Defeated on every technology front

Lately, I’ve been getting stuck into my study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test level 2 in December.  It’s apparently much more challenging in terms of kanji and vocab than level 3, so I bought a textbook to help me.  Now, I’ve seen quite a few textbooks in my time (the covers of them, at least).  With all that study experience, why have I never seen something like this before?

Japanese textbook

That’s right – no more using your hand to cover the answers or shutting one eye!  Harnessing the mighty power of red cellophane and red ink, revision becomes a snap!

I showed this to a few of my co-workers, and they all said that this is a very standard feature of Japanese school textbooks.  I don’t remember ever seeing a textbook like this before – did I just not take the right classes? 

Honestly, I’m so disappointed in Western education technology that I feel like writing a letter to the editor.  I don’t say that lightly.



This April will mark two years of being in Japan.  Two years.

No time to be nostalgic now, though!  We have to talk about socks.


It’s funny that after all this time, I can’t remember whether foot mittens are an actual thing you actually can buy in Australia.  Giving it some thought now, I seem to remember the answer was “no”.  I think.

Not long after I came to Japan, I saw a Japanese co-worker wearing socks like this.  I thought they were a pretty weird.  Definitely a bit weird.

Fast-forward 20 months living in Japan.  I’m in Uniqlo, a massive low-cost clothing chain in Japan.  I’m buying socks, 3 for 1000 yen (cheap!).  There’s a massive rack of all kinds of socks in front of me.  Different colours, different styles.  I’m carefully choosing socks, leafing through the various types, evaluating durability, thickness, elasticity, thinking about which socks might go well with a tuxedo, which with sandals.  Normal questions one asks when buying socks.

I buy the foot mittens.  I don’t even give it  a second thought.  I believe I have made a normal transaction for a normal Japanese clothing item.

Of course, on their first outing at one of the many restaurants here where you have to take off your shoes, my socks are instantly noticed.  I am told with no uncertainty and much good-natured laughing that “only old men” wear sock mittens.  I did not know that.  I did not know that only old men wear sock mittens.  It might have been useful if this information was printed on the paper wrapper that the socks are packaged in.

However!  I discover that there’s something very comforting about having your toes neatly compartmentalised.  Before I discovered sock mittens, my toes jostled around like a sack of potatoes.  Now, they’ve each got their own little uniform.  They’re on the same team.  I have brought order to my feet.

Plus, if you’re slightly tipsy, you can almost believe you have suddenly become very skillful at walking on your hands (I am not making this up).

So – can I pitch these to the same guys that inexplicably made Ugg boots popular? I’ll get a cut, right?