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This is a very interesting article and your introspection and self knowledge is quite amazing. I will think about if/ how living abroad has changed me and post on my blog as well.

Have a very nice day!


I read your blog since I first came to Japan two years ago (I think I stumbled upon it during my search on what was the name of the thing I just had eaten in that fabulous restaurant in Tokyo).

In these two years many of your posts fascinated me - but this one really caps it all off! It is such a great and interesting post, full of self-reflection. Many of your observations I can understand, although I just have been to Japan about 2 months in total.
Thank you for this great insight!



Very balanced (not rah-rah, "oh look at the cute Japanese") and after 35 years in Japan I am profoundly changed, to the point where I really do not fit in back here in the USA (near Canada, though). Ki wo tsukau is a biggie; so is "being there" and looking at, being aware of, the person you are giving something to (with two hands, of course) rather than handing it to them while looking somewhere else. Etc.!! Have you read "The Housekeeper and the Professor"?


Just wanted to pop in and say I loved this post, really like the new look and adore the way Shuma "mmmmms" when he eats something he likes. I've been reading your blog for years now, and although I moved back to the US almost 12 (!!) years ago, I went through many similar things you did although it was less challenging because I'm half Japanese. That said, there was probably more expectation of me to be "more" Japanese than other foreigners. I changed so much during my 7 years there it's hard to pinpoint which ways, and I did bring a lot of those changes back with me.

Looking forward to reading more posts, and Happy New Year to you and your family.


Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Where to start? I like your blog's new look and new name. I particularly enjoyed this post. I noticed that story at Japan Today, but it goes without saying that this is a squintillion times better. (Japan Today is like a slow-motion train crash: ghastly, but you can't look away.)

Since I hail from South Africa, my life has changed so completely it's almost beyond description. Personal changes? Calmer, more tolerant, more fatalistic. Japan or merely old age? ^^

Thanks for a great blog, old and new!

Mike Cash

I'm responsible for probably half the posts in the JREF thread that gave oh-so-indirectly gave rise to this, and upon reviewing the thread can't believe that anything as boring as that thread is got any attention at all. Anybody who finds themselves translating that thread or using it as inspiration for "news" has skipped a lot of interesting stuff to get there.


I was really curious about the shyness part of your blog because I'm really into culture and how we behave in different environments. I have to agree when you're in an environment where you're encouraged by society to be shy there isn't much you're going to do to fight it. We all have a mechanism of wanting to be accepted and it's really powerful, if we're a certain way and it's encouraged what incentive is there to change?


That was very interesting post. Definitely food for thought. Non marriage or baby related changes. I need to think. My table manners have definitely gone beside the wayside though.


I stumbled upon your blog when I got curious and searched for "Napolitan Japanese" one night after I made it as dinner which came out oh so good, my American family couldn't have enough of it. I'm a Japanese living in Idaho. I moved here 16 years ago. I really enjoy your writing and just amazed by your Japanese cooking (far better than mine!). Wanted to tell you that you should go back to your beautiful posture. I know there are people who have noticed your posture. I was tall growing up, and my mom always told me to fix my "neko-ze (猫背)." Neko-ze is not regarded as a good thing even though it's certainly accepted. I was sad to hear your posture has gotten worse as a result of being in Japan. Understandable, but sad. "ki wo tsukau (or "kikubari") is definitely Japanese, and I try to keep practicing it here, even though no one recognizes it. It makes me feel good as a person.

Marie Long

Hi. I've just discovered you through a search on "yutampo" which my son's doctor prescribed to help him. I really enjoyed your blog on this and the haramaki.

I really need one of those! I may try to make one, though I'd love to find a pink one with trim like yours :) Please tell me if it attaches in the back.

How do you put it on?? Thank you! (from PA)

Haramaki don't attach at the back, it's just a tube of stretchy fabric with seams at each side. You pull it over your head.



I love this post. I read it a couple of days ago and keep thinking about it. I've been here 5 years almost to the day and I know I've changed a lot in that time, but it's hard to say what is Japan and what is just good old growing up. Big difference between 25 and 30 with a husband and toddler!
I definitely like new things more now - I always lived in old houses in the UK and kind of sniffed at modern apartments but here I'd much rather be in a brand-new flat than an old wooden house - reality is somewhere in between but I dream of double glazing! Back home though I'd still love an old stone cottage, hmmm. I'm a lot smaller too! Mainly due to being vegetarian and the inaccessibilty of junky veggie food and chips and cheese in a pita bread, not to Japanese food being necessarily healthier. I'm actually more outgoing in some ways, I used to haaaate asking for help in shops or from strangers but I got so used to having to ask questions when I first got here, to avoid getting lost/find out what I could eat, that now it's not a big deal at all. I'm tidier (although still not tidy) which is pretty much down to having less space.
I think 3 days is plenty of time to go away somewhere now, and a week seems positively decadent, whereas before a holiday of less than 10 days seemed barely worth it. I know there's more but I am rambling on.
Love your new header picture by the way!


You whites are poison. No, really. You are literally coursing with poison. Little wonder you age so badly.

Can't you people just stay in your stolen, colonized lands and intermarry? Why this need to pollute the rest of us? Didn't you do enough to destroy the gene pool in the Philippines and Latin (see? Latin?) America?

Oh I know, the aging thing. My husband totally regrets marrying a white person, because look at our son. He's only seventeen months old but looks at least 20.

I also find it hilarious that out of "Philippines", "Latin", and "America" you only object to "Latin". Because the other two names don't come from white people at all.



Hi there,

This was an interesting post. On the culture point, have you tried renting films on iTunes? Great selection, cheap, and very, very accessible.

Your son is SO cute and I really enjoy your food posts.

Best wishes from Australia

Thanks! I'm stuck on iTunes Japan, which has only recently started renting movies, and there isn't much selection yet. Still no TV shows.



I can relate with some of these :)

I've been in Bangkok, Thailand for 10 years and, yes, I'm shyer and my posture is terrible :)

I see a lot more movies there though, due to Thai movie theaters being cheap plus everybody buys bootleg discs so I see everything released for dirt cheap prices.

And yep, I also shuffle my feet when I walk. Every time I see my parents my Dad is constantly telling me to "pick your feet up" LOL.

Oh, we're going to Phuket in a few days, we may have to catch a movie. -Amy


Lovely to catch up with you.
Re: the movies.
This year a godsend for me has been www.graboid.com
$14.99 a month and I get to download about 50 movies for that price, and then transfer them onto a portable hard drive for when I will want to watch them in the future, be it traveling on land, or on the boat. This technology is great and $14.99 is nothing for us yen earners, and can be done with a credit/debit card online, so easy peasy.

Thanks, I'll check it out. We're using Hulu right now but not really getting our money's worth, as we can only catch a few shows on weekends when the wee one is asleep.



Wow. I just went back and read from start to finish and it is amazing how I could have written exactly the same feelings down, same experiences, the lot.
Even yesterday I was holding back from reaching for this absolutely dying-to-be eaten fresh bread.
Same re: the meat.
I was virtually veggie when I first got here, I also avoided the fattier cuts, but now I love finding a hunk of pork bloc and slowly cooking it..albeit I do cool it and then remove the solid fat from the top.

Isn't Japan a continiously interesting experience.
I am leaving soon, forever, if I come back, it will be as a camper/tourist, but if I hadn't been able to retire young after some cool investments abroad, I would have continued to make my home here.
I fully understand all my friends who make their lives in Japan.
It remains unique in all its silly ways for just about forever.
Or maybe I'm giving it too much credit just because I'm leaving soon.

Hey, congratulations on retiring and leaving Japan! Best of luck.



I know idiots don't deserve to be acknowledged but I have to say something. To the commenter named ImranDeRoy, go spew your ignorant bile elsewhere. It's 2012, in case you hadn't heard, and crap like that just isn't tolerated. If you're so hateful of white people, why on earth do you read this blog? Right, I figured.

Amy: Don't let morons like ImranDeRoy get you down:).

Aw, thanks Anne. But yeah, idiots don't deserve to acknowledged.



Very convenient for whites, eh? That racism not be tolerated after they decide to stop doing it to others?

Me, I say whites can afford to shut up and take these kinds of comments when they do come at them. Us nonwhites have been taking far worse from your lot for over eight centuries, thanks.

Say hi to Lyddie England for me, Anne, yeah? And that US Marine who got three months for the Haditha massacre.

Not tolerated? Pshhh. When it comes to whites, they tolerate anything any of them do. Ergo, don't whine when we expect the same, Annie Anne.

Wait, what makes you think Anne is white? She's not. Shame on you for buying into the idea that white is the default colour.


Actually, I think the problem with both ImranDeRoy and KokkyonoMinami isn't that they are racist. They're just woefully ignorant. Actually feel sorry that they (or perhaps they are the same person) live in such a teeny, tiny world.

Yup, I'm pretty sure it's the same, ignorant person. Just ignore him!


Account Deleted

This is indeed a brilliant post and I could have missed it, had I not visited the site today. Since the culinary expertise is transferred to the back burner, my visits are a little less frequent.Please consider these:

i Context specific cultural differences have many roots- linguistic, climatic, ethnographic and these get further modified by the social contexts.

ii Biases in the perception of the other culture is best illustrated in Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel. After reading this book I was really afraid of everything Italian as Rachel's character had been painted like that.
iii What is required is a genuine appreciation of the other culture in a multicultural social set up. What has happened to you is a beautiful illustration of acquisition of a cultural "idiom" through enculturation and assimilation. This is a process through which the exotic becomes internal.

Great comment, thanks! Oh, and I miss the food too.


Shinjuku Bunka


You're right about whites being inherently evil - there's no end in sight to their eight centuries+ slaughter of nonwhites. It just doesn't stop. Something is wrong inside these people.

But, this is a bloody mommy blog, man. Not the place to be posting this sort of (justified) hatred for whites.

Also, contrary to what DeRoy says, this lady's to be applauded for marrying a Japanese. Diluting the poisonous white gene pool is a good thing, genius.

And Anne: wake me up when your worthless race stops this constant race war, yeah? Kthanks.

Hey, this isn't a mommy blog. Says so right at the top, jeez. -Amy

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