Saturday, June 1, 2013

My neighbourhood

I have lived most of my life in Tokyo, but this is my first time ever to live in the east side of Tokyo. Even though Tokyo is the fourth smallest prefecture in Japan, there are various surroundings in each area. The place I live now is so-called "shitamachi (old town)," and it has different atmosphere and culture from my hometown. Where I used to live was developed in relatively recent years, so there are mountains, woods, big supermarkets, and lots and lots of houses in particular places. The current neighbourhood also has lot of houses and woods (but no mountains), but there are many small shops in the residential area, such as a butcher, bakery, Japanese sweets shop, candy shop, produce market, and so on. 
On Saturdays, I can't sleep in too long because I have to put out my plastic garbage by 9, so I have no choice but start my day in the morning. (Before I moved in here, I wouldn't leave home until late afternoon, or sometimes never!) Sometimes, I take my steps further than the garbage dump, and go out for grocery shopping. You will be surprised to see how lively and crowded the markets are in Saturday morning! There are a lot of housewives looking for fresh vegetables, and the shops are filled with newly stacked food. It's really exciting to see a store full of fresh produce. 
I started to like my neighbourhood even more ;)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New Life, New Interest

It's been two months since I moved out from my parents', and it has been great. I like my little apartment, though it's getting too hot on sunny days. (What will happen in summer?? Is it going to be like sauna?!) Last weekend, after enjoying lovely relaxing Golden Week holidays, a dining table and chairs arrived, and I got a TV. Now my room feels more upgraded :) So I'm typing now sitting on my new chair at the new dining table. It's much easier than sitting on the floor and bending over a small coffee table. Next thing I'm eying on is a small shelf that I can put my TV on. 

Now I quit teaching and am doing administration. This is the skill I wanted to learn and develop for the steady income and future usefulness for the time when I need to search for a new job. However, as soon as I started a new job, I started to miss teaching. I could tutor students just like I did before, but having a full-time job and teaching on my day-off is really stressful and wares me out. I don't know if I'm motivated enough to do that again. If I don't want to do dual jobs, and teaching English full-time doesn't bring me enough to live and save, what can I do? In the bottom corner of my heart, I'm still wishing to work and live abroad. But it was/is really hard for non-native English speaker to be an ESL teacher in English-speaking countries. 

This might sound contradicting to what I just said, but now again, I'm interested in learning how to teach Japanese. I once thought about taking a distance program, but my interest faded away. These days, I happened to see and hear lots about Japanese teaching and teachers, and there seem to be job opportunities both in Japan and abroad. Well, just like teaching English, it might not bring me enough money to survive, but it might make me capable of getting a job in another country. Besides, R is really struggling with Japanese right now, I will be his help for sure if I know how to teach him the language. (OK, this is an excuse.)

R thinks it's almost impossible to live in another country and work as a foreigner. Yeah, it wouldn't be easy. But I want to make myself useful and capable both in Japan and abroad. (Besides, I'm a native speaker of Japanese!) It's exciting to feel the positive vibe coming from my heart. Maybe it's the time to start. It's never too late, right?

"It's the sign!" as Meg Ryan says ;)

Well, I have to talk to my bank account...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Moving Companies

I've found an apartment and moving in February!  My first experience of living by myself in Japan.  There are lots of things that I have to buy, especially electronics.  Why things cost so much?  I've saved up some money to study abroad.  I decided to postpone (or give up?) the plan, so the budget is used for starting my new living.  Hope I don't have to spend all of it.  :( 

I have some furniture to take with me, so I definitely have to ask for a moving company.  I found a website that I can ask ten moving companies at the same time for the estimate moving cost.  The fact is, though, I was sending out my information to 10 companies through that website, so the individual company contacted me separately.  It was almost scary to receive more than 10 email messages simultaneously AND phone calls right after I sent out my message.  I had no idea that fierce competitions are going on among the movers.  Today, I sent declining messages to some companies, and I will choose one of the rest to ask for moving.  

This weekend, I'll go to the electronics store to see what kind of deals they have.  The Internet company is waiting for me to sign, and also moving companies and electronics stores are offering the Internet services as well.  The moving day is exactly a month later.  I will deal with things one by one!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Snow! Snow!

Ok, the weather forecast had said, "it might snow," but who would expect this much snow?? We had a huge snowfall here in Tokyo on Monday, the first snow this winter. It snowed a lot for a long time. I went out shopping, and I had decided to walk to the station. I regretted right after I started walking. It was very cold. I soon lost the sense of my fingertips. The snow was heavy and wet, and it stuck on my coat, gloves, and bag to make everything soaked. I was grumpy when I arrived at the station, though it was poor R who had to wait for me in the cold station for half an hour...
But once you become warm and (relatively) dry, snow is nice to look at. It makes outside look brighter. And the best thing is only a few people go shopping on the day like this. The shops are usually packed on the weekend, but they were deserted. The sales clerks were eager to talk to us since there were not many customers in the sales area. It was nice:)

I'm preparing for moving. I've found the room, and now I have to think about electronics and furniture to buy. Interior coordination is not my strength:( Ugh.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year of the snake!  
Today is the last day of my winter vacation.  How was your Holidays?  I had a great time with my family and friends.  In recent years, I had been away from home, working or travelling abroad, during the New Year season.  But this year, I decided to stay in Japan and spend this time of the year with my family and follow all the traditions that we have.  

On December 30th, we had our parents' 60th anniversary dinner at a nice restaurant.  My sister found that place and told me I would like it, and of course, my parents would have a good time.  She was right.  The restaurant was called Ukai-Tei, and the guests are guided into a private booth with a huge cast-iron hot plate, and a chef comes to each booth to cook for them in front of their eyes.  Sounds cool, right?  We were lucky to have a chef who is almost same age as my parents in our booth.  He was very skilled, cheerful, and entertaining.  The food was just amazing!  That dinner was for mom and dad, but I might have been the one who enjoyed the party the most ;)  Well, it was great to see my parents enjoying the gathering.  

On New Year's Eve, R and I went to the temple to see people hit the gong 108 times at midnight, we ended up lining up with other people to hit the huge bell. It is a tradition for Japanese people to ring this gong for 108 times on New Year's Eve to purify the past years sins.  (It is said that each person has 108 sins.  Yes, we are sinful people!!)  The gong at the temple looked like this.
You can see people lining up on the right.  Each one hit the gong once and pray for the good luck for the coming year.  I've heard the sound of the gong from the near-by temple in the past, but this was the first time for me to actually hit it by myself.  It was quick, but fun :)

The year-end and the New Year must have been the busiest cooking days for my mom.  She cooked a lot of food really nicely from osechi, Japanese traditional New Year's Day cuisine, to meat loaves.  We had my sister and her husband over, and we also invited R for the first time to a family gathering, and had a feast.  My sister played a nice role of being an entertainer, which I believe it was natural of her from being tipsy and happy.  Even my cranky dad looked happy to have all the family members (+1) at the same table.  Oh, and January 1st is my mom's birthday as well!  This year, six people sang happy birthday for her.

This year will be a challenging year for me.  I'm going to change my job and finally move out from my parents' place.  Yesterday, I went to the real estate agency with R to find an apartment.  I found one and have started the contracting process today.  I'm very nervous about this because I have never lived alone in Japan.  I'm sure I can take care of myself, but I have little idea about what I have to be careful to choose the place.  But at the same time, it is exciting to start something new and gain some independence.  If I really don't like the new apartment, it's not the end of the world.  I will move out :)

Today was the first day of my tutoring this year.  I have to quit this tutoring at the end of February due to my moving.  Luckily, the tutoring office has found another teacher who takes over my lessons.  My student is such a nice boy, so I hope he will get along well with the new teacher.  

Tomorrow, I'm going to be back to my regular shifts.  The New Year's resolution is, "Stay healthy and work hard!"

Friday, December 28, 2012

Xmas, Year end, snooZe, and the Alphabets are Over!

Christmas is over, and today, my work this year is also over.  I'm going to have a winter vacation!!  I couldn't wait for this days off.  Ah, November and December were quite busy.  I really needed a vacation.  

This will be the final update of this year, so I decided to quit this alphabetical order system. It just makes writing harder since I cannot come up with good topics in many cases.  I'm going to keep writing from time to time, hopefully more often, but I will choose whatever topic I would like to write about.  

To start my holiday, I'm going to visit Hakone tomorrow.  Me and R started to like onsen (hot spring) a lot this year.  It will be very nice to soak myself into a hot bath, especially in this temperature (6 degrees maximum during the day).  The weather is not really promising, but I hope we can see Mt. Fuji.  We have been trying to capture a nice picture of this big mountain since summer, but no luck yet.  (I once saw Fuji-san from the train, so it shouldn't be very difficult.) 

Have a happy New Year!  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

W for "Wonderful Vacation"

Long long time no see! (or write?)  I abandoned this blog for so long, partly because I couldn't come up with a good topic to write about that starts from "w".  Well, but I have used this excuse too many times.  I admit, I was lazy.  

On the fourth week of September, I took a late summer vacation.  The destination was of course(?), Vancouver, Canada.  I haven't been there for two years.  Due to my short vacation, I only managed to stay there for 5 days!  Since the flight tickets were really overpriced, I doubted my decision to visit Vancouver at this time of the year, and at this timing.  But this trip turned out to be absolutely worth going.  I met my old coworkers, friends, and landlady, and they haven't changed much.  The best thing was that they remembered me as if very little time had passed since I met them last.  It was very heartwarming and inspiring experience to talk and catch up with them.  I remembered the reason why I have been clinging to the idea of going back to this place some day.  I love this place, and its culture really makes me free.  

I hear about severe employment situation in Canada, might be worse than Japan, so I decided it was not a clever thing to leave my job in Japan and become a student again without any future prospect.  I feel like a wimp for giving up my dream, but this trip gave me hope.  I realized that I can come back to this place again, even though I'm not a resident.  And this town and this city and my friends will welcome me again.  The important thing is not to forget that there are various ways to choose in my life, and as long as I appreciate and become open to the change and inspiration, I will be able to live my life fully.  

In the end, I am honestly thankful for all the people in Vancouver who made my stay very special, and my loving R who made me excited about coming back home. :)

Beautiful Vancouver Downtown

False Creek 

The sunset from North Vancouver