February digest!

If only I could, I would update this blog at least twice a week, I really would. But I’m a really busy individual, hence sadly rare updates. I don’t say that to sound cool — I actually am super busy, and in February I reached new levels of being busy, I need some sort of time management course I swear. I wish I could write an article about every interesting thing I see and every interesting place I go. But writing takes time and I’ve been working on a few serious articles recently. You’ll see one of them next week, but for now take a look at a short recap of what happened in February. 

 

FEBRUARY 2015

 

* Valentine’s Day madness = chocolate of all kinds and shapes for the boy you like… but wait what’s that? Chocolates with an old balding man on packaging? Is it considered romantic in Japan or…? No no, it’s just giri choko and if you happened to have received one this year, I’m sorry to break it down to you, but you have most probably been friendzoned.

* Can you believe it wasn’t until December last year that I finally got a chance to try oden for the first time? Somehow I never trusted all that food soaking all day in warm water, right next to the cash register… Oh how wrong I was, it’s super tasty! 

* Are my eyes deceiving me? Japan has finally noticed that flavoured beers have a chance on the market ?! This one here is lemon + hop, but it did taste like lemon beer, so I was pretty satisfied with it.

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* Hazelnut KitKats! Were they good? YASSSSSSS.

Trunks-ya in Asakusa. Just a store with boxer shorts in traditional Japanese designs. Nice souvenir, no?

* Some more Valentine chocolate madness. Choco-burger, choco-curry, choco-everything…

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* If you’ve ever been to Harajuku, you’ll know that it’s covered with funky stickers, on building walls, vending machines, stairs, store windows… I spotted this one on that walkway connecting Cat Street with Ura-Harajuku. Well…

* Seoul! It welcomed me with -11 degrees, but it’s okay, I missed it♥

* Spotted on the metro in Seoul. It was interesting because of a few reasons: the topic, the language used (no Korean or Japanese version) and the propaganda-ish tone. I take no sides in this conflict, I just thought it was an interesting thing to see on a metro.

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 * Blackberry Caramel Cream Latte (or something like that) somewhere in Gangnam ♥

* I’m not a big fan of sweets, but I’m totally crazy about spicy snacks. Korean convenience stores = HEAVEN!

* I know what I just wrote in my previous bullet-point, but let me tell you, the Earl Grey Cookie Pie they serve at You Are Here cafe in Hongdae is to die for!

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* Myeongdong by night. During my stay in Korea in February, the boyfriend didn’t really have much time to hang out, but that wasn’t much of a problem for me. I went to all the places I visited during my very first trip to Korea and discovered all the cute streets again ♥

* Did I mention my boyfriend is an optician by profession? And he has lots of friends, who are opticians too… I got these glasses in Seoul and they’re so darn adorable I still can’t get over their cuteness.

* Aloe drink and sweet green tea by Lipton — two things I wish I could find in Japan.

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* I came back to Japan and had a tattooing session again… Let me just tell you, getting your inner arm tattooed, that one damn spot right above the elbow pit, takes the highest position on my personal chart of most painful spots. Damn, that stung! 

* Spring is almost here and Starbucks is always the first to launch all things sakura. I expected a sweet cafe latte with an interesting flavour — I got sweet pink milk instead. NOT recommended.

* I agreed to write concert reviews for popboxasia.com and a Royal Pirates’ concert was my very first assignment. The boys were ridiculously talented and drop dead gorgeous — check them out on YouTube!

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* Dwarf Asahi beer, how cute ♥

* Reunited after a few weeks! Sweet cheese cream taiyaki… *drool*

* Have you ever been jealous of Goku’s awesome hairstyle? Dragon Ball hair wax — hold level over 9000!

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 Thank you for reading!♥

January digest!

Do you ever feel that time is passing too darn fast? I feel like I blinked and January was gone in an instant! Or am I so used to the Japanese working life rhythm that I actually stopped paying attention to time slipping through my fingers? I remember not opening my class schedule until 5 PM for the first few months of my teaching career. Oh the memories of sleeping in until 2 PM… Now? 10 AM to 9:30 PM, an average of 9-10 lessons in a day, waiting for a day off and a longer vacation. I swear, if it wasn’t for the photos that prove January actually happened, I would have thought I just hibernated and slept through it all. Can any other person who’s been living over here in Japan for a while relate to that? Anyway, you know what they say — time goes faster when you enjoy it, so I guess I should take it as a good sign! That being said, here’s a fresh recap of my January adventures!

JANUARY 2015

* Shitamachi Museum in Ueno! There’s a lot of reasons why you should go there, and one of them is the ticket price – ¥300! Another reason is: I really recommend it!

* Japanese style shinnenkai (New Year Party)! Real shitamachi sake bar, Japanese snacks and shochu with gold flakes! I can’t say I’m a big fan of shochu, in fact the taste is way too strong for me, so I had no other choice than to order a chaser and sparkling water to mix it all. The killer look the Japanese customers and the owner gave me for ruining the purity of the drink was priceless.

* Happy day! The boyfriend came to Tokyo for a week, which also meant I had a long vacation! And that also meant a whole lot of January outfits! YAY for my boyfriend visiting!

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* “Please! Pick up poop” aka why I love Japan… You know, in Poland we have a lot of blocks of apartments, and people love keeping small dogs. Nothing special, it’s pretty common in Japan as well (providing that it’s okay to have a pet in your apartment). But living in such area in Poland means also that every day you’ll have to struggle with those little brown landmines of horror left by these barking creatures, because people DO NOT CARE. But here’s Japan. People pick up everything their pets leave on the ground. They would feel ashamed if they left it behind. They also have a special spray to clean up. I love Japan.

* Pokemon lights in Sunshine City in Ikebukuro! 10 year old me would be so happy seeing this….

* Korean food! Because the boyfriend still has special diet requirements, he could only eat Korean food during his stay here. I’m not complaining ♥

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* Double date with Kathryn & her husband! You have to go bowling when you’re in Japan — especially in the evening, when it’s full of slightly intoxicated salarymen. Trust me, you have never seen people this happy about every failed / successful throw.

* On the last day of my boyfriend’s stay in Japan we wanted to treat ourselves to something fancy, but it was too cold to actually go anywhere far away, so we decided to explore my neighbourhood. We found this super-duper cute soba shop and it was super delicious! I shall return there soon.

* I might have mentioned in my December digest post, that shin ramen always finds its way to my shopping cart…. That sneaky little ramen….

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* Tokyo fashion pt. 3

* The most dramatic, cutest, fluffiest cat in the world. I’m super jealous not only about Garyo’s wicked tattooing skills, but also about his cat. I’ll steal him one day.

* Lunch… Don’t judge.

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* Comfort package from my parents! Polish sour rye soup. I cooked 1 litre of this goodness and ate it all straight from the pot. I regret nothing.

* Everybody’s laughing at selfie sticks. I’m not. That’s one high quality selfie I snapped the other day with this cool little thingumabob.

* Japanese people are not religious, trust me. They don’t really name what they believe in (If they do, in fact, believe in anything), and basically it’s just tradition anyway. Yet, these pamphlets keep jamming my post box somehow.

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* What a crazy week that was… Getting my side tattooed at Garyo’s atelier and my inner arm filled with blue ink at my favourite studio LaRuche. All the painful spots.

* I’ve been craving Guiness for ages! I wasn’t exactly an enthusiast of Guiness during my student days, but here — oh sweet mother of the bitter brew! Also, I know a place where you can get a whole PINT for only 750 yen! I shall review it here one day.

* Hobby OFF find, pretty self-explanatory.

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* As someone commented on my Instagram post: Evolution of food! It’s okonomiyaki AND taiyaki. With spicy sauce. Spicy okonomitaiyaki. I’m addicted. Send help.

* Let me make one thing clear — I really didn’t know what I was buying! I needed a book that would help me with my Korean studies, especially vocabulary. When I saw this ‘point and say’ kind of book, I didn’t think much about it and just bought it. When I finally decided to open it up and study some useful vocabulary, I saw that some of the most useful phrases recommended by the author to memorize were… Well, take a look at the photo.

* Donki always delivers! “Reproduce like the baby skin” and my name on it. I should claim copyright or ask for royalties.

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Thanks for reading and expect a whole lot of new posts coming up soon! ♥ Also, thank you so much for over 50,000 views! Seriously though, the fact that someone actually reads my posts means the world to me! Thank you guys! 

‘Rabbit and grow fat’? — bunny cafe in Jiyugaoka!

In most cases, living in a rented apartment in Japan means absolutely no pets. Not only is it not allowed to have a pet in most places, most people here also lead a lifestyle that simply wouldn’t let them have enough time to take care of a fluffy creature. Although pets are actually permitted in my apartment, I simply can’t do that considering the fact that I spend most of my time outside. Sometimes I do wish I had a cute pet waiting for me to come back home, some cute ball of fur to sleep on my lap. There’s thousands of people like me here, hence the countless pet cafes! I have visited a cat cafe (of course), an owl cafe and this time I spent relaxing 30 minutes playing with other furry pets super popular in Japan — bunnies!

Ra.a.g.f ‘Rabbit and grow fat’

〒 152-0035 Tokyo, Meguro-ku, 1-26-3 Jiyugaoka 5F

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(it’s actually really close to the Jiyugaoka Station, just go out the Main Exit and turn right)

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It’s easy to overlook the place so watch out for the sign you see in the upper left corner!

Important!

According to their website (in Japanese) *click*, they’re closed every Thursday, so be sure to take that into account when planning your trip to Jiyugaoka!

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The cafe is divided into two parts. It has only 4 tables, so I guess we were really lucky to have visited on a day when there weren’t a million other customers. The system is simple: you can choose either 1 hour or 30 minutes with the bunnies. 1 hour will cost you ¥1100 while 30 minutes is ¥600 cheaper, and was enough for us to enjoy the whole experience. You’ll also get a free drink of your choice and it will be served in the cutest cups ever!

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Play time! The lovely shop staff will explain the dos and don’ts and let me tell you a few, while I still remember: 

The DOS & The DONT’S

* because of a high possibility of rabbits wanting to jump out of their cages, you shouldn’t keep the doors wide open

* you cannot take the rabbits out of their cages, you need to ask the staff first

* there can’t be more than one rabbit on the floor (unless they’re rabbits of the same sex, if I understood correctly, otherwise, you know, babies will happen)

* there’s a sign saying “Resting time” (休憩中) on some cages. If you see it, it means that it’s a siesta time for the rabbit

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 I’ve always thought that rabbits don’t make the best pets, because they don’t really show… attachment? I still think that though, so I highly recommend that you get the ultimate rabbit attention grabber for as little as ¥150 — BUNNY FOOD! A little of this, and the rabbits are all yours ♥

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 I admit that spending even a few minutes with animals has some sort of magical relaxing properties. The bunnies seems to be leading a great life, they can take a walk outside their cages sometimes, visitors feed them, they can poop wherever and whenever they want, what a life! Oh, let me just mention that if you have your own furry baby, but you have to go somewhere for a few days, Ra.a.g.f also functions as a rabbit hotel and they will professionally take care of your pet!

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Furry babies jumping and pooping around outside their cages (that hairy carpet was not the best choice the owners could’ve made, if you ask me…) 

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VivaRilakkuma, Shichijyuuni and Kitsune-kun 

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If you’re a fan of those fluffy creatures, you can buy some lovely souvenirs here too, and you know you shouldn’t leave this lovely cafe without a photo with the lovely ladies, who run the place!

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Thank you for reading and please let me know what you thought of this place if you happen to pay them a visit ♥

Polish Festival in Roppongi + a new video!

Have you ever wondered how much Japanese people know about your own country? Of course you have! It is true that many Japanese are interested mostly in English speaking countries and France (← almost EVERYONE wants to go there), but there’s a number of people interested in Eastern Europe too (though I like to think that Poland is exactly in the middle, therefore it’s in Central Europe). 2 years ago, a lovely older lady — Chika-san — contacted me, saying she loves Chopin and Poland, and that she’d like to start studying Polish. I started teaching her and today she can speak a little bit, we hang out and go to events together, she’s like a mom to me. 1,5 year ago I met Ayaka — a girl interested in Poland, and today we’re the best of friends. You might also want to check out Shinya Ayama’s page —  he’s an artist from Kyoto, who is absolutely in love with Poland! We met last year in Tokyo and I just couldn’t believe how determined he was to live in Poland one day. Anyway! The first Polish Festival was held 2 years ago and it was a big success. I attended it last year and I couldn’t miss it this year!

Polish Festival in Roppongi 2014

 

The festival took place in Roppongi, and if you don’t know what kind of place Roppongi is, let me hit you with the facts. When you’re here, you feel as if you aren’t in Japan, because the number of foreigners on the street is much higher than anywhere else in Tokyo. It’s one of the main clubbing areas, many foreign businesspeople live here (their companies pay the steep rent) and there are many fun events. It’s quite nice. During the daytime.

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As you can see there were quite a few Japanese people! I didn’t count, but I guess there were about 15 Polish people? (I guess Japan is one of those rare countries, where there are not so many of us, I guess it’s no more than 1200 people in total? ← it’s a wild guess, I don’t have any real data)

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A beautiful Japanese lady playing Chopin. Perfect!

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Some nostalgic Polish stuff — Christmas tree ornaments (our Christmas ornaments come in different shapes, not just your run-of-the-mill round ones), wool slippers (there’s nothing better to keep you warm in winter) and accessories with traditional Polish embroidery. What I really like about Japanese people is that they LOVE handmade things and they don’t mind paying more for them — they really appreciate someone’s hard work.

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You can’t see it here, but this particular stall was the most popular. It’s still a mystery for me why Polish pottery is so desired in Japan, but naturally, I’m very happy. Chika-san collects Polish apple pots — I had absolutely no idea that we had them in Poland, until she told me. Oops…

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Polish board games I used to play as a kid — it felt so surreal to see them translated into Japanese. Never in my life had I thought I would see that.

CDs with classical music and sweets — my heart hurt seeing the prices. In Poland I would pay about 100~200¥ for a chocolate bar or instant hot chocolate… Here it was 2500¥! Still cheaper than a flight ticket to Poland, though.

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Decorated eggs, papercutting art, bags, pillows and tons of accessories made in Poland.

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The best part….

FOOD & DRINKS!

I missed fruit beer so much! It’s so delicious, I still can’t understand why is this not a thing in Japan !? We have apple, raspberry, citrus, caramel and many other flavours of beer. Go to any bar in Poland and order ‘beer with juice’ — you’ll get a delicious cocktail, beer plus a little bit of strawberry or raspberry juice concentrate. Trust me — IT’S SO GOOD!

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Many types of sausage, bread, sour rye soup, bigos (= hunter’s stew) and other deliciousness… It is virtually impossible to get this stuff in Japan. Oh how happy I was to taste them again. However! I mentioned in the video that the sour rye soup we got tasted strange, but I didn’t explain why. We got instant soup, that’s why. I understand it is difficult to cook it from scratch in Japan, but they could have put in an ounce of effort to prepare it better. Just saying.

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This has to be the strangest meal I ever had. Raspberry beer and a rose jam doughnut. I totally recommend it though!

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I left Poland on the 30th of June 2011. I visited once, in September the same year. I guess you know the rest of the story (if not, please check this post). Of course I miss it… sometimes. I miss speaking my native language, eating delicious Polish food, hanging around cozy cafes and pubs. I guess you only really start appreciating how delicious your national cuisine is after you leave your country. I think that Polish bread and Polish meat are second to none and our soups are so good, I can’t really find a better adjective to describe them. 

You know what makes me happy? Japanese people don’t have a bad image of Poland. They say “Poland? Chopin, Walesa, cold winter, beautiful pottery”. Some of them even know Andrzej Wajda or Roman Polanski. Now they also know that we have awesome food. Well, at least those who attended the 3rd edition of the Polish Festival.

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And what do you think Japanese people think about your country? Leave a comment if you like (I always read them, but it takes a lot of time for me to reply, sorry about that!)

Thank you for reading!♥

November digest!

Those of you who have met me personally can confirm that one of the phrases you’ll often hear me use is: “Wait, I’ll show you, I have a photo of it”. If I ever recommend a place, an event, a shop, food or any other thing, you bet I have it photographed from all angles that exist. Thanks to that, in my previous post you could see photos I took ages ago with the good ole’ Blackberry. As I’m writing this post, I have exactly 5,351 photos on my phone…so why not use them? This is how I got the idea for this new series that will help me be even more consistent with my blog posts.

I think it might be a nice insight into my daily life in Japan and a nice change after all those lengthy, detailed posts I like so much. 🙂

NOVEMBER

 ∗Apparently, drinks and snacks are not the only things you can buy from a vending machine. Japan went one step ahead and now you can find a souvenir vending machine in Shibuya!

∗I discovered taiyaki only about a month ago and fell in love instantly. There’s nothing better than warm crispy dough with sweet bean paste filling… or any other filling I had an opportunity to try. I totally have to recommend the place I buy all my funky taiyaki from (there’s a little store in my town) → kurikoan.com

∗ Recently, I did some Autumn cleaning and got rid of all things gathering dust. I took out these cushions on the day when household articles were to be collected, but apparently cushions fall into the ‘nonburnable’ category. The trash collecting guys left a special note on the cushions, informing me about it. How nice!

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∗Beautiful sky in my town. In Japan it gets dark around 4 PM, it’s rare for me to actually get off work before twilight falls.

∗Okinawan feast! It still amazes me to no end that there are actually people who don’t like Okinawan style soba. Like… Seriously, guys?!

∗Ultimate working day breakfast. Rice ball and canned coffee.

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∗I thought that car looked cool, so I took a photo. That would explain over 5000 pics on my phone…

∗Ultimate working day lunch.

∗Tenya! Long time no see ♥ 

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∗Forget Hello Kitty, I honestly think that Gudetama is waaay cuter!

∗Cafe in Kita-Senju. You know, I often carry around a textbook with me, in case I actually get any time to study. I had some time to kill and I actually studied. Wow.

∗View of the Arakawa river, on my way back from the orphanage where I volunteer. I volunteer from 19:00 to 20:30 on Fridays. I used to stay until 21:00 but since I moved further away, I have to leave earlier but I get back home around 22:00 anyway. Getting on the super crowded Joban Line on Friday night should be part of some twisted survival reality show, I swear. 

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∗ Hawaiian dinner! They serve awesome food, but they’re hella crowded — the place is called Mokuola.

∗I got to hang out with an idol! Her name is Tia and she’s a member of an AKB48 style idol group called P.IDL. Check out their music, if you’re into that stuff: P.IDL on YouTube

∗I got this from a 9 year-old girl and my heart melted ♥

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∗Supermarket pizza, -30% off the price. Not the best decision of my life and I won’t be repeating it anytime soon.

∗Thank god for Donki and the imported food they sell ♥ Funny enough, I’m not a big fan of regular chocolate, but I’m a total sucker for WHITE chocolate!

∗Socks I’ll never buy, but need to admit they’re just too adorable.

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∗Midtown Tower in Roppongi — there’s a clinic on the 6th floor and I can’t recommend them enough! I’ve had some health problems recently, and because the Japanese doctor I visited a few times examined me only for like 2 minutes, and when I didn’t catch what he said in Japanese and asked him to repeat, he was only like “Nevermind”, I decided to go to a better clinic, where the staff speaks English. I couldn’t have chosen better! → Tokyo Midtown Clinic

∗Tim Burton’s World — exhibition in Roppongi. I loved it.

∗Real Tokyo fashion.

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∗ One of the best taiyaki I’ve had so far — caramel and cornflakes ♥

∗Peko-chan’s new clothes. Peko-chan is a mascot of a bakery nearby my apartment, and she gets new clothes every time a holiday is coming. After the New Year she’ll probably wear a kimono because of Seijin no Hi — Coming of Age Day (and I’ll probably take a photo of her again)

∗ Nearby Tokyo Station. I was looking for a coffee shop, but all I found was shady girls bars. Right next to the biggest business district. Okay…

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∗Found at Ueno Station. How cool is that!

∗High class sushi in Nezu! 

∗Poland Film Festival in Shibuya. I overslept and because I live 47319 kilometers away from Shibuya, I coudln’t make it, to my deepest regret.

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∗It’s kairo (disposable warmer) season again… (as I’m writing this, I have THREE kairo glued on me + fan heater on — Japanese winter is not that cold, but Japanese houses are so cold you wouldn’t believe)

∗Chika-san’s painting is now a part of the exhibition in the art museum in Ueno! (Chika-san is the lady I teach Polish to)

∗Tsukemen time! Ajitsuke tamago = marinated soft boiled egg has to be one of the best things that happened to Japanese food.

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∗Dill and pickles flavoured Pringles. YASSSS.

∗I decided to go half-sleeve with my right arm tattoo and on the 28th of November I had the first session. I’m recording the whole thing, so there will be a vlog coming in a few months! And if you have any questions about Japanese tattoo culture, please ask!

∗After 7 months of studying Korean, I started using the lower intermediate level textbook! Yay!

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That would be all for this November digest. If you have questions about anything you saw in the pics — feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email! I tried to explain what different things are, but if there’s something I omitted (because I probably took it for granted) do let me know!

Thank you for reading ♥

 

The biggest fireworks festival in Japan — Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai 2014!

I’ve been living in Japan for 2 years and now I know how little I really knew before I came here. Of course, before I arrived at the Land of The Rising Sun I had read a heap of books, novels, websites, everything I could get my hands on.  If you’ve ever wondered what aspect of Japan I’m interested in, the answer is coming right up. It’s…. history. Not cute pop culture, not games, not fashion. I mean – all that stuff is equally interesting, but the history of Japan was something I spent the most time on when I was a student. (Answering another question that might come up — my particular interests are Meiji Period, World War II and the post-war society and economy of Japan). Anyway! I admit — I didn’t know a darn thing about the annual summer fireworks festivals. All the guidebooks I had might have mentioned them, but I guess I wasn’t a careful reader. Naturally, when I found out about these events, I knew I just had to go to one. Despite living on a tight budget at that time, I got my first yukata and I’ll be honest here — I  felt fabulous wearing it.

This year there will be no yukata unfortunately — but there will be lots of fun, Asahi beer and bad quality photos!

2012                                                ♥                                             2013

 

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If you’d like to read a few words about the historical background of the whole event (but you’re too lazy to google it yourself), here are a few websites:

Good old Wikipedia

Sumidagawa Fireworks Official Website

The Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival Survival Guide 

隅田川花火大会

The Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai 2014!

 

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I admit that choosing Asakusa as your perfect fireworks observation spot is like loading your own gun and then shooting yourself in the foot. Everybody knows it’s going to be insanely crowded with thousands of people, everybody knows that it’s going to be hot, and by hot I mean Lucifer’s sauna kind of hot. Cook an egg on the sidewalk kind of hot. Yet every year most of the attendees go to Asakusa and for the third time in a row, I was one of them. I regret nothing.

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The sweetest people ♥ My best friend Ayaka (the little one), her younger sister Chika (but you can call her Chii) and Ayaka’s coworker Yama-chan!

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Every festival in Japan equals lots of food stalls selling typical festival food. What’s typical? Yakitori, takoyaki, yakisoba, sausages on a stick, shaved ice. Bad news for vegetarians — I guess you’ll have to bring your own snacks. What I like about Japan is that it’s perfectly okay to drink on the street. Not that I do that often, it’s just, you know — there’s nothing better and more refreshing than an ice cold Asahi in this simmering heat!

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I’d like to give you at least a tiny idea of how many people attend Sumidagawa Fireworks. Sometimes you don’t even walk — you just float with the stream of people. Streets around Sumidagawa river are closed, there are thousands of policemen guiding the spectators, patiently holding that yellow tape to keep everything in order. There’s no trespassing or taking shortcuts — if it says NO it means NO. This is Japan.

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These lucky guys! It was a great observation spot — no pushing through people, good view on the fireworks, just sitting there wearing a yukata, drinking beer, looking cool. Awesome.

Legend has it that these spots can be reserved months prior to the event. How exactly you book it, how much does it cost and how can you actually choose a spot? I have absolutely no idea — please enlighten me if you do.

Seeing all the best spots taken, we had no other choice but to keep walking in search of a place where we could feast our eyes on the colourful sky extravaganza.

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We kept walking and walking thought streets of Asakusa with thousand of other people, until it got dark and the fireworks started. It was high time to lower our standards and find a spot where we could see anything. At that point, really anything would have sufficed.

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YAAY! We found a good spot! Slightly tipsy crowd got all friendly, people were talking to each other, trying to catch the fleeting beauty of the fireworks with their smartphones. I’m sorry if these photos are not as impressive — I snapped a few shots for this blog entry only. I might not look at the photos ever again, I might lose the SD card, I might mistakenly delete the “Sumidagawa fireworks” folder from my PC one day. But the memories of what I saw with my own eyes — not through an itty-bitty lens — will stay with me for a lifetime.

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And what do you do after the fireworks? The party is not over, no no! Find the nearest convenience store, buy snacks, more snacks, tons of snacks! Get a sweet pineapple cocktail or a strawberry calpis drink if you feel like it…

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…then find a sweet spot like we did (with an amazing view on Sky Tree and some ToiToi toilets 10 meters away…), spread out that 100 yen small plastic tarp  (← or “leisure sheet” if you want to use Japanglish!) you picked up earlier…and pig out on all that konbini goodness like there’s no tomorrow!


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 Fireworks Festivals in Japan — crowds, cute yukatas, the smell of fried food, heat, humidity, sweat dripping down your neck. We managed to watch the beautiful fireworks show after all, but even if we couldn’t…It wouldn’t have been even a tiny bit less awesome! It’s the people that create the unique atmosphere. It’s that sense of unity I love. We’re all here to forget about work and school and all that stuff that doesn’t make life any easier, we’re here to have a good time, to appreciate Japanese culture. It’s the people who make you think “Messy hair? Sweating like crazy? Heat? Mosquitoes? Hell, I don’t care! It’s awesome!”. These three lovely individuals made my third Sumidagawa Festival a great one.

Thank you guys!

あやとちいと山ちゃんのおかげで今年の花火は本当に最高だった!これからもよろしくね!

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 ♥

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Tokyo in Snapshots: Akihabara Electric Town and Gundam Cafe!

Akihabara is everything you think that it is— and more! Yes, it’s full of manga and anime. Yes, it’s a real kingdom of electronic devices and games. Yes, AKB48 are the goddesses here (well, not only here, but this is where they started from, so I guess it’s a ‘special’ place for the fans). And finally yes, it is full of otaku,  maid cafes and barely dressed anime characters on every corner.

Akihabara was the first place I visited when I came to Japan. The sky was grey and I was terribly sleepy because of jet lag. I ate my first tsukemen which cost me about 800 yen and at that time I thought “I’m gonna go bankrupt here!”…What else? Oh, I remember! I was looking for a wi-fi spot just so that I could check-in at Akihabara on Facebook (“Everybody has to know I’m in AKB YASSSSSS!”). Ironically, it wasn’t easy to find such a spot though! You would think, Akihabara = internet everywhere, but well, not really. In any case, I went back to Akihabara many times after that. I taught English at a cafe, I visited my beloved Donki (AKB’s Donki was the only one I knew at that time), I left a substantial amount of money at Yodobashi Camera. Oh and how could I forget the most delicious ramen I have ever had? It’s in AKB too! I’ll be sure to show you that place because the ramen there is insanely delicious.

Since I moved a bit further away from the Ueno/Akihabara area, I haven’t had as many chances to visit the Otaku Town. This time I went back to find some interesting things I could show you and Akihabara didn’t disappoint me. It never does!

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Akihabara 秋葉原

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If you choose the Electric Town Exit, you’ll be greeted by video game arcades, ubiquitous photos of AKB48 and anime characters. All this cuteness can make you dizzy, but the atmosphere is none the less absolutely unique.

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I need to admit that I am not a big fan of manga or anime. Of course I have watched classics like Ghost in the ShellBarefoot Gen and most of the Ghibli animations, but somehow… I don’t know, I just never really got into it that much. I still enjoy walking the streets of AKB though. Japanese people say it’s too weird, too expensive and too overrated. It’s like a younger clumsy brother of Nakano Broadway, which is a real deal for hardcore anime lovers  (read more about Nakano Broadway → here←).

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Boobs, short skirts and zettai ryouki

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Comic book stores, Japanese idol CD stores, and yes, of course, countless maid cafes. No, I have never been to one. High school students wearing maid costumes, speaking in an unnaturally high-pitched voice, infantilizing themselves to serve as some sort of fetishy entertainment for anime loving guys? No, thanks, maybe…umm…someday.

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You may think that the Donki at AKB should have even more weird unusual stuff than other Donkis… It does have lots of anime stuff, anime slippers, anime wine bottles, anime whatever you want, AKB48 merchandise, pillow girlfriends and other items you could find in a “How To Become Otaku for Dummies — Starter Kit”, if such a thing existed.

Wait, it’s Japan. It probably does.

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Gachapon machines on the street! They were a hit in Poland when I was a kid. I still remember 10-year old me buying those gross rubber hands in gachapons we had in Poland. They looked like giant snots and you could stick them to walls which made it more fun.  How could I know that about 13 years later I would find myself buying half-naked anime figurines from machines on the streets of Akihabara?

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And what do we have over here…..?

….GUNDAM CAFE Akihabara!

11 Kanda Hanaokacho
Chiyoda, Tokyo
(or just take the Showa Dori exit, it’s on the right, next to the AKB48 cafe!)

 

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The cafe has a really nice atmosphere going on! The mechanical mascot Haro and some mini pink Gundam robots. It feels like a spaceship and you can watch some Gundam episodes on a large screen TV. Actually, some people seemed to have come there only for the TV. Maybe this is the reason why there’s a time limit in the cafe? Apparently, you can’t stay there longer than 2 hours. Enough to watch a few episodes though!

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Fancy drink bar with Gundam characters and the mobile suit itself!

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THE MENU

Everything looked yummy! Curry and taco-rice-ish dishes at reasonable prices? Fried rice with chicken wings shaped like a Gundam spaceship?  MS-06 Zaku II and ACGUY curry rice? Gundam SEED hashed beef rice? Sounds awesome! I decided to get Kira no hayashi raisu = Kira hashed beef.

This is how they described the dish:

ガンダムSEEDの主人公、キラ・ヤマトをイメージした、力強い味わいのハヤシライスです。 トリィを表した温泉卵とチーズがキラの優しさのようなまろやかな味に仕上げます。 しっかり食べたいあなたに。

“Strong-flavoured hashed beef rice with the main character of Gundam SEED – Kira Yamato. A soft-boiled egg and cheese representing Torii (a lime green bird-robot) give off a flavour so mellow, like Kira’s personality” — if that doesn’t sound mouth-watering, I don’t know what does.

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…and apparently this is what Kira’s personality looks like. In the world of Photoshop I guess I shouldn’t be really surprised seeing that the reality is a bit different from the photograph, but well…I still can’t say it was half as good as I had imagined it. It was decent. But Japanese soft-boiled eggs are to die for so I’ll be generous this time and give them 6 out of 10.

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The coffee was surprisingly good though! If you’re not a fan of curry, grab a latte! And just look at that adorable chibi Gundam Tencho (=Manager Gundam) ♥

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I guess that the main hero at Gundam Cafe is Gundam of course, the food is only an addition. Well, if that works for them and brings them clients, why should I complain? I had a decent lunch and a good coffee and I didn’t break the bank! If you’re a fan of Gundam — I’m sure you’ll go there. If  not — well, if you happen to be in AKB and crave some curry, why not stop by the Gundam Cafe?

Whatever they say about AKB — no one can deny that it grew to be one of the symbolic towns of Tokyo.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my thoughts !

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Oh Akihabara….

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