Once Upon a Tanbo

Archive for August 2008


Posted on: August 29, 2008

Thanks everyone for being so supportive….
Unfortunately we also got bad news today. My dream of being able to live closer to Tokyo is gone.

Ryohei still has the last exam, his local city hall. To be honest its the one test I almost wish he would fail since I’m really not excited about being stuck in the inaka forever. Of course, I’m iffy on it, so he’ll probably pass.

He still hasn’t had the interview yet, its next weekend. And then we don’t find out the results until the end of September. So even if he does pass I’m still stuck working until the end of October.

Woo hoo…

I don’t know what do anymore.
I really don’t.



Lately I feel like my blog has just been radiating negativity. So today I am planning to make a different kind of post. It seems that rather than posting about my situation, it would be better to post something more from the heart.

So I am going to post about Japan and living here. Of my almost 25 years, I have now been living here about 3. A very shallow amount in the bucket of life, but despite minor annoyances which occasionally balloon into major annoyances, I am pretty happy about living here. I’m not sure what about Japan captivated me in the first place. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and thought “Golly gee, I’m gonna go live in Japan.” I think perhaps it was the language. I would like to say I have been blessed with fairly linguistic genes. My mother and father were both world travelers, my mom was an English teacher who spend most of her 20s and early 30s in Europe mainly Greece and Germany, and my dad was in the British Navy and thus sailed around the world in many places. My parents (now divorced) actually met in Greece and lived there and ran a water skiing business before getting married. They both speak a number of languages to varying degrees. My Aunt on my fathers side is fluent in French and is a University professor in England. So I know that a love for travel and speaking other languages comes from both sides of my family. Interestingly enough neither of my little brothers seem to have a flair for it through.

I think I made my first international travel at the ripe old age of 1 or 2 when my parents took me to England and Greece. And we went to Europe several times until my parents got divorced when I was in junior high school. I really think that those experiences helped to set me as how I am now. Although I’m pretty much stuck working now, I’d like to think that in the future I will be able to see more of Asia and of course go back to Europe. As I mentioned before Ryohei and I would love to go to London and see my family living there for the 2012 Olympics. It would also be the year of our 1st Anniversary (remember we got married on February 29th) so it would be an excellent anniversary present for the both of us. I don’t doubt that we will have at least one child by then (fertility willing) and I look forward to introducing him/her to great Aunts and Uncles as well as friend “Aunties.” We do have to start putting aside funds though once Ryohei starts working. Still a lot of time though and its nice to have a goal to work towards! We’ve decided to each pick on event that we want to see. I really want to see either the artistic gymnastics or a diving competition and Ryohei wants to see swimming. (I suppose he’s into the Kitajima movement… personally I’m happy he didn’t pick Judo)

So theres a little bit of happiness for my blog! Does anyone else have any big plans that they are saving up for? Anyone ever been to an Olympics event? Share your stories if you have them in the comments section.

This has been a relatively fast week considering that I haven’t done too much. Maybe being on vacation helped because I actually had stuff to do when I came back to the office!! About double my normal work load… (not saying too much)

So we’re back in the midst of my dearly beloved waiting game. Well by this time next week we will have the results of Ryohei’s second test. I’m trying not to be too hopeful because after the disappointment of the last one, I don’t think I could deal with it again. The more that we’ve looked into this new department the more it seems like it would be really good for both of us. First of all the pay is much better than any other komuin job. Not that money is one of my biggest concerns, it would be reassuring to know that occasionally we would be able to splurge on things after we’ve saved up for a couple years like a trip to the London Olympics or a massage chair (I’ve always wanted one!!) Another thing is that from April we would have to move to Saitama for Ryohei’s 4 month orientation/training. I have quite a few friends in the Kanto area and I know that if we went it would definitely be less lonely than it has been here. Not to say I don’t have a couple really great friends here who I will miss a lot, but I know that Ryohei and I don’t have the ties to stay in this region forever. The nice thing about Japan is that it is a relatively small country so I know I’ll be able to come back and visit especially if coming in from the Kanto area.

The tax agency has regional offices scattered about Northern Kanto and 1 bureau (located near Omiya in Saitama), apparently overtime at the offices isn’t too bad but at the bureau where a lot of the newbies end up it can be pretty rough. However, apparently you get transferred quite a bit so it would only mean 1-2 years of putting up with it before going somewhere a little less busy/urban. So… yah… for me, this set up is pretty good. (Much better than moving to the scary inaka right off the bat) so I’m really really hoping that Ryohei gets a better score than the stupid courts offices (sour grapes much, lol) Gah… I’m scared though because this really is our last chance. Well… there is the city hall… but I’m still really ambivalent on that so I’m trying not to think about it right now. Then theres the possibility of him not even getting that and having to spend one more year at this job…. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

I’m actually taking a day off next Friday (day of the results) because I know if he doesn’t pass I am going to be too upset to sit around at work all day, and if he does pass I want to be there to see how happy he is when he sees the results.

So that’s him. How about me… well we have a little progress. It seems that FINALLY my persistence is paying off. I’m not sure how clear I’ve made this so far but I am mainly trying to work with two places. One is a literary translation agency and one is a direct publisher. For both I’ve been accepted as a translator, its just a matter of getting work. After trying to get in contact for almost a month now the agency just got back to me today and gave me my first project!!! Its very very small… but I’m hoping this is them just testing me out as a translator. They do a lot of Japanese novel and Japanese comic translations so I’m hoping that if I do a good job on the first little things they give me.. and by little I mean like a paragraph or two.. that I will be getting my first BIG FISH project in maybe a month or two. My contact said they had some book projects coming up for September so I’m hoping that I will be considered for one of them. The timing couldn’t be more perfect if this all works out since hopefully I would be ending this job at the end of September. I could transition into doing literary translation work part-time while Ryohei starts his new job!

See… this is why I have to control myself.. cause if I get to excited and things come crashing down then I will be in a world of sadness. I’ve always been really optimistic by nature… it seems to be my default state. I’ve had my fair share of bad luck and good luck.. but I’m really hoping that next week is gonna change the tides for everything.

Well I’ve been back from Niigata for 3 days now. It’s time that I sat down and wrote about my vacation. If I wait any longer than this I’m going to start forgetting. Not that my trip was anything to stop the presses about. In fact this post may end up being a bit of yawn. Well, except for the fighting towards the end. I may put up pictures but honestly… the part of Niigata where Ryohei is from is very beautiful but its not very “happening” or “exciting.” Anyways here I go.

Friday (night) – Left for Niigata from Kobe by special Obon period bus. Bus ride was ok but the driver kept flipping on the lights in the middle of the night. Uggggg… Anyways we arrived in one piece.

Saturday – Oto-san (Dad) picked us up and took us to the house. We were both really tired so after eating a little breakfast we went upstairs and slept for another 3-4 hours. We didn’t really do much that day, just kind of hang out and watch the Olympics. We ended up taking a walk at night for about an hour. It was really beautiful. And dark. There are very few streetlamps and very few people. Peaceful and quite which was nice. Ryohei lives near a 7-11 about a 10 minute walk so on the way home we stopped there and bought ice cream. They had really yummy ice cream parfaits which I probably had 3-4 through out the week. Yikes! Despite my ice cream feasting I actually lost weight while there because mainly the diet consists of veggies. Ryoheis family eats a lot of fish and pickled veggies so I felt ok about eating all the ice cream haha.

Sunday – Ryohei’s mom had to work so his dad took us out to a fish market that was about 2 hours away. Unfortunately this trip was mostly winding mountain roads and I ended up being very car sick. So to counter it I tried to sleep in the car as much as possible. I missed out on a lot of the scenery but at least I didn’t throw up. The fish market was crowded and loud. Lots of people, it was my second time there so it didn’t have as much exciting appeal as last time, but since it was by the sea, there was a nice breeze and it wasn’t as hot. Actually on the whole Niigata was far less hot and humid than the Kansai area, but I guess that is a given. On the way back we stopped by an area that was hit hard by the 2004 Niigata quake and has all these houses buried in the mud. I of course was car sick again so I didn’t really enjoy it, but Ryohei took lots of pictures. After that we stopped by Nagaoka for ramen. Ok.. I am going to make a confession.. I don’t really like eating ramen. Especially not in the summer. I don’t know what it is but it always makes me feel really sick. Ryohei’s family loves it though, so I think we had it three times or so during the week. Anyways, not wanting to be the killjoy daughter in law, I ate as much as I could and let Ryohei eat whatever I couldn’t finish. Sunday ended with a trip to Ryohei’s grandmas. Which must not have been of too much excitement because I’ve completely forgotten about it!

Monday – Ryohei’s friend from his days in the international dorm, Mark (Australian) came up from Tokyo for the next two days. So pretty much we “toured” Niigata. This means driving up in to the mountains and looking at scenery. It wasn’t bad, but I’ve seen it every time I’ve gone so it was kind of boring. After the mountains we went to the excitement center of Uonuma. The Jusco shopping center complete with Book Off, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, and karaoke. Yes, the place to be! Anyways we had ice cream which was yummy. After that I was feeling tired, and was feeling a little out of place with all the boy talk so I decided to go home early while Ryohei and Mark went to the dam. That night, Ryohei’s little brother Ken joined us for dinner. It was pretty fun, but nothing super exciting.

Tuesday – Mark was still there, but he had to go home in the early afternoon so we did karaoke for two hours. After Mark went home I don’t really remember what happened. But that was the day Ryohei got his notice that he passed the Uonuma city hall test. He was pretty happy, and I was happy for him. Little did we know just how much drama this was going to cause for us later. (See Friday)

Wednesday – This was the day that I heard from the publishers so I was in a great mood all day. That afternoon we went out with Ryohei’s friend Shohei. I really liked him, he was a nice guy and we had a lot to talk about. Sometimes Ryohei’s friends seem intimidated or uninterested in me. But I guess Shohei’s aunt married an American and they live in California so he’s pretty used to foreigners and he had just recently gone to visit so we talked about Applebees and In and Out Burger, which made me soooo hungry. We went to a foot springs and had a nice talk with a couple of grandparents and their 7 year old grandson. After that we got ready for Ohaka Maeri or going around to the ancestors graves and greeting them and giving them candy. For that we had to go to Ryohei’s grandma’s again. We did Ohaka Maeri and then had a big sashimi dinner. We also found out that Ryohei’s little brother will be getting married to his girlfriend (who was also there) next spring. So yay, I’m going to have my first Sister (in law). To be honest we haven’t ever talked that much, but she seems like a typical, early twenties Japanese girl.

Thursday – Doomsday part 1. Ryohei’s test results. I don’t think that either of us slept very well the night before. And things weren’t too great from the beginning. For some reason that morning Ryohei’s parents inaka internet wouldn’t work so we had to go all the way to his dads work to check the results. We were there for about an hour and the waiting was torturous. When the results were posted, full of hope that our lives would be changing forever we looked for Ryohei’s number. But… it wasn’t there. I think that both of us were absolutely in shock. Ryohei had told me he though he did really well on this interview so both of us were expecting a good score. Although I was severely rattled, I did a good job of controlling how upset I was and both of us just sat there and hugged. I think if the rest of the day had been lowkey things would have been better. But the night before Oto-san had asked me to come meet his older brother and do Ohaka Maeri for his dads side of the family. So… about 30 minutes after we learned of Ryohei’s failing we were shuffled off to meet more relatives and sit around making small talk. So anyways, let me just say at this point the mood was incredibly gloomy. Ryohei and I didn’t talk at all in the car. It was all I could do just to stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. Either way we arrived ok and greeted my Uncle in law. He gave us some watermelon which was good, I ended up dribbling a little on my black skirt but figured I would wash it off later. This proved to be my undoing. So after eating the watermelon, we set out to walk to the cemetery. It was about a 10 minute walk and when we were almost there, Asami, Ken’s girlfriend kept shrieking my name. Apparently a huge wasp was on my skirt trying to get at the watermelon juice that had dried on it. They swatted it away but it kept on coming after me. Now, as I have mentioned many times, I HATE bugs. Especially anything that bites or stings and normally I wouldn’t have broken down but the stress from the morning was too great. I just burst into tears and couldn’t move, I couldn’t take another step forward. All I could do was tell Ryohei, “I can’t go, I’m sorry.” We were going to head back to the car and wait but then the wasp still kept coming after me so I broke out running and top speed, spewing tears as I ran about half a kilometer back to the car. Ryohei came running after me and opened the car and we got in locking out the wasp, which I think had given up chase a while back and I just cried in the car. We must have been there for about an hour before everyone came back. And then, my parents in law suggest we go for ramen. I’m still a complete wreck… so yay ramen but whatever. I don’t want to be the killjoy daughter in law who already ruined the Ohaka Maeri so I said nothing and just ate my bowl of mini ramen while rain clouds poured in my head. When we got back a group of Ryohei’s friends had invited him out and at first I declined to go, but then I realized I didn’t want to be sitting around the house all miserable so we went out for dinner and then to a game center. It was actually more fun that is sounds. We ended up playing this trivia game all together and we did really well. There some questions about English and USA state capitals so I was able to help out and felt better. That night I had cried so much that I feel asleep immediately (After eating another sinful 7/11 parfait)

Friday – Doomsday part 2. So you know how grief has quite a few stages. Well I woke up Friday feeling very angry. Angry at Ryohei and angry at myself for being angry. I was annoyed that Ryohei had failed his test. The test for the job that we both agreed to be perfect. No over time, maybe a chance to live in Saitama or Gunma where I could be closer to friends in the Tokyo/Chiba area before moving to Niigata and building our house. But now, all those dreams were smashed. Everything we had been planning for the last 6 months was ruined. Another thing… since Ryohei had passed the Uonuma test a trickle of DREAD had been seeping into my stomach. I believe that he would have a very good chance of making it past the interview. But as I looked at the sprawling rice fields and nothingness in front of me, my heart fell. I can not start living here now I thought. And honestly I can’t. I know that if we moved to the middle of the Niigata inaka next spring I would be so lonely and depressed. It was not at all what we planned. I told Ryohei that I don’t mind living closer to his family home after another 7-10 years when our kids will be starting elementary school, but at this point I can not do it. I brought this point up. Huge fight erupts.
“Why do you want me to not take this job?” “Why don’t you want us to have stability?” etc etc… “I don’t want to study for another year, if I have a chance.” All arguments that I know are true… but I don’t want to be 25 and stuck in the inaka of Japan for the rest of my life. Especially with a husband working at city hall which means so-so pay and some overtime. It was just too different from what we planned. So we struck a deal. Uonuma and Nagaoka, the second biggest city in Niigata are about 35 minutes apart. If we do have to live here, you will be commuting to work for the first 4-5 years I say. Please give me time to make friends in Nagaoka (where there are more people, ahem more young people, and maybe even a couple other foreigners so I can speak English once in a while) and get my drivers license, and let me be able to go to Starbucks every once in a while. I’ve never lived in the countryside before, and I need to adjust myself. Ryohei agreed to this (although perhaps reluctantly, but if I have to gaman being stuck in the inaka forever then he can gaman a 40 minute commute for a few years), and while I do think commuting would be annoying for him, his company will pay for it and I will not go crazy.

So after this talk… we went back to his home. And I left his phone on our room. When we went to check it later he had two missed calls. They were from the tax bureau, which as you may recall was the other test that he had passed. Apparently they call you about 2 weeks before the results are posted to see if you are still interested in joining. I don’t think everyone gets a call, but those who do aren’t 100% in. But, it is a good sign and you can make a last minute appeal. To be honest, until that point I hadn’t even thought that tax bureau was an option. We’d never really talked about it, focusing more on the courts, and Ryohei hadn’t expressed that much interest leading me to believe he didn’t think his chances were that great. But maybe things are changing? We were most surprised that the call came from his first choice of agency despite the fact he tested in Osaka.

The results are on Friday August 29th… so maybe I won’t have to worry about moving to the inaka right away? I’m keeping my fingers crossed. If he passes he will have a 4 month orientation in Saitama and will have to live in dorm for that time so I’m not sure what I will do. I don’t know if they have married people dorms or if I will have to rent a room somewhere or what. We will see…

Oh and before I finish up with Friday. I have one last story. Before we left Ryohei’s parents sat him down for a “chat.” Where pretty much they told him that he should give up on being a komuin because it was too hard and he had too much confidence. And that he was a huge burden on me and that if I was a Japanese girl I never would have stood for it. I was actually pretty annoyed just hearing it. I really wish his parents would support him more. He was also livid. Not to their faces, but on the bus back to Kobe he was telling me he didn’t want to go back to Niigata for a while, and that all he really has there is his grandma.

So yah… not the most relaxing fun filled vacation ever. And still more waiting… there were a few good things like the publishing agency calling me… but I have the feeling it will be quite a few months before I hear anything definitive. So pretty much we are right back to where we were a few months ago. Just with one less hope. Despite Ryohei’s promise we can live in a big city for a few years if he gets the small city hall I am praying that he gets the tax bureau job. We’ll know in another 10 days… let the countdown begin. (again) *sigh*


We just got back from Niigata this morning. I didn’t have much internet access while I was at Ryohei’s parents so I’m way behind on checking blogs as well as posting in my own. I do plan to do a re-cap of our trip, but I’ll wait until I’m at work because it will be long and a good way to kill some time there.

Right now I’ll just generally update on the state of things for us. Both bad and good news.
Well first the bad news, Ryohei didn’t pass the final stage of the court officer test. His name wasn’t on the final list. As you can imagine we had both thought he did really well, so it was a bit of a shock. Thursday was a pretty rough day, and I cried most of it.

But besides that there has been good news as well.
First of all Ryohei found out that he passed the first round test for this local city hall. He will have an interview in about 3 weeks for it. Actually we got in a bit of a fight over it, because I’ve been pretty vocal that I don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere for the rest of my life, so we decided that if that does end up being where he will work for the first 4-5 years we will move to Nagaoka City (second largest city in Niigata) and he will commute 35-40 minutes to work everyday. However, there is another piece of good news. Ryohei received a call from the other agency he passed, the tax center. Apparently they call you a couple weeks before results come out to make sure you are still interested. Getting the call doesn’t mean you’ve passed 100% but it does show that they have interest in you. Not only that but it came from his number one choice region which means if he passed we would be living in (Nagano, Niigata, Gunma, Saitama, Tochigi, or Ibaraki) Not bad! Anyways we are hopeful for the tax center (it actually pays the best of all komuin, but there is some overtime grrr…)

And I also had some good news!! I finally heard back from the major publishing agency, apparently they really liked my work!! However, right now they don’t have anything available but my contact said that my name was put in the “good” file and will be showed to editors who are looking for a new translator for their projects. He also said to check back in every once in a while if I don’t hear anything, which is also good. So… it may be a couple months but seems like eventually I may get work from this company!

Anyways like I said this is just an update on us! Niigata trip will be up in a couple days!

Well I spoke too soon about my stupid excuse for an A/C being well behaved!! Wouldn’t you know that ever since I wrote that post it hasn’t been working which means relying on only a fan to sleep for the last few days. I honestly have so many problems sleeping when its hot. I’ve found of of the only things that helps is to put an ice pack under my left armpit to cool the circulating blood. This tends to help a lot until the ice melts leaving only a wet mess!

So after almost a month, I made some progress with my publishing company. I was forwarded along to a higher up who asked me to send in more translation work as well as telling me that if I passed I shouldn’t expect anything because work usually goes to “established” translators!! How the heck.. do I get my own self established if I can’t even have a chance? Oh well.. I sent in my work anyways. I feel like I’m holding back quite a bit of frustration with all this.. things are just not going well, at least for me. The last thing I want is to quit my job and have nothing left to fall back on. I did everything right… I made the right moves… I passed into agencies and nothing!! All because I’m new! I hate it!!! I hate it so much!!!

I guess I should just be concentrating on Ryohei now. To be honest, I’ve been so distracted lately, that and his computer has been fixed. We’ve barely spoken to each other the past few days I’ve been home. And since the damn air conditioner is busted, its too hot to even cuddle at night.

Yah, I know.. two days until Niigata… only a bit longer. But I just feel so blah about everything. Nothing ever seems to go right for me these days. I just hope my bad luck hasn’t rubbed off on Ryohei for his results. I don’t think I can take care of both of us in the case that they don’t.

Everyones been so kind to give me so much positive energy.. I wish I could show my appreciation better. I find myself being a rather selfish b**** lately… 😦

Its very hot! Sometimes I wish that I was the opposite of a bear so that I could just hibernate all through the summer months. In particular, the span of mid-July through mid-September.

Thankfully my A/C unit which was on permanent strike last summer, is being semi-well behaved for the most part and I’m able to turn it on for an hour or two while I’m going to bed since hot sticky body in bed means no sleep. I’m ok with just a fan while I’m up and about but I already have a hard time getting to sleep. (I’m one of those sleep-thinkers, the type who needs to get all the static and events of the day out of my brain before I sleep… if I’m really tired I can fall asleep within 5-10 minutes of going to bed, but some days it can take upwards of 2-3 hours) So added heat makes it even harder to relax.

I would have to say that last week, which if you noticed had no posts from me, was honestly hell on earth. I reached quite a low last week between not hearing back from my prospective company, the heat, and of course, soul-sucking work (or, perhaps not work). I used some of my vacation just to take off the afternoon on Friday because I couldn’t stand to be sitting at my desk doing absolutely nothing for one more second.

This week I am hoping will be a little better. For one thing, July is OVER. And this month, will be when everything goes awesome or terrible. We’ll hear back in only a week and a half about how Ryohei’s first test went. We’re also leaving for our week long vacation on Friday night, even if it is only up to the PILs, anything that gets me away for a while is greatly appreciated. I’m also hoping that I’ll hear back from the publishing company by the end of the week, but we’ll see. I don’t want to get too hung up on it anymore because of the crushing disappointment that I had every day I woke up to an empty inbox last week.

At least I figure maybe it will be good news when I do hear back… since if my work was totally awful I would have received the polite “thanks but no thanks” mail by this point. I sent in an email last week to my contact asking how things are going and haven’t heard back yet so I’m assuming if they didn’t like my work I would have heard back then. I’m just hoping I haven’t heard anything because they are trying to get paperwork/permission and stuff from the higher ups and/or trying to find me a project to work on before they get back to me. (Yes, I may be over thinking things, but I really have no patience and if it took all this time just to hear that I failed I’m going to be really frustrated)

Also coming up this week is my second Japanniversary. I landed at Narita on August 6, 2006. Hard to believe that two years have passed since I first arrived. But here I am… and it doesn’t seem like I’ll be going back anytime soon.

I already know that this month is going to be a pretty crazy one, so keep tuning in to my blog as I’ll be updating as soon as I hear stuff. Keeping my fingers crossed that by the end of the month both Ryohei and I will have our respective “jobs” lined up, I’ll have turned in my letter of resignation, and we’ll be starting to look at options for moving and a new apartment in whatever city we get placed!