Nagano now


Bethany’s fall semester ended in late January, and her spring semester begins in early April. She’s been traveling around Japan in the two-month interim, staying in hostels and meeting up with friends.

Now she’s working on an organic farm in Nagano, which a lot of us older Westerners may remember as the home of the 1998 winter Olympics. She’s neither farming nor skiing, though. She’s earning her room and board by doing odd chores and helping her host with her seamstress business. Bethany loves crafts, so it’s a good match that way.

She finally has Internet again, and we caught up with her last night on Skype. She seemed happy. She wears a hat indoors because her hosts keep the thermostat low in the winter. (It’s as if my side had won that eternal domestic argument. When Victoria first walked into my life, I was at my stove in an overcoat. Since then, some changes have been effected.)

Bethany looks forward to returning to her life and school in Tokyo, though. She’s arriving five days earlier than she had originally planned, and she has already booked a hotel room.

You know what she misses, even longs for, even in Tokyo? Couches. Areas on or near campus where one can lounge. I guess it’s not part of the Japanese college mindset. Sophia University has about two sofas, Bethany reports. It’s funny what you find yourself longing for when you go away for a long time.

The seamstress and her husband’s Kindergarten-aged son had a stomach bug recently, so lots of the household’s conversation involved excretion. Bethany helpfully made the child a poster showing how such conversations may transpire in English. It went over well.


A transcript of the portion shown above:

“Did you poop?”

The child doesn’t say anything.

“She peed. She is just being shy.”


And yeah. I’m the guy in the corner with the nose.