Counting Strokes and Talking About Tongue

On my first trip to Japan as a twenty year old, I was essentially illiterate. I knew hiragana, but my katakana was shaky and I was clueless when it came to kanji. Additionally, I only had about one semester’s worth of vocabulary under my belt so anything beyond introductions or basic requests was beyond my capability. It wasn’t much of a problem in Tokyo or Osaka because most of the signs were sprinkled with enough English to afford comprehension, but once I was in the countryside I became totally dependent on my travelling companions, who were native speakers.

Kodansha-Kanji-GuideOf course, back then if you wanted to look up a kanji, your only option was to reach for a dictionary. A friend gave me a copy of Kodansha’s Compact Kanji Guide once I got back from my trip to help me study. The book has a nice flow chart pasted on the inside of the front cover that explains how to use it, but looking up words was still a time consuming process.

Continue reading


テキサス州、オースティンのESL情報②/ESL class in Texas, Austin vol.2

※ESLとは、English as a Second Languageの略で、英語を母国語としない人のための英語教室のことです。



Continue reading

LEのロールプレイング/Roll Playing at LE


After a month of weekly meetings our LE seemed to be doing well. We enjoyed getting together every week to practice conversations and learn new words. After a while though エリ and I wanted to try studying something that might help if we found ourselves in a difficult situation. We wanted to practice scenarios that rarely come up in textbooks.


Continue reading

テキサス州、オースティンのESL情報/ESL class in Austin, Texas

※ESLとは、English as a Second Languageの略で、英語を母国語としない人のための英語教室のことです。



Continue reading

Expensive Okonomiyaki

Tyochin-OkonomiyakiThe first time I had okonomiyaki was in a tiny restaurant on a cold January night in Osaka, Japan. I was 20 years old and about halfway through a trip that stretched from Tokyo to Fukuoka. I sat down in a cozy booth in front of what looked like a giant griddle. Fortunately, the people that I was travelling with knew what they were doing because the next several minutes were a blur of activity. Batter and vegetables were poured onto the hot griddle with a hiss, and quickly spread into the shape of a pancake. Halfway through, thin strips of pork were added and the okonomiyaki was flipped and left to cook until the pork was crispy. After one last turn a generous coating of okonomiyaki sauce was applied to one side along with mayonnaise, bonito flakes and aonori. It only took one bite to know that it was one of the best things I’d ever eaten. Continue reading