How to Clean and Store Your Kerosene Heater

Please remember! A clean heater is a safe heater 😀

Ishikawa JET

Companion piece to “How to Use a Kerosene Heater.”

As the weather warms up, you’ll eventually need to clean out and store your kerosene heater for the spring. These instructions are translated from my Dainichi Blue Heater instruction manual, but they’re general enough to use for any fan-heater style kerosene heater.Read on for heater maintenance and spring-cleaning instructions!

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Share Your Christmas! For Tohoku Children in Need

During this season of giving, I want to ask for those people living in Japan to help the children of the Tohoku region. A wonderful little charity called Share Your Christmas is collecting children’s toys and other items to give them. The event lasts from December 21st to January 31st. All you have to do is send a present of your choice to:

Share your Christmas
c/o Jeffrey Jousan
Katsuragi Nesaki 45-1
Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0824

Please wrap your present in clear wrapping paper so they can know whether to send it to a boy or girl.

For more information see
the website:
or the Facebook page:

Thank you and Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays!



How to Piss off This Foreigner in Japan: Results Guranteed in Ten Seconds or Less

Let me set the scene: Lunchtime, sitting with two Japanese teachers and one school nurse. I sit there, munching away at my food, listening to the conversation with little initiative to pipe in. I usually eat lunch with the kids, but most of them are off at sports tournaments so I just decide to eat lunch with the teachers.

Lady Japanese teacher speaks to me with food in her mouth, “Jessica, ahadkjdksjknnkfnn.”

Say what? Was that even Japanese? Dear Jesus, gross. “Uh, hai?” So confused.

School nurse proceeds to try and help. “Ano, tsugi ga…nashi?”

Next nothing? What is she talking about? Next class nothing? Next day nothing? I stare blankly at her confounded.

Abruptly she bursts into laughter and shouts, “Eigo wakanai!” I don’t understand English!

I sigh. I was going to tell her to just go slower, but then she does the thing I hate the most.

School nurse turns to another teacher and asks, “M-sensei….?”

Male teacher shakes his head profusely, “Zen zen.” I don’t know English either.

They proceed to laugh and have a conversation right in fucking front of me about their lack of English ability and my lacking Japanese skills. I breathed in and out, deciding I’m just going to sulk (which I know logically is the wrong reaction, but fuck it), and tune out the rest of the conversation.

I don’t know about other expats, but certain things really piss me off when it comes to how some Japanese people try to talk with me. Here’s a top ten list:

#10: Food Talking

Be it food or gum or some kind of breath mint, if someone tries to speak to me with garbled Japanese it gets ten times harder for me to understand someone. One time, some Japanese guy tried to talk to me while slurping ramen, and all I could think was, ‘Seriously? Seriously?” 

Not only that but it’s super rude to me when it’s food. I don’t want to talk when there’s stuff spitting out of your pie hole. Chew, swallow, and then talk to me. It’s common courtesy and it prevents murder, as in from me wanting to murder you.

#9: Giving Up

Now, I’m not talking like if we’ve been attempting communication for the past hour and can’t get anywhere, I’m talking like a sentence and then utter shut down. It took seconds for the people in the above situation to decide that they couldn’t talk to me and just gave the fuck up.

#8: Calling Me “Gaijin-sama”

This is just a pet peeve of mine. A literal translation would be something like “Miss/Mr. Alien” and that’s what I think every time I hear it. I know it’s supposed to a formal “Miss Foreign Lady” kind of idea, but that still seems really strange to me. Instead, call me by my name or “gaikokujin” or literally anything else.

Hell, I’ll even accept, “Heeeeeey, sexy lady!” (Sidebar: PSY made this a thing. I can’t go a month without this getting shouted at me by some guy.)

#7: Stereotype Anger

I get this more often than I’d like. People get to know me and they’re somehow surprised I’m not a gun loving redneck who thinks A’murica is the greatest nation on the planet. I’m actually a chocolate loving dork with redneck tendencies who loves America but knows it’s quite a flawed place. I’ll forgive the annoying but understandable, “You don’t look like an American.” which makes me sigh often, but that I can blame on Hollywood and bottle blondes.

I can’t readily forgive, “You really don’t act like an American. You should try and be a little bit more (insert something ridiculously stereotypical here).”Or getting mad when I do something completely “un-American.”

Look, I’m a human being. I’m not a stereotype. I’m a living breathing sentient person who has her own ideas, thoughts, and feelings. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit into your idea of how I “should” be, but screw you. I like who I am (most days), so get used to it.

#6: Expecting Me to Know You When We Met ONCE

Guess what? Don’t expect me to remember you from that one encounter at the grocery store. I get that we might’ve had a fun conversation a month ago, but unless we got attacked my mutant velociraptors together I’m simply not going to remember who you are.

I realize it’s easier to remember me. I’m the only (obviously) foreign woman living in this town. I get that seeing me makes you excited and that you’re super happy that you can talk to me again. I can’t say that meeting yet another person who is fascinated is a new thing. It happens all the time.

#5: Speaking Louder to be Understood

This problem is very common. People will see my confused face, and instead of going slower (which is infinitely more useful tactic), I get someone suddenly yelling at me like I’ve insulted their honor.The worst “conversations” I’ve had involved people yelling information at me with their dial turned up to eleven and continuing to do so even when I’m speaking at a normal level.

This annoyance makes my ears ring, which makes it harder to understand what you’re saying, and thus it makes me unable to communicate with you.

#4: Complimenting Me on Easily Accomplished Tasks

Nearly every expat could share my pain for this unfortunately reoccurring scenario, “Wow! You’re so good with chopsticks!”

Yes, I’m also very good at brushing my teeth but let’s not comment on it, please and thanks.

Using chopsticks is not rocket science. Also, neither is saying “Arigatou (thanks)” or “Dooitashimashite (You’re welcome).” That doesn’t make me, “So good at Japanese!” that makes me able to look up a video on YouTube. Seriously, I don’t need to be encouraged like a five year old.

When you see me defend the school from ninjas, feel free to compliment until you lack air. Until then, I’m good.

#3: Pretending I’m Not There

Sometimes the previously mentioned lunch scenario gets worse, with people talking about me and what I’m doing right in front of me like I don’t exist. It makes my eye twitch.

#2: Running Away from Me

I’ve had this happen to me usually around where I live. I walk into a store and the sales ladies get nervous and suddenly disappear. I have to end up tracking someone down to ask them a simple question and they look so terrified when I do.

I’m not going to eat you, you daft woman! I just need this in a different size!

#1: Telling Me I Shouldn’t Live In Japan

I get so many people asking me if racism exists in Japan. The answer to that in a simple way is yes, because racism exists literally everywhere, all over the planet. Every single country is dealing with prejudice issues in some way. The more complicated answer is that the racism here in Japan is often under reported, discussed, and usually just gets avoided as an issue altogether.

There are subtle racist problems that I’ve dealt with here and there, but everything I’ve been through doesn’t compare to friends of mine. They’ve been harassed by the police, spat on, and one man I knew in Tokyo did in fact get punched in the face because he “looked too black” at a club.

My main racist issue that’s very overt and hurtful is when a Japanese person tells me, “Oh, you can’t live in Japan forever.” or “If you live in Japan, you won’t be happy. Go back to America.”

Yes, actually, I could live in Japan if I wanted to and I do think that I’d be very happy living in Japan. It’s not a perfect country, but it’s full of cultural wonders that I deeply love. The insinuation that because I am from another country that I can’t survive or be happy here is founded on some inane principle that only people born in Japan can truly accomplish these things. When I hear stuff like that I feel unwanted, like everyone is just putting up with me until I may or may not go.

It pisses me off, because I dreamed for half of my life of coming to Japan. I didn’t come here to get told to, “Go home because you make me uncomfortable.” Guess what? Too bad. I came here legally on a work visa. I pay bills. I took the Japanese drivers test to get a license. I am living here, obeying the laws, and bending over backwards in many ways to behave in a socially acceptable manners when I don’t know all of the unspoken social rules. If you don’t like it, too bad, I’m here to stay until I damn well feel like leaving.

Now, all ten of these irritants are events that happen every so often, but I can live with them. I do still love Japan and I want to keep working towards being the best ALT I can be while I live here. However, I think it’s important to discuss the problems that exist in living in another country, because it’s not as easy as one would think. Most days I have the time of my life, but there are some moments I get frustrated. Today I got one of those moments.

And now that I’m done venting, I shall return to grading papers with Pokemon stamps, because I don’t know the meaning of growing up.

Once upon a time, Lady Gaga met Kyary Pamyu Pamyu…sort of

Before we get to the actual story I’m going to slap some background in here. A couple of weeks ago, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu met with pop star Katy Perry. KPP and Katy had fun in their interview, chatting back and forth, generally having a good time.

Katy is really complimentary to KPP. They had a ball getting to know each other and Katy seemed to really enjoy her company. For me, this is what I’d call a successful interview and cultural exchange. They are both two pop stars from two different countries who get along, and that’s something I’m thoroughly happy to see.

I don’t think this is what happened at all with Lady Gaga.


MusicStation is a popular channel here in Japan that, bet you couldn’t guess, mainly features musical artists and their latest creation/abomination that they want people to buy. Lady Gaga appeared last Saturday on the show, which was of course a huge deal because Lady Gaga is a huge international star. Also on the show was Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who has expressed multiple upon multiple times that she is Gaga’s biggest fan ever, she’s gaga for Gaga.

As seen in the above picture, Lady Gaga decided to inspire her outfit with the Japanese fashion style of kawaii (cuteness overload), which is KPP’s shtick. Fans of Pamyu Pamyu have expressed no small amount of outrage at this seemingly upstaging of their idol’s fashion, which in Japan isn’t just a fashion choice it’s also a whole lifestyle. Ladies in Japan who take up kawaii like KPP live and breathe cute in everything they do, from the way they talk to the way they eat to the way they walk down the street.

Lady Gaga most likely saw her fashion choice as a Westerner views it, that it’s the tool you use to express yourself in the given moment. Therefore, when she came onto MusicStation decked out in her latest eccentric project, she kind of looked a little insulting. Not to mention the fact that the manga eyes she painted on her face are actually done wrong. But perhaps she can be forgiven! After all, she’s just trying to show that she loves Japanese sub-cultures. She’s a self-proclaimed Japanophile in the fashion sense, so all is well, right?

Not so much. If you couldn’t tell from the look on KPP’s face, the interview is disappointing, since she simply gets to sit in the background while Lady Gaga takes over. Also, all the ARASHI members are in the background looking displeased for some reason. I never could figure out why. MatsuJun even looks a little too stern, much more so than usual. I can only speculate on the why of it, but I’d put my money on the fact that it looks like she’s giving KPP the cold shoulder, ignoring her completely.

I know that Lady Gaga doesn’t most likely get to choose how the show gets set up and even who she can or can’t talk to during the show. However, I find it highly ironic that the song she’s set to sing is her latest single “Applause,” a song that’s all about fan love, and yet she’s appearing to stick her nose up at a fan that looks up to her as a role model in the pop industry.

It’s my hope that Lady Gaga and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu got to at least talk more backstage or maybe hung out somewhere in Harajuku and drowning in kawaii clothes. Yet, I think that this kind of interview didn’t exchange much of anything. No one learned anything new here. In terms of cultural exchange, I think this kind of platform dooms itself to failure from the beginning to the end anyway, since the type of interview is all about the big star and what she’s doing. I realize that wasn’t the goal for this show, and I realize that Gaga doesn’t owe KPP anything. Still, I think it is a shame when opportunities for something more than just talking about trends end up getting lost, and I don’t think that being aware of the culture behind the fashions is too much to ask from someone who claims to be an artist.

On that note, here’s “Applause” with a fuzzy blue key-tar at the end because Gaga: