Christmas in Japan


Christmas Tree at my elementary school.


This year marks my 3rd Christmas in Japan. A time for Christmas cakes, a single present, and chicken. Just like home.

Christmas, perhaps because of the red and white aesthetic (thanks, Coca-cola!), is a romantic holiday in Japan. Christmas Eve, especially. So I, like the amazing boyfriend I am, took my lover to the Christmas movie of the season: Star Wars. All that snow, trees, and red and green lights. Lightsaber gift-giving. It had all the trappings. It was the first Star Wars movie that my girlfriend didn’t fall asleep during, so that’s a plus too.

And, because Christmas is more observation than holiday over here, I’m back in work on a Christmas Friday. Nothing to do. No new computer to continue actual work on a game, though it’s supposed to arrive today. I’ve been writing a new story and tossing game ideas on paper and going to the library when it suits me. But in terms of “real work”, whatever that means, I’ve been taking a break. Holiday break, I suppose. Eating a donut and drinking coffee at my desk. I feel like a police officer. Incidentally, that stereotype doesn’t resonate at all with Japanese people.

“Okay, so: coffee and donuts! What do you think of?”

“Coffee and donuts.”

“No, but like… something else. Like, when you think about red and white and love and snow…”


“Right, but now with coffee and donuts.”

“You?” He was right.

“No, something else.”

“Sunday morning, at Mister Donuts.”

“Okay,” I said, trying to reframe the question. “When you think of coffee and donuts, do you think of police officers?”

“Why would we think of police officers?” Probably a royal ‘we’ there.

“I dunno. Crazy, right?”

“Yeah, you’re crazy.”


Conversations can get really long on Christmas day when you’re at the office and nobody has much work to do. But, in a weird way, it feels like I’m sitting by the fire with family. Just, in an office, with a big gas heater. And instead of my grandfather is a similarly aged older man who came to work in spite of taking the day off officially because he didn’t want to sit around with his wife all day. Ah, Christmas!

Anywho, writing this makes me feel weirdly productive, and I’m supposed to be taking a break. So… uh… Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. 良いお年を and all that jazz.

See you in the New Year.


Death of a Computer


You know what can be frustrating? Waking up to a computer that doesn’t work anymore. Especially when you haven’t backed up anything.

I’ve been thinking about the nature of ourselves, and especially as it relates to those of us who find our career being on the computer. As we create, more and more of ourselves gets proliferated over the internet and, ideally, in other less-digital spaces. It is nice to have a blog so that some amount of my data is out there. And to have a git account with some game information and a mediafire account to house some other big projects.

Like the major players in the US government, not everyone is in the same space at the same time. If something terrible happens, there is still some remnant to work with. Not all is lost.

After running around to different places, I learned that I could get my 5 year old buddy fixed, but it’d take at least 3 weeks. Perhaps longer, given the holidays coming up. I’d decided 5 years was enough. Thankfully, the computer didn’t catch fire or anything. I opened up the beast and removed its HDD heart (heart disc drive?) and managed to put the data on another computer. Immediately after doing this, I felt an amazing sense of relief.

So, I’m sorry I don’t have something more substantial this week. But, if anything else, I hope to offer a friendly reminder:

Back up your data.

Enjoy the holidays. Looking forward to 2016.

How Accurate? (Game Design)


I think Fallout 4 did a much better job than the Last of Us at presenting Boston. But really, they both did a good job. Thanks, big game companies. 🙂


Should a game about a real place try to be realistic? Continue reading

Japanese Tidbits: 水・湯


I’ve been having these moments where I just want to write something tiny and put it on the blog. Similar to how Seth Godin does his blog, where most posts are tiny with the occasional longer-form post, but not quite so prolifically.

I’ve thought: Maybe Twitter is where I should be going with these thoughts. After all, Twitter is good way to build a following and interact with others. But I’ve not been able to bring myself to do it. And instead of letting these thoughts disappear into the void, I’ll do something about it. At least, until I start tweeting.


My water heater (給湯器) broke last Friday morning while I was taking a shower. Which meant, in the middle of my cold apartment, standing in a cold shower, I now had to take my shower with cold water. It was pretty terrible. Thankfully, it got fixed this morning, and I’m all good.

But the past few days, I’ve been telling my harrowing story of cold showers in the morning to my coworkers and I noticed a little curiosity.

For those who don’t know:

水(みず) means “water”.
湯(ゆ) means “hot water”, usually with an honorific お preceding it.

For years, my use of お湯 was relegated to the onsen and sento, where it simply meant hot bathwater. But actually, and I’m sure this is pretty obvious to many people, お湯 refers to all types of hot water. Drinking water included.

Okay, so far, so good.

When talking to people about my shower experience however, I made it clear that the water coming from my shower was 冷たい水. Apparently the 冷たい(つめたい) was unneeded. Whenever a coworker told the story to another person, it always came back to being 水シャワー. The fact is, the normal state of a shower is with お湯. Therefore, it didn’t need to be mentioned that a shower had cold water. 水シャワー lets people know that it wasn’t hot.

While in English we often add a signifier to water (hot water, lukewarm water, cold water), Japanese splits water between 水 and お湯, with 水 being on the colder end of the spectrum, and お湯 being on the hotter end. People just don’t really say 熱い水.

In conclusion:

水 means “water”, usually cold or room-temperature.
湯 means “hot water”, the kind used in baths and for making tea.

Finally, if you burn yourself in Japanese, exclaiming “痛い!” is a little weird. “熱い!” is the appropriate response.