Monday, 21 June 2010

Money talks, money talks. Dirty cash i want you..

Wow that last post was pure frustration wasn't it? Let's move swiftly on.

My camera is out of action due to having a bent USB cable which I will replace sometime after pay day. So I can't bring you any photos of my new bike "Unit 1" or any of the new snaz I've shot.

This post is going to be about Japanese trade secrets, probably useless if you're not in Japan or thinking of coming here but here we go. I won't lie when I say that money goes very quickly over here. Even for someone like me who doesn't go out drinking often and doesn't go shopping at all. Even compared to living on your own in the UK i find Japan leeches your money even more, alot of this has to do with my concept of Yen, meaning that my mind hasn't really adjusted to the fact that Y1,000 is actually doesn't stretch that far here. I mean if you go to the corner shop and buy lunch and a coffee you're looking at a grand. Another way Tokyo zaps the monies is travel. Back home I would walk everywhere or be lucky enough to be given a ride, but here you take the train everywhere and everyday. From Nakano to my work (40mins and 1 change) costs me Y1,000 return, so Y20,000 a month (around £150) which is a BIG chunk out of my pay packet. And I would have gone on paying this unless I was told by my co-worker to get a monthly pass. Now I've never heard of these before, they weren't mentioned in any of the guidebooks and even people who have lived here for years didn't mention them. They're called commuter passes and you can buy them from special JR ticket machienes, you have to input your details and it will give you a paper ticket (or update your Suica train pass) to last you a month. You pick which route you take on what lines and it will give you a mega discount bonus for a month. Instead of paying Y20,000 on av. a month the commuter pass charges me Y13,300. A whopping saving there already! Also if you decide "Hey I'd like to go to one of the stops along my route" at anytime of the month then the card will not charge you anymore, so I can explore any of the 13 stops along my route for free. The Japanese seem reluctant to advertise this fact but I'm telling you now if you use the same route on a regular basis YOU NEED ONE OF THESE.

Another good idea is to keep an eye on Craigslist. Sometimes in the job sections are random one off jobs for foreigners they you just have to send an email to apply for. They are a good way to make some extra money and can be extremly fun. I applied to dance on a music video for Team JyunJyou

I spent a Saturday in a club in Shibuya with a bunch of other people being filmed dancing to a concert. Super fun, met some great people and got paid! You have to keep an eye out for these oppotunities right?

Another money spinner is food. Eating out alot can drain your money hella fast although places like Matsuya (you order what you want from a ticket booth and hand it to the servers) offer plates of food for Y290. If you enjoy eating the same food most nights a week then this is pretty cheap. Ramen bars offer up huge bowls of nutritious broth for Y1,000 and these will keep you full all day. Bento-ya means you can pick whatever you like for your box lunch so you can keep it cheap but these still work out slightly pricey and convinient store bento's are hardly worth what you pay for them (and they make me feel sick) . Supermarkets are favourite because I love to cook but the goods can really range in price, also I find cooking for one person quite hard as all my vegetables, fish and meat don't get used up in a week so I have to get creative with how I can combine them all for my breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also RICE! Buy in bulk! You can pick up a big bag for Y2,000 (5kg lasts me 6 week for lunch and dinner). Even with supermarkets I find you have to shop around though, some supermarkets will charge Y168 for spinche whereas my local will charge Y88, so it really is worth it to explore. Also try and find some markets where sushi and sashimi are so much cheaper.

If you have any more money making/saving ideas lemme know!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

It's my party....I'll cry if I want to

Yesterday marked the 23rd anniversary of me being on this planet. I always find birthdays a bit odd and uncomfortable since theres this pressure to make the day feel special but that usually means just getting drinking to excess just "because it's your birthday!!". I'm not that imaginative when it comes to planning birthdays so I usually just cave in and say "Yeah OK pissup it is" but yet again this proved to be the worst idea. I've been feeling a little run down this week and haven't been sleeping well due to the humidity, couple this with being hormonal and homesick and it became bad times. Since I didn't really have any plans i agreed to go to a Para night that Max was going to. I don't know why I didn't just say "I'm just go wander around Akihabara" I guess since I have no money that would have been a bad idea too but it certainly beats giving away Y1000 and then blowing another Y2000 on karaoke that tried to charge us Y17,000....then going to a para club where nobody whould talk or even look at us then getting thrown out of our reserved booth and being denied a glass of fucking tap water! In the end I threw my drink on the floor and filled it up in the bathroom. I seriously just wanted to bomb Japan last night and I feel like an idiot for thinking I could make the day "special" by doing all this stuff. At the end of the day just being in Tokyo is special enough and I didn't need a fucking party because it made things worse. I'm now hungover, angry and tired. I would have been upset regardless but at least it wouldn't have been put down to "Oh, she just can't hold her drink very well". In all honesty I just wanted to be home yesterday with my family. I was made a beautiful video by my best friend Holly with everyone wishing me a happy birthday, that in itself made the day spiecial enough for me. The comments I recieved on Facebook, those make it special enough.
This morning I woke up at 5am and just wished so much to be home. I'm loving it so much here and I've got an awesome thing going with my job and my life here....but Goddamn I wish I could just teleport back for a little while...just enough time for a hug and a cup of tea.
So this is the tough time where I need to be strong and not give up. I'm certain this feeling won't last long. I think the lesson learned is just "Recognise your feelings and do what YOU want" If I'm feeling sad and homesick don't cover it up with fake cheeriness and think it's ok to have a few drinks....It will be the worst of times. It not like I was even that drunk, just stupidly tired and homesick.

So now it's time for work.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Yatta Yatta YattaYatta

Ouu laziness got the better of me there. Soz lol

Right lets crack on! About a month ago Max, Carly and I all thought we'd be super cool and find an anime convention to go to in Tokyo. We looked for one at the famous Tokyo Big Sight, home of the biggest anime conventions and we found one called "Dream Party" ....PERFECT!
The ride on the monorail to Tokyo Big Sight is AWESOME I'd just like to add. They designed it to go round the best scenic route possible, past all the amazing architecture and eventually past rainbow bride and to the seaside (well...sea at least)

So we made our way through Tokyo Big Sight and noticed THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of women making their way out...suspicious we thought. They all seemed to becoming from downstairs and we were heading upstairs, but we'll come back to them later. So we paid our Y2,000 to get into "Dream Party" and made our way into the huge warehouse where we were confronted by a stage and a few stalls with huge groups of men hanging round them. Not exactly what I'd pictured but whatever. They only woman besides ourselves that we could see were working on the stalls and in cosplay outfits. Weird. So we turned a corner and got stopped because Carly had been given a different coloured broucher than us....again we thought that was weird so we hopped back to the desk and got it swapped. Then we realised what the big deal was. We were being let into the 18+ area which was the magoritiy of the conventions tables and on these tables they were selling moe and love simulator games.




AWESOME!! The whole thing was a riot and we walked around as the only gaijin and the only people not buying anything. Although if I'd had the money I would have gotten me one of these..


It was all a bit weird with guys seeming to queue for ages for 1 leaflet...not even a good leaflet with some boobies on it just writing. Strange times. Of course there were voice actresses there giving little talks on their respective porno game stalls and live acts of cosplay girls singing moe moe songs. Feds were patrolling and you weren't allowed to film or take pictures so we snuck to the back but as it turns out there were far more interesting things to film than the stage. It was all getting a bit off the hook. Otaku were uniting and throwing their nuts all over the shop, every 5 seconds the feds would come and tell them to quieten down but ohhhh the raving otaku cannot be stopped. Carly, Max and I fell apart laughing at the antics, of course we joined in and became one of the mob and it was all fantastic fun!

Get a load of the moves!


After wondering about in a serreal haze we trecked back downstairs to where there were STILL thousands of woman walking out of. We snuck into the warehouse sized room and....SWEET JESUS ITS A DOUJINSHI CONVENTION!!




How did this happen?! Sorry, but the photo does no justice to how HUGE this place was...and this was only half of it! I was told again not to take photos but DANG. So we spent another hour wondering round in a daze of porn, this time of the gay variety, most of it Durarara related O.o (U WUT?!) Again nothing was bought. We couldn't even pick anything up to look because the artists are sitting right there and it would've be awkward...

Thing is everyone is just walking around reading their porn, talking with their friends about it and it's so natural. There was no weird, seedy vibe going on, it was a fun atmosphere and everyone was just chillin' with their comics. If I was into dating sims and doujinshi I would have been pissing my pants....I was still pissing my pants but from the sheer excitment at actually getting to experience this totally bizaar and awesome cultural activity unique to Japan. ROCK ON NIPPON!

I think this sums up my feelings on the day...

I have no idea where we went after for food, a few stops on the monorail. Came out after to see the PERFECT sunset over Tokyo.

And a Statue of Liberty...

So I have yet to experience a "real" anime convention in Tokyo, but I'm sure I will sometime and when I do I'm gonna be ready!

In real news, my job is still awesome! The kids are great and I feel like I'm beginging to find my feet as a teacher. It all comes with time I guess. I also reallllly liked being paid! For the first time in months I've been able to spend money without really feeling guilty! Glorious!
I went a bit blind a few weeks ago and went to hospital to get it checked out. From this one experience I have to say I find the Japanese healthcare system to be pretty good, they're very thorough with tests (the doctor even gave me some eye drops to freeze my pupils so it looked like I was on some kind of drugs for 6 hours!) and very kind. Of course it isn't like England and you have to pay for healthcare, it only came to Y2100 but at least I had the peace of mind that I probably wouldn't go totally blind. AND HEY I DIDN'T! My eyesight is back to normal :D
My Japanese is improving ever so slightly, I'm still rubbish but I'm making efforts now and I have lessons that I practice on my hour communte to work every morning...DON'T GIVE UP

Over the last few weeks I have been decovering a few secrets to save and earn money (sounds dodge but it isnt...) so I will post about that next time.

Ahhh this post was lazy ne?