thoughts on japan from a former japanese language student

Tales from Tabata

is an unending examination about human relationships, work, and cross-cultural negotiations, thinly disguised as casual dispatches on contemporary Japanese life.

Kenneth Lee

writes Tales from Tabata.

Learning about mochi-making rice cookers, operating a cash register at FamilyMart, ordering 8,000 yen of yakitori in 10 minutes, surviving a debate competition at Sophia University, writing a silly anime and manga column, and amassing over 1,000 points on my Book-Off point card in four months: these are just some of the things I’ve done with the many friends I’ve met when I started studying Japanese on the side at Georgetown University. I use Tales from Tabata to document my journey.

I’m currently based in Hong Kong. Find me on Twitter at @talesfromtabata.

My senior dissertation, “Alienating Ethnic Kin: Assessing Immigration Integration Policies for the Brazilian Nikkeijin in Japan and Joseonjok Marriage Migrants in South Korea“, is published in the Cornell International Relations Review and won the Donald S. Macdonald Prize in Korean Studies, the John W. Witek, S.J. Prize in Japanese Studies, and the Joseph S. Sebes, S.J. Medal in Asian Studies at Georgetown University.


is a suburb in Kita-ku, Tokyo.

It is one of the stops on the Yamanote Line, a major commuter line in Tokyo. In February 2016, Tabata was voted the 4th lamest Yamanote Line station in a ranking (山手線で最もダサいと思う駅ランキング) by the variety program Monday Late Show (月曜から夜ふかし).

As a Waseda student, I lived in Tabata.


This blog is created with WordPress. The typeface is set in Source Sans Pro.

Thanks to Kaitlin Chan, Katria Inoue, and Jade Mallabone who assisted with the set-up of Tales from Tabata in August 2018.

Everything I write on Tales from Tabata is based on personal experience and research using Japanese, English, and Chinese-language resources. If you want to read what I read about Japan outside of Twitter, check out these sources.

Tales from Tabata © 2018-2020 Kenneth Lee. All rights reserved.

Favicon and site banner © 2018 Kaitlin Chan. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The JR East Travel Service Center at Narita Airport Terminal 2 made the “Akihabara” and “Ryokan” posters on the homepage. I photographed the posters in August 2019.