...like us.

{**taking photos of photos is silly, sorry. I'll show you my purikura album someday.}

Japanese bowling alleys
are quite like American bowling alleys.
you get your shoes from a vending machine
the drink vending machines
pour your drinks for you.
Pretty awesome.

I was so moved by the new Ghibli fan
{The Borrower Arriety}.
The music transcends me into another world,
and the composer, Cecil Corbel, is a Ghibli fan.
I think we should be friends, Cecile.

I'm 14 years old, I am pretty
床下に ずっと 借りぐらししてたの
I'm 14 years old, I am pretty
genki na chiisai lady
yuka shita ni zutto karigurashi shiteta no

toki ni wa happy, toki ni wa blue
dare ka ni aitai

風 髪に感じて 空を眺めたい
kaze kami ni kanjite, sora wo nagametai
anata ni hana todoketai

mukou wa betsu no sekai
hora cho-cho ga matteru, watashi wo matte iru

そう、変わることのない 私の小さい世界
嫌いじゃないの でもあなたを
sou, kawaru koto no nai, watashi no chiisai sekai
kirai ja nai no, demo anata wo
motto, motto shiritakute

喜びと悲しみは いつも 折り混ざってゆく
yorokobi to kanashimi wa itsumo, ori mazatteyuku

風 髪に感じて 空を眺めたい
kaze kami ni kanjite, sora wo nagametai
anata ni hana todoketai

mukou wa betsu no sekai
hora cho-cho ga matteru, anata wo matte iru

太陽の下で 花に囲まれて
この想いを胸に 新しい世界で
私らしく 生きる
taiyou no shita de hana ni kako marete
anata to hibi sugoshitai
kono omoi wo mune ni atarashii sekai de
watashi rashiku ikiru


My English Translation:

I'm 14 years old, I am pretty
An energetic little lady
All my borrowed things under the floor

At times I am happy, at times I am blue
I want to meet someone

Feel the wind in my hair, I want to gaze at the sky
I want to send you flowers.

Beyond here is a separate world
Look, a butterfly is soaring; it's waiting for me

Yes, my little world is unchanging
I don't hate it, but I want to know you more and more

Joy and grief are always folded, mixed together

Feel the wind in my hair,
I just want to look at the sky and send you flowers.

Over there is a separate world
Look, a butterfly is dancing; it's waiting for you

Beneath the sun, enclosed in a flower,
I want to spend each and every day with you
With this thought in my chest, I will live in a new world.

My Japanese professor told me that,
in order to master Japanese,
I have to stop translating the words in my head
and start translating them in my heart.
I hope you enjoy my interpretation of this lovely song.

{Click for Download}
{"Arrietty's Song" by Cecile Corbel & Ghibli}
{Image via Vanessa Paxton}

When you visit another country,
there's always something you have to try
before going home.

If you come to Japan in the summertime,
try the big white peaches,
the haku-tou 白桃.

You don't eat them, see,
you drink them.

"Ah, summer. What power you have to make us suffer and like it."
-Russell Baker

Forget the beach,
we celebrated Sea Day in the mountains
as a Church family.

I stepped out of the car,
took in a deeeep breath of mountain air,
and felt at home at once.

Japanese barbecues are a little different
than American ones.
It isn't only the food that's foreign,
but also the way the barbecue fires
are kept alit with little paper fans.

Part of the journey in a foreign country
is learning how to live with foreign creatures.
I killed my first cockroach last night, under the sink.
{The sign says: "Watch for pit vipers. -Takasago City"}

The mountains were so inviting,
I left the smokey barbecues behind
and climbed into the forest
to find some 妖精 fairies.

The mountains are full of magic, after all,
no matter where you are in the world.

{Music from the gorgeous 借りぐらしのアリエッティsoundtrack by Cecile Corbel}

"Of course there's a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in, the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates..." -A. Lawrence Lowell

I've been a little busy lately.
Maybe if I rub my books all over my head
the kanji will stick to my brain.
It's worth a shot.

{image via here}
My favorite Japanese things...

kanji: 傘 {umbrella <-- it looks like one!}

word*mukashi-banashi {try saying that and not giggling}

idiom**"Fall seven times, rise eight." -Daruma

song: Tatara Women's Work Song

superstition: When it thunders, hide your bellybutton, or the god of Thunder will gobble it up.

story: Come and Sleep {read it here}

painting: 風神雷神図屏風 Fujin Raijin Zu Byou Bu {The gods of Wind & Thunder}

fruit: Purple grapes {they taste like Nerds candies}

ice cream: Pino

odd animal: Giant salamander

romantic place: The Western residentials of Sannomiya

What're your favorite cultural things?

*昔話 mukashi-banashi means 'folktale'
**七転八起 nana korobi ya oki

If I had the ears of a dog,
they would be pressed flat against my head right now.
If I had a tail,
it would be tucked firmly between my legs.
I. Am. Ashamed.

My final for JAPAN 300 was today.
After reviewing my test, my Bishop asked me {in Japanese},
"Do you understand any of this?"
and I said, "Yes, I do."
and he said, "No, I don't think you do.
How do you say 'tree branch' in Japanese?"
and I said,
and he said, "Ude means 'arm'. Try again."
and after many attempts,
each one making my face grow redder and redder,
he finally stopped me and said,
"You need to study and learn Japanese."
Here's a giant slice of humble pie. Eat it up.

After that embarrassment,
I practically ran up the stairs
to catch the last 10 minutes of Gospel Doctrine
and hide my face behind my scriptures.
The teacher, though,
bandaged my heart a little bit.
He spoke of King Solomon,
and how
such a wise and talented man
tripped at the finish line,
his talents becoming his downfall.

I may pride myself
in always receiving A's on my Japanese exams,
but if I lean on that pride,
I'll fall flat on my face.
{As I witnessed today... Those were the worst marks I've ever received.}
We are meant to be humble creatures.

I stayed after my meetings
to try and cheer up my heart with piano.
And while playing,
I discovered something about myself:

My fingers fumble a lot when I practice,
but the song is only ruined
if I stop playing.
I have a chance to redeem everything
if I stick with the song to the end,
and leave my mistakes in the past.

The song is only ruined
if I stop playing.

{images via here & here & here}

"If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving." -Doctrine & Covenants 136:28

Light the lanterns, friends!
Summer has arrived,
and so have the festivals!

Of course,
Japan parties all-year-round,
but summertime is the height of it all.

There's just
everywhere you look.

And even though Japan
is slightly overrun with foreigners...

the Japanese stay true to their culture
every blessed year.

...For the most part, atleast.

Staying in a Japanese-style inn {a ryokan}
was a fantastic experience.

It really got us into the
"Japanese mood"
and prepped us for the festival.

The costumes were so outstanding to look at.

...Especially the miniature-sized ones.

The boy in blue is a kappa {turtle} demon.
The boy in green is a lilypad.

The parade lasted all morning.
The sun was hot,
the costumes heavy.
These kiddies deserved bucket-loads of ice cream.

Some of the floats
were so tall,
they had to have men
steady the swaying tops with ropes.

Young musicians sat in the floats
and played as the parade moved along,
filling the streets with traditional folk music.

Some of the floats
can weigh over 26,000 pounds
and need over 35 attendants to pull/push them.

Each float
was pulled down the street,
across the river {there's a bridge},
and onto the sacred grounds of Yasaka Shrine
to purify against pestilence and disasters for another year.

We crossed the river as well,
and spotted the Minami-za,
the Kabuki theater of Kyoto.

We also found the statue of Izumo no Okuni,
a woman who danced and sang in dry riverbeds
and developed the art of kabuki.

To escape the crowds,
we turned down the by-night-Geisha-street
and found the Kennin-ji,
the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto.

It was incredibly peaceful,
with its raked pebble gardens,
nightingale floorboards
and quiet atmosphere.

And at the end of the path,
we found two beautiful dragons
twisting magnificently on the ceiling
in an eternal black-and-white dance.

After eating a ton of festival food
{karage: fried chicken, kakikoori: snow cones, sushi, Godiva chocolates...}
we decided to dine at a little Italian restaurant
across the street from our ryokan.

We wanted to stay forever,
just eating the chef's handmade lasagna for the rest of eternity,
but the clock reminded us
we had to go home.

Kyoto is so gorgeous,
and so overflowing with culture,
if you're ever feeling whimsical,
come to Japan.
Let's have a sleepover... in Kyoto!

{Music via Kiyoshi Yoshida}

Word to the wise: don't eat cooking tofu.
I know, I know...
I eat raw fish all the time, myself.
Raw foods are supposed to cleanse your body, yeah?
Well... maybe cooking tofu isn't the same as raw tofu.
Sorry, tummy.

On a much lighter note,
I went to the store and bought
age {tofu pockets}
so I could make
one of my favorite Japanese dishes:
fox sushi.

Like most recipes,
there are five-billion-and-one ways to make it.
But here's what I do
when I just want a simple snack:

{this will serve 1-2 people}
Cook one cup of medium-grain white rice,
put it in a wide container
and drizzle it with tepid water.
Using a rice server (utensil), cut vertical lines in the rice.
{This will help it cool nice and even.}

Next, get your age ready!

Drain the packet
and extract a tofu pocket.

Separate the tofu pocket
so you can stick some yummy rice inside.

Fill the pocket until it's almost full.

Seal the pocket ends
so the rice can't make a mad dash for the floor.

And, voila!

Ain't that a perdy sight? Mmm.
For variations, add things to the rice
like sesame seeds, fish, etc.
Ah, Japanese cooking .

{ill bunny via here}