5 Surprising things about Japan

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Hello everyone! My blog today might be late reaction cause if you’re my frequent reader you already know this 2017 will be my 2nd year here in Japan. I think I should wrote this a little earlier but I’m not emotionally stable last year cause that was my adjusting phase and I don’t want to sound so dramatic.

But let that sink in first..second year? for real?! OMG! Time flies real fast. Two years away from home. Two years of love-hate relationship with Japan. Two years of being (feeling) brave. Two years of knowing myself. Two years of struggling how to survive. Two years of finding a reason to stay. But no regrets, cause as the saying goes ‘life starts at the end of your comfort zone.’

So here are the list of things that truly surprised me when I stay here for a year:

Disclaimer: what you about to read are solely based on my own experiences and opinions. It doesn’t speaks for everyone else. Happy reading! ^^

5. Karaoke Pubs

Karaoke back in the Philippines is actually pretty unique where the whole street is your stage and the entire neighborhood is your audience. But Japan karaoke pubs are way too fancy! Each rooms are designed differently, some even have stages where you can let that inner Rihanna come out or just sing at the top of your lungs. The mics are rechargeable, tablets to select your song not remote. Hungry? No problem. They have menu for snacks and even drink bars. So, if you plan to go to Japan, karaoke hub is a must experience! Go for it!

4. Public Transportation

I was really surprised how Japan’s public transportation are really well-coordinated. The bus and train schedule are really followed. If it says 10:00am, it will really arrived at 10:00am! That feels like a magic for me cause I’m used to inconvenience back home. The seats are comfortable, adjustable seats for PWD and when you pay for bus fare they also use machine. Commuting here is nothing but convenience, no traffic jams and rude drivers.

3. Technology

Japan=high-technology. This is really true that most of the time I look like an idiot trying to figure out how to use certain stuff cause it’s too high-tech for me. I have a real good example here. I just got my driver’s license back then, my friend and I went to restaurant and I have to park my car at Pay Parking System where there’s a lock beneath your car. For 10 minutes I’m idle cause I have no idea how Pay Parking System works that I had to Youtube it! HAHAHA yes, I did it and for paying imagine a machine that all written in kanji’s. Imagine me, trying to google translate every button there cause I can’t read it. My gosh! struggle is for real. But yes to end the story, I made it with the help of Youtube and google translate. lol

2. Toilets

Public and mall toilets here looked like a celebrity bathroom. I swear! heated-seats, automatic flush and trash bins, powder room and even the designs are too glamorous. I also had a good laugh about toilets here. My mom is already living here in Japan for almost 20 years now, we were at the mall’s toilet. She’s calling me and asking me where is the toilet’s flush?! I find it really funny! She can’t find it cause each stalls are really well-equipped.

1.Suicide Rates

I don’t watch news here but I read it through articles online. I grew up in the Philippines and maybe my religion really plays a big role why I’m too surprised about it. For Catholics like me, suicide is a great sin to God cause we believe that only Him can take away our lives.

I know this is Japan, we have different culture and perspectives towards life. I know I’m not in their shoe to give opinions about it. I just can’t help but to wonder how can someone easily take away their lives like that and give up. Go to Philippines, see how Filipinos struggle everyday to bring food to the table, how students crossed dangerous bridges, roads and even swimming to river just to make it to school, how youths are not even studying instead doing dangerous works for a very low pay cause of poverty. I, myself have my own battles inside me but yet, we don’t give up on life just like that.

I hope Japanese can realize how lucky and comfortable their lives are. They can even receive support from their government. Everything in these country is made for the convenience of their citizens. If they only take a look and appreciate all the little things about their country, it will be a different story.

xoxo

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OFW Diaries

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So my blog today is all about OFW on the point of view of a daughter. For those who doesn’t understand, OFW stands for Overseas Filipino Workers, according to Philippine Statistics Authority there are 2.4 million OFWs as of 2015. So imagine how many Filipino children has no parents? has no husband/wife? has no son/daughter? It’s heartbreaking to know due to poverty in the Philippines, many are forced to work outside the country just to provide for their families. 

Since I was 2 years old, both of my parents had to work abroad. So apparently, I grew up with my grandparents together with my siblings and cousins. I had an awesome childhood cause of my cousins, imagine we’re six children living under one roof. It was instant bestfriends, ‘barkada’ and enemy at the same time. Even up to now that we’re all grown ups, we’re really close and hang out once in a while. It actually felt awkward the first time we have to live together with our parents abroad cause it means we’re going to live in different houses from then on.

What does it feels like to be an OFW’s child? When I was a kid I’m used to it, my parents going and leaving the country. I don’t even remember that I cried when they leave. I didn’t even look for them cause growing up, I am happy and contented with my life. I have grandparents who love me dearly, cousins who are always there for me, friends who truly cares for me. What more should I asked for? But I admit it was still hard, as a kid I just had questions why I don’t have parents during PTA’s at school, why I don’t have a mother who supposed to teach me how to comb my hair, why I have no father to protect me from all the bastard who will promise you all the grandest things in life and turned bullshits. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry at them. I completely understand why they had to leave. I just don’t know what to feel for my parents cause my entire life they are not with me physically. I pretty much learned things about life and love the hard way.

At the present, I lived together with my parents here in abroad. The whole adjustment to different country is not a joke. But the most difficult part for me was actually living together with them. I know they are my parents and I am their child, but they don’t truly know who I am. They don’t know what my favorite food is, how lazy I am in the morning and why I don’t like coffee. They don’t know what annoyed me the most and what makes me happy. They don’t know who my bestfriend is. They just completely don’t know me and what’s makes me. You get me,right?

So for the parents planning to leave their child for the greener pastures abroad. Think thrice because you know, you can’t turned back all the lost time you have for your children. I can’t tell my mom who the person I like, when was my heart first broken, when I cried alone at nights. I can’t asked my dad, how to know if a man is serious with me. You know the conversations and wisdom they should give to me. Now that I am an adult, I promised to myself if I ever get married and have children, I won’t leave no matter what. No amount of money can make up for lost time. I will take care of them personally cause I know how hard it is growing up having no parents. I understand life in the Philippines is hard. I’m actually thankful to Japan and my parents cause without them I probably won’t even finished highschool. I even graduated from one of the pretigious universities in the Philippines because of them. They provide everything I need and lived a very comfortable life. I am forever grateful for that. But weigh things, do you really want to be strangers to your own child? I am speaking through experience.

xoxo

Exploring Osaka

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The whole transition of being a student to working was not easy but the only thing I love about it is the salary because it means, I can finally fund myself for all the travels I’ve been dreaming about since I was young. It’s always been my dream to travel the whole world. I don’t mind spending all my money in exchange of the experiences and memories I will make to every places. My first stop was Osaka, Japan I chose it cause I really love food. We all know that Dotonbori, Osaka is famous for all the food streets and night markets. Not to mention I heard from the locals, Kansai people are really fun to be with.

Some of the foreigners think Japan is just a dream destination in Asia due to the stereotyping that everything here is expensive. But trust me, coming from ‘half-local’ ‘half-tourist’we can make ends meet if you’re streetwise. I did a lot of research and read blogs about Osaka beforehand. I got a lot of information with the help of internet and came up with a ‘game plan’ on how to cut-off possible expenses. For two days and one night, I only spent 30,000yen or Php14,000 including accommodation, foodtrips, ‘omiyage’ or ‘pasalubong’ and train tickets. So what are we waiting for here are the adventures I had in Osaka, Japan.

Day one

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This is a Ramen shop along Shinsaibashi-suji street. This meal is consist of kimchi, fermented bean sprouts, soup and juicy beef meat. Also served with rice for only 1,000yen.

We arrived in Osaka-Namba Station at around 10AM, almost lunch time for Filipinos we’re so hungry and just tried the first restaurant we found. But no regrets, it was awesome! I was really in Osaka cause everything is delicious plus it is really cheap. Though, the ojisan who cooks the food is kinda aloof I don’t know maybe cause we’re all foreigners that’s why, but no big deal. His food is really yummy. If I had the chance, I will be back at this ramen shop.

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The famous cotton candy at Totti Candy Factory. Photo grabbed from @geeeliiiiic instagram.

I’m not fan of sweets and desserts. It’s nothing special for me the colors are just there for the design. I thought it has different flavors each color but no. You can choose from 3-4 colors, 4 colored is the most expensive. I don’t know how much cause I didn’t bought it. But yeah, it is cute for instagram. lol

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Photo taken from Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

So after satisfying our stomach, we went to Kaiyukan. From Namba Station to Kaiyukan, if I’m not mistaken it only costs 240yen. The entrance fee is 2,300yen including this Sta. Maria cruise ship sightseeing. The sea always makes me happy cause it reminds me of my homeland where seas are everywhere. It makes me feel home. But yeah, it was chilly day when we went there. Winter plus the cold breeze, can you imagine? lol

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The famous Pablo cheesecake. Photo grabbed from @geeeliiiiic instagram

My friends says all the good things about this. So my expectations was really pretty high. She actually said if I tasted Pablo ‘cheesecake will never be the same again’ but my expectations was not met. Yes, it is delicious. But I was expecting some kind of ‘magic’ lol I don’t know maybe just because I’m not a sweet tooth.

After the foodtrips, we went to Sam and Dave bar. I went to music festivals back in the Philippines and attended band gigs, but it was my first time to go to an actually bar and it is in Osaka, one of the big cities in the world! Yes, it was fun and the experience was great. You can lose yourself and forget everything but it’s draining. I know it’s not for me. I didn’t liked what I saw. All I saw was empty souls looking for temporary comfort and warmth from the people who they barely know. Poor souls. But I don’t care that’s their life, after all I was there only for the experience. The most fun part of this bar experience is the drunk moments of my friends. I will forever remember it, too funny!

So yeah, our first day in Osaka ended at 4am. We really make the most out of the time we have. We pretty much did everything on the first day. I’m so exhausted but happy.

Day two

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THE BEST RAMEN EVER! located at Dotonbori Street

I don’t know the name of the ramen shop but it is really famous. They have four branches in Dotonbori Street, one of their branch has 4 floors! If you see a 3D dragon holding a ramen bowl this is it! For only 990yen, I tasted the best ramen ever in my entire life. I swear! Also, the takoyaki along Dotonbori Street, I didn’t managed to take a photo of it. I don’t eat Takoyaki but after trying it, Takoyaki will never be the same again.

Dotonbori Street is a real food haven. You can also buy ‘omiyage’ ‘pasalubong’ here for your family and friends. There are many gift shops to choose from. But I must say, everything is so delicious and fucking good! I love Dotonbori.

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Umeda Sky Building before the sunset

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The Observatory deck of Umeda Sky Building at night

We got here at 2:00PM, pretty early cause we had nothing to do on our second day. We almost did everything on our first day. It has ¥1,000 entrance fee quite cheap also. We had to leave at 6:00PM to catch our train bound to Nagoya. When we’re leaving Umeda, we’re surprised how long the queue is. I suggest to come early cause most people come late afternoon.

Umeda Sky Building has chain love locks. You can buy the chain locks there. I don’t know how much, didn’t bother to ask cause I don’t have a lover lol. Also, you can take a picture in the deck and the background is the chain love locks. Romantic isn’t it? Sometimes life will slap into your face how single are you. Right? Life is a bitch. lol

This was our last stop and definitely my favorite part of the whole Osaka trip. I love the skyscrapers, skylines, view, sky. It makes me feel so tiny and realized the world so vast to confine ourselves in one city. It feels like the world is telling me to go and explore more ‘I will wait’. The view is really breathtaking and jaw-dropping. Japan architecture never fails to amaze me. I love the feeling of being at the top of world. If you take a look at it, you can see how endless Osaka is.

Oh Osaka, I love you now. Thank you 2016

Tip: You don’t need to study or speak Japanese cause everyone can speak english here. I’m surprised cause in Nagoya, nobody can’t (based on my experience lol)

xoxo

5 Things I learned While Living In Japan

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The bravest thing I ever did in my entire life is leaving my comfort zone, my homeland and moved to Japan. As a 21-year-old woman, fresh graduate from college I knew nothing back then. I don’t have any idea how or where to begin my life abroad. I don’t even know why I decided to live here or what am I doing here. I put myself in a situation I thought was easy,  as crazy it may sounds but this is the truth. So here’s a list of the learning  I had while I’m on my adventure:

  1. Life is not all about ‘rainbows’ and ‘beers’

I realized that life can be tough because back then, I have friends to accompany me always drinking all night and having the best time of my life, a family to shelter when everything seems so bad and grandmother’s dishes to comfort me when I am so exhausted from school. I live a very comfortable life. But since moving here, my world just turned upside down.

2.  I learned to trust myself

I became honest to myself and with my feelings. I know now who and what I want in my life, where I will stand to someone and until when I should give. I found out that I am a strong woman, because here in abroad I don’t have anybody but myself. So I don’t have any choice but to be firm with my decisions and wish the best luck.

3. I learned to be a domesticated woman

Before I don’t know how to do laundry, budget my money and how to cook. Since, I am now an ‘adult’ living in a strange land. I learned all of this from scratch. Google and YouTube is my hero when I want to cook something for myself because my favorite dishes are not available in town. Now, I still suck at this but I am improving. Hey, I am trying. Okay.

4. Chase your dreams

I am just a kid, trying to figure out what to do with life. After a year staying abroad, I realized that there is no such thing as being ‘ready’. Before, I always make excuses and say there is always a next time. But here, the world is so fast. I have to get things done right away or else I can’t keep up. That’s why I do things with my heart beating so fast, hands so cold and stomach cringing. The result, I did it! I made it. Trust yourself, believe that you will survive anything. Just keep going.

5. Comfortable being alone

The longest commitment you will ever have is with yourself. So why not, discover and really know who you are? As woman in her early 20’s, I think this is important. I made a lot of mistakes before when it comes to relationship. I don’t know who I am, what I want and where I want to be because I always seek for others. I let other people define me, to make decisions for me. Now that I understand life ‘somehow’, I can figure out whether I am choosing a person based on loneliness or because I am really into him. Thanks to Japan, I am better version of me now.

Definitely, that one-way ticket I bought last year really rock my world. I came here with no plans at all. I didn’t think about it. I just packed my bags, bought a ticket and leave. I am not sure if I am being innocent or stupid there. I think it was only me, leaving a country with no plans at all. But I tell you, it was all worth it. That was the best decision I made in my entire life. So if you ever had a chance to leave your comfort zone, do it. Don’t overthink. Just do it. Believe me you will survive.