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!

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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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Third stop: Jordan Vineyard and Winery!

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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.

 

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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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Master Roshi@Nipponbashi Street Festa!

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It's time to duel@nipponbashi street festa.

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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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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka!

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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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Mysterious Vibes at Ise Grand Shrine!

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Photo Diary – January 2017 | nihonchique

January  was a whirlwind of traveling for pleasure and for work. I went to see Kanjani8, went to Kyoto 2 times,  and made my first trip to Toba City in Mie. I want to keep up this pace for traveling to areas around Kansai and taking more photos, as it has been a form of healing for me and a way to direct my some of my energy into something that I have had an interest in for a while.

One of the most exciting parts of this month was starting my very first goshuinchō, or special stamp book that you can buy from shrines and temples. With this in hand, you can get a stamp at most shrines and temples that you go to, documenting all of the places that you have been to. January 2017 is the beginning of my journey to see more temples and shrines in Japan and travel more.

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Some of my favorite things ❤

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鳥羽はキレイ〜! Toba is beautiful!!

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Pearl Flower Brooch at Mikimoto Pearl Island!

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Another fun day exploring Kyoto!

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Aqueducts at Nanzenji in Kyoto!

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Photo Diary – December 2016 | nihonchique

December was a very busy month for me at work, so I didn’t post much. It got cold, so I was wearing coats full time since the beginning of the month, thus the dress and coat picture.

I went home to America from December 23rd through January 3rd, and it was special to me because I hadn’t been home for Christmas since 2012. I loved seeing the Christmas tree and having a restful time at home with just my 4 member family.

I posted my Instagram top 9 photos of 2016, and it was nostalgic to see the memories that I had throughout 2016, and it really did highlight some the best memories that I had during the year, including the NEWS LIVE TOUR 2016 QUARTETTO, Onsen (Hot-spring) times, and Fall leaves in Arashiyama. I look forward to documenting  2017 through photos, and I want to take some of those pictures and blow them up and frame them in my apartment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3年ぶりの実家過しクリスマス!🎄

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Loving Japan: A Journey of Personal Growth Part 2

I left off in Part 1  with me not getting a job from the internship at the hotel and agreeing with my parents to find a job by Christmas of 2014.

After my parents had left and I received my job hunting visa, the first thing that I did was go to the career counselor at Doshisha for my MBA program and ask for his advice. He helped me with the Japanese version of my resume, and just with that I was given an edge over some other foreign candidates searching of jobs. He also introduced me to a Japanese company that was looking for an American person to work for them, and he thought that I was a good candidate. This connection actually was the job that I ended up taking in the end, but I also went to a placement agency in Tokyo to help me find a a job, which I got a few job interviews through. The process to find a job was actually a lot smoother than I thought it would be.

The first Job

I accepted the job from the OEM manufacturer that the career counselor at my MBA program knew personally. To be very honest, I did not have any interest in the manufacturing industry at all and my main goal for taking this job was to get an inside look into a real Japanese company and to improve my Japanese skills. I did not want to stay at this job more than a year, and in the end I only stayed a year and one month.

My job at the company was 「ISP担当」(ISP Tantou) on the Manufacturing Control team, which basically means the person in charge of inventory, sales, and production, along with international sales and going to an international trade convention during the summer in Europe. I was taking over the position from a Japanese woman and I only had two months to learn from her before she left the company. I was the only westerner working in Japan for this company, and I was in the branch office as well. My Japanese was only conversational level, and this was my first job out of university and my MBA program, so this was a huge amount of pressure to learn the entire job from scratch, with no knowledge of the company at the beginning. If I had to go back and do anything over again, I would have sat down with the woman I was learning from and taken more notes, but I really had no idea of the extent of the job at the time and I didn’t know where to put my efforts. My philosophy at the time was “learn from watching and experience”, not necessarily from taking notes.

While I was doing the job, I did not realize how important the job that I did actually was until after a  year working there. I can only remember thinking the entire time “My salary is not enough for me to be doing this amount of work” and “Why are they expecting so much from me and pushing me so hard?” I thought I was doing the job properly, but in reality I was just causing the other members of the company to work harder to pick up the slack of me not understanding Japanese fluently yet and my lack of discipline and organization. Throughout this learning curve, I came home crying many nights back to my apartment near work and I was feeling more alone that I ever had before.

The Boyfriend

I don’t normally talk about my boyfriend on my blog, as I choose to keep our relationship private, but as he was a part of the reason how I kept my head afloat during my year learning curve period, I thought I would mention him and how he influenced me.

I met my boyfriend at the end of April 2015 through my best friend, and now roommate, Meghan. They were friends from university, and she had always wanted us to meet, purely as friends, as she thought we would get along very well. We hit it off very well and we began dating at the end of June…. The catch was that he moved back to England right at the same time, so from the beginning it was a long-distance relationship. During the hardest time of my job, we always spoke in the mornings as I walked to work from my old apartment and those are some of the best memories I have of that time and what became my strength during that time. He really was one of the reasons I was able to keep on for so long and my loneliness began to dissipate, even just a little bit. To this day, I have learned so much from him and he keeps on pushing me to be the best version of myself.

a New Beginning

After a year, I began to get a handle of my job properly, I moved in with my best friend into the actual city of Osaka in September, and my loneliness was basically gone at that point. One thing that  I could tell wouldn’t change though was that I lacked passion for what I was doing. At that point, I was mentally tired and I was being pushed towards picking up the international sales part of my job more, or we could not go to the trade show in the following year. I still did not have total control over the main part of my job yet, and I came home crying many nights still, being mentally challenged with dealing with co-workers that I did not get along with and being forced into doing things with my job that I did not think had to do wth my job. Since it was something I was not passionate about, I decided it was time change jobs into a field that I really wanted to go into. It just so happened that a job opening came up at the company that my best friend works at doing editing and content creation for a new website launching in the new year. I booked an interview and I was offered the job just before Christmas of last year, Christmas 2015. The day after coming back to work at the new year, I spoke with my boss and after a many rounds of debating, my date to leave the company was the last working day in January of 2016.

I always tell people that the hardest part of living in Japan for me is not life here, but the work culture. I have gotten used to everyday life here in Japan, but the working life I still have a hard time understanding. Sometimes I still come home crying at night and feel overwhelmed, but I always try and tell myself that someday this experience will payoff and I will become a better person because of it. To me, understanding I am a guest in this country and I can’t change ingrained business practices very easily is more important than fighting every little thing that comes my way. It is all about choosing your battles wisely. This leads me to feel unappreciated and undervalued sometimes, but I just keep the faith that taking the time to be understanding is the best way to work in another culture, not just Japan. I love Japan and its people and I am still on this journey of understanding the culture, a never ending journey of discovery.

Challenging The Feeling Of Being “Alone”

If you were to ask me if I feared being “alone” I would more than likely say no, though I do admit I have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that can be pretty strong sometimes. I am naturally an independent person through the way I was raised. Heck, I even up and moved to the other side of the world without even blinking an eye right after graduating from University and I haven’t looked back.

Recently though, I have had the feeling of being alone quite a lot, even when I am not alone. When I talk to the people close to me about this, they seem to all point out that maybe it’s not feeling alone, but maybe feeling unfulfilled. I began to think what that could mean and I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t doing much for myself recently. What I mean by this is that all of my efforts in the past year or so have been put into things for other people mostly and not for myself. All of the things that I want or want to do, I push off to the side with the excuse of “I have no one who wants to do it with me” or “I will be missing out on something else, so I don’t have time to do that thing I want to do”. In return, it has put me into a slump where I am waiting on others to do things that I want to do for the “experience”. It’s basically that I am relying on others to dictate my actions and I have gotten so used to putting effort into something that is not for myself that I get hurt when they do not want to do something with me I want to do, when I would do for them if they asked me. See where that is weird? It is something I personally want to do but I am not doing it because I am waiting for someone else.

If I already know that it is weird, why haven’t I stopped yet? Well, if you break this situation down even further you get one more piece of the puzzle. As I get older, experiences matter a lot more than actual physical things to me. Sure, I have a whole list of designer things that I want from Prada, Louis Vuttion, etc, but spending time with the people who are special to me and doing experience things with them is priceless.  At the same time, I can’t always expect them to be able to do those things with me all the time either. As time goes on, everyone’s lives get busy as they enter into their middle/ late 20’s and it is not easy to schedule things to do with those people. Everybody has their own ambitions and priorities and scheduling around all of those is impossible.  Everybody else is being “selfish” and balancing their ambitions and priorities where they can, and I am still sitting here at a roadblock, bending myself to others just to be able to have just a sliver more of that time. Is it really worth that much time and effort and mental strain to keep on bending to others like that for just another small sliver? Or is it better to cherish the amount of time that you actually get instead? The balance of doing things with others and being okay with doing things on my own is a balance I have yet to find in myself, I suppose. I have gone to the extreme of not doing anything because no one wants to do it with me… and now maybe its time to go towards the other extreme and see what happens.

So now this brings me to the real point of this post. I have decided I need to start to tackle this issue head on and free myself of this “loneliness” mentality. It is not going to happen over night, but to start I will be going on trips to photograph and take video like I have wanted to for a long time. If my friends are free at that time, they are welcome to join me on my adventures, but if they cannot then I will venture out into on my own and have just as good of a time. There are so many things that I have yet to see in even the Kansai area and some of the things on my list include Wakayama, Kobe, and even venturing out back to Kyoto, where I lived for 2 years, and seeing some of the temples and areas that has to offer. Maybe I will even venture out to Okayama!

I hope this musing has helped you if you are in a similar situation. This mentality can be crushing and make you feel like you are so insignificant and not heard, but there is hope! You have to start with venturing out and finding what will help you.

P.S. Sometimes just one harsh talking to from a close friend can also help too, even if it is not what you want to hear. Cherish those people in your life, as they will be the ones that support you through this time of growth. It is one more reminder that you are not alone.