One year in Japan– Let’s roll back the clock, shall we? Part 2 – Yokohama

So I finally met up with my cousin and her family. Her husband is half Japanese/Filipino so he can speak fluent Japanese, English and Tagalog. He’s a silent type of guy but he likes anime as well so I often talk to him about it. I finally got to see my niece! She’s so cute and she’s a ballerina to boot, so whenever we would stop and wait for a bus/train/taxi/whatever, she would start pointing her toes and practicing her dance moves. Haha!

In the pictures below, you can constantly see us wearing/holding white surgical masks. When I first arrived in Japan, I thought it was really scary– like some sort of plague. When I asked my cousin about it, she said that some people have pollen allergy, like her, so they have to wear masks every spring. Of course, she said, if they were sick it was just good manners (This was the first time I would hear about this manā or ‘manner‘ in Japan; I’ll elaborate on this one soon.) to wear masks to prevent the spread of the sickness. And if  you’re scared of catching a cold then some people would wear one as well. Recently though I heard some younger people would wear them just because it’s comforting to hide behind the mask. I myself have worn them on such occasions.

cousin and me

My cousin and my niece– she was actually making a funny face but I had to censor it hahaha!

myniece

My niece

I arrived at a pretty awkward time because my cousin was actually moving to Tokyo in 2 days so we were quite busy cleaning and packing everything for the big move. I started playing with her son, who was 2 years old, and he was so energetic and cute I was exhausted by the end of the day. At around 3pm, my niece came back from school, and we went to her ballet studio to say goodbye to her teachers and classmates.

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My niece at one of her recitals

After she introduced me to her teachers, she suddenly started crying. I tried comforting her but her teachers and her classmates started crying too. They hugged my niece and gave her presents and encouragement. We left the ballet studio soon after and she started cheering up. She pointed out some buildings and some places that she thought I would be interested in. We arrived back at the apartment and my cousin and my nephew had dressed up and told us we will go around Minato Mirai so I can have a look around.

After that we went home and waited for my cousin-in-law and we watched a movie while we ate shabu-shabu. My stomach was so full I felt so sleepy but Haru, my cousin’s 2 year old, kept playing with me and wouldn’t let me sleep. I finally put on some of his favorite disney shows on his i-pad and watched it together on my futon. When my niece and nephew fell asleep, my cousin and I talked about news back home and some family drama that I’m definitely not getting into now, but it made for a pretty interesting topic. I woke up the next day feeling awesome. I was going to meet my friend in Akabane and she promised we would go around Akihabara that day.

OK, I’m off to sleep! I’m actually setting this to go live tomorrow when I go back to work.

One year in Japan– Let’s roll back the clock, shall we? Part 1

So, I haven’t been able to post updates since stepping into this magical land. Now that I’m home sick with the flu, what better way to kill time than to update an unattended blog. LOL.

Anyhow, a lot of things happened, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

I left my house feeling pretty excited but at the same time I had this feeling like I was about to vomit and just call it a day and go back home. But with my 2 suitcases, 1 duffel bag and a (very heavy) laptop bag, I made my way to Japan.

On the plane, I started thinking about the people I left behind. How much I was gonna miss them and when would we ever see each other again.. I mean, I used to just text them to “Let’s meet up!” and after a few hours I’d get to see them.

Dinner with friends before I left for Europe last 2012

Dinner with friends before I left for Europe last 2012

In any case, I finally arrived at Narita.

I quickly checked if my phone’s roaming had worked but I was disappointed to see that there was no signal bar on the screen. I was quickly shuffled into a big room with aisles and aisles of people lining up at the immigration windows. I tried to line up where I should but the man guarding the line told me, in Japanese, to fill out the form. I quickly filled it out and showed it to him and he let me pass. At the window, they asked for my passport. They took my finger print and my picture. After a minute they handed me a card which I figured out was my Residence card (Alien Card). I made my way down to the luggage pick up area and finally found my bags. Once I passed through customs, I searched for my cousin, who was supposed to pick me up. I saw a masked man wave at me, and I recognized that he was my cousin.

We greeted each other awkwardly, since it has been a couple of years since we met and we were quite far apart in age. He led me to the trains and tried to check which one we have to ride. Just to make sure, he talked to the man at the ticket gates and asked in Japanese whether it was the correct route. He confirmed it and so off we were to wait.

Was really tired from the trip so sorry for the bleh face

Was really tired from the trip so sorry for the bleh face

Anyway when the train arrived, we talked a lot about how it was to work in Japan. He told me all about his experiences and also gave me advice on what to do and what not to do…which I was surprised, quite a lot. I started to feel nervous but it was quickly replaced by excitement as our train slowed to a stop and we arrived in…. Saitama.

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My cousin carrying some of my bags

So basically, the plan was that I was going to stay at my cousin’s in Yokohama, but I got out of the airport quite late because of the immigration procedures so he said I can stay with him in Saitama for the night and the next day he would bring me to Yokohama where his sister lived.

By this time I was completely buzzed by the fact that I was in Japan. I FINALLY ARRIVED. It was a little late but I finally realized it. Heck, even sometimes I forget that I’m here and I still feel like it’s a dream.

Ok. I’ll stop here for today but hopefully I can continue updating this blog. Fingers crossed.

Domo Arigatou Mistah Roboto

So I’m making a new blog about living in Japan! :) Seeing as how I didn’t really keep a blog during my travels to Europe last year, I thought I would make one now since I’ll be making a drastic change in my life and moving somewhere completely different.

Shinkansen

*Cue Scenic Picture of Mt. Fuji*

Anyway I thought it would also be good to document all of the things I will be experiencing there so I can maybe help out other people who are also planning to move there or anyone who is just interested in anything japanese. :) That is of course if anyone will be reading this at all.

Before I get into anything “japanesey” (as Utada Hikaru puts it), let’s take a quick recap on how I ended up moving to Japan..well, I was working as a Fashion Designer for some local & foreign clothing brands back home. I mostly designed lingerie but I also designed women’s casual, Sleep wear, maternity and lounge wear.

Quite interesting, I know. But ever since I was in grade school I have always wanted to go to Japan to experience living there. I was completely fascinated with the culture. Of course, being a fan of manga and anime also helps. Haha! So I when I got back from my internship in Moldova, I sent out applications to some eikaiwas and schools.

Gundam in Odaiba

Gundam in Odaiba

Let’s face it, you can’t work outside of eikaiwas and english schools if you can’t speak Japanese. And I only know basic Japanese; that’s not gonna cut it if I wanted to work in design (or any other industry for that matter) since they require you to know business japanese or at the least, conversational japanese.

Now, there are some companies outside of the english teaching industry who do hire people overseas and don’t require you to know Japanese. I know this because my cousin had the good fortune of getting hired in a japanese company’s international department and he didn’t know a lick of Japanese. But these are very rare, so most people settle on teaching english instead.

For me though, I have always wanted to teach when I was younger so it was a nice opportunity for me to give it a try. I was lucky enough to be able to secure a teaching position at a school in Hokkaido as an english kindergarten teacher which is super amazing because I love children! \(^w^)/

I would love to eventually go into design or maybe illustration in the future but for now I can just take my time in learning the language.

I’ll be making a post on the visa stuff I experienced or maybe a little something about some eikaiwas I applied to. :>