’m weak to the

“ummmmmaiiiii” that Ryohei (usually) gives me after I serve him dinner.

It makes me happy to have a little family..


Speaking of family, we still haven’t decided exactly when we are signing

the paperwork to get married. It doesn’t take too long to get it done,

but Ryohei has to get his family register sent down, I have to go to the

consulate in Osaka to get a marriage eligibilty paper etc… So, we do

need to sit down and discuss it. Maybe this weekend.. we honestly don’t

get too much time to talk during any day except for Sunday since Ryohei

has his nose in the books as soon as dinner is finished. Not that I’m

complaining, I want him to be able to pass his test in June! The sooner

he gets situated the sooner we can get settled.


I know that he misses Niigata a lot, and to an extext I do as well. I

really like his family and the non city feel of the place. I do know

that when I do move that I will really miss the friends that I have in

the Kobe-Osaka area. At this point I really only have 2 close friends

whom I know will be around, (most of my other friends are all JET

teachers who will be leaving before the end of the summer). I know I

will miss my friends here a lot, but I don’t see myself living in the

Kansai area for more than another year and a half to two years.


Ryohei and I have talked a bit lately about when we want to start

planning to have children. Both of us really want to be parents and we

want to have 3 children preferably before we are out of our early 30s (both of

us had older parents mid to upper 30s and would prefer to have at least

two of our children in our mid-late twenties) Once Ryohei gets his job

situation figured out we can discuss a more specific time but assuming 

that Ryohei passes his test and gets his job this year

we’d probably start trying for a baby born in late ’09 to early ’10. My

contract at work is until summer of ’09 so things should work out pretty

well on that end as well. Anyways.. I like to be somewhat planned ahead.

But honestly we won’t really know anything until about August/September

of this year. And if we have to wait a little longer thats ok too 😉


I like planning, as you may be able to tell be just reading this

journal! But for now theres nothing really to plan.. I have work, go

home, make dinner, and relax. After 9 months of the waiting lifestyle

its been a little difficult to change back to plan everyday events. But

in a good way.


I’m happy to have my Ryohei with me! And I am loving my daily bedtime

and wake up cuddles. Although not so enjoying him stealing all 3 (!!)

blankets to his side of the bed last night! Grr!


Anyways next time I’ll do a post reviewing the DS games I’ve gotten

recently! I figure that maybe there are some readers who might be

interested in improving their Japanese reading/writting.. espicially

with the talk of the proficiency test for long term residents being

discussed! (but opinions on that are for yet another post…)

漢字ソフト批評タイム! Part 1

Kanji Game Review


So as I maybe have meantioned before I love Kanji. Really, I do. I’m not

sure why but learning them has been really rewarding for me. And

espicially since I bought my new DS Lite my Kanji game fever has reached

 a frightening and.. expensive peak.


So figuring that perhaps some of those who read my blog might be

interested, or perhaps share the same desire, I’ve decided to write a

review of some of the games I have played. I’ve actually never really

reviewed anything before but I’ll try to be as informative as possible

since I hate reading a review and then having a totally different



There are different types of games within the Kanji Game genre.. which I 

would classify as learning, test taking, and kanji oriented action game.

To me, the learning games have been the most helpful to so

far so today I will review 2 of the ones that I have in my collection.



So lets begin..

Let me introduce the kanji enthusiasts new best friend, my favorite game

thus far.


Nazotte Oboeru Otona no Kanji Renshuu (Learn by Copying – Adults Kanji




I picked up this game in the winter of 2006 when I was just

thinking about taking level 2 of the Japanese proficency test (I ended

up taking level 1). I hadn’t heard much about it, but the box had some

nice clear pictures of drawing a big kanji on the back and seemed to

have something about stroke order. Not really having the best stroke

order I bought this game without knowing too much about it and I am so

glad I did!


It covers all 1945 of the daily use kanji. You can select daily training

and it will give you a set of 5 kanji to pratice the reading and

writting. After you complete 4 sets of kanji (20 characters) you will

unlock a practice test in the test section.  Each level has about 8 – 12

practice tests with 20 questions and then a final test of about 50

questions. If you pass the fianl test you unlock the next level of

questions to begin training. There are 9 levels

with 1-6 corresponding to that year of elementary school kanji and then

7 8 and 9 being junior high school and high school kanji.


One of my favorite fuctions is the Nigatte (weakness kanji) challenge

which lets you retake the questions that you missed until you can

write/read them correctly. The training section only gives you the kanji

once so if you don’t pay attention you might miss it. Thus, when you

come across and miss in in the test, you can practice it until you get

it right in the nigatte section . There was one character.. I think it

was 旗(hata) flag that I just kept getting wrong over and over again..

and now I think I have pretty much mastered it *crosses fingers* but

anyways I think this game has singularly helped me to remember about

half of the kanji that I know now.


It also has kanji games with different catagories that teach you how to

read and write certain kanji representing food names, science, politics,

anime, etc. I enjoy the section a lot and use it to take a break from

serious studying. Also the food section is helpful as I can now read

some of those obscure kanji they use for fruits/veggies etc.


All in all a truly excellent purchase. Even as I learn new kanji (I’m

about halfway through level 8 now) I still often go back to scrub up on

the earlier levels. I love this software and highly highly reccomend it. 

Its a little more expensive than a text book, but unlike a book you can

do it over and over again and no wasting paper!!


Just a note of caution if you buy the game. When you make your profile

(you can have up to three so hubby, kids etc can also play) for the

game it asks your brithday and bases your kanji level off of this. Thus

even if you know 300, 500, 1000 kanji etc I would recommend inputing

your age as young as possible so that you can start training from the

level 1 level. I put my real age in when I first got it and was started at

the level 7 which was way too hard. I ended up deleting that profile and

making a new one aged 6 years old! If you want to skip to your level,

then I guess put around the age group of that level, say you know about

the first common 1000 kanji, then put your age as 12 or 13 like a

completing elementary school student.


Also –  a second version the “complete” version was

released with an extra 200 kanji and some more games. I’d recommend getting that

version since you will get more for your money. Most of the contents are a

repeat from the first game so its not really worth it to get both if you

have the first one, but I do hate that I’m missing out on the extra 200 characters. It just

recently came out.. so maybe I’ll wait a while and pick it up used if I

see it for a better price.




Ok so on to the next review


This next game I picked up just the week but it is already my number 2

(after the lovely Otona no Kanji Renshuu)


正しい漢字かきとりくん ( Tadashii Kanji Kaki Tori-kun)

http://100mas.jp/kakitorikun/ (1st version for elementary school students

with the elementary school 1006 kanji)

正しい漢字かきとりくん 今度は漢検 

(Tadashii Kanji Kakitori-kun Kondo ha Kanken Training)

http://100mas.jp/kakitori2/index.html (2nd version for adults with the

general knowledge 1945 kanji)


Alright I don’t have the first one.. At this point I’m studying Jr. High

level kanji and I already have the Otona no Renshuu. Plus the second one

covers all of the kanji in the first one and another 900!


Kakitori-kun is a recent game that was developed to teach children (and

adults) the correct way to write kanji. I recently saw the game and after reading

another review decided it would be worth it. I picked it up slightly

discounted for about 3200 yen at an electronics store and have been very much enjoying it.


The game has 3 sections.

The first is the Kakitori practice (aka writting practice)

The game has hiragana, katakana, grades 1 – 6, jr. high first half, jr.

high second half, and high school kanji that you can practice as many

times as you want. The little mascot guy will then judge your kanji on a


1-100 scale as to its beauty and overal following of the stroke order.

If you get more than a 50 you pass. Unlike kanji no renshuu, you can

practice the kanji time and time again and they are all lit up so you

can select which kanji you want to practice. There is no nigatte

function though. So you just have to remember which ones youve been

having trouble with. Also helpful, is that every kanji has its own

defintions and meaning page. This is a allows you to see the kanji

being used in context. The explanations are all written in Japanese but

the difficult kanji all have hiragana on them. It also has a jukugo

(phrase section) which showcases some of the two or three kanji words

that the knaji is found in. For example 行く (いく) would have

something like 行列(ぎょうれつ)and 進行(しんこう) and their meanings ( procession)

and ( progress) explained in Japanese. Helpful for expanding vocab.


Moving on to the drill section

This section helps to train reading, writting, identify the bushu (parts

of the kanji), synonyms, antonyms, and kanji compounds. You can’t

choose the level of difficultly for these games but they are each about

20 questions with about the first 10 being aimed towards elementary

level 1- 5 and then the final 10 hard elementary through hard high

school problems. I let Ryohei try it and he would usually pass the questions

easily until about number 15 and then he would have a little difficuly

but usually be stumped by 19 or 20 (and hes very very good at kanji)


Overall he drills are good, and when you miss a kanji in the drills it

will let you click on it to either see the dictionary reading or how

many points you scored while writting it. Also if you write the kanji

incorrectly stroke orderwise you fail! Not a bad system!


Finally is the Kentei section (testing)

There are 8 or 9 levels cant remember offhand.. and each of them has an

apprx. 40 minute exam to test you knowledge of that kanji set. The test

is pretty good, and after the test you can redo all of the questions

that you missed. It is a long test although I think you usually

will finish before the time. There really isn’t a reward for doing the

test.. it hasnt unlocked features or anything yet, but I think it will

prove as a good way of marking your progress.


My only complaints with the software is that during the training every

10 problems you do it asks you if you want to quit and return to the

main menu, apparently this isnt a function that can be turned off

either. But, you get used to it, and sometimes its good only to do 10

although i admit being asked every 10 hiragana/kanakana was annoying.

Besides that theres no really complaints that I have besides that.

If I was asked to just get one I would probably get the otona no kanji

but I am really liking kakitori-kun for its dictionary functions as well

as being able to practice writting the kanji that want when i want.. so

for me they are both really important! I think it just

depends what you want to get out of the game!


Anyways I hope my review was informative! If anyone wants to know a bit

about the other games I have I will write another review when I have the

time. (I have 1 more learning game and 1 testing game and I have gotten

rid of 1 testing game and 1 kanji action game)

Admittedly this has not been the best week. Most of my weeks are not
classified as good or bad. But this one definetly falls into the bad
catagory. In particular my ningen kankei is not so great at this point.

So.. I think I messed up at work today. Since my work pays for some of my housing and now that Ryohei had moved in with me, I thought it would only be right to bring him to my office to at least introduce him to my supervisor. Anyways, my office is very laidback and relaxed so I thought it would not be a problem.

He was actually a little reluctant when I asked him to come in, saying,
“Shouldn’t you give them a heads up…” but of course I was like “no no
just come in, it’ll be fine”

But no, it was ackward.. because apparently not everyone knows I’m
getting married.. and then Ryohei was all Japanese and like standing
back and being all I dunno “Japanese polite” and then my coworkers did
the whole “standing in front of their chairs”, I just wanted to
introduce him to my supervisor, but instead the whole thing just felt
uncomfortable and weird.

I’m sure if I had a brought an American boyfriend it would have been
very different. I guess I should have known better, and now I feel
embarrassed at myself and I feel bad for Ryohei, he probably felt really
ackward as well.

For all my self-percieved cultural awareness I still have a long way to
go in understand the Japanese way. I’m feeling pretty embarrased and that I chotto shiturei shimashita.

Happy New Year!!!!!!
Once again after a short break I am back, and perhaps better than ever! Although that reminds to be seen. Ryohei and I are finally all moved into my “cozy” (read cluttered) one room apartment. With a broken
heater, but a fully working kotatsu! We just got back from a visit with okasan and otosan in Niigata. It was a pretty good week! Of course we had the whole, “sleeping in seperate rooms” but I was kind of expecting that.. of course it was cold, and I really don’t like sleeping alone in a strange place so after 2-3 days of being polite we just started sleeping in his room together and everything was ok. (I Hope..) They had me sleeping in the room with the family altar which was a little bit creepy. Also since I was the only one on the first floor it was cold cold cold. But yes thats Niigata. It started snowing the day
after we got there and continued for 4 days or so coating the scenery around us in white goodness. It was so pretty and nice to lazily flop under the kotatsu with some apples and crackers and watch the snow fall.

For New Years Day we went to Ryoheis Aunts house where Grandma lives. His Grandma like.. loves me… she gave me a
big hug and kept saying Sara ga Daisuki! (I love Sara) I think that maybe she was a little drunk?? I have never been hugged by a Japanese person that was under 25 years old either so it was a little ackward, but I smiled and hugged back. I think that actually the relative Ryohei loves the most is his grandma since him mom worked when he was born and she was pretty much the one who raised him for his first 2-3 years. Actually she refers to him as the kid that she raised. So, I think that fact that she is so “enamored” with me makes him happy.

Anyways, we did Hatsumode at the Shrine near his house which was fun. Its just a tiny shrine for his neighborhood so it wasnt too crowded. Just perfect! After that we went to see his friend from elementary school who ended up having a “deki-kon”and now has a 4 month old boy. Gah.. he was so cute!! Ryohei kept playing with him and hugging him and even kissed him. And I was just sitting there praying not to let the instincts to jump him and make our own baby right there overflow me.

So moving in was not soo bad! Ryohei sent me wayyyy more stuff than he needed to, but weve managed to pretty much make it all fit one way or another. He also started his school yesterday and will be studying like a crazy person for the next 6-7 months until his test. As for me, its same old really. Go to work, come home, make dinner, watch tv etc.. but just having him be there is such a comforting presence! Of course its only the first week so we’ll see how things are going in a month or two.
Both of us are more lovers than fighters so hopefully it will be smooth sailing.

For now I’m feeling happy and content and now going home to make yakisoba (on my handleless hot plate which i need to bring in sometime soon ;_;)