Japanese Self-Study

Turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so.”
– – The Vapors

Just recently, I got this sudden urge to learn Japanese. I believe it was sparked by friends posting travel pics on social media. That made me reflect on the wonderful memories of my own travels to Japan.

Flashback. Growing up, my grandmother (obaachan) lived with us. I was exposed to Japanese at an early age. However, I learned Japanese from watching dad’s samurai shows on KIKU TV. I learned mostly curse words like “chikusho!” To my obaachan’s horror, I was quickly enrolled in Japanese Language School. But because I wanted to play Little League Baseball instead, I hated Japanese School. I didn’t learn the language at all (which I now regret.) 

Because Japanese School failed me (rather, I failed Japanese School) I chose not to enroll in any type of formal study. I’m going about it via independent study. I’m trying to immerse myself in a variety of mediums to find my own path. So far I’ve watched YouTube videos, started journaling, downloaded iPhone apps, read manga, and listened to KZOO Radio on my commute. I even do my grocery shopping at Nijiya Market. Every bit helps…

YouTube seems to be my favorite mode of learning right now. I’ve found a few helpful YouTubers like Risa on JapanesePod101 and Japanese Ammo With Misa. But my go-to channel is Susuru TV. Susuru is a dude who eats ramen everyday. It’s all in Japanese, and there are no subtitles.

I also stumbled upon polyglots on YouTube. I feel validated that self-study is what they do. They said that there are no secrets, shortcuts, or a “language gene” that you are born with. The keys are having fun, finding your way, and doing a little each day.

And I hope to keep it going. がんばります。

POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi 2019

#POWWOWHawaii has been going down this week in Kakaʻako.


POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi drops every February. Surely one of the coolest things in my neighborhood! Cofounder Kamea Hadar is a friend and used to work with us at Kamehameha Schools.

This year’s biggest name is probably Shepard Fairey @ObeyGiant. (Last year it was Simone Legno @tokidoki.) I get to drive past this mural every morning to work.

This cool one by @negiyakisoba + @squid.licker is on the corner of Cooke & Auahi. (Bummed that someone would park here during “opening weekend.”)

This popular artist is Kevin Lyons @klyonsnatborn. Climbed over the fence at Mother Waldron Park to get this shot.

This surf themed mural is across the street from the basketball courts.

This one across from Honolulu Beerworks is by locally-based artist, Kris Goto.

And this corner mural is just a few steps away. Love Marvel stuff…

Had an amazing time checking out the murals and meeting a few of the artists. Highly recommend that you rent a Biki and cruise around. Be sure to visit POW! WOW! headquarters at Lana Lane Studios. You can pick up the passport and merch there. Relax at one of the many cafés in SALT @ Our Kakaʻako. Definitely one of my fave events of the year…

Church at My House

How many can say that they attend church at their own home? What a blessing!

Backstory: Previously, I used to live across the street from Waikele Elementary School where Inspire Church began. It was called Hope Chapel West Oʻahu back then. After moving to town, I prayed that Inspire would open a new branch closer to home. We opened Inspire City at New Life Church in Chinatown. That was an answered prayer! After a year-and-a-half, we moved into Kaimuki High School. Kaimuki High is actually located along Kapiʻolani Blvd., which is the street that I live on. But I guess God wasn’t done answering my prayer. He put Inspire Honolulu in my building. We now have Sunday evening service at Studio 909. Consider yourself invited!

What an incredible blessing it is to come down the elevator for church. But no excuse for being late…

My Everyday Carry

Preface: Every year I get a Valentine’s gift for that special someone. Unfortunately, that “special someone” has always been me. Or perhaps fortunately…? One year it was luggage (travel.) Another year it was golf clubs. And another year it was a longboard skateboard. It’s become an annual tradition.

This year, I got myself a Filson Original Briefcase. For work I prefer a briefcase over a backpack. It makes me feel more professional. I had a classic leather briefcase for over 10 years. Really liked it, but the hardware (clasp, internal zipper, strap clips, etc.) couldn’t stand up to the abuse. Decided to go with a more durable option: rugged twill + bridle leather, “beefy” brass clips, and a YKK zipper. Looks gorilla-proof. I wanted to be a little more minimal and intentional in all that I do.

So here’s what I carry…

13″ MacBook Pro. School issued. Indispensable for my job in EdTech. An absolute workhorse. With it comes a bevy of electronics:

  • Laptop charging brick + cable.
  • USB-C forces you to use adaptors. One dongle for presentations and a 2nd dongle for media (SD cards, HDMI, etc.)
  • USB clicker for forwarding slides in presentations.
  • Apple Earbuds for video conferencing.
  • Extra iPhone charging cable.

To organize this mess, I have a Delfonics Utility Pouch. Pockets inside-and-out to keep everything from tangling.

iPhone 7. Would love to upgrade to X, but can’t afford to at the moment. Still, happy with the 7. It takes video in 4K and has 128GB storage. I do not use a phone case. My iPhone has everything I need (time, weather, socials, music, alarm clock, camera, and even a bible app.)

My wallet is a Bellroy Note Sleeve. It has RFID protection (although not necessary.) There were just better color options in this model. It’s slim & sleek, but still able to carry business cards and fit foreign currency.

Got a carabiner valet keychain. Really minimal. Separates my truck key/fob from my apartment key/fob. I live in a walkable neighborhood, so I don’t always carry around car keys.

Everyone needs at least one good pen. I have the Montblanc Starwalker. My everyday pen is either a Pilot or a “freebie.”

For paper I use Field Notes, because it’s pocket-sized. I have a soft cover Moleskine Notebook for journaling & doodling, but it’s not an everyday carry.

Cole Haan leather card case. Business cards are extremely important! Can’t stress enough…

Hydro Flask. I keep one at school, so I don’t need to carry one in my bag.

Ray-Ban Wayfarers. I have the black frames w/ the “Coke bottle” green lens. Super durable. If I lost these, I would definitely purchase another pair.

Burberry compact umbrella. I really hate the rain. Comes with a cover. Fits into the stow pocket of the briefcase.

Baby Altoids. Cuz my breath’s not bad enough for the regular size. LOL.

KS ID badge + lanyard. (The lanyard is the M.O. in the education world.)

Finally, I keep my school keys on a key ring to go either into my pocket or onto the lanyard.

What you have in your bag is important, because it’s your mobile, portable, office-on-the-go. But more importantly, what you carry everyday is an expression of who you are.

Think Sesh

Occasionally, I will have a thinking session. I’ll either visit a neighborhood café or just stay home and make coffee. I just try to intentionally think up stuff. And write. I find that writing things down is like having a conversation with your thoughts and ideas.

Oftentimes it’s goal setting. I use categories: life goals, school goals, ministry goals, and travel goals. I also like to keep score of accomplished goals to be able to reflect and be grateful.

Sometimes I’ll write down a bible verse and journal about it. It tends to stick (Psalm 119:11.) In terms of creativity, I’ll draw or even dabble in some songwriting. But these “moments of inspiration” usually come up randomly and don’t come up during these think sessions.

I do create a lot of lists. Things I need to remember. Shopping lists, packing lists, music playlists, important names, etc. I’ve even written down some of my all-time fave jokes.

But I would say, most importantly, this gives me a time to pause and recalibrate. “You are the hero of your own story.” – – Joseph Campbell

And I’m not done writing mine…