Welcoming Myself To The 27 Club!

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Last week, I managed to survive another revolution around the sun. I’ve never been one to really celebrate birthdays, but this year was special. It was kind of like time just froze. I was stuck in limbo between childhood and adulthood – or at least that’s how it felt.

I spent the long Labor Day weekend with my family, where we had the traditional birthday steak dinner and cake ^^ (めっちゃ美味しかったよ!). Unfortunately, my wife is in Japan now while we finish up the visa process. I really felt her absence. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today – so not being able to celebrate with her was a little sad, but we’ll definitely make up for it when she gets back!

Every year, I like to reflect on all the milestones in my life. Where am I now vs. where I want to be. In my early 20s, I can remember feeling disappointed in myself. I was a lost soul that hadn’t found his calling. Fast forward to my mid to late 20s, and every year just seems to get better and better. The desire to learn Japanese has opened up many opportunities. And with that, I’ve been able to take chances and grow as a person, husband, son, and friend.

Speaking of friends, my man Louis really surprised me with this:

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Another Miku Nendroid! The cheerleader version! You could say it’s a not-so-subliminal message. She’ll be cheering us on this year as we continue chasing Japan (ファイト!). Now I just need to find a place to put her…my dojo is starting to get a bit crowded ^^

My dad also hooked me up with his old Pentax camera. Now I can be like Louis and try my hand at film!

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I’m 27 years old and still get excited about getting toys for my birthday. At the same time, my vision for the future is clearer than it’s ever been (Japan is no longer a dream. In fact, it’s so close I can taste it ^o^). Louis and I are clicking better than ever and firing on all cylinders. And my wife is always cheering us on and offering advice when we seem lost (she’s the unofficial official 3rd member of the group). I’m incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such positive influence!

Finding your passion and investing in it wholeheartedly – this is what my 27th year will look like. That’s what being stuck in limbo between childhood and adulthood looks like. I can’t wait for my next birthday!

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The First NOMIKAI – 29 April 2016

Welcome to our NOMIKAI! This is where we get together at the end of every week, have a virtual drink (as long as you’re of age ^^), discuss the week’s happenings, and talk about future endeavors with Chasing Japan and other ventures. We may even rant about current events or drool over a new anime series. You never know what will happen when drinks are involved! (We promise to keep it PG!)

Let’s get started!

Nick: So, Louis, it’s been a pretty busy year, wouldn’t you say? We’ve gotten a helluva lot done, culminating with the launch of Chasing Japan. Want to walk us through what this past year’s been like for you?

Louis: Sure thing, Nick-san! This past year has been quite a battle indeed. From Nihongo studies, Kanji practice, web design/scripting language, playing with my cameras, as well as writing – all the while keeping up with my full-time job as a Metrologist tech working in a different country.

Nick: Yeah man, I can imagine! My year’s been pretty crazy, too. I went to Japan a couple times. Got to go for Golden Week and the winter holidays (those Japanese winters are no joke!), which was absolutely incredible! Also started translating Japanese to English documents, which pushed me to further my Nihongo skills. I’ve upped my kanji count to about 2,600, and added over 2,000 study cards to my Anki deck. Aside from that, I started to really sit down and learn basic web code (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, etc.), and have been polishing up my business skills. It’s been a lot of studying and weekends spent locked in my apartment reading, but it’s definitely been one of the more productive years of my life!

Louis: HAH! I can learn those HTML/CSS/JAVASCRIPT, J-QUERY languages in my sleep! But I gotta hand it to you getting that translating gig! What was it like getting to that level? What are you doing now to maintain/improve your skills?

Nick: To each his own I guess! As far as getting into translation, I just decided to take the leap. I can understand everyday Japanese TV shows and newscasts without English subtitles, so I figured I could handle translation. The hardest part of translation for me, though, was actually translating the Japanese into comprehensible English. When I study Japanese now, I study it in Japanese, so that means new grammar explanations, word definitions, kanji meanings are all in Japanese. When I’m translating, I fully understand what’s being said, but having never seen an English translation for a lot of the common words really slowed me down at first.

But that’s the great thing about Anki! It definitely helps with retaining and building my vocabulary. I review it every morning on my laptop, where I’ll practice speaking the sentences and writing the difficult kanji or new grammar structures. I also have my Anki deck uploaded to my phone, so while I’m at work I can get a ton of reps in. When I use my phone, I go through reps quicker because I’m only focused on understanding the sentences as a whole instead of focusing on writing and speaking. Aside from Anki, though, I get a lot of speaking practice with my Japanese wife (and she lets me know very quickly when I make a mistake). She brought a lot of books over when she moved in, so I pick them up and read them  when I’m bored, but I normally read raw manga. And any word I see that I don’t know, I write it down and put it in my Anki deck for future study. How about you, Louis?

Louis: Very amazing, indeed! So for me, in the Study of The Japanese language, I have gotten through RTK 1 [amazon affiliate link here], where I learned the core meanings of the Kanji, and for upkeep I also use the Anki app with a complete deck from all three RTK books. I also keep my Raziko app handy [Raziko google play link here] and listen to various stations live from Japan such as TBS, NHK, J-wave, and Tokyo FM! Listening skills wise, this has helped me tremendously.

Upkeeping and improvement wise, I am looking at RTK 2 [Affilliate link] where I am learning the readings of the Kanji themselves! Continuing my passive listening during wake up/sleep/home hours, as well as speaking with people from Japan!

Nick: Well, my wife can always help with the speaking practice! Can’t live in Japan if we can’t speak the language well, right? ^^

Speaking of living in Japan, it’s our goal. And speaking of goals, do you have any personal goals for this year?

Louis: From what you have been telling me, a strict teacher at my side wouldn’t be a bad idea. Make the magic happen!

So goals! Awesome! JLPT N1 coming up this Dec. 4th is definitely on the list! So if Sakie can give me that strict Korean style teaching, that would be awesome! (not saying that I’m a masochist, (笑))

Having our blog flourishing with amazing content that helps others is another goal! With our stories, behind the scenes peeks, and content for our readers’ journeys, I hope that we can not only help keep ourselves accountable with this blog, but help inspire others to pursue their aspirations as well!

Another goal is to get a service rolling out to our readers that can help contribute to them vastly! But more on that later, it’s still in the hush hush stages! ^^’. So those are the big goals, other goals include becoming a better content writer, photojournalist, as well as touching up my drawing to make a manga strip for our readers’ pleasure!

Nick: Haha, very nice! That answered my next question, which was “What are your hopes for Chasing Japan?“, so since there’s no point in beating a dead horse, I won’t ask you to say the same thing twice. Good thing we’re on the same page as far as the blog is concerned (Fu-sion!)! I also really hope we can give people the courage and/or motivation to go after whatever it is they want to pursue. To me, that’s what life is all about – pursuing your dreams, and not living someone else’s. I’m looking forward to the next few moths! Hashing out great content, updating the site, creating products, and studying Japanese. Pretty much gonna be doing the same thing as last year, except we’ll be doing more executing as opposed to studying ^^

So, any last thoughts you want to share before we head home?

Louis: You pretty much closed it out the same way I was going to. Our focus is now shifting from research mode to execute mode. We have covered quite a bit, now it’s our time to shine and make magic happen. The next few months towards the close of the year should be interesting – where we take our lives back into our own control and make a pivot to being full-time entrepreneurs. This is it, Nick! Power levels over 9,000!!!

Nick: やる!やってやる!なんか燃えてきた!

 

Day One

Hey there! Welcome to Chasing Japan! Thanks for checking in. Nick and I are excited that you’re here reading this. As you may have read from our welcome page, this site is about our journey. Our story into transitioning from the standard 9-5 business life to being entrepreneurs in Japan!

As you can see, we don’t have much up and around our blog just yet, hence this post! Day one! Our official launch where the blog design is just right. To where we can start writing content.

We’ve come a long way in a short time making our logo and putting this blog together. If you are interested in reading more about us, please head on over to the About Us section right in the navigation menu! Thanks again for stopping by and seeing us grow in our early stages!

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