Rainy October Sunday

It’s fall. Mornings are crisp, and soon it is time to dig out the heaters and put the fan in their place.

This morning I made some hot chocolate, (from scratch!), and sat down to do some letter writing.

I am also wearing my little «brake time» cozy socks from Daiso.

Darjeeling is with me as always of course, doing her best to lie on top of the letter so I can’t read it.

Yesterday I spent the day reorganizing the kitchen, the stock closet, and the bath. I recently found out that the walls in the bath are magnetic, which opened up a whole new world of organizing possibilities.

We bought the rack in the middle for all the kitchen electronics, as the previous arrangement was not very earthquake secure.

It also has wheels making cleaning easier

Bought a little wagashi on the way back from the home store yesterday, a black halloween cat, which was delicious.

Today I want to see about getting some different trash bins, as I am over this tower type where any smell goes through all the compartments. I have seen some at muji that you can affix wheels to making them more convenient as well.

Have a good Sunday everyone❣️

衣替え from summer to autumn

衣替え (koromogae) is the seasonal change of clothing, switching out the warderobe from one season to the other. The beginning of October is the perfect time for koromogae.

Darjeeling as (un)helpful as always.

I was able to do some decluttering as well, but not as much as I would like. I still get stuck on the «I might need this» or «I might want to wear this again one day».

This time I left the pieces that I didn’t wear last year in with the summer clothes in the storage box, so if I don’t reach for them this season I can hopefully declutter them next spring.

Now my warderobe looks like this;

I realized I mainly use greys, blacks, whites, mustards, and a tiny splash of pink. At least it’s not all black. It feels calmer.

I hope to be able to do a 100% perfect konmari one day. Maybe next year.

Tomorrow the weather will be lovely so I plan to get all the laundry done and even hang out the futons.

What do you do on sunny days off?

Saturday bookstore browsing

I went to the bookstore to get a housewife magazine today, and while I was browsing I first saw that there is now a fourth book out in the «Before the coffee gets cold» series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

As I looked to the right I saw a very familiar design, namely that of Michiko Aoyama’s books! I didn’t know she had a new book out, nor that it seems to be a continuation of my favorite book of hers; 「木曜日にはココアを」(Cocoa on Thursday)!!

This time it is «Matcha cafe on Monday» or 「月曜日の抹茶カフェ」.

I can’t wait to read this!

Potato donuts and a chic day off

Today it is a public holiday here in Japan, don’t know which one, what matters most to me is that I have a day off.

I have seen online that they have different potato donuts at mister donuts here so I decided to try them out. I can’t remember the last time I went to a donut shop, nor when I last ate a donut, so it must be a while since it happened. Anyways.

We have mitsuimo (honey potato), mitsuimo and butter, daigakuimo (candied sweet potato, literally university potato though haha), sweet potato, and murasakiimo (purple fleshed sweet potatao, very appetizing name).

Mitsuimo was ok, mitsuimo and butter not to my taste (not a fan of butter taste?), daigakuimo was ok, sweet, sweet potato was good, and murasakiimo was the best I think. I wanted to like the sweet potato one more, but it didn’t have as much sweet potato taste as other sweet potato sweets, like wagashi, usually have so.

Darjeeling was also interested, but not enough to have a bite haha

Today I felt very french, with my parisienne favourite perfume from SHIRO, and a dress and belt from the collaboration between uniqlo and Ines de la Fressange.

I have been reading another book by Dora Tauzin lately namely; «パリジェンヌはいくつになっても人生を楽しむ» or “A parisienne enjoys her life no matter how old” (loosely translated).

Anyone tried the donuts from mister donuts lately? Or any other good donuts out there?

Long time no see

Last time I wrote it was spring, with its cherry blossoms and fair weather.

I was so excited about this but for some reason can’t get into it as I did with the first one, is it that different?

Now it is autumn, beloved autumn (let’s skip summer).

A lot has happened since spring, and some has stayed the same. I got a new job, which accounts for most of the changes in my daily life and wellbeing. Working from home should mean that I have a lot more time as there is no commute, but for some reason it was easier to get in reading on a commute than at home. I am still working on the work/private life balance.

I got my dream table, a table I had in a note in my evernote app years ago titled «future house ideas». I am living in the same apartment but the arrival of the table has brightened it more than I had imagined.

My plant keeps growing and I had to repot her a little while ago:

We have been hiking lately so I have seen some beautiful views;

I did some doodling from May on my new phone, mostly of Darjeeling, and opened up a little Redbubble shop! I found doodling on my commute was very relaxing, but I often missed my stop.

It is almost time to break out the autumn fashion, and as usual I couldn’t help myself getting some new pieces this year either;

It’s still just a little too early, a little too hot, to start wearing it though.

I am still writing letters, and being as obsessed with stationery as always. Been buying autumn stationery and stamps like there is no tomorrow;

I would like to blog more, but not sure how to proceed, what to blog about, how often etc. Maybe the blog will be updated more this fall, or maybe not, I cannot say for certain. I have so many hobbies but so little time.

How is everyone doing so far this year, as we pass into autumnal bliss?

The Great Passage by Shion Miura 三浦しをんの「舟を編む」

This book has been on my shelf for a while, but before we go further I want to put in a disclaimer; I haven’t read it in Japanese yet. I chickened out and read it in English (it has been translated!!)

I was at the bookstore here the other day looking at, well, books. I found two books that I liked:

I ended up buying the お探し物は図書室まで as it is by Michiko Aoyama who wrote 木曜日にはココアを which I loved.

I felt like I had seen Shion Miura somewhere but it didn’t register yet. As I was googling her I came over ‘The Great Passage’ and then it came to me; she wrote 舟を編む!

I watched the anime back when I was in university and loved it, but knowing how much technical terms would be in the book was what initially held me off, so finding that it has been translated was a godsend.

I stayed up till 1am yesterday finishing it, it’s that good. I couldn’t put it down. I love it. I also feel like I need to buy more dictionaries.

It’s about dictionaries and words and life and love and friendship and everything you could possibly want, and it is definitely a recommendation from me.

Maybe I’ll tackle it in Japanese one day now that I have it in English as well. We’ll see.

木曜日にはココアを by 青山美智子 

As I said in my previous post, I loved the first of the 12 stories and was relieved to find that they were not complete stand-alones.

The beauty of these stories are how they are stories in their own right, but they are also part of a bigger story.

Reading this book felt like a puzzle (and I love puzzles). At first you have a heap of pieces, that you connect together piece by piece until you have a complete picture. Every piece, while small and seemingly insignificant by itself, are connected to each other in some way and you wouldn’t get the full picture without them. And the feeling when you put in that final piece, having it all come together to form something greater, seeing how that one piece connected to this other piece, that feeling is so precious.

We have a cafe owner, a waiter, a girl writing letters in English, a mom that can’t make an omelet, a kindergarten teacher who forgot to take off her nailpolish, a lingerie designer, an old married couple, a newly married couple, a former banker, a witch, an artist, a translator, a sick girl.

We are in Tokyo, and we are in Sydney.

I sped through this novel faster than I have ever read a Japanese novel before. And yet I felt dissatisfied. I felt annoyance towards my eyeballs that they could not move faster. I started following the text with my finger in an attempt to increase my reading speed. I had a need to race through and find the connecting pieces.

And it was beautiful. I laughed. I cried. I was moved. I felt inspired.

I want to have everyone read this book. I want to talk about it, but I do not wish to spoil.

I have decided to try my hand at translating, at least the first chapter. Not that I am a great translator or anything, but it will be both good practice for me and count as studying which I have sorely neglected to do this year.

I do hope for a professional translation of this to come out one day, maybe there is somewhere one can send in requests for works to be considered for translation? If so, do tell me, I have a list of books that I’d like to see translated.

Perfect Monday

Yesterday was as perfect as a normal working Monday could be.

It was sunny, but with a cool wind bringing in the scent of autumn. I opened all windows and doors as far as I could letting in the fresh air while not letting out the cat. After days of rain, I could finally do the laundry and did no less than four loads thanks to the sun drying things in less than an hour.

For three years I have had the same futon covers, but I finally bought new ones; matching ones. And the joy of washing them and putting them on: I was over the moon. I have noticed that here, instead of having several sets of covers and changing and washing on like a weekly basis (which I would do in Norway), it seems to be enough with one set and then you hang the whole futon out to dry and “wash” in the sunshine.

While the laundry was drying, I was free to clean the apartment and finish most of my to-do list (that has been piling up lately)

I also got started on changing out my warderobe. Thanks to reading “Lessons from Madame Chic”, I am trying to define my style and also get some ‘core pieces’ and maybe even get down to a ’10-piece warderobe’. I make no promises however. I got a lot of new clothes (well, 8 pieces) which I think will be the main, but I also have some thicker knit sweaters and one wool skirt in my existing fall/winter warderobe so I am already exceeding the 10 pieces but I am not too bothered, it’s not the end of the world. I’m also trying to get better at dressing up, wearing the clothes I like more regularly and not just for special occasions. So for example, to go to the bakery this morning, I put on some of my new pieces and did my makeup! At 10 in the morning! (I work evenings). In Norway, if the bakery was as close as it is here, I might’ve just gone over in sweatpants.

Anyways, I digress, I was writing of yesterday.

My warderobe is looking like this at the moment, I’m hoping to get my knit sweaters etc., into the white boxes that are currently full of winter clothes, which means I need to find a different space to store summer clothes. Did I mention I love organizing yet? It should be getting clearer now. Thinking about storage space and how to organize it is what gets me going. And yes, I have thought that maybe I should become a Konmari consultant, but haven’t found any courses here yet.

I took a break after my warderobe shenanigans and had another matcha latte, which I have every day now, I am obsessed. I’ll probably drink it daily for 6 months and then I’ll get hooked on something new, or maybe go back to milk tea (that I made and drank daily from December until June).

Matcha latte? Check

Laundry? Check

Cleaning? Check

Organizing? Check

Reading? Check

It doesn’t take too much to make me happy. I coud accomplish all this, take my time getting to work, and work didn’t bring me down either.

I got home, took a bath with the Makioka Sisters in hand, and then I could go to bed in new sheets, the first new sheets in 3 years. My sigh is of happiness and you could probably hear it from outside as the temperature was perfect for keeping the windows open all day and all night.

Studying by reading

I am not usually the kind of person to look up every unknown word as I read in Japanese, but as I am reading フランス人は10着しか服を持たない I have found myself looking up and jotting down words here and there, sometimes to get the correct reading so that I may remember it seeing as a word appears several times throughout a chapter, or to get the meaning. Maybe it’s easier to do this with this book precisely because it is not a novel, thus stopping to look up words doesn’t ruin the reading flow as much as it would have if it was.

Exposing my terrible handwriting, don’t judge me too harshly

I have not studied ‘properly’ this year at all. I took the JLPT in December of last year (feels like a century ago), and after failing the N1 for a second time I lost all motivation to sit down with textbooks. I didn’t much enjoy N1 materials anyway so I haven’t been able to force myself back into it.

But I have read several books, in Japanese, and while I might not have been studying the ‘traditional’ way of looking up words/grammar, writing them down, making flashcards, quizzing myself, etc., after years of making flashcards and never using them I believe I am better suited to remember these things by repeated exposure in more natural settings, i.e. by reading books. By seeing the kanjis for train stations everyday I am able to remember their reading. Same with people’s names, buttons on websites, tags on instagram, buzzwords in advertising, blog posts on topics I am interested in. By seeing the words over and over in their natural habitat so to speak, I can (hypothetically) recall their meaning or reading even if I were to be exposed to them in a new or different place.

The first two pages of the first novel I tried to read in Japanese (during my year abroad at the university) looked like this:

From 世界から猫が消えたなら by 川村元気

It was so full of words I didn’t know the meaning of, or reading of, or both. It was so disheartening and took out all the fun of reading, it wasn’t even reading anymore, just working. There was so much work trying to write the kanji correctly into the electronic dictionary so it would recognize it and give me the meaning. I stopped “reading” a couple of pages later and didn’t pick it up again until over a year later. And when I did pick it up again I swore to not suck all the fun out by relying on the dictionary and so I didn’t. I did my best to read and understand from context, and I enjoyed the story immensely.

This formed a habit of not using a dictionary when reading that still continues today. Rarely will I stop to look up words when reading novels. Does that mean I can now read and understand every kanji and every word and every grammar point? Not at all. But there is no pressure to either. I read for my own enjoyment. I know kind of what most means and if I don’t know the exact reading or meaning I don’t sweat it, I will just input the meaning or feeling of a word in whichever language I feel I understand it in.

I am hoping to one day take and pass the N1. I have no immediate use for it and so the need to study seriously is not there as of now. While I would want to believe that by reading and enjoying books as I am now, I will accumulate the knowledge required to pass, I know it is not so. But until the need arises for me to have the N1, I will continue my studying in the way I like; slowly and comfortably with my beloved books.

読書の秋 

Today is 秋分の日 (shuubun no hi) or the autumnal equinox day, meaning summer is officially over and autumn is starting!

In Japan you often hear 食欲の秋 (shokuyoku no aki) or 読書の秋 (dokusho no aki), which loosely translates to ‘autumn of appetite’ and ‘autumn of reading’ respectively. I haven’t heard it much about any of the other seasons, only autumn. Once when I went to a Japanese class at a community center, the old grandma that was volunteering as the teacher introduced this topic to us, and had us “make our own autumn”, so basically what our image of autumn is, and what would we like to do or focus on during this season.

You can put just about any two-kanji word in front of の秋, 紅葉(kouyou, autumn leaves), 旅行(ryokou, travel), 勉強(benkyou, study), 健康(kenkou, health), 運動(undou, exercise), 睡眠(suimin, sleep), etc. The list is only limited to your own imagination. You also do not have to be bound just by the two-kanji words, some make long and funny ones like “Autumn of it’s getting increasingly difficulty to get out of bed in the mornings”. Just have fun with it!

My top three this season is:

  • Appetite (I want to eat all the nabe I can fit into my body)
  • Reading (my tbr list is getting uncontrollable as you will see)
  • Autumn leaves (they are my favorites)

Today’s title is 読書の秋 so I will be talking about the books I see myself reading this fall.

The line-up
My kindle app

I am still not even halfway through Murakami’s 一人称単数, and I feel like a bad Murakami fan. But I finished 3 books in Japanese in a short time in the beginning of August and kind of burnt myself out with reading Japanese so the next books I read were all in English and so Murakami got pushed to the side. But I will get to him during this autumn.

Rainbow / にじ is a poetry collection with the poems in both English and Japanese! It’s super thin so I could get through this quickly, but I would prefer to take it slowly and think a bit about each poem.

The short-story collection サキの忘れ物 is as per my post about it still as beautiful as ever and I am enjoying the title story!

As I mentioned in my last post, I love books like フランス人は10着しか服を持たない, it gives me a bit of motivation to change and I am learning a lot about French culture!

It was finally cool enough here the other day to wear my flannel dress

I also started The Makioka Sisters. I finished Jane Eyre and on that day I went by the bookstore and got three new books and started two of them. I have no self-restraint. I felt like they wrote too much on the back, but I am determined to enjoy the story anyway.

I started re-reading Hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world a while back on my e-reader, but I’ve been busy with other books so I haven’t taken the e-reader out in a while. I need to get back on that, as at the moment I am lugging around The Makioka Sister, the Lessons from Madame Chic, and the サキの忘れ物, and my bag is heavy and my back is not pleased about the extra weight.

Books I have yet to start but that I want to get to:

  • The sequel to Lessons from Madame Chic
  • 若草物語
  • 舟を編む
  • 木曜日にはココアを
  • ラヴレターズ
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles
  • The letters of Jane Austen

I really love reading old letters written between people, it is such an underrated art in this day and age.

What is everyone’s 〇〇の秋, and what are you reading this season?

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