November 2015


November is one of my favorite months (and there’s no personal reason for that; absolutely none; nothing; no way). At least back in America, the fall colors still linger and it doesn’t get quite so bitingly cold. In Japan, on the other hand, it can get quite chilly. My first year necessitated my poofy pink down jacket, while I didn’t need it last year until mid-December. This was unusual for me, as I often refer to myself as a cold-blooded lizard. I complain it’s too hot for half the year and that it’s too cold for the other.


I recently found myself in Osaka on a Monday night, and let me tell you: it can get pretty weird. The first bit of oddity came in the form of a clothed and caged rabbit beside a man accompanying himself with an acoustic guitar. Down the road, two bicyclists sped past. One was carrying two smallish owls and the other had a large one perched between the handlebars. Outside a shop a little farther down, a clothed dog was waiting dutifully for its master. Jokingly, my friend and I said we only needed a cat before we could complete the set. Instead, we next happened upon a group of people with reptiles. Two had snakes draped on their shoulders and the others were sitting next to three lizards. Highly entertained, we turned toward Amemura and encountered not one, but three cats. Keep in mind this was all within a ten minute span of time.


This month, a new contributor, Emma, shares with us her Canadian wisdom on battling the frigidity of Japanese winters. As she mentions, food can be a great way to dispel some frigidity, and Mandy’s kuri-gohan, or chestnut rice, does not disappoint. Under reviews, we have Rackle share her experiences on the annual Shikoku rafting trip, a travelogue of Miyagi, and an overview of several cafes of the geeky persuasion that can be found in Tokyo. Rory shares his musings on penmanship, and our alumni this month is Mike Bass, formerly of Shiga. Finally, there are two works of fiction in The Refuge, one of which is the fourth chapter of Sometime Last Week and the other is called “My Father’s Shop.”


Life (and your route during road trips) often makes strange twists and turns. It’s not always what you expect, or what you can handle. I’ve found searching for the humor in such situations helps keep everything in perspective. And hey, you may find a menagerie waiting for nothing but your appreciation. If nothing else, these twists will give you learning and character-building opportunities.


Brittany Teodorski



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