Sunday, September 18, 2011

A toast to Fuji San

Tonight was awesome. I went to a beach Bbq Chigasaki and watched the sun set over Mt Fuji for the first time. It was kickass.


I love the freedom you have to do things in Japan. ^_^

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Visasickschoolhelloholiday

Argh. I've been sick for three weeks! I've been sick a hell of a lot since being in Japan. I'm blaming the children. Why do they have to be so icky?
Getting medication seems to be a bit of a pain in the butt here, but we managed to get cold and flu tablets (Real ones! without getting the "I-bet-you-make-drugs-out-of-these" look.) and we have been importing paracetamol (with a decent strength) from the UK. Paracetamol here is super expensive and weak as water. Us big scary gaijin need something a little stronger.
I really have no idea about doctors at this point, but I do know I have to get a prescription for my asthma medication if I want to buy it here. Booo. In Australia it cost $5 and I could get it over the counter.
If something saves your life, is needed in an emergency and there is not really a way you can overdose on it I don't get why it has to be prescription only. First world problems!

Got my visa renewed for another 6 months. Yay! Also a pain in the butt. The immigration office is in some industrial district in Shinogawa and they are only open on weekdays 9-4. No weekends. Oh hey.. you work? F U. Oh well.
Oh the up side, because we are Australian, we get to extend our visa twice. Other countries usually can only extend it once. That means I have another year here reasonably hassle free. I hope my work sponsors me after that.


Tomorrow is my last day of summer school at work. This also means as of 5pm I'm on holidays. I'm heading to Hiroshima and islands nearby. I think the war memorial/museum is going to be a little heart breaking. Ok a lot heart breaking. I think I got a little to emotionally involved when studying it for most of my degree.
Still, I am looking forward to it. I'm always excited to see more of Japan. Its such an awesome country. It never gets boring.
I do love my home in Tokyo though. It's my base.

I had some of my Japanese friends over to my house the other night. We drank vodka, Iain cooked gnocchi, they filled us up on Japanese sweets and I taught them how to sew hair things. It was nice. We decided my Japanese name is "Aki" as the Kanji for my real name is not good (no matter how much I love my name) Kawaii ne? I'm trying to decide on which Kanji (there are three I can use, all said the same). Do I go with the usual meaning- Autumn, or the others - Sparkle or Bright. I think Sparkle. hehe.

Yesterday was Yukata day at work. We danced a kids version of the Bon Dance. It was cute. Mama San at work dressed my in my Yukata... I'm glad because it is super hard to do for yourself.
I think I look ok, even though I don't really have the straight up and down figure needed for this kind of outfit.

Well I'm off to watch Heroes. I've been chain watching shows because I'm sick and don't want to go out. I have no regrets! :P

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Osaka

I went to Osaka last week for a holiday which was pretty great.

Caught up with a friend and made some more friends. Went to bars more than I should have - Saw sights less than I should have.


The place is generally more chilled out, friendlier, older and greener than Tokyo. I'm happy to return though. Tokyo is kind of more structured and I need that right now.

It was a pretty interesting time full of tasty (AMAZINGLY TASTY) okonomiyaki, sushi and takoyaki, visiting cool areas and trying not to sweat yourself to death.

On the last day we went to an old area about 1 hour out of Osaka to find a monkey park. We ended up hiking up the wrong mountain and I almost passed out from the heat. We did see a wild deer near the top, which was cool, and on the way down spotted the monkey park on the mountain adjacent. At that point we didn't even bother as we looked like we had been stuck in a storm... unfortunately we didn't smell like we had. :/ Set off to buy new clothes and took the death bus back to Tokyo.

A friend in Osaka said that no one in Tokyo is from Tokyo. That seemed true when I arrived back to find it seemingly deserted. Its Obon, which people usually celebrate by returning to their families.

It was really weird to walk around train stations and through my neighborhood and hardly see anyone when usually at even 3am there are people meandering through the streets.
Pics latersssss...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tanabata and Osaka

Ok I'm going to make it a goal to post on here at least once a week. Lets see if I can. :P

Tomorrow night I'm heading to Osaka. I can't wait! Two of my friends live in or around there so I'm super excited to see them.

Friday night I went to a bit of a Tanabata (Star Festival) with a girl from work. It was so nice we are going again tonight.
We wrote our wishes on plastic stars and hung them from giant branches of a bamboo tree. The will burn the branches to send the wishes to the heavens.
The main street was crammed with people, a lot wearing yukata, and stalls of food and excellent shops.
All I had on me was my phone so my photos were terrible. I'll try to remember to take a better camera tonight.

<3

Sunday, July 10, 2011

happy ramble

I didn't think that moving to Japan would change me so much.
Of course getting rid of just about everything you own, moving to a country where you don't speak the language and changing careers is going to be a whole new world, but what I've noticed since the moment I arrived here - I'm happy.

People ask me how long I intend on staying in Japan, and I say forever. They invariably roll their eyes and say, "Give it two years, you'll get over it." Maybe I will, but right now I'm more happy and content than I've ever been in my life. I feel truly happy.

I miss my family and friends, I even miss my pet cat more than a person should miss an animal, but I was really down in Australia.
Now I finally feel like I kind of fit in somewhere, that I can relax. I feel a change in my heart, and I can see a shine in my eyes. I'm really happy.

I had one really bad day here. Walking through Yoyogi Park (Harajuku) and I got horribly depressed. It just consumed me. It was so strange to be so upset in such a beautiful forest. We were there for hours, and by the time I left I felt better.
Sure I get cranky and sometimes am a bit of a bitch, but somethings left me, for good I hope.

I'm excited to do things. I'm more affectionate. I feel alive and confident. Even if I don't last another month in Japan, I know that being here has changed me and I think wherever I go from now I'll smile a lot more.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Japan beauty

Japan is very fashion and beauty conscious. People here tend to be able to pull of any fashion and look perfect every time.
The shop girls and Harajuku Lolitas look immaculate with dollesque faces and I hardly ever see a female under the age of 40 without her false eyelashes on.
I have a really hard time judging how old people are here as they seem to age a lot less than westerners.
So as you might be able to tell, products have to be good here right? Yes! They are amazing.

I thought I would share some of my favourite products that I've found here, that don't break the bank and really do what they say they will. If you see them around or if you are in Japan and are in the market I'd suggest you give them a try.

Moisture and care:

Leaders Clinic Masks -
E.G.F Fillertox Ampoule mask
Collagen Infusion Essential Mask
Platinum V-lift Essential Mask
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These look quite nasty am I right? But they are amazing soothing cloth face masks that really work. I use them 2-3 times a week, and for ¥100 they are really the most amazing value for money. I just used the collagen one and my skin is all plumped up and lovely. Donki for ¥100.

SHIWAtoRich eye.
Next is my moisturisers. This one is only supposed to be for around the eye and mouth to ward off fine lines, but after testing it out and seeing results I use it all over my face. It's about ¥1050-¥1250.
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Kaneo Ururi Lotion
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I use this one if its hot and humid out and I just want something refreshing. Its pretty cheap at about ¥350 for a tiny bottle like this or ¥900 for 200ml. It doesn't really change my skin much but its a nice light moisturiser. Available at most pharmacies and Donki.

UV Lip Cream - Hyalauronic Acid.
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This lip balm i picked up in a ¥100 store because I had lost mine somewhere along the way and was desperate for something. I think its the best impulse purchase i've made. It's really lovely and keeps my lips moisturised for ages with only one application. Available at some ¥100 stores.

MAKEUP:

Chacott for Professionals. Enriching Concealer HD.
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This concealer I picked up from a professional makeup supply shop in Shinjuku called Okadaya. It's here - http://tinyurl.com/okadaya
It's the bomb. It's kind of sticky and very opaque means it covered incredibly well and stays in place. It will forever be a staple in my purse. Rrp about ¥1250

Moist Labo BB Essence Cream in Natural Ochre.
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BB (or Blemish Balm) creams are super popular in Asia. They act glow makeup base, a sunscreen and a foundation all in one. I bought this one because I have dry skin and it gives a healthy dewy glow. It also helps improve skin texture and appearance. They have these in Matt formulations too for people with oily skin. Available at Donki for ¥890

Heavy Rotation Perfect Multi Base Foundation.
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This foundation is pretty great. I wouldn't recommend it to people that have super dry skin unless you use a oil based moisturiser underneath. I use this over the BB cream if I want flawless coverage. It covers really well, but despite the name dosen't look thick and cakey and feels like you are not wearing anything once it has dried. Rrp about ¥1050 in a lot of department stores.

Canmake Nudy Glow Lip Gloss.
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Just a lovely lip gloss. I love 01 color. Its the perfect nude.
Cheap at about ¥650 from most places that sell cosmetics.

Majolica Marjorca Lash Gorgeous Wing Neo Mascara in Bk999 (black)
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BEST! This mascara has a classic wand and millions of fibers that attach to your lashes which you can build up to make dramatic long soft lashes. The formulation is great - It stays true black all day and lasts forever. You need some good makeup remover to remove this. They have three different kinds of wands/formulations in this range. I'm hoping to try the comb shaped brush next time.

Ok well that's all for today.
I'm off to Izakaya with a friend. Byeee

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oh so I'm a bad blogger.

It's been too long since I last wrote. So much has happened.

I got a new job only a few blocks away from my house and its AMAZING! It's a great preschool and the hours and pay kick ass. I think I might have accidentally stumbled into a career! Omg. I actually really love it.
I have been there a couple of weeks now and feel like I'm pretty settled in. I have some big shoes to fill, with the most senior teacher leaving to move to Okinawa.
I've been trying to be creative with my lessons (as our outline for each day in our monthly planner can be as vague as one word sometimes).
The other day I had the theme "Nature" and seeing as we had already planted seeds and seedlings, been to parks, watched videos, done craft and many other things to do with nature I thought it would be fun to do nature photography, so i brought along my big DSLR and supervised my class of 4-5 year olds taking photos in the garden. I took some too. Here are my favourites.
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This flying bee picture is my pride and joy. I didn't even know I captured it until I put the photos on the computer.

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Tomorrow for our school excursion we are going Strawberry picking. YUM!
I am really loving my job. I'm even coming up with all kinds of things and showing them to staff and they like my ideas and instate them at the school. Its really fun. ^_^

The other weekend I went to a Jamacian festival in Yoyogi Park (Where all the dressed up guys and girls hang out). It was kickass! Its so different to Australia. There were no barricades or police and everyone was happy and truly enjoying themselves without being bogans and jerks. I even went to the combini with friends, bought beers and drank some on the way back to the park. IN PUBLIC! Crazy town.
After that we went to a party in Ginza (Fancy pantsville), and met some lovely people. Thats the thing here. Everyone is so nice and easy to talk to. I might not make amazing long lasting close knit friends, but I can at least talk to people whenever I want.
I wish I could post pics of Jamaica fest but my stupid phone is a $20 prepaid from soft bank with 90's technology and wont let me take the photos off it. Oh well. Lucky i have this new baby! Its a phone tablet hybrid. Its huge.. and addictive.
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I bought it with several purposes. I wanted a new phone, and a tablet, but something portable that i can just put in my purse or even use in the classroom to show the kids videos, for them to go some learning activities on and also to be my translator and road map. I love it so much!!!

Hmm what else has been happening?
My friend Ed came to visit and we went to some cool bars and out to Akihabara (Electric Town) the next day. It was pretty great.
Here's a bajillion photos.
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Mmm expensive sushi.

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Akihabara

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Ed and me

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Ed and some babes

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Plush cat ears for sale! Kawaii!

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Off to Ikebukuro!

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¥280 Izakaya rocks my socks (everything is ¥280 inc beer and you order on a touchscreen)

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New friend :)

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Edamame and giant beers mugs.

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I lolled.

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Adorable star themed desserts.

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To top it all off - Strawberry frappe from Starbucks. One of the only places to get a half decent coffee.

Well lastly there hasn't been any more earthquakes. I got so used to them when I first moved here that I thought they would last forever. Its so weird not to have them now. But with their absense comes the rain - lots of it. It's getting to Typhoon season and all I've been told is "Just don't go outside". Reassuring right? I didn't know one place could rain so much!
Still, I really love living in Japan. I feel so at home here.
I don't think i've ever been more content with my life. I just wish I could ship some of my friends over from around the world, as well as my old kitty. They hold quite a big chunk of my heart. <3

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Out with the old

Ok so I quit my job. I think that place might be used to it. They seem to have a high turnover of foreigners.

Usually now I would freak out about the road of job hunting ahead, but the other day i found a job advertised in a less known place than Gaijin Pot and after realising it was right near my house (yay for not paying for transport) and it was a really cool place I applied.

Yesterday I got the job. I don't start for a while, which is great and going to give me time to recover a bit from whats ailing me.
I believe an American school marching band has taken up residence in my brain and decided to practice at full volume lately... or so it feels. *owch*

This new job has a lot of perks, for one it pays way better for a lot less hours, provides training, is really well structured and nurturing and in March there is an overseas trip, usually to Hawaii! Considering teaching is the only job i can get here, this is my dream place to work.

I'm going to miss the kids at my old work, but they probably wont remember me in a week anyway. I'm thinking about buying a heap of toys and books for them and delivering them when i go to pick up my pay next month. Those kids parents pay a lot for them to go there and it really saddens me that almost nothing is spent on resources. I don't mind spending the money to know that these kids, at least for a little while, will have something different and fun to do. They are really brilliant.

Well i'm going to go enjoy my quitting day by being sick and sore in bed. waa.

Much love.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cure me Jeebus.

Blah. I'm sick. Yesterday I went home from work because I was feeling awful. I was also stressed out because I haven't been trained for this job and they keep sticking me in a room with a kid for a one on one lesson and I have no idea what to do. :(

I am not surprised at all that everyone quits there. I kind of took this job because I felt a bit guilty for living off my savings, but in the end it's just made me really stressed out.
Waa waa sick.

I think stressing about this job is probably what made me sick. I have an interview with a really cool preschool near my house on Wednesday and with Gaba when I organise it. I really need to work somewhere that is legit and professional... and doesn't try to give you Jesus water when you are ill... :/ I don't know whats in this but apparently its medicine and Jesus will cure me... um.....

Lets hope my interview on Wednesday goes well. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

School and cute

Ok, blah, i suck at blogging and vlogging. All I want to do is be silly in various animal hats.
So here:

I got a job yesterday so I celebrated and bought myself this:
(oh BTW this isn't me, I got the photo from http://www.kigu.co.uk/ <- you can buy them internationally here or from Don Quixote in Japan)
My life is pretty much complete.

I know people will cringe at me seemingly going "Omg I'm in Japan so I have to buy cute things and act silly", but anyone who knows me knows that's already me. haha.

Also today I started work. I kind of felt a bit bullied into starting only the morning after getting hired, with no time to prepare or cancel my other appointments, but it was OK.
The place runs basically like a daycare but with classes (according to a teacher). I think most of the Philippine teachers have lost the will to teach and I'm hoping that I can bring a new energy to the place. Its badly needs it.
This job doesn't pay much, but money is money and its more than i need to live off (and keep my savings untouched). Also the kids are adorable.
I'm going to get left on my own very soon, which will be interesting. I'm going to introduce them to Play School and Sesame Street.. maybe even Yo Gabba Gabba if I'm feeling dangerous.
I love that I have those aces up my sleeve for emergencies.

Anyway, I worked 10 hours today for peanuts so I'm going to have some scotch, wear my kigu and search the internet for some child proof clothes (note - Don't do wearing silk embellished shirts and pencil skirts unless you want them filthy and ruined.

Why do kids smell funny?

Out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Japan is awesome

Saturday was mine and the boys 6 year anniversary and we decided to go check out Namco Namja Town in Sunshine City (Shopping Center), Ikebukuro.

Only Japan would have three levels of scary or cute awesome in a shopping mall. It was great, unfortunately I'm having a problem with my camera battery charger over here, so I couldn't take any great photos. I'll go back one day and take some photos.

This is a run down of the place from the website. (Click to enlarge)


Namja Town is a labyrinth of creepy mazes, games and adventure. It's great for kids, but seeing as we are big kids we had a ball.

I actually screamed in a couple of mazes and laughed as Mr. tried to navigate the mirror room and would walk face first into the mirrors.

There is also Gyoza Stadium - another labyrinth but this time of Gyoza (Dumpling) vendors, and an array of places you can eat them, including a cute mini tatami lounge room. Aww!

Right up the top is Icecream City and Tokyo Desert Republic. Every icecream you could ever imagine is here. We had Turkish style icecream served by a surly Turkish man in traditional dress.

Then we found this...
A game machine in the arcade that dispensed Kewpie Mayonaise. Well some people like their condiments.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ueno Park and Zoo.

Well its been a while since i posted. I've been busy with stuff.. just stuff.

I got a phone which was a huuuge hassle. Japan dosen't really like Visa debit cards I've found, and HSBC seems to be a big no no even though I thought previously it was one of the best to use over here. Oh well, Prepaid rather basic Softbank phone it is.. until i get a job and splash out on something amazing.

Other than that I went Ueno Park and Zoo. More cherry blossoms were out more than my last visit and Hanami's were in full force.

It was too cold to do much more than hold onto your pockets. I also wore my hair like this because...

We saw the giant pandas! After a wait in a line the size of the Great Wall we were briefly shuffled through a concrete viewing area to see Billy and Siennyu. SO CUTE!

I love this rabbit. He doesn't give a damn



Sakura trees are so special.








Thursday, March 31, 2011

Apartment win

Good news: We found an apartment. We went through Sakura house (http://www.sakura-house.com/) I can recommend them after my experience, but some important tips would be -
-If you can go view the apartments. You have no idea of the area they are in or what they really truly look like unless you see them in person.
- If you can't see them, or want one before you lease your country/city, watch the videos of the apartments as they give a better idea than the pictures.
-Try to ask your real estate agent if they know much about the area and see if it is a very old area, and what transport it is most close to as the areas shown on the website are very broad.

When you are happy with an apartment you pay a bond up front. Ours was ¥30,000ea and we get ¥20,000 so long as the house is very clean and undamaged when we leave.
The rent is a lot more than we wanted to pay at ¥140,000 a month (about $410 a week AUS$) but for what we wanted we had to pay a price.


We looked yesterday at some places and the guy seems eager to just get rid of us, but today a new guy took us around to an apartment in the outer suburbs of Tokyo. It was a cool place.. to visit.. not to live though. It was probably from the 70's in a traditional Japanese style in a very old town and the back yard was a graveyard! It was a totally surreal place and town. Its really amazing how diverse the areas are in Japan.

He was very keen to help us in any way as we had a connection, being that he studied at the same University as my partner and lived right near my uni in Brisbane!
His favourite architect designed the museum in Ueno, which is near our hotel so we are going to check it out tomorrow.
He was so super helpful and researched exactly what we wanted and found us the perfect apartment. I cant wait to post pics. I really wanted to photograph all of the places we went but I thought it would be a little rude. (I'm very big on being polite and respectful... unlike the awful, loud, demanding Americans that were at Sakura house too *frown*)

One downside to Sakura House is that they charge you to have guests stay. I guess this is a measure to stop subletting, but it kinda sucks if you want your friend or family member to come visit for a few days. I think it works out to be about $22 a day, but if you need an extra bed/futon you gotta pay for that too (a hire+installation kind of deal)

Anyway i've rambled enough. I'll do a post on the railways soon for anyone who wants to know if they come to Japan. I think we have gotten pretty pro at them in only a couple of days.

Weary arrival at the apartment.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cherry blossom girl

Today was my first proper day in Tokyo and I slept till 3pm. haha. I really needed it.
We went to the first place we saw that served ramen. I swear I was more impressed than i looked. It was DELICIOUS!
Then we headed on a long walk through Asakusa to find some cherry blossoms.. and found them! The first blooms of the season here. They are super cute.
Hanging with some blossoms
Not many trees are blooming, but when they are this will all be pink. Kawaii!
Everything is so clean! Look at the road. Amazing.|

Dinner of Champions (and lazy tired people)



We are going to look at apartment tomorrow. Wish us luck! :D