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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Miyajima with the little sis @prncess.di ⛩!

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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!

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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Fall Colored Wonderland

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Peaceful stream at Tenryu-Ji in Arashiyama!

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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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Experiencing Iaido

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Back in the middle of February, I started a new job as a writer and editor at Active Gaming Media for the new website Izanau.com. In March, I had the opportunity to try the Martial Art of Iaido for the first time and it was an amazing experience! Check out the video below and the two articles where I talk about Iaido at these links here and here.

 

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.