The Joy of Reading

books1I’ve blogged a little (very little) on the fact that my daughters are growing up bilingual and bicultural — this is usually the reason they are often called “haafu” in Japan (I despise this term, but I’ve already written about it and there’s much more discussion in the upcoming book).

But I haven’t really said much about what we do to help our kids maintain both languages.

It goes without saying, naturally, that our kids speak Japanese fluently. We live in Japan. My wife is Japanese. Our relatives here are all Japanese. The kids go to a Japanese nursery school. And yet, for some reason every time we meet people…at the library, at the supermarket, in a restaurant or shopping mall…the first question they say to my oldest daughter is, “Can you speak Japanese?” As if having a non-Japanese father automatically disqualifies them from having any Japanese language ability.

Ahem. Getting ahead of myself. Continue reading

Posted in education, Japan, Japanese, reading | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Party Hardy, Daddy & Mommy!

This past week marked the end of the academic year in Japan (yes, the year runs from April to February, with a short break for summer in August).

The end of year comes with grades, teacher evaluations, syllabi corrections and book ordering…and farewell parties. Two of my colleagues left for greener pastures (i.e., they got tenured positions), so everybody in my department got together last night to fête and shower them with parting gifts. And naturally to gripe, commiserate, regale, story tell, and generally remind ourselves why we like to work together. Continue reading

Posted in entertainment, food, holidays | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

BREAKING NEWS: Amazon Japan offices raided

The Asahi Shinbun is reporting that on Friday, January 23, 2015, Japanese police raided the offices of Amazon Japan on suspicion of violating anti-pornography laws. This web site reported on the illegal sales of child abuse images back in October 2014, when decrying the sales of questionable material online both at Amazon Japan and Rakuten as well as their lack of responsiveness to complaints.

Now that the police are involved, I feel justified in repeating “WE TOLD YOU SO, AMAZON.” Clean this filth out, once and for all.

Posted in child abuse, child safety, Japan, Japanese law | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Working Cover

Quick update on the book: In the end, I’ve decided to go the indie route to self-publication.

An update to the update! (2/16) It looks like I won’t be self-publishing this one after all. A small press that normally published ESL/EFL books has expressed interest in Taking Leave. We’re ironing out the details, but it looks like the goal is to start production in May, with an aim to release both print and ebook versions before the annual JALT Conference in November.

Two endorsements already, one from a gender studies expert and one from a former lieutenant governor in Japan. And naturally, all reviews and comments from other interested colleagues, parents, workers and families both at home and abroad are welcome!

Here’s another cover idea. No idea if this will be the final or not, but that’s also under negotiation!


Posted in art, gender roles, Japan | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nanakusa: A Japanese Epiphany? (Holidays part 3)

On January 7th, we ate nanakusa-gayu at home. Nanakusa literally means “seven grasses” and “gayu” (kayu, o-kayu) means “porridge.” So basically we ate veggie gruel to mark the official end of the Japanese New Year’s holiday season.

The custom is said to come from China in the early 3rd or 4th century CE. Like many food- and drink-related customs, this one is supposed to bring good health to those who eat it.

Continue reading

Posted in eating, holidays, Japan | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home for the holidays (Part 2)


As I wrote a couple days ago, I’ve been spending the New Year’s holidays with my wife’s family in Kagoshima for a decade now. In that span of time, there have been five children born into the immediate extended family, which includes our own, my wife’s sister, and my wife’s cousin on her mother’s side. Her cousin got married right after we did, and her brother also got married recently. I’m from a large family (= 9 siblings, a dozen plus aunts and uncles, forests of cousins) so I have many memories of huge family gatherings. After the first couple of somewhat quiet holiday dinners, however, the last few years have seemed extraordinarily hectic and noisy.

Given the talents and histories of my wife’s family, the more people have just made things much more interesting, especially for my kids.

Continue reading

Posted in holidays, inlaws, Japan, parenting, school, work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home for the holidays (Part 1)

After a series of fairly serious blog posts related to an ongoing complaint against Amazon (which was somewhat, but not entirely, resolved), I thought it was about time to post about a slightly more innocuous topic: Making pottery at the local nursery school.

But then reality set in, and between work and family obligations I had practically no time to write anything longer than a tweet. No updates even to the Facebook page (aside from the fact that I’ve been waffling between self-publishing and going with a UK-based publisher of mostly TESOL-related text books).

And now, the holidays. It’s time to relax. You’d like to think…
Continue reading

Posted in family outings, holidays, Japan, trips | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments