One With The October’19 Updates: Sunday Musings #59

One With The October’19 Updates: Sunday Musings #59

What better way to meet you all after a long gap than a monthly update post? So here I am with the October update.

While I feel like have to search for words to type and things to say, I am sure it is just that I feeling a bit rusty and it would get better soon. Here we go. 

Quick October’19 updates

  • I flew to Macau, China for getting my recovering cousin back home to India. Thanks to the flight schedule and the time zone changes, I went about 33 hours without sleep, my longest ever. 
  • I also traveled down to Langkawai and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a well deserved holiday after the hectic and emotional months. 
  • Got out of the stupid reading slump and I am currently on a reading spree. (More on that below.)
  • And last week I joined a fitness gym and am hoping that I would hit it often enough to get my money’s worth. 
  • I am holding the best for the last. The summer in Dubai is long gone and we are hanging on to that shortest period between summer and winter which means the weather is pleasant and the sky is blue. And am loving it.

What I read this month:

So I beat off the slump I was talking about in my last post and  I did good in October, almost back to my normal reading I suppose. 

  • What you did by Claire McGowan 
  • On the come up by Angie Thomas 
  • Dinner, The by Herman Koch 
  • Unhoneymooners, The by Christina Lauren 
  • Elevation by Stephen King

Now if only I can get my ass to start reviewing them as well!

What I watched this month:

Between the long travel time and the slump I had a lot of movies that I caught up with. 

  • Booksmart – With that name, obviously I had to watch it but felt let down.
  • A simple favor – It had Anna Kendrick who is a vlogger and enjoyed this one.
  • The Book Club: (You seeing a pattern? Well, I am a book blogger.) I was so bored and I did not like it. 

Oh I found this animated series called Larva island on Netflix and I am totally in love with it. 

On my blog

And hey I published a post this week. 

So take a look at the review of Vice/ Virtues by Beatrice De Soprontu here. 


From the Insta-world

I am slowly getting back to posting on Instagram so if you have not followed me yet, please consider giving me a boost, pretty please. 

[instagram url= hidecaption=true width=320]
[instagram url= hidecaption=true width=320]
[instagram url= hidecaption=true width=320]
[instagram url= hidecaption=true width=320]

Pin me!


Let us chat

So how has your October been? What did I miss? What are you currently reading? Let us talk. 

I will be linking today’s post with Caffeinated reviewer’s Sunday post Meme

One With The October’19 Updates: Sunday Musings #59

Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better

Now that I have got you all excited about Japan on our Flyaway Friday feature and showed you some books that might help you with the trip, let us get on to know more about the country. 

Let’s get on with it shall we?

No, don’t worry I, someone who knows almost nothing about the country, am not gonna talk about it. But there is someone who knows Japan more than me and I mind controlled her to answer a few questions about the country.

Before that, let me link to our previous articles on Flyaway Friday right here: Netherlands, France, Finland, Italy and Philippines.  

Say hello to Deeksha!

I am Deeksha. I am 25 years old and am an Indian living in Tokyo, Japan from the past 6 years. My hobbies are reading, drawing and painting, watching TV shows/movies in my free time. I “secretly” love Korean Drama and Candies and a Marvel Fan for life.

I am a newbie blogger, will be live with my blog, tokyobookworm, about books, from the 1st of June.

Q: What do you think is exotic about Japan?

A: Japan, also known as Nihon/ Nippon (にほん、日本), literally translates to ‘where the sun originates’. Even though this land of the rising sun is a small Island, has a vast and rich traditional history. From mesmerizing shrines to modern skyscrapers, serene nature to beautiful parks, mountains to beaches, architectural innovations to technology, Japan has it all.

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese 1 1

The most beautiful thing about Japan is its cherry blossoms, also called Sakura in Japanese. Sakura is a flowering cherry tree which blossoms during the spring season. Sakura trees stretch throughout Japan and blossom collectively, making it look incredibly beautiful. Japan’s Sakura is known throughout, inviting people from all over the world.

During Sakura, the Japanese people have a tradition of having a party beneath the blossoms. This festival is called hanami. People picnic with friends and family BBQ’ing, playing cards and relaxing with a pint of beer.

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese 2

Sakura is now a popular flavor which is made using sakura petals. Sakura Cakes, Sakura Ice-cream, Sakura Wine, Sakura Cola, Sakura Kit-kat, Sakura Rice-cakes are some of the must-try during this season.

Q: Will you tell us about Japan’s eating habits and Japanese cuisine? 

A: Japanese people are not very big on cooking at home but they are big on food, and they tend to eat out a lot. This could be due to their long office hours(they are known for their hard work and late hours!). ‘Fresh’ readymade food is easily available throughout(at least in big cities).

You would find a variety of packed meals in most convenience stores and supermarkets. These meals are called Bento Boxes. Each bento generally has a single portion of a well-balanced meal. The meal can include rice or noodles, meat or fish with vegetables or fruits on the side. Sea-food in Japan is highly popular with their most famous dish being Sushi.

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese 3

Some other famous foods from Japan – Ramen, Green Tea, Sticky Rice with Miso Soup, Sashimi, Tempura, Karaage, Kobe beef.

Most street side eating joints are small but plenty in number. In these small eateries, the customers sit beside each other and opposite the chef as they cook the meal. They are catered towards working men/women and their emphasis is on rotating seats as quickly as they can. Generally, you will see long lines outside these places but they move quickly.

Q: Tell us more about a typical day in Japan. 

A: A typical day in working life of Tokyo is similar to any other country. Men and women in suits, standing in line waiting for the train.

I personally travel by bus to my workplace and the only over-the-top thing I‘ve observed is the treatment for physically impaired people, especially the one with wheelchairs. The bus driver himself carries a detachable platform for the person in a wheelchair and assists them to climb and get down from the bus, and of course, they are given the first priority.

Rush-hours at the major stations are pretty crazy, but it is completely organized. Let it be the train delays due to heavy snow or rain, you won’t see chaos at the stations but people patiently waiting in queues for the next train.

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese 4

Yes, there are random rainy days and that’s why you will find umbrellas being sold at every store. The funny thing about umbrellas in Tokyo is, the people don’t mind stealing or in their words ‘borrowing’ an umbrella that has been abandoned or forgotten.

Battery operated cycles is a big thing in Tokyo, especially among the moms carrying their children (yes, plural!). These cycles are equipped with child-seat called ‘Mama-chaari’ and you will see many homeworker moms carrying their kids on those for a day out.

Almost all the restaurants have a special lunch menu (even TGIF/Hard rock cafe) dedicated to the working class people which costs from $5 – $15.

Smoking is vastly popular in Japan. And I haven’t seen a single country that is so open to people smoking in public places. The situation is definitely improving due to Olympics 2020, by giving the smokers dedicated places / closed rooms in a public space.

The cafes and restaurants generally have a smoking only designated areas, except Starbucks, which prohibits smoking inside.

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese 5

Smoking is even allowed in the hotel rooms in Japan. When booking a room, you need to be specific if you need a smoking or a non-smoking room (something that you wouldn’t find in most countries).

Q: Can you tell us about some of unique Japanese customs and practices specific to Japan?

A: There are plenty of unique customs in Japan, which will be understood by you only if you’ve lived in Japan for a while. These are some of the fun customs :

  • Putting your pinky up in Japan means “women”, usually referring to someone’s girlfriend/mistress/love. For example, if you ask your friend if he would like to go out for drinks, and he says no and puts his pinky up, it doesn’t mean he wants to pee but that he has plans with his girlfriend.
  • In Japanese high school, if a girl gives a guy she admires gifts to confess her love, the guy accepts it by giving the second button from his school uniform. The second button is the one closest to the heart and hence the button is used as the metaphor.

Q: Tell us about some of the stereotypes about Japan as depicted in the media, books/film, etc that annoy you.

A: The world sees Japan as this technologically super-advanced, anime loving, sushi eating awesome country. Yes, those points are true, but there is more than that to this country. Some of the annoying stereotypes about Japan are :

  • The movies usually show Japanese police to be very passive, which is completely false. They work as hard as any other cops from any other country. Since the crime rate is very low in Japan, thanks to their citizens, the police usually don’t get the credit they deserve.
  • ‘Karate’ was originated in Japan and Kung-fu was originated in China, many people have it otherwise or think Karate was originated from China.
  • Japanese game shows are getting famous for all the right reasons (number 1 being ‘weird’), which is true.
  • ‘Japan is unsafe due to earthquakes’ This is a statement that annoys me the most as it always comes from someone who hasn’t lived in Japan that long or never visited the country. The government has taken so many extra steps to make sure the safety of its people, the civil engineers work hard to create earthquake-proof buildings, mandatory safety drills at schools and offices, etc. are a lot of reasons that show that Japan is not unsafe. Of course, natural disasters cannot be prevented, but Japan is surely always prepared for one.

Q: What are your favorite fictional (bookish or otherwise) characters native to Japan?

Shinchan is my favorite cartoon. They show the daily life of Japan as it is, apart from the weird sense of humor of Shinchan of course. 😛 The house, their lifestyle and the life of his father, being a common Japanese salary-man, is very relatable and very Japanese in a true sense.

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese 6A

Anime is hugely popular and has its own comic con events all year long. Top anime like DragonBall, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, etc. originated in Japan and are popular worldwide.

Q: Tell us more about Japanese language. Teach us some common words and maybe, a few uncommon ones.

A: National Language of Japan is Japanese ( Nihongo – 日本語, Nihon + go is Japan + Language ). Japanese makes extensive use of Chinese characters, also called kanji (漢字), in its writing system.

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese 7 1

Along with kanji, the Japanese writing system primarily uses two syllabic (or moraic) scripts, hiragana (ひらがな or 平仮名) and katakana (カタカナ or 片仮名). Latin script is used in a limited fashion, such as for imported acronyms, and the numeral system uses mostly Arabic numerals alongside traditional Chinese numerals.

Some common Japanese words are :

  • Good Morning – Ohaiyo Gozaimasu ( おはようございます )
  • Good Afternoon, Hi – Konnichiwa ( こんにちは )
  • Good Evening – Konbawa ( こんばんは )
  • Thank you – Arigatou Gozaimasu ( ありがとうございます )

Some beautiful Japanese words that don’t have a literal translation in English

いただきます Itadakimasu

“Itadakimasu” means “I humbly accept.” It is used before eating any food to express appreciation and respect for life, nature, the person who prepared the food, the person who served the food, and everything else that is related to eating.

おつかれさま Otsukaresama

Otsukaresama is one of the most common words used all over Japan. The literal translation of the word means “you’re tired”. It is used to let someone know that you recognize his/her hard work and that you are thankful for it.

いっらっしゃいませ Irrashyai-maa-say

Irrashyaimaasay is one of the words that you will hear in each store or restaurants. The owners/workers usually yell it out loud to show their enthusiasm and attention towards you. It translates to, you are welcome to my store/restaurant.

Last but not least,つんどく Tsundoku

Leaving a new book unread after buying it and just letting it pile up with the other unread books in the house.

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese 8A

Thank you, Deeksha!

I am back to thank her for taking time off her busy schedule to write us a guest post. You can follow and contact her through these links. 

Blog | Goodreads| Instagram

If you have something to add to Deeksha’s story, drop a comment here or send her a word of thanks on the social media. Both of us would love that.

Also, Deeksha’s blog TokyoBookworm, will be going live tomorrow, on 1st June 2019 and it would mean a lot to me if you would go give her follow, nudge or a comment to make her feel welcome!

Similar Topics that might interest you

Pin me!

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Getting To Know The Japanese Better Japanese P

Let us chat

What are your favorite things about Japan? Is there something that I missed asking our guest? Did you know any of these Japanese phrases earlier? Let us chat.

One With The October’19 Updates: Sunday Musings #59

Flyaway Friday: Books set in Japan

I am so excited for this post. Yes let us talk about books set in Japan, one of the countries that I am kinda creepily obsessed about, under the Flyaway Friday feature. Can you blame me?

What is Flyaway Friday?

Ok let us back up a bit first. 

On Fridays, I take you guys virtually to a new country, recommend books set in that country and the most exciting part of all, have a blogger from that country to tell us more about living there and help us compare what we read or see in books or movies with the reality as they see. So far we have been to Netherlands,France, Finland, Italy and Philippines.  

My favorite books set in Japan

Now that pesky introduction has been done with, let us jump on to the topic

Books set in Japan

This epic family drama follows a Korean family that migrates into the imperialist Japan. We witness the WW II, division of Korea and the post war lives of the millions of Korean migrants in Japan through their eyes. 

The author is a master storyteller that interweaves the prejudice, discrimination and racism in the society into this four generational saga. 

Books set in Japan

This list is incomplete if I don’t mention Murakami. Kafka Tamura, a teenager runs away from his house in search of his long lost sister and his mother. Nakata, our second character survives by finding lost cats with his ability to talk to cats. Though they are physically close to each other, their lives are interwoven.

This surreal, poignant story will leave you with lots of hows and whys and wondering long after you finished it. 

Books set in Japan

Kitchen talks about love, tragedy and grief in the loves of a young woman, who longs for a kitchen and the warmth of a home.

This novella stands out for its simplicity that will tug your heart. The simplistic narration talks about ordinary people leading a mundane life but had a profound effect on me. 

Read my review of Kitchen here.

Books set in Japan

It is not often that I recommend a thriller in these posts but I have to add Soji Shimada because I am a sucker for such closed room murders.

This whodunnit is set in a crooked maze house of a millionaire who invites eight guests on a snowy night. Once everyone has settled for the night, several weird things start to happen. And the following morning, a guest is found dead inside his locked room. Who and how was it done?

Books set in Japan

Set in Tokyo before the WWI, the author’s cat who is the main character wanders around their neighborhood, judging and making fun of its owner and the world. This satirical commentary of the society will not fail to make you chuckle.

If you are interested to read a satire account of 1900s Japanese life and culture, pick this P G Wodehose-eseque book up right away.

Books set in Japan

Sayoko is a 17 year girl living in a remote fishing village during the end of the war. The presence of the American troops looms as a sinister to the villagers and four of them pull Sayoko into the woods to rape her.

The novel follows the ramification of the event of everyone around them and a young man who promises to avenge it. The story will leave a punch in your stomach!

Not enough?

Here are some more books that almost made my list.

Pin me!

Books set in Japan

Let’s chat

Have you read any of these? What is the last book you have read set in Japan? Do you like reading translated works? Let us talk.

One With The October’19 Updates: Sunday Musings #59

Flyaway Friday: Pack your bags for a trip to Japan!

Isn’t it time for another trip already? You don’t have to actually pack the bags for the trip, bet you know that. But a little preparation never hurts right? So read along and you will find interesting tidbits about Japan to make our following Flyaway Fridays fun. 

What is Flyaway Friday?

If you are still wondering what we are upto, let me give you a quick recap.

Every month on Fridays, I take you all virtually to a new country, recommend books set in that country and the most exciting part of all, to have a blogger from that country to tell us more about living there and help us compare what we read or see in books or movies with the reality as they see.

So far we have been to Netherlands,France, Finland, Italy and Philippines.  

Let us start to Japan shall we?    

Finding Japan on the map

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Pack your bags for a trip to Japan! japan map physical

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the  Philippine Sea in the south. (Wikipedia)

Some basic facts!

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Pack your bags for a trip to Japan! Japan Intro facts

And more trivia

  • Literacy by Japanese youth is almost 100%, which is among the highest in the world.
  • Japanese are cultivating square melons because it’s easier to store them.
  • There are cafes where the staff is dressed up as French Maids Capsule hotels are available in most bigger cities.
elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Pack your bags for a trip to Japan! Japan Intro cafe
  • Many Japanese babies are born with a harmless birthmark called Mokohan or Mongolian spot on their backs. These marks are common about Asian and Native Americans and they fade away by the time they reach five years of age.
  • Many schools in Japan make their students, as a part of their education, clean the school area, including toilets and classrooms. This is quite common as cleanliness is very important in Japanese culture.
elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Pack your bags for a trip to Japan! Japan mongolian spot
  • Speaking about Japanese culture, they have cafes where you can pay money for cuddles to help lonely and single people and there is nothing sexual about it.

Major Cities in Japan

  • Tokyo
  • Yokohama
  • Osaka
  • Kyoto
  • Kobe
  • Fukuoka

Pin me!

elgeewrites Flyaway Friday: Pack your bags for a trip to Japan! Japan IntroP

Let us chat

Have you ever visited Japan earlier? Or is it on your bucket list? What are the weird facts do you know about Japan? Let us talk.

One With The October’19 Updates: Sunday Musings #59

Flyaway Friday: Books that will take you to Netherlands

Welcome to the second week on Netherlands’ edition of the Flyaway Friday! Are you ready to fly off to the Land of Tulips? We even gave you a travel guide to Netherland last week. Do not forget to check it out!

Books That Will Take You To Netherlands

You do know how we travel to a country without passport nor the hassle of the crowd, via the cheapest mode of travel – books. So this week let me talk about books that are set in Netherlands. Let us get on with it, shall we?

Historical Fiction

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Netherlands books

The story is told in the first person by Griet, who is hired as a maid by the master painter Vermeer’s family in Delft. She joins the chaotic family with too many children, an oblivious wife and a husband who doesn’t care about the finance of the family. Griet has fend off the advances of a rich patron, an infatuated young man and fight off the dream of being a wife of the painter. 

What can you expect:

This fictionalized account of the story behind the famous painting also acts as a great social commentary!

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Netherlands books

Set in the Seventeenth Century, eighteen year old Nella arrives in Amsterdam as the wife of Johannes Brandt, who is kind but distant to her and leaves her at the mercy of her sharp tongued sister. Johannes gifts a miniature sized replica of their household and it falls upon Nella to furnish her gift with the help of a miniaturist, whose creations mirrors its real life counterparts. How does this change their lives once and for all?

What can you expect:

A suspense filled story of love and obsession that you can’t put down till the end. 


The Dinner By Herman Koch

Netherlands books

Two brothers and their wives meet in a fancy restaurant in Amsterdam. Behind their apparent polite small talks, they need to discuss matters of grave importance. Their sons have committed something terrible and illegal and they have to decide how it is to be handled. By the time their dinner comes to an end, their trivial facade is broken. Where does all these leave the ‘happy families’ and ‘blood is thicker than water’?

What can you expect:

A mind blowing thriller that spans over a dinner which talks about politics, mental health and other uncomfortable dinner table conversations.

The Light of Amsterdam By David Park

Netherlands books

A single mother, a middle aged couple and 50 something male all heading to Amsterdam for the weekend are united by their misery regarding a close family member. They arrive at the city hoping for a change in their lives and does the city offer them a recourse?

What can you expect:

This slow character oriented fiction explores the complexities of love and relationship.


The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Netherlands books

This classic book captures the poignant story of a young girl from the German occupied Amsterdam. She captures the happenings during the war, especially to the Jews in the form of diary entries between 1942-44 while hiding from the Germans in an attic. 

What can you expect:

Despite the hard times set in the book, it is surprisingly full of life and spirit making it a must read!

Netherlands books

The Fall by Albert Camus

Jean-Baptiste Clamence, a successful Parisian barrister, has come to recognize the deep-seated hypocrisy of his existence. His epigrammatic and, above all, discomforting monologue gradually saps, then undermines, the reader’s own complacency. (From Goodreads)

Other honorable mentions

That is all for now, folks. I will meet you all soon with a guest blogger next week on the Netherlands edition of the Flyaway Friday. Also if you have any question for our Dutch blogger about Netherlands or their culture, do drop them in the comments.

Pin me!

Netherlands books

Let us chat

Have you read any of these books? Do you know any other book set in Netherlands that is not listed here? What are the stereotypes and facts that you have read about the country that you have heard of? Let us talk.