So having spent the last week nursing ever multiplying monster headaches (tension-type headaches including a side-effect of nausea and upset tummy) brought on by having to think about viewing flats and sorting out my mortgage (yes, I know I have to grow up one day but please, not just yet!) I have decided to treat myself to an eyelash perm. Well, technically both eyelashes as I don’t want to look like a one-eyed doll wonder. And I’m impressed with the result. And it was painless too. Here’s a short clip if you want to know how it’s done:

The eyelash perm has been popular in Japan for over ten years to brighten up and enlarge Japanese eyes, and I had been dying to get one ever since, but sadly I didn’t have enough time when I popped over there this year for a friend’s wedding. I know, I sound like a real jet-setter, swanning off to Sri Lanka, then Japan, then Munich a few weeks back….but seriously, my bank balance is suffering as a result because there were sooo many nice things I just had to get in Japan. My advice: if you are going to Japan, start saving up months in advance because you will definitely want everything you see in the select shops that line the streets of Tokyo. And not just things, you will want sweets from the convenience stores and things from Muji. Muji in Japan is different from the UK because they sell food. It might be ready-made but it’s yummy. It is a shopper’s hell/paradise depending on how much spare cash you have. And I haven’t even started on Matsukiyo (short for Matsumoto Kiyoshi, an equivalent to Boots in the UK, but sooo much better – it’s a chemist/beauty store in which you can spend hours). Everytime I go to Japan, I spend half my time there. I. love. Matsukiyo.

OK, enough of sounding like a crazy person. Let’s get down to some book business. I’ve started reading Kafka on the Shore and although I’ve only read a few pages, it has a more sinister feel than some of Murakami’s other novels. I really loved Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, and more recently I found his non-fiction semi-autobiography What I Talk About When I Talk About Running both educational and enlightening. Especially since I was trying to get some tips on running a 5km charity run for Cancer Research at the time. And as all my friends know, I’m no runner. I was severely traumatised when I was a child having to run 3km in the mountains of Japan as part of my PE class and getting a very bad mark for it. But Murakami makes running something more than just a bit of exercise, it is a profound experience and an eternal struggle with yourself (although I have a sneaky suspicion that he is a bit of a masochist…the man runs a marathon every year!) And he ties it in with his writing. For that, I am eternally grateful. And I have changed my mind about running too.

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Japanese Literary Challenge 3

I was going through my blog list during a particularly dry patch at work a few days ago and happened upon the Japanese Literary Challenge hosted by Dolce Bellezza. Two words to instantly grab my attention: Japanese and literary, and although I’m not an aggressive go-getter who’s always out to win, I occasionally like a challenge, and I’m definitely up for some midnight oil burning-type reading. This is Bellezza’s third year hosting this challenge and she has a nice long list of book suggestions. I am familiar with most of the titles from my stint working at a Japanese bookshop during my student days, but I thought I’d try a couple of books that weren’t on the list.

So, the challenge calls for one work of Japanese origin to be read between July 30, 2009 and January 30, 2010. No problemo! I’m going to finally start reading Murakami Haruki’s Kafka on the Shore which has been languishing in my TBR bookcase behind a number of other books and also give Tanizaki Junichiro’s Naomi another go. I tried to read the latter several years back but wasn’t in the right frame of mind so only got past the first few pages. Sartre and Beauvoir were great fans of Tanizaki’s whose books provoked outrage due to their morally ambiguious content.

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I am also currently reading and watching Bleach by Kubo Tite but it’s a long-running manga and anime series and who knows when the end will be in sight. The manga, about Japanese soul reapers, is so good I don’t actually want it to ever end. But I will write about Bleach another day as it deserves its very own post.

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