Hotaru: How fireflies create magic in Japan

Fireflies are a beautiful part of June in rural areas of Osaka. Tanuki adds a little magic to the experience in this comic!  Would you soar with real fireflies?

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I remember it was magical going down to the river when I was living outside of Osaka city in Shimamoto, to see the fireflies in the evenings of mid June.  All the kids out trying to catch them or count how many they can spot first.

Go out and make some magical memories with your friends and family this summer!  Time really ‘flies’ by fast.

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If you grew up in the south, you must have called fireflies ‘Lightnin’ Bugs’ at some point!  Even if you were in other parts of the U.S., I bet you did. 

My wife was raised in the city and never saw them before visiting my little suburban town of Shimamoto, back when I lived in Japan.  I’ll never forget how excited she was to see them for the first time.

I loved seeing fireflies growing up in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was so magical to go out on a summer evening and look for them by the creek.  

Other kids were talented at catching them and pulling the fireflies apart to add to necklaces.  That was a little too cruel, and gross, for me. I did enjoy capturing them in jars though to watch them light up together. 

It’s a blessing to have an opportunity to share summer memories with you through writing and comics.  Hope yours is the best yet!

COOL JAPAN! The Language

That's what I hear from a lot of people.  "Whoa, living in Japan would be so cool!"  I hope that this comic strip shows that it is cool living in Japan but also challenging and crazy in many ways.  Yes, some of my characters are a bit over the top but you have to remember that most of this stuff is based on actual events and people.  I'm making a lot of jokes about how difficult it is to learn the Japanese language but, to me, that's one of the COOL things.  After years of studying Spanish in America and not really retaining any of it, studying Japanese while living in Japan was amazing!  It was so cool to study a new word or phrase and then hear it the same day over and over again.  Maybe I'm just a geek but I actually love the sound of Japanese being spoken.  Listening to the many ways people express themselves with it is fascinating to me.  I think the fact that it is so difficult, with many levels of proper speech and a complex writing system makes it all the more exciting to study. 

Unfortunately, that excitement does not get me over my fear of saying something incorrectly and looking foolish.  Fear of failure, or embarrassment, makes it difficult for me to confidently go out and speak Japanese.  I want to speak with ease and not have to pause and think about the next word.  Of course, people in Japan do not expect for me to speak fluently but because I look so different I want to prove to them that I can hang!  This fascination with the language but fear of speaking it is probably something I will have to deal with for many years now.  It's tough to imagine a time when I will be able to confidently hold a complex conversation in Japanese and not sound like a cave man.  If I continue studying, maybe one day it just might happen. 

Do you guys feel me on this?  Please share any stories or feelings you have about learning a new language in the comments section.  We might just cheer each other up!