2015: My Year in Review

I think a lot of people found a lot of fault in 2015. I empathize with them. However, for me, it was a pretty big year on a lot of levels.

It began in quite a chaotic state. Kate’s job necessitated a move north to San Jose – an area I’m still struggling to appreciate in any meaningful way. The shift wasn’t made easier by my returning from tour less than a month before the shift started to take shape.

I went to Japan in March, by my lonesome. While I can lay out several reasons for the trip, I’m still not sure how to adequately explain the desire to go nor the end result. If anything, it strengthened my desire to be there and immerse myself in the country’s benefits. It became more relevant later in the year. Continue reading

Advertisements

Japan Travel Cheat Sheet

***Hey, folks. Modern-day Justin here. It’s time to update this old girl. After all, I’ve now been living in Japan for 16 months. Most of the info holds up, though, so I’ll only make a few changes and additions.

I’ve been to Japan 10 times now. I’ve studied the language pretty intensely for the last two years (thanks to the awesome app, Human Japanese). Japan has become my happy place, and a lot of others are interested in checking it out as well. I couldn’t recommend it more! To help facilitate travel, I’ve put together a cheat-sheet of (hopefully) valuable information and tips, along with several helpful phrases to get you by. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Enjoy! 楽しんで下さい!

General

  • Don’t forget that you are not only representing yourself, but your nation and your ethnicity. Leave the Japanese people with a good impression of us! Examples: Be wary of speaking too loudly (English to a non-native ear is noise) and be careful of taking pictures that may include/bother those around you. Privacy is treasured.
  • The flight(s) will suck. Things that will make flying to/from Japan suck less: plenty of snacks, good headphones (preferably noise-cancelling), an eye mask, toothbrush/toothpaste in your carry-on.
  • Jet-lag is legit. Try to get on Japan’s schedule ASAP. Don’t nap after noon the first day, and don’t go to bed before 10:30pm.
  • I suggest always having your passport with you. It’s your most important possession.
  • Do as much legwork and research as you can before you go. You can’t be too prepared, though I also love wandering around aimlessly.
  • When a Japanese person makes an X with their arms or looks like they’re swatting a fly, that means “No.” If you see one of those, maybe stop what you’re doing.

Continue reading