Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA: Me, My Blog, and I

This time last year we had already been in New York City for a couple of days taking in some of the sights before Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention later in the week. Neither of us had been to New York before so a big book fair seemed a great excuse to finally do so. Of course I'm a little jealous of everyone who is going this year too but last year was a kind of one-shot affair, as it's just not realistic to travel all that way again, as long as we're in Japan anyway. Hopefully I'll get a chance again once we're living in North America, but until then, that's where Armchair BEA comes in, a kind of virtual version of the main event.

I haven't actually been reading a lot, or blogging much at all, since the huge earthquake and tsunami in March (we're fine, it was scary but we weren't directly affected), and actually even before that as well, but I'm hoping Armchair BEA will help me get back on track. So for Day One of Armchair BEA, a little about me, and my little corner of the blogosphere, with a couple questions borrowed from the Armchair BEA site.

Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less. (From my Twitter profile)
A Canadian in Japan. English teacher, night owl, amateur photographer and proud book geek.

I've lived in Japan for about 10 years now, with a 4 year stint in England in between (4 years in Japan, 4 years in England, and now 6 years in Japan). And no, I still can't speak much Japanese. I may teach English but I'm a terrible student! My husband and I live in the suburbs of Tokyo with our two very silly cats, and in our free time, we can often be found out somewhere with our cameras in search of nature amongst all the neon. Earlier this month we headed into the mountainous area to the west of Tokyo to see the shiba zakura (literally translated as 'lawn cherry blossoms').

Chichibu shiba zakura

I started blogging about 5 years ago and over that time this blog has changed considerably, but for a while now the focus here has been on Japanese literature, with a bit of Japanese food and culture along the way. To that end I host a monthly mini-challenge called Hello Japan! Each month there is a different task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan, and May is Mystery Month. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. It's simply meant to be a fun way to experience a little bit of Japan, regardless of where you live. I also host a very casual Japanese Literature Book Group every couple of months, to read and discuss some Japanese lit together. Sometimes classics, sometimes contemporary novels. Next month we're reading The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe and we'd love to have you join us.

What book are you looking forward to reading the most in 2011?
Haruki Murakami's 1Q84! It will finally be out in English this October and I can't wait! By the way, I'm also hosting the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge.

I don't only read or blog about Japanese authors though. I guess my first love is literary fiction, and lit in translation, but I also add contemporary, YA, crime, manga, non-fiction, fantasy and so on into the mix now and then too. As my very overcrowded bookshelves can attest too. For a somewhat small Japanese apartment, I've got a LOT of books!

As for how I'm going to Armchair BEA this week, I'm probably not going to do all of the daily writing prompts, instead I'd like to share some of my experiences at last year's BEA that I never got around to posting for one reason or another. (I blame the jetlag!) I'll also be giving away a couple of books from last year, and I'm looking forward to re-connecting with some long-time favourites and meeting some new bloggers this week. It looks like a fun week ahead!

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  1. I didn't know you'd been to BEA last year. But then I only knew about your blog by September or so, I think.

    Hope you do get back into blogging more, it is always nice to see a new post by you.

    Have fun with the Airmchair BEA!

  2. Hello over there *waves*. So glad you're participating in Armchair BEA. It's so fun to meet other bloggers from across the world in a different culture! It's nice to meet you :). Here’s my introduction post! ~ Jen @ A Book and a Latte

  3. hope people find your blog ,and your love of Japanese lit ,all the best stu

  4. Well, I'm happy to know you and glad that you've created such a unique site! I can't wait to read some of your BEA stories. :)

  5. Hi, so nice to meet you! Lovely picture. We were expats for a while in Tokyo about 10 years ago, we miss it especially in the early Spring. Happy to find your blog & will follow.

  6. Wow, living in Japan must be fascinating. I've stepped foot in the country, but it was only for a couple hours and I spent all of them in the Tokyo airport :( I need to visit for real sometime.

    Glad to have found you via Armchair BEA!

  7. I can't wait for Murakami's 1Q84, either! I've already pre-ordered it from I remember you writing about attending BEA last year, which amazed me that you could go from so far away. And, didn't you buy an ereader on that trip? Anyway, I hope to go someday myself (it shouldn't be that difficult from Chicago! Looking forward to A Woman in The Dunes with you at the end of the month.

  8. It is so good to read from someone that was not directly hit hard by that terrible earthquake. I'm happy things are going well. Glad you signed up for the BEA too. allow the new novels and friends to take you off to another place. happy reading.

  9. Nice to see you here this week. I can't believe that I still have not read anything by Haruki Murakami. I really need to one of these days. Everyone raves! I hope you enjoy the event this week.

  10. Hi Nat! I wish we were together in NY it was so much fun last year. But at least we can celebrate together this way!

  11. It'll be fun to read about your BEA experience. Jet lag is a good excuse for not having said much about it! I think I may have a copy of Woman in the Dunes. No idea where it is, though. We've done so much shifting as we've put down new office flooring that I can't seem to find a thing. If I locate my copy, I'll join in.

  12. Ah, here is part of the answer on the question I asked in your post from today. I am looking forward to reading more about your BEA experiences of last year. I am not going to do many of the writing prompt myself, but I haven't figured out what I am going to post about either.

  13. i don't know how i had never come across your japanese book club before, since i'd been checking Bellezza's Japanese Literature challenge (and mostly failing to participate).

    i'm definitely going to be back to join in some of your upcoming readings!

    and i'm glad to hear that you are doing ok after the tsunami and earthquake. my family there was unaffected, but it has been difficult to watch the aftermath. i can't even imagine what it must be like to live there now.

  14. I forgot you were at BEA last year. I love that photo!

  15. Judith - Aw thank you! I've missed blogging and connecting with everyone. I'm kind of sad actually that you've only known me as a bad, sporadic blogger! ;)

    Jen - *waves* I agree, it's always wonderful to meet new bloggers. Thanks for stopping by.

    Stu - Thanks! I hope so too, we need to spread our love of JLit!

    Kristen - Thank you, and I'm glad we had a chance to meet last year. :)

    bookspersonally - Nice to meet you too! Spring is the best time to be in Japan! Have you been back at all?

    Susan - Oh yes, you should definitely visit for real someday! I'm glad you found me too.

    Bellezza - I wish October would hurry up and get here! LOL.

    Last year was our 10th anniversary, and since neither of us had been to New York before, we kind of made it our anniversary present to ourselves.

    You have a good memory! Yes, we both got ereaders while we were there and I've really enjoyed using mine this past year.

    I'm so glad you'll be reading The Woman in the Dunes along with us. :)

  16. Sidne,the BCR - Thanks! Even though we were out of harm's way here, it was still a pretty stressful time. I didn't read much of anything for several weeks after the big quake, but am glad to be getting back into it. Books are a nice escape!

    Michelle - Murakami can take some getting used to but there's something about his writing that just pulls you in. Definitely worth trying, at least once. ;)

    Amy - I wish we both could've gone to NY this year too! But hey, maybe we can do Comic Con next year?!

    Nancy - LOL. I think as I get older, the jet lag hits me harder. Or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

    Hope you find your copy of The Woman in the Dunes. Would love to have you read along!

    Iris - Well, I'd love to be able to go to BEA every year but it really is very far from Tokyo! ;)

    lisa - I hope you will join in some of our JLit Book group reads. Always the more the merrier!

    I'm glad to hear that your family in Japan was also unaffected by the quake. Such devastation! It's going to take the Tohoku area a long time to recover.

    Chris - About the photo, we're usually surrounded by buildings and concrete so it was really nice to get out of the city for a day.


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