The Peace Park Story

A version of this article originally appeared on this blog in 2010. Thanks to having parents who fully supported my desire to become fluent in Japanese, I had the good fortune of going abroad to Japan for two summers in high school (and then for my entire junior year of college). I spent both of those … Read more

My Thoughts on the Attack in Japan

If you have children (or nieces or nephews or an imagination), think about when they were 6 years old or when they will be. That’s how old my niece is right now. Think about sending those children to school. Like, the actual logistics of it. If you’re in the US, you probably either (a) drive … Read more

How Often Do You Go Grocery Shopping?

I have a pretty incredible streak in progress. Normally I go grocery shopping once a week. That’s right about the time that I start to run out of the essentials: baby spinach, orange juice, milk, and chocolate. As of right now, close to midnight on March 22, it’s been 16 days since I’ve been to … Read more

Have You Ever Visited a Cat Cafe?

I studied abroad in Japan several times in my youth, but I missed out on one key Japanese phenomenon: Cat cafes. A cat cafe is a cafe for humans that is crawling with cats. Dozens of them. I think it was (and perhaps still is) popular in Japan because people often aren’t allowed to have … Read more

Numbing Spice: Am I Doing It Wrong?

A few weeks ago I was talking with my brother and his fiance about their recent trip to Japan. I’m always curious about the food people eat when they travel, and they said they had tried some dishes involving sichuan, the numbing spice. I’d never heard of the spice even though I’ve definitely eaten food … Read more

What’s Your Favorite Japanese Candy?

I’m wagering today’s entry on the assumption you’ve eaten Japanese candy. Maybe you ate a Pocky Stick during a cultural day. Maybe you sampled a Hi-Chew at a Japanese festival. Or maybe you tried a green tea Kit Kat at some point. Well, unless you’ve had a Kinoko no Yama, you haven’t truly lived. A … Read more

There Is a Portal to Japan Somewhere in St. Louis, and I Know Where to Find It

On Friday night, I traveled thousands of miles in less than a second. No drugs were involved. A few days before that, I happened to drive past a new, unfamiliar restaurant called Robata in Maplewood, Missouri. The sign out front advertised sushi, ramen, and yakitori. Ramen? What’s this? When I studied abroad in Japan, ramen … Read more

Akira: Not the Movie

I studied abroad in Japan from 2001-02, and I had the good fortune of becoming friends with several college-age natives of Kyoto. It wasn’t uncommon for me to get a text from them that said nothing more than, “We’re picking you up in 10 minutes,” and we’d zip off to some adventure that I only … Read more