2024-02-02 08:35 pm

001; opening statements


...welcome...



This journal will be mostly open! Entries open to only access-list members should be few and far between.

I'm just a girl from Canada on a long-term adventure in Japan, working through my second bout of University and every day trying to learn more about myself, others, and this crazy mixed-up universe of ours. :P

If we share interests (which can be found in my profile), feel free to subscribe to me and I will happily do the same! Have a lovely day. ♡
2015-01-06 05:31 pm

024 - Naru Special

It may seem really strange to people who aren't a part of the scene or haven't grown up with it, but since visual kei and Japanese rock culture is something that's strongly influenced the construction of my identity since junior high school, the idea of pulling back from it is actually really anxiety-inducing.

One of my main goals for this year -- to be fiscally responsible and be able to sustain myself properly and stay out of the red -- has many parts to it, one of which is limiting the amount of visual rock lives I attend, at least until I have a proper way to afford them that doesn't involve potentially destructive habits like the accumulation of debt. I'm not stupid and I'm not willing to endanger my education in order to foolishly follow bands around, as much fun as it is. That said, I have following BIOSPHIA in my calendar until the 2nd of April, when they officially break up and all of Naru's social media outlets go offline (he's decided and publicized this).

I'd like to take a moment to talk about Naru on here, because he's what we in the scene here call my "本麺". This is pronounced 'honmen', and the kanji it's made up of is quite hilarious. The word 'honmei' (本命) which is a noun meaning favourite, a sure thing, or a certainty, is what we call our favourite band. In this case, my honmei is BIOSPHIA, which is Naru's band. A person's honmei and honmen do not actually have to be from the same band, but they usually are. (Unless said person's honmen retires or dies, this does happen, and it usually doesn't change the fact that they're basically your forever honmen, in most cases.) Anyway, the word honmen is made of the first part of honmei, which has several meanings but in this case let's go with present (time) or real/true. The second character means noodle, actually, which is a funny portmanteau of the English word "men" (man) and the Japanese character for noodle. Sometimes, when I say, "that's a sexy noodle', I am using the opposite. :P Basically, it means your favourite bandman. Ever.

I feel an important thing to note here is I don't think you really choose your honmen, they kinda choose you. At least this is extremely true in my case. I spent pretty much the last six years denying I was brutally infatuated with this man and doing pretty much everything I could to somehow move closer to him without acknowledging that this was my reason for doing anything. It's sounds moronic because it kind of is, but listen. I had to hide, I even had to con myself. Because everybody wants you to do something worthwhile, something amazing, something great, something to better society. Especially when you're smart as a kid, and not only smart but also ugly, they expect you to do great things because nobody thinks you're going to make your mark any other way in the world. And they do expect you to make a mark. But the truth is, being smart never really got me anywhere except in a boatload of pain and isolation, and since preteen years all I wanted to do was dive headlong into bands and forget about how much everything fucking sucked for me, because I did not have a fun childhood or teen years. I wanted to rock out and be angry because as the great Bob Marley put it: "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." I got into things like Eminem and Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson as young as 11 (and got in quite some trouble for it too back then) because as cliche as it sounds, they fucking got it.

Nobody expects a 12 year old kid, especially not back then, to have legitimate feelings of suicide. Of self-loathing and worthlessness so bad, of feeling like nobody gets it (let me reiterate, especially when you're seen as 'smart' and 'ugly' and therefore an incredibly easy target for childhood bullies -- especially as a girl, for which being smart and ugly are both kind of social sins in this fucked up social strata of ours), of constantly being told you're not good enough not pretty enough not every fucking thing under the sun enough except for yourself, and you learn pretty quick that clearly yourself is a big pile of garbage. Especially when you're the subject of bullying as intense as I went through, that I have legitimate physical scars from that 13 years later have finally faded to white wisps of the memory of a hell on earth. I don't really know why it happened, why the kids picked me. I was bigger-boned, and then generally bigger, and I had no self esteem whatsoever. This is something I'm still learning to get now, but it is coming slowly. But because nobody expects a 12 year old kid to seriously want to die, to seriously know what that kind of pain is like, because nobody expects or even believes that a 12 year old kid is hurting that much when everything seems fine -- because letting it not seem fine just meant more bullying -- things got really bad, and really dark. And when I was 13, I went to a psychologist for the first time. Who told me what I already knew -- that I wasn't the problem, not really. I was a lot more mature than the other kids, especially for my age. I had to be, to deal with it all. They just didn't get me. Obviously.

Now, I've loved visual kei since I was 12 years old. And it fucking saved my life. People don't get this, but it did. It was this whole other world where things seemed backwards to what they were in the social space I lived in, and I absolutely fell head over heels for these gorgeous men who, to the untrained North American eye, looked like girls. I loved it because I always felt like a boy, like a big ugly bulldog, like I wasn't allowed to be a girl because of my structure and size and my voice and the like. But here were these guys that were saying hey fuck that, and they were hot. Some of them even wear dresses, and they wore more makeup than anyone I'd ever seen. I absolutely loved it. The visuals got me first, the style of rock music was amazing (at that time it was Pierrot and Dir and etc. and then shortly D'espairsray was on the scene), and I felt like I could carve out a space where I could maybe exist without apologizing for not fitting into the norm. I am not kidding, visual kei saved my life.

I found the scene by myself, so I cried in the hallway at school in seventh grade when I found out hide was dead. The internet was a new beast back then, Google wasn't invented yet. Anyone remember Ask Jeeves and Mama? lol These were the days of Napster and dial-up fax lines and the screech that killed your ears and not being able to use the phone while someone was on the internet. My brother and I had so many fights over the computer.

Fast-forward several years. This whole time I'd been striving, working, trying to find a way to get to Japan and experience this first-hand. I was thirstier than you've ever seen; a fucking starved tigress hunting based just on the scent, the promise of the herd that was on the whole other side of the water hole. But I wasn't gonna lay down and die.

Let's just say I found a way to Japan and I took it, consequences be damned. I was 19. I'd been waiting 7 years and I jumped. I found myself in Tokyo, then in Kyoto. A friend of mine and I had reserved tickets with Suicide Ali and WHITEBLACK happened to be playing with them. Taken by Tatsuya's (now CROW MUSIC's manager) stage presence and seeing that we would be in Kyoto at the same time as them, we reserved again, and arrived at ARC DEUX about a week later. This was the first time I saw Naru.

I was 19 and he was 27, actually, but he super didn't look it. At the time, he was in a band called Lycee. I can remember in exact detail what he was wearing, because I couldn't take my eyes off this incredible charisma bomb of a man. He didn't have tattoos then, but more piercings. I remember him standing in a full-PVC bodysuit decked out with studs and grommets in silver and gold and all sorts of weird strappy things with half-black, half-blonde hair (if you know him now you're going wow, his style has changed so much!! /sarcasm), one hand on the bar above his head and both feet on the rail screaming like a banshee at his tiny audience. I was absolutely captivated. He was weirdly gorgeous in a strangely masculine, insane, and I'm-not-that-hot-but-I-totally-am kind of way. He was a commanding presence, absolutely. And he still is; even offstage. He's loud as hell and extremely forward about what he's feeling, which is pretty uncommon for a Japanese man. He's an A type and he's a fire sign and he is a fucking firecracker. Color me smitten, for the next 7 years.

I followed him. Enough that when Lycee ended and then he had a short jaunt with VULGAR but then officially announced and started activities with another band, VELGREED, (which he started with Shion, which he is still in now with BIOSPHIA) I actually dropped everything and came to Japan. It was insane and I was insane and a bunch of terrible shit happened like I lost my job and this was in 2008 when the crash happened and the Canadian dollar was suddenly worth 73 yen as opposed to the 117 it had been worth for the previous year and a half... I still went. And I wouldn't trade it for anything, because I got to be on saizen (front row) since there were only 5 people in the front. And this was at what is now Ash OSAKA, at the time it was HOLIDAY OSAKA. What's funny is I have now seen BIOSPHIA there on several occasions, including last month, with a HELL of a lot more of a crowd and it's actually my favourite local livehouse. Anyway. The point is, I followed him.

And while I was following him, I pretended to like EVERYONE else. Even when I came to Japan in '08, I pretended to fall for Shion, or rather I tried to convince myself I liked him more. Or Airu more. Or, when they went through a lineup change, I did the insane thing and sent an entire box of shit to Haruka (who is now in カルディア(Cardia)) for his birthday. Which was the most useless thing ever, honestly. Haruka's a jerk. But I pointedly ignored Naru. I didn't want to accept that I was as ridiculously crazy about a stupid bandman as I was, because that's just dumb. That's just unacceptable. Isn't that a thing that silly, useless girls do? I didn't want to be a silly, useless girl. I had been that for enough of my life already.

But my love for visual kei in general, and my adoration for this 5'10" gorilla-beast we call Naru, didn't wane. It was kind of my stronghold, actually. It was the one thing that could really cheer me up. I loved the insanity of it, the music and the costuming and the craziness, the intricacy of the scene and how everyone, for better or for worse was/is so woven together. I am serious -- in indies vkei, everyone knows everyone.

So in 2013, with the right situation and the backing from my parents who I also think finally realized this wasn't going to disappear, I finally applied to do a full University degree in Japan. And guess what? I made it.

In March of 2014, I arrived in Japan. I landed.

At the end of April, I went to my first BIOSPHIA live. It was at Osaka MUSE.
Now, at the beginning of April, 2015, at Osaka MUSE, BIOSPHIA is ending.
It has been an insane and amazing year with this band that I'm incredibly grateful I got to spend their last one - at the very least as this unit - with them.

But it's hard. Now 33 years old, and still an indies career bandman having worked for CROW MUSIC which puts their artists through insane schedules (you should have seen their summer tour oh god), Naru isn't sure if he's going to come back. He's telling people to stop asking if he's going to do sessions even or whatever, because he doesn't know. And I understand this just as well, because after the year I've had with them too, I am also ready for a break from this kind of life. A break. But he doesn't know yet if he's going to come back. He wants to 'try something else'. God, I'd be the first one to understand that feeling. But selfishly, I don't want him to leave it. So I hope he comes back, because I'm just learning to accept some things now. That after all this time, maybe I don't have to be the person who changes the world. And maybe, when I stop feeling like I have to, I actually will. And maybe I'm not as ugly as everyone's always told me I was, or that I believed I was, since I was that twelve year old kid. And maybe, just maybe, it's okay for me to be happy doing this... because not everyone is happy hiking mountains, or building puzzles, or sewing clothes or baking or sitting at the beach or whatever people like doing. Maybe it's not wrong. Maybe it's just me.

And maybe, in my own way, the way that someone does to someone they've admired from afar for so long, it's okay for me to love Naru. Because everything started getting so much easier, and so much better, once I finally just let myself say, yep, that's my bandman. I'm a part of this subculture, and nobody can take me out of it. And I don't even want to fight it. I adore him to pieces, and that's okay. I didn't waste any more time (or money) trying to not anymore, and it was great. Things got a lot more comfortable, and I even had a way better relationship with the band -- and the band's main fans (jouren) -- once I 'came out' as Narugya. That sounds really weird, probably, but it's the truth.

The imminent end of BIOSPHIA is anxiety-creating for me, for a lot of reasons. But, on a positive note, I'm curious to see what it will bring for the future for me and everyone who has been involved with them, too.
2015-01-02 12:26 pm
Entry tags:

023

Wow, has it ever been a long time since I posted something here.
First of all, happy new year to anyone reading this! ♡
Being on vacation is great, I finally actually get enough sleep. lol

Over the Christmas season, things were really intense for me. Intense and tiring and I definitely lived in excess with the things I was interested in and wanted. I completely and utterly spoiled myself and from this alone I learned some things. I learned that it wasn't as fun as I thought it was going to be. I learned that it was stressful. I learned that that's not really who I am. Society says you should or would be happy if you have this and this, if you do this and this. But at the end of the day I found that really wasn't the case, so this experience helped shape some of my new years resolutions.

I did make resolutions this year, only three. Three big ones that are important to me, that have many subgoals beneath them. I will share them here.

1. Make it to my goal weight: 150 pounds.
This goal has many subgoals under it, and I have begun planning out how to do this properly. Upon coming to Japan, I very quickly lost 40 pounds, barely even trying. I then gained twenty back over the summer, on mostly a diet of convenience store food after traversing the country following my band with a friend. I then lost about half of that again, so I'm still at a total loss of 30 pounds, but it has been sitting at that for months. It's time to up my game and add more actual exercise and training to this regimen while once again cutting out sodas (what I did when I first lost 40) and less fried food.

2. Pass JLPT Level 3.
There is a Level 4, but it's not worth shit, so it's not worth taking. The JLPT, for those who don't know, is a standardized nationwide "Japanese Language Proficiency Test" that is available for anyone who wants to take it twice a year in Japan, including Japanese nationals. N1 is basically "I can read a newspaper" level. N3 is basically "I can live in Japan" level. :P N2 is "I'm pretty proficient". I want to be able to pass N3 with flying colours next winter. (This also includes an undertone of studying Japanese myself more intensively, with a focus on more kanji.)

3. Resolve my finances.
2014 was the year of excess, but not this year. I need to settle down, use my cash book, go to less lives, be more conscientious of my spending on food and entertainment (which will also be helped by trying earnestly to lose more weight and study harder), find a decent part-time job come springtime and begin to pay back some of my debts. I also have the HUGE financial burden of trying to find a new apartment to live in mid-June, which... I am terrified of. The cost of 3x the rent just to begin living there, none of which you ever get back, the cost of buying things like a bed, fridge, etc... x_x; My parents would say "you should have thought about that sooner", but I didn't, so ha. :P

So there's my resolutions for the year. Three solid, somewhat lofty goals, but they will all make my life much, much better and much more fun in the end.

It's interesting to me though, that I've become so scared to say anything. I stopped using this journal in general because my parents have access to reading it, and even though I'm an adult living halfway around the world, whenever I do anything at all in the back of my mind I hear them scolding me. So I feel that I always have to hide what I'm interested in or what I'm truly enjoying, because to them it's stupid and foolish and I'm just a useless kid. I really feel that's how they see me; especially in comparison to my brother who is obviously going to do so well for himself. I sometimes want to cry that I'm not some fancy, slim, fit businessman who could make them proud. This honestly weighs on me daily, so instead I just gloss over my passions (as much as I can) when I talk to them, and they only get like 0.001% of the story because I know they're ashamed and not interested. My life, it would seem, is a useless pile of getting-nowhere. It obviously makes me feel bad on the daily, that I'm not something to be proud of. lol I try and just get over it, and it causes me to do stupid things because I have this little beast in my mind going; "Welp, you're never going anywhere anyway, everything you like and do is stupid, you're so futile, you're so ugly, you're so fat, you're so useless, you're always going to be alone, what the fuck are you doing, lol stupid bitch". It's constant. I can't even tell you how constant it is. I wake up and the first thing I feel, before I even think, is something like a sadness.

I love my friends, but I'm losing them all this month. Egiya and Nicole are both going home. Chika is moving to Hiroshima and quite possibly leaving the vkei scene altogether. It's hard to find people you can really trust here, and even when you do, they all leave eventually. The Japanese students do not mix with the foreign ones. We even have our separate lounge at school, the Fujita Global Lounge, which is nicknamed by the students here as 'the Cage' (sometimes even the 'Gaijin (Foreigner) Cage').

I do my best here. I'm still struggling with a lot. I try and make it look like I have fun all the time, but on the daily there's a lot of struggles. A lot. Sometimes it's hard not to cry every day; especially feeling like I have no support on any side of me. I feel like I'm this island who has to stay and look happy and handle everything perfectly and never fuck up and just take everything in stride and be perfectly okay all the time. I can't even be sad to my family; ESPECIALLY not my family, and that sucks.

Buh. I don't even know what else to say, I upset myself. lol
Have a good day, anyone who is reading this.
2014-10-02 09:29 pm
Entry tags:

022

It's been about six months since I arrived in Japan, and about that long since I posted here, too. lol Sorry about that, if anyone still reads this!

I've gone through a lot since I arrived here, and honestly a lot of really tough stuff, that is ongoing. School work itself is basically the least of my worries, so I suppose in some way that's good, but it would kind of be ideal if more of my difficulties were of that focus, like a normal university student.

Recently I've sort of been feeling like my life is entirely falling apart. That sounds really trite written here. I feel stupid saying it, honestly. But I truly know less about myself or what I really want or where I'm going to end up than I ever have in my life. And I feel really, utterly useless, disgusting, and stupid.

Japan is really hard on people. Moving to this country without really being able to speak and understand is hard. It's a racist country without meaning to be in the same way a gentleman tries to treat a woman well without realizing he may be acting extremely patronizing and chauvinist. Being here for four years is going to prove to be interesting and incredibly challenging: I've already lost a good group of friends from last semester that went on their way back to their own lives in their home countries and am having a hard time adjusting to making real friendships with the new ones that have arrived, if only due to the huge amount of drama at the end of last.

Furthermore I've realized I really do have to start putting myself, my goals, my desires, and my feelings first. I once heard a saying that went something like "do not put such a cheap price on yourself, for you can be sure the world will not raise it for you". More and more this seems like the truth.

People who love you when you're a child will tell you you can be and do anything. When you're a child and young adult they tell you if you're smart and you work hard you can succeed. I don't believe this in full. Firstly because you have to be dealt a very good hand no matter what to succeed in this life. Secondly, I've seen what a massive, massive advantage this baseless world gives to those who are genetically sheer lucky enough to be given what the current status quo defines as 'beauty'. So if you're given a marginally good start and you're gorgeous, yes, the world will hand itself to you. As long as you're beautiful. That's especially hard for a woman, and especially a woman who's not.

I've also had to come to the realization that I'm old. I'm getting old. I'll be frightfully old basically when I graduate. By that time what person will want me, what workplace will want me? I've fought with that. And also my health. I wasn't given such a good hand in that either, and unbeknownst to me I carried the tendency for and then developed some serious issues such as diabetes and liver disease. I've found myself wondering if I'll have 20 years after I graduate before I basically decay or have a heart attack, and wondering this seriously. Things that have happened in the last several months have not calmed these worries either, only exacerbated them.

I'm a mess right now, truly. So while I plod along and continue my studies I try not to think too hard about the future or myself or else I just become even more depressed. I try to just hope for good things to cross my path and doors to open. Good people. And I try not to think too hard. I try just to keep going.
2014-03-28 06:37 pm
Entry tags:

021

Happy birthday to me… I’m really sick. LOL I just knew, as I was staring at those masks in Daiso yesterday, that I should have bought them. Sigh. And by really sick I just mean a cold; I have a badly stuffed nose and a bit of a sore throat. But really, I’m okay. Last night was the first night since I bought my bedding that I didn’t sleep through the night. :C Damn you, cold!! I’m trying to think of what may have caused it, and I think the main culprit is probably being super hot/sweaty and then super cold in a matter of moments. (Because I would be hot and sweaty from walking home uphill with bags, but it was actually cold outside, and then I would take all the sweaty clothes off and sit in my PJs by an open window… In hindsight this may not have been a good plan. LOL) I decided to have the fruits and the macaroni salad for breakfast. Maybe today I’ll buy myself a little tart or piece of strawberry cake or something. :) The market at Hankyu… I forgot to write about this yesterday. The market at Hankyu is even more amazing (by like, a landslide) than the Station Marché, which I was already impressed by. It is also more complicated. At the Station Marché, like any grocery, you just pick up what you want, go to the counter, pay for it. At the Hankyu station market (across the overpass bridge, Station Marché is on the JR side), it’s much more like a bazaar, and you order items especially from each kiosk, but you can see that the quality is utterly exceptional. Some things are even cheaper than across the way, but some are more expensive. Anyway, they have everything. Bento, sushi, desserts, all sorts of meat dishes, vegetables, they have an entire section for produce, and it is crazy busy in there. If I’m feeling bold maybe I’ll take pictures today, lol.

I was going to do laundry this morning then realized I do not have laundry soap. orz WELP. /adds three millionth thing to the list.

Since it’s my birthday, I think I’m going to go shower then watch this Umbrella DVD that came with the single I bought in Tokyo. :3

;u; That was so cute. I’m feeling a bit better since my shower. Part of me just wants to sleep more, but the other part says well, it’s already 8 am, I should get on with my day… Hm.

Well, yeah, I’m definitely sick. I laid about in bed for about an hour, then got up. I have a cough, chest congestion, sniffles, the whole works. :C It’s not making me want to get a whole lot done today, I’ll tell you that. Plus I’m really worried about the fact that I don’t have a mask. x_x

OH MY GOD THESE MINI TOMATOES ARE FUCKING DELICIOUS. ;O; I’m really hungry today for some reason… plus it’s my birthday so whatever. XD Also today I have discovered that lotus root is delicious. And I just ate some asparagus-like vegetable I have no idea what it was. LOL I have eaten sooo much this morning. :X But maybe it will help me get over my cold, lol. I took my B vitamins too!! I actually do feel quite a bit better after eating all that, so maybe I needed it. All morning I have had: a serving of roasted veg, a container of those mini tomatoes, the macaroni-egg-ham salad (which also had zucchini and carrots it’s weird I know XD), a single slice of bread with the tuna-mayo stuff on it, 3 small pork meatballs, 2 shrimp in spicy sauce, a Vietnamese-style meat spring roll with hot mustard, and a serving of fruit salad. Please come through for me, multitudes of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. lol

I have also forgotten to mention that I am the only English-speaking person in my dorm, all three floors. There are many Chinese people, several Koreans, two girls from India and one Spanish woman. That is it. LOL Honestly, it’s interesting and a little strange to be in a place where the lingua franca isn’t English. One thing Leela told me before I left Tokyo was “don’t surround yourself with English-speakers, try and listen to the language as much as possible”. That’s proving to be rather easy. XD;

Oh man, I really do feel better after eating all that. XD Maybe food is important. ROFL

So the garbage trucks around here sound like ice cream trucks back home. It blows my mind that the garbage trucks in this area not only play cute music, but are pink, too. Japan, you are weird and lovely.
2014-03-27 09:35 pm
Entry tags:

020

Woke up again today at 6 am, and have had a rather leisurely morning. Honestly I am kind of trying to keep up this 6 am thing, and I’m not even setting an alarm, just going to bed early. There are some things that not having internet is helpful for, lol. I finished reading through a whole bunch of the documents that the school provided me, and then went about figuring out a mock class schedule for myself. With what I have so far, I’m pretty happy… Except for Wednesdays and Thursdays, I would be finished every day by about 3 pm, and Saturdays I would be finished by noon. :3 (Yes, I have classes on Saturdays. Intensive Japanese only, but yeah.) I then filed/painted my nails, then got dressed, and did a small amount of light makeup.

On April 2nd, we international students have our official entrance ceremony starting early in the morning (8:30 or so). On this day, I will get my Student ID and the like, and with that I will be able to set up my school accounts using their Kyogaku Web service, register for classes, use the school computers in the library, and go to Softbank and go about attempting to procure a phone. XD

I didn’t bring my scale to Japan on purpose, or a measuring tape, and I might just be tricking myself, but I really do think that I have lost some weight already. Everything seems to kind of be fitting better, I think. That said, I should probably venture out now and find some breakfast. :)


I went out and did, in fact, not only find breakfast but also ended up picking up proper groceries. I got three individual salads (one of which I’ve eaten :P), some mango dressing, a whole bunch of vegetables, including: those mini cherry tomatoes I was talking about (I got two packs), carrots, lettuce, green onions, bean sprouts, and some single-serving-size packages of cooked vegetable medleys (like onions/yam/green beans/lotus root/etcetera), some macaroni-egg salad with ham (typical thing in Japan), thin-sliced sandwich bread, THIS AMAZING STUFF OMG it’s literally tuna and mayo, already mixed, in a squeeze-bottle. MIND BLOWN. Umm… and then a bowl of mixed sliced fruits like a fruit salad, three packages (one of which I already ate) of single-serving-size meals that have meat/protein products in them, and one large bowl of wonton soup that you just put the ingredients together and heat! :D All in all I spent about $60. I meant to pick up yogurt too but I forgot. :C

Once I (eventually) venture into the actual kitchen in the main area downstairs too I will probably pick up meat, also, because they have some good-looking stuff in the meat case at the station market too! Oh and, I got a stamp card. n_n

Back out I go!


Wow. It’s 7:45 pm, and I was so bored after brunch when I wrote earlier that I went sooooo many places.
First, I walked around Takarazuka station area for a while and found where the Takarazuka Revue is held, and since it’s the 100 year anniversary, they had lots of the costumes and photos on display. Omg, so cool. ;u; Then, I decided to get on the train and go to Osaka because I had nothing else to do (and still needed to buy house-things and school supplies x___x;). So I went to Osaka! And then I bought a whole bunch of school supplies at Loft. What I’ve really been looking for is a Daiso, though, because I spent $70 on school supplies at Loft and didn’t even get everything. :/ So then I decided, you know what, I really want to find Shinsaibashi because I want to go to Shinsaibashi-suji and walk down it because nostalgia. LOL Actually, the schedule book I bought had the Osaka (and Tokyo) subway map in the back, and even though tiny, I knew about where I was and I knew the kanji for Shinsaibashi, and I realized it was actually really close. So I got on the subway and two or three stops later was at Shinsaibashi (the next stop was Namba, so now I know where that is too)!

I must just be really lucky because the exit I came out of from the subway was nowhere near Shinsaibashi-suji, and I started randomly walking down the street to the left and after a few blocks ACTUALLY CAME ACROSS IT. I used my method of taking strong visual cues for turns again so that I didn’t get lost (which has actually worked quite well for me up to now), and as I went down Shinsaibashi-suji to the left, I walked RIGHT PAST Osaka Ruido! (Which is a livehouse that visual-kei bands play at sometimes, in case some people did not know.) So, now I know where that is. As luck would have it, there was a Daiso also along this road. Thank god for you, Daiso. (Which is like… a really epic dollar store.) I got pretty much everything I needed for house-stuff for $16. X_X I could have saved soooooooooooooooo much money… (We’re talking like at least a hundred bucks here.) Ah well. :X I’m learning as I go, even if learning is expensive. orz

Well anyway, then on the way back, carrying heavy bags yet again (lol), and facing rush hour train traffic, I decided to head back towards Takarazuka. Well! As I was leaving the subway at Umeda, I saw a sign for Tower Records and I thought; what the hell, I’ll see if I can actually find it. WELL I DID. I hung around in the Visual Kei section (which took me a bit to find in the first place) for a while, and debated buying a DVD for entertainment for this evening (the Kiyoharu one was tempting), but since I’m already low on funds and can’t really access more until I have a proper internet connection, well. I decided against. X_X; I can’t even use the Hankyu rail internet for that because it warns you straight up that it’s unsecured and people can easily access your info, so I don’t really want to log in to internet banking from there. Plus I can’t even use the school’s secure internet for another week, so… sigh. LOL It kinda sucks guys, not gonna lie.

Well, I think I actually have kind of a cold. :C So I’m going to sleep for now. Hope everyone is well. :)
2014-03-26 07:34 pm
Entry tags:

019

Much better sleep last night than the first night, holy crow. My new bedding is absolutely glorious; so soft, the perfect weight. I was so comfortable. I slept for quite a while, too. I probably fell asleep around 9-ish and I slept until 6 am. I went to bed early because today I have to be at a certain room at the school for our international student orientation, and as I went to go put the $13 pack of batteries I bought at the airport for my alarm clock (damn you airport), I realized I got the wrong size. x___x (However, they will work wonderfully for my polaroid!) So, without an alarm, I thought… I better make sure I get up in time to get ready and go. LOL It’s 6:30 now, if I leave by 8 I should have plenty of time to dawdle and be observant about things and still make it there (I also have to find that particular building and the campus is large). The meeting is at 10 am. I’m getting more comfortable with this Japanese toilet thing, too. XD; This morning has been good, for the 30 minutes I’ve been awake. n_n lol

It’s grey and rainy out today. Kinda glad I packed my umbrella. :P

I’ve been in Japan for a week proper now, and I feel that my jeans are fitting a just a little tiny bit nicer. I chalk it up to the food, not drinking anything carbonated (I pretty much have no desire for soda at all with all this delicious non-sweetened iced tea around) and water, and walking everywhere/carrying heavy bags every damn day. LOL Plus the intense walk home uphill, I’m sure that’s going to help too. Food here is freaking delicious though, ugh. I missed you, Japan. XD


It’s 7 pm, and I have had quite a day!
I did take a taxi from JR Nishinomiya station. I learned a lot today, like the fact that there are two Nishinomiya stations: the Hankyu and the JR. The Hankyu one is apparently way closer to my school, and luckily the line (which is local between Nishinomiyakitaguchi and Takarazuka) goes directly back to Takarazuka station, also. At that station, an overpass bridge connects the two lines. Going towards the school by train though, I don’t get off at Nishinomiyakitaguchi, I get off at a station called Kotoen and take a bus, getting off at the last stop which is called 関西学院前 (Kansaigakuinmae), which literally means “In front of Kwansei Gakuin (University)”. LOL Thanks to my awesome Japanese partners who helped me out with showing me the Hankyu line, and taking me to McDonald’s so I could have internet for a few minutes to tell everyone I was okay/update this! I was assigned two (Lisa and Hitomi), and one adopted me (Mio). :P I am very grateful to them. It’s really great because all of them have been overseas to study in Canada, too, at Queens! (When Mio heard I was from Canada from the other two ladies, that is the moment she adopted me. LOL)

I also found out some relatively bad news, that I somehow missed a day of orientation. The leaflet I have from the CIEC denotes that orientation was all day today, but apparently there was also a rather important session yesterday, that Kei (a lady who works in the office) was gracious enough to quickly go over with me and one other Korean gentleman (who introduced himself to me afterward as Park) who missed yesterday also. Apparently, the information about that session was in small print on the bottom of one of the packets of information we received by mail back in our home countries. X___X Nonetheless, I’ll be okay. She went over it quickly anyway.

I also have to register my residence (since I’m a foreigner) with some local office within 14 days of landing in Japan… so that deadline is April 1st, and I have absolutely no clue where to go to do that or how. Since I have no internet at all, emailing trying to ask for that information or sleuthing to find it out for myself is proving to be pretty impossible. lol I would go to the school tomorrow to do so, but the office I need to go to in order to ask about that (CIEC) is closed then for some reason, so I am going to try and go early on Friday in order to possibly get to the local office in which that needs to be done before the weekend (since I am not sure if they would be open then). I’m also getting increasingly worried about the fact that I kind of forgot to bring ALL of my paperwork from KGU from before I arrived in Japan with me. X_X; It seems a lot like I might have kind of needed it… Guh. (I am sure it is garbage now.)

Well, I’m hoping it’s a nice day tomorrow, but back when I had internet I seem to remember the forecast saying that it was going to rain for two consecutive days… Which I much prefer to snow, certainly, but it doesn’t make wandering around my area/taking pictures or going shopping for things I need to procure for studies much fun. XD I wonder where I should go tomorrow…

Well, I’m going to go over a few more school things for a couple hours and then maybe go to bed. n_n It was fun meeting some really nice ladies today… and one gentleman, Josiah. He was awesome! He was quite a character today. I think he’s a… second or third year? Ah well, you’ll probably hear more about him in future. XD
2014-03-25 07:55 pm
Entry tags:

018

I’m going to call that a good day. I forgot to get a pillow, but half the time I don’t sleep with a pillow anyway. I did, however, get a lovely futon mat (it is so soft and fuzzy oh my god) in pink, a beautiful down futon… blanket, whatever those are called (it’s exactly like a duvet) in this gorgeous light pink even though you don’t see it, and a pink tartan cover for it. :3 In addition I also got shower slippers, house slippers, 26 hangers, and a towel. :P And I just noticed that yes, actually, everything is pink. (Yes including the shower slippers and hangers, though in varying shades.) LOL Thank god for some kind shop-staff though, but I find that if you tell them your Japanese is a little shaky and you try your best, they’re very willing to help. I don’t like looking like a fool, but really, this is the way you get better! The two ladies working with me were very kind. And if I don’t understand something that I think might be important, I just tell them so and we usually work something out. XD “Gomen nasai, wakarimasen” (I’m sorry, I don’t understand) has become a common phrase of mine for the moment. :P Sometimes charades is required.

I went out on the trains and found out that there is a major transfer station called Amagasaki (which also has a big mall, I didn’t notice until the way back) that I get off/on at in order to go to and from school. From it, Nishinomiya is only two stops. I went to Nishinomiya, but I did not have a map to the school (even though I have the address), and I couldn’t see it on the local map at the station so I didn’t try to get any further because I was really scared of getting lost. XD Tomorrow I will just take a taxi to the school from that station (since I have the address on the back of the campus map in kanji), and ask for a more detailed access map once I get there to get back. n_n I have to say, that this coming-to-Japan thing and not having any kind of phone or internet access really, really makes you rely on yourself, your interpersonal skills, your own intuition and bravery, and trusting in yourself also. This morning was kind of like… Okay! Let’s go to the station and find out how to get to school! I have no idea if there even is a Nishinomiya station but I’m going to say so! LOL (There is.) Oh yeah! And I also got an ICOCA (which I JUST realized is a clever play on words, it’s pronounced ee-koh-kah, and in Japanese, ikkou ka (same pronunciation) is an informal way to say “let’s go?” or it could also be an abbreviation of ikkou-card, which would just mean “go-card”; either way very clever). An ICOCA is the Osaka version of a Suica, which is a fund-loadable pass-card for using transit and can be used as a payment card at some locations for a huge variety of things. (Like today at lunch, the restaurant I went to took ICOCA as a form of payment.) It’s not something you want to lose because they are nameless and you literally just tap it and go. :P You can load them with up to $100 at a time. (I would never put that much, especially since I don't yet have a pass case.) So anyway, I got one of those, loaded it up and off I went, to Amagasaki and then Nishinomiya and then from there straight to Osaka. I knew I could probably get what I needed just at the station malls, and I did see some gorgeous Givenchy bedding I wanted, but I am not about to pay $500 for a bedding set ($120 was enough lol, yay sales). I probably could have gotten everything I needed, but once I had the essentials, the bags were heavy and bulky and I decided to call it a day. Tomorrow I have school stuff pretty well all day, so I’m going to have a relaxing evening and take a shower and do my hair and set up my room some more and have a good night’s rest now that I have the proper bedding for it. Holy Jesus my arms hurt though, especially after that expedition. XD One day I will stop carrying heavy things back to my dorm. (I opted not to taxi because 1) walking is free, 2) good exercise and 3) I’m trying to cement the way back to the dorm in my head so I could do it blind. lol)

SPEAKING OF! For some reason this reminded me, I’m not sure why. Takarazuka station has an AWESOME market at it called Station Marché (駅マルシェー). It has fresh fruit and vegetables, cooking supplies, AN EPIC DELI AND CHEESE COUNTER with really good cheeses and crackers for not exorbitant prices I am so impressed, its own café inside, bakery, literally whatever you could want. THE CHERRY TOMATOES. ;O; So cute and ripe and small and CHEAP oh god I need six packages. Really though, I wanted to take so many pictures. I was like; THANK THE LORD there is a legitimate supermarket (a small but very convenient supermarket) right at my home station. I am going to go grocery shop… I don’t know, sometime soon. XD Maybe on the way home from school tomorrow. What I should do tonight is make a list of questions for SOMEONE to answer, like… How do I get a Japanese bank account? The residence procedures say I need to register my residence with the police station within 14 days of landing. How do I do this? How do I get a Japanese phone? How do I apply for a scholarship? How do I pay my rent and utilities? How do I get back to the station (lol)? I think I’ll do that after I shower. But oh god I am so happy I have proper bedding. Hallelujah.

I had a shower and I feel amazing. Oh god that was so needed. AND MY NEW TOWEL IS EPIC. It is soooooo soft and absorbent! Having my ham, cheese, and lettuce sandwich for dinner now accompanied by tea. :P It gives me great happiness that Japanese sandwiches do not have crusts. XD Crust has never been something I’ve particularly minded, but it is better without. My meals have been good today. I had an egg/ham/veg sandwich and a chicken mayo onigiri for breakfast with tea, then when I got to Nishinomiya I had a single-serve bottle of jasmine tea, then after my shopping at Tokyu Hands (yes Tokyu, that is not a typo) and before I bought my bedding at Isetan, I went and had a great set meal with egg drop soup, some kind of grilled root vegetable with a spicy sauce I don’t know it was delicious lol, spicy shrimp in a sauce with sprouts and pea shoots, rice, and a set of five different Chinese-style steamed dumplings with different meat and vegetable fillings, accompanied by hot tea and water. Japanese-style, so you know, there was just a little bit of everything, and beautifully presented. It was so good. I didn’t finish all the rice or soup though. :P Leela might have been proud of me; I called over the waiter and ordered some water. XD (She was teaching me to order my own drinks back in Tokyo. In Japan, I get really, really shy. LOL I KNOW.) I picked what I did off the menu because it was the only thing that I could read in entirety (as in, say fluently also) and I felt like doing that instead of pointing. XD; It also looked really good though and just about the right amount of food, and I was right. Plus, the whole thing was just under $20! Wins all around. (Generally you do not tip in Japan, and taxes are included in most listed prices, either that or both are listed, with and without.)

I JUST REMEMBERED there was a giant purple cat pillow at the Daimaru in Osaka Station City… Depending on how much it was I might have to get that as my pillow. >_> Please don't be over ¥5,000 Murasaki Neko-chan*, because that is the most I am willing to pay. LOL I guess we’ll see soon!


* Murasaki = purple
Neko = cat
Chan = suffix used to denote something small, cute, or younger than you
2014-03-25 03:52 pm

017

My body is super super sore from carting around 100-pound bags for six hours plus a 30-pound backpack. Trying to do that on the train in Tokyo at 8 am was a real treat, too. lol But thank god it’s done! And I actually made it to my dorm! XD But holy Nihongo batman, pure immersion from the second I left Tokyo. There is much less English, even at main stations, down here than there is up there. (And there’s a lot less than most people who have never been here think there is to begin with.) I thought that someone from the school might be here to greet me when I arrived at the dorm? Nope. The landlady—a sweet, old Japanese woman who knew absolutely zero English—showed me the dorm, my room (which happens to be on the third floor), bathrooms, etc… Explained all the rules. I think I understood well enough. She asked me how long I was going to be a student, then asked further if it was going to be four years, to which I replied yes, four years. (はい、四年間です.) At that point she offered me one of the rice cookers for personal use. lol At this moment I am finding that I can passably understand a fair amount, but speaking anything is still a real challenge.

Which actually reminds me, I want to document here some of the kindness of the Japanese people that I found while I was in the midst of difficult travels yesterday. Leaving Leela’s place, once you get to the entrance to the station there is a long set of stairs down to the Tokyo Metro that goes from Hounanchou to Nakanosakaue, which is where I transferred onto the main Marunouchi line to Tokyo station proper. Well, I stood off to the side by the stairs for a moment preparing myself to lug these heavy bags down the steps. A Japanese businessman stopped abruptly as he must have anticipated my predicament and said in English with a heavy accent; “May I help you?” (I was impressed by his very proper sentence.) When I accepted and thanked him, I don’t think he was expecting how heavy it was, but he motored down the stairs with it (I think he really was in a hurry to catch the train) and stopped for a brief second at the bottom. I thanked him and bowed, and he rushed off to the train that was leaving in just a few moments. That was nice. When I got on the train, it was 8:30 am, and of course Tokyo, on a Monday, bound towards ‘downtown’… It was pretty trying with as much luggage as I had, but I was surprised to find most people seemed sympathetic to my endeavor. I tried my best to be the least bothersome as I could and keep my bags in as small and least inconvenient a space as possible. XD; Well, I finally got to Tokyo and got on the Shinkansen (bullet train) bound for Shin-Osaka. In order to get a good spot in line for the non-reserved cars, I (yet again, I did not eat at all until 4:30 pm yesterday) missed out on buying a bento at the station. But I did get a good seat, one of those ones by the door that had space in front of me for my luggage. But, being one person with two huge bags and a backpack, I didn't know where to put the other bag. A nice older lady came to sit beside me, and asked if it was okay to do so. I was like, oh god yes of course, but… I asked her “where would be okay to put this baggage?” and she kindly told me “right here is alright, see, I have space for my legs. It’s alright!” Once again, she had my sincere gratitude. lol There was literally nowhere else to put such large bags. Luckily for me, she stayed on until the end of the line just like me, and when we were getting off, she turned to smile and tell me good luck. :3

Once in Shin-Osaka, I had to figure out where to go next. The guy at the Shinkansen ticket gate in Tokyo had told me I would have to go to Osaka and transfer again. I really didn’t want to do that, actually. And since travel in Japan is based on distance, I knew if I could find a simpler way to get to Takarazuka, I could do so. (Plus there are fare adjustment gates also, just in case.) So I was following the signs and found the Takarazuka line, and was like; well! That probably goes where I want to go (Takarazuka station)! After some careful listening and analyzing, I boarded the local train bound for Shin-Sanda. The Japanese people on this train looked at me really strangely, because I’m a foreigner with travel bags and this is a local train through the ‘burbs. XD Well, I finally got to Takarazuka station, figured out how to get to the taxis since I was already a few minutes later than I said I would be arriving at the dorm. ¥650 taxi trip and the very jovial taxi driver (who I had a fun and up-beat though short conversation with) had me at the dormitory. Then, I met the landlady and she showed me around, gave me my key, the pass-code for the main door, etc. My dorm, by the way, is REALLY OLD. Like, damn. lol And… And. All the toilets are Japanese-style. If you do not know what a Japanese-style toilet is? Please go look this up. This is probably the single largest adjustment for me for a daily-living thing. The first order of business was I took out most of my clothing, and stored it. There’s actually a lot of storage in my room and for Japan, I would even call it relatively large. At 4:00, I decided to finally try and make my way through this very windy, hilly, residential area back toward the station/main thoroughfare to find food. I ended up at a Lawson (which is a popular convenience store) at the foot of the station (I saw on the receipt it’s actually called 宝塚駅前LAWSON; “Lawson in front of Takarazuka Station” lol). I bought a 2L bottle of water, a 2L bottle of green tea, 2 sandwiches, a tonkatsu bento, and a chicken-mayo onigiri. When I had left the dorm, I made sure I could enter the door code properly, then as I was travelling down towards the station I made sure to take strong visual markers of where my turns were. For example; the house that looks such-and-such with the three cherry trees in front, the turn with the fire hydrants and that local map, etc. Happily, I made it home without an issue thanks to that, though the up-hill all the way back with the bags made me really glad I took a cab with my luggage lol. I was sweating and a bit winded when I got back home. (When I say steep, I mean think of San Francisco for some of this. And this is my walk home every day. Calf muscles for the win?) I downed a bunch of the water and the bento, saved the rest for breakfast this morning, and settled in. My dorm is not outfitted with any kind of bedding, but it does in fact have a western-style twin-sized bed with a (thin) mattress. I tried really hard to sleep, too, because I was exhausted, but that didn’t work out so well either. I have a brutal chill that I just can’t shake, and I would shower to get rid of it, but I lack a towel. In hindsight that actually would have been a great thing to bring. :P I am wearing two thick sweaters, my regular sleeping t shirt, and a cardigan, but somehow I am still freezing. I threw my jacket over me for a blanket and rolled up some dresses for a pillow, but today (in addition to finding out how to get to my school, which I have to do tomorrow for actual school purposes) I am definitely going to go shop for some home-things. Towel, house-slippers (which I am on loan right now from downstairs but the landlady asked me to please buy some myself XD), and bedding are the top of the list. Though, the cold thing… For someone who slept with the window open and not even under a blanket in Calgary in the winter, that’s really weird.

By the time anyone reads this, it will have been long past when I typed it, because I’m not sure when I’ll have internet before next week (and it’s only Tuesday). I know my parents are probably worried because they haven’t heard in a few days and I can’t update anything, but I have literally no way to contact them except letter mail right now. :C lol So… sorry guys! I’m okay though.

The area I live in is a pain in the ass for aforementioned reasons, but it is also beautiful. There are a lot of gorgeous proper Japanese residences here, both western-style in the façade and traditional. There are also a lot of plants, gardens, and birds, immaculately manicured lawns and shrubbery. But fuck it I am not wearing heels to walk to school, not directly from here. LOL On top of being hilly it’s also rocky and gravelly. The streets in this area reminded me a bit of Europe in that the taxis—of which there are many sifting around—and other vehicles have to stop and/or swerve to make room for each other and the pedestrians. There are no designated walkways; everyone just shares the road, until you get to the station/the other side of the station, which is less strictly residential and not on the hill. As I sit here looking out my window and tiny balcony (essentially for clothes-drying purposes), there is also this one rather large, lush, greenery-adorned mountain directly to my right. There are little houses all through the dips in these mountains; they’re smaller mountains, yes, nothing like the Canadian rockies but mountains nonetheless!

Oh god I can’t even move/lift my arms without there being incredible pain. XD The trek here was a muscly one. I am glad that I do not have to move those bags again for a couple of years lol. It’s hard for me to believe that if I actually end up staying here (as in this dorm) for two years (which is of course the plan) that will be the longest I’ve stayed living in one place for eight years. I’ve moved once or more every year for eight goddamn years. In 2013, I lived in three different places: two apartments and a stopover at my parents’ place. Effectively I have moved my entire life in two suitcases, a backpack, and sent myself one box of shoes and a small box of random articles.

Well, I’m still exhausted, but I really didn’t sleep much and I was freezing. XD So let’s hope that tonight I have a proper shower and procure some bedding and get some rest, because tomorrow we meet our buddy system partners. :) And I’d like to be a little better rested and looking a little more decent for that. lol

Well, time to get organized and go! Wish me luck!
2014-03-21 05:42 pm
Entry tags:

016

Yesterday, it rained like crazy. I spent most of the day inside at Leela's, chatting to people, relaxing, and getting over some jet lag. I slept through the night last night, completely, for the first time in like... ever. (Okay not ever, but as long as is in recent memory anyway. I don't think I did that for a couple of months while I was at work in Canada.) So... hoorah! :D/ It is now almost 9 am and I am having aloe yogurt and an acai-kiwi drink. Bless you, Japanese convenience stores, for being amazingly convenient and with delicious offerings.

Aaand now it's 10 pm, and man we have had a full day.
The short version of today: Went to Shibuya 109; which is a fashion mecca for people interested in gyaru (a fashion/lifestyle subculture) in Japan and overseas, even. Took a video of Shibuya crossing (a famous pedestrian crossing because... well if you look it up on youtube you'll see) from a cafe in the building. Ate sukiyaki and shabu shabu/shabu-nabe (lol). It was freaking delicious; I really enjoyed the pork sukiyaki dipped in the raw egg. Holy fantastic batman. Went through all the shops. Got a tour from Leela of all the Shinjuku live-houses. Talked about school/volunteer things. It was a good day.

Now I am tired and going to sleep. lol
2014-03-20 11:09 am

015

First full day in Japan!
And now the countdown/etc will be finished. lol

I guess... I want to write about some of my feelings about this thing, getting here, the physical journey itself, etcetera.

Section One: The Trip

Once everything was packed and my mom, dad, and I were at the airport and they took me all the way to the security checkpoint and it was time to say goodbye, I was actually absolutely stunned because... My dad cried.
Stunned.
I didn't really know what else to do so then I also started crying. lol My mom ended up telling me later (this morning, when I called) that he even watched until he couldn't see me anymore. That was... I felt a lot of things, mostly sad. I think part of the reason my dad crying was so shocking (and also difficult) is because my dad is not an emotional person, really, and I've never related to him in a very emotional way (even though I have often wanted to), so it was hard too because I felt like that was the first time that I could really tell that he really cared for me. I know he has his own ways of showing it, as every parent does, by supporting me in other, more comfortable ways (for him). But that hit me really hard, I'll admit.

Well, then I got through security and everything and met my aunt on the other side, who got me into the special Air Canada lounge, which was nice 'cause I got free breakfast. Nothing else too interesting happened, I got on my flight, landed in Vancouver, and then spent two and a half hours in Milestones in the Vancouver airport eating too much food, drinking three bellinis and chatting away on the computer on facebook and everything else.

Then came the flight to Japan. I was already getting what I call 'fat girl hate' from a whole bunch of stink-eyes even waiting at the gate. lol Vancouver is already pretty size-ist, and then add Asian size-ism onto that? Yeah. I can say I wasn't surprised, but I did sigh and roll my eyes about the whole thing. Got onto the plane, sat beside a mid-30s looking guy who obviously considered me bothersome before I even sat down, and we did not exchange a single word the entire ten and a half hour flight lol. I learned from his papers that his name was Masahiro, but that was it. LOL They served us two meals neither of which I even ate more than half of, part-way because I was still full from gorging myself in Vancouver and part-way because I become very conscious of my intake around Japanese people. I am not entirely sure what that means but it's true.

Side-note; my legs have never hurt so bad as they did yesterday. I was able to get up ONCE during the flight to Tokyo, but that was all, and it was so cramped and I was stuck against the window. That was pretty intense. But nonetheless, I was going to Japan, so still worth it. I watched three movies, including: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Frozen, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. They were all okay, they were probably even good, but I was in a pretty foul mood from the pain in my legs and the dude beside me. XD;

Arrived in Tokyo, went through immigration. For those of you that don't know, Japanese immigration is set up like so: several lines for individuals in possession of a Japanese passport, and then a few lines for individuals in possession of any foreign passports. And everyone, regardless, gets fingerprinted and photographed. If you refuse this step, you'll be deported lol. Anyway! I got through without a problem, because unlike several other people in line from various places, I read and filled out everything. :P Some people got sent to the back of the line if enough of their cards weren't filled out properly. The immigration people took my certificate of eligibility, filed it, and gave me a residence card! It's good for two and some years. Yay.

Then, I went and grabbed my baggage, got on the computer to get Leela's address again, wrote it out in romaji, then asked some people at a desk if they thought a taxi driver would be able to read/understand the address in romaji (which means "roman characters"; English characters for Japanese words, for example "Tokyo" instead of 東京). They said yes, so I prepared to go pay a hefty price for a cab from Narita to Shinjuku-area. I could have taken a train to Tokyo and then gotten a cab, which would have been cheaper, but with two 100-pound bags and a hefty backpack and 24 hours of travelling, I was feeling kind of done. LOL So, I paid ¥26,000 for the trip (which is roughly $280). Needless to say, my cab driver was really nice. ROFL I got to get my feet wet practicing a little Japanese with him, so that was good. :)

Here's a tangent for you: seeing how much I remember after not using or hearing Japanese in about 3 years (except in vkei songs, which... I don't pay a lot of attention to the words anyway I'll be honest), made me realize that I am probably going to be okay with picking it up fast again. Being surrounded by it and reading kana (which is the word for the Japanese writing system which is in three parts--kanji which are derived from Chinese characters, then katakana and hiragana which are syllabic and much simpler to write) on everything around me is helping to jog things a bit also. People always ask me "why do they need three alphabets? (which is generally how I describe the kana writing systems)", and the short answer is I don't know, the evolution of written language in Japan comes from historical cultural absorption and appropriation. The more pressing question, though, of why do we still need/use it over here? Well, keep in mind that the word for eraser (keshigomu; lit. "deleting rubber") has all three writing systems in it alone. 消しゴム. 消 = ke し=shi, ゴム=gomu. The first character, 'ke', is an entire 'word' meaning to delete, erase, cancel, etc. The 'shi' part is just... part of the pronunciation of that word, 'keshi', but has no actual meaning by itself. The last part, 'gomu', is written in katakana (which, opposite to romaji, is how Japanese people write foreign-origin words. It is phonetic for "gum", actually). All that just to say eraser, much less ask to borrow one. (Which, by the way, is: 消しゴムを借りてもよいですか? (Keshigomu o karite mo ii desu ka?)) Yes, Japanese is complicated! Is it worth it? Yeah. Especially because I happen to really love how it sounds. XD

Anyways, after the 1.5 hour taxi ride from the airport, I arrived at Leela's and we hung out and talked for about three hours before we crashed. I called my mom to let her know I was alright, and that concludes the travel section. :P

I think that's good for now, I'll write about other stuff later!
2014-03-17 10:33 am
Entry tags:

014

0 days until Japan.

I leave tomorrow. I'm still not completely packed. I'm stressed and frazzled lol. We need to leave here at 6:30 am tomorrow for my flight so... dang. That's a little intense. I am feeling rather overwhelmed because there are about eight million loose ends. Before the end of the day I need to:

☑ Call the bank about student line of credit
↳ ☐ Go to the bank to sign off on student line of credit
☑ Call the insurance company about cancellation of my car insurance
☐ Get all my papers in order for school/immigration
☐ Finish packing
☐ Re-colour hair

And those are the priorities. As for buying things I still wanted:

☐ Laptop case
☐ Mulberry

I probably won't get to that but whatever. LOL
In other news, this is the cutest thing to come from Liz Lisa in a couple months:


Floral and pink and lacy, my favourite. x3


Quick update. Just so busy I don't feel like my head's even on straight. I probably won't be able to update again until I'm actually in Japan, so I guess stay tuned? lol
2014-03-08 07:56 am
Entry tags:

013

9 days until Japan.

I am pleased that it is not minus eight thousand degrees outside today. lol
I'm broke as a joke, but I got my $25 grocery refund in the mail yesterday from Co-op, so that is definitely going towards my party tonight. :P I'm glad I changed it from the club to karaoke, because $25 definitely would not have lasted me there.

My black cat is sitting next to me purring. I am going to miss him a lot. I named him 鳴 (Naru), after the vocalist of BIOSPHIA (VELGREED, at the time). I named him this because he is cute but not the brightest crayon in the box. :P

Naru. Definitely one of his more glamorous moments, trust me. lol


But no, I'm kind of tsundere. I love Naru. XD; In the way that a long-time fan does that rolls their eyes at every one of his many silly hijinks. (Like, back when he was in VELGREED, organizing a beach-nampa* event on ameblo in secret entries with a bunch of his bandmen and ikemen** friends lol.)

I do wonder when I'll get to see him again, since I can't just randomly go to lives anymore. And then half of me wonders when I do get to see him, if I'll even care?

I feel like my life came to a screeching halt at the end of 2008, and I haven't lived since. I really do feel that way. I feel like... I'm 19, because between being 19 and now, I accomplished a grand total of absolutely nothing, and didn't do anything that made me happy whatsoever (aside from the glorious 8 months in Vancouver where I acually had a load of friends and a ton of things to do, that was pretty great, but seriously dampened by the fact that I had absolutely no money and went into $3k of debt that would follow me relentlessly for the next 3 years). All I got was a couple chronic diseases and getting older. That is literally it. I feel like that time was stolen from me, is the truth of it. And now I'm gross and lost five years of my youth, and pretty much my entire early 20's. That's... fucking cruel, really.

All I can do now I guess is endeavour to make the ride into age 30 a much more enjoyable experience.

*nampa = 'pick up', like picking up girls
**ikemen = attractive guy
2014-03-07 10:31 am
Entry tags:

012

10 days until Japan.

Holy shit. lol
Today I scheduled an appointment for my car to be looked at at the autobody shop on Monday, I'm leaving it there on Sunday afternoon.
I posted both of my guitars on Kijiji, but since there's lots of competition (like seriously epic tons), we'll see how that goes. :P

My party is tomorrow. I changed it from going to the club to going for karaoke. I tried to make my going away party with friends something that everyone would want to come to, but instead it ended up being all weird and messed up, so I just changed it to something that I wanted to do, the end. LOL

I ordered my foreign currency yesterday, ¥180,000 worth. When I think about everything that has to be spent on in the next month, it sure doesn't seem like a lot. :C I hope my guitars and my car sell quickly.

My last week of work is almost here. I just have today and then five more days, and I'm gone. That part is exciting. :3 I'm also super worried about getting around while I'm in Japan, but I'll do my best. :P

I didn't realize how scary it was before that this was the first time I'm doing this all alone, which sounds stupid, but it's true. At least before I always had one other English-speaking person to depend on the whole way. Now it's just me, myself, and I. And I won't even have the Internet to help me out, either. Dang.
2014-03-06 09:36 am
Entry tags:

011

11 days until Japan.

I should be more excited. Right now I just feel nervous and stressed. lol
But on that same note, I'm just more than ready to get out of here. It was snowing again this morning. It's been -20 to -30 celcius for days. I'll be honest; I am so fucking tired of it--language representative.

I'm tired of being this. I'm tired of being fat, of being unhealthy, of doing nothing with my life. I'm tired of having struggled and struggled for years with nothing to show for it and having done nothing (besides living in Vancouver) that made me any level of happy. I'm just really, really ready to leave and be done and start again. That's really how I feel. Frustrated.

I'm also scared because there's so little time yet and I have so much left to do still. I feel like I really shouldn't be working five days a week right now just to allow for time to get stuff done, but I am. I'm working up until like two days before I leave. :/ I did this partially because (okay, entirely because) I knew my parents would be angry if I took an entire week and two days off before leaving. Because I "need to be working"; a phrase they tell me pretty well constantly. I know. I know.

I am not feeling well. I'm sniffly and my stomach hurts and I threw up this morning; my periods have been hitting me really, really hard these days. I don't even care if that's TMI. You can deal with it today.
2014-02-22 10:22 am
Entry tags:

010

24 days until Japan.



This song is called LIFE by a band called キマグレン (kimaguren).
How I came to know of this song is a bit aggravating, because it was introduced to me by the worst roommate (and generally one of the worst people) I've ever had who was lazy, disgusting, and took advantage of me (as well as in my opinion literally every person she meets); and her disgusting habits were ultimately the cause of us being evicted with 14 days notice in September of '13.



Nonetheless, what I got out of it was this great song, so I'm thankful for that. Six months of suffering isn't entirely erased by it, but that cat gif helps too.

I'm essentially done all the paperwork and bureaucracy that I can be done (I still have to go with dad to apply for my student line of credit but you know). So mostly I'm just taking some time to relax about that and get other stuff done, like working on making the remy hair weft I got into clip-ins so I can wear them for my going-away party and the like. The thing is I actually bought so much hair I'm not sure I can wear it all at once which... it won't work out if I can't. XD; Gonna try!



Well that's enough wacky entry for one day I think.
2014-02-20 04:42 am
Entry tags:

009

26 days until Japan.

Since this is one of my favourite j-rock videos ever because it makes me laugh and I can actually do their little dance (at the chorus), I will post it. :P



This song helps remind me that everyone is a little insecure and stuff. XD; The girl in it who plays Emiko is really cute though! 8D 僕の...エンジェ〜エ〜ル.

I went to the consulate yesterday and my visa should come in my passport within the next five to ten business days. :3 The lady helping said to call on Wednesday and at that time they will give me a better estimate of when it would be done. I am picking it up from the office so I will get it even faster yaaay~.

My old computer is finally ready to give to Jose. :P Thank god since I made him wait like two weeks! lol Thankfully, after many botched attempts, my dad lent me his external harddrive last night and then the transfer of my old photos was all done quickly.

I still need to mail my enrolment documents, but I'm going to do that after work today. /makes checkbox
☑ Mail enrolment documents

Also, I still need to apply for my student line of credit with my dad. e_e; Kind of dreading that. Plus he seems to continue to forget about it or doesn't see how important it is or doesn't realize that I actually need him to come with me since he needs to cosign because I'm leaving the country. :/ Either way it's a bit frustrating!

Speaking of financing, yesterday I randomly had to pay $200 to a collections agency for a ticket I got on the train in Vancouver 3 years ago. x___x; That came directly out of my Japan money. Suuuuuucked. Oh well; at least I know for certain I have nothing left owing this country. LOL

Just about 5 am now, time to leave for work! Bah :P
2014-02-18 04:50 pm
Entry tags:

008

28 days until Japan.



I love these guys. This is umbrella; probably my favourite band out of Japan right now. And that's saying something big, for someone who's been into jrock for a long, long, long time. lol (14 years now as of this March! That's intense okay!)
They came to Calgary (and then went on to Toronto with アヲイ) in May of 2013. Their performances were unforgettable, their music is absolutely amazing. If you like bands like amber gris or 9goats black out, I think you'd like them. They're a little less intense, and Yui's vocals aren't quite as rich as either Temari or Ryo's, but he's a bit more charming I think. :P

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing them again soon. Leela tells me there's lots of people willing to introduce umbrella to us and vice versa, so that's exciting. :3

My little (okay, not so little) black cat, Naru (which the rest of our family calls Spooker) has been sitting with me and following me around for the past week pretty well non-stop. I wonder if he's somehow picked up that I'm going to be leaving soon?
2014-02-16 07:22 am
Entry tags:

007

30 days until Japan.

Things I need to get done today:
☑ Fax Kangaku bank transfer receipts
☑ Get a Canadian passport-sized photo for my student visa
☑ Get 2 Japanese passport-sized photos for my student ID
Edit: Done!

Once I do those things I suppose I can get all my papers together and send my last packet of documents due before I arrive to the school. :P Everything else is done.
Oh, and unrelated to school, but also:

☑ Finish heidi. report for Leela
Edit: Took me until the next day but! Done!

There. :) I can do all these things today without overloading myself!
2014-02-09 04:19 pm

006

37 days until Japan.

While I've been looking on Instagram at some people's photos of cute food, drink, sweets, and meals in Japan... I just now realized something. I've been so busy stressing and freaking out about money and things to do that even until now, just about a month before I leave, and certifiably five weeks before my last day of work, that I haven't spent pretty well any time being happy or excited. I'm always worried, always stressed, always unhappy about it. I'm sure my parents don't really see this as a good sign, and I'm sure they see me as ungrateful for the opportunity (like I'm certain many of my friends do too), but I'm not. At all. And I wish they would understand. It's extremely difficult for me not to be overwhelmed and stressed about the whole situation because when things are beyond my control or I don't/can't immediately understand them (or look up how to understand them, lol) I get very anxious and uncomfortable.

Here. Let me give you a metaphor. Imagine you take an animal who is more a "flighter" than a fighter, say a deer for example. And you take that deer, who has lived its whole life in a habitat not so well-suited for it, say on the outskirts of a busy city and pollutants, etc. This animal has a very sensitive reception to the world around it, as the nature of deer do, and you throw it in a brand new environment (or, if you could, instead even further increase the anxiety by effectively telling it before the shift happens that it's going into a brand new environment and has to deal with everything at home and has to say goodbye to everyone even if not forever and that it won't easily understand anyone or anything despite any lifelong preparations and nothing is guaranteed)... You wouldn't go; "God, that deer is so ungrateful for the great life and opportunity it has," even if the new environment is perfectly suited for it, and you've worked so hard to help it get there. Eventually you know that deer is going to be much better off, and the deer, if it could consciously do so, once settled would very much thank you for it. Instead you would probably go; "Wow, that's a big move for that little guy, I hope he adjusts okay and that he enjoys his new home!" ...Which, as you know will probably happen, but will still be scary for that deer in the meantime.

Meanwhile, there are other animals who have a more extroverted/adaptive personality naturally, that you wouldn't worry about quite as much. Like a dog, for example. If you were able to tell a dog with good temperament that "Oh hey you're going to this new home, and it'll be better suited for you, even though you have to get through this stuff first, etc." that dog would probably be excited from the get-go and be a lot less worried about possible outcomes and managing everything, he'd just let things go and hope it all worked out.

I am much more like that deer than that dog.

It is incredibly difficult for me to just "relax and go with the flow". If you ask me how I'm feeling about Japan, I'm likely to say "stressed, overwhelmed, and worried". Right now those factors have an incredibly strong grip on me. But it doesn't mean that I'm not excited, looking forward to it, or that I don't want to go--not even close. I am definitely all those things, and every single day I'm on the internet looking at places I want to go, to see, how I want to set up my room, what are the most effective things for making a study space at home, thinking about school supplies, meeting new people, finding new connections... yes! I'm very excited and looking forward to it but I'm also extremely anxious, and it's hard to tune that out. I'm an introvert by nature so I ask a lot of "what ifs". It's not always constructive, I know. And I express myself way better through writing, especially in a world that doesn't always let me get my thoughts out properly with how quickly everyone talks and how loudly, also. I prefer to give people a chance to fully hear me when they have a moment to actually take it in; otherwise I feel pretty ignored by the world around me. At least here, in North America, where everyone is loud and boisterous and extroverted. It's not the same everywhere, and that's another reason I'm looking forward to moving. I imagine it more like a forest of grazing deer with a few interruptions than a bustling inner-city dog park.

Yes, I'm looking forward to it. I know my friends and family can't always tell (or depending on how they perceive things or if/how they listen, sometimes can't tell at all) but I am. I don't show it in a way that's easy to recognize but here's a tip: If I'm fretting over it, it means a lot to me, which means I care, which means it's very important, which means I'd be really, really upset if it didn't get to happen. I can't wait to go!! That's difficult for me to even write down because then a crushing weight of "but you still have aaaallll this stuff to worry about" comes down like an anvil but it's just because I like to have control over my affairs and right now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Here's another useful life example: I hate flying, but wanted desperately to be a fighter pilot before I found out my eyes wouldn't be allowing for it. What's the difference? I'm in control, or not. I'll be fine! I'm working through it as best I can!

I'm pretty sure you'll be seeing a much happier version of me coming to a Skype screen near you in the very near future.