In Japan, I’m usually called Buri-chan. Originally from Colorado (USA), I am a CIR in Matsue as part of the JET Program. I have studied Japanese in earnest since 2005, and have a BA in Economics and Chinese and Japanese Studies as well as an MA in Chinese Studies from Valparaiso University. My current area of informal study is now Japan’s San’in region, the often overlooked shadows of ancient Japan.

I have been drawing pretty much since I could hold a pencil, but manga has been my style of choice since middle school. Given manga’s current popularity abroad I am writing manga interpretations to explain the Kojiki mythology that took place in this region. Please take a look and follow this blog for updates.

I am by no means a beginner to Japanese culture at large, and am now a couple years into a deeper study of Japanese cultural practice and manner. Before this extended stay in Japan my knowledge of Japan was very wide, but not as deep as I’d have liked. I’ll continue documenting my growth and humorous mistakes over the course of my deeper studies as I practice naginata, kimono, and tea. Singing karaoke is also one of my favorite hobbies!

What is a CIR?
Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) make up about 10% of the JET Program, and start with a relatively proficient level of Japanese. They are placed in city and prefecture offices, boards of education, and cultural exchange centers. They perform a range of tasks, such as translation and interpreting, visiting schools, organizing cultural events, and supporting local internationalization efforts. One of it’s perks is that, to some extent, it’s my duty to indulge in culture.

What is JET?
The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program places people from other countries in locations throughout Japan to be Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) or CIRs (or the rare SEA). Participants stay for 1~5 years in their assigned locations. It is a cooperative effort of many local and national levels of the Japanese government.

What is Matsue?
Matsue is the capital of Shimane Prefecture, and right in the middle of the San’in region. It is famous for Matsue Castle and Lake Shinji (and more, much more!). Expect to learn lots about it over the course of this blog~

Who is the old man on the banner!?
Matsudaira Fumai, seventh lord of Matsue and tea enthusiast!

Please see my Liebster awards, responses, and nominations here. Thanks again!

I own all of the artwork unless otherwise noted. You are welcome to use them provided you credit this blog and provide the URL to San’in Monogatari (saninstory.wordpress.com), preferably as a link. Most of the photos are my own, but photos from other sources are linked back to their source pages, so click away.

I hope that both people who are familiar with other parts of Japan and people who know nothing about Japan can learn a lot about the San’in region though this blog.

Tied up in Japanese culture

68 Responses to “About Brittany // Blog Notes”

  1. Mary Partin Says:

    I love your drawings!

  2. denversun Says:

    lol Brittany…we’ve totally got to hang out one of these days. :D

  3. Holly Sassone Says:

    Interesting and educational!

  4. Stef Says:

    Wow, what a cool story you have! And Valparaiso, Indiana? I was born & raised in Indiana (though I went to school at IU). ;) I stopped by to thank you for following one of my blogs (http://threedailydelights.wordpress.com/) – I really appreciate it!

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thanks for coming by, and no problem! I’m followed because I like your outlook.

  5. Carl Says:

    Hello! I recently made it to Japan for the first time, fulfilling a life ambition. I’m lapping up all the Japan blogs I can now to give me even more to look forward to the next time I go back. Just stumbled across yours and I’m looking forward to reading more about the San’In region :)

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Very glad to hear it, Carl, and congratulations! While nothing can replace well-known places like Tokyo and Kyoto, lesser traveled areas like the San’in region can provide an angle and depth of their own on Japanese culture as a whole. I hope this blog will help show some of what the Land of the Gods has to offer!

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thank you! Any excuse to dress up is a good excuse.

  6. Megan Says:

    Buri-chan,
    Thanks for having up a awesome blog for me, and many others to read. I am a high school student researching colleges with study abroad programs to Japan and I came across your blog. Being a person with a huge interest in Japan and her culture I have found your blog really interesting and find a new sense of insperation to learn more. (Seeing as what I know, I know little of.) Work in the CIR sound hard but enjoyable and its cool to read the story of someone who is doing things I can see myself doing. Looking forward to more fun blogs! Thanks.

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Megan,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai through Valparaiso University, but there is a wide variety of programs out there, including summer programs you could apply for directly instead of through your home university (such as Ritsumeikan, if I remember correctly). When looking into colleges, see what you can find out about their Japanese culture clubs and activities on campus, too! Cultural exchange takes place in more than just being abroad.
      To be a CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) or an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) on JET, the basic requirement is a 4-year degree in any subject. Being a CIR requires a certain level of fluency in Japanese, and studying abroad will certainly help you towards that. I hadn’t heard about the CIR position until I was in grad school, but it’s like my dream job! Feel free to ask any questions whenever you want, and good luck in your college search and your studies!


  7. Thanks for the like. Interesting stuff you have here. Keep it up.

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      No problem, and you too! I spent 3 days in Taiwan before, but didn’t get to experience or learn that much. I did leave with a fondness for 東方美人 tea (I think that was its name).


      1. Oriental beauty tea. Very popular here – made very close to where I live in Taiwan!

  8. conchapman Says:

    Buri-chan–Nice picture! Thanks for liking my samurai crossing guard post. If you like baseball, I’ve written what is probably the only baseball novel with a samurai sub-plot, CannaCorn. If interested, send me your mailing address at conchapman@gmail.com and I’ll send you a copy.

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thanks for stopping by! I thought the crossing guard post was clever. Unfortunately I don’t think I can take on any additional reading material right now, but keep up the good work!


  9. Hello Buri-chan. Thank you for following my blog. I am actually a beginner in Japanese culture and language. Finding your blog is a nice coincidence that will help me to fit in better in Japan :)

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Hello! I found your blog while I was looking for posts about Tottori. You have very stunning photographs and I liked reading your travel narratives. Good luck in all your endeavors in Japan!


  10. Brittany, I am totally blown away! Your marvelous embrace and knowledge of the Japanese culture is awe inspiring. I can’t wait to dig in and learn more. All the best, Terri

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thanks, Terri! I hope to keep sharing that knowledge in a way that makes it easy for everyone to grasp. Hopefully your travels will take you out to this region of Japan someday!

  11. 메간 Says:

    You live an incredibly interesting and beauty-filled life. I know very little about Japan, probably because my boyfriend’s ex was Japanese, so there’s some weird awkwardness whenever anything related to Japan comes up ;) Silly, I know. I do love Lucky cats though! Cats in general actually…;) I am enjoying reading your blog and seeing all the beautiful things I’ve never seen before! Thanks for sharing :)
    megan

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thanks for stopping by to read more, and for the follow! It’s funny how silly reasons for awkwardness tend to linger, isn’t it? While I don’t have any reason for it, I’m not that familiar with Korea, either. Maybe they’ve picked up the Japanese cat cafes somewhere? I still haven’t been to one of those, but I hear there is one in Matsue now, so I’ll have to check it out (in which case it would definitely make for blog material). I hope you enjoy the rest of the content about the San’in region too, and should you ever have the opportunity, there are flights and boats directly to this part of Japan from Korea!

  12. セレネ Says:

    I nominated your blog for a Liebster Award: http://selenejapan.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/liebster-award/ I hope you like it :) (if you want I can also change the link to one of your other blogs if you don’t want to post this on your San’in blog, but it’s not obligatory to answer the questions. Or you could even do it in the comments below my blog post :P)

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thank you, I’m honored! I would love to answer them, but I’ll probably do that in your comments section and it may not be until next week or so… in the meantime, I enjoyed reading your answers.

      1. セレネ Says:

        You don’t have to hurry :) I wanted to link people to your San’in blog, because I really like what you write there (both the comics and the information about Shimane).

        1. Buri-chan Says:

          Thank you, I appreciate that greatly!

    2. Buri-chan Says:

      It’s taken me forever, but I finally have some answers posted! Thanks again for nominating me!
      https://saninstory.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/liebster-awards-questions-and-answers/

      1. セレネ Says:

        You were nominated three times :O ? *goes off to read*

  13. tibaraphoto Says:

    とても素敵なホームページですね!今後もブログの更新を心から楽しみにしています。

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      ありがとうございます!これからも面白く書くように頑張ります。tibaraさんの写真も素敵です。

  14. cutenippon Says:

    Hello Buri chan,
    I’ve just nominated you for the Liebster award. You can view it here http://cutenippon.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/liebster-award/ I hope you accept it and take a look, and have fun answering the questions!

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      It’s taken me forever, but I finally have some answers posted! Thanks again for nominating me!
      https://saninstory.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/liebster-awards-questions-and-answers/


  15. […] The Know about these sorts of things. However, the fabulous Brittany who runs the equally fabulous San’in Monogatari nominated me for this award, and I’m only too happy to participate. For those readers also […]

  16. Olivia Says:

    Your drawings that accompany your posts are amazing! They looks so professional! :) please keep posting!

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thank you! They vary in levels of professionalism, but I’m glad you enjoy them and hope you’ll enjoy new posts this year. Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate it!

  17. Thai Village Says:

    So glad I have found your site. Such an inspiration. As I grew up in Asia I have an abiding interest in all things Asian. So much to learn from you. Thanks.

    http://thaivillage72.wordpress.com

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thank you, I’m happy to be reading yours for similar reasons!

  18. Lady Caladium Says:

    Thanks for following! I enjoy reading your blog and find it very interesting.

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thanks! I really liked your Karuta photos.

      1. Lady Caladium Says:

        Thanks! It was so crowded that day that it was real hard to get a steady shot.

  19. Londoner Says:

    Glad you like my alligator taco post! – And your site looks amazing and brings back lots of happy memories as I used to live in Tokyo :)

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      I’ve only had the pleasure of eating alligator once, but I would be thrilled to have it again! I stumbled upon your blog because NOLA is Matsue’s Friendship City in the US and I have yet to go there myself. Thanks for visiting, I’m always happy to resurface thoughts of Japan. : )

  20. christine Says:

    I’m glad I found your blog! I just recently found out that I will be moving to Izumo to teach english at a conversation school and so your blog will be really helpful for me until I get out there! I appreciate it! :) If you have any tips, please let me know!

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Welcome to the San’in region! Izumo’s a charming place and it’s very easy to get between Izumo and Matsue. : ) You’ll be working at an Eikaiwa, then? I haven’t done this myself, but I run into a lot of people who come to Japan doing this. Although this website is primarily aimed at incoming Shimane JETs, many other incoming English teachers find it useful, too: http://www.shimaneajet.com/
      For now, enjoy your time at home to the fullest! Moving day will come before you know it! ^o^

  21. Steven Says:

    I’ve seen your blog a few times but it’s following so many (I’m following almost 100 people) it’s hard to keep coming — but I really want to. I do recall your Kojiki stories, and I’ve enjoyed reading your experiences in Japan. I’ve got to figure a way to keep blogs like yours in a priority queue. ;)

    I’m in Yokohama, originally from Los Angeles, btw. Nice to meet, ya. :)

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Hi Steven,
      I’m following a lot of people too, but I knew who you were right away, not to worry! I’m not always active on commenting, but I do view the majority of your posts. : ) Thanks for dropping a line!

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Sure, I’ll add it now. : )

      1. Marco Milone Says:

        Thank you to have accepted this link exchange!

      2. Marco Milone Says:

        Hallo,
        we have already done link exchange with Ukiyo-e.it.
        I would like to propose you another one: I have already added link to your website, check http://emakimono.it/links/
        Waiting for your reply, Marco

        1. Buri-chan Says:

          Sure, I can do that! If you’d like to add a picture with my link too, I have a little banner at the side of my homepage.


  22. Ahh, I have so much reading to catch up on with your blog before we FINALLY make it to Matsue this summer!! And cool festivals in mid-July that happen in the San’in area?

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Woot! Great news!! One of the biggest festivals in Matsue is July 24-25, the Tenjin Matsuri, which has a long and very active o-mikoshi procession. Around what days do you think you’ll be here?
      For a general overview of things to do in the region, this page might be helpful: http://furusato.sanin.jp/p/english/


      1. We should be passing through the week before, unfortunately. We’re leaving Kumamoto around the 11th and aiming to be in Kyoto for the evening of the 16th, right before the big Gion Matsuri parade. So Matsue would most likely fall on one or two days in between. I have a feeling I’ll have to return some day. I don’t think I’ll cover all I want to see in such a short amount of time!

        1. Buri-chan Says:

          Hmm… I’ll have to keep an ear out for any thing going on in that time. If you’re looking for gardens, the hydrangea at Gesshouji Temple should still be pretty nice at that time. Yuushien and Adachi are good any time of year, but Gesshouji is best during the rainy season.


          1. I am a garden nut, so those suggestions are appreciated. Adachi is obviously tops on the list but I love seeing gardens that have something particular in bloom, so Gesshouji might have to come next over any others. Any event updates would be awesome too. Thank you!!

            1. Buri-chan Says:

              Just try to get to Adachi as early as you can! Once the crowd fills up it gets harder to get a good view. I’m very partial to Yuushien because it’s cheaper and you can walk all the way through it, but of course the best time to see it is during the peony festival. Remember to show a foreign passport or residence card for a discount at Adachi, Yuushien, and a bunch of other tourism facilities!


              1. Great tips – thanks!!

  23. Ruby Ronin Says:

    Wow!!! This blog is so amazing and I LOVE your comics I’m hooked!!! Shimane is one of the prefectures I know little about, aside from Izumo-Taisho. I definitely want to go there and learn more about Japanese history and mythology. Your blog has motivated me to put it on my bucket list!

    I also started watching the anime/manga Noragami and it’s gotten me even more interested in Shintoism. It’s REALLY good!

    Anyway I’ll definitely check out more of your blog! You’re such a Japan pro!

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Sorry for the late reply, and I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! I knew a lot about Japan before coming to Shimane yet had managed never to even hear of this prefecture. It’s like there are always new secrets to discover here and I love it.

      I just watched the first season of Noragami recently (mostly motivated because I saw a life-sized cut-out of Yato in Izumo Airport, haha), and I really liked it. Hoping to marathon Aragoto soon before I get too many spoilers about it!

    2. Buri-chan Says:

      As a follow-up, I’ve been really enjoying a lot of your blog but WordPress is being crazy and not letting me log in over there to comment or follow. But I would love to talk with you more, especially since I’m planning on making a transition to Shanghai later this year. There’s some things I already know to expect, but the job search is nonetheless looking daunting. If there’s a good way to get in touch, let me know!

  24. Dee Says:

    Wow, Matsue – blast from my past! I lived in Matsue in 1994. It was very “inaka” at that time. Of course, there were always the JET folks, the Israeli’s running Bastas, and English teachers in private schools as well. Back then, gaijin were treated as true aliens, and I lasted about 6 months. Thank God for onsen is all I have to say. I moved to Fukuyama, Hiroshima and spent the next 4 years living and loving there. I miss Japan and have only returned for a few weeks here and there to introduce the place correctly to ones I love. Glad to know JET is still going. I’d heard the private English market pretty much blew away since my time there. Anyhow, thought I’d say cheers and thanks for the reminder of a time long past.

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thanks for dropping by! While I can’t comment much on pre-2012 life, I can say that it feels a lot more like celebrity treatment than alien treatment. And yeah, JET is still going, and for all I have heard or observed, it still seems like the best option for English teachers. I’m grateful for the CIR position it provides. Now if only other countries would offer something similar to it!

  25. Ayumi Says:

    I found your blog through the Mateus article you have posted on AJW. What a great information and so proud of my home town Matsue! I am living in VA now and keeping practicing tea ceremony in DC. I miss so much wagashi and all these cool cafes and restaurants and many more! I hope you will cover Okuizumo and Mitoya area where I am originally from. This summer, I will go back to Matuse for a short visit. Looking forward to visit all your recommendation!

    1. Buri-chan Says:

      Thank you for your comment, Ayumi! I hope I’ll still have good chances to practice the tea ceremony in the US, but the lack of wagashi variety will make me a little sad.

      I only have one more article to go for the AJW series, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to write more about Okuizumo and Mitoya on my blog. So far I think I’ve only written about Oni-no-Shitaburui and Nita rice, but I would like to see more of the tatara and sword-forging culture!

      1. Ayumi Says:

        You’d probably known already but Mitoya has Gyoiko cherry blossom (Green color Sakura) and Ryuzugatali (Waterfall) in Unnan city to introduce on your blog!
        When you get a chance to visit in DC, Please stop by our tea room in the middle of DC building but traditional Urasenke tea house brought and reassembled by Kyoto craftsman. You would enjoy it!.

        1. Buri-chan Says:

          I had heard of Ryuzugatali, but not the Gyoiko! There is one Gyoiko tree near my office in Matsue, and it’s one of my favorites.

          I’ll try to remember that if I have another chance someday to visit DC, thank you.

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