Friday, July 31, 2009

07.12-Waiting for Blue

07.12-Waiting for Blue, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

I took this photo sitting in my favorite seat on the bus. It's the one in the front with the full view of the front window. It's a single seat so I don't have to worry about any one else as I daydream and watch the city roll by.

Odd Japanese language note: Don't call green, it's blue. On a stoplight you have red, yellow, and green which is pretty much common the world over. The color is green is still green in Japan, but everyone calls it blue (aoi). Why? I have some theories, but it's one of those unanswerable questions. Maybe another good one for this month's JSoc Matsuri.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Osaka always was and always will be

06.18-Shinsekai_Barrier, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

I can't imagine an alternate reality of Osaka where this barrier new. It's like Osaka has all ways looked this way and always will. Happy smiling flowers panted upon a half broken, rusting sheet of metal.

And this is why I love Osaka


More love for Osaka

Friday, July 24, 2009

07.15 Mukogawa-Mansion-1

07.15 Mukogawa-Mansion-1, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

A mansion (apartment building) on the east bank of the Mukogawa river.

I walked the built up part of the Mukogawa river the other day from Hankyu Takarazuka station to Hanshin Mukogawa Danchi Mae station. About 9km. My goal is to walk along as much of the river as I can which is about 66km long. Since I was walking south the entire time the right side of my body got a sunburn. I got teased about that for a few days.

06.26 Sue-no-Sato-1

06.26 Sue-no-Sato-1, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

Some pottery in front of Sue-no-Sato in Sasayama

What do I find strange about Japan? (Japan Blog Matsuri)

07.24 AimerFeel-FlowerRoad-1, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

What do I find strange about Japan?

All the lingerie models in Japan are white, western women. My wife gets the PeachJohn catalog--all white girls. Look at the mannequins and models in this AimerFeel storefront in Kobe--more white girls. I'm not complaining, just wondering. I can understand the reason behind most things that I might find crazy, strange, or unusual here in Japan--no matter how obtuse or misinformed that reasoning might be. This one, however, leaves me at a loss for words.

7/27 Edit: Here's the link for the matsuri info:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

10 Hints for the Green Card Application

The mass of papers and junk and forms you have to fill out if you want to bring your spouse to the USA is daunting, but here's a few tips from me.

There's the time line, good to know:
  1. Fill out all the application forms and get the needed documents
  2. Reserve a date and time (2:00PM or 2:30PM) at the American embassy in Tokyo.
  3. File those papers on that date. (Only you need to go, but both of you is better.)
  4. Receive a package from the American government.
  5. Schedule an interview at the American embassy in Tokyo.
  6. Get your background and health check done.
  7. Go to the interview. (Only your spouse needs to go, but both of you is ok.)
  8. 2 weeks or so after the interview you'll receive your visa. You have to go to the USA with in 6 months of getting that visa or it will become void.
What if you're not sure when you want to move to the USA? In my case I'm planning on going back to the USA for grad school sometime in the next 5 years. I haven't even picked a school or applied. So why did I start Yuko's green card process now? Because between step 4 and 5 you can wait for as long as you want. So we can hang on to this packet and sit on it till I figure out when I'll be starting school and when we want to move to the states. We'll schedule the interview sometime 3-4 months before our arrival in the USA.

Some of those PDF's don't let you save your work half way through so block out an afternoon to sit down with your spouse and fill them in. Make sure to print out 2-3 copies just in case. Also, don't fill them out by hand. You can do it all on the computer, it looks much better.

You might need a someone else to help prove you can provide for your spouse in the USA. Here's the deal. You need to prove that the person you're bringing into the USA won't be a burden to the public welfare and health care systems, so you need to prove that you can make a steady income. I make my living in Japan as a bartender and teacher. I cannot prove that I can make the same amount of money working the same jobs in the USA, so I will need to get a co-sponsor. I think together the sponsors need to prove that they have $18,000 in the bank or as income.

You'll need to prove you're relationship with pictures and notes. Don't bring in your whole family photo album and actual letters. Copies work. I printed off another copy of our wedding announcement letter, two posts from this blog about Yuko, and I skimmed my photo library for any photos of Yuko and me and printed them out contact sheet style.

The application requires passport style photo of you and your spouse. The form says "most Japanese photo booths take acceptable photos" but they don't say which setting to use. Most Japanese photo booths have 4 photo sizes. Choose the one where you'll get two 50mmX70mm photos. It's commonly the last option. When you get to the embassy there are photo cutters you can use to make the photos 50mm square as per the instructions. Don't forget they have to be in color. There is a photo booth inside the embassy, but it costs ¥1,000 and what happens if it's broken?

Getting into the embassy is like getting on an airplane. There is a full security check. Don't bring your laptop or a bunch of electronics since you can't take them in with you. For the electronics you just normally carry (I had my camera, ipod, cell phone with me) they will keep that for you in the guards booth. You can't bring drinks into the embassy, but there are vending machines on the inside.

A copy of your spouses' family register will work for her birth and marriage records. When you got married s/he got their own. You'll need to translate it however. I made a template you can freely use. There's a so-so version on google docs, but if you email me I'll send you the nicer looking Pages or Word document.

Be organized! It makes this process easier on you and them. I didn't think I did anything special, but the clerk told me my application was the most organized he'd ever seen. That was the greatest complement ever! My Filing Technique is Unstoppable! (P.S. David Rees is great and check out how Jamba Juice totally ripped him off.)


Get started on the I-130 Petition Checklist page! Good luck!

I hope this helps. Yuko and I are only on step four and I'll try to keep you updated about the rest of the stuff.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dono (ドーノ) - Kansai Restaurant Review

06.25 Dono-Sasayama-3
The spicy sausage pizza at Dono

A pizza, the right size, the right toppings, an excellent crust, reasonable price... in the middle of nowhere.

I have no clue how my sister-in-law found this place. I don't know how anyone finds this place for that matter. Up in the hills way past the last reaches of Kobe's immense Kita ward in the Konda area of Sasayama hides this little pizza restaurant. No public transportation to this one. You need a car. If you can get out here you'll also need a reservation--it's that good. Oh! and it's only open for lunch on the weekdays. Weekends they do dinner, but only till 8 PM.

06.25 Dono-Sasayama-2
Margarita pizza at Dono

What are you coming for? A great hand made pizza cooked in a special oven on the first floor of the owners house. The pizzas range from ¥1,000 to ¥1,300. The set menu adds salads, drinks, appetizers, and desserts to the meal. The simple, yet appetizing, set salad was great. For those who don't like pizza, pasta is also served. The idea here is to come with some friends and everyone orders a different pizza or pasta so you can taste it all.

06.25 Dono-Sasayama-1
The appetizer at Dono

I really enjoyed the basic margarita pizza, but the spicy sausage was amazing. The great earthy spice that was generously dusted on top of the cheese and sausage really made it a treat. I was also afraid that the sizes would be too small for me--a problem with many Japanese pizza places. Here it was not the case, each pie was about 10 inches and filling.

06.25 Dono-Sasayama-4
The dessert at Dono

Besides it's location, it's hours, and how busy the shop can become, the only downside was the pretty, but simple dessert. If you make it out there, and I think you should, stop by and check out the local pottery at Sue-no-sato 陶の里 just down the road.

Funny side note, my sister in law made the reservation by phone and when we arrived the waitress gave her ¥50 in an envelope to make up for the cost of the phone call to make the reservation. Very Japanese.

Tuesday-Friday 11:00-15:00 (14:30 lo)
Saturday and Sunday 11:00-20:00 (19:30 lo)

Phone: 079-597-3716

Address: 兵庫県篠山市今田町釜屋629


より大きな地図で Kansai Restruant Review を表示

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

06.25 KazaninBench 1

06.25 KazaninBench 1, originally uploaded by sleepytako.

A bench at Kazanin Temple.

Part of my Benches theme.