Clayton MacKnight public
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This last month has been pretty rough on me to be honest. There was a lot of last minute planning for my vacation. And of course, right when you want to go on vacation, everything seems to need extra attention. More work to do at work. More fires to put out. I haven’t had as much time as I would like to sort my plan out. My new position has a prett…
 
When I first moved to Japan loved the city. It was nice and compact and everything is in one place. As long as you are a decent walk away from a train station you can get anywhere pretty easily without the use of a car. If you needed to buy anything that can’t be found at a store, no worries you can just order something online and give them a 2 hou…
 
I’ve always found summer to be a more active time. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity we have here in Japan, I still think the increased sunlight and ability to walk around the house in a lot less clothes just makes me do something more than keeping my nose in a book. People always ask me what my favorite season in Japan is. And I have to say…
 
I grew up in white bread America where the corn grows high and hills don’t. I spent most of my time in a city of a mere 10,000 where everybody knew each other (and who was doing what to who). It was not uncommon to go downtown to run some errands and run into a handful of your friends on the way. I met a girl, and thought I was in love. What was pe…
 
It’s a story you’ve heard several times – we don’t talk to each other like we used to. Because ya know, back in the good ole days we used to chat it up with our neighbors and everybody knew everybody right? It was always better back then. But these days, we tend to ignore each other. We aren’t as open to conversation as we used to be. Instead of st…
 
Ukiyo-e, if you are not familiar, is a Japanese art form that was popular from 17th century to 19th century Japan. It basically consists of woodblocks used for mass production of pictures. Ukiyo means floating world, and e means picture, so they were literally “pictures of the floating world.” They generally depicted daily life, landscapes, and bea…
 
In school, I always had a hard time paying attention in class. The teacher would lecture away and we were suppose to be taking notes, but to be honest I could never proper filter out what was important and what wasn’t. Half the time I left the class knowing that I had listened to something interesting, but not having any clue as to what the main po…
 
A few years back, I was working at a school and we were trying to arrange a farewell party for one of our fellow teachers. One teacher found a great Indian restaurant that wasn’t too far away from the school. It seemed like a great place. It had a big room to accommodate everyone and it was something different for us, since we usually go to Japanes…
 
I’ve been taking it pretty easy with my studies recently due to some re-prioritizing of my time. I’m chugging away on Hirugao and Harry Potter but I’m giving myself a little more time to digest things. I felt a bit rushed of late trying to get through study sessions and I’m finding that is not the way to go. In addition to toning down my reading an…
 
I should start off by saying that I’m not getting divorced. I’m still happily married and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Some of my fellow expatriates and Japanese friends haven’t been so lucky though. Which, to my naive self, seems a little surprising. Don’t get me wrong, I come from a divorced family and pretty much everyone in my f…
 
I’ve been spending (or wasting depending on how you look at) with keeping my streaks up on Memrise. I think it is great to have that daily goal, but I have busy days and not so busy days and it can make it hard to keep up with keeping a good streak going. This has lead me to ‘learn’ a lot of words, only to score 50% on the tests afterwards. This ca…
 
There seems to be a small subsection of the expat population in Japan, that likes to shower the world with negativity and tell you about how horrible it is to live in Japan. Some of them came over seeking the easy profits and seemingly easy lifestyle of teaching the language that they grew up natively speaking. When they grow older, they start to r…
 
I’ve been trying to keep my studying pretty steady over the last couple of months and not really piling on and changing anything. This has a lot to do with me just having way too much going on for me to focus on going in a different direction. I’m also not entirely sure where to go from here. At the moment, I’m tooling up for a new assignment that …
 
A couple of weeks back I had some free time to take my family to Baymax (US title: Big Hero 6). It is a cute little movie about a boy, named Hiro, who befriends his brother’s robot and ultimately goes on to fight the bad guy and save the day with his trusty team of friends. In general, the plot is pretty standard with only a few minor surprises. Bu…
 
December in Japan is always unbelievably busy. There is the Christmas/Bonenkai party season. Then, you have New Year’s cards to design and write. And finally, the big cleaning where you throw out as much of the old as you can to make way for the new. Then after New Year’s, you have your first visit to the shrine, first visits and formalities to all…
 
Last month, I ranted on about 5 things that I think Japan could import from other countries. One thing that I missed on that list, and this list as well, is a work-life balance. Japan definitely doesn’t have anything resembling a work-life balance, and with the recent belt tightening, it has only gotten worse. I’ve heard stories of a few people tak…
 
I celebrated Christmas a little early again this year. The 23rd is a holiday here in Japan. (It’s the Emperor’s Birthday). It is the one day that we officially have off and get paid for it, so it tends to be the day my family and I celebrate Christmas. Yes, I know it is a little bit of a bummer to not have Christmas off, but that is one of the thin…
 
Japan has a lot of great things to love about it. There are convenient train systems, relatively low crime, and 24 hour vending machines. These all make life extremely nice for us all, but if I may I’d like to add some tweaks that might make it a little better. And of course these are completely biased and based on my sole opinion, but I thought I …
 
It has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks. I was incredibly busy with Halloween and the little one. We were actually able to go trick or treating twice. Trick or treating is not yet a standard thing to do in Japan but we always arrange a small trick or treat event in our neighborhood for the kids. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of busy wo…
 
At one time, I used to teach an English class to some public servants. And it being a government sanctioned event, everything had to start incredibly early, 8am to be exact. This was not a normal time for me to be up and around, needless to say the life of an English teacher usually doesn’t start that early. But, the one thing that struck me as odd…
 
It has been an incredibly tough month for me. I had some more medical issues I had to deal with. Nothing serious or life-threatening just incredibly time consuming. We are also running into some family issues that are taking up a lot of time. Again, nothing serious, but just time-consuming for me and my wife. All this means of course that I haven’t…
 
Phew, that was a bit of a long train ride. It seems like Matsuyama is such a long way from most of the major cities in Japan. And it really feels like it too. I heard there are around 500,000 people here, but it is a pretty sleepy town. It’s good to get away from the crowds you know? All right, well, that’s Matsuyama castle, but I’m a bit exhausted…
 
I used to be a huge Garfield fan growing up. I read all his comics and thought that they were the best. For my 8th birthday, my parents even made me a Garfield shaped cake and decorated it perfectly. I had a stuffed Garfield toy that I dragged with everywhere I went. It was my friend and companion on many adventures. But eventually I grew out of th…
 
For a lot of people, living abroad is a temporary thing. Most come for a year or two to work, or to go to school. Then, they hightail it back to their home countries to start their ‘real’ lives. Or some family emergency pops up, and they hop a plane home. Or some simply freak out over a giant earthquake and decide Japan isn’t their cup of tea anymo…
 
I’ve recently been really mixing up my studying to try to do some more things. I can never seem to keep my motivation up for passing the test between these lulls in action of between taking the test and getting the results back. So, I’ve turned to doing a lot more fun and interesting studying instead of day after day of drilling. For instance, I’ve…
 
My wife and I had just arrived in Paris for our honeymoon. Due to our flight being delayed, we were about 2 hours later than we originally planned. We were both fairly hungry, but it being a strange place we weren’t familiar with, we couldn’t find a place to eat. My wife, exasperated, said “Aren’t there any convenience stores?” To which I replied, …
 
About a week ago, I went up to Kyoto University to take the test again at their somewhat poorly cooled facility. I covered my first impressions before earlier, but in general I felt more confident about the test. I’ve started to take test day a little less seriously, which seems to be helping with my test score. Now it is just a matter of waiting f…
 
This post is a continuation of last month’s top 10. #80991982 / gettyimages.com 5. Purikura This is one of those things that most people probably don’t know about outside of Japan, but can be the source of a lot of good times with friends and significant others. If you haven’t heard of what purikura is, it’s pretty simple really. It’s basically a p…
 
With the July test just around the corner, I’ve switched off all of my ‘fun’ studying which is a bit depressing. I’ll basically be reviewing and really perfecting everything before the big day. It’s still frustrating because I really don’t have the time to do as much studying as I’d like to. I’ve had to slow my pace a little with learning new vocab…
 
10. Karaoke Box or Clubs Karaoke boxes or clubs as they are sometimes called are practically everywhere in Japan. If you are downtown, all you need to do is walk a few blocks at night and you will inevitably bumping into someone handing out tissues advertising for Karaoke. And they are not just for singing Japanese songs. Most big chain karaoke pla…
 
We are now moving into the final stretch before the July test. I’ve switched a lot of fun studying into more aggressive drilling and practicing vocabulary and grammar. I think it is important to get into that mindset of answering questions. One of the necessary evils about a test is that the test makers have to work in a bag of tricks in order to r…
 
Living and working in Japan for a few years, you get to have a lot of adventures. Living abroad in general just encourages you to go out and experience life. For example, I never used to travel alone before coming to Japan, but I did plenty of it once I got it here. It is also full of numerous frustrations as well. Why can’t everyone walk on one si…
 
I’ve got a good start on the first book of Game of Thrones (??????). It has been a lot of fun because I really like that particular story. I think there are a lot of people that will probably find it way too difficult to struggle through. For me though, it is interesting to see how it got translated because it seems like the author has done a decen…
 
I’ve been married now for 5 years. This is after dating my wife for about 3 years before we got married, so we have been together for a grand total of about 8 years. It has been a sometimes interesting, often times fun, occasionally difficult mix of situations. And because of this, I inevitably get a lot of questions about everything from raising k…
 
You were probably advised when you were very young to not eat the yellow snow. What about yellow sand? It’s that season again in Japan, and we are again being blessed with the wonderful dirty, gritty sand from our neighbors here in Japan, coating everything in a nice uneven blanket of yellow that seems to get into everything. And if you live in Jap…
 
I have finally finished off the two elementary school level books that I had lying around the house. They were novelizations of “Toy Story” and “Surf’s Up” that I had picked up awhile ago. These novelizations tend to be pretty easy reads for N2/N1 level. I could get through about 10 to 12 pages in 20 minutes or so on the train. I took a very casual…
 
When I first came to Japan, I was, like so many others, fascinated by the vending machines. I mean there are vending machines absolutely everywhere in Japan. And they will vend absolutely everything from soda to fried noodles. One of them that I saw sold bouquets of flowers, which could come in handy for that late night craving of flower giving. Bu…
 
Okay so I officially failed the exam again. I had a bit of a hunch that I wouldn’t pass but it is good to get the official results, so I can start planning out how to study this year. I want to make a few changes to how I’m doing things for a variety of reasons. First, I want to stay motivated. I’ve done some intensive grammar practice in the past …
 
When you visit a foreign country, the first thing on your list to check out is usually not the houses. After all, they aren’t quite as glamorous as 400 year old temples and shrines. But, they can tell you about a place all the same. Houses are very personal for obvious reasons. Where you choose to live can say a lot about you and your lifestyle. Th…
 
So the test is finally over for 2013. I was barely able to get to the test much less put in serious study time the whole month before because I was in the process of moving, which is now thankfully over. Although, there is still a lot more to get setup, I’m finally physically in the house. To be honest, it’s great to be moved in and headed down the…
 
There was somewhat recent Guardian article that got a lot of Facebook love about a month ago. It was essentially the rehashed news report of an annual survey about Japan’s sex habits, to put it bluntly. The Guardian did a little more leg work with it and did some ‘on the ground’ reporting to fluff out the article and get more perspective. It was se…
 
Lately, I’ve gotten more and more annoyed at doing vocabulary drills. A lot of this has to do with it getting tremendously boring to do the same thing over and over. But, also because of being at a higher level, it is easy to get two words that have similar meanings mixed up. And there were some simple words in my Memrise courses that I’ve been ign…
 
Japan is known for its cities. If you ask someone to imagine Japan, one of the first things that probably comes up is the scramble walk in Shubuya, where hundreds if not thousands of people cross the street every time all the lights turn red. Or you probably imagine the neon lights of Kabukicho or our own Dotonbori here in Osaka. But, when ever any…
 
After the July test, I’ve been moving toward more natural study methods and keeping my nose out of drill books. I started doing some reading of PHP, a small magazine with short essays that have relatively short essays that have relatively simple themes. I found it to be fairly easy actually. A good magazine for people studying for N2 I think. It’s …
 
It doesn’t get much mainstream press these days, but Japan has a bit of a debt problem. The national debt will be an estimated 245% of the GDP, which seems simply unfathomable. In order to pay such a debt off, Japan spends something like 23% of its budget on interest payments. And Japan is currently running a budget deficit, meaning it is adding to…
 
Not my actually, library, but maybe someday. After the test results last month, I’ve started to rework my studying a little more to get ready for the December test. At this point, I feel like I know the skills I need. I just need to over-learn everything so it’s automatic. I feel like that is really what N1 is about, testing if the language is auto…
 
Your typical full name in Japan is made up of 4 kanji – 2 kanji for a first name or given name and 2 kanji for the last name or surname. There are somewhere around 600 or so extra kanji that are used just for names, but names also use common kanji like the most common last name in Japan – Tanaka, ??. The ?(ta) is rice field, and ?(naka) is in the m…
 
You can’t be taken seriously unless you have an eggplant on your cover. Last month, I said I was going to start reading Kazoku Geemu, but I got sidetracked for technical reasons. Apparently, you need a kindle device, or kindle for Android to read the eBook version (Kindle of iOS doesn’t work). I don’t happen to have either a Kindle device or Kindle…
 
Massive flood of people Tokyo and Osaka are two massive clusters of people living fairly close to each other. Tokyo is ranked as the largest metropolitan area by population in the world with about 32 million people, whereas the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto area is ranked as the 9th largest with around 17 million people. It’s larger than any American metropolit…
 
I think I can do better than this. One of my original goals when I first decided to study a little harder and take my Japanese to the N1 level was to become a translator. I’m currently teaching English now, and I enjoy it, but translation has always seemed more fun for me because it is like a puzzle you have to solve. This is even more true for Jap…
 
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