About Poppy

I’m a ghostwriter and editor living in Japan. Come say hi!

A Dog-Themed Café Near the Beach (Enoshima, Kanagawa)

My husband and I recently bought a house in Enoshima, a ten-minute walk from the beach and slap-bang in the middle of surfers’ town in the Shonan area, Kanagawa, less than an hour from Tokyo. It’s amazing. I love my new home.

Though due to being busy with writing and editing work, settling into a life of cycling everywhere, maintaining a household (previously a one-bedroom apartment and now a multi-bedroom house), as well as many places being currently closed, we haven’t done much exploring. However, a few days ago we found a couple of hours to visit a local restaurant, DOG DEPT + CAFE. It was a little on the pricey side, but worth it for the delicious food and being able to see people’s dogs.

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There was an adorable black French bulldog splooting and two gorgeous labradors on the deck. The whole cafe was dog-themed; this was clearly a place for dog owners and dog lovers to enjoy a meal.

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I had the taco rice, a popular dish from Okinawa comprising mostly of meat, lettuce, egg, tomatoes, and crunched up tortilla chips. It was bliss to sit in the sun with a beer and good food. They also had dog merchandise so you and your pet can wear the same clothes!

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They also had tapioca tea and smoothies, a little on the pricey side at around 600 yen. I had the French toast with berry sauce for dessert and let me tell you, that was G O O D.

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Although there was never an official lockdown here in Japan, still many places are closed and people often choose to stay at home rather than venture out. However I’m glad we came here and experienced this place. If you’re in the Enoshima area and you love dogs, be sure to check out this eatery.

Opening Hours

Weekdays
Lunch  11:30-15:00
Dinner 17:00-22:00 (last order 21:00)

Saturdays
11:00-22:00 (last order 21:00)

Sundays
11:00-21:00 (last order 20:00)

Click here for the Google Maps link

I’m Moving House!

I haven’t written any book reviews in a while because my freelance work has been insane. I’m finally taking a break so I can move house.

We’ve been living in Musashi-Kosugi, Kawasaki, for nearly two years now. It’s a beautiful apartment building in a city-like neighbourhood with an amazing view of Tokyo.

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I’ve been so blessed to live here.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to live in a luxurious apartment in a big city, and my dream was realized. It’ll always be my “newly-married life” apartment. I was quite poor growing up, and I never really thought I’d have the opportunity to live somewhere like this.

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What a gorgeous place this is. But we’ve decided to buy a house near the beach. A family home for when we have children. And a dog!

Today is the final day of living here, and to be honest, I’m more excited than sad. Our new neighbourhood will have the cheerful “ding, ding, ding” of a train crossing instead of fire engine sirens, and the smell of the sea. But I will miss that beautiful view, living five minutes from a large supermarket, and being able to go shopping in the nearby department store anytime I want.

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I feel like it’s a new chapter in my life. I’m going from city girl to beach girl. From one-bedroom apartment to multi-bedroom house where I can decorate, customize, plan for babies, and eventually get a puppy. From new bride to mother. It’s been great, Musashi-Kosugi. I’ll never forget this charming town.

Check Out My New Gaming PC!

I like video games. I’ve liked them since my dad bought a Nintendo 64 when my brother and I were in elementary school. For a long time, I’ve wanted a gaming PC. After all, there are many more games you can get on it, the graphics are vastly improved, and it’s easier to play online with friends.

A few months ago, I set a budget and talked with Sam, one of my best friends who lives just a short train ride away, about it. He suggested building a PC.

I don’t know much about computers but I thought it’d be a good challenge.

Now with this coronavirus stuff, the British pound is suffering. A gaming PC was something I considered a possibility way in the future, but I didn’t know how things like self-isolation and currency were going to play out, so I said “screw it” and, with Sam’s help, bought all the parts we needed.

Honestly, Sam did most of the work. But I learned a lot about the different parts of a PC, like how the RAM, the graphics card, and CPU all work.

It took three separate shopping trips (two on Amazon, one with a train trip to Akihabara) but we finally got everything together and I’m now the proud owner of a gaming PC!

I booted up Fallout 3 first because I did actually have a Steam account a long time ago, and it still has a lot of my old favourites on it.

Japan isn’t on lockdown yet, but I definitely won’t be bored if it does!

My steam is igirisupoppy. Be sure to add me if you want to play Payday 2, Magicka, G.T.F.O., or Rainbow Six Siege!

Strawberry Coca Cola in Japan: What’s the Verdict?

We’re always getting new flavours and varieties of drinks and sweets over in Japan. A while ago I wrote about Drinks From Japanese Convenience Stores and how they often differ from what we might see in the west.

I came across Strawberry Cola in the supermarket and just had to grab a bottle.

I don’t drink that much pop unless it’s got alcohol in it, honestly. Not because I dislike it, but mostly because tea or milk is a healthier alternative.

Strawberry cola reminds me of those Tangfastic Haribo sweets, the ones with a layer of sugar that have fat artificial strawberry scent to them. Mix that with a cola bottle and you’ve pretty much got the flavour down.

Not that I was expecting fresh berries or anything. Strawberry flavouring is sweet, and combined with the already sugary taste of cola it was potentially overwhelming. However, they did quite well in finding a balance that wasn’t just 180% sugar. It was pleasant enough.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Give it a whirl if you see it around! After all, anything limited is bound to disappear at any moment.

Spoiler-Free Book Review: “Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff

I picked this up while looking for a steampunk book, a genre that I’m trying to get more into recently. I bought a steampunk novel, got a chapter in, and I hated it. Upon returning it, I picked up Nevernight.

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“Mia Corvere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Destined to destroy empires, the child raised in shadows made a promise on the day she lost everything: to avenge herself on those that shattered her world.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, and Mia must become a weapon without equal. Before she seeks vengeance, she must seek training among the infamous assassins of the Red Church of Itreya.

Inside the Church’s halls, Mia must prove herself against the deadliest of opponents and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Church is no ordinary school. But Mia is no ordinary student.

The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student.

We see Mia Corvere’s life from ten years old to sixteen, seeing the contrast between her life as a noble and her working hard to join a deadly cult of assassins. There are flashbacks in the first few chapters, easily distinguishable as the past is written in italics. It was useful and more interesting than if it was written in chronological order, and set the scene for a very well-developed character.

The prose was great; rich and sophisticated without going too much into detail. Quite often, especially in the first half of the book, there were a lot of footnotes explaining in detail certain buildings, bridges, weapons, etc. I wasn’t sure if I liked this or not. Having it as a footnote meant it didn’t disturb the action too much and made the world deeper. However, I felt like I had to look at them to read the full thing, and some notes, such as a tavern mentioned in passing, weren’t so interesting to me and interrupted the action in some parts. It was a bold move, though, because as far as I’m aware this isn’t done very often in books, and for that I respect it.

I felt the book got much more interesting in the second half. There were many twists, suspicious and enthralling characters, and exciting action in every scene where that I was hooked! An invisible killer, merciless teachers, the sense of not being able to trust anyone, danger lurking around every corner… Kristoff did an excellent job of keeping me constantly on edge, not knowing who was going to die or get hurt next.

One thing I wasn’t keen on was the sex scenes. Mia is sixteen years old, referred to by various characters as “child” and “little girl,” yet love scenes involving her were way too detailed. I felt borderline uncomfortable imagining a sixteen-year-old doing those things. This is probably personal preference, though; I don’t have much patience for sex scenes at the best of times. And this book was the best of times, in terms of reading material.

I loved how things mentioned at the beginning became relevant again in the end. Things you’d forgotten about suddenly became important, without seeming too convenient to be plausible. I couldn’t wait to get on my usual train to and from work so I could get lost in Mia’s trials at the church, her complicated relationship with Tric, the hackle-raising twists that made me gasp and giggle aloud.

Speaking of giggling, there were some great quotes in this story. I’ll share a few with you.

“A traitor’s just a patriot on the wrong side of winning.”

“Yes, cats speak… if you own more than one and can’t see them at this particular moment, chances are they’re off in a corner somewhere lamenting the fact that their owner seems to spend all their time reading silly books rather than paying them the attention they so richly deserve.”

“Too many books. Too few centuries.”

“‘Apologies,’ Mia frowned, searching the floor as if looking for something. ‘I appear to have misplaced the f***s I give for what you think…’”

“It’s best to be polite when dealing with lunatics.”

Nevernight is easily one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in a while. It has all the ingredients for an awesome tale: a dangerous and vivid world, a solid, likeable main character, and a ton of twists and turns that keep you constantly on your toes. If I had a dollar for the amount of times I gasped or even jiggled my knees in shock and enjoyment at this book on the train, I’d be able to buy a ticket to Australia to shake the writer, Jay Kristoff’s, hand.

4.5 stars for Nevernight!

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Get Nevernight on Amazon UK
Get Nevernight on Amazon US

 

An Efficient Japanese Way to Deal With Stress

I’m not gonna lie; it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

I like to think I’m not one to complain, but things have been piling up. Sad stuff, busy stuff, annoying stuff. A high workload. Snapping at everyone (my poor husband especially). Then today when my student was an hour late for her lesson, I was almost pushed over the edge.

Returning home and thinking of the several thousand words I still had to write to meet today’s quota, I stopped. I just couldn’t face it, not yet.

So I went to karaoke.

Work could wait. I needed to sing. To let out all my anger and frustrations and just scream and yell to some awesome music.

Thing is, in the west, singing karaoke often involves getting together with friends or waiting for karaoke night at the local pub. Over here, there are small rooms where you can go alone or with friends. Food and drink is available and you can stay for as long as you like.

It’s quite normal to see people going alone, often in the daytime. It’s a good way to pass the time… or get over a bad mood.

Going alone is great because you don’t have to worry about hogging it or choosing songs others won’t like. You can sing as loudly and badly as you want. I went there and belted my heart out for an hour.

And I felt loads better.

If you’re ever stressed in Japan, karaoke is a fantastic way to let out your frustrations! And if you visit in the daytime on a weekday, it’s super cheap, too.

Be sure to give it a try, whether it’s therapeutic or just for fun!

Spoiler-Free Book Review: “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami

Voyager didn’t arrive for ages! I had to order a replacement copy. Kafka on the Shore, which I bought while we were evacuated after the big typhoon in October, had been sitting on my shelf for a while. I already read Murakami’s drama novel Norwegian Wood, and upon reading a review for it, a reader said that Kafka was much better, so I decided to check it out.

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Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. Murakami’s novel is at once a classic quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is an entertainment of a very high order.

Murakami’s prose is easy to follow and fluent enough where it doesn’t fall flat. I read the English version, and I’m sure the translator followed the original writing as close as possible.

That being said, there were some unusual things happening with tenses. The story follows two characters, a fifteen-year-old boy running away from home called Kafka Tamura (his first name being a new identity for himself, though we never learn his real name) and Nakata, a sixty-something old man who, after an accident when he was young, was left “stupid,” unable to read or write, but with the strange ability to communicate with cats.

Nakata’s chapters are in third person past tense whereas Kafka’s are written in first person present tense. Though I’ve never seen this before and thought it was a bit weird, it made it very easy to tell whose chapter I was on. Some other books I’ve read that flit between characters’ points of view don’t do a good job of distinguishing the voices. It was easy to get used to. However, a few times in the book the tense changed mid-paragraph, such as going into second person when Crow was speaking. This was jarring and unnecessary.

The story itself was pretty cool and original. Without giving too much away, there was Nakata and his strange ability to talk to cats and know things he shouldn’t, a vile villain, and odd, dreamlike happenings. Everything had a metaphor, I suppose. Although Nakata and Kafka never actually meet, their fates are intertwined, and many things one character does are essential for another character’s story.

I wasn’t completely blown away by Kafka on the Shore, however. I found myself hoping that all the bizarre events in the story would have a logical explanation at the end, a twist that would explain everything. A little pedantic, maybe, but I wanted to know why. Why can Nakata communicate with cats? Who are the villain and the oddly helpful individual who crops up now and then? Are they the same person? What is the strange phenomenon that caused Nakata’s accident? Though some things were explained, it was only a small portion. Though it’s what I expected, I was still left disappointed.

It’s probably personal taste, but I prefer stories that explain the hows and whys. Just throwing leeches falling from the sky and talking cats feels cheap and just doing it to be edgy and different. I did some digging and found that Murakami said that “he wants people to find meanings by themselves,” which to me could mean that they have no meaning, and they were just there for shock value or to be unique.

That being said, I did quite enjoy this book. The characters were solid, the prose interesting. I especially liked the descriptions of the library. Murakami is famous for having a lot of sex in his books, and this one is no different, but they were handled tastefully and were written in a surreal, dreamlike way that I liked. Overall, Kafka on the Shore gets three stars out of five.

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Get Kafka on the Shore on Amazon UK
Get Kafka on the Shore on Amazon US