Orange

I read this blog article on manga, and the author listed a few ideas for Japanese learners at different levels. For beginner learners, she listed this manga called Orange. I actually remember seeing this manga at Kinokuniya on the weekend, so I thought I’d return today and buy it.

While I was there, remembering my massive challenge on the weekend browsing through the numerous shelves of Japanese and Chinese manga (and English manga, but that wasn’t a challenge in any way whatsoever 😂), I quickly realised that finding this particular manga again isn’t going to be that easy.

However, I also remembered that the manga seemed to be grouped into broad demographics: “boy” manga, “girl” manga, “quasi porn” manga 😂 etc. I would classify Orange as a “girl” manga, so I started my search in that area. Sure enough, I found it relatively quickly, omg!

Then I had this crazy thought: what if I could find this exact same manga in both the Chinese section and the English section?? The English version would act as my safety net, should I have difficulty understanding it in either (or both!) of the other two languages.

But then of course that meant that I had to go searching in the seemingly disordered Chinese manga section, which didn’t seem to talk to me in the same way that the Japanese manga section did (and the latter barely spoke to me as it was 😂). Looking at the spine of the Japanese book, I noticed that it had the word “Orange” written on it – in English! So all I needed to do was find the same word in the “girl” area of the Chinese manga section. I can find an English word among the thousands of Chinese comic books here, surely! 😂 It took me considerably longer to find than the Japanese version, but eventually I did. Omg x2!

Now for the easiest one of all. The English section is in alphabetical order, so I went straight to the O’s. And there it was. Omg x3.

[ But I’m still wondering how the Chinese and Japanese manga are ordered?! ]

I decided to buy all three 🤪 Crazy or ingenious?!?

Three versions of the same manga 😲 From L to R: English, Japanese, Chinese

I’ve actually started reading all three versions 😲 I’m mega slow: I’m only about ten odd pages in (and remember that these are comic books, so they’re full of pictures!), but it’s been good so far. One thing that I’ve discovered, which I didn’t think of when I first thought of this idea, was that reading the Japanese version can sometimes actually help with my Chinese, or vice versa. For example, if I know how something should be said in Japanese, and then I read the Chinese equivalent in the Chinese version, I can then see how you would convey the same thing in that language – which can sometimes be nothing like what you would normally say in English in that same situation! So it’s a good cultural learning opportunity too. Total amaze balls. I’m so impressed with this idea 👏

The story seems quite interesting too. It would be something that I would want to read, even if I didn’t have this overarching goal of improving my language skills. In fact, I’m refraining big time from just picking up the English version and reading it in one sitting! 😂

But I also suffer from the problem of being too bogged down with the “learning” aspect of it, and not just enjoying it as a light-hearted read. I don’t understand every single word of any book in English that I read, so I should try and do the same here. Of course if I can’t read more than half the sentence, then some learning is in order 😂 But if I can read the majority of it, then I should just try and get the gist of what they’re trying to say, rather than disrupting the flow of the reading to refer, once again, to the dictionary. If I try and do this some more, hopefully I can soon find a happy medium between learning and entertainment 😊

Exciting times ahead! (Hopefully!)

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Manga shopping

It was mostly a pretty typical Sunday: Latin lesson, followed by Ballroom practice. After dancing, we went to go buy some groceries for Kitty, some food and litter for the feline member of the family 😸

I then went to Kinokuniya to buy some manga to further my language studies. Once I got there though, the shelves upon shelves of manga just overwhelmed me. Where do I start?? And reading the description on the back of each comic book would take forever, since it was all in Japanese. I couldn’t even figure out how they were ordered. I thought it may be in alphabetical order, but using the Japanese alphabet. But even that idea didn’t seem to hold. So the best I could come up with was to succumb to the pretty covers, read whatever I could on the cover (all the comic books were wrapped, so you couldn’t flick through them), and hope that the advertising would somehow eventually lure me to something that I could potentially enjoy reading 😆

I did, however, manage to find online English descriptions of my shortlisted ones, so I could quickly get an idea of what the manga was about, instead of just solely relying on the pretty pictures on the cover. So after over an hour of browsing through the Japanese manga shelves, I eventually settled for 犬神くんはツンだけどバレてる, which I think roughly translates to “Inugami is aloof but easy to read”. Well, something along those lines. I’m not quite at interpreter level… 🤣

So after browsing through the Japanese manga shelves, I then headed over to the Chinese manga shelves, and went through the same thing over on those shelves 😳 I eventually settled for 小港裡的動物診所 (I would translate this as “A Vet Clinic in Xiao Gang”, referring to a fictional city or the district in Southern Taiwan, I don’t know). I couldn’t find an English website like I did for the Japanese manga, but the cute animals on the cover won me over nonetheless 😂

After almost two hours of trying to navigate my way through the shelves of Japanese and Chinese manga, I then started to head over to the cashier to pay for my chosen comic books. Only to then stumble across some shelves with English manga! Omg, I have apparently discovered a whole new world that I was completely oblivious to before I came up with this manga-may-help-you-improve-your-language-skills idea 😆 The manga in English were more limited in choice compared to the Japanese and Chinese ones. I guess the English-speaking manga fans just don’t quite have the same numbers (and/or the history?) yet. So not only did I have less to browse through in this section of the bookstore, but I could obviously much more easily read the covers of these comic books! 😂 So I got through the English section in next to no time, compared to the mammoth adventure I had in the previous two sections.

So let’s see just how long it will take me to read these comic books… 😜 I’m still hoping that this idea of reading manga will help to improve my language skills, and that I am also entertained along the way, and not just suffer tremendously the entire time!🤞

Relaxed and carefree

I woke up today feeling so relaxed and carefree. It’s a Saturday, and we have no Chinese class, no dancing competition, no dance lesson, nothing. We were free 😂 I sometimes forget what it’s like to have a free day, until one rolls around and greets me warmly with open arms 🤗

We took our time leaving the house, simply because we could 😊 I read a bit more of one of my other books, Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty. The book is set in Sydney, so in similar vein to Crazy Rich Asians which is set in Singapore, it was cool reading all the familiar places in Sydney that I know intimately well. Harbour Bridge, George Street, The Rocks, the Fish Markets, Anzac Bridge… I felt like I was almost back there. It doesn’t take much effort for me to conjure up images of the city and visualise myself going around. I know it too well. So I could easily picture the characters in the book walking/driving around and basically just leading their fictional lives.

We then went and had lunch at this Japanese restaurant down the road. I think this place will become one of our regular haunts. The food is really good. Plus it’s owned / run by Japanese people, so they’re very polite. And of course I can practice my Japanese while we’re there 😊

They also have a collection of Japanese manga on their shelves, which customers can read while they’re in the restaurant. I have come to think that reading manga is one of the funner ways to learn a foreign language. I just need to find a series to get into, which is not only good for someone learning the language, but also a genre that I would really enjoy – and hence persevere and push through the obvious reading difficulties!

After lunch, we made our way to the annual Pet Expo! I love going to the Expo, if only just to see the competitions that they hold. Today we happened to sit in front of an Aussie judge who was judging some of my favourite breeds: Maine Coone, Exotic Shorthair, Persian, and British Shorthair. Only problem is, N is allergic to cats! He even reacts to Kitty sometimes 😔 He was saying how he should’ve brought a mask with him to the Expo today 😷 Well we did sit right in front of the judge, so that probably didn’t help matters!

After the Expo, I went home to rest while N went over to our friends’ place for dinner. I was invited too, but since his wife and kids were still overseas, I figured I’d give the two boys some boy time 😂 Plus I wanted to get a bit more rest, since this cold is still lingering around 🤧 And we have a comp in a week’s time, so not much resting is going to happen between now and then, so I figured I should take any opportunity to rest up while I can.

Remember the daily mantra that I mentioned back in January? Well I completely forgot about it (already! 😳), and only just remembered it last night. So I reinstated it today: “no trading”. I wasn’t allowed to read anything about trading, no books, no blogs; I wasn’t allowed to review my trades; and I wasn’t even allowed to think about trading. I’m getting unhealthily obsessed, and that’s not a good thing. So I’m telling myself to take the day off. Heck, probably the whole weekend off. My brain needs to switch off and have absolutely nothing to do with trading for just a few days; I want to come back to it fresh on Monday.

So I’m distracting myself this weekend, gaining traction on my other goals instead 😊

CNY Day 1 aka my second Christmas

It was Chinese New Year Day 1 today. It’s the only four-day long weekend in the year here, so it’s arguably the biggest the holiday in SG.

We went and had lunch at our friends’ place, the closest to family we have in SG. So in similar vein to yesterday, today felt like my second Christmas Day. It’s sorta cool getting to celebrate twice like this ☺️

And then in the evening, we went and had a birthday, Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year combo dinner 😆 We went for Japanese, and all the staff at the restaurant were actually Japanese so I got the chance to practice 👏 But of course, having been in Chinese mode ever since we came back to SG and resuming our classes, my brain kept giving me the Chinese for a lot of the things that I wanted to say to them! It’s as if my brain stashes all the Japanese that it knows into the back recesses of its drawers, and will only pull out the relevant papers after it has had enough time to gather them all up. Wahhh! Why can’t I just flick a switch and the right language CD will just automatically come on?? 😩 Nonetheless, they were very appreciative of my efforts. They are just the most polite people. Makes me want to learn the language even more 😊

More friends and eating in store for us tomorrow, Day 2…

Hopscotch, Timmy Knowles and Gyoza Gyoza

Felt pretty down today, so didn’t really do much at all. Still can’t get over this damn jet lag either sighhh. It’s not really helping either that I’m not doing anything to improve matters. Nor does it help that our hotel room gets next to no natural light 😒

We went down to Hopscotch at Southbank for lunch, with Timmy Knowles playing while we were there. He was really good, playing his version of some popular songs, both international and Aussie. The weather was superb, it was such a chilled atmosphere, and with Timmy playing, we could’ve just happily stayed there all afternoon 😊

After checking out Bloch for some dancing gear (they didn’t have anything that great today, unfortunately), we then just wandered around Emporium, which seems to be open for longer for these few weeks leading up to Christmas.

We stopped by this restaurant called Gyoza Gyoza (餃子ぎょうざ) and the waiter who served us was actually Japanese! I don’t get to meet many Japanese people outside of Japan. So of course I had to practice my Japanese on her 😊 Any opportunity to practice and learn, right?! I think all their dishes were A$6.80, so it was sorta like Japanese tapas. Nice food though, and service was very typical Japanese: friendly, efficient and overall just a positive experience.

So a pretty quiet day, which at least ended on a more positive note.

Second and final day in Tokyo

We decided to have a leisurely day today. We didn’t do much at all, just wandered around and did a bit of shopping and eating. N wanted to buy a new bo for karate and new sneakers, but instead he came out with a wallet and dance pants hahaha Funny how the universe works sometimes.

We went and asked for a tax refund at the department store where N bought his wallet and dance pants. They had written instructions in Japanese, Chinese and English.  The woman who served us spoke in English to us, but when I pointed to the instructions and asked her in Japanese if she could speak all three, she then switched to Japanese straight away and remained talking in Japanese for the rest of the conversation omg. I must’ve fudged so well today that she asked me if I was Japanese or half Japanese! She was probably just being polite, as a lot of the Japanese are, but it was still cool that she was so excited when she found out I could converse even just a little in Japanese 😊

We experienced the jam packed trains today. We were on the train close to the doors, and when the doors opened on the other side, I could see a wave of people come in. And I was like “omg, that wave is going to eventually come over our way….” And it did! It was just one of those surreal moments that you just have to experience. Crazy stuff. It was cold, so it wasn’t too bad, but I don’t know what it would be like in the heat of summer…. 😳 Not sure if this video really captures the experience: despite the situation, everyone is still so quiet and polite!

I went and visited a stationery store near Harajuku, called Hobonichi, which was recommended to me by a friend who also loves her stationery. Yesterday they released this 5-year diary, which are available in three colours. And today, the colour that I want is already sold out! And their online store says that they’re not restocking it! Argh! So now I’m going to scour all the outlets in Singapore when we return 😝 There are quite a few in stores in SG that stock their items, actually, so I’m going to go and visit them all on Monday hahahaha And if that fails, I’ll head to Melbourne Central when we’re there later in December. I’m determined to hunt this colour down!

The Hobonichi Store was close to Harajuku, so we walked back there for dinner. N noticed this Italian restaurant last night called Penny Lane, so we decided to go there tonight.

It turns out that they only have a menu in Japanese. Omg hahaha So I’m basically reading this menu like a 5-year old, sounding out characters and trying to figure out what Italian dishes they were. It’s hard enough reading Japanese in general; this menu was HANDWRITTEN, which made it that much more difficult.

We ordered a Quattro Formaggi (sp) pizza and a Margarita pizza, and they gave us honey to put on the former. That was certainly different! Italians may cringe at this addition, but I actually liked it. 🍕

And then we just walked around and did a bit of shopping before the shops started to close. A nice, easy way to end our holiday. It’s a bit sad that it’s now come to an end, but in a way, I’m looking forward to getting back to reality. It feels like we’ve been in Japan forever! Lol

First full day in Tokyo

First full day in Tokyo, and we just wandered around Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku. Shibuya really just to find some martial arts stores, but they ended up being more kendo stores rather than stocking a variety of supplies for the different martial arts. I had another entirely Japanese conversation in one of the places, and asked them if they knew of a shop that sold karate gear. The guy then flicked through a catalog, and pointed to one shop in Shinjuku. He started telling me where it’s located, inserting as much English as he could in his directions, and his colleague said to him something along the lines of “you don’t have to speak in English, she understands Japanese”. Hahaha that was pretty cool! Not quite true, but I can fudge my way through simple daily conversations.

We walked through Yoyogi Park after that, admiring the beautiful autumn colours again. They had an area for dogs to run around unleashed, so we just watched them for a little while, before heading over to Harajuku. We walked past a hedgehog cafe and an owl cafe. As cute as owls are, I’m still a bit hesitant to go to one, just for ethical reasons.

So we went to Kiddyland instead. Omg, if you want to experience the total kawaii cute culture of Japan, this place is the place to go: 5 floors of cuteness overload! Merchandise featuring Hello Kitty, Cinnamoroll, Doraemon, Disney characters, Gudetama, Snoopy and so many more are all here for you. It is just the best!! 😊

We then headed back to Shinjuku and walked through Golden Gai, an area full of narrow alley ways, renowned for various drinking establishments. A lot have a cover charge, and some say “Japanese only” or “I only speak Japanese”, so I guess those places just want to focus on their local customers. But this place is awesome:

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There is a resident cat in the bar!! I’m not much of a drinker, but this place I will go and visit 😊 Although there was no English at the front, as you can see, so I’m not sure if we’d be allowed in as foreigners. What if I said “I love cats, but we’re foreigners, can we still enter?” in Japanese as we walk in? Hahaha

Golden Gai was really just a drinking area, but what we really wanted was some food, so we handed over to Piss Alley afterwards, which is also in the Shinjuku area. I have no idea how this place got its name, I’m sure something will come up about it if you Google it. It does have a Japanese name (Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho 新宿思い出横丁), so maybe only foreigners call it Piss Alley? It’s not the cleanest place, but it’s not THAT bad. Or at least at the time when we were there 😳 all the bars and restaurants in these two areas were tiny as, with some places barely catering for maybe ten customers at a time. Some of the places are basically just counters, so it can be quite challenging to find a place to eat/drink. And then you’ve got the lax smoking rules in Japan too, so the person next to you has every right to light up 😑 But you just have to go and visit at least once, for the unique experience 😊