May Illness

In Japanese culture there is a phrase, gogatsu-byō (5月病), which means “May Illness”. It’s a tongue-in-cheek saying that describes the feeling of haziness or lethargy that many people experience in late April/early May. In Japan’s case, this is keenly felt by students whose school year ends in April (not June),1 and new office workers whoContinue reading “May Illness”

Golden Week in Japan

We all need a break sometimes. My coworkers in the EU often take time off in August, while I usually take part of the summer of with the family to see relatives in Japan. My company is a Japanese company so per tradition we also get the last week of the year off, ostensibly forContinue reading “Golden Week in Japan”

Japanese New Year: a shopping list

If you, or a loved one, are celebrating Japanese New Year, Oshōgatsu (お正月), you may need to do some shopping. During the December in 2021, we got snowed in really bad, and my wife couldn’t go to the local Japanese supermarket to buy goods and ingredients herself. So, I went on her behalf using publicContinue reading “Japanese New Year: a shopping list”

Meet The Original Triforce: The Hojo Clan!

I was cleaning out old photos from my phone’s camera roll, when I realized that I still had photos left over from this post, including a photo of my omamori charm that I got from Enoshima Shrine way back in 2019. Sadly that was my last trip to Japan, and I haven’t been able toContinue reading “Meet The Original Triforce: The Hojo Clan!”

A Buddhist Monk in Count Strahd’s Court

Having watched Netflix’s Castlevania series for probably the third time through, and as a way of “eating my own dog food” by applying my Dungeons and Dragons Hamato Islands setting to other environments, I started a recent thought-experiment: suppose I made a Japanese-style character, and suppose that character got transported to the classic gothic horrorContinue reading “A Buddhist Monk in Count Strahd’s Court”

Day of the Chrysanthemum in Japan

September 9th (9/9) is the last of the yearly sekku (節句) or seasonal holidays in the old Japanese calendar, and is named kiku no sekku (菊の節句) or more formally chōyō (重陽). The name means something like “Day of the Chrysanthemum”, and has its origins in a similar Chinese holiday called the Double Ninth Festival. TheContinue reading “Day of the Chrysanthemum in Japan”

Summer Winding Down

Summer in 2020 came and went probably like no summer in recent memory. Ignoring the painful facts for a moment that there’s a global pandemic, politics are pretty bat-shit crazy, and the economic woes, and my stress level was through the roof, it was a quiet and low-key summer. Hunkering down for the summer hadContinue reading “Summer Winding Down”