Thursday, 30 September 2010

Spirited Haway - Vlog Episode 1

This was pretty embarrassing so I'm kind of relying on feedback here to see if I will do another one, so let me know what you think and what you'd like to see, where should I take my camera, etc, etc. Also, sorry about the end I was planning on adding to this then I had a codec problem and ended up just wanting to upload it so yeah...

Thanks for watching :)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Cakes, Castles and Cheese!

Wednesday was our dorm initiation and the Bakayama performance. In order for all the new students to become a part of the dorm we have to do a performance on top of Bakayama, which is a little hill outside the university Hall. This performance is usualy in the first week of term and we have to wear our costumes in class every day untill the performace. You can see our performance below,

Our theme was decades. We also had the chance to watch a few from previous years; one of my favourites was Ninjas vs Mummies,

If you dont feel like watching the whole video just make sure you watch it from 2.55 till about 4.20, its awesome! The last bit just reminds me of Britains Got Tallent lol.

On Friday night we took a trip to The Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi to celebrate the birthday of one of the girls in the dorm. Roppongi is an area of Tokyo which used to be considered a bit sketchy but more recently it has cleaned its act up. I'm told the nightlife is quite good and that they cater for foreigners as there are a lot in this area. We saw a lot of girls trying hard to impress and get themselves a western boyfriend...but then again I also saw a girl with a t-shirt with 'dont talk to me' written on each to their own.

It was kind of nostalgic being in the Hard Rock Cafe, although I've never been to one before. I wasn't quite homesick but the music and the environment made me miss my friends. The food was good but I'm not really missing western food yet...except cheese. The cheese situation here is dire, so we got NACHOS! One of my favourite things about going to Roppongi was getting to see Tokyo Tower for the first time, its something I've wanted to see for as long as I remember and even though it wasn't a proper visit, it still meant a lot to me. :)

Nacho Cheese!
Tokyo Tower
On Saturday we visited Edo castle as part of our Japanese Culture class. I knew it had been burnt down but I was a little disapointed at the castle, you can see why...
Whats left of the castle.

Seeing other parts of the castle grounds made up for this.
 On Saturday my flatmates and I went to Shinjuku to go shopping. For lunch we went to this cute little restaraunt called Bitter Sweet Buffet. It was around 1,800 yen (about £13.50) for an all you can eat buffet. Though we had to wait about an hour to get in, it was worth it because of the huge choice of cakes!

I didnt take many good photos so this isnt mine...shhh!
The cakes!

They also have; mini hamburgers, salad, pizza, pasta, crepes, waffles and more! It was so good!

Anyways thats all for now, thanks for reading!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Week 2!

This week I started uni so things have been a little busy. I'm going to post a quick update to get up to speed then I shall be trying to post more regularly.

Registration was spread over Monday and Tuesday, it sounded super complicated because we had to use a computer at the library to register for classes, then we had to print a form, then get it signed by our individual advisers, then hand it in in a certain room and there was a lot of other stuff to do that day like collect the JASSO scholarship money and hand in an address card and passport to the student affairs office. We thought the place would be pretty crowded so we left Global House at about 8.20, I was glad we did because although we were the first to arrive at the library, it got busy really quickly! I actually managed to get finished by 10am!

On Wednesday our classes started. In our first class we had to write an essay straight away and include as many grammatical items we knew as possible. I was a bit taken aback by this as I was expecting your typical western first class of the semester (eg. hi this is what we'll be doing, thanks, see you tomorrow for the real stuff). So I wasn't as prepared as I would have liked to have been, my Kanji was pretty terrible but I managed to write some down.

Thursday was a long day for me. We had a vocab test in Japanese class (yes, already!) and then I headed off to my evening classes. On Thursdays I actually have class from 3-7, which is pretty long lol. I was planning on taking Introduction to Japanese Society, but the first hour of lectures was so bad over half of the class left and decided to drop it. A few friends and I headed to ILC to see what we would be able to take instead and we were actually able to take a much more interesting course in the same time slot: Contemporary Culture: From Ramune to Anime. We then headed to this class to try and catch up. It seems pretty fun, we did a little on the history of Japan and even though I've done that for the past two years I was learning some stuff I'd never been told before. We also got a free bottle of Ramune, which is this traditional Japanese drink. Apparently its one of the first carbonated drinks in the world and its known specifically for its unique bottle design which uses a marble to keep the fizzy drink in the bottle.

For the rest of the class we just watched cartoons lol, it was pretty cool. We also talked about the field trip element of the course, they re held on Saturdays but this week I'll be going on Tuesday because this Saturday kinda wasn't good for me lol.

On Thursday night the amazing members of Global House surprised me at midnight with a homemade birthday cake and party. I also received a LUSH gift set from my flatmates which I'm super happy about, a mameshiba card and a mameshiba bag. Thankyou to everyone!! It was so nice!

By the way, Mameshiba is this funny Japanese character who makes people feel really awkward...usually while they're eating. He makes me laugh!

Friday was my actual birthday and unfortunately I had another test! I then had to go to an interview with my Japanese teacher which is another placement procedure I guess, they just need to check you're in the right class. She pretty much told me what I expected to hear, I'm in J3, its a review for me so try hard and my Kanji is chotto (in English: not that great lol). After the interview I jumped on my bike and headed straight to Musahisakai station to meet my friend Hannah. Hannah's from Edinburgh Uni and she's going to be studying at Tsuda College which, thankfully is just up the road from me. It was really nice to see a friendly face as I was feeling slightly homesick from all the birthday wishes I had been receiving on facebook. Hannah had also bought me a birthday present so that was really nice of her. She bought me Vogue to 'keep me sane' ha, and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami which she highly recommended to me so I'm looking forward to reading it.

On Friday night we went clubbing in Shibuya, it was a really good night! The trains stop really early and they don't start until 5am so it was kind of weird experience to be coming home when people were leaving for the day but it was so fun and now I can say I went clubbing in Tokyo on my 21st! I'm hoping to steal some photos of the night from Hannah soon so I will post them when I can :)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Getting a Mobile Phone

Yesterday, with the help of my lovely unit mates, I went to get my alien registration form changed, since they did it wrong the first time. It now says I'll be able to stay in Japan for 1 year and three months. This meant I could go get a mobile phone ^.^!

First we went to Softbank because Laura wanted to get her phone from there, she got a cute little white one. Afterwards we headed to au so I could get my phone, this took quite a bit longer because there was a big queue. We passed the time by reading some magazines, I was surprised at the nudity in some of them but I guess they were gossip magazines lol. Then finally it was time for me to get my phone :)!!

Its sooo cute!

I just got one of the 0円 phones, because I didn't want to pay much but I'm really happy with how it looks. I went for an unlimited mailing package. The plan itself is costing me about 1,000yen per month (just under £8). I have to pay around 20yen per 30seconds if I want to make a phonecall but I don't think I'll be doing that very often so I dont mind paying every now and then. I'll also have to pay a cancellation fee before I leave Japan because I'm signed up to a two year contract, but it really is the cheapest option so I don't mind. I'm just really happy to be able to text (or I guess, mail) people, yaay!

Monday, 6 September 2010


So on saturday I tried to go get a けいたい (keitai -mobile phone) but my alien registration form had been typed wrong and said I was leaving the country in three months so au wouldnt allow me to get a phone. So I went home and chilled out pretty much most of the day, it was pretty quiet.

On Sunday a few of us from Global House went to Kichijoji, a suburb of Mitaka. Fumika was our guide. We were planning on just going to the Cat Cafe Calico because we'd seen it on TV on Saturday but we actually ended up doing a lot more. We parked our bikes in Inokashira Park (井の頭公園), so we had a little walk around there. Theres a large lake in the middle, which I'm told people go to to break up with their significant other, this made me laugh. 

Before we could go to the 猫カフェ(Cat Cafe) we had to find an ATM, so we had a casual walk around the shops looking for one. There's a lot of stuff in Kichijoi which is cheaper than Mitaka, because there's so much competition between shops. We went to Yodobashi Camera which is a huuuge department store which specialises in electronics, I'm thinking of possibly getting an electronic dictionary here soon. Then we had some time to kill before we could go to the cat cafe (we had to book because we were such a large group), so we went to one of the arcade and did プリクラ (purikura - literally translated as print club).
All the girls around the purikura machines.
 This is sort of like a photobooth, and after you take the photos you customise them with all sorts of things. I think its quite popular among ギャル.

Customising our photos, the actual prints are to small to post on here, sorry!
 Finally it was time for the Cat Cafe! We payed 900yen for one hour with the cats. There was the cutest corgi kitten ever!! I'm not sure if thats an actual breed but you can see why we called him that from the video I'll be posting soon.
Corgi Kitten!

They played classical music inside and half of the cats were sleeping so the atmosphere made us kinda sleepy, but other than that it was really fun. This is something I wanted to try because its kinda unique, so I was happy I went.

Afterwards we were all pretty hungry and in the mood for some Japanese food, so we headed to a Japanese fast food chain and I got to try 牛丼(Gyudon). Gyudon is basically a bowl of rice topped with seasoned beef and onions, I believe its traditionally eaten with a raw or semi cooked egg and/or ginger. I'm not a fan of ginger so I didn't go for that but I was interested in the raw egg as its in quite a lot of Japanese meals. I tried it but I didn't like it lol, so I think I'll stay away from that for now!

After our meal we cycled back to ICU, it was a good day :)

Kichijoji by night, a little blurry though!

Friday, 3 September 2010


My days have been jam packed of ICU orientations since I arrived here. On Wednesday night we had a welcome meeting followed by a welcome party at Global House where we introduced ourselves and met all the people in the dorm.

Thursday was the Matriculation Ceremony in the school chapel, in 36 degrees and no air conditioning. Awesome! We each had to stand up and answer to the register, it was a very long ceremony (there were over 200 of us) and the heat was almost unbearable, I was happy to get to the newly opened, AIR CONDITIONED, dining hall afterwards. We were able to try some of the food they offer, it was good but I think I ate too much! 

After the lunch we headed back to Global House briefly, they had arranged to take us for our to sort out our alien registration and health insurance but this had also been arranged by the International Office so we ended up going with them. We took a bus into the town and waited for about 2 hours, maybe more, to get these forms completed. Our cards wont be ready until the 16th of September but they give you the option of purchasing an additional form which can act as a card until then, I think its about 300yen (£2.30). I got two, one for opening a bank account and one for buying a 携帯(keitai - mobile phone). We stopped by a コンビニ(conbini - convinience store) and got a snack and then headed back to ICU. When we got back the Global House guys took us on a shopping tour and we stopped at Jマート (Jmart) and I bought a bike!
Mines the green one :)
 Then we headed to ドンキホーテ (donkihote), which is this ridiculous shop that sells EVERYTHING. Literally everything you can think of they sell it here. They sold bikes but they were more expensive than Jmart so I was happy I'd got mine there. After the shopping tour we came back to Global House for a meeting.

Friday was the Japanese Language Programme placement test. It lasted from 9-12.30 and it was super hard! Afterwards I went for lunch in the new dinning hall with a few people from Global House. I had chicken curry and it was awesome. The portions are quite big and the prices start at about 300yen. I think I might go there quite often. I was really tired so the afternoon activities really bugged me, we had some explanations of the cirriculum and stuff like that then I headed to my JASSO meeting at 4 and club orientation at 4.30. Club orientation was fun, each club had the chance to present themselves; some of them sang, some of them had videos, some of them danced. It was very entertaining but I was tired so I left early and missed out on some of the ones I wanted to see. 

At 8 Global House had a party with 4th Womens Dorm, where we met the members and talked to them and played a few games. After that I went to bed, finally!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Hello Tokyo!

4.30pm Monday 30th of August. So there I was sitting in the departure lounge at Newcastle International Airport about to embark upon the most terrifying journey of my life. My ticket stated the Journey would last 17 hours, but I knew it wouldn't stop there...I was petrified but excited.

I flew with Airfrance so, my first flight was just over an hour long to Paris Charles de Gaulle. A few minuets before I left my dad had told me this had been named the hardest airport in the world to navigate around. Great! I got there fine though and managed to find the correct gate. I considered ordering my cafe au lait in french, although decided to stick to the English (or more precisely geordie) approach...and I'm sure the french were ecstatic with my use of the glottal stop. My excitement had begun to fade, I was surrounded by people speaking a language I couldn't understand; it was very humbling to say the least.

My next flight was 12 hours, Paris to Tokyo (Narita). I tried to sleep but it didn't happen. Instead I gorged on camembert, watched Valentines Day, Kick Ass and How I Met Your Mother. After the flight I took the free shuttle bus from Narita Airport to the Hilton Hotel (tip: you can get this at bus stop 16).
I got into the Hilton at around 7.30pm Tuesday. The Hotel was beautiful!
The massive water feature built inside the Hilton Hotel.
The Hotel Lobby.
My Room!

The Hotel lobby is full of clothes shops, restaurants and cafes so theres plenty to do even if you're just staying the one night. The shop was quite reasonably priced so I bought my breakfast here:

サラダ巻き(salad maki) and peach fanta.
The salad maki was, ironically, full of meat and fish.

I then got the shuttle bus back to the airport, hopped on the Naita Express and about 1 hour and a half later I was at 新宿駅(shinjuku station). It sucked! I spent about an hour here wondering up and down escalators and elevators, i got up to the ticket office and told them where I wanted to go in Japanese. Their response? Go downstairs and buy a ticket at the vending machine. Awesome, thanks. So I found the machine and to buy a ticket u have to enter the price of the ticket, you can find out the price by looking up the station you wanna go to on a huugeee map above the ticket machines. It might not be such a problem if I had learnt the kanji for 武蔵境(Musashisakai). I stood looking at my Tokyo guide book, then back at the map, then back at the guide book....then at the map until a nice Japanese man asked me if I was ok. I quickly said no. He then sorted my ticket out and took me to the right line. Problem solved!
I then caught a bus from Musasahisakai Station to the ICU campus and met some people staying in my dorm as we entered the gate so we all found the dorm together. All my worries and fears went out of the window the moment we were greeted by the members of Global House. They're all super friendly and so nice, I know I'm going to enjoy the year I'm going to spend with them.