Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not much of a writer

I'm not exactly much of a writer but when I read other people's blogs, it inspires me to write on my own. I've neglected this blog for a long time now, perhaps its because it reminds me of when I was in Japan. Living in Japan has made me realize how much I absolutely adore being home. Even though things become boring and unexciting after a while, but that happens when you are anywhere. If I had my choice, I'd pick up and move to Taiwan. Being that I have an awesome boyfriend who keeps me sane, its harder to just pick up at leave now.

Today, I hung out with a good friend who I keep in touch with and see every few weeks. Shes just one of those people that can make you feel comfortable even if you talk about a tough subject. She can make you laugh and cry all at once. There are just those people who you can get together with and its like you never left each other. Its like you can just go back to the last conversation you had and everything is the same. shes just one of these people. People come and go in life but only the important ones stay forever. As a friend, I always try to be there for my friends when they are in need. I know everyone is busy but sometimes when I need my friends, they're not around. It sucks but thats life right? There are also people I wish I can see more often but friendships are a two way street. If you dont put in the effort to make plans, I wont either because I wont see the worth in that friendship. Is that too harsh?

Anyway, maybe i'm just a hot mess. I miss Japan, I miss Hong Kong, I miss Taiwan but I wouldnt change the past for the world. It makes me me and if you dont like it, too bad.

With the holidays around the corner, it excites me to see all the decorations and all the holiday cheer. Ice skating, snowboarding, hot chocolate, and rockefeller xmas tree are all coming up. I cant wait for all the lights and the city to be fully decorated. Happpppy Early Holidays!! <3

Monday, August 31, 2009

The last month

I've been home about 6 weeks now and all has been pretty good. The weathers been a bit funky but its finally starting to cool down.

Started a new job at a Jewelry company as an HR Generalist for corporate. Its only been a week on the job and it seems to be going well.

I guess what I really wanted to write about was how everyone is different and the meaning of success is different for everyone. What does it mean to you?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home


more later...

Thursday, June 18, 2009


My 5 year old kids singing the ABC song and coloring. whatt cutiess :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Theres a first time for everything

I went to the onsen with Erin and Allison bright and early today. Onsens typically dont allow people to enter with tattoos because tattoos are often associated with the yakuza (gang). Erin has a few tattoos, nothing big and nothing that looks like it would be associated with the gangs. An old lady who was working at the onsen came over to use while we were showering and started talking to us in Japanese. She basically said tattoos arent allowed and that she'd have to leave or put on some clothes. Of course, we didnt understand her very well but the lady was convinced I was Japanese! I kept saying I dont speak Japanese and that I dont understand but she kept staring and talking directly to me as if I was lying to her. After a good 5 minutes, she left and we went about our business in the hot springs. While we were showering and getting ready to leave, she came over again and started talking to me only. She was spoke to me as if Allison and Erin werent there. I still told her I didnt understand and that I dont speak any Japanese. She didnt really care and jsut kept talking away. After two minutes of her nonsense, she came close to me and whispered something in my ear. Unfortunately, I dont have a clue what she said. I just thought that was super rude since I kept insisting I didnt understand. In the end, she still thought I was lying to her. Thats the first time its happened to me where someone thought I was lying! Its just frustrating and I didnt know what to do or say.

Most foreigners here have the opposite experience. Many ignorant Japanese people refuse or wont sit next to them on the train, or just stare at them becuase they look different. Up until now, I hadnt experienced that kind of discrimination. Sure, I've had people stop me to ask for directions or talk directly to me at restaurants (when I'm with other foreigners) but never anyone persisting that I do speak Japanese... I mean, wouldnt I know if I spoke Japanese?? Sheesh...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

happy 7 months

Its been 7 months since I've been in Japan, a lot has happened in the last two months. i wont go into detail but in short, there has been mail theft, golden week, my sisters visit, and my decision to leave japan. Yes, that's right, I'm coming home baby!

My mail theft started happening back in February but I wasn't positive about it until mid April. I was in a rush for work one day, checked my mail, saw my electricity bill and left for work. After work around 9pm, I came home to an empty mailbox. Anyway, this whole ordeal happened and it wasnt taken care of and even still, I am still being charged late fees and making up for missing bills which is totally no fault and head office should take full responsibility for it, yet they are not.

On to bigger and better things, Golden week in Taiwan was super awesome! Hung out mostly with family, ate great food, what could be better! After Golden week, my sister flew with me back to Japan. We ate, we cooked, we went to onsens, fish market, etc. It was just a good time and nice to have another familiar face visit.

I do have to say tho... my apartment is not made for more than one person! Its just too cramped and you have no where to go! All in all, I'm happy that all my visitors could make it and it made Japan even more fun and special.

I'm trying to do as much as I can in the next few weeks but it'll be hard with packing and work still. See you all in NY July 15!!! Mark your calendars!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sakuras and Peni

Sakura season is finally here! Although the allergies suck, the blossoms are so brilliant that its worth it. Their lifespan is so short so everyones trying to work Hanami parties into their schedules and things like that. busy busy month for all. Heres a picture from Ueno Park

Erin, Justin and I spent half the day in Ueno Park, taking pictures, and just hanging out. We rented a swan boat and peddled around the "lake" under all the blossoms. quite picturesque.

The next day, we went to Kanamara Festival aka Penis Festival near Yokohama, it was in Kawasaki Daishi. The pictures are pretty self explanatory


Which do you dislike more?

There are three kinds of students, this goes for mostly elementary school kids.

1. Smart, but too smart so they become naughty in class since they are bored and not challenged enough, so they dont try. They're usually the ones who can pick up really quick but are badly behaved in class.
2. The not so smart kids who try but get easily frustrated, then just give up.
3. The not so smart kids who just are bad kids and dont try and just just all sorts of bad.
4. The unresponsive students who simply just dont talk.

Which ones would you choose not to teach if you had a choice? If I had a choice, all my students would be little geniuses but then I'd be out of a job.

My choice would be to not teach the unresponsive kids. I have a 7 year old and a 12 year old from two different schools. They dont answer questions and they just dont want to do any work. Theres nothing I can do so I just ignore them and then I feel bad.

Oh well, I still get paid, its their loss. My 12 year old student took 15 minutes to draw a happy face on the board today, hes not a bad kid, just doesnt get it. He's only got 30 minute class! What a waste of time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March Madness

Already, its been almost a month since my last blog so this will be a lengthy post. Its been about 4.5 months since I have been in Japan. A ton has been going on so weekends fly by. Work is work. While its sometimes enjoyable, its frustrating other times. One of the funniest moments I've had so far is one of my 4 year olds complaining he was hot so he decided to pants himself... although, that was a little weird but hes my favorite kid and just the cutest/smartest little boy. Good thing my manager happened to be watching the class and wasnt going to think I was crazy when I spoke to her about it. Anyway, onto the busy month of March...

First weekend of March, I went to Ghibli Museum with some Eric, Justin, Jasmine and Junko. Although I never watched a Ghibli movie before going (i still have yet to finish an entire movie), it was still a lot of fun and interesting. These movies are called Ghibli movies because they are created by the animation artist, Hayao Miyazaki in Studio Ghibli. If you remember Kiki's Delivery Service, that was a Ghibli Movie. The museum shows the tidbits of all the animation and how it started. Totoro is one of the more famous movies and there was a huge Nekko (Cat) bus for the little kiddies to play on. I just want one as my bed!
After the musuem, we walked through Inokashira Park to Kichijoji where we saw some plum blossoms and ate Indian for lunch!

A few weekends later, I took a weekend trip to Nikko. Nikko is a beautiful little town however, it was unfortunate that we were too constrained by train and bus schedules to see any of it. Nikko (日光) is a world heritage site in Japan registered with UNESCO in 1999. The most famous shrine in Nikko would be Toshogu Shrine but there are three shrines in the Nikko World Heritage Park. Toshogu is known for the three monkeys: "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil"
The entrance fee included all the temples and shrines and hiking ground in the park but it costs 1,300 yen. Nice little place. Before the entrance to the park lies Shinkyo Bridge (Sacred Bridge). Legend has it that the hermit who settled Nikko was carried across the river here by two serpents. In feudal times, the sacred bridge could be used only by the emperor. The Shinkyo has long been considered one of the most beautiful structures in Japan, its simple elegance contrasting with the wildness of the river gorge (Daiya River), the green hills, and the tumbling waters. From here, a road leads into the park, threading through 16,000 towering cedar trees.
From Japan - March 2009
After strolling in central Nikko, we headed up north to OkuNikko a place known for the hotsprings as well as skiing/snowboarding. The local bus ride up to Okunikko took an hour and 30 minutes. Along the way, we saw some wild monkeys and Lake Chuzenji. Our hotel was called OkuNikko Konishi Hotel. It was a western/japanese hotel. There was some cool igloo in front of the hotel so thats me \/(. .) \/ Inside the hotel were public onsens and private onsens. The picture is of the private onsen and it connects to the outside which was really nice. For dinner, we had Kaiseki cuisine. Kaiseki cuisine is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. We chose 11 courses instead of 12 or 13. For food pictures, see my picasa.

From Japan - March 2009

The next morning, we enjoyed a fusion buffet style breakfast and headed to Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Waterfall. Unfortunately the weather was real shitty and rainy and cold. On a sunny day, people would rent kayaks and pedal boats on the lake. Real pretty.
From Japan - March 2009
One of my students who is about 70+ years old keeps herself real busy and invited me to watch her blowdarts class. I went and tried it and agreed to sign up for some classes. Classes are about 1,000 yen a class for an hour (equals about $10). It supposedly helps you control your breathing and strenthens your lungs and increases your lung capacity. Haha, hopefully I'll get better!
From Japan - March 2009
Cherry Blossoms began to bloom March 21 so I decided to go to Kudanshita (Kitanomaru Park) for to see them. They were only about 1/4 blossomed but they were still very nice and crowded. If you have allergies, take your allergy meds before you go! Down the street was a Sakura festival with games and food! People were at the fairgrounds pretty early to reserve a spot and have a Hanami party! (people basically just sit in the park with food and alcohol and get drunk, good times)
From Japan - March 2009
Lastly, I will leave you with this :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Random stuff

This post wont be worth much but why is it that the Japanese have a lot of skin issues? I am just really curious, do they not use lotion or something? I would say 3/5 kids have eczema. Women's and kids, even 4-5 year olds have really dry skin and its just not baby smooth like it should be!

Why do all Japanese babies (infants, toddlers, elementary school kids) have rosy cheeks?! They're way cute. :)

Also, Japanese households are so different. Husbands prefer their wives not to work even if they dont make a whole lot of money. They believe happy wife = happy home and vice versa. They dont want to come home to btchin' wives if the wives work, which I can see but at the same time, I consider it to be open lines of communication. Japanese husbands also do not like to do chores, help children with homework (most), and take care of any housework. I have a friend who is Taiwanese but is married to a Japanese guy and they have a 4 year old daughter. Her husband said it was okay for her not to work since she used to complain about her job. He would just rather her be in a good mood when he comes home. So in order for that to happen and not risk her being upset, she takes baking classes, cooking classes, Japanese classes and really fills up her sched with hobbies. I mean, she bakes bread for him every morning, dough rolling and everything! I think that is pretty awesome that she gets to do whatever she wants and spend time with her family on weekends but at the same time, people that she interacts with are limited (mostly, other housewives). If you are a female, would you want to be a Japanese housewife? If you are male, would you work extra hard so your wife can be a housewife and spend your money on hobbies? What do you think?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nothing New

Just a video of sumo when we went (taken by Ricky). Not great quality but you can make out the important parts of it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

104 degrees and some rumblin'

There were some crazyyyyy wild winds last Friday. Oddly, the winds were warm. Supposedly, its called "spring winds". The reason for the strongwinds was because the winter winds and spring winds were passing each other and created this typhoon like wind. Many people started to get Hayfever, which is odd since hayfever/allergies start around April in NY. Friday morning, I was up at 7 with a bunch of other teachers for a PR event. Cute kids and all just way too early. I went to work after and worked a nutty schedule with 4 10 min breaks for 8 classes. That night, I was headed on a night bus to Nango in Fukushima to snowboard. The mountains a little smaller but I have to admit, even though it was drizzling, the snow was still pretty great.
From Japan - February 2009
From Japan - February 2009

Unfortunately, half way through the day, I started to burn up and was not feeling alll that great. I decided not to go back out and went back to the minshyuku (almost like a family owned bed and breakfast except japanese style) Males and females are split up and are in separate rooms. This was the womens room.. there were probably 9 of us though this was during the day before bed time.
From Japan - February 2009
After I woke up from a three hour nap, I was just burning. I took my temperature and had a fever of 39.8 celsius - 104 Fahrenheit. I was taken to the hospital and the ride seemed like forever. I felt so delirious and just sick. The hospital was so dark and dingy, it did not look like a hospital. There were no lights on except for one room. They gave me the flu test, whcih is a long long thin cotton swab up your nose. I swear the doctor was scared of me bc he was scared of the flu. I sneezed bc he had a cotton swab up my nose (really far back) and he jumped a mile! Then he gave me some TamiFlu which is are th meds they gave for the bird flu years ago! Then the doctor went on telling my friend that everyone was going to be infected, etc, etc and was very negative about the whole situation. When i got back to the minshyuku, the owners were very hospitable and offered for me to sleep in their daughters room who doesnt live at home anymore. They brought me dinner and breakfast and were really awesome. This was dinner:
From Japan - February 2009
and this was breakfast:
From Japan - February 2009
Never ceases to amaze me how much they eat. Everything looks like small portions but it adds up!

Last night, I woke up to some rumbling. Usually I just sleep through the trains, doesnt really phase me anymore. However when I woke up, it was 4:55am. Trains dont start running until 530-6am so I knew it wasnt a train... not to mention my entire apartment was shaking left and right. Yup, it was an earthquake!! My second one here that I've noticed so far. Guess these mini earthquakes dont phase anyone here.

I went to the supermarket today and I bought some of these:
From Japan - February 2009
Mangosteens!!! they're imported from Thailand. EVen though they were imported, they're cheaper than oranges! for the two mangosteens, it was 158 yen (about 1.60 USD) and for one orange it was 98 yen (about a dollar USD). They werent the best ones i've had but they were still delish!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Setsubun (節分)

Japans got all these festivals and cultural stuff, its hard to keep track of when is what. Today was Setsubun. It basically means the day before the beginning of each season (celebrated yearly on Feb 3). The name literally means "seasonal division" but usually refers to the Spring. The special ritual that is associated with this day is called mamemaki (豆撒き aka bean scattering).The reason for this is to cleanse away all the evil from the past year and drive away all evil spirits in the coming year.

With that said, this morning a few people and I went to Narita Temple (成田山) to witness this insane event. My students have warned me about all the craziness that goes on. Last year 4.3 million people were recorded visiting Narita Temple on this day. We arrived a bit after 9am. We had no idea the bean throwing started at 1130... When we got there, we started to get barricaded in by security.We were basically barricaded in for 2.5 hours.
From Japan - February 2009
From Japan - February 2009
From Japan - February 2009
From Japan - February 2009
We just had to create our own fun while waiting but it really wasnt so bad. The nice old man in the picture above was a origami teacher so he made us all these cool paper cranes and things like that. But the crowd was insane, we were at the very front but people from the back kept pushing adn the ppl in front (though we were second "row") kept pushing back. These old women were just way too genki (げんき). Since you are supposed to catch and eat the beans that famous actors/actresses/sumo wrestlers throw, everyone was scrambling for them and it was every man for himself. Some of the famous people that went were the sumo champs (highest and second highest ranked sumos)
From Japan - February 2009
You can see the sumos in the back and all the others in front are famous people of some sort or another. Maybe politicians, actors, actresses, etc. We also saw the ex prime minister's son (Kotaro Koizumi) and he is a looker, one handsome man.

From Japan - February 2009
All the girls, well even grandmas were going nuts over him. People actually paid over $100USD to take a picture with him! It was a good experience though and today was an amazing day for the event. There was a ton of food and souveniers, I just wish I had more time to explore before work... damn work.

Anyway, heres a picture of the group minus Fab who was taking it and my lucky beans, which are just toasted soy beans. (more pix to be found on Picasa including the last of January)
From Japan - February 2009
From Japan - February 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

きもち - kimochii

So in my stay so far in Japan, I've come to the conclusion that Japanese kids, especially little boys are totally odd. My first interaction with elementary school kids was at a PR event at a public elementary school in Narita. The event itself was awesome, but these little boys (5-8 year olds) were like grabbing each others crotches! They were tickling them and laughing and having a blast... is that normal with little boys or is that Japan? I havent personally been around too many children so I cant be one to say. Although my students dont grab their crotches or anything but I have had one class of five 5 year olds, playfully hug each other and grab each others arms and stuff.. but if you ask me, they knew what they were doing and boys were hugging the girls, in a weird intimate way... unless thats just me, could be. However, I've spoken to other teachers and they all have stories about little boys that grab their crotch and other boys' crotches as well.

But anyway, what really sparked this blog was a trial students little brother. The trial student was the cutest little five year old girl, very shy and quiet. Almost cried becuase she was too nervous and ended up watching the class through a window. So mother, who was about 6-7 months pregnant walks in with the five year old girl and her brother, who was about three. You can tell right off the bat that he was the devil child. He just had this look in his eyes, he was insane. He runs right into my classroom, and starts throwing things around, launching the hoola hoop across the room, took out all the plastic balls and the bucket it was in. That is not a normal Japanese kid. This boy was worse than a boy with A.D. D. at that age. Class started a bit late because of all the commotion with the trial student and another make up student. The boy runs up to me, smacks me in the butt, runs away and comes back and forth to hit me a few times. The first few times, I let it go becuase he is only three. After class, they're the last ones around and the boy runs back and forth between me and the door and continually hits me with both fists and tries to dig his hands into my legs. I got real fed up and his mom wasnt watching, so I grabbed his hands and threw them back at him. He did a few more times and I just pushed him off me. Finally, the last time, he ran over with his two little fists and LICKED MY PANTS.... wtf was that!!! You can say, he's just a kid... but these Japanese boys are screwed in the head or something.. why do you think they have such crazy porn?

Perhaps, its because its kimochii (きもち) - "it feels good".

Or... shogunai - "such is life"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chopping it all off

So I had my first hair salon experience in Tokyo today. It was a really nice change from the typical American salons, even the high end ones. I decided to just go to a salon I passed by in Harajuku, on a whim. I spotted it while doing some shopping and the name was catchy so I decided to go on my way back to the train. It was called Hair Oasis, cant go wrong with that I suppose. So I walked in and immediately they started to speak to me in Japanese and I told them I only spoke English. They looked confused and asked around and we were able to come to an agreement on price after telling them I wanted a cut and color. They took my jacket, bags and all and sat me down for a consult. First we went over hair color and then my stylist brought over a few hair style mags. After many attempts to explain what I wanted, we finally found a picture of it. I told him I wanted something shoulder length, something simple and layered from the inside because I have a lot of hair. Somehow that translated to him as layered only in the back and no layers on the right or left side... derr ya... so we went on and on for about 20-30 minutes trying to work it out. After that was taken care of, it was time for a wash. They meticulously put 3-4 layers of towels and what not around me so my clothes wouldn't get wet. Not to mention, they also put this tissue water resistant tissue on my face which I thought was great! You don't have the awkwardness of smelling someones breath as they wash your hair. Most of the guys in the salon were males, except for one stylist. The rest of the experience is pretty self explanatory but halfway through the cut, one of the assistant stylists came over to ask what I wanted to drink. He was 22 and apparently today was his birthday, hah. His English was horrible but I still give him credit for trying to make conversation. As he was helping color my hair, he started to talk more along with my stylist. You can find out a lot in a little time ya know... but what I found most interesting was that he said, "I love you! I want you!" At first i was like uhh but then realized that he probably just really wants to learn English and hasn't had too many encounters with foreigners. When I told them I was from New York, they were all excited to ask about NY and things like that... I guess in retrospect, we're pretty lucky that we're from such an awesome city. Anyway, heres the result of the miscommunication and all the stuff that is lost in translation...

Things are getting to be a lot better now. I'm starting to figure out my weekly routine. Now that I have Japanese lessons weekly, I feel more motivated to wake up earlier and head to a nearby Starbucks to study before work. Once I start waking up earlier, I will have more time to run errands and even go for a jog in the AM. What I find funny is that all of us teachers are so sucked into these drama series and we're more addicted now than we were back home. Everyone is watching Heroes and 24. I still haven't gotten into it yet but I know I'm watching a lot more TV now than when I was home. I blame the slingbox.

Tomorrow, a bunch of us teachers are going to a live sumo match, will update more about that in a few days probably.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It's the year of the OX! May the new year bring all of you good luck, fortune and just the best of everything!! New year, new start, new country, new everything... Lets not let anything hold us back in '09. Cheers!

So, tomorrow, we go back to work and I'm totally not looking forward to it. The last two weeks have been stressful but have also been a lot of fun. Being a tour guide when you dont know the area too well is pretty tough and tiring. All in all, I'm glad my visitors came and they were able to share some experiences of Japan with me.

In the last two weeks, I've been to Disney Sea, snowboarding @ Mt. Naeba, Tokyo (Shinjuku, Shibuya, Asakusa, Harajuku, etc), Hakone, Kamakura, Yokohama.

Disney sea was alright, I feel like it was a little bit boring but maybe because I have been to Disney World. It just seemed too touristy for me and seemed like it was all a show. Regardless, it was nice to see all the lights up for the holiday season.

Snowboarding was amazing. Took the night bus to Niigata but had no idea that it was still pretty far from Echigo-Yuzawa where Mt. Naeba is so then I ended up taking the JR for another 2.5 hours to Echigo-Yuzawa. Then a local bus took about 30-40 min to get to the base of the mountain. Finally arrived at Mt Naeba at 11am, after 12 hours of travel!!! Boarded until 4pm. The base was pretty slushy but the snow up at the peak was pretty good for early season. Unfortunately, I didnt get to take the Dragondola over to the other side of the mountain but next time I go, I'll make sure to take it. Rentals were pretty cheap and its cool how they rent gear (jacket, pants etc) also. Just for equipment, rental was only 3,000 yen ($30). Definitely an experience, haha next time i'll jst make sure to take the Shinkansen from Tokyo. saves so much time.

My family visited for a little less than a week and we all ended up stayin at a hotel in Shinjuku. Trust me, its pretty funny to walk through the red light district with your parents in an attempt to look for a place to eat. New Years here is almost like a national holiday. So many stores and restaurants are closed. Too bad I had no idea or I would have told them to come later! Didnt even get to take them to the Funabashi 6 story Diaso (dollar store)! The best thing about New Years were the Fukuburo aka Fortune bags. These are pretty much grab bags that each store puts together for a set amount of price. The items in the bag vary and its a surprise. Pretty exciting and people line up for hours, even up to 2 days for these bags at the big department stores. My sister, bro in law and I bought some. Some stuff were cool but half the stuff dont even fit!! These Japanese people are so tiny! Taking the risk is always fun :) We also went to Kamakura to see the Big Bronze Buddha (Diabustu) and walked around the area and visited some temples. Kamakura has a New England feel to it. Its a small surf town and has small surf shops, restuarants and just a lot of touristy stuff. I'm def going to go back when it gets warmer. Yokohama is really pretty. Not so much a fan of the Chinatown... but perhaps thats because I am from New York where the real Chinatown is. Walking along the water in Yokohama is pretty relaxing and just a nice area to walk around.

Yesterday, one of my friends rented a car and 5 of us went on a roadtrip. We aimlessly drove along the coast and back up to Katsutadai. We had the car for 12 hours so we drove down to Kujukuri. There were so many surfers! It boggles my mind since its freezing out and they're all out there sitting in the water on their boards. The last stop of the trip before heading home was an Under the sea Observatory. We hung out there for a while and watched the sun set over the Pacific. Pretty awesome I'd have to say.

You can see the photos to the left or visit my Picasa.