The days run away like wild horses over the hills. Charles Bukowski
Time flies and flies. Officially today, I’ve been an expat in Japan for one year! Here are a few of my favorite discoveries, moments, and memories.
My First Japanese Lesson
Shinjuku, at 回転寿司 (kaiten-zushi, a.k.a conveyor belt sushi place). This was the third photo I took on my Japanese phone. The kanji for this dish is 白子, which translates to “White Child.” Yeah, but kanji can mean a few things. This is Shirako.
It’s whale sperm. Tasted fine, but not what I wanted.
My First Matcha Love
This is more like it… I discovered an unbridled passion for 抹茶 (matcha, green tea powder). Matcha anything really, but the soft cream in the summer is especially lovely. Matcha is super good for you too, so it’s pretty much like you’re eating vitamins when you eat this.
My First Gig(s)
I was beyond lucky and started acting and modeling within just a few weeks of landing in Japan. I met Anthony Joh, my editor and pal from GaijinPot, and he booked me to shoot a video for Yokohama tourism. It was super fun and a great launch pad for my writing work at GP.
I also booked a national for IKEA, which was super fun and a great professional opportunity. I met some super cool people and got a ton of exposure from this spot.
Great print job with Anaconda Beauty.
My First Tests of Patience
Ice cream and acting gigs aside, living here hasn’t been without it’s frustrations. The language barrier is an obvious and unavoidable hurdle. Daily stuff that should just take a few minutes TAKES ME FOREVER. And my American attention span often cannot handle it.
This is my microwave control panel. Microwaves here also double as convection ovens (you can put metal in them!) Does #4 mean I can deep fry in my microwave?
This is a shot of the package box next to my mailbox. It took me about twenty minutes of trial and error to jailbreak my stuff– even with translation help. If I knew Japanese it’d take two seconds. It’s this kind of stuff that used to make me crazy. I’ve always considered myself a pretty patient person, but since being here, I’ve really learned how to slow down and calm down. Annnnnd breathe.
One of my favorite things about Japan, is the natural beauty. Tokyo is often thought of as a neon-cement jungle, and that’s definitely true, but there are loads of gorgeous parks and natural spaces to chill your brain at.
And I can never get enough of the sky here. The sky, for whatever reason, is just different. It’s lively and brilliant. On a day like the day I took this photo, I’ll just gaze and gaze. Like a weirdo.
This Buddha is in Yanaka, behind Nippori Station. Yanaka means old town, and is pretty much the exact opposite of the frenetic cities like Kichioji or Shibuya. The Yanaka Ginza is an amazing little shopping street, lots of little vendors and street food.
My First Adventure(s)
Seoul is the beauty product capital of the world, and is like… 2 hours away by plane? Take Sephora and multiply it by 10,000, then cut the price points in half (not even kidding) and you have the Myeongdong District. I wrote about this trip a few times because it was just too good. I’ll go back this year- no question.
Shimoda, in Japan’s Shizuoka prefecture, is the Santa Cruz of Japan, but with better seafood and onsens! I wrote about Shimoda for GaijinPot, and did a little summer beauty research while I was there.
There’s SO much more that I could talk about and put up, but let me just say that it’s been a pretty eye-opening experience living abroad. It’s made me appreciate my own country in new ways, and also, look at it from a different perspective. New perspective is what travel is all about.
I’m not sure how long I’ll stay in Japan (it’s the question everyone, EVERYONE, always asks). Who knows? One thing I have learned: it’s easy to take the magic of your town for granted. Appreciate your daily life, no matter where you are. Magic is everywhere.