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!

Fried Chicken and Sushi 421 Ryan needs a favor

I have a feeling Kenji has to deal with Ryan asking him this every single day.  It's pretty clear now that Ryan has no problem with asking for something repeatedly.  Persistence can be the key to success...or annoying everyone around you.  I'M PERSISTENT ABOUT ASKING YOU TO CLICK HERE AND FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER!

Fried Chicken and Sushi 398 Ryan's true competitive colors!

Let's all remember that J and Ryan are competing to see who will be picked to continue working in the Japan office for a full year.  It's also good to remember that Ryan has no problem with using his popularity with the boss to his advantage.  I'm sure it's made easier by the fact that J doesn't usually treat him that well.  Will J and Ryan always be friendly enemies or... frienemies?  Probably.  YOU CAN BE MY FRIEND BY CLICKING HERE AND FOLLOWING ME ON TWITTER!

Fried Chicken and Sushi 350 J meets Tanuki

Tanukis are known for tricking people with their magical powers but I have a feeling that our Tanuki isn't very talented.  Or, he wants J to get mad at Karl to screw up their friendship.  Either way, it doesn't look like he's ready to fully show himself to J.  Perhaps, Tanuki isn't real after all and he's just a figment of Karl's imagination.  One day we might find out.  What do you think?

Fried Chicken and Sushi 348 Livin' in Japan as a black man

I remember feeling as frustrated with Japanese people as J seems to be.  It's easy to think that all people there are racist because of the way they treat foreigners.  One minute, you're treated extra special, the next minute you're treated like an alien from another planet.  Never as an equal.  It's really only because they have very little experience with foreigners and only know what they've seen in movies and heard on TV.  I never felt that Japanese people were trying to make me feel bad or hated me, but they just didn't know much about my culture.  Add to that, the fact that you're in the minority as a non-Japanese, they feel pretty comfortable pointing out differences between you and them.  I guess J calling it racism is one way to look at it, from his experiences as a black man in America, but it's not fueled by hate.  More of a lack of understanding and a curiosity most Japanese people have about foreigners.

Fried Chicken and Sushi 336 Maybe we're just in a comic?

I wanted to draw a comic where J and Karl are questioning the comic strip reality they're living in.  I've done this before and probably will do it again.  It's never clear what time of the year it is in FC&S comics and I'm not sure when to start advancing time.  Now that J is in Japan, maybe the seasons can start changing?  One thing that is always present in these comic strips is the treatment of foreigners in Japan.  The good and the bad of it!  Expect more now that J is in town.

Fried Chicken and Sushi 276 Marvin checks in

You guys remember meeting Marvin when Karl first arrived in Japan don't you?  If not you can CLICK HERE for a reminder.  I think Marvin is having a very different experience than Karl.  That's one truth about moving to Japan, everyone's experience is different.  Of course, I've tried to point out some of the things that make it the same in this comic.  If you live/lived in Japan, was your experience more like Karl's or Marvin's?

Fried Chicken and Sushi 167 and 168

Ryan learned not to mess with J and cheat codes.  I wonder if J would be ok with using them after beating a game?  You know, just for the fun of it!  I thought of creating the strip with Ryan showing J cheat codes on the internet.  Then, J would hit delete and walk away.  Even though people aren't writing many cheat codes down on paper these days, I felt like this version had more of an impact.  Nothing like crumpling and burning to make a point!

The Emailin' Home strip is my attempt to show you what it was like for me to email my family and friends while in Japan.  I would send these long emails telling stories of things I experienced and learned about.  Everyone seemed to enjoy them (I hope) and it planted the seeds for this Fried Chicken and Sushi webcomic.  To add a little extra interest, I drew the characters in a Chibi style with a huge head and small body.  Did you spot Tanuki and Miki in that last panel? 

Back to Shimamoto! (Pictures Below)

This past summer I decided to take a quick trip up to the town I lived in while teaching English in Japan.  Yep, it has the same name as Karl's town, Shimamoto cho.  It felt good to go back after six years and I didn't tell anyone I was going so I could walk around relatively unnoticed.  However, I think a few people were a little shocked to see a big black man strolling around their town taking pictures.  Check out some of the photos below. I've been trying to re-create some of these locations in the comic.  Enjoy!

 

Here we are at Minase station off of the Hankyu railway line. 


Hey, you can look up my nose!  The building behind me is where I used to live.  Right under the number 2.

I walked past #1 Junior High School where I used to work.  Pretty much all Junior High Schools in Japan look like this.

Here's the long road up to #2 Junior High School.  The bus would take me up this way if I was too tired to ride a bike.  The smaller white building on the left is where the Board of Education office is.

I was trying to remember this map outside of the train station when I drew the strip about taking the bus up to school.  I think I got it right...somewhat.

Let's take it back to when I was teaching there!  I remember it well, walking around while the students take an English quiz.  Makin' 'em nervous! 

FCS155 The Black Samurai Takes a Slice

Looks like the Black Samurai finally gets a chance to use his sword!  Thanks, Tanuki!  I don't think the Oni will be very happy after this though.  At first, I wasn't sure about using the Principal Glossy Gleam typhoon joke at the end.  You would need to have read the previous comic with PGG talking about how he loses his gleam during typhoons.  I was afraid that if someone came here for the first time, they really wouldn't get the joke.  Oh well, I did it anyway because I think it fits perfectly!  Hopefully, all you new readers will go back in the archive and learn more.

FCS150 Fun Today at Book Away!

Those of you that know the bookstore BOOK OFF in Japan, BOOK AWAY is my version.  I did this comic and the four before this one, while visiting Japan this summer.  I actually went to many used bookstores and bought quite a few manga (that I can't really read).  For me, BOOK OFF had the worst selection of new manga but a lot of old or classic collections.  My local used book store had the best selection of almost new editions of manga.  I loved going there because since they're used, the wrapping is off and you can skim through them.  I liked going to the manga shop to spot the comics I want, then go to the used store and buy them.