Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Yamagata/Miyagi Trip (Part 3)

On Day 3, we went to the Miyagi Zao Kokeshi Museum to make our own Kokeshi, a Japanese doll which was made in memory of a child's death (according to the tour guide, one of the explanations for the name Kokeshi stems from 子消し which literally means a child disappearing). Despite the sad connotation in the past, it is now sold as souvenirs to hot spring tourists.

Ready to make our own Kokeshi!

The Kokeshi I made

We also went to see the exhibitions there!

Check out the Mexico ones!

The last item on our itinerary was cheese making! I love cheese, so it was an experience that I definitely enjoyed, as well as the lunch which included the cheese we made.

Mixing the milk with vinegar at 50 degrees celsius

Swiss Lunch

So that's about it for the Yamagata/Miyagi trip! We passed by a sign to the Fox Village in Miyagi which is on my bucket list so time to plan another trip there soon! (Maybe in summer or something!)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Yamagata/Miyagi Trip (Part 2)

Continuing off from my previous post, on the 2nd Day of the trip, we went to visit the Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum), the former prefectural government office and prefectural assembly hall. Admission is free and you can take a tour of the exhibits + meeting rooms there. It was once used as the location for the shooting of one of the Rurounin Kenshin movies! Photos were allowed so...:D

Next, we went to the Yamagata Snow Festival at Sagae, a town known for its cherries (sad that it wasn't the season for it though...)!! Although it's not as big as the Sapporo one (I need to go there one day), the scenery there is just so beautiful and the sculptures are adorable!

Here's one of the town mascot, Cherrin!

 And Totoro!!
Mogami River sparkling under the sun!

There were fireworks and illuminations at night but a pity we had to leave for Miyagi after lunch...
BUT! To make up for that, we went to the Shiroishi Castle, the residence of the Katakura Clan who served the Date family! The view from the castle was really pretty!

View from the top floor

After which was dinner time and onsen at the Miyagi Zao area.

Back of the Torii leading to the mountains (We didn't go up the mountains though!)

A nearby river once you enter the Torii

That's about it this time! Look out for Part 3 next week!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Yamagata/Miyagi Trip (Part 1)

Exams are finally over and it's the spring holidays now!! This hols, I'm planning to travel (mostly around kanto), do a bit of baito, read, draw and many more (hey it rhymes haha). Last week, I managed to tick the first item of my list and went to Yamagata and Miyagi on a tour for foreign students! Not the most well known among the prefectures, but they're definitely not to be missed with all the beautiful natural scenery and experiences you can enjoy!

Located in the Northern part of Japan, in Winter, these places (or at least near the mountains), are in summary, SNOWLAND!! You do have areas with no/lesser snow, but the scenery changes drastically as you travel down the road.

Snow + Fields = Nice!

More snow

Snow everywhere

One of the areas that we firstvisited was the Uesugi Museum, Uesugi Shrine and Matsugasaki Shrine. The museum had a special exhibition about Uesugi Yozan, the daimyo who was known for his financial reforms (質素倹約 shissokenyaku: to be frugal) and his poem (which this blog's url is based on):

If you put your mind to it, you can do it;
If you do not, you cannot -- that is true for all things.
When something cannot be done, you are the one to blame
For not putting your heart into it. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Photos weren't allowed inside the museum but here's some of the outside and the shrine!

After that, we headed to the Yamagata Zao mountain range, and went up to the peak to see frost covered trees known as "Snow Monsters" (樹氷 Juhyo). It was so cold (-9°C) that even with a proper coat and gloves, I couldn't stay outside for more than 10 minutes...(luckily they had a rest area where you could warm up!) 

Trees on the way up

Trees on the peak

No regrets freezing to see these sights! To be continued in the next post (maybe later in the week!)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!!

It’s been a long time since I did a post. To summarise the events after June, it was reports and exams for the Spring semester, then summer hols till September, preparation for the November school fest and now here we are… Looking back, this year passed really fast, much faster than last year I feel… I kinda miss the times at Osaka Uni where you could see everyone everyday, but now in a new uni with everyone having different schedules, you rarely meet up with the others unless you make plans with them… I guess that’s the sad part about moving to the second year in the MEXT programme, but of course, can’t forget about the interesting new stuff you can do as a uni student (baito, circles, internships, camps and so on! but of course there's gonna be some boring lessons but well, that's uni for you) I’m really thankful for the opportunities this year has given me, and grateful to have met people who I feel I can clique with (though it took me half a year to really settle in to my circles…) There were times where I really felt alone and stressed, especially during the examination periods, but I’m glad I pushed through (though maybe I might’ve binged eat (karaage don is especially delicious on exam days oops) and stuff (ok, make that stuffing myself with chocolates oops) on the way, but oh well there’s always light after the storm right?). Although I do still have some problems in trying to communicate with the Japanese people, be it teachers, classmates, circle mates, I’ll try to stay positive and speak up more next year (3 more years to go and gonna make the best out of it no matter what!!)

Positive thoughts!! So here’s some illuminations to light up your day :D

Roppongi Hills

 I forgot where this was but somewhere near Shinbashi?

Pageant of Lights at Takasaki, Gunma

Got together with some of the CJLC people from last year and made a chocolate cake yesterday!! (we  really should have a reunion next year or something…)

Have a Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Start of Rainy Season

Hi Guys, it's been two months since I've arrived in Tokyo and I think I can finally say that I've gotten used to life here (hopefully). May was quite the busy month with school festival preparations, the actual running of booths (All year 1 classes have to set up a food booth and our class sold karaage!), presentations and reports... though I suppose there'll be more to come in June and July, and oh no... end of semester exams in end July ._. but oh well!

Recently, I'm beginning to enjoy cycling to the station, even in the early mornings. BUT! From next week onwards, it's gonna be the start of the rainy season (*cue dramatic music*)... Was thinking of getting through the month with raincoats and plastic bags over my bag when cycling, but I doubt that'll be safe in heavy rains... sigh... but waiting for the bus with long queues in the rain doesn't sound that appealing either (and that means getting a bus pass ._. which is around 7k yen for a month D:) Oh well... if only I knew how heavy the rain's gonna be for the whole month...

On the bright side, hydrangeas are starting to bloom!!

There's a row of them along the Keio Inogashira railway track and they really make my day especially when squeezing on crowded trains. (I need to take a photo of them somehow ._.)

And one last thing! I recently tried this delicious giant karaage rice bowl with tartar sauce near Kichijoji station (the park exit)! It was so large that the shop owner provided a bowl to scoop some out in case it topples when eating. For 690 yen, definitely a recommendation! (A warning though, I felt quite bloated when I finished it, so perhaps you could take-out or share with a friend!)

Delicious Karaage owo

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Moving + New Life Admin

Hi Guys! I think I've settled down quite a bit (kinda need a little more time to get used to 105-min lessons but oh well!)! Today I'm gonna summarise the stuff I can remember about moving before lessons and whatnot replace it!

Before you move:
You have to submit a 転出届 (Moving-out Notice) to the city office and return the National Health Insurance card + settle any outstanding payments! This can be done anytime from 2 weeks before the day you move. Don't forget to bring your 在留 Residence card!

There's also a 転居届 (Change of address notice) to submit to the post office so that they can send any mail to your new address if there's some addressed to the old one!

When you move in:
This time, you have to submit a 転入届(Moving-in Notice) to the city office and do the procedures for getting a National Health Insurance card there! This has to be done anytime until 2 weeks from when you move in!

If you've turned 20, you'll be required to pay for the National Pension System, BUT!! as a student, you can apply for an exemption at the city office! (It'll require the student pass from the new university though)

For Tokyo University, the admission procedures require a copy of the 住民票 (Certificate of Residence) which can be obtained from the city office with a processing fee of about 300 yen. As the procedures are quite early (29th Mar in my case, the same day the dorms started allowing students to move in), you can let the university staff know and submit this document at a later date in April!

Mitaka Dorms:
For those who plan to get a bicycle, you have to register the bicycle (after you bought it) with the Dorm Office! You'll get a sticker which allows you to park your bicycle round the premises!
(Got mine at the Mitaka ドンキホーテ Don Quijote, a discount store for around 11,000 yen + 500 yen for insurance excluding tax)

Tokyo University:
There's a 学生諸団体会費 which is not compulsory! I paid and kinda regret it now...perhaps I won't regret it if I find some use out of it! (will update if I do!)

There's this support organisation called 生協Co-op which manages the bookstore, travel counter and cafeteria on campus! Joining it allows you to get a 10% discount on books, and use the 学食パス system where you add money to your Suica or PASMO card for cashless dining! (the money can only be used for cafeteria food if I'm not wrong!) There's something like a deposit when you join though. It costs 16,000 yen but it'll be returned to you when you graduate.

Do apply for the 定期券 student's commuter pass to save up on transport! The uni will give you a student's proof card needed when purchasing one! (From Mitaka Dorms: You can apply for it at Kichijoji Station, 3 months for 7330 yen!)

If you're planning on commuting to the station by bicycle, register for the 定期 bicycle parking at Kichijoji as soon as possible! I registered at the start of April and the wait is 4 months long for the roof parking, 10 months for the second floor .__. The registered parking for the roof is 800 yen per month, way cheaper than the 100 yen I'm paying per day D:

So that's about it for now! (My memory's kinda fuzzy these days...) Random note: Make you save enough for the move, start up costs of getting furniture + appliances, orientation camp (was around 2万), class bonding activities (round 2000-3000 yen for each), joining the Uni Co-op, bicycle and what not! I think 100, 000 yen is a safe amount, but you might wanna save more if you're gonna rent an apartment especially with the extra costs of 礼金・敷金 gratitude money + key money!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Moved - New Dorm, New Place!

Hi Guys, it's been quite the hectic move, but I've finally moved into the Mitaka Dorms today! (Kinda forgot about this, but I'll be entering Tokyo University!) The dorm is about an hour away from the Komaba Campus, but it's a really cheap place considering that it's Tokyo! The rent is 11500 yen, excluding electricity and water and what not, nearly half of the Minoo Dorms! (It's even bigger than the Dorm 2 rooms yay owo)

Here's some pictures!

So much space owo
(but there's no curtains and mattress (at first) you can get them at the nearby home center)

There's a mini kitchen inside! Have to make sure pots and pans are suited for electrical heating!

Toilet + Shower! Sink's movable owo so space-efficient owo

All the documents and fliers from admin .___. Went with an empty bag, came back with 3 full bags .__.

Cool river with Nanohana and ducks! On the way from the bus stop to the dorms!

Shall do a post about the moving admin next time! There'll be orientation events + admin the next few days so look out for a post around end next week!