Why I miss giving & receiving the phrase おつかれさまです

If you move to Japan to work, one of the first phrases you’ll surely memorize is おつかれさまです, or otsukaresamadesu. This phrase doesn’t have a direct translation, but when given at work it tends to mean, “You must be tired. I recognize and appreciate your hard work.” The acknowledgement is not only given from supervisors to their employees, but from one coworker to another when their work is finished, or even if they happen to bump into one another on the street (even if they haven’t necessarily been working that day!). Employees will also say otsukaresamadesu as they do their first kanpai, or cheers, at a work gathering or party.

Otsukaresamadesu can be used in other situations, too. For example, if my friend comes over and tells me a story about his/her work, I can give him/her an otsukare~~. I still often say it to Chad after he tells me about his workday. The phrase can also be used for customers when they’ve been waiting in line or after they’ve taken a long train or bus ride. I always felt like I should say otsukaresamadesu back to the employee/driver of the train or bus, because in America we usually say, “Thank you for waiting,” but that thank you doesn’t really extend to appreciating the work of waiting patiently or feeling tired after a long trip, and–after all–the employee/driver is the one who is at work!

I really miss giving and receiving this phrase for two reasons. Firstly, I noticed that so far working in the states, it is rare for anyone to thank you to each other, especially at the end of the workday. Even before I moved to Japan, I would always say thank you to everyone before leaving work, and–at the very least!–say goodbye. I know it’s not absolutely necessary, but I think it’s polite and encouraging. Secondly, it creates a sense of camaraderie. I always felt a sense of belonging at the end of the day when coworkers and I would exchange an otsukaresama, as if we were not only conveying the basic sense of the phrase, but also implying an underlying feeling of, “We’re all in this together.”

Well, anyway, it’s off to work I go. Wherever you are, and whatever work you find yourself doing, otsukaresamadesu! Have a good one 🙂


Bubbles drifting like joy in a dream

Had a dream that I could do magic, but only randomly. I was going to a school with other people like me in which we were trying to figure out why we couldn’t do magic all the time. What circumstances made magic possible or impossible for us to do?

One guy around my age that I went to school with was getting really discouraged because he hadn’t been able to do magic for a long time. He was starting to question whether anyone could do it anymore. I sat down next to him, and looked intently at a silver dessert spoon on the table. At first nothing happened, and I began to wonder if it ever would, but then the spoon floated into the air. The spoon began to take on a shimmer as though it had been dipped in liquid dish soap, with rainbow colors gliding around the spoon slowly. Then the silver of the spoon and its defined shape became less and less clear as the dish soap became more translucent. Finally, we could only see a fat line of dish soap suspended in the air, which began to spread out until bubbles began to break off–slowly at first, but then quickly– so that the air all around us was filled with drifting bubbles.

Photo Source

I wonder if this dream was representative of how I can feel so confident and self-assured at some times, but at other times feel totally out of control and like I have no choice in what I do. Or how even if I achieve the things I want to, like the magic in my dream, there is always something more just out of reach, floating away.

Lately I have been preparing myself for leaving Japan, and I feel so ready. When I go home, I know I’ll miss it and question my haste, but for now I’m having trouble focusing on the magic of what I’m doing–instead feeling tired and stressed out from the final couple weeks of work. I really need to appreciate and be grateful for each moment here, and not worry about which circumstances make that easier or more possible. I need to believe I’ll get through the stressful parts and that the drifting, joyful parts are more important (and just as plentiful!).

I’m trying to enjoy our final days in Japan, but I’m also counting down the days before we start a new chapter in our lives. Less than one month to go before we leave.

Monday Matters

Monday Matters

Well, even though I worked over the holiday, today is the first official day back. It’s nice to see familiar old faces, and to see the bright, smiling, eager faces of new trainees. This job is a lot of work, but man will I ever miss it. I feel so sad to think about leaving my kids, leaving the teachers who have become such close friends, and leaving the school. But, not yet! Not yet.

Chad and I have been holding to our cherry blossom viewing plans–we went last night (with a mini feast of tacos, apples, mandarin oranges and soda/beer), and today with a Japanese style fast-food set (Yoshinoya for those of you who might know or be interested in knowing). We bought something to hold us over after the training at a 100 yen Convenience store, and the receipt was so cute! I’ll miss that about Japan.


Okay, enough! I’m not leaving yet! 🙂 Enjoy your week–I hope you find a little something cute to brighten your day.

Friday Five

Friday Five

On my way home from a lovely dinner and trying to stay awake so I don’t miss my train stop. I will be working a lot at home this weekend, so I thought it would be appropriate to post this list I made earlier in the week about how to make working at home more enjoyable.


Tips for Working at Home in a More Enjoyable Way
1. Use cute stationary, if available.
2. Work out first, then shower, light a candle, and put on a face mask.
3. Listen to good music (I enjoy classical when working at home).
4. Take a break to remove face mask, and continue to take breaks every 30-45 minutes to stretch, drink tea, coffee, water, etc. and/or go to the bathroom.
5. Consume chocolate as needed.

On the day I wrote this list, I ended up using an aloe face mask (pictured below), and in lieu of chocolate I had some fresh strawberries–a real treat considering a little over a pint is nearly the equivalent of 7 USD here!


We’ll see if these tips help me through the weekend! What kinds of things do you do to make working at home easier?