Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The beach

No pictures of my place yet, but I started a photobucket account to post pictures of the beach. I'll just stick new pictures into this account instead of directly into my posts, because it's much easier (for me!).
Go there to see pictures of my trip from a couple months ago to Enoshima beach. I'll add some more pictures (I have some more on my phone that I haven't put on my computer yet, of random stuff like a show in Roppongi Hills and a tiny octopus that my Japanese teacher here ate as a snack) later, but for now it's just Enoshima. Check it out!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Out and about

No pictures again this time... I don't have good lighting in my room so I need to take them in the daytime, but lately I've been out all the time!
I've been pretty busy over the last week; I started a new job at a conversation cafe, and I've just been out and about. My roommates threw a welcome party on Tuesday, which was very nice and also very fun. We took out the screens separating my room and Hiroshi's room to create one big space, so everyone actually fit, haha. Plus there was the balcony leading to the roof. I finally went up there, and there's a pole to hang laundry, but I probably won't be using it much since it's easier to just hang it in my room than to go all the way up to the roof.
Thursday I started at yet another conversation cafe, then afterwards I went with my roommate Naoko to a magazine launch party. Nylon magazine started a version for men, and Naoko is friends with one of the editors.
Tomorrow is a Japanese lesson, then after is a barbeque at my new boss's place. Free food \o/ Hopefully there will still be some left by the time I get there! It's officially starting around noon, but my japanese lesson lasts till 3 so I won't get there till much later.
Apparently Kanda (where my new job is located) is right near a huge bookseller district! I will definitely be checking that out sometime soon. I heard there are even some English-language stores in the mix.
Speaking of English books, I joined a book club here too. The founder is the same woman who runs the Democrats Abroad and organized the Obama support meeting I went to a couple weeks ago. I went to my first meeting on Wednesday, and luckily managed to land myself next to some other people who also had not liked the book we read for this month. We were few, but we were vocal in our distaste, haha. I also met a woman there who teaches yoga here in Tokyo; I may try to head by her studio at some point. I'm still planning on joining a gym, but it might be cool to try out some yoga...
Anyway I guess that's it for now; I'll try to remember to take some pictures tomorrow before I head out to my lesson and barbeque.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I'm all moved into my new place in Shinjuku! It's pretty good so far; I haven't finished unpacking yet since I was out all day yesterday, but once I finish I'll take some pictures and post them up here. It's a very old, traditional house; my room has sliding doors made of rice paper separating my room from my roommate Hiroshi's room, and sturdier sliding doors leading to the hallway. There's glass covering the rice paper though, so it's not so bad. We've got one of those fancy toilets with a bidet and seat-warming capability for the winter, lol. I finally met the mysterious third roommate as well, and he seems fairly cool too. We talked for a bit yesterday, but unlike the other two this one doesn't speak English, so it was a pretty broken conversation!
Anyway I should get back to unpacking; I want to run out and get some food pretty soon too. Apparently there's an Indian curry place nearby, I might check that out.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I'm moving this Saturday, up to a share house in Shinjuku. I won't be living alone anymore, but Shinjuku is a much more convenient location, and my rent will go down as well. I'll have a room in a house with three other Japanese roommates. I'm hoping to get some good Japanese practice in, having Japanese roommates.
Speaking of Japanese, I signed up to take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). I signed up for level 2, which is above my current level, but I'm hoping that by December when the test is held I will have brought myself up to a point where I may have a shot at passing it... It tests only kanji, vocab, reading, grammar, and listening comprehension - no speaking - so hopefully it will be okay. If I can get a level 2 qualification that will open up so many more job opportunities here. Starting next year, the test will be held twice a year instead of only once, so I'll have another opportunity in July... but by that point I'm not sure how useful it would be, since I'm not really planning on staying another year after this one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Book sale!

The Takashimaya branch of Kinokuniya is having a foreign book sale! I went down to check it out after work today with a friend, and it was great - paperbacks for 400 to 700 yen. I picked up a couple books that I've been wanting to read; four books for only 2000 yen. I should be good for reading material for a while now! They didn't have all the books I've been wanting to read, but they did have a pretty good selection. I picked up a new Stephen Pinker, and a book by this Japanese author I read about who is supposed to be really good; I also picked up Fast Food Nation, just because it seems like everyone but me has read it so I need to hop on the boat, and finally a book by a French author who my friend recommended. I was debating a Poe anthology for 400 yen, but decided against it since I'm pretty sure I can read Poe online.

It seems like there's a new festival happening every weekend here in Tokyo! This Saturday is another fireworks display, this time over the Tama river. One of my friends was trying to get a bunch of people together for it, so I might do that. I won't be wearing my yukata to this one if I go, though! Knowing this friend she'll probably want to go out clubbing after, and yukata aren't exactly made for that, lol. There is, however, a big festival in Azabu-juban the weekend after that I might check out with some people, and it will be yukata time again for that. I'm going to get as much use as I can out of that thing, haha.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Last weekend was pretty busy as well; on Saturday I had planned to go to the beach with a friend, but then we both woke up late, and it was pretty cloudy too, so we ended up not going after all. Instead, we went to an amusement park that's really close to where we live. It's actually only one stop down from Ikuta, where I used to live. It's called Yomiuriland, and it's got a waterpark with pools and slides and stuff, and then it's also got rollercoasters and other rides. So we hit the waterpark first, and I finally was able to wear my new swimsuit, yay. We saw some really, really dark Japanese guys there; it was crazy just how tanned they were. Of course, the majority of the people there were pasty white. Japanese shun the sun. You see a lot of parasols here, people actually use them to keep the sun off.
Then on Sunday I went to see the Tokyo Bay fireworks with another friend. It was sooo crowded, it must have taken at least half an hour just to get to the viewing area after we got to Kachidoki station just because of the massive crowd all making their way to the same spot. Then when we got there we realized that neither of us had thought to bring a sheet or something to sit on, lol. So we ended up just sitting on the ground in our yukata! It was fun though, the fireworks were good (even though you can't tell from my pictures). Then after, we wanted to eat monjayaki, which the area we were in is apparently famous for, but everyone else had the same idea and all the restaurants were totally full, so we ended up heading back to Shinjuku and eating at an izakaya there instead. I want to try monja now though, I always thought it was just the same as okonomiyaki but my friend was like, no, they're different. Aw, I'm totally hungry now, talking about it! That's it for this post, I'm going to go finally get showered and head out for some lunch. Enjoy the slightly bad quality pictures!

Monday, August 4, 2008


Sorry for the quality of some of these photos! I was taking pictures with my phone, and it doesn't always like capturing movement...

Went to a festival on Saturday with a couple friends. We had originally headed to one in Shinagawa, but it turned out to not be the traditional bon-odori festival we had thought it would; all it was was a demonstration, not an actual interactive dancing festival. So then we headed up to a different one in Ebisu, which turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. Festival lights, dancing (which me and a friend joined in; my other friend decided not to because she didn't know the dances, even though we were telling her "we don't know them either! look at all the people going around who have no clue what they're doing! it'll be fun!" We just couldn't convince her though), food stalls with mochi, yakisoba, shaved ice (which we made a beeline for the minute we saw someone with one; it was sooooooo hot), a ton of people in yukata. There was even a little pool set up to catch goldfish, haha. In the little tiered stand set up in the middle of the ring of dancers was where the people who actually knew the dances were; they danced around the raised platform so everyone could see them and follow along with them. They would play each song twice, once so you could learn the dance and then another time for longer so everyone could join in. The dances are all mainly arm-waving and some footwork, easily done in a movement-restricting yukata. You progress steadily forward in them, winding a circle around some center landmark. It was really fun, even though between the heat and the crowd and the dancing in yukata, we were hot and sweaty and tired by the end.
There's another bon-odori festival later this month in Roppongi that we're also planning on going to, and this Sunday is the giant fireworks display over Tokyo Bay that I'm planning on going to with another of my friends. And this Saturday I'm finally planning on going to the beach! Yay, beach. I'll finally be able to try out my new swimsuit.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nothing much

It's been a while since my last update, but honestly not a lot has really happened since all the excitement of April. It's been gray and rainy for pretty much the entire month of June; we had one afternoon a couple days ago when the sun actually came out, and it was exciting. I was going to go to the beach with some people this Sunday, but it's looking like it'll probably be rain again so it might not happen. I'll get to the beach one of these days.
I discovered that, oddly enough, sheets here are super expensive. I wanted to buy another set of sheets so that I could rotate them more easily; since it gets so humid in my apartment I want to wash them more than once a week, but that's sort of impossible with only one set of sheets because I need a full day for them to dry so I can only do it on weekends. So I went looking for new sheets on par with my old ones, only to discover that the cheapest sheet (that's sheet, singular - I haven't been able to find any sets) I could find was 2500 yen, and it's not even a nice soft high thread count. I don't remember the exact prices of sheets in America, but I'm fairly certain I didn't pay more than like fifteen bucks for my nice sea foam egyptian cotton sheets. I don't mind paying a little bit more for quality, but I'm not happy about paying a lot for something subpar : (
Anyway, I'll stop ranting about sheets now, lol. I was serious when I said there's nothing happening here!

Monday, May 12, 2008

No pictures, but a post nonetheless.

So, this past month I've been pretty busy. Parents visited in early April, for my birthday! and it was fun. We went out to a restaurant in Shinjuku for a birthday dinner, and it was quite good actually. We never did have 900 yen parfaits, but we did have crepes from a crepe stand in Shibuya, which, while not quite living up to mom's, were still pretty delicious. We took a day trip to Kamakura to see the Great Buddha, and also took a day trip to Nikko to see Ieyasu Tokugawa's mausoleum. We got to Nikko on a rickety old train that rivaled the Fujikyuu from last May; however at least on the Nikko train we actually had seats, and were not packed in like sardines (that only happened in Tokyo, almost every day). Nikko was a nice break from the city, all mountain air and trees and quiet. The mausoleum (we ended up touring Ieyasu's grandson's mausoleum instead of Ieyasu himself's, because it was cheaper, haha) was pretty fantastic, despite all the stairs. I have pictures... in theory, anyway.
Then I had about a week of rest after my parents left, before my friend Jon visited. He timed his visit for Golden Week, so I didn't have to take any more time off work. With Jon, we went out to an izakaya and to karaoke with some of my coworkers, and we also went clubbing with a couple of my friends. We hit a couple of museums and galleries as well, and walked around the Imperial gardens. Did some shopping in Shibuya and Harajuku, poked around Ginza. Oh, and we went down to Yokohama and walked around Chinatown, and thought about going on the giant Ferris wheel until we discovered it was like 1000 yen to ride it.
Now, things have slowed down and I'm not really doing a whole lot... just relaxing and hanging out at home, watching some Japanese dramas and being angry at the weather for still being cold even though it's already May. I'm thinking of trying to take a vacation soon, I have a friend who wants to go to Guam so I might try to see if she wants to go ahead and do it in June or July.

Monday, April 28, 2008

New post coming... eventually

My camera is acting up again, so unfortunately I won't be able to do another picture post until it decides to behave. Sorry! I'll keep trying, my camera just does this occasionally so I don't think it's permanent (well I really hope it's not, anyway). It just likes to randomly not read pictures sometimes. I think that on my next paycheck I might just bite the bullet and buy a new one. It's just getting kind of ridiculous the number of times my camera randomly decides to malfunction in new and interesting ways.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

More cherry blossoms

We've been getting a lot of little earthquakes recently here; just small tremors that sometimes wake me up at night. Just had one a minute ago, actually.
In other news, I went to Ueno Park a couple days ago for some more cherry blossom viewing. Ueno Park has a ton of cherry trees lining a couple paths, so as you walk through you're under a canopy of blossoms. It was really pretty, and it was kind of funny to see all the salarymen having picnics underneath the trees, haha. Picnicking under cherry trees is quite popular here, but there's just something slightly incongruous about seeing a bunch of suit-clad businessmen sitting on tarps having yakisoba and takoyaki under the trees! I'm planning on heading out this Sunday myself with a couple friends to do our own picnic under some trees, in Shinjuku Gyoen.
Here are some pictures from Ueno; I forgot to get batteries for my camera before I went, so they're just phone pictures again. I have a couple pictures of the salarymen and some more of the trees, but they'll have to be a different post.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Concert and cherry blossoms

Yesterday I went to a TOKIO concert. My first concert in Japan, whoo! It was at the Budokan, a pretty big arena in central Tokyo that was originally constructed as a sumo stadium; lots of artists have played at it through the years though. The area that the Budokan is in turns out to be absolutely gorgeous in spring - it's right next to a moat lined with cherry trees that were all in bloom. Lots and lots of sakura overhanging a moat, it was soooo pretty. So before making my way over to the stadium, I first walked around and took a bunch of pictures of the sakura; lots of other people were doing the same thing though, so I had to fight my way through. The place was incredibly crowded, because three groups of people were all converging at the same time - the people going to the concert, people just there for the cherry blossoms, and people heading for nearby Yasukuni shrine. There were police all over the place trying to keep order.
And here are some pictures! Aren't you all excited? They're all pictures from my phone; I tried to take some pictures of the cherry blossoms with my camera, but it was out of batteries and I didn't have time to try to run to a convenience store to pick some up. So, I picked up a couple uchiwa at the concert; these two are of Nagase and Taichi, my two favorite members. The Taichi one is actually going to be for a friend, though. Uchiwa are traditional for Johnnys concerts; generally you wave them around to show support for your favorite members, haha. And then, sakura! These are just a small taste of the scenery surrounding the entrance to the Budokan. I had no idea before that it was such a pretty area; the stadium itself is pretty cool too. I guess I'm just used to American stadiums that are surrounded by parking lot, not cherry trees and a moat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Fridge!

Check out my tiny fridge! Isn't it cute? Well, kind of drab actually... I looked for other colors but all they had was grey. Oh well, it's the perfect size for me anyway. That pink bag next to it is non-burnable garbage that I think should go out on Thursday... have to double check that. I should post a picture of the garbage schedule next; separate days for burnable, non-burnable, papers, PET bottles, glass bottles, and hazardous items (like broken glass etc). No dumpster to just toss it all into whenever, and it's frowned upon to leave garbage in the little wire cage designated for it (to keep the crows from attacking) more than just the night before. If we didn't have that little cage, it wouldn't even be the night before, it would have to be the day of so that the crows wouldn't get in and make a mess.
And you get a bonus, too - the inside of my fridge! Nothing terribly exciting, just some apples, an orange, leftover pasta (I can have leftovers again! whoo), eggs, yogurt, green peppers, part of a red pepper, carrots, and some leftover store-bought mabodofu (which is this spicy tofu dish that I've become rather fond of since I've been here). On the arm is orange juice, coffee, and pasta sauce.
Then finally, a picture of the storage unit I just bought from this place in Shinjuku. It's a household goods store, and everything in the place is 1050. It borders another store that sells smaller goods for 300. Unfortunately everything in the smaller store seems to be decorated with cutesy hearts and rubber ducks. No thank you. I can probably pick up the same sort of things at a 100 yen store anyway.

Friday, February 29, 2008

MORE pics!

I'm on a roll! I actually just took some of these last night though, I went out with some friends to Roppongi and we met in front of that giant spider sculpture in the picture. It's right in front of the Roppongi Hills Mori tower, which is the building pictured. The 52nd floor of that building also happens to be where Mado Lounge is located, the club I believe I blogged about before in which there are giant windows and a fantastic view of Tokyo. There's actually a "Tokyo City View" that you can you go up to and look out over Tokyo, like an observation deck or something (I guess, I haven't actually gone to see for myself). I may try to go at some point, although since I've been here I've seen Tokyo from the top of the Tokyo Tower, from the Mado Lounge, from the bar in Shinjuku that was in Lost in Translation (that one was the 47th floor I think, although I could be remembering wrong...), from the Rainbow Bridge both in daytime on the monorail and at night on the Ageha shuttle, from an observation deck in Odaiba... I do love me those Tokyo city views, haha.
The balloon snowman is from Christmas, it was up marking the entrance to Takeshitadoori in Harajuku over the Christmas season.

In other news, I got a fridge today, yay! I'll post a picture of it once I get around to taking one. It's tiny, but yay for being able to keep perishable foods again!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


or, at long last, pics from my phone! Watch out, this post is picture-heavy.

So, what have we got here? A packed train in Shibuya - note the salaryman squeezing himself on even though there is no room. He will MAKE room and catch that express.
A whole crab, painstakingly put back together for this photo op. This was at a sushi restaurant, where we ordered a crab-flavored miso soup. Little did I know that crab-flavored meant there would be an actual CRAB floating in there! Yes, that thing was merrily floating in our soup, limbs and eyes and all.
A couple pictures from a taiko demonstration in Machida a couple months ago. I couldn't really get close enough for good pictures, sadly - it was pretty crowded all around where the street was blocked off. You can see a little though.
Purikura pictures with various friends. Purikura is the quintessential high school girl activity - basically you go into a booth with some friends and you can choose from various backgrounds and things to take a picture on, then after you're done you go out and decorate the pics with sparkles and ribbons and accessories and all manner of things. It's pretty fun for college graduate foreigners too : p
Shot of the roller coaster from Tokyo Dome city. It was a really fun coaster, you could see over all of Tokyo at the top, and at one point it actually goes through the middle of a Ferris wheel.
And finally, a pic of a building I thought was pretty cool in Ginza.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


There hasn't been a ton going on here lately, so have some pictures of my neighborhood in lieu of anything more exciting ^^; I went out last weekend and got snowed on, but fortunately I haven't gotten sick again despite walking home in the snow in the wee hours of the morning, haha. I've been trying to start studying Japanese a little more regularly; found an application for my phone that'll let me review kanji and vocab while I'm on the trains, and I found a kanji game for the DS that looks like it might be good, so I'm probably going to pick that up sometime soon as well. I've been poking around Japanese forums as well, and watching some Japanese TV shows without subs. I'm going to try to go out this weekend with one of my Japanese friends; he said he might be free if he manages to finish what he's working on by Friday.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I bring you... my washing machine!

Are you ready for the most exciting post ever? That's right, it's pictures of my WASHING MACHINE. Also, my LAUNDRY. Thrilling! (Sadly, this actually was the highlight of my weekend. Buying my washing machine.) Also, the sole picture I managed to get of my neighborhood covered in snow before my camera decided it didn't want to take any more pictures, and I didn't have time to fiddle with it because I had to catch the train for work.
It's too cold for sightseeing, so there probably won't be any more pictures for a while. It's too cold for much of anything, really. I don't even like to go out shopping in this cold! I've stopped going out for lunch at work, too, because my goal is to spend as little time outside as humanly possible. I know you people up in Ohio probably have no sympathy, but I am not used to this and I freeze easily! I think it feels colder here than it really is, because you have to be outside so much more. No just hopping in the heated car and driving to your heated destination; instead, it's a ten-minute walk in the cold to the train station, then a wait on the cold platform, then another five minute walk to work after the train ride. And shopping isn't all in one heated mall, it's spread all over whichever district you're in, which means more walking in the cold. Even grocery shopping or just running errands means a lot of walking in the cold, since everything is clustered around the station which is a ten minute walk from my apartment. I seriously can't wait for spring. Apparently Feb. is the coldest month though, which makes me miserable just thinking about it ;.; (Admittedly part of my cold-loathing at the moment is coming from me HAVING a cold, and feeling out of sorts and icky and not looking forward to going to work tomorrow in the cold with a cold.) Who wants to send me some money so I can go vacation in Australia? : p The trains are all full of advertisements for travel to Australia right now, and it is so tempting, or would be if I had any money at least.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We interrupt your regular viewing for a special broadcast


This may not be anything exciting to all of you up in the frozen North, but I haven't seen snow in FOREVER. It's COLD. And I have to go out in it! ...pretty soon actually. Off to take a shower! (it's eight in the morning here, gotta get to work soon)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Long overdue Christmas post (beware - LOTS of images)

So I've had pictures sitting on my computer for quite some time now, but I was too lazy to go through and resize them. I finally did, so it's time for some Tokyo illuminations. I don't remember how this state of affairs came about, but apparently some time before Christmas I actually had a bit of free time, and went around to a couple places specifically to see some lights and take some pictures. These are from Shinjuku Terrace City, right outside the south exit of Shinjuku station, the Takashimaya illumination circus (also in Shinjuku; Takashimaya is a gigantic department store also out the south exit), and Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi. The pictures don't quite do justice to the lights, but then again pictures never do, right?

In other news... well, there really isn't much. Settling back into the daily grind after the new years holidays. Looking forward to my paycheck on the 25th. I'm planning on buying a washing machine, first thing. I'll make another post when something noteworthy happens, I suppose...