Jul 22, 2016

PokemonGO ~ Late but will take over Japan ~ #worldexcersizepromotion


So as most of you know, PokemonGO game was super late to be released in Japan, even though Japan is the birthplace of Pokemon. It is not uncommon that we get things late but when I found this out it actually felt quite annoying and I was not the only one. Many other people here were saddened that almost all other countries were able to enjoy it before.


So I thought "thats neat" and wanted to try it out. I am not a big fan at all of iphone games at all. The screen is too small for me. I like to play games on the big screen. 

When I lived in Canada I played a game where you breed frogs, called pocket frogs. Since I like reptiles and amphibians it was the perfect game for me. It was a game where you breed different colours of frogs and combine them to make other types. You make a small habitat for them to live in. You can buy other rocks and plants etc, level up.

A few weeks ago a fan commented on a video and had one of these frogs as a DP, I thought thats soooooo neat!

Every other game I was interested in was on a computer. I rather play a game with a mouse than a finger or controllers, just me.


Since when I was a kid, pokemon was THE cool thing, and anyone else born in the 90s knows how famous it was in North America. In Japan everyone knows pokemon, they like the characters and think pokemon goods are cute, but surprisingly the number of people my age who actually actively watched pokemon is quite low.  In Canada it was a pandemic! The cool kids could name all 150 in a row. You played with little toys from walmart, I had maybe 30 different ones.

Anyways back to PokemonGO.   So, It finally comes in Japan and I go to download it. I have a Iphone4s (Grandma Mira). I don't know if thats the reason...but seeing as everyone around me can at least play it :'(.    It crashes, slow, freeze, GPS didn't even show where I was real time, and no pokemon for me :/   I got frustrated and deleted it. End of story.

My mom has been mailing me daily "you got it yet?" "you got it yet?" "why Japan no pokemon go?" "time to re-immigrate back to Canada". and other random things all 2 weeks.

She loves those interactive games, I remember when I lived in Canada and she got me to play farmville because she wanted someone to play with. She was the highest level you could go........rumour has it, she still plays.

Anyway, So I have lots of friends who are able to play it so I was lucky enough to hang out with them and they let me give it a try. To my surprise, 2 am theres TONS of people out playing.  Even at my restaurant a good chunk of customers playing, as many as 7 customers at a time :O

Now what do I think of the game after playing it?
Meh.
I mean, its cool but something I get bored of really fast. Catch, walk, catch, walk. Its just throwing ball. I feel it would be cooler if you actually battled that pokemon WITH your pokemon.

I also think the function where you can see it is cool, but it  always appears straight in front of you, and it would be more cool if it was super advanced and actually was programed with the surroundings you are in . Example, if theres awall, it jumps on it etc....but that would take lots of programing I know, and quite hard to do.

In good news though. PokemonGO is genious !


FREE EXCERSIZE PROMOTION

This world, all around, needs more fitness.

They say due to trains/cars/elevators/computers/stuff being so close
We don't move enough. And I am not talking about skinny vs fat. Because being skinny or fat doesn't make you fit or not. FYI, I am super unfit. I can't walk up 1-2 stair cases without getting tired, that is a serious sign of being unfit.

A game forcing you to walk long distances? EXCELLENT. Theres already people who have been posting how long they walked now vs before pokemon go etc. Businesses are also getting a boost. Because it attracts people to go out and walk, and maybe end up in front of a store with a hot spot. In Japan, its McDonald's is a major sponsor and it really does attract tons of people...even at 2am!


Well, In the future I want to get a Iphone6plus? Is that what its called *adjusts hearing aid*. And hopefully they make a update or something so you can battle or so, because I think that would be a cool feature. If so, Maybe I would reconsider downloading it.


Jul 6, 2016

It is YUKATA TIME ★ summer in Japan

It is that time of the year again
 
 
Yukata is a type of summer kimono that we wear in Japan. Long ago this used to be the common summer wear for those who lived in the southern regions of Japan, Today its only accociated with "summer".
 
Summer in Japan has 3 important things.
Matsuri, Hanabi, Obon.
 
Festivals in Japan occur all year, but its a typical summerish thing for festivals to go on. And to a summer festival, people wear Yukata.
 
Fireworks in Japan only happen in the summer time, and unlike some countries we don't light them off to commemerate special days like new years etc, but they are set off as just firework events, sponsored by big companies now, and has always been a part of traditonal culture accross Japan and China (for those who don't know, fireworks origin is china)
 
Obon is often called the festival of the dead. It is time of year where theres Obon festivals heald, and people dance around in a circle (people I mean mostly women), theres traditional folk songs, drums and occationally bingo.
Obon is also the time of year where you go visit the graves of your loved ones who died. Currently I don't have any one close to me whom is burried in Japan, so instead of doing "ohaka mairi", I buy some jelly bellys and have some black tea , to remind me of my passed on relatives.
 

 
 
This is me 5 years ago when I first moved to Tokyo. I am wearing the very first Yukata I ever got (still have), bought to me by my dear friends. I don't have that obi anymore because it is a "manual" obi that just sticks on there, it broke over time but I have since then bought a new pink obi to replace it.
 
Yukata is something every girl should have at least 2 different colours. I honestly think Yukata should be mandatory to attend a festival or fireworks, but maybe I am just too keen on keeping tradtions alive. Ever since a kid I though it was normal to do what you are supposed to do at events.  Costumes on Halloween, Dress up at events where costume is needed, wear a facy dress to a wedding or prom, wear the Japanese soccer team shirt at soccer game etc.

Showing up not dressed takes all the fun out of it. But thats just me. It is the way my mom raised me. That whole go big or go home attitude.


 In the last 5 years I have owned 4 Yukatas. Two of them I bought myself.
This one here <  I almost went broke off of. I miscalculated how much money was in my bank and left myself with 22$ to my name after this one....but it was so pretty I just had to!!!

The one at the top of the page I just bought less than a week ago. I am really happy with it.. It has black and orange so I don't need to re-buy any geta or hair accessories because I already have a bunch with those colours.

1 Yukata was bought for me, but no picture was ever taken. It was bought by one of my old English students to me 3.5 years ago, but it was WAYYYYYYY too big!

I never knew Yukata could come in such size. but apparently they do. It wasn't just the length, but the shoulders were almost double me! It was a shame because it was a nice pattern. The student bought it so suddenly, I didn't try it on or even know they bought it. They just brought it to the lesson so it couldn't be helped.  Rule of thumb, never buy a present for someone that they need to try on, otherwise it might not be good size ^^.


This summer I am kicking it off. I love summer. Love the hot weather. Beach, Hiking, Festival, Fireworks! This is the good life ^^

So anyway, for those who are interested in buying Yukata and knowing how to put it on, I have two videos I made ^^








 

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 faces..like a surprised look*.

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

"Toronto"

"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 wondering...you 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.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE.


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"

"100$"

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)



Anyways.

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