Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Survey Says . . .

Toshi often asks me to proofread his English business correspondence. Before he sends out any letters, he e-mails them to me. I clean them up and send them back to him. Sometimes I wonder how diligently I should perform this task. Today a letter came through with one of those charming translation quirks often found in letters written in a person's second language and I really had to think about whether or not to change it. You see, I used to work in an office where these quirks were a huge source of entertainment, brightening our days with a break from business as usual. Today Toshi wrote a letter requesting a company to send him a "drawing of the guts of the T-4042 for making the parts list in Japanese." The guts?!?!! Isn't that fantastic? I am not making fun of him, the image puts a big smile on my face. Sometimes it is refreshing to encounter these language hiccups. Is it my job to deprive the recipient of the letter the same simple pleasure? It was a tough call. Now, I ask those of you taking the time to read this to weigh in, leave a comment and let me know, would you have left it or changed it and if you would have changed it, what would you have changed it to?

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Things I Love - #3

I love the Japanese Postal Service! It is not just the fact that our letter carrier looks like something out of anime, racing around on her little red scooter, all of four feet tall, her bangs hanging down in front of her coke bottle glasses, though I do get a cheap thrill each time I see her and she smiles, showing off her slightly buck teeth that are too big for her mouth, but seriously the service is excellent. If you aren't home when a package is delivered, they leave a slip in your mailbox. Okay, pretty standard so far, right? But wait! If you return home by 6 PM, and you call, they will make their way back to your house and deliver your package that very same day! Here in the big city, we have an automated service to call, but back in the good ol' Omihachiman days, I used to call the post office and tell them my name (which was pretty much all I could do in Japanese at that time) and they would know exactly who I was and why I was calling and send someone out to my little apartment posthaste to put the care package from home into my eager hands as soon as humanly possible. For someone as big on instant gratification as myself, this alone would rate them five stars in my book. But there is more! On rainy days, they have been known to put my letters and catalogs into plastic bags to keep them from getting damp. One particular Auntie at our local post office adores Mina and Sam and always gives them some treasure or another whenever we visit, from tissue to old fashioned children's toys. My favorite employee in another post office I frequent always checks for the least expensive, most efficient way for me to send my books overseas without me even having to ask. We went to a new post office the other day to buy additional postage for letters we were sending out and the kind woman who helped us got the stamps, handed the envelopes back, gave Mina and Sam each a stamp, showed them the damp sponge on which to wet the stamp, instructed them where to place the stamps, and then praised them for being such wonderful children. I almost wanted to ask her to adopt all three of us, she was so sweet. Awhile ago the Japanese Postal System was privatized and I was worried that it would bring unpleasant changes, but no, I still love Japan Post!


Saturday, April 04, 2009


It finally happened!

Today was Mina's first day in the elementary age group classes at the pool. She has been feeling apprehensive about starting elementary school, swimming with the big kids, riding the trains, making new friends and facing all the changes coming her way this week. I have been dealing with lots of this: "I don't want to go to the pool. I don't want to go to school. I want to stay with you forever, Mommy." Today, hurdle one, the pool. Her class is now during a different time slot than Sam's, so she doesn't have her little brother's hand to hold anymore. To make matters worse, we switched our lesson day, so she didn't have any friends at the pool today either. She went without complaint, but the insecure body language was on full display. She couldn't keep her fingers out of her mouth to save her life. Once class started, she was fine and things kept getting better from there. When I went to meet her in the locker room, she quickly noticed that there were no mommies in the changing area with the big girls and said to me, "I am okay by myself!" I know you are sweet pea, and I am so glad you finally figured that out for yourself.

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