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I know, it sounds suspicious, right?

So apparently people are talking that some big earthquake (or aftershock) might hit Japan today, November 11th, 2011, or in the next few days. But can it be true? I highly doubt it would happen, thinking it’s a total bs, but a little suspicious. Any of you guys heard about this? Some even wrote that the quake might be epicentered in central Tokyo…if which happened we all Tokyoistes and the whole Japan economy and governmental function will be screwed. Oh wait, or is Japanese governmental function already? (Hello, all you DP supporters.) Anyway…so I checked my “emergency backpack” as I leave home for work this morning to see if I have enough chocolates (I swear it’s for survival) and bunch of other equipments in it. It was perfectly ready but I actually never got the chance to use it, even on March 11 ’cause I was at office when it happened and my apartment was not badly damaged by it. No need for evacuation to my fortune. Well, hopefully I will not have to use this backpack for the rest of my life. Fingers crossed….and toes, too. 😉

By the way, November 11th is also known in Japan as Pocky Day! Pocky is a stick-shaped biscuit coverved with milk chocolate and made in Japan (which made itself really popular in some countries and of course copied in many Asian countries!lol) Apparently for an advertising purpose, Ezaki Glico launched this day for those little thin sticks bear a resemblance to the shape of the number “1,” and since November 11th holds four 1’s (11.11.) it’s the best day among all the others throughout the year. So what do we do on this day?

Yippie.

 

Yeah exactly.

I got one myself at a conveninence store this morning for me and my coworker to share. Such a crazy Japanese thing I know, but if it makes you happy….

Happy pocky, happy life. Hope you enjoy yours. Screw earthquake. I’ll eat my darn pocky.

Hi, it’s been a long long time since I wrote on here….

So much happened during the period, and I’d share some with you though not all of them.

I am planning to move to and work in Singapore by mid 2012. I have been working on this since late summer and I even flew there to have a face-to face interview with a large US financial institution in mid October, which ended up in me having to wait patiently for almost 3 weeks (!) and eventually being turned down. Can you imagine that? I seriously thought I’d go crazy if I waited any longer. (Phew…) However, the October trip to SG itself was really great. I made some new friends from HK, Italy, Philippines and Japan. And I felt even stronger that this city is where I wanna live and work after Tokyo.

And, oh of course, life gives you lemon, too. Due to this decision above, I recently had to make a separation from my long-time significant other. It has been one of the most heart-breaking moments in my life. The fortunate thing is he is such a great person and really respects what I was trying to go through from now. So it wasn’t a typical “screw-you-I-am-not-gonna-see you-ever-again-so-get-the-f”-outta-my-life-NOW” sort of parting. That’s good. But despite my strong will and ambition, I still cannot help but wonder at times if all this is really worth it or eventually it will be. Not to mention that I also have to fight against myself wanting to talk and text just as we used to which I realize is pretty selfish and eventually hold back. Sad I know! *shrugs* But I guess this is the price you gotta pay for making such a decision. I don’t wanna sound like a weeny-whiney but honestly looks like it’ll have to take more time to make tasty lemonade… 😦 I will be alright soon, though. It’s still just too new now…

Like so many other youngsters in this nation, especially after 311 (The great Northern Japan earthquake on March 11, 2011) I have come to realize that we have only limited amount of time and while you can you gotta make the best of it. I am very healthy (thanks to my parents,) not married, naturally outgoing and always curious about what’s happening outside of wherever I am. And right now my curiosity is on fast-emerging and growing power of some countries in Asia. I’d like to take a part of it too, and get myself involved. Singapore’s safety, cleanliness, economic stability, career opportunity and standard of salary (which I cannot ignore) meet my preference. I don’t know how many years I’d like to live there since it is such a small country, but for now I believe it is where I wanna be and it hasn’t changed from the first time I visited in 2009. So for my future career and amazing ex who respects my decision too, I will go there, hopefully early next year. And ideally ASAP before I change my mind!

I will try to post most more often from now…oh and if you can read Japanese I made a new blog about job-hunting and various information in Singapore. Work in Singaore! Please visit and let me know what you think. (Posts there are all written in Japanese.) Well I have to go to bed now…night night! xoxo

No, it’s about my apartment hunting. Not anything else that might have popped onto your mind. 😛

Man, the last couple weeks were one of the craziest times I’ve had since I came to Tokyo (in 2005.) It took me A WHOLE MONTH to finally find the apartment that I liked AND wasn’t taken yet. Madness I’d say. ALL the places I found online and asked for availability were taken. Seriously all of them. I was like dude this is gonna be tough…. 😦 I set the bar up high and asked for various features under a limited budget indeed. But you know, it was completely unexpected. I had to admit that some things won’t just go as you wish them to. lol

So yeah, the new apartment. I was hoping to get a place within cozy and neat Minato City (which is where I lived for the past two years) but intead it looks like I’ll be living in the heart of Shibuya, one of the fastest-paced and ever-changing part of Tokyo. Also known as “the fashion district.” It’s crazy for sure. I still cannnot believe that I’m going to live there. I wasn’t sure of this idea either, until I saw the actual place and the neighborhood. Though the apartment isn’t the best looking and dosn’t come with the greatest features, they are not bad, in fact not bad at all. Not a big place (as some of you might already know how expensive and small Japanese apartments generally are) but at least I can offer a little sleeping space when one or two friends come over. I was hoping to get a place where you have a bedroom and also a living room. But with my preferances and budgets it was a bit too hard and I had to settle down with a studio….again. But fortunately this time a little bit bigger. Oh well, you can’t be too fussy. This city isn’t cheap….

I will try to update more about places to go and things to do in town once I’m settled after the moving. (most likely next weekend) Speaking of moving, I’ve done 80% of packing already. Yay me! 😀 Having a bankman dad, everytime he got transferred we moved. Thus packing is relatively fun and easy, something I enjoy doing unlike most people. Actually I take it as a good opprtunity to sorting things out. Slowly getting excited about the new place. Yatta! 🙂

Finding an apartment in Japan

If you rent a place in Japan, normally contracts are for 2 years and when the expiration date comes closer you’ll start thinking : “What am I gonna do?”
The tricky thing here is, you usually have to pay “contract renewal fee” equivalent up to 1 or 1.5 month’s rent. Silly, eh? Not every apartment is like that but pretty much most of them do cost to renew. Some people then strat thinking about the other option which is…to find a new place and move. This is one of the things I’m currently working on, and I still haven’t got a contract for a new place.

So if the renewal fee is the pain for updating your contract, what about the other? My answer is, this also sucks. 😦
If you newly rent a place in the States for example, you probably pay a couple of months’ rent and that’s it. The initial payment is not much in general. However, there’s A LOT more to it if you do it in Japan. You might end up in paying nearly ten thousand dollars to move in to a studio.

I’ll tell you why.

Generally between you and the apartment owner there is a real estate agent taking care of your contract and other things. (i.e. Account management, payment arrangement)
When you find an apartment you wanna live in and you pass the screening, what you have to pay is as below.

1. Agent fee – up to 1 month rent
2. Key money – up to (usually) 2 months rent. Usually refundable but not the entire in case of certain repair was done when moving out.
3. Thank you money – up to 2 months rent. Ridiculous.
4. Rent for the first month – 1 month rent, of course
5. Other fees – apartment insurance, key changing fee, cleaning fee etc…varies on each contract

So if you are about to sign on a contract and the monthly rent for the place is $1,000…and if you have to pay all of them above (except 5) you’re gonna pay $6,000 initially. If you lived in central Tokyo, though, for even once, you know $1,000 won’t get you a nice apartment with a reasonable size. Even as for small studio apartments they are usually more expensive. (And so is mine.) 😦
The “thank you money” is the dodgy part here. I always try to avoid places that ask for it though not too easy. It’s a post-WW2 custom. When the demand for apartments than supply was much greater and was a lot harder to find a good place, people used to pay this to the owner to appreciate the acceptance. And hello, what year is it? It’s silly that owners today can’t get enough of it and think they can still make more money out of it. They should learn that it’s over and now places with no thank you money are much popular.

Anyways…I’ll find the new apartment in the next few weeks and move out of here in July. I really like this apartment as it’s in the very center of Tokyo (same area as Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown, walking distance to the Diet) and the view from the window is fantastic, but I need a bit bigger place.
Will let you all know once it’s settled. Ciao!

I’m a bit surprised that after several weeks of neglect, there are still a few people coming back to check on my blog.

Well thanks a lot, and sorry I’ve been away. 😦

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been busy with my dirthday celebrations (luckily I still have some more  ahead….yay) and some other events, which I might be able to disclose in a few weeks. Anyway June is one of the busiest months of the year for me as I have lots of Gemini friends that I wanna celebrate their birthdays with. I always wonder how come I have so many Geminis among my circle of friends. Is it their parents? Or something else I don’t know….

Anyway, I will try to post stuff a bit more often and keep you updated. Cheers! xxx

Cheeky – a bit nervous with what’s on my schedule tonight. Wish me luck.

Invitation: PICNIC in Central Tokyo!

Fun time...cheers.

Date: May 21, 2011 (Sat) 12 p.m. ~ 16 p.m.

Place: Grass Square, Tokyo Midtown (Meeting up in front of Starbucks at 12) feel free to join later, too.

What to do : meet new people, eat, drink, play badmington…and more!

Bring foods and drinks to share. Also there’s a grocery store called Precce Premium in the building in case you forgot to bring any or are lazy to carry things all the way. 😉 Their Grass Square is open to public sometimes and this is one of the times. For having a picnic in central Tokyo, Yoyogi Park is so much more popular but this place is so much better in fact. Why? Well, here are some reasons.

1. Clean bathrooms near the site.

2. Less crazy drunks and awful musicians (though some are really good!)

3. A nice grocery store in case you want more food or booze

4. If it started raining you can still chill at a Starbucks or shop at Harry Winston! Yeehaw.

So far more than 10 people are coming. The picnic will be canceled in case of rain on Friday night or Saturday morning. I will post an update here on whether we’ll give it a go or not. Have any questions? Leave a comment!

Supersize me, Costco!

My good friend Chris took me to Costco on Saturday, May 14th.

“What’s Costco?”

It’s a membership warehouse club originally from San Diego, USA and pretty new in Japan. You can walk around the place pushing a ridiculously big cart filled with amazingly big portions of meat, liquor, daily products or even a Coleman tent! Yay handy. NOT. Definitely not unless you live in a bigger place with decent size of a storage room. Me? Honestly I live in such an awesome part of Tokyo (and I swear I LOVE it!) but my place is oh so tiny as a dog cage. Obviously to me everything in Costco looks SUPERSIZED! I wonder if this kind of institution has any affect on millions of overweight perople around the world. Not zero I suppose. The place has this special atmosphere that you’d buy something you most likely don’t need. And if it was food that you got you’ll have to consume it before it gets bad. More eating, more fat in the body.

Some products, of course, were alright to bring home and find a space to keep. But if your place was as small as mine (25 square meters meh!) then what’s the point of buying 36 toilet rolls at a time? Are you going to make your own place a warehouse? I am planning to move to a bigger place in July, so this time I decided to just check the prices and what they have for the next visit.

By the way, for miserable Tokyo singles like me I found that place quite entertaining for your weekend date or a group visit. Now here’s the tip: A member of Costco can take up to 2 guests in the store, so once you’re in the store, check the products, take good time to talk and think together what some of you or all of you can “share.” For example, I bought 3 bottles of IVORY dishwashing liquid for approx 9USD (and I actually want just 1) if two other people also wanted one then share them. Then it’s only 3USD/each and no extra space needed for your cell apartment! Chris told me once he saw two girls cutting a huge block of cheese in their parking lot. Amazing they didn’t forget the knife! 🙂 Don’t forget, sharing is caring!

The public transportation to many Costco’s in Japan are not so great though, I have to say. It’s so much easier if you have a car. In case you shopped unexpectedly too much, they have reasonable priced delivery services (from 500JPY, vary on the destinations.) Chris sent bunch of foods to Tohoku region (North of Japan where severely suffered from earthquakes and tsunami) as donations. Yay, what a sweet guy!

I’m looking forward to going back there and get many more for my new apartment! Gonna fill up the stupidly big cart and do some cart racing! 🙂

So young and so fair...reminds me of Little Susie by Michael Jackson

TV star and former gravure idol Miyu Uehara (picture,) 24, was found dead by a friend at her apartment in Tokyo this morning, hanging herself at the doorknob with her belt and scarf. She was originally from Tanegashima Island, Kagoshima Pref, south of Japan, where all the people in your town know you from your childhood. If you live in Japan and watch Japanese TV shows a lot, you may have seen her as well.

I’ve seen her on TV several times and to me, she just looked like a girl next door. I have to say though, that I have little clue what could make a young and pretty girl like her go commit a suicide in such a sad and lonely way. The former swimsuit model had lost her mother by heart attack about a year ago, and I remember watching her on a TV interview a few days later telling how she missed the last chance to see her mother because of her job but she knew that was what she had to do then. Not sure if that has anything to do with her suicide, though. Also, there are some lines in her recent blog entry that seem to indicate she’s going through a mentally tough time.

“I really can’t fall in love. I don’t even know how anymore. I’m losing it.”

Apparently she was struggling with “that” kind of issue. It’d be too sad, however, if she had to kill herself over…a guy? Or worse, for not being in love with anyone. Come on, you’re a young lady who just turned 24, and you had to hang yourself  because of such a tiny issue? Forgive me if I’m completely  misunderstood, but it sounds simply wrong in many ways. I wish she didn’t do it knowing how her 9 older siblings (!) would feel when they hear the news.

You can probably tell already that I am in general against suicide for any reason. Now this is a completely personal point of view. They should be suffered, struggling or most likely going through a tough period if commiting suicide comes in as an option. Is it worth your life, though? Can’t it wait at least, like a year or two? You might feel somewhat different if you waited. I wouldn’t say it’s a waste, but killing yourself is not the way to fight against what suffers you. Not only you won’t see what you’re missing, but you’ll also bother people around you by that. If making yourself look ugliest (which is true in most suicidal cases) and people who care about you feel devastated and helpless is the easy way out for you, then suit yourself. But let me just say, you only fall for the easy (to yourself) and cruel (to others.) You could do so much better than you think you could.

Rest in peace, Miss Uehara. No any personal offense to her.
I just wish there was something else she could do.

May 11…

2 months passed since the tragical earthquake epicentered in Miyagi followed by massive tsunami, some people believe that we’ll have yet another big aftershock today. I sure hope not. Yet a part of me is wondering. Man, is it ever possible? Can mother earth be that cruel?

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/04/11/japan-rattled-aftershock-quake-anniversary/

If you haven’t opened the link yet, does this url give you a hint? That’s right…if you didn’t know, a big aftershock hit Tohoku region just hours after people prayed in somber ceremonies for 1 month anniversary on April 11. Living a few hundred kilometers from Tohoku, I could and still can only imagine how much they’ve been going through. It broke my heart.

Since right after the biggest tragedy, I was eager to go up north and do something for them as a volunteer. I was devastated by the shocking pictures and news from all over Tohoku but at the same time ashamed of myself for being too powerless and clueless of what to do and where to start. The only thing I could do then was donating. It was mid April when a chance came my way. Former candidate for the governor of Tokyo Yujiro Taniyama, who also happened to be my friend, came up with the idea of a volunteer tour to Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Pref. It didn’t take me a second to say yes as he asked whether I’d like to take part. I ended up as the tour coordinator and had a wonderful experience with 23 other great volunteers who went together.

Photo taken by Takushi Harakawa, an aspiring photographer.

On April 29 and 30, we helped getting rid of sea mud (which stinks really bad,) and things like paper pulp (that drifted from a large paper factory on the coastline.) and all the other junks in the side ditches and also people’s yard. Check out our achievement of hard-ass working on April 30, at Mr.K’s yard.

Mr. K, sweet and kind despite all what happened.

The sea mud and paper pulp were piled up for about 50 cm high on the ground, making Mr.K’s nice little garden look like nothing but a violent mess. Remember, this picture was taken on April 30, which means 50 days after 311. He waited for us for the past 50 days. People are indeed coming from all over the world to help, yet this is the reality. Me and 9 of my teammates worked really REALLY hard almost non-stop for 4.5 hours shoveling and moving bags full of mud. We could clean it only about 80% of it. Now take a look at our achievement.

Now we can see how his garden used to look...

My friend Atsuko kept saying how she wished we could finish his garden, feeling guilty of leaving. (Due to the volunteer guideline provided, all volunteers should be back at Ishinomaki Volunteer Center by 4 p.m. to report to them.) We were all exhausted but reluctant to leave his garden unfinished. Which was unfortunately what we had to do in the end. Obviously Tohoku needs more help than ever. We knew we had such a good experience doing our best but also it just wasn’t enough. And I am more than willing to and planning to go back and work there again soon. If you wonder whether you’d be any help for them, then my answer is simply YES. They need us, they need you.

Below is one of the few photos I took in Ishinomaki City after our volunteer work. This area we worked on April 30 was hit by a tsunami which was about 2 meters high, destroying and taking everything in and away. The powerline looked barely working, though. Isn’t it something to remember…

A heart-breaking view.

So, tonight. Will another big aftershock hit Japan again? Let’s hope it’s just a BS. More hope and smiles for Tohoku. If you have a minuite to sapre, give them a little prayer. Thanks!

Yossha, here we go.

Hey, I’m cheekycheekie.

Not sure how on earth you drifted down here among hundreds of millions of other blogs around the world, but welcome to my blog. Obviously you’ve come to the right one. Not the best yet, though.

This is not the first blog I own but the other ones are all written in my mother tongue (that is Japanese. Konnichiwa!) and have been neglected for quite a long time. After those, Facebook and Twitter were my ways to interact with friends and acquaintances…and of course online psychos and perverts around the world. Fun times, you know. But soon I knew I missed having my own blog and writing on something, anything that pops onto my mind just as I used to before. Obviously Twitter’s 140 letters just aren’t enough sometimes and I was getting tired of those sad invites and updates from online game apps on my FB. Since I always love trying new things and I never had an English blog, I thought “Why not?.” Plus writing on a daily basis in your second language I believe is definitely good for learning and remembering words and phrases.

I will try to post new entries as frequently as possible. Will write about fashion, cosmetics, music, novels, funny people I saw in places, worldwide news, investments, my country, 15 countries I’ve been to, my workout results and probably lots of other things along the way, too.

Just as I told you above, you’ve come to the right one. Thanks for reading and stay tuned and let me know what you think of each entry via comments! I gotta go now, it’s nearly 1:30 a.m. and I have work tomorrow from 9. Shoot. Good night folks, will talk to you very soon.