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Sayonara rainy season

Last night, the night going into August 1st, I lay awake and listened to the rain. It came on suddenly and furiously, the winds whipping it against the windows, hitting the ground sounding like hail. Looking outside I saw the world enveloped in rain. The humidity was almost suffocating, even the air was turning into water.

Waking up on August 1st I was greeted by the sun and blue skies. Any trace of the previous night’s rain gone. Last night was the rainy season wrapping itself up, presenting us with summer nicely tied in a bow to be opened on the first day of August.

It feels like the cicadas have spring to life overnight as well. An endless chorus of their chirping, blending into the background until you barely notice it, forgetting almost the source of the noise. The sound of summer.

I’ll admit it is bittersweet to say farewell. The rainy season isn’t all bad. I don’t mind a rain shower here and there, preferably at night with accompanying thunder, but constantly feeling wet and clammy gets tiring pretty quickly.

With summer incoming, while it does bring a certain lightness, brighter days, sunshine, and not to mention vacation, it also brings a heat like no other. As a viking I am not equipped to handle temperatures above 25 degrees celsius. Japanese summers bring temperatures well above 30 daily. Me and Japanese summers do not go hand in hand, but unfortunately we can’t skip them. I enjoy some summery things, but I am looking towards autumn to soothe me after what will surely be another sweltering summer.

I’m a book flasher

Early Friday morning, standing on the train on the way to work with a mocha in one hand and my phone in the other.

Looking around the train I spot someone reading a book, the same book that I’m also currently reading, but not at that exact moment of course as my hands are occupied and I am trying my best to remain standing. (The book was 店長がバカすぎて)

I want to reach out, tell that person that ‘hey, I’m reading that too!’, maybe we could talk about it. If I could’ve sat opposite them, whip out the same book, flash it around, then maybe our eyes would meet, recognition, maybe share a smile and a nod.

But as it is not possible on this packed train, I tweet about it and continue looking out the window and the scenery rushing by, disappointed that life is not like in the stories we read.

A sip of my mocha and time to get off the train, never to see that person again.

At least I still have my book.

The boss is too stupid (to function)

This is a Japanese novel I picked up on a day where I was pissed at my job and my company and the title caught my eye and resonated with my feelings so much that I had to get it.

The narrator is 28, works in a bookstore and starts the book with


Loosely translated (by me) to:

“The boss goes on and on as always and I notice that I am more annoyed than usual which reminds me my period is close.”

Which might have described me perfectly that day. It’s very relatable throughout and as an avid reader I loved to see the daily life at the bookstore. Seeing the interactions between the employees and the customers and how they are when their shift ends and they go home.

Each chapter deals with one thing that is stupid so it goes like:

  • 1: The boss is stupid
  • 2: Writers are stupid
  • 3: The company president is stupid
  • 4: The sales department is stupid
  • 5: God is stupid (or gods as in customers are stupid)
  • 6: In the end, I am stupid

You can feel the characters coming to life in this book. They are all real, flawed, human beings. No too perfect people here.

While it is not a mystery novel, it has a teeny tiny mystery towards the end which makes you want to read faster to get to the bottom of it. I was ready to throw the whole book out the window, but was luckily spared having to do that.

I really liked chapter 5, “God is stupid”, except it is not the god we would naturally think about. In English we say, “the customer is always right”, while in Japanese they say “the customer is God”. The different customers (gods) we meet in this chapter reminded me of my own time working in a couple of bookstores and the kind of people that would frequent them. Not all are bad, but not all are good either. As I do not necessarily believe the customer is always right, nor that they are gods, I believe I am not suited for a job dealing with customers, though I would love to work with books, either in the publishing industry, a bookstore, or maybe a library.

I really hope this gets translated so that more people can get the joy of reading this book. I loved every twist and turn and the little daily happenings that make up our lives.

Maybe I have to set out to translate it myself?

Will definitely recommend this book to everyone who loves books, daily life stories, maybe a bit pessimistic and easily annoyed people, and almost a surreal mystery springing forth between the pages.

A farewell to spring flowers

Violets have long been my favourite flowers.

While the typical image of spring in Japan is that of the ever beautiful cherry blossoms, they only grace us with their presence for an instant. The flowers that greet you daily from every flowerbed winter throughout spring are the violets and pansies.

In front of every house, company, station; flowerbeds full of pansies and violets in every colour, a colourful blanket stretching across the city, prefecture, nation-wide.

My own balcony garden also consisted of these two. (And some orange daisies)

However, as spring was nearing its close, my little garden was devastaded by aphids. Too many to save my little flowers. I had to start over from scratch.

At the same time, the rain season rolled in, and with it hydrangeas took over. Everywhere you look there are pink, blue, and purple hudrangeas softening the blow of the gloomy weather.

The rain also seems to have taken away with it all the pansies and violets that used to cover the city. In their place, marigold and sunflowers are planted, yellow and orange to welcome in the summer and sun.

(There are a bunch of other flowers too but I do not know their names. I should invest in a flower dictionary.)

The season of violets have passed, at the home center where they had been so abundant earlier not a petal was left. The new season’s flowers are in and so my garden too must reflect this change. My marigold has yet to blossom for me, but the radiant yellow suns of the mini sunflowers have begun peeking out.

I wonder what changes autumn will bring?

Summer reading

For me, summer meant summer vacation, (we had two whole months), which meant lots of time for reading. Sitting outside in the garden or on a friend’s veranda or at the beach with a book in my hand enjoying life.

Now that I am working here in Japan I effectively have no summer vacation, but I have noticed that my appetite for reading has gone up considerably the last month and I am finishing books at an almost alarming rate (I am not complaining though).

Here in Japan it is mostly autumn that is closely associated with reading. They say 読書の秋 (dokusho no aki) which means something like “the autumn of reading”. They actually have this thing called 〇〇の秋 where you input a two-kanji compound word to reflect what autumn is about to you. So another popular one is 食欲の秋(shokuyoku no aki) which is “autumn appetite” as autumn vegetables are so delicious here so people spend a lot of the autumn just eating (and reading).

Anyways, for me it’s summer, so I guess it’d be 読書の夏 (dokusho no natsu) instead.