Seasons of Japan – May 2017 | nihonchique

May began with me ending Golden Week in America. After wine country at the end of April, I toured around San Fransisco for the first time and it was awesome! Properly saw the Golden Gate bridge and even had a night tour of Alcatraz.

After I got back to Japan, I went on a short day trip to Arashiyama (嵐山)in Kyoto with a friend and biked up to a temple called Otagi Nenbutsu-ji ( 愛宕念仏寺)in a mountain with beautiful statues. I was then wished away for a day trip for work to Kochi again where I ate Katsuo Tataki (鰹のタタキ), a way they cook the fish and Katsuo is “Skipjack tuna”, for the first time (DELICIOUS!)

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge 🌁

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Night tour of Alcatraz!🔦😱

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Biking trip in Arashiyama led us to this beautiful temple!

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This celling is probably depicting heaven! So peaceful inside this tatami side room in the temple.

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鰹たたき!🙃🐟 Katsuo Tataki! 👍🏻

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NEWS – NEVERLAND Album Review | nihonchique

Who doesn’t want to be a kid forever and go to Neverland? For NEWS’s 2017 album release on March 22nd, 2017, they chose “Neverland” as the theme and made it unique to them, complete with a steampunk feel.

General Overview

The album is a fusion of narration and regular songs. The songs themselves don’t follow a particular pattern or genre, except for the title song “NEVERLAND” and the final song written by GreeeeN “U R not alone”. The narration takes you through NEWS’s NEVERLAND and introduces different parts to it, such as the jobs that the members of NEWS have in NEVERLAND, the 7 elements that make up NEVERLAND, and how to enter into NEVERLAND. The album serves as an introduction to and the base of their 2017 tour NEWS LIVE TOUR 2017 NEVERLAND, in which they continue the theme through.

Editions

First Press Limited Edition

-16 songs
-28 page booklet with special packaging.
-DVD disc containing 「NEVERLAND EPISODE. 0」and the making.
-Key to enter NEVERLAND
-ID for a special NEVERLAND streaming video online. (Limited time available to watch)

Regular Edition

-16 songs from the limited edition +4 member solo songs (Total 20 songs)
-20 page booklet.

Stand-out Songs

NEVERLAND

The title song of the album. This one has a strong impact with the tribal like sounds fused with an almost Arabic like sounds, combined with the tempo changes. The one part that I don’t like is the little children chanting the 7 different elements in the middle of the song, as I think it looses the strong impact but I understand that they probably wanted to speed up and slow down the song a lot and have a variety of that.

Brightest

This was NEWS venturing into a more dance/ club music like genre. I like how it wasn’t really intense, but it had a really catchy beat. Every time I hear this song, I want to get up and dance! Though it was a bit fast, the lyrics were really easy to remember because of the beat of the song.  Both this one and “Silent Love” I could envision being played in a club or being used for dance choreography.

SIlent Love

This has to be my second favorite song on this album besides “U R not alone”. Though I don’t know the genre of this song, it is a genre that has been popular over the past year or so around the world, so it was nice to see NEWS incorporating that into their music. I think it’s the chorus that really makes this song, combined with the light rap by Massu.

U R not alone

Written by GReeeeN for NEWS, I thought this song was one of the most impactful songs on the album. I have a translation of it here on my blog, so if you want to hear more on my thoughts about it, click here! All the feel for this song… all the feels.

Final Thoughts

“NEVERLAND” has been one of my favorite NEWS albums since their “NEWS” album in 2013. 2016’s “QUARTETTO” had a theme going on, but I thought they didn’t quite take it all the way through the album, to the tour, etc. This year with NEVERLAND though, they stepped it up and took the entire theme through the album, to the tour and really immersed the fans into their version of “NEVERLAND”, which turned out to kind of be a combination of Neverland and Wonderland, I thought. (Yes NEWS, there is a difference between Neverland and Wonderland.) Though the theme wasn’t perfect, I liked how the narration on the album told us a story about the world and then fully immersed us into it during the tour. After a while, I stopped listening to the narration parts of the album because I knew them by heart, but for theming purposes I thought it was amazing. Johnny’s always does an amazing job of theming and I hope that NEWS will continue to do themed albums like this every so often!

For the solo songs this year, I wasn’t too impressed overall. Shige’s “Ayame” performance during the tour was amazing, but as just stand alone music none of them really captured my attention like previous years. Tegoshi’s “I’m coming” was a bit of a surprise and the first time I heard it I literally spit my tea out while I was drinking it thinking “So it REALY was THAT meaning….are children really going to come see this live??” (I swear I am not a prude, I was just generally surprised at the different direction that Tegoshi was going in this year.) Massu also took a different direction this year with his cover of “Forever Mine” which was beautiful and really showcased his singing abilities, but I miss his dance songs (as I tend to gravitate towards dance music and more upbeat music naturally… unless its “White Love Story”… I will forever love and cry at that song. No shame.) So, if I had to pick a favorite this year it would be Koyama’s solo “Nyanta” because of the light rock feel to it and the theme of his song, which was hit cat of 19 years, who passed away in December of last year.

What did you all think of this album this year? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Popular Non-Japanese JVloggers You Have To Watch!

YouTube has become a huge platform for people all over the world to share their life and their experiences, and Japan is not an exception! Coming to live in Japan can be an overwhelming experience, and one that many people around would jump at the chance to have, but if you don’t have the resources to yet or want more information before you take the big leap, experiencing Japan through the eyes of someone living there already is the perfect alternative to actually doing it yourself. I watch a lot of YouTube myself, and despite me living in Japan already, I like seeing Japan through the eyes of other people living here every so often. Here are my 5 picks for Non-Japanese JVloggers that you have to watch!

1.Taylor R.

I found Taylor R about a year and a half ago, right after she went through her change from “Cutesy-dolly Tay-Tay” to her current, more quirky self. Her videos are the ones out of all of these JVloggers that I look forward to the most because of her quirky personality and her fearless to trying things that are outside of the box (like copying Kylie Jenner’s instagram feed for a week, walking around Ginza with her DIY designer items, like boots and a Chanel bag, etc.) that sometimes don’t have to do with Japan, but she gives a good look into what it is like for a foreigner living in Tokyo. 

2. Sharla in Japan

Originally from Canada, Sharla has been living in Japan for about 10 years now and has established herself as a prominent JVlogger through that time. She loves anime and Otaku culture (especially Pokemon) and she does a good job introducing life in Japan, as she has done everything from homestay to going to attending a Japanese high school and more. If you want a real look at what life is like in Japan, Sharla is the JVlogger to watch!

3. Micaela

Micaela is another JVlogger from Canada and has also been in Japan for over 10 years. Micalea also attended a Japanese high school when she was younger and then made the decision to move to Japan, eventually attending music school in Fukuoka (Southern Japan). She has done many television appearances and was the former mayor of “Kawaii-ku” in Fukuoka where she has mostly been living. She is very real and recently told her viewers about her experience with Japanese talent agencies and how it wasn’t for her after a while. If you want to experience a different side of Japan besides Tokyo, Micalea is the Jvlogger for you!

4. Rachel and Jun

Rachel and Jun are a American-Japanese married couple who makes videos together all about Japan, intercultural marriages, and  some controversial topics like Homosexuality in Japan, how to date in Japan, etc. They shot up in popularity about 3 or so years ago and they are an adorable couple that covers a wide variety of Japan-related and intercultural topics, so if you are interested in huge range of topics that are well-researched and presented this channel is for you!

5. Texan in Tokyo and Mimei

I couldn’t choose between these last two because they are both good ones to include. Texan in Tokyo (also known as Grace, who is from the U.S.) used to be very active on YouTube, but originally started out as a blogger. She self-published 3 comic books out about life in Japan and intercultural marriages and blogged and video blogged about that and life in Japan and about . About a year ago, she and her Japanese husband decided to leave blogging and YouTube, but hercontent still exist online and are good information on Japan to take a look at!

Mimei is also married to a Japanese man (also a YouTuber, PDRさん), but she doesn’t go into intercultural topics very much from what I know. She calls her followers “Pineapples” and she is more theatrical and artistic about how she makes videos compared to the others. She also does some comedy as well, which is even funnier when her cats and her husband helps and appears! She is very genuine and when you watch her videos it feels like she is talking directly to a friend, so if you want more light watching, she is the YouTuber to watch!

Did the YouTubers you watch make the list? Comment below with who you watch or who you recommend!

Seasons of Japan – April 2017 | nihonchique

April started off with a bang with the first leg of NEWS’s NEVERLAND tour in Sapporo! I was so excited to go to Sapporo again after 2 years. My friend and I ate all the food there and even went to an observatory that is considered one of the best night views in Japan! (Except I went during the day… but I digress.)

Next came Cherry Blossom season with some amazing views. Spring is one of my favorite seasons in Japan, and I was so happy to experience the Cherry Blossoms in a few different places (Including my first time to see them in Shiga!)with some special people.

At the end of the month was Golden Week, and I decided to make a trip home to America and experience wine country in California for the first time before heading home to Florida for about a week. Emeritus Vineyards was by far my favorite visit and we had a very nice tour complete with a personal talk with the owner himself! Their wines are amazing and the company was awesome!

Made it to NEVERLAND!!

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NEWS NEVERLANDツアー初日、お疲れ様でした! 明日も楽しもう!♪( ´▽`)

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Chocolate Heaven! チョコ天国!🍫

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Sapporo Butter Salt Ramen! 👍🏻

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Sapporo! ❤

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Goodbye Hokkaido! NEWS, Thank you for an amazing concert. I'll be back next year for sure!! 😊

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Nighttime Cherry Blossom Find! 🌸❤

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Today's Hanami view! 今日の花見景色! ❤🌸

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桜🌸〜

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Cherry Blossom Wonderland! 🌸 桜ワンダーランド!💖

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開運さくら湯🌸 Good Fortune Cherry Blossom Hot Water Drink! Quite salty, but refreshing!

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Yakisoba under the Cherry Blossoms! 🌸💕

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Let the wining and dining begin!

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Second stop: Emeritus Vineyards! Perfect weather for their Ruby Ruby.

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Beautiful Tour of Emeritus Vineyards ending with a personal chat with the owner himself!

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Third stop: Jordan Vineyard and Winery!

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Translation: “U R not alone” – NEWS

Translation for “U R not alone” by NEWS, on the NEVERLAND album.
Lyrics and music by GReeeeN.

拝啓あの日の僕へ
今はココで立っています
誰かに笑われた夢を
今もココで見続けてます

To the me of that day,
I am standing here now.
The dream that people laughed at,
I am still continuing to reach for.

時に見失いそうになって
時に全てをあきらめて
あせって望んでは傷ついた
僕の中の弱虫笑ってた
それでも(Hey) どこかで明日を
諦めてないから今日もまた
傷だらけ(Hey) のこの足で
なんとか立っている

Sometimes I almost lost sight of it,
Sometimes I gave up completely,
In my flustered desire, I kept getting hurt,
and the weakling inside me laughed.
Even so (hey!) I still haven’t given up that tomorrow,
so with these broken legs (hey) I will somehow keep standing.

例えばこの声が届くならば誰でもいい
聞こえますか 胸張ってさあ叫ぶんだ
全部詰め込んだこの宣誓を
僕は誓うよ 一切引かないし 一切負けない
自分で決めた道のうえ 全てをかけて
笑えるように やり抜くぞ

For example, if this voice could reach, would anyone listen?
I stick out my chest and shout,
and pack everything into this oath
I vow to never back down and never surrender.
I will risk everything for the path I chose.
To accomplish it so I can be able to smile.

あの頃の僕は負けそうに
なると誰かのせいにして逃げて
諦めた言い訳はそりゃ楽で
そうして僕はまた自分に負ける
それでも(Hey) 戦っている
そんな他人(ひと)はきっと他所(ほか)にいる
それでいいの?(Hey) 目指す場所へ
行くと決めたんだろう?

Back in those days when I was about to loose,
I blamed someone else for it and escaped.
It was easier to give excuses and give up,
And thus I kept on loosing to myself.
Even so (hey!) I am still fighting on.
There are surely other people who are like that too.
Is that really okay though? (hey!)
You decided to go that place you aimed for, didn’t you?

確かな答えは 何処にもないから
探すんだ 恐れないでその足で迷っていい
何度も諦めるかって言えばいい
今までの超えた日々が僕らにはあるじゃないか
だからこそココに吹いてる
向かい風にホラ立ち向かう

There is no correct answer anywhere
So you have to search for it. It’s okay to be afraid and get lost on the way
It’s okay to say “I’ll give up” many times
Haven’t we already gone through everyday until now?
Because of this, we will face the headwind that’s blowing here.

あの日つまずいて
しゃがみこんでしまうほどの痛みさえ
わきだして かけだして
助走に変えて いけるように

On that day that I stumbled
The pain that left me doubled over on all fours
Spring up, start running
Change it into an approach run in order to live

ああどうか 力を貸してくれないか
昨日までの僕よ 共に乗り越えてきたじゃないか
僕は誓うよ 一切引かないし 一切負けない
生まれた日から今日までの 僕が見てる
明日もそう
少しずつ前へ not alone

Ah, could you please assist me somehow,
The me up until yesterday? We overcame this together, didn’t we?
I vow to never stand down and never surrender
The me from the day I was born until now is watching
Tomorrow as well
Moving forward bit by bit, not alone


Translators note:

“U R not alone” sung by NEWS from their Neverland album was one of the hardest things that I have translated from Japanese to English because I really wanted to give justice to this song. I don’t think I fully did because of my own language skills and I feel like English doesn’t even come close to being able to convey the meaning of the song, but I wanted to give the fans who can’t understand Japanese just a bit of an idea of the deep meaning the song has. I will always be grateful to  have heard this song live and have heard the rawness of NEWS’s voices when they sang it. It is so relatable to me, and to everyone I think, as everyone struggles with things in their life and want to give up at some point. It made me cry so hard in Sapporo and I had to hold back crying when I saw it in Nagoya with my boyfriend (as I would have been totally embarrassing, right?).

The beginning of the song when it says:

” To the me of that day,
I am standing here now.
The dream that people laughed at,
I am still continuing to reach for.”

I really feel that it’s so true. Sometimes I felt like my dream of moving to Japan and creating a life here was laughed at sometimes, but I’m still here and continuing to live that dream. The oath in the song about not backing down or surrendering is something that after I heard this song, I vowed to myself that I will give everything I have and never give up, even if I am doubled over in pain and want to give up. I hope that everyone that listens to this song will feel the same way and receive that power, just like it did for me.

I am still actively learning Japanese and I am not a professional translator, so if I translated something wrong or want an explanation on why I translated it the way I did, please comment below! 

Photo Diary – March 2017 | nihonchique

March was even more insane than the previous 2 months before it were. Work took me to Sakai City in Osaka Prefecture a few times and then down to Kochi for a day trip. We also can’t forget about the beautiful Plum blossoms that bloom during March! I caught the tail end of them at Osaka Castle park and thought it was cloudy, I could be happier with how the pictures came out.

I attende Nipponbashi Street Festa for the 2nd year in a row as a Photographer and it was so much fun! There are still more photos to come on my Instagram soon that I will post periodically.

🏯+🌸=a happy Lauren! 💁🏼 幸せだ〜!

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Osaka Castle surrounded by the plum trees!

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More Plum blossoms at Osaka Castle Park!

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Bright Pink Plum Blossoms in Osaka Castle Park!

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My childlike expression as I held an Ise Lobster! 伊勢海老でかいな〜!😳

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Spring has come to Osaka! Cherry Blossoms at Daisan park in Sakai City, Osaka

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Master Roshi@Nipponbashi Street Festa!

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It's time to duel@nipponbashi street festa.

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This Harry Potter cosplay was amazing! So realistic.

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Major Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist! 鋼の錬金術師大好き!♪( ´▽`)

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Take me to NEVERLAND! 🗝

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Probably what Sakai is most famous for, this is a huge tomb in the shape of a Keyhole that was built in the 5th century during the age of “kofun”, or burial mound cultural. This is the 3rd largest tomb in the world, after the Pyramid of King Khufu in Egypt (Great Pyramid of Giza) and the tomb Qin Shi Huang in China, most famous for the terracotta warriors. This kofun tomb in Sakai is said to be the Tomb of Emperor Nintoku, but in reality there is nothing proving it to be his specifically, though it is defiantly known to be the tomb of the person in the highest seat of power at the time of it being built. As you can see, you can’t actually go inside of it, but by just standing next to it and walking around it you can feel how big it really is. To really feel the size, head up to the observatory on the 21st floor of the Sakai City Hall to see it from above, though not a full aerial view.

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Just a few steps away from Sakai-higashi station, on the 21st floor of the Sakai City Hall, there is an observatory that you can look out on the entirety of Sakai city. If you are interested in seeing how big the kofun tombs are, this is a perfect place to get a real feel for the size and the numbers that surround the city, as it can be hard to understand it from the ground. It is not a perfect bird-eye view of the tombs, but even despite that you can see the traditional culture merged with the modern city, which is a pretty amazing site. This is also a great place to take a break from sight seeing, as it has a cafe with food and also a very cute latte with latte art in the shape of a keyhole (for 440 yen), which is the shape of the kofun tombs.

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Casually hanging with Anpanman while in Kochi! 高知駅前にアンパンマンを見つかれました!

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Photo Diary – February 2017 | Nihonchique

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Japan has so many faces. This month, I was able to see another side of Japan, in a small island called Toshijima, in Mie prefecture. This was for work, but I felt so lucky to go out into nature and experience something that many tourists don’t get to experience. I also went to Ise Grand Shrine on that trip and it was one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to in Japan. You really can’t understand the feeling unless you go personally, so I highly recommend that if you get the chance, go check it out for yourself!

 

My first goshuin (special stamp) from Heian Shrine on January 29th, 2017 初御朱印!平安神社、2017年1月29日

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EMMA発売日、おめでとう〜! Happy EMMA release day! #NEWS #EMMA #ジャニーズ #jpop #japan #music

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Pearl Swan Brooch at Mikimoto Pearl Island in Toba!

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住吉大社の橋! The famous bridge of Sumoyoshi Taisha Shrine!

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Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka!

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Ginkakuji, the silver pavilion! (… that's not really silver…)

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Fox Statue at Sumiyoshi Taisha! 🦊

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伊勢神宮に参りました〜!⛩

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Eating Toba Seafood…. while it's still moving!! 😱🦐 Turn on the sound for our reaction!!

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Mysterious Vibes at Ise Grand Shrine!

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Waking up to this view yesterday was like a dream! The sleepy island of Toshijima is so beautiful. ❤

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やっと頂きました〜!🌸💖❤ Finally got my first Cherry Blossom Latte of the season! 👍🏻

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The Married Rocks at Futamiokitama Shrine in Ise.

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Krispy Kreme and Hershey's Collab at Krispy Kreme Japan! 🍩🍫

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Dragon at the entrance of Futamiokitama shrine in Ise.

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The first Tori at Naiku, Ise Grand Shrine. I feel smaller than usual! ⛩💁🏼

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