Japan

So in another week I’ll have officially lived here for 4 months. My thoughts?

Osaka’s an interesting place to live in. It’s not as expensive as I initially thought. The people are generally really friendly so long as you’re not asking to borrow their cellphones. When it gets humid, you can sweat in places you never thought you could sweat. The bugs here are crazy and huge compared to Vancouver. At one point in time, I had over 100 mosquito bites all over my body. I still get bit now, even in malls and restaurants. Most Japanese here still don’t know how to speak English, but it’s a lot better than 10 years ago. They’ll understand the simple stuff….and if you have an iphone translator app (or any other smart phone with unlimited data), you’re gold 🙂 In fact, that’s how I managed to get a hospital and a dermatologist to receive me as a patient. I whipped out my handy iphone translator. Otherwise, they would have turned me away since I couldn’t speak or understand Japanese.

The food here is Awesome with a capital “A”. Although the shops/ restaurants/ stores CAN be small…I think everything is really well thought out and carefully considered before implemented in different businesses. Japanese people in general are really minute to detail. It’s something I think everyone can learn from. (only possible issue….for some restaurants,  IF they DO have a designated smoking area…the designated smoking areas and non-smoking areas are literally so close to each other that it makes no difference)

In terms of fashion…there’s quite a bit of variety, but not as much or as extreme as I had hoped to see. From time to time you see people in Kimonos (especially during Summer Matsuri). You can see more kimonos year round if you visit Kyoto. It’s crazy how they can wear them even though it’s so “HOT”. While they’re in their crazy, yet beautiful kimonos, I’m sweating profusely in my tank and shorts.

I have also noticed the prevalence of crocs/ fake crocs on the mass, that you can easily get at a 100 yen shop during Summer. Backpacks here are HUGE!! They’re like more than half the size of the kids/ teens. It’s crazy how much they have to carry. It’s also really surprising to see all the trinkets and stuffed animals high school girls have added onto their backpacks as decorations. I mean, isn’t your backpack heavy enough already? Why Add more weight to it? I’ll never understand. Oh, and applying make-up publicly is completely acceptable. You see girls with their huge mirrors everywhere putting on make-up. Some people may find this rude, but I have completely adapted to it as routine. If there’s something I do find rude, it’s people bumping into each other without apologizing or completely healthy people taking up priority seats/ public handicapped designated area.

Kids here are really cute, but can be a lot louder and cheekier than the ones back at home. They’re adorable.

It seems like people from Osaka are generally friendlier than people from Tokyo….at least in my experience, that was the case.

Some sites I find useful….if you ever do decide to move to Japan:

http://www.hyperdia.com (It’s good if you don’t know Japanese. It doesn’t always offer the cheapest route though)

http://www.meetup.com (great way to meet people in a foreign country with similar interest)

http://www.tripadvisor.com (good for finding nearby attractions/ restaurants)

http://www.osaka-info.jp/en (good for getting more information on attraction/ facilities in Osaka)

It’s Been 6 Months Now Since I’ve Been in Japan (November 27 2013)

Overall, I quite enjoy life here.

However, to list a few cons of living here:

HOME: Small kitchen sink, lack of counter space to do food preparation, drying machine for the winter, my mom’s homemade soup, family and my dog WHISKEY.

WORK (iTTTi Japan): I have a busier workload than any of the other native teachers here. I’ve seen schedules where the other native teacher works less than half the number of hours I work. At one point in time I worked with 332 students per month. I now work with  close to 400 students per month. It’s quite difficult to remember all their names.The evening work time aint ideal for me. Pretty much my social life is limited to the weekends and holidays, which aint too bad, considering the fact that I can save up for travelling to different places. (I go to Kyoto quite often, went to Tokyo during O-bon and I’m planning to go to Tokyo again in January). Last, but not least, working with kids ranging from age 1-17  and the mom’s of the younger kids can be quite the challenge (<=Pro & Con).

But honestly, it’s really not too bad living here…

Pros of living here:

HOME: Independence and full autonomy!

WORK (iTTTi Japan): Great coworkers, the number of hours we work here is less (or much less for some other native teachers) than back at home for what we can make here (salary wise). Basically, the pay for the number of hours we work here aint too shabby. If you do have a nightmare class/ troublesome student, you probably only have to see them once or twice a month at most. The majority of the kids are actually good/ cute kids that actually enjoy my classes or learning. The younger ones are quite  a handful…but for the most part they’re just so cute and adorable.

PERSONALLY: Personal growth, personal enlightenment (a bit), a wealth of experiences in a completely different culture, and I picked up the basics of Japanese without really even having to try too hard. It really is different when you immerse yourself in a culture completely.

Overall, for me, the pros outweigh the cons.

~~~   

Moving on…random tidbits…

In October, the weather becomes a lot chillier than before , but it’s a nice change from the humid heat. It’s the season for Momiji (maple leaf) viewing. A great place to visit would be Minoo Park.

I actually found shoes my size at Forever XXI in Namba.

So far, I’ve gone to an awesome Owl Cafe in Osaka, a maid cafe in Namba, an Alice in Wonderland cafe in Umeda and a Ninja restaurant in Tokyo. I can’t wait to visit some other cafes or the Ninja restaurant again.

I really enjoyed myself at the Kaiyukan/ Osaka Aquarium and got myself a yearly pass. It might be insignificant for someone who lived in Australia all their lives, but if you’re from Vancouver like me and haven’t been to many aquariums in your life, the enormous fish tanks are the bomb. The first time I went there with a friend, I spent over 5 hours there. The second time I went by myself, I spent an hour there seeing how it was a Sunday and there were way too many people. It’s best to go on weekdays if you can.

(Note: it seems as if most of the sea creatures are most active in the morning)

And NOMIHODAI’S ARE AWESOME!!

And I can’t wait for my 14 days Christmas break.

 

It’s Been 7 Months Now Since I’ve Been in Japan (January 10th, 2014)

THIS NEXT BIT WILL MOSTLY BE ABOUT THE COLD IN JAPAN!! And a bit about New Years!

*~*~~~*~~~~~~~COLD~~~~~~~*~~~*~*

Let’s see…It’s really cold here in the winter. Especially, since the houses/ apartments here for the most part aren’t properly heat insulated. Although, at the moment, I don’t think it’s anywhere near as cold as the east side of Canada. And I think I still prefer this cold weather over the hot humid Summer in Japan. It’s weird how I’ve been here for 7 months and there’s only been a handful of temperate days where I can actually say “ahh….the weather/ temperature is just right”. It makes me especially appreciative about what I have back in Vancouver….although I was pretty darn appreciative of it even before I came to Japan.

Something interesting to make note of is that, during November and December, I never turned on my heater. My electricity bill for November was only ~$10 🙂 I have coworkers that paid $20-$150 for the month of November. I guess whether we use our heater/ not makes a huge difference in our electric bills? *shrugs* I broke down twice in the last 10 days though….and turned on my heat for ~2 hours >< …had to turn on my heater…even layers weren’t/ aren’t cutting it anymore.

Something I really like about the trains here in Japan (other than the fact they have “COMFY-CUSHIONY” seats…they’re HEATED in the winter as well). So it’s not just the toilet seats, but the train seats as well. The Japanese people think of everything ^^

You’ll also start to notice that there’s an increase in hot drinks in all the various vending machines. They’ll be labeled in red. The cold drinks will be labeled in blue. To generalize the vending machine hot drink options. There’s usually a nice variety of hot drinks including various coffees, a few kind of teas, a couple of- a few hot lemon drinks and usually 0-1 drink that tastes like cheap corn soup. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed in the vending machines I’ve used so far.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~NEW YEARS~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Years is generally not a time for couples here in Japan, unlike Christmas. It is more about spending time with family apparently. For the most part, I spent New Years Eve in Umeda, Japan instead of Vancouver. It was generally quite bland. I wonder if it would have been better if I went to Namba/ the Osaka Castle instead. Anyways, I wish I went out on January 1st to witness Hatsumode (1st shrine visit of the year)…but I was combating jet lag at the time and it was cold and gloomy looking when I looked out my windows. Oh well….

~~

That pretty much concludes the gist of everything. I’m going to Tokyo again next week. Oh, and Arima Onsen too. I’m really looking forward to my 10-day vacation ^____^ 5 days of paid vacation. やった!! YAY!!

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