Apr 17, 2015

Switching between Japanese & English is hard

I speak both English and Japanese fluently. Which language I am more comfortable speaking, more used to speaking and better at speaking all depends on the situation.

Since I live in Japan, it is easier to speak about Japanese things (culture, customs, food, money) in Japanese. There are just things you can't explain in English because they don't exist, theres no word, no culture to say such things. However working at a restaurant I am sometimes forced to have to be able to translate things into English for a customer who can't speak Japanese, and It is very very hard for me.

At my job its all Japanese, the coworkers speak Japanese, 95% of customers speak Japanese, I am trained in Japanese and this is Japan. In a Japanese restaurant there are many phrases you just never say in English speaking countries.

1. Level of politeness.
In Japan when you are speaking to the customer you use a very high polite form of Japanese. In English this doesn't exist.  You also say things such as omatase shimashita - お待たせしました "I am sorry to keep you waiting". This isn't something you would say in English, so when I have to say it to the English speaking customers, I feel a little weird. Not to mention we have a phrase called ごゆっくりどうぞ goyukkuri douzo (literally: please take your time).  It sounds so weird to have to repeat this to the customer in English, we just don't say this randomly after giving them their drink or food over and over again.

2. Names of food and descriptions

The menus at my work have English titles of the food on them, but what is hard to remember is that sometimes the English and Japanese is different. So when a customer orders something that I don't have the English memorized, I have to look at the menu and search it up. It also is kinda hard when asked on the spot to explain what something is, having only being taught what it is in Japanese and Japanese words to describe it, on the spot my English ends up being really weird sounding. I often find myself directly trying to translate the Japanese explanation into English and the English is just a mess.

These are just some of the problems I am facing. Mostly at work :P

Apr 10, 2015

How to look good in Tokyo and save money

You may have heard that Tokyo is a fashion capital, with some of the highest standards of beauty and strict expectations when it comes to appearance for people of all ages and both female and male. It is not considered feminine for a male to enjoy shopping, in fact there are malls just for men and an equally as large market for male customers as there is females.

You may have also heard that Tokyo is super expensive and that to buy a pair of jeans it costs at least 100$ *flails arms in the air in anger*. Well, though the second part may be correct, what you would call expensive depends on the culture that you were brought up in. I find it is mostly the American and Canadian people, who come from places where clothing is very very cheap, who have a problem with the prices in Japan.

Where I was born, you find a lot of whole-sale factory made goods that come from major companies that can afford to make stuff cheap and sell it for cheap. We also have a culture of buying things in multiple colours "blue, pink, white and yellow tank top please" and buying new clothes quite often, especially with the whole "back to school culture" where you buy a new everything for the next year. High end brands are not as popular, and often people will think of a rich and snobby person when it comes to such. Puting on make up everyday and maintaining a professional and "high maintenance" look when you are out in public doesn't have such a pressure in the west.

Well Japan, and especially Tokyo are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.  This will shock you if you come from Canada or America. I have heard a lot of different opinion such as "Tokyo people care TOO much about their looks" to "Everyone looks like a model!!".   Brands are in, make up is in, high fashion is in, looking your best even when you are in your home and nobody will see you, is also in.

Aside from the fact that you are expected to look proper and clean, it is also considered the norm to put more money towards your look. Something that is cheap is looked at as "suspicious", rather than a good deal.  I once wanted to make a video on how much Japanese people spend on buying their wallets, and I wish I caught this on camera.

"can I make a video about your wallet, just a short video, you don't have to show your face"

"no, I can't show this wallet this is just a cheap one"

"how much was it"


One thing you gotta know about Tokyo, brands are VERY popular. Louis vuitton is the number one brand that you will see stand out. You could stand on the corner of Shibuya crossing at any time of the day and see more than 10 LV bags crossing about.  It is so common there are even some people say it is "too trendy, everyone has it". (well I don't think so I love LV but yeah)


It is not strange, crazy or silly to spend so much money on fashion here. It is expected to pay about 60$ or so for a shirt or even about 100$ for a pair of pants. It is pretty normal to pay over 100$ for shoes, and a couple hundred on a jacket.

So with all these brands being in style how the heck do people afford it?

Is everyone rich??

Well no. It is all about what people want and what people are willing to spend their money towards.

In Canada, people spend a lot of money on eating out. Eating out is more expensive in Canada than in Japan. People also spend a lot of money on electronics and stuff. But here, people would save up money, just to get the brand items they want.

Another factor you have to consider is taxes in Japan are quite low, so this allows people to save money on such purchases. People tend to keep clothes for a longer time here (and they usually last longer). It is also very common that people live with their parents till they get married AND it is normal for parents to pay for their children's university, allowing their children to have more money to spend on the clothing they want.

But, not everyone has the will or the way to save up 2000$ for a new purse.

So how do you shop high end but save money?? Especially being a foreigner whos parents possibly didn't pay for university, you are so used to being in a culture where you don't save money and or you spent too much money on that plane ticket here :o What do we do?!

Used clothing stores.

In Canada, used clothing stores are looked at as somewhere homeless ppl shop. Poor and or low quality people shop. The used stores usually smell really gross, don't carry brands at all. The image of a used store is just no good one. 

In Japan, used clothing stores are completely different. There is a huge market for them and they are generally divided into two categories. Brand name high priced used stores, and clothing used stores (which also have brand stuff but is not specially for that). They are everywhere. There are over 20 used stores in Shinjuku alone, and thats just one area. There are plenty of people who think used stores are gross because someone else used it, or its damaged. But if you want to look cool and save money its a great place to go ^^

LV sunglasses that are regularly 700$, you could find for about 300$.
LV purses ranging from 60$-1800$ depending on the style.

The stores that have clothing sold usually separate brand name clothing between regular cheaper clothing and often have the original store price on it.

At these stores you can find plenty of wonderful deals. I have bought shirts that originally were 140$, for 10$. I also have had shoes that were 250$ for only 8$ ^^    

Some names of used stores are;   

Treasure Factory - Many chains all across outer Tokyo area. I really recommend Machida store, Funabashi store, Tachikawa or Chiba stores. They have a point card too. Point cards are a big thing in Japan and it is actually worth getting one. Each point = 1 yen. Those points add up quickly and you can use those points to pay for your next purchase. I have saved over 200$ in points at Treasure factory alone ^^

There also is Jumble store. This is a chain store but I recommend you travel to the one in Tama shi. It is bigger and cheaper. 

There are some used stores that only deal with brand purses or brand clothes, and others where it is both mixed.  There is also "men only" used clothing stores such as BINGO (it is a chain, the shibuya store has a small female section but mostly for men).

Some kanji or words you should look for when you want to find a used store is

買取 kaitori     - buy sell ? buy take? I don't even know how to translate. Basically used stuff store.
質店 shichi ten  - used store
質屋   shichi ya   - used store
リサイクルショップ  risaikuru shoppu   - used store


Mar 23, 2015

Where am I from? Tokyo? Toronto?

I was born in Ontario
I lived in Toronto for 5 years.
I live in Tokyo for almost 4 years now.

So where am I from? When people ask me where I am from I used to proudly say Toronto, but recently I have started to question the way I answer to these types of questions.

I plan on immigrating, becoming Japanese and living here till the day my heart stops beating. This is my new home. I am no longer a resident of Canada, legally recognised as such according to the Canadian government.

When I visit Canada, I have to enter in the "visitors to Canada" line, where I have to tell them how long I plan on staying in the country and where I will be visiting.

When I come back home in Japan, I have a Canadian passport so I go through the Foreign passport section which is divided into two, residents and non residents, when I show them my passport they point me to the residents second and say "okaeri nasai" which means welcome home.

All my family has accepted that I live in Japan, this is my home. Often they refer to me as their Japanese daughter, or daughter from Japan.   When I visited Toronto, I couldn't say "I am from Toronto" so instead I said I am from Tokyo.
So when I am abroad I can refer to myself as a Tokyoite.

but when I am in Tokyo....what do I say?

I am not going to lie, there has been some times where people have asked where I am from and I had said Tokyo. It depends on the case what I say.  Often people ask where I am from because they guess I am a tourist and If I say Canada and they later find out I have been living here for almost 4 years they were like OH, I didn't know you lived here. or Oh I you are from here!

I mean, Where I am from and where I am born are two different things.
I just don't know when the appropriate time would be when I can start saying I am from Tokyo.

Saying I am from Toronto is like a lie to myself now, I realize that when I went to Toronto for more than 10 mins (like last summers Canada trip).   Everything is different. Stores are gone, stores appeared. Buildings changed. Transportation names have changed. I had to ask for directions and people gave me "common" landmarks I have no idea what they are.

I kept raising my hand up in a restaurant trying to say "sumimasen!!" when ordering food. Everything felt out of place and like I totally didn't belong there.  And yes, I even found myself taking pictures of stuff I never even though I would take pictures of.  I had lots of fun, I got to shop for stuff I wanted and I ate every food I missed on my list of food to eat. But I didn't feel like I have the right to say "I am from Toronto" anymore.

Jan 11, 2015

So you want to be a YouTuber?

I get emails all the time from people who are interested in being a YouTuber. It is the most talked about job recently, with more and more people quitting their regular 9-5 job to hit the streets (or their bedrooms for some) and start making some google old ad sense gold ^^.   

With all the success stories who wouldn't want to jump on the band wagon?

1. Don't do it for the money.  Greed and wanting to get rich is no reason to start a YouTube, and chances are you wont even get anywhere with this type of attitude. People are attracted to truly passionate people. If you are not interested in making videos because you think its fun, how to you expect people to be interested in watching? 

2. Don't just do it to do it.  I have met so many people who say they want to become a YouTuber, yet don't even have any idea what they want to make videos about. This is a big flag that you are not even meant to be a YouTuber. Us YouTubers become YouTubers because we already have something we want to share with the world. If you don't have any ideas, theres no reason to attempt to do the impossible. It is as silly as opening a store and having no idea what you will sell in it.

3. Don't spam promote yourself. One thing people hate is "hey look at me, check me out" crap. The people whos videos you are commenting on will look down on you, the people who see your comment will look low of you and in the end you will be flagged as spam and your comments wont show up anywhere.  Getting viewers is not something that will happen over night, heck it took me over a year to get 5000 subs. Growing isn't something that you should be worried about, its good content and having fun. Remember, if you are making YouTube videos because you have some dream plan to be famous, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

4. Don't be a leach.  Lots of people do it, some channels make a living off it. Putting bigger YouTubers names or even celebrities names in their video titles to attract tons of views. This trade is very poor, tacky and these types of people who do it are the ones I despise the most. There are two types of people in the YouTube world, those who make videos. And those who make responses to those videos and put the YouTubers name in the title so search engines pick up on it and they get some extra views. Sure you could take this road, if you are in it for the money, and in the end steal some subs. But what you lose is moral respect from those YouTubers and don't gain any value at all.  In all honesty, I have more respect for people who sell their bodies on YouTube for views, at least they are not selling someone elses.

5. Prepare for hate comments. Everyone gets them. The more you get, the more people love you. It is important to not waste your time with the hate comments. Normal people know people spend their time focusing on someone they dislike, because they are jealous and have no life. Normal people who dislike something ignore it and don't pay any mind to it. Haters will follow your every move just like fans do, except they complain. Theres a button for them, its called the block and delete button. Just ignore them and keep moving on your day. They wont go away, but just because they wont go away doesn't mean you have to waste your time on them.

6. Invest your time. If you don't invest your own time into replying to comments, making thumbnail pictures, properly editing your videos, re-recording, making sure the quality is good, getting a good camera, fixing your audio etc. Don't expect people to take the time to watch your videos or stick around. The more you invest in this and the more passionate you are about it. The more people will respect you and in the end it will pay off.

Nov 18, 2014

The hard stuff about making friends in Japan

Sorry ladies and gents. I have been busy out with my friends, traveling, busy editing so many videos that I have not made a blog in a long long time.

I would like to talk about making friends in Japan.

Starting off with how to make friends in Japan. It is almost like making friends in another country really, you go out, talk to people and get their social network contact info to keep in touch. Pretty straight forward.

The big thing you will have a problem with in Japan is 

A. keeping those friends
B. having to say goodbye to friends who leave the country.

The first one is surprisingly more tricky than at least Canada. In Japan, you will find a lot of people just stop contacting you due to busy with work, they get married and become busy, or they were never really that close to you from the start and slowly "stop knowing you".

This is a feeling I never noticed in Canada so much. Its not that it doesn't happen, its just that in Japan you will notice this much more than you would in your home land. This problem can only be avoided to an extent. No matter how much contact you keep with someone, the effort you make on your side, how available you are it will always be in the hands of the other person as well right.

Having friends leave the country is one of the most painful feelings. It has been described as other foreigners as having a funeral to your friends. Making friends with other foreigners is fun. I have no discrimination between the place you were born and the status of your residence here, so I will become friends with anyone who is a cool person. The sad thing is knowing that a lot of people don't stay in Japan... and I have made friends with a lot of people who are currently about to leave. It is the worst feeling I have ever felt.

The only way to avoid this is not become friends with people who are not staying forever. But then you are missing out on the wonderful relationships that you can develop with them. I don't see it as a waste of time that I got to know so many people who will split off and part from here. Heck, gives me a chance to travel and an excuse. 

Just prepare yourself when making friends in Japan that these are two problems that you might come across. Make sure you have a little extra money saved to visit your extended families across the globe. 

Jun 16, 2014


I wanted to make a blog about purikura.

Purikura is very popular in Japan. These are not even 10% of all the pictures I have ever taken but I would like to share these purikura with you. If you don't know what purikura is then take a look at the pictures and then at the very bottom I will explain more :)

Please note. I have photo-shopped my friends faces out to protect their identities.

Purikura is a activity. It is where you take a picture in a special huge photo machine. It is like a big walk in photobooth where you can fully stand up in and jump around if you wanted to. Purikura picture machines are very high tech and have many different features. They don't just take pictures but they edit them for you.

They usually change your skin automatically to make it more smooth and beautiful. Is it even possible to look bad in a purikura picture?

After you are done taking pictures you can change the backgrounds of the pictures, brightness and the size of your eyes.

The best part is drawing on the pictures and putting stickers on them. 

The only thing that sucks about purikura is you have to give your cell phone email address to these companies, and every once in a while they send you spam mail.

If you don't give out your address, you will only get the printed out version of the sticker pictures it makes. If you do give them your address you can have two pictures sent to your cell phone for free ^^

May 26, 2014

10 tips on learning Japanese

1. Make notes - Notes will help you not only remember words but get used to writing them down. If you don't work your hand, you wont learn to remember how to write the words and it is easy to forget. Notes can always be re-written over and over again if you feel the notes are too messy, or for re-practicing. You should be writing down important points that you want to look back on later.

2. Use what skills you have - A lot of people worry about looking up stuff in the dictionary right away when they don't know how to say something, or they spend too much time trying to explain something they just can't. Use what vocabulary you already know so that you can get your point across, and worry about learning the more harder words at a later time.

3. Be patient - Japanese takes years to be fluent in, and it isn't something you can just master in only 10 mins. There will be times where you just don't understand anything, and that is ok. You will get there.

4. Talk to yourself - Nothing is wrong with talking to yourself when you have nooone to practice with. It is better than no chance at all to use your mouth mussels, Without practice you wont get any better. 

5. Studying is not work  - If you think of studying as a chore or something not fun, you wont ever learn. Think of studying as something fun and something you love. Find a way to incorporate studying into your hobbies. 

6. Look up unknown words - When you see a word you don't know, do your best to find out what it means. Especially if it is the only word you don't understand.

7. Skip unknown words - Sometimes there are too many words you don't know, that you will be spending too much time looking them up. In this case, skip over them and try to understand the sentence without them.

8. Don't be shy - Being afraid to use your skills will only give you less chances to practice and get better.

9. Use multiple resources - One website or book wont teach you it all, you need to use as much resources as you can. More resources will give you different ways to study.

10. Don't be discouraged - Making mistakes is a good thing. It helps you learn so you don't do it again. Don't be upset that people are better than you, you can be just as good as anyone, it just takes time. Don't feel upset if people laugh at your errors, they are just a-holes. ;)