365 Days in Tokyo

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”


I’m constantly looking for new ideas to try and see how they work in my classes. If you have any ideas, please share with me!

Arigato~

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How to enjoy Hanabi in Japan like a pro

Now before I begin, I must say I’m actually no hanabi expert… I am just sharing from the two times I have gone this summer 🙂 I went to the Yokohama and the Edogawa fireworks shows. Both were unique in their own ways. Yokohama had unique designs like smiley faces and hearts. Edogawa had bigger and brighter bouts of fireworks. I highly suggest you check our your local fireworks shows if you can!

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I made a quick entry in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It is a bit hard to read so I wrote everything out below in detail! If you like these kinds of scrapbooking type journal entries, check out my crafty IG @craftyinwonderland  :]


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What is hanabi? Hanabi translates to “fireworks.” During the summer holidays of July and August, cities around Japan host firework shows that are way bigger and brighter than the ones you may be used to in your home country. (This was true at least compared to my home country of USA.) People come dressed in their summer yukatas and wait patiently on their mats for the show to begin.

Japanese fireworkds are crazy! They have all kinds of unique designs and they are not afraid to go big. Best of all, it is free! But, there is a catch.

You must first battle the heat of Japan’s summer and the crowds. Once you get past it all, it is truly an amaing summer experience with friends and family.

Here are some tips I want to share with you to make your future hanabi experience more enjoyable.

  • Prepare yourself for crowds stampedes. They will be lots of people there no matter what. Even if you think you are arriving early, there are always going to be people who arrive earlier than you. There may be thousands of people at the same fireworks show you are planning to go to. Just remember to stay calm. Japanese people don’t normally push. When in Japan, do as the Japanese do. 13940047_10205280595893708_1374487591_o
  • Reserve your spot early in the morning. All the pro-hanabi spectators know to show up early and put down a tarp/mat with their name on it. This is actually the normal ting to do in Japan. You will see people show up at 10 am and leave just a mat (sometimes with their name taped on) in a specific area. They come back later in the day and no one will have taken their spot. Trust me on this one. It is worth doing for big groups!
  • Dress code: Yukata. lol kidding. Not everyone will show up wearing their yukata, but it is what many people will come dressed in. If you happen to just have a yukata, hanabi season is the perfect time to break it out and get your money’s worth. You will blend in and everyone will see your beautiful yukata designs.
  • Arrive early. If you haven’t already reserved a spot, you’ll want to arrive early so that you can at least find a place to sit and watch the fireworks show. If you have already reserved a spot, you’ll still want to arrive early because the late stragglers will be crowding around the back and it is harder to get past them when you arrive late. I’ve learned this the hard way. PLUS, you’ll want to arrive early because the trains start to get delayed even 3 hours before the show begins. Sometimes trains are even stopped. The earlier you arrive, the more pleasant your experience will be. 13987173_10205280595853707_368901073_o
  • Buy food and drinks ahead of time. There are going to be food and drink stalls obviously by the viewing areas, but the lines are insanely long! My friends decided to wait until they got to the viewing area and ended up in line for sausages for an hour…while I enjoyed my futomaki and yakisoba on the mat that we had reserved earlier in the morning. However, if waiting in long lines is your hobby, by all means, don’t let me tell stop you. (:
  • Don’t forget to bring enough plastic bags or trash bags. After all the food and snacks you eat, you have to collect your trash and bring it to designated areas. We must do as the Japanese do. There aren’t usually public trashcans around Japan, so they just carry their trash around until they find an appropriate place to throw away their trash. Please don’t litter. It is very rude. Plus the fireworks show is all free, we must do our part in cleaning up our mess.

13987261_10205280595933709_993141268_o.jpgFireworks iPhone photography protip: If you have an iPhone, you can actually shoot video and take photos at the same time! This has been the best method I accidentally discovered when I was playing around with my iPhone camera. How to: Start recording video of the fireworks. There will be another button that will allow you to take snapshots while recording. This method has worked so well for me because you don’t have to keep tapping your screen to focus or adjust the white balance. I have shared this tip with all my friends so far, and they have told me it works! The only problem is you have to have enough memory on your phone to save both the videos and photos. hehe.

 


Well, these are all the tips I can think of to make your next hanabi experiences more enjoyable!

Here is a link to the top 20 hanabi viewings in Japan! Hope this all helps!

xoxo

From Having No Job to Moving to Japan in 2 months

“How did you move to Japan so quickly after graduating university?”

When I told people, “oh, I’m moving to Japan in like 2 months,” they mostly replied with, “huh?”

Moving to Japan wasn’t a completely spontaneous decision. The idea actually came to mind in November of 2014 while I was completing my senior year in university. I was taking a Japanese language class for fun because I had the extra time and credits and thought it would be a good idea to brush up on my Japanese. It was by far one of my most favorite classes in university because the teacher was amazing and I was able to relearn all the Japanese I had lost growing up.

Because I was enrolled in the Japanese class, there were a bunch of Japanese related university emails. Usually I would just click “archive” in my gmail inbox and move on. But I was bored on my way to school on the train one day and read through the email. I’m so glad I did. That was when I found out they had informed every Japanese language student that there was an opportunity to move to Japan and teach English. The time I had to make my decision and apply was very short. I had to make my mind up quickly. Should I apply and just hope I get this position? I don’t know, I don’t have any other jobs I’ve applied to yet. Should I be looking for better jobs in America?

Hmm.. I thought so much about this opportunity. I knew I would absolutely love to live in Japan. I knew I could teach English with my eduction background. I knew this would literally be the perfect opportunity for me to live in Japan and have a job straight out of college. I knew it was perfect for me.

I applied after thinking about it for a week. I scrambled to get recommendation letters, transcripts, and permission from my parents. I knew my parents would support me no matter what, but I wasn’t too sure if they would allow me to move to another country around the world to work in a country where I only kind of barely speak the language.

The wait killed me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have a job when I graduate. I wasn’t sure if I should start applying for jobs before I graduate. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach in the American school system. I left my future completely in the hands of those in charge of accepting and rejecting applicants to the JET Programme. Luckily, they liked me!

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This is an old photo of a journal entry I had made in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

Mar 30, 2015: I was accepted into the JET Programme.

May 26, 2015: I found out I was placed in the dream place of many, Tokyo, Japan.

I moved to Japan under the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET). They are a very well known and respected “program” in Japan that hires college graduates to come teach in Japan’s public schools: elementary, middle, and even high school. There are thousands of JETs (people working under the JET Programme) placed everywhere in Japan, including all major cities and all of the tiny islands.

Why Japan?

“Why Japan?”

Ask me again. I dare you.

I hate when people ask me, “So, why Japan?”

My usual reply is, “why the heck not?” I should just ask them back the same question.

“Why America? Why Korea? Why whatever-country-you’re-living-in?”


Hi, my name is Alice and I live in Tokyo, Japan.

In August of 2015, I moved from America to Japan with 2 big Rimowa suitcases, 1 carry on Tumi suitcase, and a Jansport backpack. I entered the Land of the Rising Sun under an “Instructor” visa. I had just turned 22 and had just graduated from university less than 2 months ago.

Wow. So young right? Meh.

K, let’s get back to the original question. “Why Japan?”

When I was younger, I used to always be most excited for spring vacation. It was the shortest vacation out of the 3 main ones, winter, spring, and summer, but it was still my most favorite.

Why?

Basically because it was when I would go to Japan with my family. It was when I could eat all the amazing Japanese foods that Japan has to offer. It was when I could go see my grandma and aunts and uncles living in Japan. It was when I could shop for all the Hello Kitty and Sanrio items I couldn’t find in America. It was when I could wander through stationery stores to buy the newest pens and pencils to bring back and share with my friends. It was when I could find drink vending machines on every corner to get my hot Royal Milk Tea fix. It was when I could not worry about anything and feel safe in the country of Japan.

I chose Japan because it is most comfortable for me. It is nostalgic. I wanted to live in a country where I will be immersed in the culture that I grew up in while learning new things about my Japanese heritage. I wanted to live in a country where I would be on my own, but also have support from family if I really needed it. I wanted to be able to eat sushi that wouldn’t give me food poisoning and ramen at 5 in the morning.

Now do you get why I love Japan? If you don’t, I think you just need to visit Japan and see for yourself. I’ll take you around if you need a tour guide. Maybe you won’t like it here. Maybe you’ll fall in love with it like I did.

And these are the reasons why I always answer with “why the heck not?”