Wednesday, December 2, 2009

都会から田舎に。 From big city living, to hardcore country side.

My last post was my everything Tokyo post.. though I still may talk about Tokyo sometimes, especially since status changes. My biggest status change: I found a job! I'll be working as an ALT teacher in the Kanto region (that's where Tokyo is). This means: I start working in April, a long time away from now. Since Celes found a job that starts only in about a month though, we'll probably make it through the hardships. The biggest pain is that in Japan, you don't get paid on any sort of reasonable timely manor, you are paid monthly, starting at the end of your second month. This means that Celes will start working hopefully in January, but won't see any sign of money at all until the end of February. If you're wondering what sense this makes: it's kind of like the government's plan of unemployment security. If you lose a job for any reason,, then you still have quite a bit more money coming in before nothing's there, so you can plan your budget appropriately. This'll hurt me and Celes pretty bad, since it means she won't get paid until the end of February, and that won't even be a month's salary since she won't be starting in the beginning of January, and I don't start until April, meaning I won't be paid until the end of May. That's ok though, we'll survive.
I mention this in case any of you want to come live and work in Japan, this is a fact of how the system works, so be prepared for it. That being said, I also want to encourage any of you that want to work in Japan, to just do it. I am sitting in an apartment, occupied by my transgender girlfriend, my Swedish (non native English speaker) friend whom has never even been to an English speaking country, and myself with rainbow yarn dreaded and beaded hair. All of us, under such conditions were able to find work in Japan in relatively fast timing... all of us within under 3 months of being here. With all that said, now I'll go on about life in Tsuruga!


Well my pictures before showed a glimpse of life in Tokyo. Outside of Yoyogi park, there is nothing but city... everywhere else of interest, is inside buildings. One day after leaving Tokyo, this was our trainride out to Tsuruga.

This is a local train station a few stops down. It's a bit desolate.

These are some pictures around town. It's quite a small place, we've walked completely across it several times now. I thought this was cool, because even though we've in the country side, they're still advancing technology pretty well... nice solar panels on the roof of the street cover. Though I'm curious what it powers.

This is an alcohol vending machine. I used to see them a lot the last time I lived in Japan, but in Tokyo I didn't find any at all. I'm wondering if they're no longer legal in Tokyo. They exist here in Tsuruga, but these days require an ID before you can purchase anything. I've heard that this system is sometimes broken, but you can still get alcohol.

This is a view of Tsuruga, by the river connecting to the bay. Tsuruga is a port town connected to the mountains, but it's known for the ports and fishing. You can actually find fishing bait shops only a few blocks apart from each other all over the town.

Near the local shrine.

We went to the beach on the last day of November, wearing t shirts and sweaters. It's never super cold in most of Japan, but this year is pretty amazing for the warmth. Not only were we not cold, but there were several other folk right at the beach, fishing or just walking about.

Aside from the beach, there's mountains surrounding Tsuruga. We've climbed one mountain 2-3 times this week alone. from the peak, you can see all of Tsuruga! Just beware of the bears and wild boars that run about.

These berries are called 冬苺(fuyu ichigo lit. Winter Strawberries. They're only found here in Japan, the technical name is rubus buergeri) They're quite edible and nums, and can be found in the mountains here!

Mountains here are pretty well tread. The one we climbed has a built in path way, and on the top even has several buildings made... this is the rest center.

More Surrounding Tsuruga.

As I said, we climbed the mountain 2-3 times this week. On Sunday we climbed up to the peak, and then back down. Yesterday we climbed up around the peak, then back down the other side where there was this farm with a museum. Then back up to the peak, and down where we started. Museum pictures aren't very entertaining, but this is the farm we found.

Across the bridge through the marsh here is a tradition farm house... it was pretty nifty kean. We met the nicest farmer lady here who told us all about the area there.

This is the くま注意(beware of bears) path we took toward the farm. It's far less tread than the rests of the mountain. It's very common for hikers to wear bells to warn off the bears when hiking through this mountain, though I've ride that speaking loudly has been proven just as effective... this bells are pretty happy to hear though.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A beginning from the middle: where I just came from.

Let's start with some current projects and status:
Living in Japan with my girlfriend Celeste who I met here several years ago, and trying to stay on a more permanent basis
Searching for a job (on slight vacation from this for the next few weeks)
Intensive Japanese study
Writing a book about my life
Just moved out to Tsuruga (north of Osaka, far out in the country side), from Tokyo.

About my experience in Tokyo

I just moved out to the middle of nowhere from Tokyo. Tokyo is not a terrible city, it has it's charms, but it feels very separate from Japan, much like New York feels very separate from the US, it is an entirely different place, this is good and bad. Well for those of you who have been there, you know that there is no other place quite like it.

I like to call Tokyo a giant surreal adventure that ranges from entertaining, to bewildering, to feeling dull or confused. This is because of super advanced shiny technology everywhere. Buildings are always tall, and cover the entire city, not just any particular part. They're also almost always covers in LCD screens keeping bright lights with all the new company logos right in your face.

It's very easy to get lost, not just in a physical sense, but maybe even more so in a mental state, wondering where to go next. I really like to wander around places randomly, but in Tokyo, I don't feel like I'm succeeding in much if I do this.. unless I know specifically where I want to go, so for that reason among others, I've always enjoyed other parts of Japan for being more random find friendly.

There's still cool things, and as my time these last two months went by, I found Tokyo less irritating, and even enjoyable.. especially Yoyogi park. That's probably the real reason that I have issues with Tokyo. If you're claustrophobic at all, then it's pretty terrible. You will be surrounded by buildings at all times, and won't find much open space. Yoyogi is a nice open space though, and people really come to enjoy it.

This was not my first time in Tokyo, I'd spent a month there in the past, and always felt very lost. In all honesty, I didn't really like Tokyo... but I have many friends there, which can be a big draw in, not to mention there is much more opportunity for interesting positions rather than just English teaching (though not usually from the start, *especially* if you are an American like me, making a working holiday visa not an option).

Now having immediately moved out of Tokyo, off to Tsuruga in the middle of nowhere, I really understand just how different Tokyo is. I have a bit more appreciation for it than when I started out there. I feel like I'll be happy wherever I end up in Japan at this point.

Pictures from Tokyo:

Last night in Shinjuku, at the I-setan shop displays, check out the stories online at if you'd like some interesting trippy christmas stories!

This is down a Shinjuku road. I found this road particularly attracting.. most of Tokyo is filled with city just like this, but much less entertaining with the Christmas lights.

Another random Shinjuku shot. It's so rare to find random places in Tokyo, atleast when I go looking, but for the first time, there was something! Maybe there's more to Tokyo than I thought.

Pictures from Yoyogi park. It's huge, gorgeous, and everyone goes there just to have fun. My favorite part of Tokyo, and the largest amount of open space you'll find. There's endless fun to find, we even got randomly featured in a Japanese music vidoe on this trip!

Celeste and I in our new goth loli gear in my favourite nearby park, in Ikebukuro.

Cat cafe with really large cats in Ikebukuro! A cat cafe is a place where you can just go, hang out, pet cats, hold cats, be around cats, and lots of them. Many folk in Japan don't have a lot of space for pets, so this is their compromise. It's such a cool concept. I hear in Oosaka there's a bunny cafe, I'm definitely planning on visiting.

Celeste and I went to the local butler cafe. I bet many of you have heard of made cafes, where your waitresses are dressed as maids, and treat you as a household owner. This particular butler cafe is almost exactly the same, except your waitresses are dressed as butlers. Some butler cafes actually have male butlers, but of all the different genres, crossdressing butler cafes are the most fun environment, the employees are always very charismatic, and love talking to everyone that comes in. This particular time we went, it was Halloween week, so the butlers were dressed as vampire butlers. Therefore, I asked my butler to draw a vampire on my omuraisu! Celes had a bat drawn on hers.