Tag Archives: living in japan

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Sakura Viewing 2014: Imperial Palace East Gardens

After a few exciting Hanami places, it’s time for something peaceful~
Welcome to the Imperial Palace East Gardens!

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The Imperial Palace is near Tokyo and Otemachi Station and features different types of flowery in the East Gardens. It is free and open to public. If castles and moats are your thing, I would recommend coming here to check it out.

Ok, so this is one of the entrances to the Imperial Garden’s East Garden.

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I loved the moat the most. Yeah I know its a castle defence thing but it looks so cool around the castle.

Continue walking down the path:

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The map above is for you to download.

There is a rest station with some snacks and drinks for sale at parts of the castle.

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You would also be greeted by the guardhouses of old.

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Continue walking down the paths and you will see the cool castle walls and different type of flowers.

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Finally, you will enter into a large open space garden. This is the place you want to be!

Many people are having their picnic and hanami parties~
This garden is not as big as Shinjuku National Garden or Yoyogi Park but has it’s own beauty as well. The best part is that this place is NOT crowded! :)

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A beautiful Music Hall at the side~

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Description of Garden here:
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Some rest spots like this are around too. This one here can have quite a view!

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aaaand thats all! When you are done, just continue walking straight (opp. direction of where you came from) and you’ll find a gate to exit like below~

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Oh wait!!!

Just outside, you will see a great view! See?

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My Final Conclusion?

The Imperial Palace East Gardens is a really simple garden which features some Sakura trees. You won’t go like “WOAAAHH” but it is very tranquil and peaceful and most importantly, away from the crowd. I feel that you can sit and just relax properly here although it’s not alot.
I would compare this place akin to the Shinjuku National Garden.
While I will say that Shinjuku’s one is much prettier, the Imperial Palace East Garden has much more historical and cultural value.
Depends on which you would enjoy more.

This is not really the end! The next part of Hanami 2014 would be continued from this post! I would be covering Chidorigafuchi! Which I am awarding the BEST place for Sakura viewing in Tokyo 2014! Do look out for the new post tomorrow! You can miss all other hanami posts but not the one tomorrow! ;D

In Tranquility,
JapanxHunter

 

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12 More things you’ll hate when living in Japan (Part II)

Every lovely and awesome Country, City, or neighborhood has at least a thing or two that bugs you till no end. This is Part II of exactly that in Japan.
On a side note, I’m glad readers were entertained by Part I~ You can read it here if you haven’t checked it out yet ;)

As usual, let’s start with the language…

1. Keigo

The Japanese honorific language. It is used mostly in business and service industries.
It use entirely different words and is split into different levels. It’s soft, melodious,  and takes such a long time to finish a sentence that I wish I could stuff the hot towel into the waiter’s mouth when he starts his first Irashaimasen~

shutup

Take this example:
私はお休みさせていただいております
watashi wa o yasumi sasete itadaite orimasu.

Keigo Translation: I have humbly received permission to be taking a break.
Normal English: I’m taking a break.
Singlish: Taking break la!

2. High Rent, Tiny Rooms

One of the main expenditures you will face if you plan to stay in Japan.
To rent a tiny room in a sharehouse, it’ll typically cost 70,000¥ (700USD) and above. Utilities will cost an additional 4000¥ to 10,000¥. Previously, I managed to get a room for 40,000¥ p/mth… But have you seen how small it was?!
aceventura tight
I used to get out of my room like this every morning.

3. Thrash Disposal

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Example of a thrash disposal “manual”

Let’s see.. Tuesdays and Thursdays burnable thrash… Mondays non-burnable thrash… Fridays… are… what??? Oh no, wait, it’s the first Tuesday of every month. Or is it? How about this box that has both plastic and cardboard? Huhuhuhuh?
!((*@$^)!(_@** AH CRAP I’LL JUST PUT ALL MY THRASH IN ONE BAG AND THROW IT WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S GARBAGE. *true story*
angry panda

4. No Thrash bins

Nope, you can never find them when you need them. Annoying as hell. I’m used to not littering and usually end up my bag full of receipts, tissues, food wrapping, used satay sticks and bottles. :/
baby throwing
This baby, my role model for future behavior.

5. Crazy Fruit Prices

Money grows on trees here. When I first wanted to buy a banana, I was like:
cat scared of banana
More than 1USD for ONE apple or ONE banana.
banana money
Melons can easily cost more than 100 USD. Produce are expensive as well.
If I see another overpriced banana, I’m gonna start my new business pimping these 2.
bananas in pajamas

6. Expensive fashion

I love shopping and it can get quite expensive in Japan. A new T-shirt for 3000yen is considered cheap. Man, I can buy more than 3 Tees in Bangkok at that price. Simple jeans will cost you more than a hundred, two hundred bucks.

I went to Isetan today and the cheapest shirt i saw was about 180USD.. and another leather-ish SINGLET for HALF A GRAND.
throw money
Still, there are SOME bargain buys you can find in Harajuku. SOME.

7. Annoying “Idol” Groups

Yeap, I’m sure you might have heard of AKB48. This is similar… but its NOT THE SAME.
The commercial ones, at least they have…aesthetic value.

I’m talking about the indie idol groups.

If you have not heard them Live, you’ve never really experienced Japan Otaku culture.
They sing, they dance, they ACT cute and they will defile your senses.
bad dancing

Sometimes the girl groups are aged between 14-16 years old and the old creepy otaku salarymen will just sing and clap to their songs (while spending hundreds of dollars a night).

It’s something you must experience to really understand D:

8. Getting a VISA

Visa is one of the most pressing issues every gaijin/foreigner face to stay in Japan. Especially to us Singaporeans that doesn’t have Working Holiday Visas. First you have to find a company that wants to hire you, which btw, most requires you to have some sort of Japanese Language certificate or ability to be considered.
Many Visa applications would require you to have a high educational certification or 10 years experience in your field.
You have everything? That’s great! They will slowly torture you with paperwork before approving your Visa then. ;)

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Oh for schools, you have to let them know at least 6 months in advance. <6mths is the deadline for submission. 7 months to be realistic>

9. Overwork

I’m sure you’ve heard this one. Employees for Japanese companies tend to work overtime.. and waaaay overtime. It’s the norm in Japan and expect to leave the office at 7pm-12am if you’re new.
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For new staff, they typically don’t leave the office until their immediate superior leaves. Even if you have nothing left to do, just stay in and play facebook games ;)

10. No Pre-Paid SIM cards for visitors

No, you can’t buy SIM cards for your phone in Japan. Not even Pre-Paid ones. Only if you have a valid visa then you can. I spent the first few months in Japan without a number and bought a Data SIM card that allows only 1GB for 3000++yen. EXPENSIVE.
throw phone
The option of renting a phone is available but I can only see that alright if you’re just visiting (expensive long term).

11. Lack of Umbrella Tact

Everyone, I mean E V E R Y O N E is oblivious to anybody else except themselves when they are carrying an umbrella.

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The Japanese will charge ahead and move forward to their promised land without a care that their umbrella in in your face or your eye.
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Some of them even lower their umbrella shield so low that will give Captain America a run for his money.
capA fail

12. Rampaging Salarymen

They walk like BLIND RHINOS. Seriously, ALL of them think they are mammoth tanks armed with the standard black suit, tie and briefcase.

hulk rampage

Avoid their paths or annoy the hell out of them by knocking onto them AND still blocking them after. .
Or just do it like Hulk
hulk punch

 

Thanks for reading! Had been fun again writing this.
Are there anything that irks you in your country? Or are there anything more you would like to add to this list?

Once again, if you missed part I, do check it out here!

Do feel free to comment below!

Rampaging on,
JapanxHunter

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Sakura Wine & Bistro (Roppongi)

Few weeks ago, I finally caught up with Eiji and Yosuke again!!!

It’s been awhile since I moved out of my tiny room in Nishi Azabu and I’ve been too busy to meet them. I’m really happy to see them. ^^

…turns out, it was Eiji’s Birthday the week before! My gosh, I feel so bad. He ordered a cake for me that time and I didn’t even know it was his birthday. L I’ll get a good present to make it up for him. But for that day, we had a belated birthday celebration with cake at a nearby pub first.

Check it~

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After which, we moved to this place… and also the topic of this post:
Sakura Wine Bistro!

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We ordered and ate and had so much fun until I forgot to take pictures!
Look at the food pics below!
Mussels – Shells left
Sausage – ONE BITE left
Thank God I remembered the pizza hahaha

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More pics:

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This place is known for drinking wine and they have a tremendous variety of wine for you to select. It is a very popular place for Japanese. I saw many J friends, salarymen as well as couples patronizing. You can say that this place would be suitable for almost any occasion.

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I love these “booths” with comfortable sofa seating. Great place to hang out with friends… or lovers. ;)

Food Menu

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They have a really big menu. Mostly wine though. So I only took some pages for you to refer to.

FINAL VERDICT

Ambience 4/5

The amount of light is just right. With dimmed yellow lights, soft music and chatter/buzz going around the place. The nice seats also provide a comfortable, relaxing evening.

Service 4/5

Fast and polite, the staff were of smiles and helped out when we needed it. Such good service is the norm in good Japan restaurants.

Taste 3.5/5

Food was yummy!  For all the food that we ate, it tasted good. However, it was quite forgettable. If not for the pictures taken, I’d definitely be struggling to remember what I had.

Price 3/5

Price is above the average prices. Do refer to the menu for specific prices. It’s around there. Then again, for this kinda place, it’s quite normal.

Overall Conclusion 4/5
I’ll definitely come here again if I do not know where to go in Roppongi. It is great for all occasions with fantastic food and chatter. Staff did not give me an unpleasant time and I thoroughly enjoyed myself with Eiji & Yosuke. Perfect for friends, family or dates.

The store is located here:
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You can just type in “106-0032” for google maps to direct you there.

Hungrily,
JapanxHunter

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12 Things You’ll Hate Living In Japan (Part I)

I know loadsa people are considering moving or working in Japan. But before you go all Japan crazy on me, here is a list things that will make Elmo curse like Lindsay Lohan w/o crack.

Firstly, let’s start with the obvious~

1. No one speaks English

Alright, maybe not everyone, but most people can’t speak a proper sentence in English.
If you don’t do some Japanese language homework before coming to Japan, expect a lot of chicken x duck talk and looking confused.
confused golem

2. Lack of Information in English

You are in Tokyo and want to check out some local events… or even just some local information online. It will be all in Japanese.
You will go to restaurants with the walls plastered with Japanese text and have no idea what-the-hallelujah is going on and what to order.
power rangers wtf
And my all-time favourite – stuck in the techy toilet for 5 minutes figuring out WHICH BUTTON IS THE FLUSH BUTTON.

3. Japanese who actually think they speak splendid English

Me: “Alright sure, Lets meet at Macdonalds on Wednesday.
Donkey: “Huh? Sorry I dounch understand”
Me: “Wednesday? Suiyobi, at Mac-do-nalds. Okay?”
Donkey: “Ohhhhhh~~~ You mean Wednesday at Macdonalds? Sorry your Singlish I dounch understando so wrell”
Me: <in my head: *%(!&@^$*#^@!*$&!%!(*&)!*(@#^%%!*$^*!^#_!$)!>
hulksmash
-smile-

And don’t let me get started on the smart alecks who want to correct my English.

4. Record breaking Taxi Prices

Literally, I’m not kidding. Based on a travel report here, Tokyo Taxis are the highest in the world.
Personally, I took taxi twice in my noob experience in Japan and paid a heavy price for it *pun intended*. Well, I can’t remember actually where I took it from/to because I was lost.. But I do remember the cost. First time costed me more than 100USD and second 50USD.
I was like,
impossible

Taxi fares I grabbed from a website:

JPY ¥710 for first 2Km
JPY ¥312.5 per Km
Additional: ¥90 per 1 minute 45 seconds when speed is less than 10km per hour

Late in the evening (typically 10pm to 5am), rates are raised by typically 20 percent. Eventual expressway toll fees incurred during the trip are added to the fare.

5. Extreme attitudes

Service staff in restaurants, hotels, bars, etc are extremely polite. They will apologize to you for everything even if you accidentally hit your hand on the edge of a table. It’s TOO POLITE sometimes and doesn’t feel warm. Feels mechanical and very fake if not “done right”.

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On the other hand, people in everyday life IGNORE strangers and 40% of the time, you will think you ate glass growing up cos people stare right through you while asking for directions.

tell me loki

6. Towering Movie Prices

I love watching movies. I go to the cinemas at least once a week back in Singapore. However, if I do that here, even Bruce Wayne would go broke

batman sad

General prices per ticket costs 1800yen(18 USD). Oh, want some food/drinks? Sure, add another 1000yen(10 USD).

7. Slow Movie Releases

Movies in Japan are 3-6 months LATE. Watch helplessly as your Facebook friends comment, tag and rave about how they enjoyed whatever movie they watched.

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Oh, and by the time the movie is released in theatres, you have already watched it on download/DVD… or on the frickin’ plane.

8. No size (Esp shoes)

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So you prepared enough moolah to go shopping for days! GREAT! Oh you are a larger sized westerner (or even a slightly bigger Asian)? NO PROBLEM! Just get rejected at most local fashion shops cos they don’t have your size. I’m sure that’s an experience too~

9. Guys are afraid of Girls

You thought the trend stopped in kindergarten huh? Guys here are so afraid to hug girls as a simple hello or goodbye. Some of them guys even think its sexual harassment. Overreacting much?
How about a simple arm over the shoulders when taking a picture? Again, big nono for the guys.

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Then what do the girls think?

So far, all of them are extremely friendly and love the fact that I am physically closer to them. All of them seemed to love friendly hugs and actually give warmer hugs than I do. ^_^

10. Foreigner Otakus
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I think Otakus are a very Japanese thing and although they can be quite creepy at times (like an old 60 year old salaryman ogling at anime porn in Akihabara), I actually don’t dislike them and love this quirky side of Japan. HOWEVER, when WEIRD GAIJINs do it, it a TOTALLY DIFFERENT STORY.
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Have you seen a SERIOUSLY fat western DUDE, in school girl uniform (mini short and all), with a pink wig, AND hugging an anime pillow in Starbucks in Shibuya?? It’s gross. It’s GROSS. IT’S GROSS. Your frickin’ leg hair is enough to make me puke my anus out.

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The Japanese know how to do it right. (Then again, many Japanese can’t do it right as well. But for some reason more forgivable lol)
If you don’t, DON’T TRY. DON’T BUY THAT COOL CHEAP COSPLAY OUTFIT YOU SEE. You know how many people you killed that day???

shoot me

11. Foreign bank ATMs

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If you’re here on a holiday, You’d better prepare your cash with you because you can forget about finding your bank’s ATM to draw $$. The international bank with the most ATMs here is Citibank. Do apply for an account in your home country if you plan to live here. It’ll help you A LOT.
Btw, most LOCAL places don’t accept credit cards too.. So PREPARE CASH.

12. Buildings of hidden shops and restaurants

Shops shops shops everywhere! You see blocks of restaurants and bars. ESPCIALLY bars! This is something fun and unique about Japan and that’s why you get the feeling that there’s something new with every turn. Well, technically speaking it’s something new at every floor!

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Cool right?? NOT.

You are hungry and want to eat. But the restaurants in the first floor don’t look nice.
You look up and see 7, 8, 9 more floors of restaurants. All with no or not much description other than a picture. Do you go up?
You spend an hour looking at the different pictures at different buildings before thinking that you’ve got the perfect place that you like. You finally get seated at the restaurant of your choice.

Then you realize that the food isn’t quite exactly what you have in mind. Food comes – ehh average? (Food generally don’t suck badly in Japan)
Bill comes – A price that will make skydining at the Ritz seem like chuck change.

shocked (2) Shocked

You should’ve just checked out which hidden restaurants to go to in the area at www.japanxhunter.com

Writing this article had been fun, stay tuned for Part II in the next few days~

Raging on,
JapanxHunter

37

Festival @ Gaienmae! Super great food with uber great scenery~ (Now till Dec 9 2013; Near Aoyama/Shibuya)

Hi fellow Hunters!
Sorry I’ve been gone for awhile! I’m not MIA, I was just in London for awhile thus can’t update the Japan happenings! Well, now that I’m back, my housemate brought me to this festival that just started. Man, was I blown away. Not just for the food, but the great surroundings and greenery.
For Singaporeans, just imagine pasar malam inside Istana but carefree and finger-lickin’ good food~

The place is just in front of the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery Museum. Look for it in Maps and you won’t get lost.

I took loads of pictures so that you peeps can get a glimpse of it as well. I’ve included as much info as possible for you to visit before its over!

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Please click to zoom in to read the wordings. I don’t know how to read it so….. yeah……… :p
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As you walk towards the festival, you’ll be greeted with beautiful trees and aunties/uncles sitting on their stools painting at the side. I could sit at the benches with a coffee all day and still love it. :)

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Loads of tables and seats for you to enjoy a nice lunch outdoors. :) Its getting cold but the sun evens it out.
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A list of shops (in pics) for you guys to look through! There are loads more! Please look explore when you are there~ ;) Prices range between 150yen – 900yen although there are some higher price items. The average price for food items is around 500 yen.

So what did we eat??

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Karaage – 500 yen
Beef slices – 500 yen
2 x Sea Urchin, 1 x Crab Soup – 1800 yen
Croquet – 200+ yen
Karaage – 200+ yen
Salmon Soup – 400+ yen
Sausage-looking-thing-that-is-actually-rice – 400 yen
Long fingery fries with cheese – 700 yen
Beer – 500 yen
Last picture – I think thats not for sale :(

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You will get a ticket with every purchase (not sure if there is minimum purchase) and with every 5 tickets you can have a lucky dip! I haven’t went to claim mine yet as I stayed till really late and everything closed lol.
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I really really love this place. Do head there if you have the time; you will definitely not regret it :)

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Map Location is here~

Final Verdict

Ambience  5 out of 5
Normally I don’t like being outdoors in the day but this is one of the few exceptions. It has tented shades if you like loads of greenery. Feels really chill and open. There are families with their own picnic sheets around enjoying the weather and food.
This is a 5/5 to bring your family, friends or partner. :)

Service 4 out of 5
Normal self-service stalls everywhere. The owners were all really friendly with genuine smiles (i think) on their faces. They were really helpful when I asked about the raffles draw coupons too. I spoke Eng but they were patient in explaining things to me. :)

Taste 4.5 out of 5
So goooooooooodddd~~~~ I have to say – the Urchins were GREAT. Lil on the pricier end for the market but its worth every yen.
Everything added with beer makes it so heavenly. ^^

Price 5 out of 5
Cheap cheap cheap! Well for most stuffs anyway. Some of them are on an average price but they make up for it by being bigger in portion or being super delicious.

Final Conclusion 5 out of 5
If you’re in Tokyo between now till 9 December and you’re not here, you’re missing out on Japan. Hell, you might as well don’t come Japan at all! (ok might be exaggerating a bit haha)