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Monday, August 27, 2012

Japan Apartment Tour

Japan Apartment Tour!!!


At last! The promised video of the tour for the apartment in Japan!!!!

Apartment was from November 2011-July 2012, and the dormitory was from September 2011-November 2011.

The apartment was two floors with three main rooms, bath, kitchen and washroom. We also had our own balcony (which I didn't include in the video.)

The rent was 45000yen a month (plus bills), which was a major steal compared to the price of some single room apartments.

Please enjoy! ^^

There are still tons of pics, videos and clippings I will be updating from my trip, so please keep an eye out! Just because I am back safely in the US, does not mean I am finished with updating! :D


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some More Survival Skills

Well, I want to discuss a few topics here relevant to those who want to live in Japan in the future, but who think Japan is some things it's not.

Firstly, Japan is not all super-awesome when it comes to technology, even though Japan is rather tech-savvy in the media.

Some things to remember:

*Japanese apartments and homes do not have good insulation. You will be hot in the summer and cold in the winter, unless you are willing to pay an EXPENSIVE heating and electric bill. You can run your heating for an hour everyday, and still end up with a bill around $100 a month. Space heaters are NOT the way to go, since they actually take up more electricity than a good heating unit.

Keep in mind that not all apartments and homes come with heating/cooling already installed, so you may have to pay extra for this depending on your landlord.

*Living in Japan can be cheap, or can be expensive. You make it what you want it.  Groceries are not like in the West and the US, and you can't just go out and buy a bulk of food. Japanese people buy food day by day, and grocery shop per meal rather than per week or per month. Getting groceries can be more expensive than eating out if you don't budget yourself appropriately.

On average, Japan costs around $1200 a month, including apartment and bills (so long as the apartment is no more than 50000-65000 yen a month plus bills, and then food and transportation). BUDGET! BUDGET! BUDGET!  SAVE THEM PENNIES!!!

Granted, because the USD does not have much gold to back it up, you are kind of going to be screwed when it comes to conversion into yen. Right now, the conversion is not very good. However, if you live in someplace OTHER than the US, you are good to go. 

*In Japan, you pay for washing or drying. At your apartment complex (if you live in one), you may still have to pay for your wash, or if not your wash, your drying unit each time you use it. The washers and dryers are suuuuper tiny, so you are looking at a couple loads depending on how much you need to wash.  My best advice to you is hang your clothes and bedding out instead of putting them in the dryer.

*Japan is full of discrimination, so expect to be stared at, turned away, ignored, or have comments thrown about you while they just assume you don't know any Japanese.  This is tough, because not everyone does any of these things, but they DO exist in places.  Do not be naive enough to think that you stick out like a sore thumb just because you are not Japanese, because that is not true.  Japanese people are accustomed to foreigners in many places, and generally if you are in a more remote area, you will get more anti-foreigner or "oh cool!". Really depends on the person.

I HAVE been turned away many times because I am a foreigner. Even though I can speak some Japanese, they still turn a deaf ear and pretend they can't understand. Just because you speak Japanese, doesn't mean they will actually help you. The Japanese are VERY shy and VERY stressed, and when a foreigner comes into a shop, they pretty much have two options...

1). Risk speaking English and making a mistake, possibly losing ones' job...

2). Don't speak English, even if foreigner speaks fluent Japanese (doesn't matter because they are too nervous to listen to you anyway), turn away the foreigner and keep job.

Some places are just prejudice, but this IS illegal to discriminate this way. But they will still do it. 

*"Gaijin" is not an acceptable term for a Japanese to call you or talk about you. The acceptable term is "Gaikokujin", and you should call them out on it if you hear someone referring to you this way.  But keep in mind, there is a difference between "casual" and "non-casual" speaking.  For example, my boss uses "Gaijin-san" in reference to me, letting me know she means no disrespect, but because I work in a casual joint this is okay.  But when talking to some customers, she uses "Gaikokujin-san" because this is the polite term.

A few Japanese tend to be shocked when they hear us referring to ourselves as "Gaijin" rather than "Gaikokujin".

*If you are being stared at, do not hesitate to call them out on it. You can tell them that they are being rude, and please don't stare. After a while, you will learn different ways to say this without being rude, or, if you want to be rude, just tell THEM they are being rude and to not stare. (Or: "What are you looking at? Stop it!") 

*Japanese Health Insurance is amazing, so use it if you've got it.  Do NOT be afraid to see someone if you are ill.  But know that there are certain things Japan doesn't seem to understand...

--) Allergies:  Japan, for some reason, does not quite understand the meaning of ALLERGIES.  They don't even have epee pens. They don't quite understand food allergies, so even if you ask them to keep the mayonnaise off the burger they will still put it on, only to wipe it off rather than make you a new one when you remind them you said "mayonezu nashi".  I will talk a little more about this in a moment...

--) Certain Psychological Disorders:  Japanese psychology is way different than Western psychology, so there are certain conditions that Japan doesn't quite get, or they are categorized differently and handled differently in Japan.  I suggest you speak to a doctor when you get to Japan and find one who can work with you and your files and conditions through your stay.  If a doctor knows you, more than likely they can help you better.

--) Medications:  Japanese people naturally have a smaller bone and body structure than the average European or Westerner. So, because of this, medicine dosages are much different.  Also, if you have a cold, you are less likely to find decongestants to help your poor, stuffy nose. This is because Japanese can not have a strong dose of decongestant due to the "stoned" side effects they can cause.  So the dosage levels are much smaller than ours.  You may want to ask a doctor if it is okay to take an extra dose to match your level.  And... DECONGESTANTS ARE ILLEGAL TO IMPORT, so don't think you can just ask your parents to send you over some cold meds if they contain them. 

*"Nanimo Nashi" is what is used to let someone know you want no toppings or everything off of your food. However, this doesn't mean that they will actually listen. In Japan, the menus are pretty much set, and you don't really get the "do it your way". Sure, you can request things to be taken off, but the Japanese don't understand picky eaters or why someone would want something left off because they are allergic.  YES, there ARE people who DO understand, but mostly they just smirk behind your back and not take it very seriously.  I have a friend who is deathly allergic to tomatoes, and once she asked to take ketchup off because it could kill her, and they just laughed and still gave her the ketchup. When she took it back to them to get it remade, they just rolled their eyes and WIPED it off and gave the SAME burger back.  Yes, that's right. Granted, it WILL depend on the place, the person, the cook and the server though. This isn't "set in stone", but it is common that you can not interchange any part of your meal.

I will be getting round to post some topics on the Nipponbashi Cosplay Festival and the Tokyo Dolpa 27 as well!  But until then....


Welcome Party at the University

Takatsuki Station




AAAnnndd...for those of you into the cosplay stuff... Here is some pics from the Cosplay Event being held at the Manga Museum in Kyoto. ^_^

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

January-March Update

I apologize for such slow updates, but I noticed that the slower, the longer the posts sometimes tend to be. lol 

So here is what is up since New Years! :D


January was difficult, because I had been in a huge state of depression since December, and Kandai and Webster thought it a good idea to send me home for a little while to recuperate. I left at the end of January on the 24 and wasn't scheduled to arrive back in Japan until the 12th of February.  

I was excited to go home, because I really missed my family and things were getting really tough here, especially financially. For a while, I wasn't really eating, I had trouble sleeping, and stress with my two room mates was flying through the roof.

I took advantage of everything when I got home. :)

I got my F-22 a new faceup, and got to spend time with two good friends from the States. It was such a wonderful evening, and I thank the two of them very much. ^^  I am going to get them an omiyage before I get home. :)  I owe them so much. ^^

Rogue's new faceup by Lady Samhainne. :)

Went to a doll meet and got to see some of the other dolly owners again too.  Had some super awesome conversations that day, and it was a nice change of pace. ^^  Also went to webster and hung out with Shelby. :)

Most of the time though, I was either at the library or at McDonald's stealing the internet.  McDonald's food back home tastes really different too, and NOT in a good way. It is DISGUSTING. D:  The food doesn't really have a taste, it is super bland, and everything is too greasy. @.@

That was pretty much it though. Three weeks of lazing around and doing a lot of writing. :P  lol


Coming back was a little nostalgic, and it is difficult to explain how I was feeling at the time.  I was excited and ready to come back to Japan, but at the same time, I kinda wanted to stay with my family a little longer.  I was having a bad feeling, but I wasn't sure what it was.

Came back, and got right back into the schedule. Jet lag was a little iffy, but nothing too terrible. I never really got readjusted to American time, so it wasn't too hard to get adjusted here.

 I'm getting pretty serious about buckling down and getting some writing done. I want to finish the first installation of my novel series and get Anthology of Faeries finished. Anthology of Faeries is complete writing wise, but now I need to get illustrations for the stories. I found someone I would love to work with, but she has her own projects, and I am unsure how she would like to work with me. :/  

This month, we did a lot of lazing around as well. I still felt a bit disconnected from my friends and I was missing my family again, but things were slowly moving along.  I got the JASSO, and started hanging out with Cas a lot more. 

The JASSO didn't last very long because of rent amount, and shopping for food in Japan is really expensive. Transportation can kill you easily as well.

So starting in Feb, I started applying seriously for a bunch of jobs.

Got my hair done again as well.  They went MUCH too short for my tastes, but eventually I figured out how to style it so it was cute. ^_~ Got another straight perm with it as well. Hasn't broken off yet. lol  But I have been taking good care of my hair, so it should be okay. ^^


I heard back from two jobs, and ended up having two interviews on the same day. Transportation for the whole day was nearly 2000円. I wanted to shoot myself. D:  I didn't get the super awesome job, but I did get a temporary and small position at an English Cafe. 

And just when things started to look up, my mom contacts me and tells me my grandma has a tumor over 8lbs, and one on her gall bladder and one on her kidney.  Remember that horrible feeling I had before I left the US the second time???  She goes into surgery next Friday (US time), so I am really nervous and scared at the moment. A HUGE part of me wants to return home and stay until everything happens, but I know that isn't possible. I'm not the only one, one of the other ryugakusei is also having a difficult time with her grandma and cancer.  Bad time of year, maybe?

Last Sunday was Dolpa Hometown Kyoto 9. It was epic. :)  Sadly, I spent more money than I expected to, but we all did. lol  I am making it work, and we made awesome new friends and now have a bigger support system.

Oh, and this friend? She cosplays. :D  So now, we are going to do cosplay stuff with her. ^_~

Some things about cosplaying in Japan:

*Japanese frown on those who cosplay on trains. Cosplay is NOT okay on trains.
*Most places don't have a dressing room, but you can't cosplay on a train. :P
*Best thing to do, wear something easy to slip in/out of, and get dressed at your location in bathroom or dressing room
*Be prepared
*Don't worry about those around you, but make sure you don't do anything dangerous or appear to be dangerous
*Know your peeps. Get a group together or join a group (if you can). You will now have more fun, know more places, and have a support system. :)

There is a huge difference between cosplay and fashion in Japan.

Fashion includes, and is acceptable:

*Nearly all forms of Lolita can be worn anywhere
*Traditional Fashion
*Gyaru/Other street fashions
*regular stuff

But costumes are not okay, though on Halloween you can possibly get away with this. :P 

So yes! More cosplay stuff coming up!  The Nipponbashi Festival is coming up at the end of this month. ^_~

I also have a job lead for a place from our new friend, Carrie. So maybe I will have a more solid job soon.

I also had a trial lesson with a student from EREV, so I hope that goes well.

And the other day, I had a really strange phone call from a new number... I called the number back, and I got a guy on the other line.  I figured he was the manager from the place Carrie referred me to, cause they had already responded saying they wanted to contact me.  I heard from both around the same time. 

I arrange a meeting with this person the next morning at 9am, thinking it is a job interview. When we get to the cafe (went to Starbucks), he asks me, "So how much do you charge?"    

I'm like... ??? O.o   APPARENTLY, it was a student who contacted me from a different place where I put up a profile. XD   

He is a professor at a college in another city, and is working on two university text books. He wants my help in editing his work and he also has offered to let me publish an article or two of something I have written if he likes it. He will pay me for the article(s) and I will be published, along with my name, in the text book. 

At the moment, he pays 3000円 in person lessons and 2000円 for internet sessions. 

This really made my day yesterday. :)

Some other stuff happened, but I can talk about them in another post.  I don't have too many photos to post this time, so I apologize for that. Maybe I will take some and post them later. ^^

Monday, January 9, 2012

The New Year

Christmas Tree made of lights!!! This was on the side of a building in Umeda. Had to get a picture!
Merry Christmas!!!


I apologize for my late response and in not posting in December at all. >__<  I had intended to, however I never actually go around to doing it. December was full of a bunch of melodrama and I was sick often, so I didn`t really feel up to posting. To make up for my lack of posts, I have made this blog particularly image heavy! Please enjoy!  I wish everyone a belated happy holidays!

Last month, I ended up getting sick for about 4 weeks. O__o  Eventually, I went to the doctor`s to get myself fixed. They gave me a bunch of medicine for a bunch of things. Headache, cough, stomach ache and nausea, antibiotics too.  OMG  THE COUGH SYRUP WAS AMAZING.  O__o  It tasted like PEACHES. PEACHES I TELL YOU! PEACHES!!


And about a week later I was much better.

I ended up missing quite a few classes, but I worked with my teachers to make sure I stayed up to date and ready for exams.

Winter break (冬休み) began a little strange. We had the Emperor`s Birthday on Friday, then Christmas Eve and Christmas on Sat/Sun.  Then on  Yeah. Seriously.  And Tuesday?  Winter Break officially started. O__o  ONE day of classes... XD 

Christmas was uneventfual, really.  I had a nice gift from Chami and Kris though. They went to Volks and got me a cute outfit I wanted for my SD girl. =^.^=  She looks absolutely ADORABLE in it!  I feel bad though, since I was unable to get them anything for Christmas, but I will make up for that when I am able, and I think they know that too.

Shabu Shabu in Umeda! My fav fancy place ta eat!

Bart, Cory, and Sam!

Heh! Cory's face!  ^_^
Heh! SAM'S face now! I thought it was funny cause they BOTH made the same faces. XD

For fuyu yasumi, our friend Cory, who was one of the others with us when we were on the research team,  came up to Osaka from Hiroshima and spent some time with us. ^_^  We went as a group to some shabu shabu in Umeda.  This was a first-time for quite a few of the others, and it was fun and great! We all got stuffed! lol  We had around four or five plates of meat (I think two or three of beef and one of chicken and pork). We all deemed that the chicken and pork were not as tasty as the beef, so we god more servings of beef after finishing our plate of half chick-half pork. 

The group consisted of Kris, Chami, Me, Bart, Sam and Cory. Wow! O__O Big group! We went on Christmas day to eat. ^^  Long wait, around an hour or so, but it was really worth it!

Kris and Chami

Me and Chami. Hi Chami!

Shabu Shabu with Chicken (left) and Pork (right)

I think this was one of our last plates of meat.

I spent another part of the Christmas break before New Years with a little bit of Karaoke. (At least I think it was before New Years... O__o)  Went to a different place than we usually went to, and one that was a little more pricy...but MUCH more fancy!  ^_~

For this round of Karaoke, by the end of the night, there was a rather large group (one larger than I am used to) that made their way in. Olly, Miho, Ben, Yuho, Anson, Tim, Celeste, and Me.   *whistles*  Wow!

Unfortunately, this place doesn't have some of the songs that I REALLY like to sing, and a lot of my fav Evanescence songs are not there. :(  It makes me a sad panda. V_V  I will probably just stick to the other place rather than this place unless I feel like going somewhere fancy to sing stuff. But mostly the other place. ^_~

(from right to left) Ben & Tim with Yuho, Celeste and Miho blending in cause of the camera!

Oh Yuho! You're so fun! :D

Yuho's hand with Anson an'da' mike!

*insert music and singing here* ^__^

New Year was a little more eventful. We went to Pontocho and had shabu shabu しゃぶしゃぶ and nomihoudai 飲み放題.  The nomihoudai was a little unexpected, but it was still great. I drank enough, but not enough to completely knock me out. lol  Pontocho was very lovely again, and I love walking up and down the long street of nothing but food and tea houses...EXPENSIVE food, mind you. O___o  But it is in the middle of the Geiko district, so high expenses to be expected. 


The veggies

The burner
First drink for nomihoudai! Fuzzy Navel! ^_~

I was hoping to do hatsumoude (first shrine/temple visit of the year), but I didn`t get the chance to. Then, yesterday, I missed Coming of Age. XD  The two times I could really wear furisode, and I didn`t.  @_@

I have been working a lot on my book recently, the Chigurashi Saga.  I plan to have the book completely finished before I return home to the States, including editing and turning in the manuscript. Chigurashi Saga is my longest writing yet, and it is so very difficult to try and maintain enough focus to actually sit and write 60,000+ words. X__o  That and with trying to finalize plot ideas and characterizations. All of this on top of my other work, Tales of Tir inna nOc.  *sigh*  So much to do!!  O__o

I decided that once I leave (graduate), I will be coming back to Japan to teach english through a program. Which one, I am not sure yet, but I plan on applying for several different programs. Can`t hurt. Besides, the more I think about it, the more attracted to the idea of teaching that I am. I would like to learn fluent Osaka-ben and Kyo-ben as well as standard Japanese and Keigo, and I want to teach Japanese language in culture in University Level later down the line when I feel I have had enough English teaching.  ^_^

I was awareded the JASSO, which will be a huge help in helping me eat. Can`t wait. lol   It is a stipend of 80,000円 a month for 3 months. Super helpful.

We went to see the movie Genji Monogatari!!!!!!!   It was beautiful movie! <3 I love Heian period and love to read/watch materials from and of that time. Genji was done quite well, even though it didn't follow along entirely with the original story....


Abe no Seimei kept making an appearance! lol  I love Seimei from Onmyouji, and to see Abe no Seimei with the same attitude as the Abe no Seimei from Onmyouji was a real refresher, if even hilarious. ^_^  He kept inserting himself into the tale when there was something supernatural happening. XD Obviously he isn't in the original story, and if he is he is not really mentioned, and he also appears in the newly released manga. The manga appears to follow the movie.  

I took a picture of the lovely Tale of Genji display at the cinema!

Hmmm... What else.....

Took some pictures of the purikura machines in the Futabowl, along with the adorable kitteh's in some of the game machines. ^_^

Blonde Sam won this for me! <3  Thank you so much, girl! ^_^

What else...

A picture of Chami (Sam) in kimono for New Year!

Cas came with us on New Year

Yummy Chocolate cake from the Combini!!! <3  105円
Very lovely sunset from our balcony.
The awesome Beef Steak Plate at GB's Cafe in Kandaimae. A little taste of home when I get homesick. ^^

Awesome plate of fries at GB's Cafe.

Macha after a visit to Tenshi no Sato in Kyoto.

Some sweets to go with the macha.
Blonde Sam and Julie on the way home from the Ikeda Matsuri.
Nihon Buyou Japan, 1st Performance [Ikeda Matsuri]: (from left to right) Shuangshuang, Minami-sensei, Me

Shuangshuang and I! Wow! I lost quite a bit of weight since then! (rejoice!)

I am thinking about picking up cosplaying again. I want to sell some things back home and change it out with new material. I have been fluctuating between depressed and homesick and my hobbies help me feel more at ease and happier. It is hard to cosplay here in Japan because of social expecations, norms and customs. It isn`t like I can just go out in cosplay and expect to be treated with interest. It will most likely end up being the other way around and me being treated with some type of scorn.  I try hard to blend into society as much as I can, because I AM a foreigner and already being judged by others around me just for that. I don`t need to help draw negative attention to myself cause I want to cosplay in Japan.

Some cosplay ideas I had in mind...

*Gakupo (not sure which version)
*Another Original
*Something aweomely steampunk or victorian
*Gackt Ghost (I know...blasphemy!)
*Silent Hill Nurse
*Kayako from The Grudge

Been a little more interested in horror flicks lately when it comes to cosplay ideas. I would love to be able to try and cosplay something scary!! 

Some random cosplays from before...

Yamamoto Anise (Barajou no Kiss)
Lena Whittely
Ciel Phantomhive (Kuroshitsuji)
Lena Whittely
Kaname Kuran (Vampire Knight)
Kaname Kuran (Vampire Knight)

Purikura in cosplay?  Now THAT IS an idea!  ;D   lol

I warned you that it was image heavy...  >___>