The Musicks in Japan
Summary: We're an American couple who has been living in Japan since 2007. Kisstopher (she/her) is a mental health therapist. Chad (he/him) is a writer. We talk about most everything in our lives, from being disabled / chronically ill to money to friends, and the role that Japan plays in them. Mostly, we want to entertain you, even though we sometimes talk about heavier topics.
Kisstopher loves Chad’s books, we talk about them, and we talk about gatekeeping in literature. Transcript K: So, lately I’ve been thinking about gatekeeping. But specifically gatekeeping in literature. Like, poetry and books and… what else? Like, blogs… what else is literature? C: Blogs aren’t literature. K: Blogs aren’t literature? C: I mean, they can be, but most of them… K: You don’t think your blog is literature? C: I don’t, no. K: Your blog that drops every Wednesday. And everyone should read it. Your blog about writing. You don’t think that that’s literature? So, it’s like… short stories, poetry, novels, novellas. C: Talking about them, but I don’t drop a novel every Wednesday. K: No, you don’t (laughs) drop a novel every Wednesday. That would be amazing if you did. That would be kinda scary. C: Yeah. K: Like, does anybody drop a novel a week? C: Yes. K: Like, factory people or like…? C: No. K: Like, romance? C: Yes. K: So, I could write a straight up porn novel once a week. C: I know you can. K: I write some good porn. (laughs) But it’s not for public consumption. I write good porn for us to enjoy. C: Yes. In words, not just with your life. K: (laughs) Oh my gosh. That was so smarmy, cheesy, and fabulous. That was like the best thing ever. Thank you, I so needed that laugh. C: Well, I edited a lot of romance, so I know how these things go. K: Yeah, you do. You know how to get the getting. (laughs) C: Mhmm. How to adjust the steam level appropriately. K: Yes. So, I think what’s, what’s got me thinking about gatekeeping in literature has kind of been your process. And you’ve written five novels, and they’re all fabulous and amazing and very different. So, I kind of want to talk about them from my perspective so you don’t sound like some pompous ass on a podcast pontificating on how amazing they are. C: I will do my best to sound like a pompous ass without your help. K: (laughs) No, I said I’m going to do it so you don’t sound like a pompous ass. C: Oh, okay. K: So, okay, the first novel, I forget what the first novel was even called. What was it called? Did you name it? C: I hadn’t decided on a name. K: Okay, did you name it and I just don’t know it? Don’t make me look like a bad wife, like did you name it? C: No, I had a name, but I don’t remember what it was. K: Okay, thank you, just come clean, man. Just come clean. The family has sort of forgotten that one. C: I had a working title, but it was not important. K: Yeah. So I felt like the first book was really good, but it was so based… I wasn’t raised Mormon, although I did go through the conversion process but didn’t get baptized or anything, didn’t actually convert because they wanted me to promise to quit smoking, and I was like “mmm, sorry, can’t give up my tobacco to get baptized” so they wouldn’t baptize me. Like, can’t we just quit for like a day and get baptized? No. I’m not going to get baptized under false pretenses. Knowing I was planning to smoke. Unlike my father who got baptized and smoked a cigarette right afterwards. C: Well, and Mormons don’t believe it’s a sin to smoke or drink unless you’re Mormon. So they were asking you to like… be committing more sin. Because smoking wasn’t a sin for you because you weren’t Mormon, but if you became Mormon, then that would be a sin. K: That’s what I thought because I turned up to one of my coaching, mentor, whatever sessions drunk. (laughs) Because my dad made me, and he beat the crap out of me after that, so I didn’t intend to turn up drunk, I just went to the park to hang out with some friends.
We’re in Hakone, Japan, this week! We were planning to take the week off and run something we recorded recently, but this one is fresh off the software program. Transcript K: So I know we start off with, “Usually, I’ve been thinking about” but if I talked about what I usually- not usually, lately C: Lately K: (laughs) C: You’re discombobulated. Why are you so discombobulated? K: Because we’re in beautiful Hakone and oh my gosh, I have been replenished by the mountain wind. Oh my gosh, it has been so hot and so miserable in Nagoya for the month of August, and I think you and I both did an amazing job of not puking that misery out onto the airwaves every week. It was hard. C: Yes. K: It was hard to be pleasant. I did not feel like myself at all in the month of August. C: Yeah, it was… very hot. K: So, for me, the month of August is a tricky thing- we’re mostly going to be talking about Hakone because, hello, we’re in Hakone, but I do want to talk a little bit about the month of August for me. So, the month of August for me is a tricky month business-wise because about mid-January I am notified of who’s going to be out of town in August and who’s going to be in town for August. And so, that means anywhere between five to twenty clients can go out of town and be gone for five weeks. And that has a huge change in income for me. So, mid- and then, in mid-July, I’m hit with a hereditary coproporphyria attack and a lupus attack, and they both attack me at the same time and just kind of ping-pong back and forth between flares. Or I’m- so for me, I’m just in a constant state of flare for six weeks, and this month- this year, it was a full eight weeks that I was in flare. And it’s just miserable. And lucky for me, I was very fortunate, and thank you to all of my clients, love all of you- I have a whole group of new clients, and so now I have the stress of okay, how am I going to balance everybody coming back in town with the new clients that I picked up in August because I had space because they were out of town? And so I always kind of judge it with like if you’re going out of town, and you don’t book an appointment for the week that you’re coming back in town, you lose your time spot, and I tell everybody that. If you have a specific timeslot that you’re in love with, you need to give me that anchor appointment because then I can let people know “hey this can’t be your regular spot, what would be- what would you want to be your regular spot?” and all of that. And for the ones that didn’t, I already have clients coming back in town who are like “where’d my spot go?” I’m like “well… you know” C: You accept appointments years in advance, literally years in advance, so K: Yes, like my Tuesdays and Wednesdays are booked through 2020. And so when I say through 2020 I mean, through the end of 2020. So, when I tell people this, I don’t know what they’re thinking when I say that. Like, I don’t know if they believe me or not. C: I don’t know. K: So, lately, what I’ve been thinking about is how (laughs) hard my life is. C: So today shook you up. K: Yes. Because we got on a train and so, weird quirky thing about me, you plan the most amazing vacations for us, and I always want to cancel them. C: Always, yes. The day before, couple days before. K: Yeah, so like, even this morning I was talking smack. C: Mhmm. K: About canceling. C: Yeah, even though at this point, the hotel was nonrefundable… K: Yeah, and we already had our train tickets and everything. So, we live in Nagoya. For those who aren’t familiar with Japanese geography, and Chad’s the better one when it comes to geography, so, hit us. Where are we? Where’s Hakone? C: Hakone is in Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Mount F
Japan is known for, among other things, it’s food. But there’s a dark side to that: American food isn’t as readily available! Other foods are scarce, too, such as Mexican food, and some things you’d find at the grocery store in the US. (And in France and Spain, from having been over the past couple of years.) The recipe for peanut chicken, mentioned, in the episode, is available only to Patreon subscribers at the $10 or more level. Content Notes The entire thing is food talk. Skip this episode if that bothers you. Transcript K: So, lately I’ve been thinking about food in Japan. And specifically cream of mushroom soup. C: It’s been thinking about it, too. It sent a postcard. K: It would have to because it’s not available in Japan. C: Right? K: So, I feel like last year, cream of tomato soup was completely available whenever I wanted it. C: Okay, let’s be clear, you are not talking about cream of tomato soup. That is an abomination. K: Yeah, no, I’m not talking about cream of tomato soup, what are you talking about? C: Right, cream of mushroom soup. K: Yeah, what am I saying? C: You said cream of tomato. K: I’m saying of cream of tomato? C: Yeah. K: What are you talking about? Did I really say cream of tomato? C: You really did. K: (laughs) I thought the cream of mushroom sounded weird when I said it, but I couldn’t figure out what was weird about it. C: Around the world, a thousand mushrooms cried out “nooooo” K: Do they even make cream of tomato soup? C: I don’t actually know. Because I would think the oxalic acid in the tomato would curdle the cream. It just wouldn’t taste very good, but I’m guessing they probably do… I think you just make tomato soup, it has no cream in it. K: Isn’t there a tomato bisque soup that has cream in it? C: Yeah, tomato bisque would have cream in it, but it wouldn’t be called cream of tomato, it’d be called tomato bisque because that way it hides how gross it would be. K: Yeah. And bisques are served cold, right? C: Some of them are. Yeah, I think bisque is usually served cold. I mean, there’s like… what was it? Jambalaya. K: Mhmm. C: Which you could have… no, that doesn’t have tomato in it does it? K: Some jambalaya has tomato in it, some don’t. Jambalaya recipes are vast and varies. C: I’m just thinking of your family’s jambalaya that I’ve had. K: Yeah, no tomato in my family’s jambalaya. C: Because my family never did that. From my family, like, K: Surprise. Quelle Surprise. C: Cream of mushroom soup was what you put on toast if you wanted a tuna melt. K: Oh wow. C: You used, like, cream of mushroom soup and… K: That just sounds so wrong to me, but then cream of mushroom soup is the foundation for all of my casseroles. C: So that sounds so wrong to you, okay, how about Spanish rice? K: Oh god no, I think that’s just… ugh C: Rice plus ketchup. K: Yeah, yuck, yuck. So I made you Spanish rice once because when you told me that, I was like “no, you’ve gotta try real Spanish rice.” And I made it for you once. C: And real Spanish rice is good. K: Thank you. C: I like it. K: Thank you. So, for me, lately, like, for the past six months, I’ve been craving a tuna casserole. That’s really the only casserole I make, and I have like… several variations. Like tuna with peas and corns, creamy tuna casserole, cheesy tuna casserole, dry tuna casserole, crispy tuna casserole, so C: Well, you have noodle-based casserole, rice-based casserole. K: Oh yeah, noodle-based casserole, rice-based
We talk about how we entertain ourselves here in Japan and how that differs from the way we entertained ourselves in the United States. Transcript K: So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about entertainment. C: Because you’re bored? K: No, because I’m not bored. C: Oh okay. K: But I feel like my entertainment choices have changed so much from the United States to Japan. C: Yeah. We lived down the street from an amusement park in the United States, so that was our usual weekend. K: No it was not. We lived down the street from a park called Great America at the time. And then it changed names to like… Paramount Great America? C: Yeah, and now I think it’s the 49er’s football stadium. K: Really? They tore down Great America? C: I don’t know if they tore it down or just built the stadium in the parking lot. I’m so unclear about that. I know that it’s the 49er’s stadium. K: Really? C: Yeah. K: It’s in San Jose? C: Yeah. K: What are you talking about? The San Francisco 49’ers are now the San Jose 49’ers? C: Santa Clara. K: Are you serious? C: I don’t think they changed their name. I think they just changed their location. K: What are you talking about? This is bananas. Are you serious? C: Yes. K: What? They’re the Santa Clara 49’ers? C: No, I’m not sure. I think they’re still the San Francisco 49’ers, but they moved their stadium to down the street where Great America was. K: But how can they be the San Francisco 49’ers if they’re in Santa Clara? It’s like the Oakland Raiders still being the Oakland Raiders while having their stadium be in L.A. That doesn’t make any sense. C: But how can the name of the city be San Francisco when it should be like Saint Francisco. K: What are you talking about? C: I’m talking about California naming is just absurd. K: Okay. So, anyways, right now we currently live down the street from the Nagoya Dome. C: Right. K: And I don’t think we’ve ever been to anything at the dome. We’ve been to things in the parking lot of the dome. C: Right. K: But I don’t think I’ve ever attended anything inside the dome. C: I haven’t either. And they have like toy fests, they have baseball games, that’s their main thing about half the year, they’ve got baseball games. But they’ve also got concerts, they’ve got toy fests. I haven’t attended anything at the dome. I know Rasta has. He’s gone to a baseball game at the dome. K: Yeah. So, in the United States, when we lived in the U.S. we went to concerts. C: Right. K: And we went to sporting events. C: Yup. K: So I think it’s weird that we live right down the street from a major venue for both of those and do neither. C: Yes. K: So I don’t know if it’s my age or my chronic illnesses getting worse or what, but I don’t go out as much as I used to. C: Yeah. I’m just gonna say it’s our age. We’re just mature enough now to entertain ourselves at home. K: I blame it on the PhD man. Because any Sunday that I don’t have to do stuff for my PhD, I’m just like… I’m gonna sleep in, and I’m gonna luxuriate. And man when I’m not doing a PhD weekend. C: You’re wild. You’re like “I’m gonna sleep in” and at 11 am you’re like “man, I slept in so late.” K: And I feel like puzzling, changing our main hobby from things we do outside to puzzling. Because now I feel like “oohh, babe, let’s you know, let’s pour ourselves a cocktail and do some really cool puzzling” C: Yup, there is that. And then there’s like “oohh, what’s coming to the dome? Okay, we can spend 300 dollars on tickets and entertainment for a couple hours, or we
Summary We talk about some of our international travel and discuss great places to visit in Japan. Content Notes Brief mention of sexual assault. Transcript Kisstopher: Lately I’ve been thinking about just how absolutely gorgeous the country of Japan is. I think it’s one of the most visually stunning countries that we’ve visited. I think, and this is my personal opinion, I think that Japan is more beautiful than France, at least for me. Chad: I think the parts that we have seen, definitely. Kisstopher: Well, in France, all we saw was Paris. Chad: Right. Kisstopher: And I didn’t find Paris to be particularly beautiful, but even if I put Paris up against Tokyo, I think Tokyo is more beautiful than Paris. Chad: Yeah, I think we had a nice view in Paris. We were on the Rive Gauche, the left side of the river I guess, and there were trees and things but it wasn’t arranged in the way that Tokyo was arranged as far as parks. Kisstopher: Well, and we were out and about a little bit in the city, and I think that like, the Eiffel Tower… it’s desolate around the Eiffel Tower. It’s just like, the Eiffel Tower. Then like the Arc de Triomphe is just an arc in the middle of traffic, so for me, I feel like, in Japan, I don’t know… the structures feel more living to me. They feel more alive. There aren’t a bunch of stone squares. There … I don’t know, maybe because the architecture in Japan is so different to me. Chad: Well, we have the Nagoya tower here in Nagoya, which is in the middle of a park, and then- Kisstopher: But it’s in the middle of a park. Chad: Right. And then in Tokyo there’s- Kisstopher: With tons of trees and nature. Chad: … there’s the Tokyo Tower, which is in the middle of a park. Kisstopher: Right. And all of the castles are in the middle of like, park-like grounds. Chad: Right. Historically that was so you could kill people coming to invade the castle, but- Kisstopher: Yeah. So, today’s topic is talking about traveling in Japan, and for me, I really do enjoy going abroad. This is an interesting thing, travel, to me. We traveled tons inside Japan when Rasta was little. Chad: Right. Kisstopher: But then as soon as Rasta was old enough that we could travel without him, we started to travel abroad more. Chad: Yes. Kisstopher: Because I’m a cheapass. Chad: So our first trip inside Japan, we came to Japan like several years before we decided to move here. Kisstopher: Yeah. Chad: We came to Kyoto. Kisstopher: Yeah. Chad: And we saw a display for a dinosaur museum. Kisstopher: Oh my gosh, yes. Chad: I think Rasta was about eight years old at the time, so this was four years before we moved here. And Rasta said he wanted to go see the dinosaurs. So we said, “Great, let’s go see the dinosaurs.” Kisstopher: Oh my gosh. Chad: What we didn’t realize was that it was advertising for the Fukui Prefectural Museum, which required us to take a 90 minute train out to Fukui Prefecture from Kyoto, where we were at, and then a 30 minute bus ride out into the middle of nowhere to the museum. Which, the museum was great. Kisstopher: And we spoke no Japanese. Chad: None. Kisstopher: Like, I’m surprised that they gave us train tickets because in English, you could say, “I’d like three tickets please.” Chad: Right. Kisstopher: And in Japanese you would say, “I’d like two adult tickets and one child ticket,” and so I was saying, “Three tickets,” and they were ju
Summary We talk about when we first “met” ourselves, how we evolved as people, and being happy with who we are. There’s a fair amount of politics talk, some talk about differences between Japan and California and between California and Alaska. Transcript K: Lately, I’ve been thinking about how happy we are, and mostly that’s because I had a client the other day in the middle of the session stop and look at me and say, “You seem really happy.” I was like, “Thank you. I am.” It was surprising to me because I had been sitting there with my… I have what I think of as a therapist scowl, where I furrow my brows and pay attention. So for them to read that as happiness was a little bit shocking to me. We started getting into a conversation about happiness, and they wanted to drill down into mine, and I was like, “Right on.” because I don’t do that tabula rasa thing, I do like, “Hey, you can ask me anything. I’m an open book.” I think all therapists should be, and I also think if your therapist doesn’t have a therapist, run, because your therapist needs a therapist. C: I think that blank slate is intended to keep boundaries and that you’ve learned to keep boundaries in other ways. K: Yeah, and I think it’s not appropriate in the day and age of social media because I’m on Twitter, we’re doing this podcast. Anybody can find out anything they want to know about me. I have a website. And so I think when that was kind of the ethos, it was well and way before social media. And I know because I’ve practiced therapy before social media and after social media, and I’ve had clients say, “How do I know you’re real if you’re not on Facebook?” So feeling like they couldn’t trust me if my life wasn’t out there for them to see. And I think with YouTube and Snapchat and Twitter and everything else that’s out there, we’re so used to being able to look into people’s lives and Google someone and by their social media, their Instagram or what have you, get a sense of at least what they want the world to think their life is. C: Right. We’re careful not to put anything on there that would facilitate stalking. So I think that’s part of why therapists are advised don’t share your life with your clients is because you’re not really sharing your life, you’re just sharing information about yourself. K: Yeah. And we have certain security measures in place for that. And so anything a client wants to know about me I’ll always tell them, because I view the hour as theirs and if they want to spend their hour talking about me, I ask them, “Are you sure you want to spend your time talking about me?” And sometimes they’re like, “Yes, because I want to know about you.” And I welcome that and I honor and respect their process. Because it could be part of their trust and bonding process. C: That was my thinking when you said that, is that I would want to know more about somebody to trust some, just because I so often encounter things that surprise me from people if I haven’t asked those questions. K: Yes, and my judgment is something that people are really relying on. And so knowing what opinions my judgment is based on. For me, something that I find most shocking is when I have very devout Christian clients who are okay with me being an atheist. And I’m just so humbled and honored by that leap of faith and their expansion of what somebody who has good judgment is their definition of that. Because to include me, it really does for some clients challenge their belief systems, but that’s not what this podcast is about. That’s not what this episode about. This episode is about knowing yo
When we moved to Japan, our son Rasta was 12 and a high school graduate. We talk about that choice, about him going to university online, and education for children in Japan generally, especially how the climate differs from that in the US. Content Notes Description of violent bullying at school, talk of drug use.
We talk about what makes a passion-filled life, how we pursue and maintain that, and how that’s changed, both because we’ve gotten older and because we moved to Japan. We talk about ourselves in third person a little bit, just to make a point.
We talk about buying residential property in the United States and in Japan, remodeling, and breaking into our own house.
All about Chad getting his PhD, Kisstopher being in the middle of her PhD, and the educational journeys we’ve taken with each other and with our son, who graduated university at 16.
We talk about the process of getting visas and permanent residency in Japan, political correctness and the language around the LGBTQ community, and how being permanent residents has freed up our creativity.
Summary Socialization in Japan is harder than in major cities in the United States, but probably about the same as for people who live in small cities. We rely on a mix of Internet and real-life groups to meet new people. People who are in Japan for a short stay only can sometimes still make good activity friends. We talk about Rasta’s socialization–how he didn’t end up being completely isolated as a 16-year-old who wasn’t in school. Kisstopher talks about how being Black in Japan affects her socializing.
Summary Living in Japan is cool, maybe. Or maybe not. It depends on how you look at it. In this episode we discuss things that are cool about Japan, things that are not, and some things that are cool about other places.
Content notes Frank discussion of sex, sex work, kink, sexual abuse, and dangerous situations. Summary We discuss Kisstopher’s history with sex work, Chad’s views about that, sex work laws in Japan, stigma around sex work, and related topics. We mostly stayed on topic this episode. (Our apology for some microphone rustle part way through the episode.)
An episode all about social media: what we love, what we don’t, how it makes us feel, and how being in Japan changes it for us.