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.

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Visited the famous Todaiji Temple in Nara! 🦌

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Miyajima with the little sis @prncess.di ⛩!

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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 – November 2016 | nihonchique

The month of November brought Autumn leaves with trips to Arima Onsen and Arashiyama! Japan has the most beautiful Autumn foliage and each year I try to find a place to go and view them. It had been a few years since I went to Arashiyama and this was the first time I had been to Arima Onsen in the Fall.

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Day trip to Arima Onsen!

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Salmon Sashimi Donburi from Kuromon Market!

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Beautiful Temple in the Arima Onsen area!

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嵐山!💁🏼🍂🍁

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Fall Colored Wonderland

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Peaceful stream at Tenryu-Ji in Arashiyama!

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🍁🍂Fall at Tenryuji!🍁🍂

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Photo Diary – October 2016 | nihonchique

The month of October went from warm days of Summer to cool days of Autumn in a matter of weeks. My boyfriend also came to visit from England and we spent a few days together, including going to the Rink Outlets near the Kansai International Airport for some shopping.

October includes Halloween, but I am not really one for dressing up. I love the Fall drinks and decorations that come out at this time of year though!

I also went on a location shoot for work to cover something in Hirakata city, where I studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai back in 2011. It was fun to travel back to that area and experience suburban Osaka for a day.

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10月です!🍁🎃

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Spent the afternoon at the Rinkutown outlets!

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5 Tips For Moving Within Japan

Within the 3 years that I have lived in Japan, I have moved within Japan 2 times. Once from Kyoto City to Osaka Prefecture, and once to from Osaka Prefecture to Osaka City. When you move within Japan, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. I will be pointing out 5 of these things that will be helpful for people moving within Japan.

Tip #1: Calculate how much money it will take to move ahead of time

Moving within Japan can be expensive; having to deal with many different expenses that we are not used to as foreigners. While at the real estate agency, you should ask all about these various expenses you will have to pay before you submit the application, so that you are not surprised at how much it costs before you sign the contract. The real estate agent should be able to break everything down for you, including the real estate agency fee. If you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask them over and over again until you understand, because it is their job to make you feel comfortable with what you are paying for moving. Also, keep in mind that you also need to calculate how much it will cost for the actual move, meaning to move your things from one place to another.

Tip #2: Give notice on your current place at least 1 Month Before Moving

Most apartment rental contracts in Japan are 2-year contracts, but if you give notice 1 month before you move out, you are able to move with only paying the last month’s rent. If you move out with less than a month’s notice, there will be extra fees incurred, including paying an extra month that you will not be living there for.  Also, keep in mind that extra fees can also be incurred if you move out within 6 months from the beginning of the contract, but this depends on the specific contract that you sign.

Tip #3: Hire a Moving Company

Now, there are many different instances for this depending on how much stuff that you have, but if you have a significant amount of things to move or you are moving a long distance, then using a moving company is very useful.

First step is to call the company and get a quotation for moving. During this process, they will talk to you about all the options that you have. When you use a moving company in Japan they have a variety of options that you can choose from, from simply hiring the company to put your things into the truck, to having the moving company pack up all of your things into boxes for you, to even having them pack AND unpack everything for you. Every time I moved, I used the option of having the moving company pack my things up for me (it cost about 30,000 yen for that option), while I unpacked everything. I find this easier than having them unpack everything for me because I am not yet familiar with my new place to tell them where to put everything and want to unpack everything myself. If you do not have enough time to pack everything up before the move, then this is the option for you. I personally have used Sakai both times when I have moved within Japan. There is also a company called The 0123 that is also very popular moving company to use in Japan. Please let me know if you would like an post about my experience with Sakai!

Tip #4: Change your Utilities over from your old place to your new place

Utilities in Japan usually include Gas, Electricity, and Internet. Water is normally paid with your rent to the company that owns the building, but double check if it is or not. All of these utilities you can either call on the phone or change online. When I moved in September, I changed all of my utilities online, except for the Internet For Gas, if you live in an apartment with auto lock (where the entrance of the apartment has a security door) you have to be there when the gas company comes to read the meter for the last time and also to turn on the gas for the new apartment. (Note that not all apartment buildings have gas). Electricity and Internet do not require anyone to come to the apartment, just a phone call to turn off at your old place.

Tip #5: Move in and Move out Notice to the Ward Office

When moving in Japan, you must submit a move out and move in notice. A move out notice is only for moving from one city to another, but you must inform the new ward office that you have moved into that ward regardless. This is important for foreigners because the ward office has to write your new address on the back of your residence card. You need your address changed on the back of this card so that you can change your address at places like your bank account, cellphone contract and even having mail sent to you. This basically becomes proof of your new address. You have to legally do the move in and move out notice within 2 weeks (14 days) of moving to your new place.

These were my 5 tips for moving in Japan! Please let me know in the comments below about your experiences moving within Japan or if you have any questions that you would like answered about Japan.

Get Your Chocolate Fix at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar!

For Silver week, my roommate Meghan and I ventured out to Osaka station to try out a new restaurant. Lucua Department store in Osaka station renovated and re-opened back at the beginning of April. Within Lucua 1100, a lot of new stores and restaurants opened up. One restaurant that opened up inside the newly renovated department store was Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. I have wanted to eat there since it had opened, but the lines were horrendously long for a very long time, but recently it has settled down and we decided to finally try it out!

 

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When you first walk up to the resturant, you can choose to either take out or eat inside the restaurant. The takeout menu isn’t as extensive as the eat in menu, but you can take out most anything except the chocolate fondue.

While we were standing in line, we looked at the menu and decided on the “Party Platter”, which included the famous European Fondue and Chocolate Chunks Pizza. We also each ordered the Italian Thick Hot Chocolate.

You walk up to the counter and order first and then sit down with your number at a seat of your choice. After that, the staff brings you your order.

 

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The inside of the restaurant was very chic, all in brown. The chandlers were a very nice touch! The window looked out into Osaka station and a great place to people watch.

 

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First item that came was the Italian Thick Hot Chocolate. I ordered it in Milk Chocolate while Meghan ordered it in White Chocolate.

 

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It lived up to it’s name, being very thick! The Milk Chocolate one in particular was rich, but the White Chocolate was a bit easier to drink I thought. You can also order it in Dark Chocolate as well, and next time I want to try that!

Then, the main meal arrived; The Party Platter! Max-Brenner-4

First was the Plate with the Chocolate Chunks Pizza, Banana Split Waffle, and Strawberry Hazelnut Crepe.

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Next, was the Chocolate Fondue. You can order it in Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate, or Dark Chocolate, but we opted for Milk Chocolate.

There even was a mini fire to roast the marshmallows before dipping it into the melted chocolate, making it taste just like s’mores, but without the graham crackers.

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The Marshmallow Pizza (Chocolate Chunk Pizza) was hard to cut because of the crust and was the richest out of the 3 of them. Most of the customers around us ordered the pizza in the half size, as it came with 2 slices. This and the Party Platter seemed to be the most popular items ordered from what I saw.

The Banana Split Waffle was delicious! My favorite part was the caramelized banana on the top of the waffle, which gave it an extra bit of sweetness. It also came with some ice-cream, that I believe to be toffee or caramel flavored.

I liked the Crepe the best out of the 3 desserts, as it wasn’t as rich as the others. I liked how the strawberries were inside the Crepe with the chocolate. The strawberries also helped balance out the richness of the chocolate and it made a great combination!

In the end, both Meghan and I were both full because the chocolate was so rich and we weren’t able to finish everything! Next time I go, I want to try the Mexican Hot Chocolate or one of the iced chocolate drinks that they have.

If you are a chocolate lover, I highly recommend Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. It has a good combination of different foods, all with chocolate of course! You also have the ability to choose what type of chocolate you want for most dishes, which is a nice touch. If you are in a hurry and do not want to wait in line, at least try one of the Chocolate Drinks to go. You won’t be disappointed!

They have 3 locations in Tokyo and 1 in Osaka. Click here for the Menu and for all the locations.

Diary Post: Goodbyes are Bittersweet – Reflections of the Past 4 Months in Japan

After I have posted this entry I will have been all packed and ready to leave Japan or have gone home.  The last thing I am doing is going to see Wild 7 with two really goods friends on the 21st.

What can I say? I hate goodbyes. Everyone does. I really don’t want to say goodbye to this country that has given me some of the best memories of my life and saw me grow as a person. As I am writing this, I am on the Shinkansen going back to Kyoto after being in Tokyo for the Kanjani8 concert.  I am feeling a bit sad, so I guess I will reflect on some of the good and the bad things, as well as some of my favorite things that I will miss from my study abroad here in Japan in these 4 months.

  • The Transportation: I will miss the transportation here in Japan so much. Even though a bit expensive, I love the convenience and how you can get most anywhere on a train or a bus. It’s so convenient.  Especially in the Kansai Region of Japan, I could get to Kobe from outside of Osaka in about an hour. Even though I don’t like bikes that much, I will miss riding my bike to my university everyday or to the supermarket to get food.  I will also miss the Shinkansen. I love riding it, even though it is expensive.
  • The Customer Service: Even though people call the Japanese two faced sometimes, I can’t help but to love the customer service. In America, it’s always so rushed. In Japan, they take the time to package your items nicely and to say welcome to the store.
  • Shinsaibashi and Osaka: I will miss Shinsaibashi so much. I have so many memories of going to Shinsaibashi with my friends; memories of the Johnny’s shop, Mandarake, getting my Hair Cut, Purikura, clothes shopping and so much more. I will always remember my first visit to Shinsaibashi with my roommates and how much fun it was. Osaka in general I love so much. It has such a personality and I wish I had more time to explore it. My heart will always be in Osaka because it is where I have spent the most time here in Japan and I feel the closest to. I honestly feel like an adopted Osakan at times.
  • The Friends: I will miss the friends that I made here so much, especially my Japanese roommate, my Johnnys buddy and amazing friend at my university here, Meghan, and last but not least my “older sister” Ci. I am going to miss you all. I really am.
  • The Concerts: I was so lucky to be able to see three concerts here in Japan and they were amazing. I am going miss Johnnys concerts so much. I am going to miss listening to my favorite music live and feel apart of something amazing for once in my life. It’s not just the actual concerts, but the memories that were created from them with my friends. I was so lucky to be able to make these amazing friends that love the same things as me and have the same goals as me.
  • The Bad Times: It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies everyday. I struggled a bit in this foreign environment. Even though I had been here for 4 times before, I had a hard time at some points. Some of that had to do with me going to graduate in May and not knowing what I want and I still don’t know what I want. I struggled with some cultural difference between me and the Japanese people and I have started to get used to it. Just as I am starting to get used to this environment, I am being pulled back into my home country. I wish I could stay longer, but I can’t.

This is only a small reflection of a wonderful 4 months. I can’t describe what I am feeling right now and what I have experienced the last 4 months in just one entry.

Goodbye Japan! This is not the end, though.