Monday, June 29, 2015

Moving to WordPress

Bye Blogger :)
I really enjoy reading many of my internet friends' blogs and find it would be SO MUCH easier if I were on the same platform as them.
Please find the blog here:

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Texan in Tokyo Book Reviews!

This review will include all three <3

**Spoilers maybe**

I had originally planned on downloading the free kindle version but I was too late to the party and only got a preview. I don't actually own a kindle, but I downloaded the app and had to make an account on Amazon (I only have a Japanese Amazon now) but I figured super worth it for this book...welp, I don't do much online shopping anymore (I believe retail therapy is necessary weekly, but I also need to budget). Either way, I was able to get the previews of this and the second books and I was hooked!
I love that I was able to read all three as an ambassador and I made sure to start from the first as I think it really starts the journey.
From reading Ryosuke's (hers not mine) written Forward you can feel the love that was put into this book. I must admit I see the drawing style and I am really happy that she included the earliest, less organized comics. This really shows what I consider the journey that these books (and most likely Grace too) have gone through.
While there is a structure, I feel like some comics come out of no-where and don't have an entirely solid store, but that's exactly how life is no? A wild string of events that we live every single day.
As for the text inserts, I did skim through some as I am already familiar with certain cultural things and some of them I have already thoroughly read in her blog posts.
I have been a fan of Grace's work for about a year now and I honestly cannot stop reading will do my best to support her as long as she chooses to produce work. I am really happy to see how much effort and affection she put into this first book. I love that her comics show emotions from the simplest things and that I couldn't help laughing out loud as I read some of them.
There is this honesty about everything. As any normal human being I would assume that many things she keeps private and wants for herself, but I'm so glad that there are some things that she has the courage to share and even if it may not be as deep as it could be, just a glimpse of it all shows how brave and talented she is.
She makes you want to know more (not on a creepy stalker level), and you can get a true sense of who she is by her writing. Reading the first,  automatically got prepared for a bit of a longer evening that reading the second would involve. I didn't want to just read them, I wanted to give all of my attention and really feel the comics for all they were. It's completely relate able and shows Japan in a different set of eyes. To see it from experience and not just pictures gives a whole different look.
Marvin is the most adorable side-kick. He provides the encouragement and humor that you know gets her through the day and also gives a sense of not being the only crazy person to have 'someone' to help makes decisions and keep you from loosing it.
Reading about the onsen bit made me literally feel better about myself. I don't actually go to onsen, for a few reasons, but just reading the way that she has grown to love it, and how it has helped her with her 'body issues' that SO MANY of us American girls can relate to--helped me feel better about myself too.
This entire series has humbled me and made me realize things about myself that I probably wouldn't have thought about otherwise.

Another start with Ryosuke's forward, but this time, not so much about his wife, I feel like this was really more about them. He talks about it as a 'baby-book fever' and it's so sweet to see how much it also affects him in the best possible way.
I feel like the second time around Grace had confidence with the groove of things and it really did told a story, not just as a continuation and showing her life, but also with showing bits from their past and seeing how things were while they were still in America.
There's also more of a glimpse of her family life, and seeing the pride she takes in talking about her relationship with her Japanese in-laws. It's refreshing and inviting, more so than the first book and this one, despite my eyes burning from staring at the computer screen for two hours made me not want to stop reading and continue to the final (which I couldn't due to having to wake up early the next morning...but I rushed to start reading during every free moment I had).
This is the point of their story where she seems to be getting more comfortable with Japan and her marriage and writing/drawing in general. The confidence is there, and somehow gives you confidence too. You feel what she feels when you read it, and I'm more than sure she was probably slaving over this working hours on end at that kitchen table with all the coffee in the world---but it's there, the raw emotion of it all.
Maybe I'm just trying to find it and so I do, but I want to find it, because I feel like it should be found.
I think there is a lot more comparisons, more looks at how Grace keeps her American/Texan roots no matter how long she's been in Japan. I related this on SO many levels and I felt better about doing some of these things as well as learning about life and essentially how to stress less.

Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo
I had every intention of reading all of these in the same night, but due to an early start the next morning, caved to waiting for every free second I had at work.

I am actually relieved that I was able to read all three in one shot, simply because like with any good TV series, when you are forced to wait  very week for a new episode which is COMPLETE TORTURE, if you wait till they're all out you can watch in one shot and not suffer.

Though, I do hope Grace keeps pumping out books, but in the meantime, this is the more current and newest and I'm glad I was able to read it before many as an ambassador.

The third Forward written by Ryosuke has a bit of a sadder element this time around. He finally sees the reality that is being a blogger/internet celebrity. These Forwards really show his journey with these books, and I really appreciate that he writes them each time.

I love that this time, since she covered the basic Japanese words/cultural bits in the previous two, she included the 'Useless Japanese' section, which is the furthest from Useless and even actually trending at the moment. Many people want to know other less known Japanese and I think this was the absolute perfect time to have included it and her drawings bring it to life in a whole new way.

I found myself giggling like a moron at my computer again as I read somethings that I knew I would probably also do in those situations and made me want fold-able flats in the most unhealthy way. Just as Ryosuke's Forward brought a more real, and somber take on the book, I came upon the insert blog post that I had read before and found myself tearing up while reading, and made my heart sank when I saw it in the book. Putting this in the book brings my feelings on this book full circle.

Grace is honest, while still keeping her privacy. Grace is brave, but still probably very self-conscious about it all. And Grace is one of my heroes.

Like I mentioned with the first book. Maybe I have been looking for a deeper meaning in these books... But I'm glad I found something for me, because it means more to me personally than I think some others reading just for the cute comics (which isn't wrong either) will find. I am positive that these books were written for her, and for those who read...but I don't know that she ever thought it could affect people on a deeper level than just laughing and understanding Japan a bit more.

I understand more about myself, I feel like my Friday was so much happier from reading these and not only feeling less alone, but feeling like
Deep down, all people, are the same/strong/beautiful.
Good enough is ok too.
Be honest, and accept all of yourself.

Thank you Grace.
You and your books, have helped me feel a happiness I had lost for a long time.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Best Burgers in Gunma: Tinz Burger Market

Dare I say...ALL OF JAPAN!
Tinz Burger Market
I have mentioned this place as one of my favorite cafes in this post. But I'm pretty sure that day, I wasn't there to really ENJOY and relax as I was the second visit around.
Ryosuke and I were determined to have these amazing burgers again, despite the hour and a half it takes to drive there. I was craving like no other crave, which as I write this only makes me hungrier by the second, but I knew that this is what I wanted to eat and Ryosuke caved too. (Not that it was all that difficult because he loves them too.)
So we set out at a decent hour to get there during their lunch time. The drive was long and THANKFULLY we found parking in their tiny little lot which is a couple minutes separated from the actual location. Thanks to getting out of the car and directing him, we parked snug and walked the two minutes to the cafe.

It was opened just over two years ago with a man who had a dream for making burgers in Gunma. After seeing Tokyo's boom of them as of recent, he was determined to make his mark in the burger world...and oh has he ever.
According to Tabelog they seat about 19 people, including the tables and the counter seats. The first time we went, since my best friend was with us and it was a bit more crowded, we sat at a table. But since it was just Ryosuke and I, and all the two seat tables were taken, I insisted on sitting at the counter. This way I could salivate as I watched my food being made.
It is a fairly small little building with the counter surrounding the grill and fryer, and the the back closet for what seems to be the stock and possibly a back room?
Each burger is made to order and you can get it with fries and a drink.
Most drinks come in the trendy Bailey's glass jars, but if you order a coke it comes in a coke glass!
It's not the rarest, but usually have to go to an import store to find them--and it's the same one from home!!

Each burger takes a bit to cook and prepare, but with fresh, crispy lettuce and juicy tomatoes--who can complain. They put tartar sauce and mayo, a sweet delicious accompaniment to the tender, perfectly cooked meat and in my case slightly crispy, thick bacon.
The fries are also made to order and pre-salted/spiced for a not-too-greasy addition necessary for any proper burger venture. The fries are also mixed, so as not to favor one over the other and get different tastes and textures in the event you ever order too many.
The atmosphere is completely lax and inviting. When not cooking, or in between cooking the owner will stir up a chat while you manage to eat like a man a burger that can probably get messy if not handled correctly. It comes in a paper wrapper used for handling burgers, but as a real American I chose to forgo it and eat with my hands like a savage.
After speaking with the owner we learned his story and complimented him on his amazing food. Apparently I'm not the only one to think this place is a godsend as many other foreigners frequent, and if I had only lived closer would try my best to go at least once every two weeks.
I have tried many different burgers in the Gunma area, and I must say this is truly the best burger I have tried. The meat is properly meaty while not ruining the bun as it is grilled to be firm and not fall apart. You really feel like each one is made with a care and love that you can taste in every bite.
I cannot recommend this place more and I seriously hope I can visit again soon.
Also see if you can spot the little friends in this glass jar!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Relaxing like an old Japanese woman

I usually don't sleep very well.
I have problems with my back, almost daily, and when I sleep it just gets worse. Or I have that sensation of 'OMG FINALLY YOU'RE LAYING DOWN', type tingling when I lay on my hard-ass futon. So I thought I would give in to those commercials I see so often.
For chronic back pain, it literally helps make all the pain go away. I know we have them back in America but never has the jingle stuck with me like it does here. Also, Ryosuke likes to use these warm eye masks to help sore eyes.
Considering I hunch over a computer screen for at least a few hours each day---both completely worth looking into.

The warm eye masks have these wonderful scents inside the warming mechanism, so you can not only feel warm sensations on your tired eyeballs, but also smell something lovely too.
Ryosuke had originally given me one of the yuzu (Japanese lemon-like citrus) and I loved it. A bit pricey at about 498yen per box of five--but a usually decent investment.
I recently wanted to buy more and knew it would be too much a pain to ask him to drive all around the town looking for a drug store with the specifically yuzu scented ones, so I got the 'lavendar sage' ones instead--and I literally feel like I'm putting drugs on my eyeballs.
If you've ever smelled sage, you know what I'm talking about.
The leafy smell is a lot more potent than I would prefer, so Ryosuke gave me a few of his yuzu scented ones!
They come individually packed and last for about ten minutes.
You're really only supposed to use it BEFORE sleeping and then take it off and sleep, but real thugs leave that shit on and knock out. What it then does to me personally is causes me to (sometimes) wake up in the middle of the night to take it off...or the creepy, I wake up in the morning and somehow its neatly folded next to my face.
Either way the yuzu smell is sooo lovely, and even the lavender one has it's nice points. But for those days when you're eyes are just not having it--highly recommended.
Ryosuke one time gave me a muscle relaxer type sticker tape that is literally the strongest among the medicinal tape type relaxers, and I felt sick within minutes. So I was really weary about using any other kind/brand/strength. But one day I had had enough of my upper back pain and caved to get the small box of 40.
To my surprise there was no nausea this time around and even though the sensation was weird I did feel a difference in the pain level.
Considering most Japanese take an evening bath (and I don't because it's way too much water to waste on a person who can only sit in hot water for about 20 minutes before passing out), and after paste it on the painful areas and fall asleep.
So instead, right before bed, I contort my arms to a specific spot between my spine and back bone on each side and fall asleep.
The brand has recently come out with an updated version compared to the last it came with a cute little plastic bag and two pieces were usually stuck together.
This time it comes in silver bags that can you can simply fold over the edges and store, and each sticker is individual.

Ryosuke says it wreaks of old people...and I'm not an expert on old people...but I don't really mind the smell. It's a medicated sticker--thing, and I think that the benefit of not being in horrid pain far out ways the medicinal smell.
I may be an old lady when it comes to this stuff and always trying to be asleep before 10pm...but I think for those of us with chronic back pain who don't want to rely on painkillers all the time--this is much more worth it!
Here's to a more relaxing evening!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Back to the Eye Doctor and the Dentist

Back to contacts and no cavities!

**Due to this post being a bit short, I also added my trip to the dentist.**

So as a follow up to the previous trip to the eye doctor.
I finally had time after work to go visit the eye doctor for my follow up and to find out whether or not I could finally wear my contacts again.

I took pictures this time around!

This particular eye doctor doesn't use the UV light slipper boxes and just has them in a separate shelf. 

I was able to be seen fairly quickly again and by the son of the main older man doctor. They had me bring my contacts this time so he could make sure they were a proper fit for my eyes and to see how well I could see with them on versus my glasses, etc. 

The doctor did his usual 'don't mind me I'm a doctor' eye drops in my eyes, and checked to see if my dry eye had been fixed by the eye drops.

Thankfully, compared to the previous visit, it had improved A LOT, and he said I would be allowed to wear my contacts again! 

Then instructed me to put on my contacts but since he put those 'trust me I'm a doctor drops' I needed to cry those out. One of the nurses put these wild drops that made me see orange to cry out the doctor drops, it was really a wild experience. Then to, wait a bit, had them checked to see if I need to increase the strength, then finally checked by the doctor again.

While waiting, I asked to take pictures of the fascinating machinery that may be old compared to America but I thought were badass.

 I was then seen by the doctor and he told me so long as I continued using the remaining drops in the morning, after taking out my contacts, and before sleeping I should be ok. 

I suspected I had a cavity, so I made an appointment to go to the dentist.
I had made the appointment on the day of the pretty strong earthquake that actually shook up Kanto region..paranoid me about then seeing the dentist. But finally the day came, and after holding off of Snickers for that few weeks and doing my best to keep up with brushing three times a day.*

I was introduced to this dentist by a friend of mine, who is actually more like a mom to me due to her age. And she told me about it since one of the head nurses there was a friend of hers and I had asked her to come with me since I am such a scardy kat about going to any doctor.

Thankfully the head nurse I knew Was there so I wasn't as scared to be there by myself. Also it was my third time to be seen (once with my 'mom', second time to get a cavity filled). The previous time I went and got the cavity filled was the first time for my mouth to be filled with any kind of silver or metal or anything, so I made sure as soon as I truly suspected the cavity I got seen. 

Snickers caramel loves to get stuck in my teeth...

ANYWAY, I was seen shortly after arriving and told to sit and wait in the chair until they were ready for me. I always enjoy the dentist, because there is a TV that they turn on while I wait for a while.

I took that picture while I was waiting when I first arrived. I was then seen by the head nurse I know, was taken to get an x-ray, and then told to wait again after she checked my teeth and told another nurse a bunch of numbers while picking at my teeth.

I then watched my favorite channel 4 talking about the MERS virus that's wreaking havoc in South Korea. Made me very paranoid and slightly itchy.

What I really love about the dentist is that they put this funny towel over your face for what I assume are two reasons; no weird staring at the doctor, and you don't get your face all wet with your saliva.

I had my teeth cleaned after determining I didn't actually have a cavity. The doctor told me he could put a medicine to clog the middle of my teeth and help prevent any possible cavities!

I don't know if the face towel gives the doctor permission to squish my face...but he squashed my face under his arm while applying the medicine and trying to keep something in place while a nurse shot a weird light gun in that direction.

I left without having to come back again and a very decent bill. 
Both lovely visits to two doctors I don't really enjoy visiting!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Let's make candy donuts!

This is a penalty game.
(said Ryosuke)

**Picture heavy post**
So I really love these candy--Let's Make~ activities.
This past December I had sent over the bento set and my family and I made it 'together' and everyone was pleasantly surprised by the non-vile taste that it turned out to be.
There are only a few of these and only certain stores actually have them, so when I finally found the donut version, I insisted Ryosuke and I try to make it. I had failed miserably at making the sushi set by myself, so I really wanted him to be there.
I was really excited, and thankfully he had made similar things like this when he was little so--I'm pretty sure he was just letting me have my way (like always). It was definitely a team effort, as we both did our best to make these cute little donuts.
I was really happy that he actually enthusiastically helped and read off the instructions and we both really tried to make them not taste horrid... (not giving any spoilers).
So usually the instructions are fairly vague and written on the box or the plastic wrap it comes in.

Everything you will need is provided and all you need is water that you will use to mix everything together, so have a cup or small bowl with water on the ready.

And most of the time you can use the plastic as it's own little plate..after much fumbling and taking it from Ryosuke, I managed to make it..albeit not the prettiest.
We started to make the donut 'dough' and as always, unsure of how much of the powder to add. It is SUPER VAGUE and you are supposed to know how much to use, we used about half to make swirl donuts after.
The 'dough' varied in the texture but we made it work!

(I was very much participating, but was wearing a really chesty tank top and not looking very no pictures of me.)

After making the 'dough' we had to make the icing, and the colors were super cute! Ryosuke insisted on making the chocolate, which in turn looked like... yeah. You even get a little bag that helps with decorating!

I am clearly not made to be a baker, at least with icing that wild, because mine came out completely ruined...but I loved them, at least the look anyway.


 The final step to the process (before eating) is to add the sprinkles! Which of course, I needed to make a huge mess out of everything!!
 (Actually called 'crunch' but, it's basically sprinkles.)
The true final step was to actually eat them!
But, I knew from the beginning they would taste terrible, so to be honest I wasn't planning on trying it from the start, but I let Ryosuke try it since he tries anything at least once--and it was the sweetest worst taste every apparently.. thus
A penalty game.
Next time we will tackle the hamburger one, which you microwave and everything.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Quick Trip to the Eye Doctor

My eyes are all kinds of fkkd.
So for whatever reason my eyes don't want to be made up anymore. Every time I wear makeup these days, I get a stye in my waterline. It's literally just a little bubble, but it's itchy as hell and bothersome as fuh.
Thankfully, Ryosuke tells me that I am pretty without makeup and probably prefers that I can't wear it anyway. He says my eyes look alien huge and it's weird. I don't mind either way, because it's easier to not have to take off mascara all the time.
Anyway, as of a couple of months ago, whenever I was driving and it was really sunny--my eyes would hurt really bad and start tearing up and have to shut my eyes while I looked like I was crying. It was really bothersome and interfering with driving, and since I wear contacts I figured it was because I wasn't changing them often enough (the two week pair). So I made sure I put on new ones, and it would only get worse. I gave up on my contacts and just wore my big harry potter glasses for the past month and a half.
Last week on Tuesday/Wednesday? I finally decided to see if I could wear my contacts again. But by lunch time, my eye was itchy and sure enough, I saw the beginning of a little bubble in my waterline. I quickly took them out and threw them away since I had brought my glasses, I went the rest of the day in them.
I knew that that was the last straw and I needed to go to the eye doctor, so I asked my other teachers where they suggested and it just so happened that there was a location right near my house! It was a new place and the teacher who sits next to me also goes there. Though I was warned that I might wait for two hours but to try anyway since it was so close and revered.
I walked in and as most doctors' offices in my town, you take off your shoes and put on the provided slippers. I asked how long it would take and they said about an hour, well that's better than two I figured and started to fill out the usual form for visiting the doctor--'Why are you here' (i.e. what hurts/wrong), 'Do you have an allergies to medication' etc.
I only actually waited about twenty minutes though! It was lovely, and I was quickly brought in to get my eyes checked out. For those familiar seeing any sort of eye doctor, you know about the air spat in your eye machine, and look at the air balloon machine. They also had another machine that took pictures of my eyes and I guess since my eyes are closer to my nose than most Japanese, I had to sort of contort my face to take the picture properly.
Then they had to figure out how blind I am.
In America, we have to tell the letter down the row.
In Japan, you tell the direction a letter C has it's opening.
Up, Down, Left or Right.
They only show one at a time, and it would get progressively smaller.
I thought it was the coolest thing ever, mostly because instead of this giant machine
The nice nurse put on these lenseless glasses on me and started putting lenses in that made me see better and better. She then asked me what I could see--the usual questions. I then used my own glasses and put a flap each eye to see how well my glasses helped me see.
After this process I waited for a couple of minutes for the doctor to see me (only one of course).
Upon entering he confirmed my Japanese ability and had my put my face in this machine that would help him see the inside of my eyes. A couple drops of who knows because trust me I'm a doctor and he took a couple pictures.
Turns out I have the dry eye.
(Totally aware I used the right now)
It's not too severe, but I can imagine that since I don't blink enough and I probably do have a bit of dry eye--my eyes have progressively deteriorated.
(I concentrate too hard and forget to blink.)
So I was prescribed two different eye drops,
one  to use for about two weeks
(two bottles..this one I've been using for a week already)
another to use for one day that would be bitter tasting as hell and evidently make me sick to my stomach.
Since your eyes, nose and throat are essentially connected--if it tastes bad, you'll know within at least five minutes of putting drops. The scary thing about them was that they were a white color and for me, instantly tasted more bitter than ANY drops I've ever had...not pleasant whatsoever.
I will be pleading with the doctor to not make me take those white drops ever again.
He told me to come back in a week or two and see about my eyes. If they don't improve, I might have to wear my contacts only on the weekends/sort periods of time and if they do--well, we'll see during the next appointment.
I asked to make an appointment but, for some reason, this place doesn't make appointments--just walk-ins. So I have to hope that this week when I go, that it doesn't get so crowded.
The lovely thing about Japanese hospitals/doctors offices is that the pharmacy is almost always right next door. So you can be sure to just walk a little bit and pick up your medication!
I've been to quite a few pharmacy's and should probably make a post about them, quite interesting I think. But that's for another day!
I'll try to take pictures on my next visit!
Thanks for reading!