hiking and exploring

Dear friends!

We are so sorry at the loss NZ is going through right now in Christchurch, we can only imagine the pain and devastation that we see here on TV to be 1oo times more real for you there. We can only read the news and watch you tube to see what the nation is struggling with. We know that kiwis all over the world feel the pain even though we are not there. Just know that we praying and thinking of NZ at this time

Apart from that it has been a successful first week of work! Going here and there all over Tokyo. At one stage I have to do a train transfer at the biggest station in Tokyo – where about 8 lines meet. Me with my SLT suitcase in tow looked a bit lost! Managed to navigate after taking a wrong turn. Its a long session when you consider the hour commute before and after one child – so really a 40 minute session is more like 2 1/2 hours.

We have discovered the website craigs list – which is set up here in Tokyo for expats to sell and buy on. Like a trademe.. but better as the people selling are usually leaving Japan so they have these sales called ” Sayonara Japan” and everything they own is being sold off for cheap. Only issue is you have to find a way to get it to you. Most often a delivery company is more expensive than they product you buy.. so has to be transportable by train.. (of course not at peak hour :)..

So last week I picked up a cheap rice cooker for 1000 yen. (sell for 8, 000 new) and this has worked wonders this week as I can put it on before a session and be home to have it all cooked.

Trying to find Luke a bike is not so easy.. considering we catch the train and then have to bike it home – thus needs to be in biking distance! There are new items every day so will keep my eye out. The benefit of having most of my clients at the end of the day allows me time to keep house in shape and continue to find items we need.

Another great discovery this week on one of my little walks was a market street about 10 minutes down the road. You can imagine my delight as finding an op shop clothing store as well as a local 100 yen store., These two places made for extremely cheap buying and will always look here first for good deals. along the same road are a number of fruit and veg stores. This is also a good find as its cheaper here than supermarket, fish market, pharmacies and other local finds. I was the only foreigner so im thinking its a bit of a local gem!

Yesterday we went hiking with Lukes work mates up the local mountain.

here is a website explaining it:http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/index2.htm

Village at the bottom of mountain

only 1/4 way there...

close as we got to real monkey

Mt fuji in the far away distance

APERC team + me

This last picture was at the top and you cant see Mt Fuji really well here, as it is far away but was covered in snow!

The walk to the top was extremelly steep at first and then Luke’s work mates took us on a scenic route which was extra 1/2 hour.. very nice though

When we made it to the top we were told we could keep hiking for 5 hours and make it across the next two mountains and catch a different train home. We decided to leave it for that day ūüôā but definitely would make a day of it when it was warmer. Took an hour 1/2 each way to get to mountain from our house, so we got to see all the prefectures outside Tokyo.. The further out you get the more houses you see and less apartments.

Luke and I tried shared a Sake at the top – you have it warm in winter .. so this warmed us up – but very strong!

This coming Wednesday we would have been here a month! Wow that went fast. We feel like we have been here longer though. Our first lot of NZ visitors arrive in a month. Luke and I have booked first trip down south to Kyoto and Osaka and Nara for the public holiday in May called Golden week! We going on the Shinkansen (bullet train) so get there in three hours flat!

I have decided it’s not so bad being a house wife when your employed by APERC. Luke’s company gives him a dependent allowance (I am here as Luke’s dependent) each month – so really that pays me to look after him and be a good wife! ūüôā Not that I need to be paid.. but makes washing clothes, dishes, cooking and cleaning slightly more enjoyable!

Well looking forward to another week.. we now have our Alien Registration cards in hand so can prove we are legal foreigners.

Here are some more photos of previous weekends:

Luke displaying the shopping for the day

Shopping in Harajuku.. capital of teen fashion.. on the snow day

The snow day

Looking forward to another week!!
lOve lots


snowing in Tokyo

The end of our first week and we feel like we’ve been here a while..

As im writing this is full on snowing.. lots of white flakes falling!! very very pretty. Camera couldn’t quite pick them up in the shot.. if you haven’t seen snow falling before its like tiny pieces of ripped up paper floating down from the sky but believe me its the best picture to wake up to!!

It hardly ever snows in Tokyo its self.. like never so we are fortunate to be here

Its been a busy week and now today we have our first public holidays.. now for those of you contemplating working in Japan ūüôā let me entice you with the public holidays they have. Today is our first one of 20 this year – outside the 4 weeks annual leave.. now 20 because Luke works for government department so he gets extra, but your general working person gets about 15! so thats a bonus.

I have meet two work colleagues this week. fellow speech therapists, one from NZ and the other from America. Both super helpful and very insightful into my job.

Then I met my boss Marsha on Wednesday and she is also super wonderful and will be giving me my first 3 clients next week. will build up from there. I have to travel all over Tokyo so will be come friends with the subway system. Only taken one wrong subway yet! (many wrong turns on the street level though)

Bit of drama from shipping point of view.. our sipping company (whom shall remain nameless….. ) hadnt quite got the paper work up to scratch and documents they were meant to in order for Japan to process our stuff.. so poor Luke has been¬†liaising¬†with a Japanese official to sort it out. We had to get NZ to redo their paper work and then send it here… they we send it on.. so fingers crossed we get in next week.. 1) cause i really want to start cooking 2) need more than my two sets of winter clothes I have with me 3) ¬†be good to have my SLT resources … and ill be counting the chocolate and packets of lollies when the boxes arrive!

Now a few  updates on our Japan experiences:

breakfast: I have experimented with a number of different dishes this week.. seen as this is my nature.. im willing to give anything a go. This works out well for Luke as he is on the cautious side. Therefore i eat something first.. he will possibly give it a go if I ask enough times and often we get a 50% strike rate of like! So am expanding his array of foods this way..

discoveries: Clothes on one hand are so fashionable and everywhere you go at the moment there are end of winter sales.. however.. poor Luke is not your average height for a male in Japan.. so the sleeves of clothing are too short.. which means they offer him an XL but this does not fix the problem as it makes it wider not longer.. so we may have to find some american stores..  For me clothes are fine.. (finally a benefit of being short!!!) however I am an XL in shoes and this is the biggest size they have in stores XL = NZ size 8/ So if your bigger than an 8 you wont be able to buy shoes.

Japanese¬†lessons: Last night we went to a community Japanese lesson with Luke’s work mates. It went for an hour and half and we did¬†hiragana¬†for the first hour and then conversational Japanese for the last half hour. It is so cheap. Only 2000 yen for the whole month and we get weekly lessons. Its quite good doing it with this group as we all at the same level of¬†Japanese.. although the high school stuff Luke learnt is starting to come back to him.

so heres your homework for the week: ūüôā

learn the hiragana for the k, h, d, b, p, n, with the vowels a, i, u, e, o,

Then these phrases you have to use with any Japanese person you met:

  1. hajimimashite : this means “how do you do” you say this when you meet someone for the first time.. so any shop keeper, receptionist, work colleague. etc. But only the first time
  2. Watashi wa ___________ desu (______ = name. so I would be banessa. (no V in japanese).
  3. Watashi wa ___________desu(-______= occupation. mine is serapisuto
  4. Neu Jiando (new zealand) kara kimashita ( I am from NZ)
  5. finally finish with yoroshiku onegaishimasu ( nice to meet you) – you can use this phrase anytime you meet someone..

so there  you go.. your first lesson.. dare you to try it out.. ill let you know how i get on.

of you want to ask if they understand English you say:

eigo ga wakarimasuka?

Shopping: So after our¬†adventure¬†in the pouring snow today we discovered a district called Harajuku.. Its famous for having this one intersection has the most people on i at one time in the world.. probably the snow kept people away today… but we found the 4 level 100 yen store! awesome. and I found a op shop!!! I know.. an op shop in Japan.. classic Ness right there. Harajuku is best saved for when my girlfriends visit..

Im still on the look out for a) fluffy ear muffs b) a long puffer jacket c) boots that fit d) post shop that speaks English

well lovely updating you all.. till next time. sayonara

p.s the apples that you saw last blog were delicious!

SO far so good

Well what have the leavers been up to for the rest of the week/weekend??

Well after the first few days we were on a mission to get a few necessary items.. can you guess which one?? yes NZ plug adapter.

.. so we head to a store called Yodobashi.. now im thinking electronic store.. easy.. in and out. We arrive after 3 train changes and its 9 stories

high!! Here it is here. .. So as you can guess.. its fairly large to explore. We were also after computers and phones.. and a kettle.

Took us a wee while to find someone who we could get our message across to .. we used the plug, power and NZ to try explain. Finally after searching 4 floors and going through 3 people we found a guy who could converse in small amounts. So we buy this adapter he shows us.. *get home to find that it doesnt work in Japan!!*.. so we musted of missed something in the translation there. Anyhoo.. so we go to phone level… 5 different companies.. we pick one.. find a guy who speaks English but so hard to find out whats on the contract… so we really have to sign for two years.. how much internet etc.. (same story as the computer level.. )

so we leave the building and go outside for a breather.. go back in and decide we should go home and research it first and then come back.

Insane amount of people in this part of town.. shop shop shopping…

went home and decided to go for a walk.. this is always useful getting around on foot as you discover little treasures.. such as the local tennis court and baseball park and possbile frisbee site.. we are having frisbee withdrawls.

Then we come across another HUGE shopping district .. honestly if you look at that subway map on other blog post there is a major shopping place every two stops. it would take years to visit them all!

here are some pictures of the local produce :

note the strawberries 850 ye

n = $13!!! and they so shiny and new looking..

Look individually wrapped apples!!


went to church at Jesus Lifehouse! was awesome. Took us a while to naviagte our way there but made it 20 min late. Service was bilingual so English part was first then Japanese. Worship was also bilingual! was neat. Meet a lot of expats after the service and was great to feel so welcomed. We will probably go o some mid week services as well cause we have not much else to do in evenings and be good to make friends.

Church was in Roponngi which is a major district of Japan.. more shopping huge 5 story plazas.. we found international food place.. but mostly british.

Then we went exploring midtown just up the road and found an outdoor ice skating rink:

It was sponsored by Cit Bank and is open for 1 1/2 months of the year.

cost 1500 yen

didnt try it today as it was packed!! maybe closer to end of season.

So that was our day exploring…


This weeks agenda:

get our belongings!! hopefully shipping will arrive.. i have one set of winter clothes..

: meet up with Speech Therapists and get the low down

: meet my boss

: Luke to meet new researcher

and then Friday is a public holiday.. our first one of 20 to come!

Sounds like a good week to me..

P.s so that you get automatic updates, when I post a new page.. subscribe and it will give you the update! much easier.

Love you you all.

Day two in Japan

So much to say

I dont know where to start first! So we have applied for Alien Registration cards. These are mandatory to carry around if you live here for more than 3 months. Its like your ID for everything.

Luke and I are waiting for our shipping to arrive from NZ. so in the meantime we are eating locla takeaway food.

Its pretty straight forward to get food. Especially at the supermarket, if you wait till 7pm at night all the food is discounted by %30-%50 . Now as you know I love a bargain, but even when the food is at 30% off you still paying steep prices. Living here is very expensive… example.. yesterday i thought id have a coffee and practice my hirigana symbols.

sat down and saw the price. 520 yen.. now you divide yen by 65.. so that equates to $8!! gulp.. that will be my last coffee for a while.

On the subject of beverages.. they have these interesting vending machines that you can buy any type of drink possible.. including cold coffee in a can.. these seem to be very popular (and much cheaper at only 120 yen!!~). Ive taken a photo to show you.

So other prices of food we consume:(divide by 65)

Milk (1 litre) : 300 yen

Cereal : 500 yen

Yogurt: 400 Yen.

(as you can see breakfast the western way is pricey.. hence why they probably dont eat cereal and milk)

Maybe we should start eating rice..

transport: Now transport. poor Luke standing a head length above everybody else has experienced the “subway squeeze” (photos to come) This involves getting on the train backwards (in order to use your behind to push your way in) your literally smooshed up against everybody else’s armpits.. Lucky for Luke.. hes that head taller to avoid the armpits.

Also escalator rules in the train station: kept left if standing still, go right if you want to walk up.. dont mix it up! Here is a map of the subway Can you work it out??? !! so for every 106 stations there are 4-8 exit gates you have to choose from.

Toilets. Now Japanese toilets are an experience in themselves. Luke gets a heated toilet seat with inbuilt deodorizer and a bottom squirt (yes.. you heard correct) where you set the pressure… HAHHAH.. please don’t visualize¬† that sequence. I on the other hand have to use the mothers toilets in any public place as the normal toilets are squat jobs that are built in the ground. i am mustering up the courage to use one.

Luke started his job 12 hours after we arrived and he works with people of all nationalities.. 13 in total. Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Ukraine, Australian, American.. etc.

I have yet to start.. but meet my boss on Wednesday. Already have my first expat friend! She is a fellow Kiwi Speech Therapist and lives in my area.. (still two train rides away however) we are meeting on Monday and im very excited I will be able to communicate with someone without using my phrase book or sign language.

A few other funny things to note before I sign off.

See photos off my washing machine and powder… any guesses as to what it says?? hmmmm got my clothes washed .. but not sure how.

Got our first water bill.. only reason we know its that is the title metro water + the amount 400 yen.. the rest is in kanji.. still need to brush up on that~ !!

So I should stop and will write again after the weekend.

Love lots