Gaijin Housewife in Japan

Bringing you every day life in Japan to your part of the world.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

We don't need curtains

I have to admit it.
I "may" have given a student's baby bump the "jealous infertile stare" today.
I am officially going to hell.
Today I am "possibly" also officially losing the plot, although I thought I had been doing really well with dealing with our latest disappointment.

Tonight DH and I were discussing some things about the house.


DH: So how are the plans for the curtains coming along? Have you been collecting some ideas for what you want?

Me: What curtains? I haven't been thinking about curtains. I've been far too busy fantasising about my puppy.

DH: But surely you need to thinking about the curtains before you think about a puppy.

Me: Nope, been too busy imagining how wonderful it is going to be, giving it lots of cuddles and looking after it every minute of the day and have it NEED me.

DH: Oh ok, well maybe we don't need curtains anyway.

So DH and I obviously have some differing priorities.

I know he is also disappointed every cycle that goes by with no success, but I'm also pretty sure that it really isn't that much skin off his nose. I on the other hand have this pain in my heart (so cliche but so true) as well as the very real and serious pain in my tummy for 3 days or more every cycle that is a failure.
At the moment, what makes me feel better is picturing my future little bundle of fluff.
That is something that I know WILL happen and (and this is the fantastic part) WHEN.
None of this: "Oh it will happen for you soon/when the time's right" bollocks.
I want something to love NOW.
However, I will have to settle for waiting a few more months as we can't get a puppy in our current apartment for obvious reasons. Don't worry. I'm not getting a puppy just cause I can't get pregnant. I have been patiently waiting for aaaages until we would finally be in a situation where we could get one.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that having a dog will have a calming effect (because puppies are so stress free! ; ) ) on me and then will magically become pregnant. That is totally going to work. Klaus or Schnitzel or whatever we call him will be my wonder drug.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Blueberries and Pizza

Today was a rather fun day at work. We took some our kid students on an excursion to a blueberry and boysenberry farm to pick some fruit. After that the kids got to make a pizza and get it cooked in the real wood fire pizza oven at the farm. It was great fun and the kids had a great time as did the adults and we ate a lot blueberries and the pizza was heavely.

The Blueberry farm had lots of cute wee decorations
Blueberry Field
One super scary spider I saw whilst collecting boysenberries.
The wood fire pizza oven!!
It only takes 5 minutes.
One of the pizzas 2 kids made, can you see the face?
It was a scorching day so it was hot work picking blueberries, the kids were all fine, running rings round us adults who plodded along. I need a nap now.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Gaijin House Wife and the Phantom Egg: The sequel

You may remember my post about two weeks ago, regarding "The Phantom Egg".

Well The Phantom Egg was too stealth for its own good. So stealth it evaded the swim team that was supposed to surround and occupy it.

So we are back to square 1...again. It really is not terribly surprising.

I'm not one of the people who has to pee on a stick to realise they aren't preggers. In my case I get 3 days of cramping before AF decides to come along and then the real cramps start. Every month I pray that that day will be on a Wednesday and not Saturday. If it does happen on a Wednesday, then I can hide in my house and watch episodes of Psych. Hence the hurry not to be at the mercy of AF anymore!

So now I am wondering what happens next.

3 cycles of Clomid - check  All very miserable results perhaps am not a good responder to that drug.

HSG - check. Pipes as clean as a whistle.

Personally I think the next step will be me avoiding going to the dr for a while. I think I will instead focus of the million other things that are happening in my life over the next 2 months and then whiz bang! What do you know!....yeah that will totally work.

Last night, DH and I were discussing a kind of baby we can get by just going to a shop and buying it. A puppy.
So since we are still a few months off being able to get one, we decided to think up some names. At this point we want to get a male miniature schnauzer so we thought we might like to give it a German sounding name.

So far DH has come up with:
  • Schnitzel
  • Pretzel
  • Knoedel 
  • Bruno
He assures me that "Schnitzel" sounds really super sophisticated to Japanese ears... I however have doubts about saying "Schnitzel! Come!" in ear shot of other people. My preference is Bruno. It sounds like a good strong name a dog would easily respond to, but also worried about the similarity to "NO!" on the end of the name. My other preference is Niko, since I did, for a bout 5 minutes, want to name my first born son this until DH vetoed it saying he would be mercilessly teased because the kids would say 一個、二個、三個 or ikko, niko, sanko (1,2,3 pieces). Coming back to Schnitzel. Schnitzel von Krumm (with a very low tum!) is a character in one of my favourite childrens' books "Hairy McLary from Donaldson's Dairy".

And this one is going on my Wish List:

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Friday, 23 July 2010

This Week's Ikebana

Yesterday was Ikebana day again.

We did a nagere (no pointy needly holding thingee - just balancing branches) form called chokuritsukei. One of the annoying things about this form is that the 5 purple branches all have to appear to protrude from the left front quater of the mouth of vase. There are a lot of rules about the lengths and angles of this particular form.

So here is what I did:

Here is what my teacher did, using the same flowers as me, but she added a few leaves which I think look heaps cooler.

And here is what we had for afternoon tea, walnut icecream.

Unfortunately we will be taking a break from Ikebana for the next few weeks, due to summer vacation and other various things.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

It's a small world

Last night I was working (from home) and having a lesson with a student for the first time via the internet. Usually one of the first questions I ask is "Where do you live?" so I can get a feel for possible conversation such as the weather, etc. So I also tell them which prefecture I live in, sometimes the city but often not. Yesterday the student goes: Oh I used to live in that prefecture until last month, I just moved here for my new job with X (Big Japanese car company). Then he told me he used to live in the city where I live, and he used to work at the company where my husband works, in a similar division. I had to resist the urge to say me too! and Oh I know that company because my husband works there. You see, the last time I got all excited that a student lived in the same town as me and I blurted it out, as the lesson wore on, I realised that he was a complete axe murderer! As it turned out, when I mentioned this person's name to an old friend and staff member at a now defunct but re-born English school, she said he had been stalking HER! Now that is a little too close for comfort.

Luckily last night's student seemed to be very sweet and rather harmless but even so, I didn't let on at all about these things we have in common. Also luckily, the student was completely uninterested in me as a person or where I lived specifically, which is a little unusual as most students want to know where you are from and how long you have been here. Some students want to know, how on earth I ended up here in Northern Japan as they expect us foreigners to mostly hang around the major cities.

I also have another member to add to my "Old Man Fan Club". It seems that I attract or am highly attractive to uh.... mature male students. Not sure what it is about me that they like so much but they all tend to be demanding/picky students who seem to think I fulfill everything they want in an English teacher.... whilst I am thrilled that I have some students who prefer my lessons to the other teachers available, which = keeping my job,  I often marvel at my ability to attract these crotchety old men, who basically want someone to smile, listen and say things that flatter them a tad. They don't take in any of my advice, or corrections to their English. They seem to want a kind of online English speaking snack bar hostess.  And it's not like they know I am well endowed in the chest area either - my IRL male students have a hard time keeping their eyes to themselves but these students can only see me from the neck up (great when you just feel like wearing your pjs).
DH thinks it is hilarious that my groupies are all over 60.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Sniff sniff

Today is possibly the worst day of the year for my family and I. 4 years ago today our dearly loved father passed away after his 6 year battle with cancer. Today I look back and cannot believe what a totally shite time that was. I wonder how on earth I ever got back to a normal life again. But we have. We are all doing great. My Dad would be super proud of us.
As for what to do to remember him (although I still think of him almost every single day), since I cannot physically visit his grave, my husband suggested I go and buy my Dad a treat and offer it to the photo we have of him displayed with my weekly flower arrangements, a kind of mini shrine to him.
My dad always had a big sweet tooth and the one time he came to Japan, he fell madly in love with this ice cream: Monaka Jumbo

It's kind of soft cone on the outside and inside is vanilla ice cream with chocolate.

He insisted on eating one every day whilst he was here. So when I came across them in the supermarket I decided to get one. Got home and it felt kind of squishy, since its real hot today - so Monaka Jumbo is currently in freezer, re-freezing.

So here is a picture of my dad, as I like to remember him.

On a more cheerful note.
Whilst out shopping today I did buy some things and it occurred to me, that maybe the rest of the world doesn't have these things. So I am posting them. Pardon me if they do actually exist in your country.

First we have my current saviour the "Powder sheet" - a wet wipe that turns your sweaty body into a fresh smelling, smooth baby powder dusted one. Very good for days like today. The other is a body soap that makes your skin really "Sara sara" or smooth.

Then we have the no-oil fried chicken making sheets:
Just put the pieces in the middle, close it up and microwave it for 4 minutes!!!

And lastly, my best find today was the offcuts of katsuo tataki (a kind of fish called bonito that has been cooked on the outside only, over burning straw) which are my favourite!!
Ok, so it does kind of look like something you might feed your cat or dog, but I assure you it is really really good. 


Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Saturday with a grumpy GHW

Yesterday DH dropped me off near my work. We stopped the car behind another car which had already stopped and was blocking the road so what's one more car eh? Anyway, from the big white car in front of me with big mag wheels this guy got out.
Now you may or may not know that the Japanese Mafia is called the Yakuza. Well anyway, the car screamed Yakuza (they tend to drive a certain kind of car) and he was the biggest, ugliest, worst hairstyled one I had seen in a long time. The hair style was a bleach blonde seriously bad undercut -hello 1994!, and he was wearing what I can only describe as PJs, which were kind of fluorescent orange and pink. and don't forget the mandatory slippers. This guy gets out of the car and proceeds to chuck an empty coffee can on the ground. This makes me mad as I seriously hate litter bugs. Then what does he do? He walks over to a vending machine (which almost always have somewhere to dispose of cans and plastic bottles) to buy another drink! What a twat. But do you think anyone would dare say: "Hey Undercut Boy! The trash cans over there dimwitt! Nice PJs....not!"....
uh NO WAY.
So I carried on my way seething a bit that I had just witnessed someone littering. About 10 steps later I had someone else to direct my anger at. It was an old guy walking AND smoking! Where I live, people don't dare walk and eat - that's socially not allowed - but walking and smoking is completely ok.. The street we were on wasn't so crowded but the relative crowdedness of a street doesn't stop people from walking around with lit ciggies at a child's eye level.
Makes me want to scream.

So as you can imagine, I am having a bit of an emotional time of it before I even get to work to start my first lesson teaching 2 under 5 year old boys. They are usually not too bad as far as little boys go. But yesterday one of them would only say two words: Poop and Bottom - in Japanese of course.
Me: What's this? (Showing a card of a rabbit)
Student 1: Poop poop poop poop poop.
Student 2 - laughing hysterically.

Luckily both children made it out of the lesson alive....
Which reminds me of last week in a different lesson with 2 boys the same age - I turned my back for like 10 seconds and when I turned around one of them had the other one in a headlock and was seriously choking the other one who's face had turned bright red! Good lord!

So the day kind of went on like that. I didn't have much patience for students who weren't following what I was saying. I know. I should have tried harder to keep a smile on my dial but AARGH!!!
I did learn one thing from a student who is actually Korean. We were discussing how kebabs are probably one of the best foods in the world and the mystery as to why they are not readily available here in Japan. He said that for him the word kebab sounds terrible as it means dog food in korean. So we had a bit of a laugh about that.

Today is Sunday. My sleep in day. So far the neighbour next door (the weird one who burns rubbish on his property and the smoke blows into my bedroom which is ILLEGAL - man I hate people who break the law) decided to bang on a metal can at 6am, then the wife was shouting at the dog to "fuse!" or  "down"AND
the baby down stairs was screaming (probably from being woken up by metal can drumming). It's only 8am and I already need a big chill pill.

Good things that happened yesterday:
  • Now 5 more students know that a white bear that lives at the north pole is not called a "White bear" in English, but a "polar bear".
  •  Now 5 more students know that if they ever have want to bring me an ice cream, they should buy me a "polar bear"



Friday, 16 July 2010


My mother...or was it my father, told me to always wear clean underwear, just in case you have an accident.

Yesterday, I was wearing clean underwear...but I also happened to be wearing a pair of DH's boxers because I was wearing a dress and I didn't want to have any chafing going on.....TMI? Come on its 30 degrees every day here!

So I went to my long suffering and ever patient lady bits Dr as usual - that seems to be all I do recently. 
Somehow I had mysteriously ovulated without the Dr clapping eyes on developed follicle despite having had the magic wand treatment several times over the last few weeks. So my body is inhabited by a phantom egg, stealthily evading detection but apparently going about its business as it should...I am stoked. I actually ovulated...better extremely late than never. What a triumph! And another great thing-no more mood altering drugs for me for a while.

I should have left DH's boxers off after the magic wand fun was over (I did have my regular underwear underneath), but I didn't think I would be getting a shot in the rear because my increasingly expert interpretation of the magic wand live broadcast I can see on my side of the curtain, was that there was sweet FA to see. Another cycle wasted I thought, so I put them back on.  But thanks to Phantom Egg, dr orders the womb lining thickening shot. So I have to hitch up my dress revealing DH's underwear to a somewhat amused nurse. Later at home I sheepishly told DH what had happened and he laughed his ass off and said that would serve me right for wearing his underwear. In my defense I only borrow semi-permanently the ones that are getting baggy and that he doesn't want to wear much anymore.

This Week's Ikebana

Hello Everyone

Yesterday was Ikebana day. This week we did a traditional style using hydrangeas and small lilies. It was quite fun as I have never used hydrangeas before although the ones I had weren't particularly co-operative. The resulting arrangement is kind of a landscape. I have to admit it looks a bit like someone just stuck a bunch of flowers there but an hour of cutting and placing went on to get this jumbled effect.

So here is what I did:

Here is what my teacher did:

and here is what we had for afternoon tea:

My new favourite summer treat is a 白熊 or polar bear - a "famous food" from Kyuushuu. It's mostly shaved ice mixed with some condensed milk and topped with some fruit. But it is a slightly healthier and more refreshing alternative to ice cream. This one has some red beans on top but I have also seen a strawberry one in the convenience store that I'd like to try.

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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Roller Coaster Day

 As the title suggests yesterday was rather an up and down day.

Got my dentist appointment over with, no cavities!!! Have never been to such a high-tech dentist. They take lots of photos of the inside of your mouth. Have you ever really seen the inside of your mouth? For most people I would say it's not too pretty. Apart from having to wait for ages I was impressed with very caring and patient nurses and doctor, and being able to pay by credit card after wards was great too.

In the afternoon I had a rest and finally got to watch おくりびと or "Departures" I think it's called in English. I thought it was a lovely movie and I cried a bit at the end which was a bit of a downer. Then a box arrived from my in laws with more melons, jars of ume jam which I had requested


a baby spoon.

The baby spoon was probably just lying around the house and they decided to send it to us now rather than later, but it did give me another downer for several hours. We haven't told DH's parents about our struggles yet so they wouldn't know that it wasn't a smart idea to send a baby spoon to me. Anyone who thinks I'm a bit mental to get worked up over a well intentioned baby spoon, would be right. TTC makes you stark raving mad, anyone who says differently, isn't really TTC.

So after coming up with ways to destroy the evil baby spoon, I did finally let it go and especially when I triumphantly showed it to DH: "Look what your family sent us (meaning: how could they do that to me, I'm so upset). DH looked at it and said: "What the hell is that? (meaning: I'm bored and couldn't care less about a baby spoon). OK. Time to move on.

So anyway, yesterday ended on a fantastic high note as my sister and her fiance managed to secure some cheap flights to Japan. So we were all very excited about that. A nice way to end the day. Unfortunately, I think I am a bit too excited and woke up at 5am and couldn't get back to sleep again. Which is why I'm posting this at 6 O'clock in the morning.

But another high note was discovering this guy, also known as the old spice guy, very easy on the eye if you know what I mean and funny too.

Oh and he makes personal replies to people who comment or ask him questions. I like this one to the founder of


Monday, 12 July 2010

Me and Nishi

Well I am stuck in the dr's waiting room for what looks like the foreseeable future, so I am entertaining myself with writing a post.

I subscribe to a email newsletter from a local supermarket chain. This is in order to get access to a bar code that gives me good discount coupons. Anyway, a person called Nishi seems to be in charge of it as of a few weeks ago. He (I know it's a he) has this need to share personal info with all us customers. So far I know that he is on the hunt for a wife, is a little on the chubby side (his words) and likes soccer.
Last week Nishi san was having a bit of bad luck as his TV broke down and now he has to get a new one. But not to worry as he can take advantage of his shop's great deals on TVs!!! (smiley face).
How convenient.
So does that mean there will be one less 42 inch TV available to the public at that great price because you already bought one of the 20 available Nishi san?
Also as of this week Nishi san is back to leading an economical lifestyle - in case we got the wrong impression that he likes to splash out and buy TVs and stuff all the time - wouldn't want to give all the prospective wives the wrong idea.

So as you can see I find my new mailtomo (mail friend) a bit of a pain the bum. I preferred the emails that came from the store and told us what was going on AT THE STORE...
Now I get lots of pictures of ducks, 4 leaf clovers and even a rocket ship blasting off peppering the email. This is obviously some new marketing ploy so we can all come to know and love our friendly supermarket email person, and therefore buy more stuff from that supermarket, however I rather feel like I want to wring his neck. Let's hope I don't bump into any chubby men wearing a "Nishi" name tag next time I am at the supermarket.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Kangaroo Care

This word has come to my husband's attention recently due to him seeing it on a TV show. When I asked him what exactly he thought it meant, this is what he said: It means that when you have a baby you have to hold onto it for 2 years. As in carry it around for that whole time, even when it's sleeping. Oh like a kangaroo carries its babies in its pouch. How nice for the kangaroo who has a special pouch that nature gave it to do so.

Anyway, this definition of kangaroo care varies a little from what I thought it was, which is similar to what Wikipedia says it is so it must be true. This carrying a baby around for 2 years sounds pretty tough to I said, "You know, it doesn't just have to be the mother that carries the baby around. It could be any adult who is taking care of the baby". I could see that DH hadn't thought about that possibility and although he was quite happy that I carry any future children around for two years constantly, he himself having to do it...hmmmm, might want to reconsider the "constant" part.

The meaning of Kangaroo Care in our house has now warped again, this time by DH himself. Now kangaroo care means to show affection and over the last 7 years of our relationship DH has become quite the demander of it. I'm not complaining though. I think you will find many women who are married to Japanese men that wish their husbands were a little more affectionate.
We have some terribly subtle ques in our house when someone needs or wants a hug: "Pay attention to me" is popular, followed by "I've come to annoy you". Now we can add: "Where's my kangaroo care" to the list.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

I wish I had an octopus

One of the biggest stories to come out of the world cup is Paul the Octopus. The Octopus Oracle in Germany that has so far correctly picked the outcomes of all Germany's games including the loss to Spain. If Paul could fear for his life, he probably should as some zealous fans want to turn him into takoyaki. Well I don't think they have takoyaki in Germany and I think your average German wouldn't know how to cook an octopus let alone what to make with it.

Personally I think Octopi are great. They are extremely intelligent creatures considering they don't have a back bone and are kind of squishy.
You see, I have this problem where I can't make big decisions. I make one and then decide that actually, no, I'd like the other one. Like when I got my one and only "My Little Pony", after wards I wished I had got the pink one with blue hair like my sister instead of a white one with green hair and a picture of a watermelon on its butt...What is it with me and watermelon?!?

So if I had my own oracle octopus I could ask it all kinds of things. Like Should I take an umbrella today? Is it a good time to send money to NZ or should I wait for a better exchange rate? Do I look fat in this? And I would get some kind of answer.
That's like 3 whole decisions I wouldn't have to make myself. Or I could ask it if the wallpaper I have chose for our house is going to "work" or  or  or  or...yes lots of big decisions I could leave up to my octopus.

So now that my third favourite team in the World Cup has been knocked out, I will be interested to see the results to see if Paul gets it right again. He has picked Spain to win over the Netherlands. Maybe he just likes red and yellow.

Friday, 9 July 2010

This Week's Ikebana

Hello everyone.

I was thinking of giving you all a witty name like I have read on some of my favourite blogs. So far I have seen "Bleeps" and "Pranksters". Any suggestions?

Yesterday was Ikebana day. We were practicing for the test at the end of the month this time. I have to re-create a mini lily pond. This is a regular occurance in summer - the mini lily pond arrangement test. So yesterday I was brushing up my skills on how to flatten lily leaves etc.

So this is what I did:

And this is what my teacher did.

This was afternoon tea. Some sweetened black vinegar and a special "Tanabata" themed cheese cake (the star on it).

And for those of you who want to see the watermelons, here they are - or were.

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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Watermelon anyone?

Tis a beautiful day here in Gaijin Housewife Land. It's going to be really hot later on but at the moment I am watching my washing dry, literally right before my eyes. It's a beautiful thing. The way the sunshine strikes the clothes, I can almost see the bacteria that makes wet laundry smelly at this time of the year shrieking as they "POOF", disappear.

My need to nurture something is now being focused on several pots of basil, Italian parsley and "French style salad greens" which are sprouting nicely Have yet to figure out what to do when they get big enough to attract insects that want to munch on them. I might have to construct a mini green house out of chopsticks and rubbish bags or something.

I have just come back from putting out the trash/garbage/rubbish to notice that my downstairs neighbour is back from having her baby and the subsequent stay with her parents. Years of training from watching CSI leads me to believe that it is a baby girl since the washing is all pink and yellow stuff. I am somewhat unthrilled by all this as now my downstairs neighbour and my next door neighbour have babies. Is the universe taunting me? Yes I think so. Of the 20 possible apartments only my two neighbours and one other (directly across from me) have babies. A coincidence? I think not. Clearly the universe is out to get me. The worst part is that there is no way I will be able to exact revenge with my own screaming baby before we move. These neighbours also have the loudest cars (modified to make more noise than the average car and their husbands work shifts so they start their cars up at all hours of the day, oh and my apartment is closest to the car park too I might add). So I have decided that I will listen to my radio as loudly as I like. Evil person I am.

Yesterday the doorbell rang and it was the delivery man, struggling under the weight of huge box. The goodies were 2 giant watermelons from the in-laws.
They live in the watermelon capital of Japan and DH grew up eating copious amounts of the stuff which means he refuses to eat any these days and so I have to eat it all by myself and give large chunks away to friends. So yesterday I brought one in from the entrance, staggered upstairs with it, only to find I didn't have a shit show of getting it into the fridge in one piece. So I sat it on the couch for a while cause I was scared if I put in on the bench or floor for too long it would split open. After splitting it into manageable pieces it is now a bit of a race against time to get rid of it so I can cut up the other one and put it in the fridge before it goes rotten....

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Time for contraception people!

I have noticed a disturbing trend in the city where I live. Some people from various countries who come to Japan, to teach English are having trouble not getting local girls/women "in trouble". This problem may have been more discretely dealt with in the past but now it turning into a kind of epidemic. This particular problem happened in my immediate vicinity recently, when one of my acquaintances announced she was reasonably far along being pregnant (it still only looks like she had too much lunch *Sigh*) and that the baby's daddy is from an English speaking country and won't marry her. Usually the process in the past has been for the couple to have a できちゃった婚 or shotgun wedding to restore some kind of "respectability"and so the baby will be recognised as having a father, although this often doesn't help the situation at all - as you can probably imagine. In the cases I have known, this often results in a husband who feels trapped in Japan and ends up acting like an arse due to  generally hating his life.
Anyway. So after I heard about this I felt (privately) very angry about the whole situation. Here are two people who did not want a child at that particular moment in their lives with that particular person. Really, Universe! Hello! Over Here! I see, I need to go out get plastered and have a one night stand and that should do the trick.

Anyway my own problems aside, I personally think the bigger issue here is that there is a serious lack of use of contraception going on. I mean, sure accidents happen even when you do use it, but I get a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people do not use it.
I base my blatant assertion on my discussions with my Japanese friends, and they have said that they never used any form of female contraception such as the pill, IUD or Depo. They also said they had no idea where they would go to get it....which means there are websites like this one to try and spell it out to people. Scarily they have written "Life design drug" in English on there - gee that makes taking the pill sound really fun!
My own personal experience has found that male contraceptives in Japan are not as, shall we say "advanced" as overseas brands.
If I compare this to my friends in other countries, contraceptive use amongst women is much much much higher. Also, add to the mix, fear of pregnancy at an "inappropriate age"- eg. under 25ish, as opposed to being patted on the back here for getting pregnant, the earlier the better, and touted as the ultimate achievement for a woman.

So that's my mad little rant about that. Boys, if you are coming to Japan be extra careful or your experience in Japan might not turn out how you planned.