Samstag, 31. März 2012

short update

I use my bike to explore Hyogo-ku and neighboring city districts. I can even easily reach motomachi by bike.

Other than that Dai and me spent most of our time and money into completing our new home. We now finally have everything we need for daily life. We bought  IH cooking plate, microwave, etc. A big relief was, that Dai's parents paid our air-con, which was installed on Monday (japanese flats/houses usually do not have a heating installation. Temperature whether hot or cold is regulated by air-cons).

We also got some stuff FOR FREE from Dai's friend. His friend gave up his flat and moved in with his girlfriend. In exchange for helping him with packing and moving, Dai got: a refrigerator, washing machine, a lamp, storage boxes and some other random small stuff.

The last thing missing is internet access. This will be hopefully solved on Tuesday, when a person from j-com will come to our apartment.

I have a number of meetings scheduled this week for jobs! I hope by the end of the week I will have one or two jobs. 

Here are a few impressions of our apartment now...

Dai's fishies

kitchen table , sink in front of the bathroom, the air-con, my room....

kitchen... and yes laundry :D

 Oops, just realized I added the same picture twice...

Samstag, 24. März 2012

moved to Kobe !

On Wednesday we went to Hyogo-ku (one district in Kobe) to clean and furnish our new apartment, but in the evening we went back to Takasago. One more night in a warm, comfy and fully equipped household and furthermore: internet access.

Dai's parents invited us to have dinner at a yakiniku restaurant. Yummy yummy. We had horumon (I still don’t really know what it is... it might be some part of the stomach?!), tongue, ro-su (short-loin meat), cow stomach, sausages, salads, kimchi, veggies and so on. It was super tasty and I'm happy I did not have to pay for it :D (yakiniku is usually kinda expensive)'

The day before we had okonomiyaki at home:

I love those dishes you can grill on your own in front of you, that way nothing gets too cold before eating.

In the evening I got a reply to a job application and was asked to fill in some questionnaire. Good thing we returned to Takasago, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to reply etc.

Since Thursday I am in my new place with Dai and it will need a few more days or weeks until I get fully accustomed to this flat. Everything is just old and halfheartedly fixed. Basically, you can hear everything that’s going on outside and within the building. Paperthin walls.

We have no air-con yet. I am not able to heat my room until Monday, which sucks since our rooms are quite chilly and windy. But yeah on Monday the air-con will be installed.

After arriving in Hyogo-ku on Thursday, we dropped our bags and stuff at our new place and left for the Kuyakusho (town /city hall) in order to change the address on my alien registration card. We had to wait a bit but the process itself was surprisingly easy! They didn’t even ask for any proof of my new residency... I could have registered the address of a trash can!
On the way back, we spontaneously got into some DOCOMO shop and I somehow ended up with a phone and contract.......... I wonder if it was the right decision, but now it's too late to have any regrets. You can hardly get a phone / number without contracts. The only prepaid service is offered by Softbank and I do not find the offered mobile devices nor the call rates too appealing. 
With my current plan I can mail to japanese mobiles and to computer emails for free. But I am not sure whether I can attach photos to these mails for free too.
In case someone is familiar with docomos plans and products, feel free to enlighten me!

BTW I got the Exilim CA-01C in pink:

Well the camera of this phone is pretty fancy : 16.3mega pixel and able to produce 3D pictures (they suck but at least it's a funny gimmick)
unfortunately no cable was provided. I have to purchase this separately...probably do so next month.

Thursday evening I finally met up with Maria, a girl from my former university. She spend a year in Kobe as an exchange student. It's pretty sad, I was only able to meet her once a few days before she will leave Japan :( We went to some ticket-restaurant and got soba/udon and she was also so nice to sell me her bicycle! I am mobile now :D

Friday, we walked to Yamada Denki(electronic shop) and Nitori (something like Ikea). Dai kinda underestimated the distance and we walked quite a while through the cold rain -.-
We bought some heavy stuff and were too tired to walk the whole distance again and the rain didn’t help either. We paid for a taxi ride….. -_- Once home we bought stuff and had late lunch. We immediately tried out our new IH cooking plate, just bought before at Yamada Denki. Worked well! 

Today (Saturday) I left with my bike to explore the area and found the gyoumu su-pa- I googled before. It's supermarket chain, thats slightly cheaper than others but they're not that well stocked or sell articles in bulk packs.
I also got access to Yahoo BB Mobile points now (those W-Lan points can be found at mac donalds, some cafes and stations). You can buy validation codes for this at family mart. 1 day = 500 yen, 2 weeks = 1000yen and 3 months = 4000 yen. I went for the middle option because Dai received another phone call from JCOM. They might be able to progress soon and install internet here.

Then I spent almost two hours in MacDonalds making use of my WLAN access here.
Shortly before my computer run out of battery I found out I didn’t reply the recruitment mail correctly. I accidentally sent my reply to Dais address and didn’t reply to the recruiter. FUCK. Luckily they gave a generous deadline and I still have some days time to send it. 

So now I am spending another two hours in MacDonalds until my laptop runs out of battery or the MacDonald staff kicks me out :D

Dienstag, 20. März 2012


I’ve changed settings: everyone is now able to leave comments on this blog. would be nice to get some feedback and opinions :)

finally moving to our own place ! i am really sick of takasago.. there's only once supermarket within walking distance and just NOTHING to do around here. 
once we're in kobe, I’ll be able to take Japanese lessons and apply for more jobs in person etc. and it won't be so expensive to go to Osaka and visit more places.

tonight we return to takasago but starting from tomorrow we will stay in hyogo-ku. unfortunately, I won't have internet access for a while. I already looked up directions to internet-cafes in the area though....

Sonntag, 18. März 2012

past days

On Friday I didn't do much. Around 15.30 I decided to withdraw money from my JP Bank account. The thing is, I did not apply for a cash card yet. I was told to wait until I move to Hyogo-ku, since the address changing would be additional paperwork or something alike. So last time I wanted to withdraw money, I learned that I am only able to get money until 4p.m. (service time) and that I need my gaikokujin card and also my hanko (name stamp). It was 3:50 p.m. And of course I did not bring my hanko with me.
This time well prepared with my stamp, I approached the counter at 3:45p.m. and asked to withdraw money (of course in bad Japanese). Got the paper handed, I had to fill in. It wasn’t much, but since I am very slow and bad in writing kanji, it took me a while and I got nervous. That moment Dai came in... It was either coincidence or he stalked me. I don’t know :D

Well I got my money.

In the evening I tried to memorize some important sentences for the job interview, looked up the way and train schedule.

I also went to donki and some kusuri store with bf and got some chai-flavored alcohol. It's served best with milk and on ice! 

So on the next Day, I dressed up in a suit for the first time ! It was a weird feeling and I felt uncomfortable for quite a while...  Even though I worked for example in offices before, I never had to dress up in a suit completely. It was usually sufficient to wear neat clothes like a nice blouse and cardigan. Japans interview manner are strict and you have to dress like this even for small part time jobs.

Dai brought me to the station in Takasago and then I left for Kobe on my own, using my train-schedule from (omg. How I love this page!). Got off at Hanakuma Station and immediately spotted images I've seen on Google maps before and found the hotel very quickly. Too quickly... one hour left! I walked back to the Motomachi shopping district and had coffee in a smelly smoker café. For some reason, there was a heater on ! Japanese people seem to have a very different understanding of what is warm and cold... I broke out sweating in there. 

I was certainly nervous, too. However, once I arrived at the hotel-restaurant I relaxed. Usually, I am quite fine during job interviews. The man sometimes threw in some english words, but the interview itself was in Japanese. He mainly explained only the points of the job I already knew from the job-description and asked me only a few things. For example, how I will commute from home to work etc. He seemed nice, tried to bring up some german things he knew and was patient with me and my bad Japanese.
Before I came in, some young boy in a black suit left the restaurant. Obviously he had a few other job interviews scheduled for that day. I doubt I'll be offered a job, but that’s totally OK for me. It was already a good lesson learned and therefore worth it !

After the interview I walked around motomachi and sannomiya and bought some random stuff at Daiso and finally a headset for skyping (at Yamadadenki/Seiden). People often complain, they couldn't hear me well over skype. I suppose, the build-in mic on my laptop is at fault. With the headset it works perfectly now.

On Sunday Dai, his parents and me drove to Kobe by car. For that purpose, we lend the six-seater car of Dai's brother because it has GPS. Dai is pretty scared of driving anywhere out of this comfort zone. I am really surprised by this. In Germany he drove anywhere, but in Japan he seems pretty nervous about driving to new places...

The highways were jammed and it took us more than one hour for approximately 38 km. Finally we stood in our new apartment and measured important spots. The apartment itself, was still A MESS. I wonder if they will be finished with renovating until Wednesday. We are supposed to get the keys by then.

About an hour later, we went to a store next to our apartment, that accommodates a supermarket/drugstore, electronics and home equipment. We will probably buy the air conditioner at this store, since it's next door. (If I had to pay for it, I wouldn't buy there. They were terribly overpriced! But Dai's parents do not care about money, they always take the most convenient/ first offer... I got the feeling, this is a very common behavior around here. I am the complete opposite: I check out as many different offers as I can and usually end up buying stuff online or on sale.)

Dai's parents spent the day in Kobe with window shopping and eating out. A date. They rarely have time to spend with each other, since both work full-time and often take care of their grand children and the big babies a.k.a. Dai and me.

Dai and me drove back home and went to Daiso in order to buy curtains and some small stuff for our new home. I ended up paying more than 5000 Yen at a 100 Yen-Shop !!

Went to the supermarket and got something for dinner. Basically, I do not need to cook here, because Dais mother always prepares and buys so much food. Besides that, Japan offers well prepared and cheap food EVERYWHERE. So Dai bought himself o-bento (prepared lunch box). I ended up cooking: boiled pumpkin, sauce and beef liver (salt, pepper, onions and some olive oil) :

Freitag, 16. März 2012

whats going on over here

i finally got a hair cut.. it was really over due:

I don't have any picture of the result yet. I got my hair cut by Dais father who is a barber (sanpatsu)... So I was a little worried, since he is not experienced in cutting long woman’s hair, but luckily it turned out alright.

The past days I 've been enjoying tamago-tofu (egg tofu) as a snack in between. 

On Thursday I've been to Hello Work in Kobe and despite we went there during the English-service time, no one spoke English with me. I already read before, that this seems to be the normal case and that's why I followed the advice to bring a Japanese person with me. They explained, they want the whole process to be held in japanese language because it's also an exercise for me. Of course they have a point, I should get used to go through such things in japanese... As a result of this visit, I got one job-interview scheduled for tomorrow. It will be in Kobe at a Hotel... I am nervous and I do not expect much out of it, except to gain some experience.

Other than that I am on the verge to give up on my university assignments... I've wasted three weeks on one report already and due to that I wasn’t able to do much here in Japan and could't concentrate on my life here... I wonder if it's worth it to waste another few weeks on these papers... I am not motivated at all to do them. 

This Sunday we will go and see our new apartment and it will be almost done with renovation and next week we will be able to move in. Apparently, it may take SOME WEEKS to get internet there. I guess I should do a detailed research on internet-cafes in the neighborhood..... :/

Few days ago I've sent a short message, that I'd be interested to take part in an TV show that involved foreigners to learn something about Japanese culture... I got called back immediately... and then the next day one more call. But unfortunately, we had a little misunderstanding about the concept of that TV show. I won't appear on TV any time soon... :D

Samstag, 10. März 2012


Ok, on Wednesday I finally received my alien registration card. That’s the document foreigners here basically NEED FOR EVERYTHING. Actually, most of the information on this little card are provided already with my visa and on my address confirmation paper from the town office... but Japanese sales people etc. are instructed to ask for this card and usually nothing else is accepted. When I tried to make an bank account without it, I was rejected two times.
Now I have an Japan Post Bank account... Maybe I try to get an account at a different bank soon. I think JPB has quite high transaction fees or is it the same with any other bank?
However, some banks will still reject you... sometimes they say they cannot give an account to foreigners who haven’t lived in the country for at least 6 months. This seems to be an excuse, since it sometimes applies and sometimes doesn’t. Basically, it seems like, whether you get an account or not depends also on the mood of your person in charge :)

Next we went to a Softbank-Shop and looked and their expected those models aren’t exactly fancy and of course no smartphones. But what bothered me more, where those ridiculous rates for calling etc. No way. I seriously consider getting a two years-contract and just suck it up to pay cancellation fees after one year (I've heard these fees usually run about 10 000 Yen ~95 Euro). Any recommendations here? Whats the cheapest plan right now?

But I'll wait with purchasing a phone until we move, because I don’t want to have the paper work of changing my address on thousands of contracts...
Will we move? According to the guy, who showed us the apartment, it is „80 percent“ sure. But since some days we haven’t heard anything new from him... >_> I am getting impatient !

On Thursday we to Himeji by car in order to meet our friends Kei-san and Mamiko-san. They also brought their three years old son Jin-kun. We went to a japanese-style dining place, where you enjoy your meal in separated rooms/booths. The place was called Usagi (engl. Rabbit), funnily enough about 10 restaurants are called like this in Himeji... but it was this one:

Their lunch sets were nice and reasonably priced! I enjoyed my 豆乳しゃぶしゃぶ (tounyuu shabu shabu) set. You have to boil your pork-meat and vegetables in soymilk broth. There was also sashimi, some mayo-salad, chawanmushi (something like egg custard) etc.

The dessert looked like cake, right? It was ice-cream, in fact!

Thank you for your invitation Kei&Mamiko :)

After saying goodbye to our friends, who were supposed to travel to Tokyo later on, Dai and me wandered through the city of Himeji. We walked up to himeji-castle, where I already had been a few days ago. This time, I wanted to explore the koko-en, a japanese garden.
Entrance fee was 300 yen. Oh well.

It's certainly a nice garden and it's well taken care of, but unfortunately that day was quite grayish. So nothing looked really colorful or beautiful to me. The huge Kois were quite impressive though. Some of them look as if they were almost one metre long !!! Is that even possible? 


Friday I spend mostly at home looking up vocabularies for my translation work. In the afternoon Dai and me checked out some local recycle shop and most of the things looked actually QUITE NEW. Therefore many goods were cheap, but not significantly cheaper than the cheapest stuff in stores.
I am looking forward to check out more recycle shops in Kobe though.

I also forced my boyfriend to stop at an slightly bigger shopping mall in Kakogawa. I grew tired of the old, run-down „Sunmall“ in Takasago. And as I expected that one offered a far better selection of stuff...
I even spotted a HUGE deo for 298 yen (3euro), thats by far the cheapest I've seen so far.

Today (Saturday) I started again working on my assignment. In the afternoon we drove to a near-by shrine, because Dais Mother wanted me to see the Ume-trees (Plum) over there. We took Kirato with us.
My boyfriend is always happiest around his nephew (Kirato) and niece (Kyua). (I get a little bit jealous here :D)

Afterwards I wandered around in Sunmall... . Got Shiseido blotting paper, bath salt, etc. .
The bath salt is supposed to be spicy / hot.It contains chilli and ginger ingredients. Maybe a review follows with the next post.

See you <3

Dienstag, 6. März 2012

No news at all

we still don’t know for sure, if we are going to move to hyogo ku or not, but it seems most likely for now.
I will get my alien registration card (id card for foreigners) tomorrow. With this I could already step in to hello work and give more fuel to my job search... but since my boyfriend always makes plans without asking me about my schedule, i cannot do so tomorrow. We will meet Kei-san and Mamiko-san in Himeji tomorrow. I hope I can taste himeji-oden ! (the special twist about himeji-oden is the addition of soy sauce and ginger.)
anyway, that means I cannot go to hello work before next week Wednesday / Thursday. English-service is only provided on Wednesday and Thursday in the Kobe-branch. This makes me feel very uneasy. I do not want to wait another week.

Another things that bugs me, is the TOEIC. I wanted to take it, but missed a the application deadline for the upcoming one in march. The next one I can take is in May ! And the results will be out in June or so! That’s so far ahead, I wonder if it's worth it... Well I guess I do it... I still have some weeks left for application...
Once we moved to Hyogo-ku, I will probably sign up with Kumon too. It seems like the most affordable and schedule-friendly option for me to repeat and study Japanese. I already heard it's mostly studying with worksheets... but that’s exactly what I need, lots of repetition !

Yesterday, I bought a suits-jacket and a white blouse at G.U. But I couldn’t agree on their pants. I will look out for black pants at other shops too.

I think, I mentioned before: I am running out on my left over cosmetics from Germany and need to find adequate replacements here. As for my foundation-powder I went for Cezanne.

It was the cheapest I could find in drugstores/ supermarkets. I rechecked its online- reviews and it seemed ok for my combination skin. Also I found that its „cream-beige“ tone was the best match to my previously used „natural beige“ manhatten powder.

This is the UV Foundation EX one, there's a another line which is pretty similar called UV Ultra Cover Foundation II. This one covers better of course. However, its texture is too oily for my skin.
The EX line has the strongest mattifying effect, which is exactly what I need.

It retails at 545 Yen and the refill pack is only 399 Yen. That’s way beneath the average price for foundations. I'd say the average is between 700 – 1200 Yen. Since I use make up daily, I have to stick to affordable brands.
(PS: the lovely mouse-pad is from DAISO, 105 Yen)

Oh and my order of „Out“ by Natsuo Kirino finally arrived. I've read „I'm sorry, mama“ (german title: Teufelskind) by her and was really drawn to her way of seeing and describing things. I think she has a great understanding of the Japanese society !

PS: Dai called the town office and my card is ready ! we're getting it now....

Sonntag, 4. März 2012

hina matsuri

Done nothing these past days. (some work on my translation assignment and sending applications...)
So for now I only share some pictures of Kyua's hina-ningyo stage (ningyo = doll).

hina matsuri is the "girls day" of Japan and celebrated by putting up a stage with pretty little dolls representing emperor and empress and other figures of the heian period. 

For more infos read here:

This wooden plate has Kyua's name engraved and functions as a music box too.
Kyua is the three years old daughter of my boyfriends brother. Kyua has a little brother called Kirato. Both are often here during weekends, playing with Dai and their grand-parents.

Btw... these are currently my most favorite bonbons :D green tea and green milk tea flavor

Freitag, 2. März 2012

yesterday i kept waiting for a phone call all day. it didn’t ring. In the end I gathered some courage and phoned the office, I applied to. The person in charge was busy. Called again after 30 minutes and finally got through to her. I am not able to do an internship at the desired office in Kobe. She said I could maybe do an internship in September in Tokyo. But this is so far ahead, i cannot really think about it. I rather need something stable/secure for NOW. Besides the internship is more or less unpaid. Leaving here and setting out for the 2nd most expensive city in the world for an unpaid internship is currently not an option for me. Yes, the 1st spot was overtaken by Zurich ! Wtf. And the 3rd place is shared by Osaka and Genf.

But you can find cheap things in Japan... yesterday I checked out G.U 

it's a cheaper sister brand of the omni-present UNIQLO . And it is indeed even cheaper... Jeans for 990 Yen (depending on the exchange rate it equals 9-10 euro)

i am considering to get one of their skirts.. but I almost NEVER wear skirts.. and keep wondering if it fits me. 

I liked some of their knit wear but everything I checked was mainly "acrylic". I usually want my knit wear/tops to be at least 50 percent cotton!

I tried to work a bit on my assignment, but never really concentrated... instead I filled in an rirekisho template on my computer. rirekisho is the japanese resumee / curriculum vitae. You are supposed to submit your rirekisho HANDWRITTEN. So I began to fill out one and failed. I really need some practice on that.............
luckily you can get the sheets at daiso (100yen shop= 1 euro shops in Germany) 

other than that, i start to worry about my cosmetics and skin care supply. I thought, I'd just get new stuff here, once my stuff from Germany is used up. Now I find myself troubling to find matching products. I usually get what the products is used for etc. but I fail to understand what kind of skin type it is supposed to be used for ! I'd say I have an combination skin, which means in Japanese 混合肌 (kongou hada), but i never see this term on any products... 

I actually had a terrible skin break out after arriving here. maybe it's due to change of water or permanent use of the air con (they function as heater in winter/ cooler in summer)... 
So i desperately looked out for some peeling or wash-lotion and after a lot uncertainness and confusion, I finally grabbed something, which had "nikibi" in friendly katakana written on (nikibi means pimple) . I ended up with a cow-brand skin life product :D

I cannot fully recommend this. It works, but the effect is not that exciting. Furthermore, it is drying out your skin massively. I had some peeling of skin afterwards... Nonetheless, I keep using it for now.

Donnerstag, 1. März 2012

it's already march

Fishing was not as exciting as I hoped for :D We (Dai, his father and me) went to the open sea and it was quite windy. Therefore all of us were almost frozen to death after about one hour. And none of us caught a fish. My bait got stolen two times, obviously fish are smarter than me :(. Afterwards we went to some conbini and all of us choose some hot soup-based food (ramen, udon, harusame cup noodles).

Dai and me ordered a HDMI cable from and since we do not have credit cards, we've chosen the „pay at the conbini“ option. Me and him were quite stupid about the whole process but finally everything worked out. (In the end, after some clicking around, you get a number. In the case of picking seven eleven it's a code of 13 numbers. You print that out, or just write it down and hand it to the cashier. Then you'll receive the bill and pay. Done.)

I really start to value conbinis, definitely not for the food or drinks choice, but for all the other services it provides. You can draw cash, pay your amazon orders and probably other shops, buy tickets (concerts,etc.), print stuff / photos and so on.

On Tuesday we were scheduled to meet the guy again for looking at an apartment. Basically it's exactly the same one we looked at before, but different apartment number in the same building. This one was occupied until shortly before, and it is now in a run-down state. Anyway, the guy eventually cancelled on us, after we tried to contact him several times the days before. He excused himself by saying he was sick. Great reason... ! (I mean, sending a short notice couldn’t have hurt, right?)

Anyway, he then vaguely proposed to meet on Wednesday...Wednesday he didn’t contact us back again... I got fed up, and forced Dai to go to Kobe with me, without knowing if we meet him or not. In case he would not come to meet us, I wanted us to try other real estate agencies.
We got out at the Station where the apartment is, we were supposed to see. And we were lucky! Worker were in the flat and leaving the door open. Dai also asked them and we got permission to see it.
OMG ! I swear, there lived an hikikomori before. It was disgusting. But it was relieving to see, the renovating and cleaning was already in process !

I also bought some Roggenbrot (rye bread) in an import food store (kobe grocers) .On the train ride back, I decided to get off at Tarumi-Station. I browsed the nearby outlet town, but left without buying anything. When I came home, Dai told me he already signed some kind of paper, confirming our interest in the flat. (We can still back out from that!)
I am not thrilled about the apartment... it is alright. It is not completely overpriced, considering the area and the fact that there's a subway station in front of the door (walking distance = 0 minutes).
BUT I am more than sure, we could have a place double the size for that money/ or something on the same level but cheaper, if my lovely boyfriend knew what the word „compromise“ means.

By the way, after we finally knew the date on tuesday got cancelled. I begged Dai to bring me to Kobe to his mothers workplace.. She works (not in education though) at the kobe gakuin daigaku. She somehow talked me through the reception staff of the library and could start to work on some assignments. I really cannot concentrate at home, because someone is always there (usually Dai) and keeps distracting me.

Today (tuesday) i got up early (6a.m.) to join Dais mother to her drive to University. And now I am sitting again all day in the library. My concentration was already down to zero, so I decided to write on this entry. For a short lunch break I had a pretty massive dorayaki (doesn’t look like, but the azuki filling was MUCH).