Please note: While my books were translated by professionals, this blog post got a little help from AI, meaning it may not be a perfect translation.

Two big things are happening this week. One, the physical version of the English translation of my new book comes out tomorrow. The digital version came out last week, but because of Amazon’s annoying procedures, the paper edition had to wait another week. I also haven’t received an author’s copy or proof yet, because they don’t send those to Japan. Instead, I had Riemer look at it, and film it, and I made final adjustments based on that. For tomorrow’s festive photos, I just printed a color copy at the convenience store. 50 yen and some advanced origami magic, and it’s just like the real thing. (But you’ll see that tomorrow, or um, soon, or something.)

The day after tomorrow is another day of celebration, as I will have been in Japan for two years. For a moment I hesitated: “Two years? Am I not miscalculating now? Surely it’s already three…?” But no, it’s true. The day after tomorrow, I will really only be in Japan for two years. This autistic girl went to Japan ends the day I was there for a year. The day everything suddenly had a framework again, a “last year at this time” to look back to. So let me do that now, too.

Hi I'm Toeps and I've written a few books

Kind of annual review

This past year, of course, was very much about that new book. Writing at the foot of Mt. Fuji, hours of Zoom sessions with Aafke and Myrthe about corrections – oh, so many corrections. The launch in the Netherlands in September, the eternal “how can she be autistic?!” in my mailbox and various comment sections. Then the English translation, the English corrections… You might think, “Why, wasn’t the Dutch version already fully checked then?”, but a translation is often more about the tone, about whether I meant something a little milder or spicier, or about jokes that can’t really be translated – and what we have to come up with instead.

Since I’m self-publishing the English version, after that came the design process for me as well. Not only by myself, but also by ANO Studio for the maps (which on the Dutch version are in color on the inner flaps, but in the flapless English version they are in black and white on regular pages) and by Studio LEO for the interior. Then the whole thing had to be uploaded to three different sales platforms, the biggest being Amazon. Fun fact: All those platforms print on different paper, so each cover needs a different spine thickness, and these three versions will never have exactly the same cover color. Did I say fun fact? I meant fuck that.

But publishing a book was not the only thing I did this year – in fact, I also had to run a business and make money, or else the Japanese government will throw me out of the country. I built websites and even did some more photography again. I gave lectures, including one at Disney. A twenty-year-old Toeps wouldn’t have believed it, had I come back with a time machine to tell it all.

On stage at Disney in Amsterdam


Charlotte came over as planned, as did Maan. François has his real name back, and we are now dating more seriously. (There are plans for a desk of mine in his house.) Occasionally I see Kei or Mariko, and Elyse regularly invites me to her home in Nerima for a K3 marathon. (We’ve already watched K3 zoekt K3 from 2015 all the way back, and are now just starting the season with Julia from two years ago.) Riemer came in the fall and together we visited Busan and Tsushima, to wave to the other side.

I was quite often in the Netherlands (and France) too, this past year. For example, I had my fallopian tubes removed in June, and that same month I visited my little brother’s wedding in the south of France with Riemer. In September I returned for my book launch, and on Boxing Day I landed at Schiphol Airport to spend almost a month in the Netherlands. Or well… Two weeks later I was already flying back to Marseille, to meet François. And his parents. Then we traveled on to Lyon and Disneyland Paris.

Before the kids on Goodreads start posting negative reviews again because I “don’t seem to have any shame about flying” (which is true – as you can read in the previous paragraph, I don’t want children, and I think that’s enough CO2 compensation for the rest of my life): I traveled back by train. That caused me about three hours of delay, after which Riemer came to save my ass from Brussels South. That was nice, by the way.


My little brother is not so little anymore
It was cold
Pastries with Elodie, my French housemate in Tokyo in 2016
Sardine Express
Breakfast in Antwerp with Riemer

So how are things now, two years later? Honestly: I still feel lonely from time to time. My head regularly gets too full, from too much work, and too much stress. I miss my friends to spar with, because the best ideas often come during dinners or other off-time anyway. I still only call Riemer once a week, on weekends, because of working hours and time difference. François is a sweetheart, but still sometimes really misses context, experience – or just half of what I said, because of the language barrier.

When I did some shoots in January in the studio with Maan and Charlotte...
...we decided to take some team selfies in between

In This Autistic Girl Went to Japan, I already wrote that I need my (solo) adventures, so I cherish them. In addition to my vacation with Riemer, I went on several short Starbucks medal trips, I visited northern Japan on a Tohoku rail pass during the summer, I took a night train ride with François, and we went to concerts by Taylor Swift and Queen. So while I certainly haven’t been idle this past year, I hope to get out and about more often in the coming year.

The book is finished, no other translation is planned, so in theory I should have more time to spare. Of course, the book also needs to be promoted, but my adventures in Japan are just perfect for that!

Because oh yes, there was another big 2. I reached 20K followers on Instagram! (Or 2万, as they would put it in Japan.) Book two, year two, 20K…. I think I need to go buy some of those big, shiny helium balloons soon. Toeps, content creator.