Thursday, 29 April 2010

For the Moe consciousness

OH AKIHABARA! How I have heard of your wonders! But oh lord I didn't expect to be quiet as uplifted as I was by todays adventure.

Entering Akihabara is like leaving the real world and entering dream world, where everything is anime, games, moe and maids. There are literally hundreds of shops, each with several floors to explore filled with crap you didn't even know you wanted. Thousands of people wonder around with bags filled with their favourite figures or pillows or comics. While most of this is geared towards men and alot of what is on sale is hentai or ecchi related there was still plenty of stuff for me to enjoy. Japan has succeeded in reigniting my love for animes I used to watch when I was a teenager.

Firstly there is TONNES of Evangelion stuff around, I suppose to promote the new movies ("You can (Not) advance" is released on DVD on the 27th :D) so I was super snap happy!

I'm glad to see old series like Eva and Gundam Wing still have a place in the manic world of otaku where there are a million an one new animes to take their place. Nostalgic series are the best!

Akiba is also renound for its maid cafes. A bizaar trend that nowhere else in the world has caught onto. We as westerners cannot comprehend that somthing that seems like fetish work can be so completly innocent. Oviously there are certain establishments that are a bit dodgy and offer 'extras' but for the most part the world of Maid-o is sweet and clean. We went to one particular cafe called "Mai Dreamin". As soon as you step into the cafe you feel like you've been transported to a different planet. Away from the harsh grey of the world outside and into a rainbow! There are fluffy clouds coming out of the ceiling, ribbons lining the bar, massive plush toys on the stage and every girl is wearing a maid costume! There are no bouncers, no security cameras, nothing, because noone there is ever expected to cause a ruckus. Even though there is a bar and I expect patrons can get quite loud on occasions you never get the feeling that the girls are in any danger, which is astonising since I could never imagine such a place in England.
To make their money the girls sell glossy photos of themselves, cd's of songs they sing and the privledge to have a poloroid taken with a maid of your choice. Since you arent allowed to take photos of the girls yourself you're pretty much forced into this but the photos you get are something to keep forever, as they write a thankyou message on the back and decorate the front with stars and hearts!
We spent two hours in there enjoying the singing and whole sugary sweetness of it all. We had to pay around Y3000-4000 each but for such a unique experience it was sooooooo worth it. I won't ever forget my first visit to a maid cafe XD

Akiba is a strange place indeed and maybe not for everyone visiting Japan, I would still recommend it for tourists but if you have no interest in anime, gaming, moe or electrical goods then you're going to find it very weird indeed. The most important thing about it is to keep an open mind, and I'm sure you'll love Akiba as much as I did!

Us outside the legendary "Gamers" shop, home of DiGi Charet

That about covers it for Akiba. I'm writing this with the flu and so I'll be staying in to blog more tomorrow. Coming up, Greeary day, Jobs, Dealing with Homesickness and Tokyo Big Sight

Love to all my readers xxx

Thursday, 22 April 2010

I want to be a Lilikoi boy...

Wowzahs! It's been nearly 2 weeks since I arrived in Japan-land. It's been full of mixed emotions but I feel much better after resolving to not drink and take some time for myself. One of the problems I've faced here is being with Max and Carly for most of my waking time. Don't get me wrong I ADORE them and LOVE hanging out with them but I've learned that I find it difficult to be around even my bestest mates for too long before I start wanting some time to just sit and be quiet. I end up just becoming short with everyone and it's not their fault, it's mine for not making sure I get the time I need. But today was an awesome day! I woke up nice and early (10:30 lol) and got ready for my interview at LeafCup which is a small "cafe" (they serve tea) where people learning English can come and practice speaking and listening in a relaxed environment.

The interview itself couldnt have gone better, I arrived early and so they took me upstaires and sat me with 2 people to "wait", then the interviewer went off and I was left to chat by myself....I think that was the real interview tbh. Then I was called over to chat with the interviewer and another girl there wanting a job. She didn't ask any questions or anything...I on the otherhand blabbed on and on about what club activities are all about and was there a chance to become a teacher etc etc...So after a while I sat back down with the group and was asked to stay for another hour :D So I have one part time may only be for a few hours a week but at least it's something! I have another interview on Tuesday for IHCWAY, which is a company that recruits private teachers and pairs them up with interviewed inderviduals. If I can get alot of students hopefully I can fit them around working at LeafCup, both jobs seem pretty flexible so it should be doable. But I think even if I do work both jobs it's still not stable enough for me to live on while over here. My rent for the guesthouse is 40,000 yen a month, which is very good but then the cost of living is quiet high. I must spend 1000 yen a day on food, drink and trains, which might not sound alot but it soon adds up. I've begun to think more economically and filling my water bottles up at home, eating simple meals of rice and cabbage and generally trying to cut down on spending on silly things like Kigurumin and puri kura. I know Max wants me to live it up and splash some cash but I really don't mind living the simple life for a while, there are plenty of things to see and do in Tokyo that require minamal amounts of money. Even walking around Nakano and taking photos is an awesome day out for me. I'm sure I can enjoy myself without shopping everyday.

Speaking of shopping, I went to Shibuya last week. Wasn't overly impressed...had alot of pimps and crowds of punk and gyaru kids around. Also Center-gai was just bars and resaurants...nothing to wet yourself over. Maybe it's different in the daytime and I guess I didn't really explore all that well. I'll give it another go one day and give a full report. Pretty lights though...

Puri Kura booths and posters were distroyed!

Tomorow I'm going to a Japanese class in Ichigaya so I'm hitting the hay for now. I only really have time to blog late at night when everyone is done with the computer Y_Y
I need more coffee maybe so I can become an awesome blogger. OH WAIT

I do really like the coffee here (Starbucks is pretty good in Japan) but it's not nearly as strong or as what I was used to having/serving back in Marzano. OH for a honeycomb latte with a leaf drawn in it! Wow I didn't think I would miss anything about my old work!
One thing England doesn't have yet KITKAT BANANA!! <3 OH OMNOM

Peace y'all

Monday, 19 April 2010

Lost in Translation

Ok its been over a week since we landed ourselves in Nip-land. So far its been an intense experience. Even after this short amount of time I'm missing my family and friends soo much. While I have Carly and Max here and I'm making new friends I feel very isolated and like I'm adrift at sea. Most people here will stare at us as we walk down the street and we really are made to feel like aliens. Or maybe its just poliet people are obseving us because we're different. TBH I find myself staring at alot of the people here just because they're so well presented, or because I really like their clothes or because I too am curious about people who are different to myself. I come from a town where there are virtually no ethnic minorities so being surrounded by people I'm not used to seeing, while fine with me, is very different and I feel very out of my comfort zone.
I think this anixety and discomfort is making me behave like a twat I haven't been able to relax at all and I feel like I'm not being myself. I've had two nights since I arrived where I have been overly drunk and extreamly stupid. Whereas at home I was well aware that my tollorence for alcohol is low and my reaction to it is well...not good, over here I seemed to forget all that and last night everything went to hell. Nothing seriously wrong happened but I saw a video of myself and cried with shame. I had become everything I hate about drinking culture in the west. Loud, stupid and incoherant. For this reason I'm giving up drink for the forseeable future. Drink has never done anything good for me and it's finally hit home that it never will. In some ways I'm really glad that this has happend since one thing I wanted to gain from this experience was to learn more about myself and to become a better and stronger person.
Although I'm so thankful and so happy to be here right now I kindof feel like this isn't MY life yet. Like I have no place in this world yet, but then I keep reminding myself that it's only been a week and I should give myself a break. Even so I think I need to keep myself busy to stop myself from missing home so much so tomorrow I'm going to the job center and getting on it! I won't give up! Even though it's hard and part of me wants to run straight back to the UK I won't give up until I have given it my all!!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

My first few days

WOW I MADE IT!! Finally I've landed in Japan. I think I've been running on over-excitment for the past week but now jet-lag has begun to overcome me and I've been sleeping for 12 hours and a time and still being tired when I wake up. Bad times! But WOW what an amazing and scary place Tokyo is. It's not like anywhere I've ever been. It's busy like I don't know what, London doesn't even compare I don't think. Every building is a mountain high and NEON.
We're staying in Nakano which is right next to Shinjuku, however, while Nakano is still quite busy around the station you only have to walk for a few minutes and it becomes really peaceful and you feel like you're in a crazy little town! Our guesthouse is a traditional style Japanese house with sliding paper doors and walls (which means I can hear Max snoring from the other room) , a tiny kitchen with one gas burner, and a toilet seat that stays warm all the time! The house itself can get really cold if the weather isnt good but its ok in our room because we have a miniture heater that makes our room nice and toasty. I'm really happy we didn't just get a western style hostel, that would have been rubbish. This is what they call "living the dream"


Kitchen/tv room


Our bedroom with futons, there's also a door that leads to the garden behind the curtain.

My overall first impression of Japan would be "MENTAL". Seriously this place is mad! It's so clean and COLOURFUL! The first day we arrived and Max showed us around I was so shocked at the amount of colour everywhere. Signs, shops, trees, and people are so colourful! It's beautiful to see everything so well presented and is completely different to the big cities I'm used to. Obviously Tokyo is known for its neon signs at night but if you take a walk to the residentual areas you'll see they're just as bright and colourful and neat. I haven't really photographed much but I will bring you photos to try and show you what I mean.

Next important point, food! FOOD IS EVERYWHERE HERE! Honestly, EVERYWHERE. Vurtually every street here has a million tiny food bars serving up hot noodles, curries, takoyaki, sushi, cakes, bentos....everything. I can't believe that such a slim and healthy nation is this obsessed with food. THEY LOVE IT! I know thats because everyone in Tokyo probably eats out but one of the big reasons I wanted to come here was so I could taste this food and try it out for myself. So I've been itching to cook with all these different ingredients I've found in the supermarket! I've been making at least one meal a day for Carly and Max.

Breakfast of teriyaki fish, rice and tamoyaki and cabbage.

After a dinner of tempura, cabbage and hot soba with sauce.

Dinner of rice, tofu in broth with shitake mushrooms, carrots and daikon, and chicken and eggs and blanched spinach with bonito flakes and sesame seeds.

I also attempted making bentos for Carly and me to take to Hello Kitty Land! Gentlemen bears!

So the last week has gone so fast and it's been so amazing being here. I'll admit I've had some problems adjusting to the idea of actually living here. My biggest hang up is the language barrier which has proven to be a bit embarrassing. I can only speak a few words and phrases and I find it very difficult to get the jist of what people are saying to me. I know that this will improve with time but I'm really embarrassed that sometimes people have to try and explain in English what they've just said. It's going to take some real dedication on my part to study and learn and get to grips with this language but in the end this is what I came here to do. To imerse myself in this culture and pick up a new language. Ironic that this seems to be my biggest adversity right now!

I think thats all I'll post for now. Look out for a video blog coming sometime next week. I might just have to do a general one about Nakano and our guesthouse! Who can say? Shoganai??

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Just a short update

So 3 days before the big move and my laptop breaks! AWAH! I honestly thought that thing would last forever, I mean we've been through so much together!

So it was a bit of a lol rushing around with no money trying to find a new laptop to take with me. My laptop was such an important piece of kit to take with me, I need it to keep in touch with my family, for video editing so I can bring you real vlogs over the year, photo editing so I can pimp this blog, music managing (I never go anywhere on my own without a mp3 player....EVER) and being able to put a movie on when I have days where I just need to just chill and escape.

So anyway, found one on ebay for £20 with a broken screen that could be replaced by mine but that was a bust so we left it for the night.

But today my sister came through and said I could have her old one. So happy because noone had to spend money to buy a new one. Anyway I wouldnt want to take a super nice one all the way to Japan just incase something happend to it. As long as I can blog and Skype on it I don't care!

THANKYOU SIS! Just in the nick of time! 2 days to go!!!

Friday, 2 April 2010

5 Things I WON'T miss

Now let's get some negativity in these posts and talk about why I really won't miss England. I can look back on this entry when I'm having a bad day in Japan and remind myself of all the rubbish things I won't want to come home to lol!

1) Food. Not so much the food, I am a sucker for my family's home cooking and there are some lovely places to eat here, but more the Western world's attitude towards food. Calories, trans fats, carbs etc are all stuff that we've been programed to fear. It's become such an issue for the west that you can't open a newspaper without some article about the latest research telling us that eating a certain protein or something could lead to cancer. Food isn't about enjoying nutrition and the health it brings, it's now about what you can allow yourself to have without losing any points or feeling bad about it.
Eastern countries have the lowest obesity rates (3% in Japan compared to 30% in the USA) and the longest life expectancy in the world, and this is, without question, due to their diets. While we in Europe tend to eat 45 different foods every week on average the Japanese eat over 100. They are getting so many more nutrients in their diets and are so much healthier because of it. If we could only see food as a source of nutrition and get over the idea that if you're thin you'll be healthy then I'd be very happy. Yes, losing weight is a good idea if you're overweight and unhappy with the way you look but I think people need to stop going fucking mental over it, stop being retards and realize that if you're healthy and taking the time to learn about new foods and new ways of cooking then those pounds will probably drop off, and if not then you won't care coz you'll feel so fucking healthy anyway.

2) The Forum. Namely my work place (not anymore) for the last 3 years. I've loved this place and I enjoyed going to work every day but now I need to get the hell away from it. Luckily it can't get up and follow me!

3) Chavs. Hords of them getting their jollys from standing around with pitbulls looking 'hard'. I have no problem with how they dress, what music they listen to or how they pimp their rides but the general attitude and making girls who walks past them think she's about to get mugged. I won't say that the men are worse because chav girls are disgusting. They know they can get away with shouting whatever they like and no man is going to hit them. I saw a group in the park one evening throwing abuse at a man who was of some Russian decent and while most of the boys just laughed and held back the one girl (about 13 I would say) was screaming the most racist shit in his face. To be fair the man should have walked away, but jesus christ I would have wanted to lay them all out if it was me.
This leads nicely into my next issue with British culture.

4) Lack of respect. Lack of respect for people around us, for the environment and for ourselves. The British just don't give a shit anymore, there's no national pride, everyone seems to hate each other. If you keel over in the street you're more likely to be ignored or have your bag stolen than for someone to actually come over and ask if you're ok. To Europian countries we come across and drunken, aggressive yobs and think we have the right to go whereever we like and ignore other cultures and values yet, when people come to our country looking for a better life, we bitch and moan because they're ready to do jobs we're far too lazy to do. Grow up Britain, start sorting your shit out.

5) Binge drinking. Alright, alright now I know I have been guilty of this aswell in the past. Nowadays I don't drink often because I don't enjoy hangovers and to be honest, I'm a terrible drunk. I just end up going home because it makes me sleepy and sick. When I was younger I didn't drink, it was all nonsense to me (and still is) why kids my age wanted to drink until they were sick. I see kids aged 13/14 walking around swigging from bottles of vodka and it makes me want to cry for the future of Britain.
Even now my peers are obsessed with getting drunk at every opportunity, and it's not to just have a nice time either (having a few beers with friends I can totally understand) but to get completely wasted EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT just so they can justify getting into fights and causing havoc in the streets. Why is it mainly England that has this massive problem with binge drinking? Most other countries seem to be able to have a drinking culture without all this aggravation.

I guess that concludes my little rant about my country! In other news I have begun packing with 6 days left until I fly. So far I have packed 14 pants, 7 bras, 4 bags, 8 pairs of tights, 2 pairs of jeans, 5 pairs of shoes and 6 dresses. Also I have dyed my hair a ginger colour lol, pics soon when I can be bothered to do my makeup =_=