Urashima Joe

Stuff about Japan and East Asia. Philosophy (mostly continental). East Asian languages. Language learning. Photography.

They wanna see how good your handwriting is or something?

That’s probably one reason. Of course, they wouldn’t expect me as a 外人 to have decent hand writing, but the policy would be applied across the board. 

You can imagine what it is like for people looking for regular staff positions writing out copy after copy after copy by hand of the same damn stuff. This is also a way of weeding out people who aren’t serious enough to spend some time applying. 

Blah. I have to hand-write my resume. It’s gonna be like that is it? Advertise for a position on a foreign job hunters site and then play it Japanese style. 

Are you going for a job interview in Japan with the intention of leaving for China next year?

Not for China, but possibly back to Australia. S will stay at her job as long as she can handle it to get some experience and qualifications, but not sleeping for days on end? I don’t think it is realistic that she will want to stay more than a year or so.

Phew. Another interview chance. I wonder how long I can go without dry cleaning this suit… I really admire how S was able to go through so many of these things and handle the rejection. It was tough on her but she did it. I think I take it too personally by comparison. I am also likely to be too candid with interviewers, which may be a problem here.

niryopa:

I won’t be going home to the US to visit for another year and a half (provided that something unexpected does not come up), which means I’ll have been gone two and a half years when I arrive.

I wonder how my parents will greet me at the airport, and I wonder what special things they’ll try to do to make me feel at home. No doubt my mom will ask me in advanced what I want my first meal to be and what groceries I want her to buy, but I know my dad will try to surprise me with some off-the-wall present. I hope that my Grandma is still doing as well as she can be at that point and that Maggie and Misty both remember me. Maggie was my best friend and it’d probably kill me if she didn’t recognize who I was. Misty was never particularly fond of me, but I still love her anyways.

It’s strange to think that this time last year, I was looking forward to a year or two in Aomori, followed by a move to New York or California. Now a year later, I’m looking forward to an indefinite amount of time living in Tokyo while New York and California have completely fallen off of my radar.

Be prepared for reverse culture shock whenever you do get back. ;-) 

random thoughts on reading korean

ecue:

i was reading the paper and it suddenly struck me how insanely difficult it might be for some folks to learn korean, especially for reading news articles.

for example, take the headline “유병언 실족사 가능성”

유병언 - we all know who this is, so that’s out of the way

실족사 - this one’s tricky. the sound “shiljoksa” is utterly meaningless. unless you already know what this means, there is no way to infer its meaning. 실족사 is a compound sino-korean word, with hanja 失足死. still, 失(lose) 足(foot) 死(death) is rather unclear.

first, the expression ~~死 means “death by ~~” so 병사(病死) is death due to illness, 아사(餓死) is death due to starvation, and so on. there’s even a joking expression called ‘모에사(death due to moe)’ which apparently happened for real. another cool expression is 복상사(腹上死) - literally ‘death on top of stomach’ - which means death during sexual intercourse. 

second, the 足 part actually means ‘footing’ in this context. so 실족(失足) means to fall(lose one’s footing). so finally, 실족사 means falling (or tripping) to death. 

to add some confusion, “injury due to a fall(or trip)” is expressed 낙상(落傷) - (falling injury). so there’s that.

가능성 - this one’s easy. “possibility”.

putting all of these pieces together, “유병언 실족사 가능성” means “유병언 might have died because of a fall(or trip)”. 

…which, of course, is very likely bullshit. so hey that was worth the effort yep…

Hehe. Yes, you need a lot of background knowledge right. The kinds of things native speakers take for granted but aren’t going to be found in any learners material. But I think that is generally the case for most languages when it comes to reading high level stuff like newspapers. Maybe Korean/Japanese/Chinese is harder than English like that though. I have been wondering, but did you learn English from a young age Ecue? Is it a second language for you, or a foreign language? 

“Is there anything that I can do, a lot of young people have written to ask me, to avoid becoming an out-of-touch, entitled little shit?”

chanaeinehime:

She’s my wife.

I didn’t like them together at first but now I love them and wish them many happy times OTL

I just watched ep. 10? last night. The one with the bus. So I am guessing Terminus is a nasty place. But don’t spoil it for me. ;p

(Source: flowersforsansa)

I taught many wonderful young people during my years in the Ivy League—bright, thoughtful, creative kids whom it was a pleasure to talk with and learn from. But most of them seemed content to color within the lines that their education had marked out for them. Very few were passionate about ideas. Very few saw college as part of a larger project of intellectual discovery and development. Everyone dressed as if they were ready to be interviewed at a moment’s notice.

Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history.

So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. Once, a student at Pomona told me that she’d love to have a chance to think about the things she’s studying, only she doesn’t have the time. I asked her if she had ever considered not trying to get an A in every class. She looked at me as if I had made an indecent suggestion.

koreaunderground:

Korean Onion Farmers Drowning in Debt

By Jin Myeong-seon, staff reporter in Muan
On July 16, bags of onions were stacked up in various places on the road from Hyungkyung township to Haeje township in South Jeolla Province’s Muan County. For the past month, about 1,400 bags of onions have been stacked up on the shoulder of the road next to the fields at Ipseok village.
When Na Tae-ju, 65, started cultivating onions last year, he took out a loan of 30 million won (US$29,140). Today, he lowers his head in shame, unsure of how he is going to repay the money that he spent on seeds, fertilizer, farming equipment, and workers’ wages.
In 2013, the price of a bag of onions was 10,000 won (US$9.71). This year, the price continues to plummet, even with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs pulling out all the stops, including buying up product and not releasing it on the market, known as hoarding. “Some time ago, a broker offered me 4,200 won per bag, and I just couldn’t give it to him. There are some brokers who will only pay 3,000 won,” Na said.
Na Gwang-woon, 59, is the head of Ipseok Village, where 25 families are growing onions. “Producing 200 bags of onions costs exactly 1.5 million won. Just to break even, they have to make 7,500 won per bag. They’re all drowning in debt,” he said.
The purchase price offered by the government, which is taking steps to buy onions for the first time since 2003, is 6,500 won, but this doesn’t even meet the minimum production cost that the farmers are talking about. To sell onions to the government for hoarding, the farmers also have to pay to have them shipped all the way to Gwangju.
After the onion harvest, the fields of Muan ought to be full of soybeans, summer cabbage, and sesame, but most fields were bare or overgrown with weeds.
“In order to grow another crop, we have to invest more money. When farming just increases your debt, you stop farming,” said Lee Eun-ja, 50. Quite a few elderly people aren’t able to pay 60,000 won rental fee for equipment they used to cultivate the onions.
Generally, the onions that are harvested in June are put in a low-temperature warehouse and sold again in December, but the farmers aren’t even able to pay the storage cost of 2,000 won per bag.
The situation is not any different for the farmers who growing other kinds of vegetables, including peppers, garlic, radish, and cabbage. The price of such items has dropped 30-70% from last year. This is also why about 10,000 pepper, garlic, and onion farmers held a protest in Yeouido, Seoul, on July 10.
 The farmers say that the falling prices are the result of opening up the market. One couple that took out a loan of 42 million won and planted onions on around 33,000m2 of land barely made 11 million won. “Farmers have trouble calculating things, but the government does, too. The government decided to import onions since the price was a little high last year, and it imported too much,” the husband said.
In fact, the Ministry attributes the falling prices to the fact that the 67,000 ton supply of onions has not run out. In 2013, 65,000 tons of onions were imported.
There isn’t much difference between the 48,000 ton stock of garlic and the 44,000 tons that were imported. The surplus stock matches the amount of vegetables that were imported.
 In 2013, 91.4% of imported onions and all imported garlic came from China. This is why farmers are not very enthusiastic about the pledge made by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to South Korea to import more Korean kimchi.
 “Korea exports around 12,000 tons of kimchi to China and imports 130,000 to 150,000 tons from China. It is inconceivable that Korean farmers would benefit from a free trade agreement between the two countries,” said Kang Jeong-jun, chair of the Korean Garlic Industry Alliance.
Farmers feel increasingly defeated, sensing that they are being excluded from the benefits of market liberalization. “The price of onions now is similar to what it was 12 years ago when I first started farming,” complained Park Gwang-sun, 40, from Muan, a father of three.
“When you compare the wages of workers, the daily wage back then was 30,000 won, and today it is 140,000 won. It makes me think that the government is artificially holding down the price of produce to keep inflation down,” Park said.
Statistics from the Ministry show that between 2007 and 2012, the average annual household income of urban workers increased by 10 million won from 43.874 million to 53.908 million won, while the income of farmers actually decreased from 31.967 million won to 31.301 million won.

koreaunderground:

Korean Onion Farmers Drowning in Debt

By Jin Myeong-seon, staff reporter in Muan

On July 16, bags of onions were stacked up in various places on the road from Hyungkyung township to Haeje township in South Jeolla Province’s Muan County. For the past month, about 1,400 bags of onions have been stacked up on the shoulder of the road next to the fields at Ipseok village.

When Na Tae-ju, 65, started cultivating onions last year, he took out a loan of 30 million won (US$29,140). Today, he lowers his head in shame, unsure of how he is going to repay the money that he spent on seeds, fertilizer, farming equipment, and workers’ wages.

In 2013, the price of a bag of onions was 10,000 won (US$9.71). This year, the price continues to plummet, even with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs pulling out all the stops, including buying up product and not releasing it on the market, known as hoarding. “Some time ago, a broker offered me 4,200 won per bag, and I just couldn’t give it to him. There are some brokers who will only pay 3,000 won,” Na said.

Na Gwang-woon, 59, is the head of Ipseok Village, where 25 families are growing onions. “Producing 200 bags of onions costs exactly 1.5 million won. Just to break even, they have to make 7,500 won per bag. They’re all drowning in debt,” he said.

The purchase price offered by the government, which is taking steps to buy onions for the first time since 2003, is 6,500 won, but this doesn’t even meet the minimum production cost that the farmers are talking about. To sell onions to the government for hoarding, the farmers also have to pay to have them shipped all the way to Gwangju.

After the onion harvest, the fields of Muan ought to be full of soybeans, summer cabbage, and sesame, but most fields were bare or overgrown with weeds.

“In order to grow another crop, we have to invest more money. When farming just increases your debt, you stop farming,” said Lee Eun-ja, 50. Quite a few elderly people aren’t able to pay 60,000 won rental fee for equipment they used to cultivate the onions.

Generally, the onions that are harvested in June are put in a low-temperature warehouse and sold again in December, but the farmers aren’t even able to pay the storage cost of 2,000 won per bag.

The situation is not any different for the farmers who growing other kinds of vegetables, including peppers, garlic, radish, and cabbage. The price of such items has dropped 30-70% from last year. This is also why about 10,000 pepper, garlic, and onion farmers held a protest in Yeouido, Seoul, on July 10.

The farmers say that the falling prices are the result of opening up the market. One couple that took out a loan of 42 million won and planted onions on around 33,000m2 of land barely made 11 million won. “Farmers have trouble calculating things, but the government does, too. The government decided to import onions since the price was a little high last year, and it imported too much,” the husband said.

In fact, the Ministry attributes the falling prices to the fact that the 67,000 ton supply of onions has not run out. In 2013, 65,000 tons of onions were imported.

There isn’t much difference between the 48,000 ton stock of garlic and the 44,000 tons that were imported. The surplus stock matches the amount of vegetables that were imported.

In 2013, 91.4% of imported onions and all imported garlic came from China. This is why farmers are not very enthusiastic about the pledge made by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to South Korea to import more Korean kimchi.

“Korea exports around 12,000 tons of kimchi to China and imports 130,000 to 150,000 tons from China. It is inconceivable that Korean farmers would benefit from a free trade agreement between the two countries,” said Kang Jeong-jun, chair of the Korean Garlic Industry Alliance.

Farmers feel increasingly defeated, sensing that they are being excluded from the benefits of market liberalization. “The price of onions now is similar to what it was 12 years ago when I first started farming,” complained Park Gwang-sun, 40, from Muan, a father of three.

“When you compare the wages of workers, the daily wage back then was 30,000 won, and today it is 140,000 won. It makes me think that the government is artificially holding down the price of produce to keep inflation down,” Park said.

Statistics from the Ministry show that between 2007 and 2012, the average annual household income of urban workers increased by 10 million won from 43.874 million to 53.908 million won, while the income of farmers actually decreased from 31.967 million won to 31.301 million won.

(Source: english.hani.co.kr, via arari)

Denim from Japan has a reputation among denim enthusiasts as being the best in the world and for good reason. While it doesn’t have nearly as long of a history, Japanese denim is known for its premium construction and the skilled, artisanal craft required to make it. Here we’ll explore the relatively short but significant history of Japanese denim to discover how it earned the reputation it has today and debunk a few myths along the way. Take a look below for the full story.

To understand why Japanese denim is significantly better than other types of denim we must first understand how denim is constructed and what makes some denim more sought after than others. Denim is a cotton twill textile in which the weft (the transverse thread) passes under 2 or more warp threads (the longitudinal threads). Indigo denim, the type of denim people think of when they think of jeans, dyes only the warp or longitudinal threads. If you look closely at a pair of jeans you’ll notice the weft or transverse threads maintain their white color as do the inside of a pair of jeans. Most denim made today uses synthetic dye which is cheaper and contains less impurities than natural dye, while premium denim often uses natural dye.


The other important trait in denim’s quality is the cloth the denim is made from. Selvage or selvedge, from the phase “self-edge”, refers to the natural end of a roll of fabric which, when made into a pair of jeans, prevents unraveling of the material. The cost of producing selvage denim is more expensive since it can only be woven at a width of 31″, about half the width of non-selvage denim, and is woven on old looms requiring more skill and adeptness. This leads to a tighter, denser weave along with various imperfections. Selvage denim is usually woven together with a signature red stripe although green, white, brown, and yellow are not so uncommon.

The combination of these characteristics gives each pair a distinctive composition that only becomes more unique over time. True denim enthusiasts are known to go months or even years before washing their jeans for the first time as the first wash creates the characteristic fades and creases unique to each wearer.


Most fabric was woven on slow, inefficient machines until the world’s 11th biggest company, Toyota Motor Corporation, came along and set our gaze toward the future. Before Toyota was rolling out the world’s best selling cars, they were producing textile looms under the name Toyoda Automatic Loom Works (yes, with a “d”). The company’s founder, Sakichi Toyoda, introduced the Model G Automatic selvage loom featuring new innovations like the ability to change shuttles without stopping among a range of other improvements which lead to a 20-fold increase in productivity compared to other looms in use at the time. It would be a few decades before the machines were used to create denim but for now they were an impressive and significant development toward what lay ahead.


Up until World War II, jeans had been the garment of choice for the working class and American GIs when they were off duty. After the war, jeans became a symbol of youth rebellion when James Dean was filmed wearing a pair in the iconic 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause. American culture and vintage clothing quickly became a fascination among Japanese youth with the most entrepreneurially-minded importing classic American jeans to sell for top dollar. This high demand in combination with the culture’s obsession and search for perfection caused jean production to take off in Japan, mostly in the town of Kojima located in the Okayama Prefecture.


Kojima had always been a hotbed for textile production thus it only made sense to produce the first pair of jeans in Kojima at Kurabo Mills, one of the world’s longest operating mills now running over 110 years. These jeans were produced on those previously mentioned Toyoda machines from American-made denim in April 1965 under the Canton Brand by Maruo Clothing. In 1967, BIG JOHN jeans were produced alongside Canton jeans and were made of denim from Cone Mills, the same mill that provided Levi’s with their unmistakable denim. While the jeans were successful, the Japanese still craved a pair made from their own selvage denim.

In 1972, after 8 tries, Kurabo finally managed to produce Japan’s first ever selvage denim aptly titled the KD-8, for Kurabo Denim 8. Now, all the pieces were in place for Japan to introduce to the world what would later become a global phenomenon.

One year later, in 1973, those pieces came together.


The “M” series, produced by BIG JOHN of Kurabo KD-8 denim, became Japan’s first pair of jeans made entirely by their fellow countrymen. What followed was a revolution in jean production lead by the same people who were at the forefront of the vintage craze.

Since then, denim from Japan has become renowned for perfecting those 2 defining qualities jeans were originally made from: being woven on an old loom to produce selvage fabric and for using natural dye. Of course not all Japanese denim is created equally and there’s plenty of variation among different factories, manufacturers, and pairs of jeans. Still, denim heads in Japan already knew the true value of a perfectly made pair of jeans but it wasn’t until the explosion in luxury denim in the late 90s that the rest of the world began to take notice of this quietly growing art form.


One of the first on the premium denim scene was Hidehiko Yamane, the founder of Evisu, who, along with creating some of the world’s first premium denim, may have spread the common misconception of Japanese denim manufacturers buying the types of looms used to make Levi’s since he himself owned one. Using the methods of his predecessors, Yamane was able to create 14 pairs of selvage jeans a day on old looms along with hand-painted seagull symbols which have since become iconic. Originally done as an homage to Levi’s classic 1944 501 xx, the brand took off and gained him a cult following among those in the streetwear scene. Evisu quickly earned the reputation of being the best of the best in denim and was soon able to sell each pair for over $100 – the first denim brand to do so.

Other brands continued to experiment with selvage denim in search of the perfect pair while the global luxury denim market blew up. Japan Blue Group, based in Kojima of course, was already known for its premium denim in Japan and soon began selling to the world’s biggest luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci among many others. Soon every fashion house in the world had a line of Japanese denim jeans. In order not to stray from their own love and respect for jeans, Japan Blue created the label Momotaro Jeans.

In short, Japan’s obsession in recreating the American jeans they crazed over led Japanese denim manufacturers to become the world’s best in terms of knowledge and production. From then on it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world caught on to the craftwork behind Japanese denim. Now, the jeans market is saturated with Japanese denim leading to a dizzying amount of “Made in Japan” jeans. Although it’s often difficult to find out the exact origins of a pair of jeans, it’s best to do some research beforehand to ensure you get what you’re looking for. Classic brands are always a sure bet but there are plenty of new ones too that have the same passion and respect for jean making as those that came before them.

As adult second language learners, our ears and speech organs need a bit of time to develop the sensitivity and motor coordination to process foreign sounds correctly. So when you first try to mimic speech in your target language, you will inevitably hear and pronounce sounds incorrectly.

To make things even worse, you’re probably not going to know when you’re hearing/pronouncing things incorrectly. As I write in my post on “How to Tune Your Foreign Language Vowel Pronunciation”, foreign speech sounds often get magnetized to familiar ones in our perception, so two different sounds will initially sound the exact same to you unless you pay really close attention.

This is why feedback is so important. The very first step to error-elimination is error-awareness, so we need some sort of feedback system to make us aware of the sounds that we are getting wrong.

This was the idea behind Cloud-Tutoring. In my Flow Series Courses, I use Cloud-Tutoring to help my students identify their specific pronunciation weaknesses and provide them with detailed instructions on how to fix them. Had I not pointed these errors out to them, they would have never known they were making them, and once again, without awareness we can’t fix our errors.

I didn’t know Chris Rock made a movie about this. Really eye opening.