Two years ago I wrote about «The boss is too stupid» (店長がバカすぎて) by Hayami Kazumasa, and here the other day I saw a familiar sight at the bookstore;
It was a sequel to that book! Apparently it came out in September, but I had been too busy getting my driver’s license to notice.
I was quite on the fence about what to do, of course I wanted to read it but after trying to read the sequel to 麦本三歩の好きなもの by Yoru Sumine last year and feeling like I was trying to fit into an old pair of jeans 30kilos later…
Two weeks later I decided to jump in and try it on anyway and it was like coming home.
There’s a starbucks inside the bookstore so I got a gingerbread latte and sat down in a comfy orange sofa. My drink went largely undrunk as I was absorbed back into the bookstore world.
Darjeeling has gotten bigger since the first book but the content remains the same and I am happy. A good book to end the year with.
In Norway, easter break is closely associated with skiing, kvikk lunsj, and reading (mostly crime novels). As I live in Japan, I have no easter break, but we do have «Golden Week» at the end of April/start of May which gives us about a week of vacation. While I did have a lot of driving lessons scheduled for this week, I had just gotten out of a bit of a reading slump right before vacation and so I got a lot of reading done as well (no crime novels though, not my cup of tea).
ののはなの通信 (Letters between Nono and Hana) was the book that got me out of the reading slump, I spent every free minute reading this and haven’t finished a Japanese book of this size as fast as I did with this ever.
I loved seeing their exchange over a span of about 30 years; letters, notes in class, postcards, and then later; email. It starts around in 1984, and it was so funny to me when one of them wrote in a letter :
«I wish there was a faster way of communicating! Where one could write to one each other instantly. I hope someone invents that»
After finishing ののはな通信 I needed a little break from Japanese, and so I picked up a new (to me) book by Xiaolu Guo «A lover’s discourse» in English. It was similar to one of her other works «A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers» which I love. Works by Roland Barthes and Marguerite Duras were discussed within the novel, so I have ordered the book by Barthes (no ebook sadly) and read the book by Duras right after finishing Guo’s book.
I read Duras’ «The Lover» (as there was an ebook), and it wasn’t quite what I had expected, not sure what I had expected to be honest, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.
Last of my GW reading was «The Song of Achilles» by Madeline Miller, that I started sometime last year and found at 16% read. The only image I have of Achilles was that from the movie «Troy» with Brad Pitt, so it was quite an experience to read this as it’s very different from that movie. I have now enjoyed both this book and her book «Circe» previously so will be keeping an eye out for anything new from her.
Now for my TBR/started but didn’t finish as I got into a reading slump list:
The book by Barthes that I have ordered, 月曜日の抹茶カフェ which is the sequel to 木曜日にはココアを, and 猫のお告げは樹の下で both by Michiko Aoyama, はつ恋 by Yuka Murayama because I can’t resist covers with cats and so I picked it up during GW, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and rereading Murakami’s 1Q84. I have also started Cloud Atlas but only a few pages in and it hasn’t gripped me yet so might take a while to finish (or just never finish)
It is no secret I love translated fiction, without it I do not know where I would be. While I did pursue learning Japanese as a means of reading the novels I loved in their original language, I seem to be unable to reread them in Japanese and feel the same joy.
For example; Haruki Murakami. I read every book of his I could get my hands on, in English. I loved them. Whenever someone asked me why I was studying Japanese I would say because of Haruki Murakami and wanting to read his books in Japanese.
Now, was the first novel I read in Japanese by him?
It was actually «If cats disappeared from the world» by Genki Kawamura.
I have, however, read some Murakami now. I read Norwegian Wood, a given, and I have read his essay collections, which are very enjoyable. But, while I have purchased and tried to read some of his short story collections and novels that have come out while I have been living here, I haven’t been able to enjoy them as I did with the English translations. They are different, as if I am looking at a completely different work. When Japanese people tell me «oh I can’t read him, his works are difficult to read», I cannot but agree. Like in 1Q84, there are two Murakamis (for me at least with English and Japanese, for Spanish speakers their Murakami will be different from the Murakami of a Chinese speaker and so on. I wonder if I meet a third Murakami if I pick up his books in Norwegian?).
While it was a bit of a letdown to have the purpose of my language learning become so estranged to me, I have been able to soothe my sorrow in new, yet to be translated works.
Not all have been in my top ten, but I have found some diamonds indeed, that I wish to be translated and shared with the world. Anyone know who to contact about this?
I know two of my favorites have been translated so far, the aforementioned «If cats disappeared from the world» and Shion Miura’s «The Great Passage», but I haven’t seen the below translated as of yet.
ののはな通信 by Shion Miura (currently reading it, but so in love already)
麦本三歩の好きなもの by Sumino Yoru (I remember loving reading this years ago, but couldn’t get into the second volume last year and so gave it away unread)
店長がバカすぎて by Hayami Kazumasa (So relatable and interesting turns)
52ヘルツのクジラたち by Sonoko Machida (All the tears)
Last, but not least, 木曜日にはココアを by Michiko Aoyama (currently reading the follow-up to this, 月曜日の抹茶カフェ)
After getting a job with regular hours, I thought I didn’t need a fancy schedule book anymore, just a bujo would do.
But then I started driving school and having to find time to schedule in theory and driving lessons, deadlines, etc., was not easy with just the bullet journal. So I got a jibun techo again, with weekly schedules to get a better view of my time.
I am trying to use the other pages as well, like Book list page, but I haven’t been good at jotting down when I finish a book this year so I don’t know when I finished two of these books.
It’s not a big problem of course, but for someone with detailed booklists going back 10 years… I haven’t been too good at reading lately.
Adjective; of, relating to, or suitable to a letter; contained in or carried on by letters; written in the form of a series of letters
As an avid letter writer myself, I was drawn to this novel, adorned with stamps, and seeming to be a collection of letters between two people. A mutual on twitter taught me it is called an epistolary novel and it is my new favorite term. Finally a term to describe that which I love to read.
I am 39 pages in (out of 517) and I have already ordered the hardcover version for my bookshelf.
I know The Great Passage by Shion Miura has been translated so I hope this one will be too.
Had to abruptly go to Norway for a family emergency in November. Booked a ticket on the 17th and sat on a plane two days later.
It’s been 3 years since I was able to go home, and while it wasn’t a happy circumstance bringing me back, it was good to see familiar places and people. Hugging my family and friends. Feeling a twinge of baby fever upon seeing my cousin’s new baby. Making spring rolls and dancing around my best friend’s kitchen. Having my aunt’s two huge great danes in my lap. Being hated by my mom’s new kitten unless she was too sleepy to notice it was me. Feeling homesick and looking at houses thinking about moving back to Norway.
The timing was terrible though. A couple of days into my two-week stay in Norway, omicron happened which made me a nervous wreck the second week, constantly checking the news and border control pages to see if they’d allow me back in Japan.
Spoiler alert; they allowed me to come back in, but I had to stay 3 days at a quarantine hotel eating cold bentos morning, lunch, and dinner. I like rice, but not for every single meal. And the remaining 11 days I could quarantine at home, given that I didn’t step outside, which they would routinely check through an app.
On Sunday (yesterday) I was finally free to venture outside, and I went to get a haircut, bought a novel, got donuts, posted my long overdue christmas cards, and went for a walk in the woods savouring the fresh air and the feeling of stretching my legs out fully for the first time in two weeks. Swearing to myself I won’t take this freedom for granted again. But like with colds and blocked noses, it will quickly be forgotten until next time.
I have a mountain of correspondence to reply to and must apologize to all of my penpals.
I had planned to try to catch up this weekend but,
Saturday we were gone most of the day, and when we got home I barely managed to get a shower before going to sleep. I went to bed with my hair still wet, even though Teddy always gets cross about that. But what is a poor girl to do? Hairdryers aren’t the best for your hair and with this length it takes forever, and with a desperate need for sleep I wasn’t in a state to wait up another 2-3 hours for it to dry naturally. Sometimes you just have to go to sleep with wet hair.
Sunday I slept in, till the ungodly time of 11:30! And even having slept until this late, I didn’t even get up and make breakfast or do anything before closer to one o’clock in the afternoon. Usually unheard of for me but Saturday was a long day so I guess it can’t be helped. I spent the day cleaning, studying, watching Gray’s Anatomy, and planting. We had some more plastic bottles so I made some more planters.
We also went to the homestore and I got some cat-friendly plants for the living room. I want to make the apartment into a jungle. With plants everywhere, but I have to think about Darjeeling as well, don’t want her to get sick, nor mischevious and making a mess.
I would like to be able to write letters on weekdays, but finding the time to sit down properly and give the letters the attention they deserve is difficult when your after work schedule is full of trying to catch up on house stuff, like grocery shopping, cleaning, making dinner, and getting to bed in a timely manner.
Let’s face it, I have become a boring adult (tear).
I will do my best to get in some writing time this week (this weekend Teddy is having his second shot of the vaccine meaning we will be at home and so I will have time to write between taking care of him). I also want to get a headstart on christmas cards that I got a little while ago (and that I need to get more of, I only thought about my penpals, not my actual family when I was buying them 🙈)
Saturday morning, again at 3am, we got up to be on our way to Tanigawadake with Teddy’s family.
We took the ropeway (which might have been the first time for me), and then the skilift (that didn’t have a bar like the one I used last time years ago when going snowboarding) to get to the top and see all the mountains, including Mt. Tanigawa, surrounding us on all sides. Such a stunning view, an experience to behold.
Teddy is saying we will climb (!) Mt. Tanigawa next time, but I am not so sure, it might take too long at my fitness level (crying)
We went and had some soba afterwards, with tempura, and soba-yu, and soba tea, and soba tea pudding. Everything soba, except the tempura. As I lived in Nagano when I first moved to Japan, I do love soba.
On the way back we chanced upon a foot hot spring and some autumn leaves at a little roadside station, the foot bath was really refreshing!
Maybe I will think about climbing Mt. Tanigawa, one day…
This morning I managed to wake up (yesterday I did not), so I can have a relaxing morning. I like to get up early so I can do nothing for about two hours. Sometimes I will do some cleaning or some yoga, but that’s on the rare occasion that I am perfectly rested and have the energy.
Lately it is cold, so the first thing to do is turn on the heaters to heat up the rooms and to make a cup of tea. Since I woke up with a bit of a sore throat today I decided to make peppermint tea.
I am rereading Murakami’s 1Q84 lately. Darjeeling is in the window looking at the birds outside, making her little meowy noises.
After being inspired by a tiktok I am trying to grow some greens in my humble kitchen and they are sprouting a bit! I also got some more mini plants to greenify our space a bit. They’re not good for Darjeeling so I am keeping them in rooms she doesn’t have access to. The teapot pot is so cute though! I love it and want another hundred more.
When we got home from the supermarket on Monday, we got home to a crime scene;
It had been on top of the dresser lately but now it is no more. Just the day before I had been talking about why I like it so much to Teddy, maybe Darjeeling got jealous. At least she didn’t hurt herself!
I have also picked up my studying again lately after getting (yet another) new textbook on the recommendation of my friend.
Yesterday I got some Japanese sweets at the supermarket because they were irresistibly cute!
It’s 7am now so time to get back to my book before I have to get ready for work.
The Danish «hygge» is now known by everyone I believe, but as a Norwegian it is more about ‘koselig’ for me.
Cozy, warm, content, pleasant, enjoyable, simple joys. There is no one word for it in English, nor Japanese.
I never finished the Hygge book (because I bought it in Japanese and got stuck at all the tecnical words for lighting and just never picked it back up oops), but I feel like the two concepts are closely related.
Imagine a cold winter’s day, sitting in front of the fireplace with a warm beverage in your hand talking to a good friend.
Or sitting in your favorite armchair with a good book and a cat on your lap.
Or going for a hike in the woods which is blanketed in autumn leaves, sitting down and having a snack on a fallen tree trunk.
I usually feel the need to make life koselig in the colder months, which is a lot shorter here in Japan compared to Norway.
Anyways, yesterday I got lots of koselig stuff.
A beverage is a must for koselig, a hot beverage in the cold months, and whichever you prefer for the warm months.
Last, but not least of my koselig item haul from yesterday;
This little pottery ornament light! Very simple but oh so koselig.
It also creates a bit of a magical mood;
I thought I wanted to be a minimalist, but I am starting to see that I want to be a koselig-ist haha. I want to live simply, but also to be surrounded by my favorite things that bring me joy and warmth, and at the same time not have too much stuff which will make tidying and cleaning a hassle. It’s a fine balance that I am still working on.