Another Perspective: The Inside-Outside Life

By Sergio Lombardi and Dominique Flemings

Hello, readers! Today we’re going to be trying a new format of a review. Today, we’re going to be attempting a “dialogue” of sorts which will, we feel, be able to showcase our thoughts on a given blog more individually. These will tend to me more conversational than our average blogs, but it never hurts to try something new.

Dominique: We have an excellent blog to review today: Inside-Outside: Living in Japan. Inside-Outside is a relatively new blog, but it stands for a mindset that both Sergio and I feel is quite important among the foreign community in Japan. Inside-Outside is about embracing the culture of Japan as an foreigner and simply enjoying the life one can have here. While some expats tend to complain far too often, the author here, Karen, takes no part in that. She expresses that understandable homesickness we all tend to feel at times, she doesn’t dwell on it and let it consume her life. Instead, she seizes the opportunities here and thrives.

Sergio: Exactly – and that’s important to a successful and happy life as an expatriate in Japan. But Inside-Outside is an enjoyable blog for more reasons than Karen’s outlook on life. Every single article is a well-written masterpiece, one that you can tell has been carefully deliberated over before being posted. As Karen herself said, “It takes me quite a bit of time and effort, writing and rewriting, to produce a decent piece of work, and one that I feel proud to share.” This is an admirable view, and, in her writing, you can feel each late night hour spent perfecting a paragraph or fine-tuning the wording of a sentence. Her writing is nuanced with humor, circumspect, insight and a good deal of wisdom from an expatriate who has a number of years here under her belt. Each post is an enjoyable piece.

Dominique: I thought the same, especially when reading her entry on waiting on the bullet train platform. How many of us take the time to notice the excited the emotions of a child as the Shinkansen flies by or train lumbers to a stop – much less dares to allow ourselves to experience the feeling? Karen offers an outlook on the world that belongs in a lost age when writers took time to write the details and nuances of a scene. Her content is wonderfully quite refreshing.

Sergio: Her interactions with the culture of Japan are equally full of keen observation that describes emotions we’ve all had at one time or the other. We all can relate to her frustration of learning Kanji – there are so many kanji and the ones that are very complex begin to look like blacked-out bocks on a crossword puzzle after awhile, though a crossword puzzle seems far easier to solved.

Dominique: Fortunately, Karen goes beyond those problems that tend to get us down and showcases the joys of living here among the Japanese culture and people. From the tale of her kindly landlord mistakenly thinking her garden of herbs was a garden of weeds, to how her daughter seamlessly became a bilingual speaker despite all her motherly worries, Karen reminds us that there is so much joy to living in Japan and so much reward for overcoming the challenges inherent in moving here. If I wanted to find some blogs to refer to a friend who was considering a move here, this would certainly be one of my choices. Karen is a great example of someone one who has learned how to truly enjoy life here.
Sergio: Agreed. There are so many spices in life in Japan that it is a true shame if one does not take the time to notice them. Karen is an excellent example of someone who is taking the time to do just that.

Karen seems to have achieved excellence in the fine art of capturing the details of life here in Japan that you won’t see in guidebooks or the everyday expatriate blog. Her writing wouldn’t seem out of place in a novel, and perhaps this is why it is so phenomenal – the blog is almost collection of short stories that give us, in the small sense, a picture of Karen’s life, and, in the larger sense, a picture of life here in Japan.

Dominique: While’s she really only just begun the blog, I can’t wait to see the stories she tells us in the future. Thumbs up to a wonderful blog and an even better writer.

– S & D


~ by Japan Blog Review on September 26, 2010.

2 Responses to “Another Perspective: The Inside-Outside Life”

  1. Thanks for the glowing review…I am still smiling after two days! I made all my relatives come here and read it! And, by the way, you both have a fine way with words as well. Keep up the nice work…you are the Siskel and Ebert of Japan blogs! Cheers, Karen

    • Thank you, Karen! I appreciate the comment and am glad you’re getting some of the accolades your writing deserves! Dominique and I aren’t nearly as prolific as Siskel and Egbert… yet. Give us a little longer to catch up with them ; ).

      We enjoy giving thumbs up when credit is due to a blog or site – unfortunately for some, we also enjoy giving a thumbs-down where it is deserved. You might get a laugh out of some of our “thumbs-down” reviews.

      Again, thanks for your compliment! We look forward to your own future posts!

      – Sergio

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