Seasons of Japan – July 2017 | nihonchique

Seasons of Japan July

July was a very busy month consisting of job hunting, my mom and sister visiting from America, and lots of traveling! I took my mom and sister around Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, and Hiroshima. All of those places are some of my favorite in Japan. This was the month I truly realized I love photography and traveling. Unfortunately, in the months following afterwards I didn’t get the time to do much of any of that, but it is something that still lingers in the back of my mind quite a lot.

I guess life gets in the way and balance becomes hard when you start a new job, especially one that doesn’t have consistent days off.  Taking from the future,  the the time from then until now was a hard journey that I still am on at the moment. Juggling friendships, boyfriends, new hobbies, and a new job is extremely difficult and still something I am not too sure how to handle. Though that is the case, I feel a lot more wiser than I was back in July of last year and I am continuing to grow.

Despite that, July was an amazing month of traveling and I was finally able to take my sister around Japan for the first time since I had moved to Japan 5 years before. I visited Fushimi Inari, Miyajima, Todaiji, Nara Park, Himeji castle and more, eating our way through many parts of Japan, as my sister is a Major foodie! I am glad she enjoyed all of the food I recommended to her.

Would anyone be interested in a Kansai travel guide? I think that would be fun to make and I can introduce you to some of my favorite spots in the Kansai region! Let me know in the comments below if you are interested.

Took a trip out to Kyoto and visited Fushimi Inari Shrine! ⛩

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Visited the famous Todaiji Temple in Nara! 🦌

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Feeding the deer with @prncess.di in Nara Park! 🦌

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Enjoying some amazing Kobe Beef in Kobe! 🐄🍖

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Miyajima with the little sis @prncess.di ⛩!

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Seasons of Japan – June 2017 | nihonchique

June 2017. This is the month that marked the last in a chapter of my life. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get past this month in my life, almost like my blog was kind of frozen in time until I figured out what I was doing. I still now dont know what I am doing and what direction I am going in, but in June 2017, I had the huge high of the NEWS NEVERLAND tour in Tokyo dome with a close friend, followed straight after by the disappointment of hearing that the department/ website in my company I was working for for a year and half would be shutting down and my contract would not be continuing because of it. I was devastated and was extremely hurt that a company I had worked so hard for for a year and a half would just cut me so simply, but despite this I took this as a learning opportunity and got searching for jobs as soon as possible. (Spoiler, I found one and started it at the beginning of August 2017!).

On the topic of the NEWS NEVERLAND tour in Tokyo Dome, that was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. “U R not alone” since then has become my anthem and even when the DVD came out in January of this year, I cried again right long with them at “U R not alone” and had no shame. As I said in the 4th picture, the end of the NEVERLAND tour isn’t the end, and we truly are not alone. NEWS has been along with me on this journey for almost 10 years now. I feel like I have grown with them and they have supported me all of these years, almost half of them being in Japan.  Thank you NEWS. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in Hiroshima for the EPCOTIA tour in April, 2018!

Wandering around the rose garden at Lunch! 💐🌹

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🚅大阪〜東京! Living that bullet train life!

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Playing in a Magic: The Gathering Tournament for the first time – Hareruya Osaka’s first “Ladies One” tournament

A few months ago, my boyfriend introduced me to Magic: The Gathering and was surprised that I had never heard of it, as I am from the country that it was from. As an adult, I was never really into card games, or games in general, but as a kid I used to play Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon – though probably not by the proper rules. My interest in games waned as I got into High School and got into Johnnys, anime, dramas, fashion, and cheerleading before deciding to pursue Japanese and business in University, and then eventually moving to Japan…. which you can say is THE land of card games. I would say that the majority of the people around me didn’t really play card games, or weren’t games in general, which also contributed to the waning interest. That changed when by boyfriend asked if I wanted to learn how to play and I gladly accepted, as I wanted to know what this world was about.

We started to play together at my apartment on the living room table with 2 decks he purchased just for that purpose, and then  about a month and a half ago we went to a card shop and I bought my first starter deck (DINOSAURS FTW!) and from there he helped me add some cards to it to boost it a bit. It is still a budget deck, probably only spending a total of around 3000 yen in (about $30 USD) which included the initial deck + some modifications to it so that I can play in a tournament.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of playing in my first ever Magic: The Gathering tournament!

No, I did not win by any means… in fact I lost every game that I played… but the experience was the most important part. This was Hareruya Osaka’s first “Ladies One” tournament and there ended up being 6 of us playing. It was a casual, Ladies only tournament and it was honestly a lot more fun that I thought it would be! I was extremely nervous, as this was my first time and I know how competitive these types of events can be, but all of the players were extremely nice and helpful to a newbie like me, explaining everything to me as the games went on and asking if I wanted any advice on how to play.  They were overjoyed that there were more than 4 people participating, so that the tournament could happen, especially since there doesn’t seem to be many female players in Japan. A lot of them had gotten into the game through their significant other, like me, so it was nice to chat about that and about women in the game in-between rounds, how long we had been playing, and how we got into it.

I’m glad that my first tournament was a ladies tournament, as it gave me more confidence to play and get stronger seeing other women play and be into a seemingly pretty male-dominated game. I think if I had played in a regular tournament, I would have been a lot more nervous and would have wanted to practice a lot more before I entered into a tournament for the first time, but this was a perfect gateway for me into playing more competitively, especially in Japan where the language isn’t my first language. I honestly hope that this event becomes a regular thing, as it would be nice to play against other women again and make it more accessible to other women who were like me and dont have the confidence to play in regular tournaments yet.

Do you play card games? What do you think about women in card games? Should there be more ladies events to make it more accessible to women? Let me know in the comments below!

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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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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Chocolate Heaven! チョコ天国!🍫

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Sapporo Butter Salt Ramen! 👍🏻

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Sapporo! ❤

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Nighttime Cherry Blossom Find! 🌸❤

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桜🌸〜

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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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Third stop: Jordan Vineyard and Winery!

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