Nov 2, 2015

Halloween pumpkin treats in Japan

During halloween season in Japan theres lots of cool treats you can find in restaurants, such as this one which was on the 59th floor of Ikebukuro sunshine city . It was actually in a fancy fancy restaurant. I saw this halloween themed treat on the ads downstairs that said it can be found on the 59th floor but in no way was I expecting to walk into this!!

Welcome to the wonderful 
Ocean Casita Italian seafood grill. There were fancy tables facing out this beautiful romantic view over Tokyo. You could sit at the table or sit directly at the window in a small chair.

I couldn't just have the pumpkin desert ^^

I ended up getting REAL

buffalo mozzarella
cheese!! I have never had
the real deal. Most stuff is made with cows milk because the real stuff is expensive.

It was sooo good. Small portion and costs about

2000円 I think. Not too expensive and just enough for a light snack before my
pumpkin snack.

The staff were actually nice. I am not sure if they were empty so gave this or if it was a halloween special they give everyone. Or it was just my lucky day. But at the end they brought me free Expresso with cute pumpkin face and said this is a present ^^

I was super happy ^^

Some of the other treats I seen around are

Halloween cakes!!  I have seen Christmas cakes, because those are common but I have a feeling that Halloween will turn into a cake season ^^ Or at least I hope so. Could you imagine ?? A whole other world of cake decorations!!

Halloween doesn't have trick or treat culture and I doubt it ever will. But the decorations, halloween parties and themed events make halloween in Japan wonderful ^^

Oct 16, 2015

If you are Canadian why does your English sound not right?!

(This picture is just a picture of me in a Hamamatsu Curry restaurant ^^)
Today I am going to write about something that is happening to me more and more often. I work at a restaurant that takes in well over 150 customers per day, so sometimes I get a customer who can't speak Japanese and only speaks English. So my chances of running into new English speaking people have increased.
Not only that but since I am working almost full time now, I spend 95% of my day constantly speaking Japanese. I like to call it "in Japanese mode". The menu at my work is in Japanese, so I have it all memorized in Japanese, along with the explanations and what I am supposed to say to customers. So when suddenly expected to give this in English, I get thrown off.
I noticed since working longer hours I get some customers giving me a funny look when I tell them I am originally from the English speaking part of Canada.
Even as I am speaking English I think to myself "why does my accent become this weird. Ugh why can't the words just come out!!!".  Its a weird phenomenon that happens, especially at work.
When I record videos in English sometimes the start, starts off a little weird but I re-record it a few times and then I bounce into English mode and only have a minor weird accent and random slip ups of strange grammar.
But when I am at work its on some NEXT LEVEL!   #shestillgothertorontoslang
I kinda freeze up at work and words don't come out sometimes, I studder and its almost like I am a non native speaker trying to pull words out of my brain. The customers even slow down talking to me and use easy words. I find it nice and often cute how they act around me, but then I remember....hey wait.. but I am a native speaker!!!!
Even more awkward when I finally tell them I was born in Canada. It usually goes something like this.
"so we will bring to you...the bread when make it. if you think more is needed to you then you can call and tell me and I can get for you" :D    *omg mira wtf is wrong with you! more is needed to you?? what is that!??! what is that omg*

"Oh thank you *smiling thinking oh how cute shes trying to speak English*. Oh and I would like......ummm  *asks their friend, how do I say water in Japanese again??*  Yes I would like mizu ^^ mizu kudasai!!"
"hai! omizu de" *aww thats sweet they are trying to use the little Japanese they know*    (This actually happens very often. Even if customers need English help, they still use Japanese words and 75% of the time, will say arigatou gozaimasu at the end when walking out. its common courteous to the country they are in and the language the people here speak)
*Mira goes and comes back*

"heres you water ^^ and this is bread ^^"

"Oh looks wonderful!. Oh by the way, Are you Japanese?"

"Oh no"

"Oh okay ^^ Where are you originally from??" ^^

"Canada :)"

*You can notice right away a slight change in their tones and a surprised look*.

"Oh thats funny! us too!! which city??"


"oh! we are from Toronto too! so how long ago did you move to Japan?"

"Over 4 years ago".

*long pause and odd faces peek through their smiles*

"Oh. Did you live in any other countries before that or something?" *mira can tell they are are from Canada but your English is so unnatural and broken*

Thats kinda how it goes down.  I think the main issue is when I am at work, I don't know what to say in English so I just translate stuff from Japanese into English directly. Since I translate it from Japanese into English, the sentence order is messed up and the time it takes for me to try to find a good word, is a slight delay so it appears as if I am struggling for a word I don't know.

Japanese sounds are pronounced different from English, so I noticed when I speak Japanese a lot for a long time then try to speak English it doesn't come out right.

Other than the strange looks and obvious elephants in the room , It doesn't affect me. They still understand and the orders get taken. In the end they go home happy. Its also kinda nice to see how people treat non English speakers or people who speak broken English weather its language deterioration or they are just learning. Its good to know people are not flat our rude or say "hey! speak proper English!!! " or something in anger.

Does anyone else have any interesting experiences like this or funny stories to tell ^^ ??

May 11, 2015

New IMAX theater Shinjuku...not so max :(

Just a few weeks ago, a new Toho movie theater opened up in Shinjuku, Kabukucho, Tokyo. This theater has a huge godzilla statue on top of it that from some angles across the city, looks like godzilla is taking over Tokyo (just like many people have been so patiently waiting for ^^).

Not only is the outside of this theater eye catching, but what is inside is what I was looking forward to. IMAX ^^ and 4D movies (this is where the seat moves around and water sprays at you during your movie)

The other week I went with some of my friends to see a movie in IMAX 3D. Before entering I had prepared my friends for the IMAX experience, they had never been to an IMAX screen before so they didn't know what to expect.

I remember IMAX being so big that it would hurt your eyes if you were too close to the screen. I had assumed IMAX would be the same size in Japan. Growing up in the west I guess you could say I have a strong expectation for "big screens". The movie culture in Canada compared to Japan is substantially larger.

I was not only let down at the size of the screen, I felt cheated out of money :(  I mean, the threater was nice and the chairs are comfy and all. The screen was slightly bigger than a regular theater screen, but It wasn't anything a north American should expect for IMAX size.  It also costs  more (just like in Canada), which made it even worse. Movies in Japan are more expensive than Canada as is, average between 15-20$ per person. The IMAX was almost 30$.

As a friendly suggestion and warning. Don't expect a huge huge huge screen.


Since the theater was new, the staff were SUPER friendly. You could really feel the energy inside the theater. I also should note I went at 9am (yeah, weird time to see a movie right haha). Even though we went at 9, it was still packed!! (new things tend to pack up fast in Japan).

The staff greeted us outside the theater, the top of the escalators up the theater and when we were going to get popcorn they all were overly friendly and enthusiastic about the new customers in the new store.

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

Then theres an issue when I am in Japanese mode and start going back and forth between languages to quickly, I get confused and don't know which language I am speaking. There have been times with my friends where I had to tell them what to say but then ended up telling them in Japanese what the other person said in Japanese. My friends laugh it off though.

Some people may be good at switching between languages but I certianly am not.

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 am an immigrant from Canada, holding Canadian citizenship but I am planing on becoming Japanese and living here till the day my heart stops beating. This is where I plan to buy a home, start a family, retire. I pay taxes, insurance and into the Japanese public pension system. This is my new home. I always say I am from Toronto because thats where I am from. I was not born there, (where you are from and where you are born are two different things)

I also was not born in Japan but it doesn't mean that I am not from here. Its completely normal for me to say I am from Tokyo..but.

For some reason it feels like you are pressured by some people to say where you used to live, no matter how many years you been here. This kinda bothers me and I don't wish to participate in this anymore. I feel like I am proudly ready to say.

I am from Tokyo.

I am no longer a resident of Canada, legally recognized as such according to the Canadian government. (a resident is a person who lives in a country, regardless of their citizenship or not, if you live somewhere that is your residence).

EDIT: *stretches arms and inserts clarification for those who don't know and therefor assume this information is incorrect*

When I visit Canada and arrive into the customs clearance at the airport, I have to enter in the "visitors to Canada" line, because I am not a resident of Canada.  This is where I have to tell them how long I plan on staying in the country and where I will be visiting. Even though I hold Canadian citizenship I still have to give the airport this information.

EDIT: I though this was common sense... I mean If I am not a resident and I am just visiting that seems normal and straight forward to me. Yet a certain someone had a little hissy fit on twitter getting all enraged and implying this information is wrong and a bunch of bs. I had to dig up this picture of what I see every time I entered the country. I am sorry but I know my legal language an I know very well what the word "resident" means.  I am not a resident of Canada. I don't live here, no address is registered there. I live in Japan. I even got so annoyed that I called Pearson airport just to confirm. Yup. I am not a resident unless I live in Canada. The correct line is visitor line.

Now back to my original post *EDIT OUT.

I also am not eligible to renew my Canadian VISA card. The reason being is for my bank, you need to be a resident of Canada. Their rules state a resident is someone who has been in the country within the last 2 years. If I leave the country for more than 2 years I am not able to renew it.

I am also not eligible and no longer have Canadian health insurance. Ontario health insurance requires you to live in Ontario for 3 convective months before being eligible. I don't live there, my card expired and I wont be able to renew it unless I moved back to Ontario, lived there for 3 months.

When I come back home in Japan, it is a little bit different because in Japan they divide the customers lines into "foreign passport" and "Japanese passports". I am not yet a Japanese citizen so I go through the foreign passports section of course, which is then 再入国 and perm residence. Which are people who are returning. It is in general, for people who are residents of Japan. Non residents don't have visas so they get asked many questions at the gates. I just slip right past and the process is simple. 

All my family has accepted that I live in Japan, this is my home. Some people ask me how my family takes it knowing their daughter moved to a far away country. They have accepted it and fully support me. Often they refer to me as their Japanese daughter, or daughter from Japan.  They can't wait to come visit me, and sometimes my mom even makes jokes about moving here so I can take care of her when she gets old. lol

When I visited Toronto, I couldn't say "I am from Toronto" so instead I said I am from Tokyo. It would have been silly to say I am from Toronto, I mean I don't live there and where I came from was Tokyo. This is no problem to me at all.

So when I am abroad I can refer to myself as a Tokyoite.

but when I am in Tokyo....what do I say? This is what I have started to wonder about.

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.  

In the beginning I said Canada always because I wasn't used to Tokyo, I wasn't from here. I got used to saying it and as the years went on of me living here the reactions of people were different.
When I said I am from Canada, when they found out I live here, they were a little surprised like "OH !! You live here?! I thought you were a tourist".

I mean, Where I am from and where I am born are two different things. Where you are from is the place you are currently connected to. A person from somewhere knows the area, they are a local, they know the food, culture and where to go and how to get there.

Someone not from somewhere is someone just visiting, passing through, tourism or a new comer who doesn't know the area and thus needs to ask "hey can you tell me ~~~ I am not from here".

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.

You never really expect things to change when you are gone. Many people say reverse culture shock is stronger than culture shock. When you move to a new country you expect to see new things. But when you go back to a country you used to live in, you don't expect people or things to change and when they do you often get into a shock.

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.

I wasn't actually born in Toronto btw. I have lived in multiple cities in my life, all across Ontario. Even though I wasn't born in Toronto, I used to say I was from Toronto. Its fairly normal to do. Some people act like the word "where are you from" is supposed to mean, where are you born. But I never heard anyone use it in such way.

I think that for some reason people who move to Japan, immigrants get a sort of fear to start being proud that they are now from here. I think it comes with the fear that ppl put into peoples minds that Japan is so racist and doesn't accept people (btw this is utter bs). Even my Japanese friends know the difference between born and from. I have friends who I know are born in another city but they never say "I am from XXXX". I even have friends who were born abroad but never say it. So why would it be any different for me?  I realized the other day it seems so silly to stop my chain of "froms". I mean, in my whole life I have been "from" over  8 different cities. After I move and live there for a few years, I become from that place. Why would I stop and not say I am from Tokyo??

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.