The American shopping in Japan

I have done several videos on this.  But since I have been in Japan, I have had the hardest time trying to find things to wear.  What is the hardest for me are the bottoms.  Specifically the pants and stockings.  I and several of my friend have had difficulties trying to find pants and stockings that fit.  It is quite annoying.  What ends up happening is that maybe they will fit the leg but it doesn’t go all the way up.  It’s quite the sight to see.  But it is so frustrating.  I am only 5’4 but I have a small torso and a lot of leg.  In my two years of being here in Japan I have had so much trouble.  Well now it’s becoming an urgent issue because all of the clothes I have come here with now have holes or faded or such.  Pitiful!!  Anyway I finally found a solution to my problem.  FINALLY.  A few months ago I stumbled across the online store of Nissen.  Which is kinda similar to Ebay.  It has different shops and such.  Well I am super happy to discover that one of the stores that I really like to go to actually has a boutique in Tokyo.  I am elated.  I am so happy that I am posting about it now before going to the store to do the proper investigating.  LOL~  To be honest, I have a lot of faith in it.  I have been pretty satisfied so far.  I assume my biggest problem is gonna be the prices.  But I’M READY!!

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Maybe I have attachment issues

Well…..maybe I have attachment issues.  : )  Today is the first day of my spring vacation and in two weeks the new school year will start.  I am excited and a bit scared as well.  In Japan as well as Korea the teachers don’t stay at the same job very long.  It is a little frustrating to be honest.  As an American I am use to people staying in the same job for over 20 or 30 years.  And by same job I mean same company, same position and so forth.  My kindergarten teacher taught me, my cousin who is roughly nine years older than me and my other cousin who is 6 years younger than me.  This is the type of thing I am use to.  People don’t change jobs as quickly back home.  When I was going to the 5 grade, I knew of several options of teachers that I could possibly have.  At my school there were 4 options.  So as a child I am use to that consistency.  But not here in Japanese schools.  Teacher’s change grades every year and often teacher changes schools.  They tend to stay longer than in Korea.  There the average is about two years at one school.  Some of my teachers stayed at the same school for roughly 6 years.  My VP was at the same school for about 10 years.  But yesterday at the end of the year for some reason there was so many teachers who changed schools.  At one of my schools there were 9 people to change.  At the other there were 5 people maybe more to change.  So in total at least 14 people.  While that doesn’t sound like a whole lot to the average, it does to me.  For the past year and a half I have been taking the time to slowly get to know my co-workers.  It wasn’t easy becoming comfortable with some of them in the beginning because of cultural differences and language barriers.  Also it was my first time teaching in public schools in Japan.  (The system is waaaay different from Korea)  Anyway I think very highly about my teachers because I learn a lot about Japan through the teachers and the students.  I learn the language as well as cultural things.  I think yesterday bothered me because a LOT of the teachers I was close to are leaving.  So it’s odd that someone I was close with, I will probably never see again.  Only by chance.  It’s strange to me.  I really dislike goodbye’s.  But it seems that Asian people are really use to it.  If you think about it since in Elementary school they are shifting around so much, the kids are use to the constant change.  Also use to the fact that they may NEVER see their teacher or friend again.  Interesting.  Well with that being said….here’s to a new year and new people to meet…for a short time

Many thanks

The end of the year is coming closer and closer.  I am almost finished all of my classes for the month.  So now I don’t have much to do at my schools.  I have the official word that I would be staying at the same schools.  Which to me is excellent.  This is also the most expensive time of the year to be honest.  Next week, they stop providing lunch for the students.  Even though the teachers still have to work, we have to bring in Obentos.  Also this time of the year is the teacher parties.  There are several I believe.  I am excited this year I was invited to one each from both schools.  YAY!!!  One school, I was starting to think they didn’t like me.  This time of the year is very busy and not busy at the same time.  Which is interesting.  But along with this time of the year as the classes close, we have to give some kind of closure to each class.  Most of the classes we give the end of the year kansou (feedback).  I don’t know how I feel about doing that.  Because it is always a very generic speech.  Mainly because I forget what has happened over there year.  The only thing I do remember is individual interactions and growth.  How the shy kids now talk…..  Stuff like that.  Or if the class is a rough class, then I remember the kids that gave me hell the entire year.  I have some kids like that.  Overall I think my kids are awesome but there are a handful I want to pluck in the head.  And that changes two that I remember who were a pain in my rectum changed when they changed grades.  Don’t know why, but I’m not gonna complain about that.  At one of my schools they do something a little different.  While I still give a kansou, the students give me this booklet.  As like a thank you for your hard work.  The kids just write a little message on a little card.  And it’s the cutest thing ever.  It is given to me in a very cute fashion.  After the class is finish we do the ending greeting and then you hear these whispers.  Some of the classes have organized this little speech.  Even though I know what is coming I am still very excited.  Everyone loves to feel appreciated of course.  But it’s cute coming from the kids.  And the teacher puts in a lot of effort.  It also shows things that people don’t say. Which is cute. While reading the cards there was a 3rd grade student who has said maybe two words to me in class but wrote a sentence better than a 6th grader.  Anyway, it’s a cute gesture and I appreciate it.

End of the year festivities

So March has arrived yet again.  And it’s coming close to the end of the school year here.  With that there are tons of events happening.  One of my favorite events is the 6th grade Farewell party.  It’s called the Okurukai in Japanese.  In this party what happens is the kids do different performances.  1-5th grade do some kinda performance for the 6th grade and then the 6th grade return the favor by doing something for the other students.  To me it’s the cutest thing ever.  I’m such an attached sentimental teacher sometimes.  But watching this event shows the difference between my schools.  One of my school majority of the students did dance performances.  And the other one did a lot of skits.  But there are some things that are similar and I wonder if they are something that is incorporated in all Japanese performances like this.  At this event as well as the Sports day event (where the kids also do a lot of performances) they do a modern day Soran Bushi dance.  After hearing the song so much I went to research it.  It’s an old traditional song started by fisherman in Hokkaido.  To me there is one signature move and phrase to this dance, the chorus.  Where someone “Yasa e en ya sa dokkoisho” in the song and the kids normally shout “dokkoisho, dokkoisho”  Which is loosely translated as “Put your back into it. Heave, ho! Heave ho!” and the kids are just shouting ‘Heave ho’.  It’s quite an interesting dance.  Here’s on version of it.  (These aren’t my kids btw)

Another thing that is commonly done is a Japanese drum selection.  The way this is done is amazing.  There is a lot of order involved and when done correctly it sounds awesome.  I don’t have much explanation for that though.

This one is different obviously since it’s another school but the performance is very similar.  There is a lot of moving around and no one misses the beat.  At the most sometimes the kids get a little offbeat.  But they’re kids I can imagine that’s no easy task.  It’s interesting.

Beside this performance there are other things happening.  The actual graduation, teacher’s parties.  The farewell party is my favorite.  I just remember March last year was very expensive.  Can’t say I’m looking forward to that part.

So on to something new

So…..in a little under a month’s time, my entire world just decided to slowly fall around me. Well it didn’t totally. It just felt like it did emotionally. I was a wreck. But I think as the days progress I feel better. Like much better. At the beginning of this month I suddenly realized that my boyfriend is not the ideal boyfriend. Well let me rephrase that he just wasn’t a good boyfriend. There is no such thing as the ideal, I know this, but there is a fine line between being absent minded and being a complete jackass. In my boyfriend’s case he would do a lot of small disrespectful things to me. And since these things are small I would just brush them under the rug. Not really understanding that by doing so I was making room for bigger things to happen. Well now it is over. I made the choice for my own happiness to walk away. It was a very difficult decision but it needed to happen and now I think about it I am glad it happened. What it has done for me was given me the opportunity to look at myself and make some necessary changes. Changes in confidence and stuff like that. I have been single in a long time and I honestly didn’t want to go back but I will go about this situation with dignity and grace and most definitely happiness. I am a free bird. I must spread my wings. There are other men out there. Other nice men. What I am trying my hardest to do now is remain positive. In the beginning i was regretting my decision, my insecurities started to come to the front of my thoughts. So I am doing everything in my power to not allow this thoughts to remain and focus on the good things about me, life and so forth. This is only the beginning. I am excited to see where I end up. : D

finding femininity…..

This is gonna sounds like a very shallow post, but it’s something that’s been in my head.  These days I’ve been very reflective.  Or observant, which ever way you want to call it.  One of the things I have always admired about Japan is the Kawaii culture.  Now granted I don’t even participate in it, but I do like it.  Another thing I liked about the culture is that some things that go on here would be viewed at as immature back in the states.  For example an adult male being so obsessed with a girl group they have tons of pins decorating his girl group bag.  That would be seen as strange back in the states.  When I see it now tbh I still kinda side eye the guy, but not in the same sense as I would at home.  Here it feels okay to be a little goofy and cute.  Which for me is perfect because these are adjectives that people have often used to refer to me.  So I feel like THERE I fit.  Another thing I like doing is looking at the girls in my school.  I am a bit envious.  These girls are allowed to be girls.  They are allowed to be cute and like cute things such as butterflies and rainbows and stuff. There are people who don’t like the super cuteness of Japan, but I love it.  It’s refreshing to me.  But mainly because I grew up in a place that is kinda opposite.  I don’t think my life story is a general ‘black’ thing as much as it is an income thing.  To be honest, I am sure it’s not just me but I don’t know what group of people to categorize this with so I won’t. Anyway, what I mean is that I feel as a child. I wasn’t allowed to be me.  Goofy one of the adjectives I use to hear a lot as a kid, had a negative connotation in my neighborhood.  So I was criticized for that.  Because of my interests, I was often referred to ‘white-acting’.  So I was criticized for that as well.  I’m not for sure why but cuteness is not something that is in the black culture.  I dislike that.  Girls are often very sexy or very rough.  Not quite cute and innocent.  Which is not good for young girls in my opinion.  At least a few years ago, nowadays I’ve been seeing some things are changing….slowly. Also in my neighborhood, if you’re too pretty that was a problem.  Like a girl who was super fashionable, good with doing her hair and make-up, she was popular but she was often disliked by other girls.  (Not something I went through directly, but I’ve seen it with my older sister.) The famous phrases that were used were things like ‘Glamour-puss’ ‘She thinks she’s pretty.’ ‘She thinks she’s all that.’ ‘-better than everyone’ and so on.  Now that I look back on it, many women including myself couldn’t truly be ourself for fear of criticism (or bullying) for our peers and even more so from the adults.  I’ve seen the adult females in my family criticize my sister for being so into fashion and so forth.  I was criticized as well.  And which is just as important, we had very little support.  Some of the things we were interested in we weren’t allowed to do.  For example in the 8th grade I wanted to be a cheerleader, but couldn’t because no one wanted the burden of picking me from practice and such.  And now as an adult and after observing other cultures I understood that those things were not normal and were said out of pure jealousy.  And the things were done out of an attempt to keep the child from becoming more than me. “If it was good for me then it is good enough for you.” mentality. But fortunately and unfortunately in my recent years I’ve made friends with people who weren’t raised the same as  me.  Who were allowed to be themselves as a child and has flourished in their adulthood.  And by themselves I mean feminine and cute.  The unfortunate part is that when I would watch them, I was a little envious.  Because I wanted to be fashionable and pretty but I didn’t know how. I was never taught how to be a lady, I was never taught personal hygiene and beauty tips and never told I was pretty and i had very little confidence so I was really frustrated. I made a realization sometime in my 20s that this was a life choice and set out to change my image and appearance of myself. Years….yeah i know..YEARS later I finally learned who I am.  It was a surprisingly intimidating journey. Although, even now I am still a little shakey with some making some things but it’s a work in progress.  When you are young, most boys learned how to be a man from their father.  I should have learned how to be a woman from my mother but for some reason, it didn’t quite work out that way.  I’m learning by myself.  Well at least my daughter won’t have this problem I’m having now.  Now I know beauty is not all there is to being a woman, but to be completely honest, I don’t recall being taught anything about womanhood from the adult women in my family.  Confidence, strength, intelligence, beauty, grace……at least in the early years.  I don’t want to give the impression that all the women in my family are horrible, they aren’t.  But the female figure that mattered the most, was worried about other things in those valuable years of my life.  But anyway, those five things I feel they are very important to being a well-rounded woman, and I am learning them now……for my daughter….and because it’s fun.  This is such a depressing post.  Sorry, I just wanted to get these things out of my head.

Learning Japanese

During this break, I spent a LOT of time just relaxing and doing creative things.  Now that I am back home I wanted to take a minute to study Japanese.  It is a very difficult language to learn.   But I think that’s the case with all languages.  I am at the point where i am a little frustrated.  I have been here for about two years and my level of understanding is beginners intermediate.  I suppose.  I can understand a lot of Japanese.  Basic conversations, and things regarding school situations I can understand just fine.  But sometimes I just can’t get it.  It’s like selective understanding.  I wish I could express how it works, but it is very difficult.  When it comes to speaking, I know a lot of vocabulary.  The more common a word is the easier it is to remember, which I am sure that is something that is not unique to me.  But grammar patterns is so difficult for me to pick up on.  It generally takes a long time.  I study a grammar point and I make sure that I understand the usage but then I will forget it.  I often see a lot of other people who speak Japanese to a very good level.  Even if they don’t know business Japanese, they can have a great conversation with Japanese people.  I can’t do that in confidence.  At least not yet.  But in this year one of the things I will do is trust extra hard to speak Japanese.  Although I interact with Japanese people on a regular basis, I don’t have an opportunity to speak Japanese.  But now I will try harder to speak it.  This is part of the investing in myself that I want to do this year.  I

The New Years is here.

The New Years has arrived and I am currently taking my mini vacation in Atami. Here in Japan New Years is very important so for some reason I ended up taking it more serious than Christmas. This is purely by accident. Because I felt bad about not celebrating Christmas so I made sure to not make the same mistake for New Years. And I am very glad I did. It was a great celebration I enjoyed myself both on New Year’s Eve and Day. It is an odd superstition of mine to not bring in the New Years alone or sad. Because this day sets the precedent on how the year will be. I know this is not true but just something I feel. So I had a great time out with friends. On New Year’s Day I did a more Japanese style celebration. I went to the local shrine and did a Hatsumode. This is the first shrine visit. It typically takes place from the 1st – 3rd of the January. From what I hear you can do more than once so since I am here I may do it again. But while there you wash your hands first, pray (in a specific order), then buy amulets (omamori) and get your fortune (omikuji). I would like more amulets. It feels good to be here. Even though I am not very far from Tokyo it still feels great. I made sure to not let many things from Home follow me down here. My cluttered house, the pain in the ass neighbor of mine (who I recently got into an argument with AGAIN), and just my own mind. I said I will come back to those thoughts when I return. While I am here I want to focus on creativity. Taking pictures with my camera, making videos and most importantly writing. I have been meaning to write a screenplay but I haven’t been mentally there to do it. I am hoping here will help with that. In this apartment the owner has not set up wifi. And my cellphone company limits the usage so I must use my phone sparingly. Or at least not as much as I would do normally. But that is alright. I need to do that anyway.

Finding friends

I have moved several times in my life. Basically started all over. I did in college, when I moved to DC, then again when I moved to Korea and now once more here in Tokyo. One of the things that I didn’t realize much of a hassle it was making legit friends. I don’t know if it is the age that I am or the people. These days I find making friends to be very difficult. Making friends is easier in Korea than here in Japan. I think because when first arriving the foreign community isn’t that into Korean culture so we flocked together faster. Well this was back in 2009 before the boom of Kpop around the world. Now I am sure more english teachers living in Korea actually like the culture. Back in my day (lol) there was only a few of us. Anyway since more people were curious about the culture instead of fans. But here in Japan initially the foreign communities start out as fans. And what I have seen happen is that when they are fans of the country/culture people prefer imitate the natives. Most people made a huge effort to speak Japanese, follow the holiday traditions…etc. Oftentimes the would rather have loads of Japanese fans than foreign friends. Which is interesting but frustrating. For me I was curious about the country so I kinda wanted both Japanese and foreign friends. I have run into both types of people and have made several friends and many associates. What I found interesting is that the groups seem different. Even to the point of how often most people get together. I don’t hang out often but I know some of my other friends do and it feels like that is few and far between. It is interesting. BeFore my best friend and I were attached at the hip. Now the person who is my closest friend in Japan, we see each other like once a month. Something else that is interesting is that I know I could not mix any of my old friends in Korea with the new ones I have made in Japan. And I am so intrigued by that. Because I have been trying to figure out why that may be. Maybe it is me, the stage of life that I am in now, my taste. Now I am not complaining about this. It is just something I have noticed while staying here.

Travel or not to travel that is the question

So my vacation has officially started and my house is filled with random trinkets from the Christmas/Bonenkais I have attended. My last one was last night. I am super happy that I didn’t get too intoxicated. Also that I got a great opportunity to bond with some of my teachers. Which was something I wanted from this school. But now that is all over and I am sitting here in my house. Very slowly cleaning up. To be honest I don’t know what to do with myself. Before the break I didn’t want to go to the U.S. I didn’t have the money and I didn’t want the heartache of going home. But now that the break is here I do want to go. Or travel. Something like that. A lot of my friends are doing it. Maybe that is why I want to go. I suppose I am the jump off the bridge type. Before the New Years I want to take the time to travel to different
parts of Tokyo that I am not familiar with. I really wanted to go Shimokitazawa. Ughhhh here’s to not spending my Christmas break bored out of my mind!!!!