Japan trip September 2017

First day in Japan

September 14th, 2017. Thursday

I made it!!!!!  I was a little worried that my flight was going to get canceled because of the typhoon but everything went ok.  My flight left on time and we flew over the typhoon with very little turbulence.  My flight was about three hours and I landed in KIX (Kansai, Osaka) airport.

Once I landed in Japan the first thing I noticed was the security checkpoint where foreigners have to go through.  There was a lot of people and I thought I would be there for two hours.  But I got through everything in 30 minutes.  They had about 9 people there working on checking us though.  It was very efficient and fast.  No problems.

SIM Card Fail. 

Next, I wanted to check out the bus tickets.  I read online that the bus from Kansai airport to Kyoto station comes every 30 minutes, but then I saw a SIM Card stand and decided to check it out. I wasn’t planning on getting one.  I was just going to use the free WiFi from my hostel, coffee shops, and 7-11.  I went over and talked to them about getting a SIM card.  You can get a SIM card for one month for 5,000yen or for one week for 300yen.  You can have a demo on your phone to make sure the SIM card will work and check out the internet speed.  Everything worked fine during the demo and they did tell me there wouldn’t be any refunds.  So I paid for the SIM card and they help me to get it sit up.  Five minutes later my phone shut down and restarted itself.  Thinking, no big deal.  My phone does that sometimes.  Another five minutes, it happens again, then again, then again.  By this time I was already on the bus heading to Kyoto.  I just switched out my SIM cards and haven’t had a problem since.  But back to the original problem.  So now I’m back to my original ideal.  Free WiFi at my hostel, coffee shops, and 7-11.  And 5,000yen less.

Bus Ride To Kyoto Station

Everyone was so nice to me at the station.  I went to the window to buy a ticket and she said I could use the machine on the wall because it has English.  Keep in mind, I was told that nothing will be in English in Japan.  So I was happy with that.  Got my bus ticket and got in line for the bus.  There were two lines for the bus.  I didn’t know wish line to get in, but both lines were for the bus too Kyoto Station.  So I just got on the left line.  Turned out one line was for more than one person or groups, and the line was for single riders.  So I guessed right.  The bus driver was helpful to me.  He only knew a little English and spoke Japanese the whole time.  Luckily he was using body language with me so I could figure out what he was saying.  The only thing I found strange was he asked me if I was ok with sitting on a lower seat.  I thought he meant the floor because the bus was full and the only place left was the aisle way.  I didn’t think much of it.  I said ok it was fine, thinking I was going to sit on the floor, and I get on the bus and it dawned on me what he meant by a lower seat.  On the left side of the bus are these side seats that you pull down to sit in the aisle way.  I went to the one that was in front of another woman.  My first attempt to get the seat down was a big fail.  I had no idea what I was doing and I was so nerves that I couldn’t think.  Apparently, it was a lot easier then I thought. The other Japanese people on the bus saw me struggle and three people, left, right, and in front of me ended up helping me all at the same time.  There is a latch on the side of the seat that you push to unlock the seat and it comes down.  Then you left up the small back part for the seat.  Now you have a small seat in the aisle way that is connected to the seat next to it.  I was so embarrassed.


This is what the inside of the bus looks like with the side seats that you can pull down.


Arriving At My Hostel


LE9 Hostel in Kyoto. 


I booked a Hostel called The Lower East Nine.  I booked this one because it was a 10-minute walk from Kyoto Station and one-minute walk from the subway. When I arrived at my hostel, there was another girl waiting there.  She was checking in. When I arrived I told the guy I was checking in.  He decided to wait on telling the other girl the rules because it would be easier for him to tell us both at the same time.  So I filled out my paperwork and he explained the rules to us.  Then we both went to our rooms and settled in.  The girl name is Abby and we started talking to each other.  She was only in Kyoto for four days and was going to Osaka for one day.  Turns out she is an English teacher in Bangjing for an orphanage in the countryside.  She has to do a visa run from time to time and this was one of those times.  What I found even more interesting is that she is also from Indiana and her parents are from Auburn In.  My hometown.  I haven’t met anyone from Indiana since Thailand.  It’s a rare thing to happen as a traveler to find someone from Indiana.  Most people I met come from California, N.Y., Boston, Texas, and Chicago.  So we got along really well and we decided to plane trips together for tomorrow.  We plane to go see Nijo-Jo Castle, a pig shrine, Kyoto Imperial Palace, and Gion area.  Should be a great day.  🙂

We went out to eat and found a shopping mall that was close to the Hostel.  The other small restaurants didn’t seem to be open yet at 7pm.  Or if they were open, there was no one inside.  We looked around at some restaurants and looked at the menus that they had outside of each restaurant.  Most places we looked at were priced around 500yen to 1,000yen.  Not so bad.  We found one that we both wanted to try.  It was a restaurant that served Okonomiyaki. So we tried it out and it was very delicious!  Loved it!!  I would highly recommend eating this when you are in Japan.  I can’t really describe the taste of it.  It’s just amazing!!


Okonomiyaki!!!  Yum!!!


As we started to whine down, we went back to our hostel and went to bed.  The bed is so comfortable.  It was pretty easy to fall asleep.

Hope you enjoyed my story so far about my trip.  More exciting things to come.  I meet a new friend in the hostel, small day trips in Kyoto and Osaka, and more embarrassing stories to come.


Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan)

Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan) #5

January 17th, 2018

Settling Down

My life in Japan is somewhat settling down now. I’m getting used to my new job and the area around me. We got about a foot of snow the other day and I had to shovel a pathway at the school. I haven’t shoveled snow since I left America in 2012. But since my life is settling down also means less crazy stuff is happening and also means I’m running out of things to write about. I will have to start writing about some of my hiking again soon and my first trip to Japan. Anyway, in this report, I’m going to be talking about some problems that I had with just trying to buy milk. Who knew trying to buy milk could be difficult. Hope you enjoy.
Milk Switch
Part of living overseas, that I have had some problems with, is trying to buy things at the store that I use every day. For example milk. It shouldn’t be that hard to buy milk. But when everything is written in another language and you don’t have internet, that makes shopping for food a little more difficult. Depending which country you are in, you can sometimes find things that you recognize. For example, eggs, milk, meat, can food and so on. But sometimes even that can be difficult. In Taiwan, I discovered that there are many different kinds of milk. There is soy milk, peanut milk, chocolate milk, drinkable yogurt that looks like milk, and so on. But it’s all written in Chinese and I didn’t know which one I should get. The same thing happened here. I like to drink 1% milk, but since I have no clue what the kanji writing is for 1% milk is, I just try to go with any milk that I can get CIMG9698that isn’t peanut milk, soy milk, or yogurt milk. Well, the first carton of milk that I found was blue and had a picture of a cow on it. I was about to buy that one but then I saw a green color carton that looked like milk on it. It was next to the carton that has a cow on it and I just figured that the green carton might be 1% milk. Because usually you would put 2%, 1%, skim milk next to each other. That was my thinking so I grabbed the suppose 1% milk and went to check out of the store. The next day I went and grabbed what I thought was milk and opened it up. There was a smell to the carton that was not normal for milk. It had a yogurt smell to it. Once I poured it into a glass I could really smell the yogurt then. I took and a sip and it turned out to be yogurt. Now I have to go back to the store and get the carton that had the cow on it and hope that is regular milk. (Which later on that day the carton with a picture of the cow is the 2% milk)
Hope you enjoyed the short read. It’s not very long like my other posts but I’m still writing about what happened last Sunday with my new friends from church, what we ate, and where we went. I try to get that done soon. Tell then, you can always read my other posts or take a look at my other pictures on Instagram or my Facebook blog. Have a wonderful week.

Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan)

Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan) #4

January 15th, 2018

Cell Phone (maybe)

If I keep hoping and wishing, my dream will come true on getting a contract with a phone company and having internet again.  I keep hoping anyway.  I went inside Kojima and went up the escalators.  I turned left and starting looking at the phones.  I was able to find a staff member to help me out.  She didn’t know any English but she used an app and we managed.  When she realized I wanted a contract she went a got another staff member to help me.  This guy was with SoftBank.  He was about my height and was wearing his dress pants with his white dress shirt with a black and white jacket on that said SoftBank across it.  He had a mask on and was wearing his glass.  He knew very little English but he used an app on his cell phone.  He understood that I wanted a phone and contract.  We went to the desk and we started working things out.  Took about an hour on translation issues and trying to figure out what the other person is trying to say but we got by.  But then, he was about to get the contract until he was told their company is not allowed to sign contracts to foreigners.  I was so sad.  We spent about an hour trying to figure this whole thing out just to be told I can’t do it.  I was disappointed again.  Another company that can’t take me.  But then he had an idea.  He asked if it was ok if he goes and asks a different phone company if they can have a foreigner on their contract?  I said ok, and he went and asked.  He comes back and tells me they are allowed to have a foreigner on the contracts and it can be for one year.  I was happy.  I can finally get a phone with internet.  They called the operator that knew English that could talk with me, step-by-step, and try to get what I want with this company in English.  But then she asked me if I had a Japan bank card?  I had to tell her no and that I was still waiting on that.  She said I need the bank card to get my contract.  I was sad but at the same time, I finally found a company that will sign me.  I just need my bank card and then I will have to go back and try again.

Power Goes Out

Moving on to Monday, I had to get up around 7 am. and get to Starbucks close to 9 am.  Because today is the day that I should get my tax money back from Taiwan but I need to help out my friend back in Taiwan to transfer it over.  I got up around 7 am, took a shower, and had some coffee.  I had my heater going and still needed to dry my hair.  I turned on the blow dryer and it wasn’t long after I was trying to dry my hair that the power went out.  I started to panic just a little.  I started wounding if I paid my bill, I haven’t gotten a bill yet, did the whole apartment loose power, is it just my room, what do I need to do when you lose power?  So many questions were going through my mind.  I decided to get some warm clothes on and do my makeup and head down to the fourth floor to see Stephanie.  It was about 8:30 am now and I hope Stephanie is already awake.  I would hate to wake her up.  Luckily, she was already awake.  She was in her PJ’s when she opened the door.  I asked her if she still had power and she said yes she did and then I asked her, “What do I need to do if I lose power?  I don’t know what I did wrong?”  She told me that I need to turn the breaker back on.  She said it’s very likely that the power turned off because I was using too much.  I didn’t know that the power will shut off if you used too much.  Now that is something that I have to be more aware of now.  I was grateful that Stephanie was awake and was able to help me with this.  She showed me where the breakers are and to make sure all the switches were up.  I thanked her and I went back to my apartment.  I looked at the breaker box and there was on leaver that was down.  I pushed the lever back up and my power came back on.  I made sure to unplug any appliances that I wasn’t using.  I started thinking back to my friend Andrea back in America and how she would always unplug any appliances that she wasn’t using just to save power.  Now I’m forced to always think about this too. I found out later from Maggie, that there is a limitation on how much electric you can be using all at once.  If you go over that limit, the power will go out.  I’m glad I found that out.

At less, my morning hasn’t been all that bad.  I got to see the whole mountain of Mt. Iwate without the clouds covering it up and at Starbucks today, I got extra coffee.  They were handing out samples of two different kinds of coffee.  She was speaking all in Japanese but I’m always up for free coffee.  The coffee was so good too!!  Yum!!

No Hot Water!!

The next morning, I got up early to get around for work like normal. I started the shower and had to let it run for five minutes because the water is ice cold for the first few minutes. When I came back to the bathroom to check on the water, the water was still ice cold. I thought maybe I didn’t wait long enough so I waited for another five minutes. Still, it was only ice cold water coming out of my shower. I decided to give up on the shower because I didn’t want to wast any more water than I already have, and I would just ask my boss about it. I had to get more training done and my boss would be at work today. I didn’t want to bother Stephanie again since it was 8 am. Stephanie does have to be at work until 10 or 11 am on most days.
While I was drinking some hot coffee to warm myself up this morning, I remember the gas guy saying something about what I should do if the power goes out. He said something about how I need to turn the gas back on. But I didn’t remember how to do that. He showed me two machines that he told me not to touch. One of them was inside my home.


Another one was outside my front door on the wall. He told me to never touch them unless the power goes out. I can’t remember which one I need to open or what to do with them. I was afraid I might mess something up.

When I got to my training, I asked Maggie about the hot water and she said she would have her husband call the gas guy for me. A little bit later, Maggie comes back and tells me that the gas guy wants to know if there is hot water coming out of the faucet? I told her I haven’t checked it yet and I would have to do that when I get back home that night. The gas guy said he won’t be able to come out and he would just try to tell me what to do through my boss. At this rate, it might take a few days before I have hot water again.

Once I was at the train station, I started to check other Wi-Fi networks. Every time I would check, I could never find a free Wi-Fi network I could use. But then I checked a Wi-Fi network that had a lot of numbers in it and just clicked on that. Then, I was able to get connected to the internet. I was very happy, that I can now get Wi-Fi at the train station. I never thought to check the network that had only numbers in it. I was only clicking on networks that said free Wi-Fi or just Wi-Fi with some company name attached to it. I got a hold of Stephanie and told her about my water problem. She said I need to open the door that was inside my home, next to the bathroom door and just push the power button. I did try that door this morning but I couldn’t get it open. I told her about that and she recommend to pull harder on the door and it might just be jammed. I told her I would do that once I got back home. But I had another problem. The train was running 34 minutes late and I wouldn’t get home till midnight.


Even though I was told that it was rare for trains to run late but it was snowing outside. The reason for the train being late was in Japanese and I just translated the part with google translate about how long the train was running late for. I wanted to make sure that number 34 that I saw on the screen means 34 minutes late. It that is exactly what it said. The train was supposed to come at 9:37 pm. but the train came at 10:14 pm. and I didn’t arrive back to Morioka till 11:30 pm. It took me 30 minutes to walk home because of the heavy snowfall and I had to be careful on not to slip.
Witness my first car accident in Morioka

On my way home, I got to witness a car accident. that was fun let me tell you. There weren’t many cars on the road and the roads were pretty slick. I was about to past the post office and I notice two cars just sitting there in the street. They were close to the curb but that curb area was not a parking area and I didn’t know why they were there. Then a taxi was slowly driving and he slammed on his brakes and sled to the side of the road and hit the guardrail right behind the other car. As I walked past the accident I notice that the taxi car had a dint on the side of it and so did the guardrail. I didn’t think he was going that fast. Anyway, everyone seemed ok. The other car that was already sitting there, the driver got out of his car to check on the taxi driver. I figured I’m probably not needed and just proceeded to walk home.

P_20180111_205851When I finally got home I tried what Stephani recommended and managed to open the metal box that was next to my bathroom. There are three buttons on the machines and it was all in Japanese.  I just did the process of elimination and just hopped for the best and I don’t screw it up. I tried the middle button first and that seemed to work but a red number 2 came up on the screen. The gas guy said that the screen should read 50 and that is how hot the water will be. (50C not 50F.) I tried the third button and that got the screen to say 50C. I tried to see if there was hot water from the faucet and I had hot water again. Hurry!!!! I can take a nice hot shower tomorrow morning. I’m so happy. Now its time to go to bed and prepare for another crazy day that I hope becomes normal and less stressful soon.

Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan)

Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan) #3

January 13th, 2018

Saturday with Stephanie

I meet Stephanie downstairs around 8:20 am because we planned to go to the school together.  I apologized to her and told her what happened on our way to the school and how I was also sorry that Maggie was so worried that she even contacted her and got everyone panicking.  I also told her again that her directions where fin, I didn’t get lost to Morioka station.  For some reason, she still believed that I got lost on my way to the Morioka station.   Maybe Maggie said something that made her think that but I do remember telling her yesterday that I got lost at Ichinoseki Station.  But anyway, we got to the school and I observed Stephanie for 8 hours.

Going Out For A Deleted Birthday Dinner

It was finally 5:30 and we planned to go out to eat for a deleted birthday dinner.  Since I had all this training moved to a new country and didn’t know anyone.  I couldn’t really celebrate my birthday so Stephanie recommended on Thursday that we go out for dinner on Saturday night after work.  Stephanie original planned to go to one of the restaurants next to our place.  There were two restaurants, one was a curry place owned by a family and another was a Japanese western style.  I have already been to the curry shop so we decided to go to the Japanese style restaurant.   We walked back to our apartment and dropped off some of our belongings and went to the restaurant.  The restaurant looked closed.   The lights were turned off on the outside.  Stephanie said there is usually a sign placed outside and the outside lights would be on.  She thought maybe we came too early because some shops open around 6 pm.  But it was after 6 pm and everything looked closed.  There were some lights on inside and we saw a woman come downstairs.  I tried knocking on the door a few times and an older woman came to the door.  Stephanie knew Japanese and she was able to talk to her and ask her if they were closed for the night.  The women told Stephanie the shop has closed down and won’t open back up.   We were both sad about this.  I haven’t even tried the restaurant yet and Stephanie loved eating there.  Stephanie had another place in mind and we went to a pub.  The pub was set up for foreigners.  They had an English menu and there were some English speaking people there and some Japanese people there.  We came early so the pub wasn’t too busy.  There were a lot of foreigner’s poster and objects all over the place.  The owner (master in Japanese I found out) had on a cap that had dreadlocks hanging from it.  The owner and the waitresses seem to know Stephanie.  I asked her if she comes her a lot and she said no, but it was just recently that she has because her family was in town and they went to this pub a lot and she had another friend that came to see her and she brought her friend here too.  We got to sit up on the second floor at a table that had booth size chairs.  We looked over the menu and the menu had a lot of foreign food like fish and chips, pizza, nachos, and so on.  Stephanie asked how did I feel about smokers and I told her I can’t be around second-hand smoke because I’m allergic to it.  She then said, “Good, because she doesn’t like the second-hand smoke and we will have to leave early because more people will come and the place can get a bit busy and covered in smoke.”  She said if you come early its fine like now but later on it gets pretty bad in the pub.  We both placed our order.  We both got fish and chips and both got a different alcohol beverage.  I got a strawberry ice-cream alcohol drink.  Even though it’s cold outside, I still love having ice cream and it’s even better with a little alcohol in it.

Stephanie and I having some sweet drinks at a pub.


Our drinks came first.  My drink was so good!!  It was delicious.  The ice-cream seemed to


be the frozen one where it comes out of the machine still a bit frozen but it’s not completely soft ice cream either.  It came in a thick glass and had some melted ice-cream on the bottom with alcohol.  I don’t usually drink much but I would defiantly come back


for this.  Then our dinner came.  It was breaded fried fish fingers with French fries.  It came with ranch dipping sauce (not exactly ranch, it was their form of tartar sauce but it was thicker and tasted more like ranch) and some ketchup.  I forgot to take a picture of it because after eating the ice cream beverage, I was cold again and the food was nice and hot.  I haven’t had fish and P_20180106_193523chips in awhile so it was nice to have good/bad food once in awhile.  After we were done eating, I wasn’t planning on getting another drink because I’m trying to save my money since I don’t have any income coming in yet.  But while I was looking at the menu, I found a nice warm alcohol drink that was cheaper than my other drink.  It was pretty much hot chocolate with alcohol.  I decided to order that one because it was a hot drink.


After we were done with our drinks we head out and back to our apartment.  I had to go to church in the morning and hopefully, I don’t get lost.  The directions seem easy enough to get to.  I’m also hoping someone here can help me out with my cell phone problem and also could tell me the bus number to get to Aeon Shopping Mall.  We will see soon.

Morioka Bible Baptist Church

I’m not a Baptist but the only two churches that are near where I live is a Catholic Church or a Baptist Church.  I believe in evangelical but with not many options to pick from in Morioka, I had to go with this Baptist church.  From there website, they seem to be open-minded and very welcoming to different types of Christian beliefs.  Hopefully, I can form some relationships with some of the locals or missionaries here.

CIMG9653I screenshot the direction like normal and the directions seem pretty straightforward.  Just take a left and a right and walk straight or about 10 minutes and I should be there.  That’s exactly what I did and I found the church without any problems.  I came 30 minutes early and had no clue where to go.  There were two floors.  The first floor had children inside and I remember on their website that they had children’s Sunday school around 9:30 am and the service starts at 10:30 am.  I saw older women walk in and just watched her for a bit.  She hung up her coat and I showed her my picture of the address of the church and asked if this was the place.  All in English of course but she seemed to understand what I was saying.  She didn’t know English and she was able to help me anyway.  She told me the service was upstairs on the second floor.  I just followed her and once we got upstairs, she managed to find some other people that could help me.  They didn’t know English either but we managed.  They gave me a form to fill out as a new member.  The form was in English and Japanese.  It also asked if I was Baptist and I pointed to the question and said I wasn’t a Baptist that I was a Christian.  They were ok with that the and I handed back the form to them.  They were trying to find me an English bible because my bible was still in a box somewhere, and they found a Japanese bible but I told them I didn’t know Japanese.  And for some reason, I asked in Chinese if they had an English Bible.  I said the word ‘English’ in Chinese without thinking about it and the Japanese women seem to understand that I was speaking Chinese because she handed me a bilingual English and Chinese bible.  I told them this bible would work and they let me walk into the chapel.  There weren’t many people there yet.  I wanted to hide out in the back but the older Japanese woman was pointing to go up further.  So I found a pew that was in the middle.  I sat in front of another older women and she knew some English and started talking to me.  We just talked about basic things.  What’s my name, where are you from, where do you work, where do you live, why did you come to Japan, and so on.  After a while, the church started filling up.  More and more people started walking in.  So far, I only saw one foreigner walk in and she sat somewhere else.   Then a foreign guy walked in and sat in front of me. He looked like he was about 25 years old.  He was tall with brown reddish hair that was a little curly.  His face looks like he hasn’t shaved in a few days.  He was wearing a blue flannel shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers.  What stood out me the most were his big rings that he was wearing on his fingers.  I don’t usually see guys wearing big rings.   He said hi to me and I said hi back.  Then a Japanese guy with his girlfriend(just assuming it’s his girlfriend, not sure.  They walked in together and were with each other all day at church) walked in and sat next to the foreign guy. The Japanese guy looked young, I would say about 23 years old, he was thin, a little taller than me with black fluffy hair.  His girlfriend was a little shorter than him, with long, black hair and white skin.  She was wearing a sweater with a long blue skirt on.   The foreign guy seemed to know the Japanese guy because he said something in Japanese to the Japanese guy.  Then the Japanese guy turns around and introduced himself.  The Japanese guy is name Whiskey.   Then the foreigner guy said he was sorry about not introducing himself earlier and said his name is Aleksey.  Before service began Alexksey switch seats and sat next to me.  He started telling me that there is a translation of the service on Line that I could use.  I told him that I didn’t have internet on my phone and let me borrow his.  He had two phones on him.  He connected to the Line group and got the translation going for me on Line.  He went and got some headphones for me to use.  Once I put the headphones in my ears I was able to understand the Pastor and what the sermon is about.

It was going on noon when the service started wrapping up.  It was a good service.  I was struggling to stay awake but it was a good one.  The pastor talked about how we shouldn’t be boasting about ourselves and referred to 2 Corinthians for reference.  After the service, I gave back Alexksey phone and told him thanks.  We talked for a little bit and I asked him where he was from.  He said he was from California and I asked him how he got internet on his phone.  He said he is with the JET program and they take care of all that for you.  He also mention a girl name Carmen that I should meet and how she might be able to help me.  She also part of the JET program.  Then not long after he said that Carmen walks up to us and introduce herself.  She started telling me how everyone would usually go out for lunch but because of winter camp, they have sandwiches delivered to the church and just eat downstairs.  So we headed downstairs to eat.  I got in line to buy my sandwich just like everyone else.  I was trying my best to listen to the Japanese women in front of me.  From what I could tell, she was asking the older women about the sandwiches.  Each sandwich had different meat inside and it was all written down in Japanese with the prices on it.  The sandwich on the right towards the middle had chicken inside.  Since that’s all I could gather from the conversation, I decided to go with the chicken sandwich.  I didn’t notice but Whisky was right behind me.  He asked me if I could read Japanese and I told him no and he decided to start telling me what each sandwich was.  I was about to tell him that it was ok to become I think I know which sandwich I want but I let him translate each sandwich for me.  I stopped him once he reached the chicken part.  I pointed to the chicken sandwich to the older women and she told me the price of the sandwich.  I paid for my sandwich and sat down.  After I sat down, this woman came up to me with her kid.  She looked familiar to me.  I remember on the website that they had some missionaries at this church.  She was a little shorter than I was; she had short black hair and was carrying her little boy in her arms.  Her little boy looks about 2 years old.  She introduced herself.  Her name is Tomo and she is Japanese.  Her husband is David and he did the translation on the Line group that I heard earlier during the sermon.  She seemed really nice and we talked a little bit.  Carmen sat next to me on my left-hand side.   I asked her where she was from and where she worked and she told me she is from Singapore and she works in a senior High School with the JET program.   I then started asking her about getting internet on my phone. I told her my problem with not being able to get a contract for a phone.  She started looking up directions for me on how to get to Kojima.  Kojima is one of the bigger electronic stores that aren’t that far from Morioka Train Station.  You need to walk past the train station and pass two lights and the store it right there on the right.  It’s a pretty big store with a red and white sign on the building.   Tomo also said I might be able to get a contract with a smaller company.  Since the top three networks require a two-year contract and your visa needs to say two years on it.  Than Carmen told me how the church has Wi-Fi that I could use.  I logged into the church Wi-Fi and was able to add Carmen to my Line contact information.  If I have any other questions she might be able to help me.

After I was done eating Tomo told me she and her husband can drop me off at Kojima on their way home but I have to walk my way back.  I told her that would be great and I should be fine walking back.  As long I can find Morioka Station and I can find my way back home.  We got around to go and David was getting the car and Tomo started getting the children around.  I talked to Carmen for a little bit more and then we said our goodbyes and I told her I will see her next week.   David came back to get his wife and the children and we all went outside together to the car.  The children got in first and Tomo sat in the back and I sat in the passenger side seat.  Her husband drove to the post office first to drop off a letter and then we were off.  On our way, they asked more questions about my life in Taiwan and what brought me to Japan and things.  Then we were about to drive past a building called Aiina.  This building has a library inside and offers free Japanese class.  They can also arrange for you a tutor that can go around your busy schedule.  I might have to take up there offer on getting a tutor because I really need to learn how to speak Japanese first and start incorporating writing later on.  I will have to visit this building when I have time.  We finally arrive at Kojima.  They dropped me off in the parking garage area and I said my goodbye to them.  Now, maybe I can finally get a phone.

Will I finally get a cell phone with internet? Also, what happens if you use too much electricity in your home in Japan? Find out next time on The Arita Report. Hehe  Have a nice day.

Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan)

Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan) #2

January 11, 2018

I know this is not a weekly report but a lot of stuff is going on almost every day. But, in another week or so, things will start to calm down and my reports will be more of a weekly/bi-weekly thing. But for the meantime, I’m trying to post what has been happening from last week.

Getting lost in Ichinoseki

CIMG9684Stephanie gave me directions with landmarks on how to get to Morioka Station.  There were pretty simple and I was able to find my way there.  I got to the train station around 11 am.  I didn’t know I would get there so early.  I booked my ticket to Ichinoseki and back so I didn’t have to wait in line to get my ticket back to Morioka.  Then I just walked around the station and looked at the different shops that they have.  Once it was time for me to go, on got to my platform and waited for the local train.  It was going to be an hour and a half before I get there.  Tadashi drew me a map and I told him I needed to know the exit name or number or I’m going to get lost.  He told me I could take exit East or South and that should take me to the main entrance.  He told me after I leave the main entrance I need to go straight and I should see a traffic light.  After the light go straight and the school should be on the left.  It seemed like simple directions.  I shouldn’t have any problems.  That’s what I thought anyway.

After I arrived at the Ichinoseki Station, I took the East Exit like Tadashi said to take.  The crowd started to thin out and I didn’t see many people there.  I went through the gate and I asked the conductor if this was the main entrance and he said yes.  I kept going till I hit the exit and I saw taxi cars, a car parking lot and a bicycle parking lot.  I didn’t see many people there but I kept going straight like Tadashi said to do.  After I got to the first light, I couldn’t go straight anymore.  I could only go left or right.  I figured I must have turned myself around somehow.   I decided to head back to the station and try the other road.  I went straight and there wasn’t a light but I looked to my left and I saw a traffic light.  I headed down there.  It was a four-way area and I kept going straight.  I passed a 7/11 and a gas station.  I went straight for a little bit because Tadashi said the school wasn’t far from the traffic light.  I didn’t see any school so I headed back to the traffic light.  This time I turned left and went straight again tell I hit another traffic light.  It was the traffic light that I saw before that leads to the train station.  I turned around and went back to the traffic light again next to 7/11.  This time I went straight and passed the gas station and a few supermarkets.  Still, I didn’t see the school.

This 7/11 is in Morioka.

I went back to 7/11 since I can get Wi-Fi there and contacted Maggie.  By then it has been a little over an hour and I still couldn’t find the school.  I was getting frustrated and hunger.  While I was trying to type Maggie, I was trying to dig out my train ticket with the name, “Ichinoseki” because I didn’t know how to spell it and I wanted to spell it correctly.  During this process, I ended up dropping my phone on the cement.  My phone hit the edge of the cement and then it fell flat.  Luckily, it only cracked on the corner and a big line going across my screen.  I can still use it no problem.  But now I have to find a new phone because the edge of my phone is sharp and I’m going to cut myself sooner or later with it.  After I was done e-mailing Maggie, I went inside to grab a snake or I was going to kill something.  It didn’t take Maggie long to reply and she told me she has been calling Susan and Stephanie and asking where I was at and she was very worried about me.  Then I get a message from Stephanie asking where I was at.  She thought I was still in Morioka.  I told her I didn’t have a problem finding the train station in Morioka, I just got lost in Ichinoseki and couldn’t find the school yet.  In Maggie’s e-mail, she told me to stay at 7/11 and Susan would come and get me.  Well, come to find out, Susan didn’t know where 7/11 was and said there isn’t a 7/11 near the school.  Then how am I using the internet if I’m not at 7/11 then?  The train station doesn’t have internet some Wi-Fi places want you to have a credit card to use there Wi-Fi.  7/11 was my only option.  Then Maggie asked Stephanie to tell me to go back to the train station and Susan will meet me at the ticket booth.

Back to the Train Station

After I bought my snacks, I headed back to the train station.  I went through the same doors that I exited from.  I went to the ticket booth and I didn’t see anyone there.  Then I started wounding if I was in the back of the station the whole time.  I was trying to find another way to get to the front of the station but they didn’t have any hallways going to the front unless I go back outside and go around the station.  That will take too long and Susan is probably waiting for me.  Probably upset too because I know she has things to do and this is her break time.  I didn’t want to use my ticket again because that will mess up the ticket when I still need to use it tonight.  I tried to see if I could pass through the gate on the left side.  There isn’t a machine there and you can just walk right through but you need to talk to the staff first.  The staff wasn’t paying attention and I just walked right through.  I went to the plot form again where I got off from and found the exit that said, ‘west exit’.  I went in that direction and that took me to the main gate.  I went through the gate that had the staff there and they didn’t notice me either and I just walked on through.  Susan was standing there waiging for me.   I recognized her from my skype interview but she didn’t seem to recognize me too well.  I went to her and introduce myself and I asked if she was Susan and she said yes.   It was going to be a long day.

End of the day

It was a long afternoon and evening and I was happy for it to be over and couldn’t wait to get back to my place.  After my training was done I had to rush back to the train station.  Luckily, Susan got permission from Maggie to let me leave 10 minutes early to catch the train back to Morioka.  Susan’s last class didn’t end tell 9:05 pm. and the train leaves at 9:15 pm.  I got to the train station on time and got to my platform.  I managed to get some sleep on the train but it was pretty busy on the way back and I couldn’t sleep much.  I was so happy to be home and finally get to sleep in my bed.  The day was over and tomorrow is a new day.

It was a rough day but things will get better soon.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the read.  More to come.  Stephanie takes me to a pub, what happed at church and what happens when you use too much power in your place in Japan?  Coming soon.

Morioka, Japan

Weekly/Bi-weekly Report (Japan) #1

January 8, 2018
I’m starting something new here. This will just be an update of my up and down struggles of moving to a new country and how some days it can be great and some days, it’s a struggle. For example, just taking out the trash can be difficult if you don’t know how it’s done that country. Or what if the power goes out. You know what to do in your own country or other countries that you have been too, but this is a new country with different rules on how to do things in your day to day life.
It’s only been over a week and I already had a few up and downs. Just trying to figure out how things work in Japan and trying to find my way around. I’ve gotten lost a few times but manage to find my way. When I get lost I remember things better that way. If someone is taking me to these places, I won’t remember it to well. I have to do it myself if I want the information to stick. The first few days it was the holiday and school was closed during that time. I didn’t start work until January 4th. (On my birthday). I took this time just to figure out where things were at. For example, I don’t have internet right now, so I had to find Starbucks first and get a hold of my family and friends to let them know I’m ok.

Finding Starbucks


My boss Maggie told me that I need to take a right at the Catholic Church near my home and just keep going straight passing Dori shopping street and turn left again and Starbucks should be right there. Well, I turned right at the Catholic Church and went straight tell I passed Dori shopping street. Then I turn left and I couldn’t find Starbucks. I didn’t know what I did wrong. So I walked around for a little bit and found a 7/11 and used there Wi-Fi. I got directions from that and still manage to keep turning myself around. About an hour later I finally found Starbucks. It turns out I needed to keep going straight and Starbucks was connected to a hotel. I didn’t need to turn left on a road like I originally thought. Starbucks was on my left. If I would have just kept walking straight I would have run right into it. Love getting lost. But I learned where it was really quick that way and I haven’t gotten lost trying to find Starbucks since.
I’ve been living in Starbucks for most of the holiday. Just working on my blog and trying to get directions to places for later on. I was pretty much settled into my new place and didn’t have much to do. During New Year’s Eve, I got lost again trying to find a temple but that is on another blog if you want to read about that. I haven’t met Stephanie yet. She lives underneath my apartment and her parents were in town. I tried ringing her doorbell once but she wasn’t home. I was able to figure out the washing machine. I just had to push the power button and push start. It was the same type of style as the washing machines back in Taiwan. The settings are all seat up and I just have to push two buttons and I’m set. I still have to hang my clothes to dry but the only problem with this is the cold weather. It’s too cold to hang the clothes outside and I have two separate doors to my place. The washing machine is near the front door and it’s too cold to hang them there. I need to hang them inside, near my heater so they can dry. I only have one heater. At first, I was able to just hang the clothes in the spare closet since not all my clothes have arrived yet. But now my clothes have arrived, I don’t have any room to hang them. I’m going to have to get one of those long current rods. Or get one of those drying racks but those are usually pretty big and I don’t know where I would place it when I’m not using it. But for now, I will try the current rode first and see how it works.

Time to Start My New Job
January 4th finally came around and it was time for me to start my two-week training. My first day was with Stephanie. She works in the school that is in walking distance from our home. My boss e-mailed me the day before letting me know that her husband will be dropping off my boxes at my place in the morning and we would be going to City Hall to get me registered, then go to the post office and apply for my bank cards again, and he will drop me off at the school. Tadashi (Maggie’s husband) came around 10 am and I helped him on getting my boxes out of the car. There is a cart next to the elevator that anyone could use and we used that to get my boxes up to my apartment. So grateful for an elevator. After we got all the boxes up, he took me to City Hall first. Tadashi English was pretty good and we talked a little bit. It took about 30 minutes or so to get all my documents done at City Hall. We didn’t have any problems. Lucky for me. Then we CIMG9654headed to the Post Office. This time, everything went smoothly. I handed them the paperwork that I filled out last time and just had to do a lot of waiting. There was one thing that I found interesting. I had to sign my name in a box on the paperwork. My last name is pretty long and I went out of the box line just a little bit. He had to get a new piece of paper and told me I had to stay in the box. This time I stayed in the box and then I saw him take his ruler out and measured my name. I found that so bazaar and didn’t know why he had to measure it. Maybe there some rule about the size of my signature. I don’t really know. Anyway, other than that, everything else went smoothly and I had to wait for about one or two weeks to get my bank card. I will get a letter in the mail letting me know that I can pick it up.
After all that, Tadashi took me to the school and gave me my schedule for the week. I was going to observe Stephanie for the rest of the day and tomorrow I had to get to Ichinoseki and go to the other school and be trained by Susan. I have to leave by train at 12:08 and arrive at 1:37 pm. Then I will catch the last train to Morioka at 9:15 pm. and arrive at Morioka Station around 10:47 pm. On Saturday I will be training with Stephanie again at 8:30 am. Tell 5:30 pm. Saturday is going to be long, tiring day. I will need lots of coffee that day. Because I’m still walking on foot and because of this it will take me 20 minutes to walk to the train station and back. I might not be able to go to bed till midnight and then get up at 6 am. to get around for work. It’s going to be long three days.
I’m going to skip over the boring part of the observation and just talk about what happened after work. We closed up the school and we walked home together. I started asking her about how to take out the trash and recycle and how to separate them. In Taiwan, depending on where you live, you have to stand outside in a certain area and wait for the trash truck and recycling truck to come. Sometimes they come late and you might be standing out there longer than normal. Or in America, depending on where you live, you just put all your trash in a bag and take it to your trash bin and take out the trash bin the day before the trash truck comes. Here, in Japan, it’s also different. Stephanie told me that she wasn’t sure on how to separate the recycle besides what the pictures say on our kitchen wall. In both of our kitchen, there is a picture on how to separate the recycles and what days they need to be put out on. It’s all in Japanese so I have no clue what it says or if I’m even doing it right.

P_20180103_143433She said she is not too sure because she was living in Akita and the way they handled the trash and recycles are different there. But she was able to tell me what days the trash truck comes and plastic pick up comes. She also showed me where to put the recycles and trash. We have to go down one street and there is a metal cabinet that you need to open and put the trash on the button shelf and put the recycles on the top shelf. It’s best to do it the night before because they come sometime in the morning and you don’t want to miss them. After that, we got to our apartment building and went to our rooms. It was a long day, but I learned a lot. Now, I have a long day on trying to find the other school in Ichinoseki.

Do you want to hear how I might have gotten lost trying to get to the other school? Or how did my first day at a new church went? Well, that I will have to wait for another time. Maybe tomorrow if I can make it to Starbucks before work. Hope you enjoyed the story of my life so far. Talk to everyone soon.

Japan trip September 2017

9th Day In Kyoto, Japan

Friday, September 22nd,2017
Sorry for the long wait. I’ve been so busy with the move to Japan and just got really behind on my first visit to Japan. At less, there are only a few more days I have to write about and I should be caught up. Hope you enjoy.
Rest Day
Today I’m so tired of all the running around and seeing amazing places and meeting new people that I just need a break. I took the day to just spend some time with myself and just relax and catch up on some writing. And some much-needed sleep. It’s been over a week since I’ve been in Japan and I haven’t had much time to reflect much about my trip or what I’m going to be doing in the next few days. I’m leaving for Osaka on Monday and then I have to leave for Taiwan on Thursday. I don’t want to leave Kyoto. I love Kyoto so far. I love all the traditional houses and shrines. I love the people and food and how it’s not so crowded and busy. I also love how quiet it is here in Kyoto. I remember being in Osaka on Sunday and how noisy it was and having lots and lots of people everywhere. Osaka is very lively place at night unlike Kyoto and I prefer the quiet neighborhood. I’m really going to miss the peaceful lifestyle here in Kyoto. I do have some planes later on tonight with Dana. We are using the MeetUp app again and we are going to try out a cooking class. Should be interesting and I can’t wait for tonight to meet new people and to learn to make some Japanese food. I love learning how to cook different kinds of food. It’s always fun to make food and eat it together with other people. It’s even better when you with a group of people who are learning the same thing as you. We can all struggle with learning to cook something new together.
Getting to cooking class

Walking to the Cooking Class

Dana recommended using the app Meetup to meet new people. I use Meetup in Taiwan but I didn’t think about using it in Japan. She told me about a cooking meet up where we will learn how to cook Oden. (Not udon, but oden). The first thing that came to my mind was udon noodles. Not realizing it was hot pot. All week I thought I would be learning how to make udon noodles. I was way wrong.

We needed to arrive at the place around 6:15 pm. and the cooking lesson would start at 6:30 pm and last till almost 9 pm. We decided we would leave around 5 and just walk to the place. I Googled the direction and took some screenshots. It was going to be a 45-minute walk and we needed to leave around 5. Hopefully, we won’t get lost and we get there ok.
It was an interesting walk. Saw some cheap food, beautiful traditional houses, and just enjoying how peaceful the atmosphere is. Love walking around Kyoto. We didn’t get too lost. Google maps told me where it was and I just followed that but Google maps were slightly wrong about the street. It was just one street off. Google maps tried to take us to Starbucks. But we found someone to help us. Instead of just telling us how to get there, she just took us there. This is the second time this happened where a complete stranger will go out of their way to help you and will even take you there. I just find this amazing and so sweet of these people to go that far just to help a stranger. It turned out that it was a building that we passed and we had to go upstairs the second floor.

Learn how to cook Japanese Oden (not Udon)

We finally arrived at the meeting place. We were 20 minutes early but that’s ok. We got to meet the instructor and the person who organized the whole thing. Turned out the assistant is the cook’s daughter. The daughter new English and so did her mom. We had to pay 2,000yen for the class. Which is fine because most places charge more than that because it’s a tourist trap. We had to take off our shoes and put on slippers before we could enter the kitchen. She gave us a paper that had the recipe and the directions. Then she loaned us an apron to use that we have to give back before we leave. Slowly, people started showing up. We got to meet most of them. We had about 12 people that showed up for the cooking class. What shocked me the most was that everyone was ok with using English with us. No one was nerves or acted shy about using English. They acted very confident in there speaking and if they didn’t know something they would ask. It was really nice to see this.

After everyone arrived we watched the chef talked about what we are going to be making and how to do it. She spoke mixed English and Japanese and sometimes would have her assistant translate stuff sometimes. We learned a lot. Then we split up into our groups. Also, the chef invited some of her friends to join in on the cooking. They knew how to cook so they where there to help us in our groups. We started making the hot pot stuff first and we also had another group who did the side dish. We all helped each other out in English and Japanese. We also made dessert. Luckily the chef friends were there to help us or I would have missed it up big time. I couldn’t remember much what the chef said about how to cook this. I just remember some of it. Haha

The other women where helping Dana and me on cutting the food. I never worked with this type of food before. We had daikon radish, konnyaku, chikuwa, Satsuma-age, boiled egg, oage, negi, and kanpyo, There was some stock for the soup too but I didn’t have to do anything with the soup part. Just help on cutting up the food. There was one part I thought I knew what I was doing. It was just to cut a lime and squeeze the lime juice in the Japanese salad. Easy enough I thought. I cut the Limes in half and waited for the salad to be done. Well, that wasn’t correct. You had to (what the chef said, put medicine on the lime first to make it greener and stronger in taste). I rubbed the salt on the outside of the lime and I started to smell the lime. Then we cut the lime into wedges. Luckily, the chef had some extra lime we could use since I missed it up. Haha

After the food was all done, everyone helped out with setting up the table and getting everyone food laid out on the table. Then the chef came up to me and asked if I was a Christian. I had to ask her to repeat that because I haven’t been asked this question by a stranger since Thailand. She repeated the question and what I heard the first time was correct. I told her yes and she asked me if I could lead everyone in prayer. I don’t know if she just wanted the experience of having someone pray before the meal, but I was happy to do it.

Dinner Time!

Everyone gathered around the table and I waited for everyone to be seated. Then everyone was dead silent. I don’t think they knew what to do. As I folded my hands I saw some of the other women having problems. They had no idea what was going on or even how to pray over a meal. Then I realized no one here besides Dana, the chef and I knew how to pray. To me, it was a simple concept but for the Japanese women, it wasn’t. I should have known better than to assume that everyone would know how to put their hands together and bow their heads. I would be in the same boat if I went to a shrine. I would have no clue how to pray in their shrines or the basic things you do in a shrine. Then the chef realized the same thing I did and she explained to everyone what to do in Japanese. Then everyone had their head down and hands folded. I was so nerves. I’m not use to being put on the spot like this. I took a deep breath and said a silent pray for myself asking for the Lord to guide me through this. I bowed my head and started to pray. I just stuck with a simple prayer. ‘Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for our meal that we are about to have today and thank you for letting us being together and share this amazing experience together. In Jesus name, Amen’. Like I said, simple. But when I raised my head, it happened again. No one had a clue that the prayer was done. Neither did the chef. She had to open her eyes and see that I was done to let everyone else know that I was done. Everyone else started to open there eyes and unclosed there hands. But no one started eating yet. Dana asked what are we suppose to do next? Since no one was eating yet, there must be something we have to do. The chef said we start eating when everyone says,”Itadakimasu“. Then the chef said it first then everyone at the table said it at the same time. Then everyone started to eat. The food was amazing!!! I like hot pot but this was a Japanese version of hot pot. All our hard work has finally paid off.

Clean up Time

Most people were done eating, but no one was getting up yet. Everyone was waiting for everybody to be done eating. Everyone just waited patiently for everyone to finish their food. Dana was the last one to be eating. After she finished her food, the chef said, “Gochisosama” then everyone else said, “Gochisosama”. After that, everyone started getting up and clearing off the table. We picked up our plates, bowls, and silverware and took them to the sink to be washed. I helped with the washing and someone else did the drying and another person put the dry dishes away. It was great teamwork. We got everything cleaned up pretty fast. After the clean up was done the chef gathered us all together to say a few parting words and said goodbye. We took a group photo and we had to start saying goodbye to everyone.


After we were done talking to everyone, Dana and I were off to our hostel. Dona and I just talked about our experience and how much fun we had cooking and just trying the new food. We finally made it to our hostel and just got around to bed. It was a great day of meeting new people, cooking, and just having a great time. I would love to do this again if I get the chance too.

That is all for this post. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. It was a great experience that I will never forget. Please remember to follow me on my blog, Instagram, and Facebook. Have a nice day.


Morioka, Japan

New Year’s Eve Night in Morioka, Japan

December 31st, 2017

My Orginal Plan

On December 31st, on New Year’s Eve, I had no plans to do anything.  Just chilling out at Starbucks, drinking my coffee.   Typing away on my laptop.  Trying to catch up on my blog, and I didn’t have any friends yet in Morioka.  It also didn’t help that I hate the cold.  If I could hibernat all winter I would.  I like to explore new places in warmer weather.  Then, I received an e-mail from my boss.
She wished me a happy New Year’s Eve and told me I could go to Hachimangu Shrine. She said that is where everyone goes to celebrate the New Year’s and I should go for the cultural experience. I would have to take Odori (main shopping strip) and it would be about 40 minutes to an hour walk in the snow. The shopping strip was not far from my home and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to walk an hour in the snow. I decided to think about it and just keep working on my blog. My laptop battery died and I decided to leave Starbucks. Starbucks has some sort of covering over there plugs so you can’t stay at Starbucks all day on your laptop or phone. Very smart of them on their part if you don’t want people to be sitting around all day. (I realized later that the main table in Starbucks has plugs underneath the table. They’re not very noticeable if you’re not looking for it. I was always looking for plugs on the walls, not underneath tables). I headed to 7-ll, grabbed some food to heat up back at my apartment and left.

New Plan
Once I got back home, I ate my dinner and started working on my blog some more.  I was still debating in my head if I want to brace the cold for over two hours. One hour to the shrine and one hour back and who knows how long I will be there for. Do I really want to be out in the cold that long? I can’t decide. So I waited for about 9:30 pm. and decided I will try to get to the shrine and hopefully not get lost along the way. I left around 10 pm. and when I open the door I saw that it has been snowing for some time now. There was about an inch of snow on the ground and everything was covered in snow. I haven’t seen this in a long time and it actually looked beautiful to me. Usually, it doesn’t and I hate snow but here in Japan, it looks beautiful. I took some photos outside my place before I left for my long walk.

The Long Walk

I walked down my street tell I had to turn left. I walked down for a little bit and had to walk pass Odori shopping area. I wanted to get directions from GoogleMaps before I went any further. 7/11 has free WiFi but they don’t have any chairs or tables for you to seat at. Probably so that no one can stay too long and just use the WiFi all day. I stood outside the store to get direction. It looked pretty far, just like Maggie said, but I believe I could do it. I screenshot the directions and got back to Odori Shopping strip. I turned left first hoping that was the right way. Maggie said there would be a lot of people coming and going from the shrine, but I only saw people coming out of bars and KTV’s really drunk. Or families that were going back to their car with shopping bags. They were on both sides of the shopping strip. It was about 15 minutes before I realized that I turned the wrong way. I saw an old Temple/Shrine and it was pretty dark in that area and no one was really around.  I don’t remember seeing this old Temple/shrine on GoogleMaps and Maggie said I just needed to go straight the whole time and I should run into the shrine. I turned around and started walking the other direction. (Turns out, I was going the right direction.  I had to go around theTemple/Shrine and walk another 30 mintues.) While walking through the shopping strip, that is where I would see the most people at. Most of them being drunks and talking pretty load. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable because I was walking by myself, and I was told I should stay away from drunk men on the street. There were a lot of drunk men that were together with there friends.  Luckily, they didn’t bother me, but I still felt uncomfortable.

I kept walking for about 30 minutes and I came across a bridge. I remember this bridge because Maggie went over the bridge when she picked me up from the Morioka Station. I must be pretty close to the station then.
I kept walking, hoping I was close to the shrine. I found an interesting silhouette on a rolling gate. It was a silhouette of a ballerina posing with a chair next to her. It was beautiful. I took a few pictures of this and a selfie. To show how bundled up I am.

(Just Keep Swimming  Dora Tune)  Just keep walking, just keep walking, just keep walking, walking, walking.  Its so cold!!  I think I will only walk for a little bit longer and then I will call it a night and head back to my place.  As I was walking, I found another interesting display outside a shop.  This shop had a statue of a penguin on top of a sign, a pumpkin, some lights, plants, a Ferris wheel, and some other odd and neat things.
As you can see, my walk was a little bit eventful. I kept walking for a little bit longer. There weren’t many people on the street now and I felt very unsafe. I don’t like to be in areas where there aren’t many people around including where there are quite a few drunks out. I decided to head back because I felt unsafe and figured I probably miss most of the event anyway. As I was walking back I found out the clock said 11:40 pm. I defiantly miss a lot of things by now. I stayed on the main street that I have been using the whole time and got back to the shopping area. I had to turn left and keep going.  I passed a few convent stores and knew I was going the right direction back home.
Once I got to my apartment, I changed out of my wet clothes and crawled into bed with my three heavy blankets on top of me. I even turned on my heater for about an hour before I turn it off. I thought I would have heard fireworks by now, but I guess fireworks isn’t a thing here. Then finally sleep came over me and I was passed out.
Hope you enjoy the read. Sorry, that I didn’t do too much on New Year’s Eve. I will try to keep posting things when I have time. Please follow me if you like my blog and if you enjoy the pictures you can see more pictures of my adventures on Instagram or my Facebook page. Have a great New Year.

Morioka, Japan

Moving to Japan Adventure Part 2

Traveling to Morioka part 2

December 29th, 2017

Disclaimer: This post is pretty long.  You have been warned.

Woke up around 4 am.  It’s a new day and I hope things go better this time around.  I didn’t get much sleep again.  I think I was just anxious to get this over with.  I kept waking up every hour throughout the night.  I don’t know how much longer I can keep up with this whole not sleeping much.  Just have to power through.

Check Out Time

I got cleaned up and around to go downstairs to check out.  At the front counter was the same guy that checked me in.  I started to wonder if he has been working all night.  He was here around 9 pm last night and he is still here at 5 am.  He was able to check me out no problem and gave me a receipt.  I asked him if he could call me a taxi because it was still dark outside and I didn’t want to take any chances of getting lost to Shin-Osaka Station.  He called a few people and it took about 5 minutes or so before he found someone that could pick me up and would go to the station.  Then it was about 5:20 am. before the taxi showed up.  I’m glad I checked out early.  I would be rushing to the train if I tried to check out at 5:30 am.  I got into the taxi and I was on my way.

Shinkansen (Bullet Train)


I got to the Shinkansen gate around 5:28 am.  The gate was still closed and there was already a line forming.  I guess I wasn’t the only one that wanted to come early.  The gate opened a little after 5:30 am. And everyone started to go through the gate.  Then the shops inside the Shinkansen area started to open up for people.  The 7-11 and all the other shops in the train station didn’t open up till 6 am. So if you haven’t had breakfast yet and you have a ticket for the Shinkansen train then you can get some food before you leave.  I wasn’t the only person that was thinking about getting food for the train.  There was already a line forming at the checkout counter.  I just grabbed a sandwich and a water bottle.  Once I checked out I went to look for my platform.  It was platform 25 and I went up the escalator.  Once I got to the top I had to find my car.  It was car 14 non-smoking area.  It was pretty much at the end of the train and the escalator took me to car 8.  So I walked all the way too car 14.  Since this is the first train that is leaving for the day, the train was already there, ready to go.  But we couldn’t get on the train yet.  We had to wait till 5:50 am.  It was only 5:40 am so I just sat on a bench and just chilled out there drinking my water bottle while I waited like everyone else.  Then finally, it was 5:50 am.  And the doors opened up.  Now I can get out of this cold.  The one thing I forgot to mention in my last blog is that the trains here have heaters blowing inside the train.  I’m not used to having heaters inside trains.  It’s always just AC blowing all the time in the trains in Taiwan.  Even the High-Speed Rail trains only have AC.  So to feel the heat coming from inside the train was wonderful!  I didn’t have to freeze on the train.  It was such an amazing feeling.  Including if you just got done waiting on a bench for 10 minutes in the cold and now you can sit on a nice warm train.  I’m a happy person.  I found my seat and sat down and just relaxed.  The train took off and it was still dark outside so I couldn’t see much.  I started dozing off.  Good thing too because I needed the extra sleep.  By the time I knew it, I was already about to stop in Tokyo.  It’s been already a little over two hours and now I have to rush to find my other train.  I hope everything goes ok.

Finding The Next Shinkansen Train

Once I got off the train I rushed to look for the nearest exit and once I found the exit  I was able to find a staff member and showed him my ticket.  He just pointed in one direction.  Left.  So I headed left and just followed some signs that said Shinkansen South Entrance.  I didn’t know how far so I just followed the sign a then the sign said turn left.  I didn’t want turn left yet because I want to make sure that I was supposed to go left for my train.  I’m trying to avoid getting lost or taking a wrong turn then I might miss my train.  I found another staff member and he said yes, that is where I need to be.  So I kept following the signs and found the gate that leads to the other platforms.  The next platform was 14 if I remember correctly.  I went up the escalator again.  This platform was a bit different.  There are different Shinkansen trains all on the same track and it looks like they are connected.  The Shinkansen trains where all in different colors.  One seat of trains was green, another orange, and so on.  I think these trains break off in different directions later along the way.  Just my guess.  I’m not sure.  I’ve tried looking it up but didn’t find anything.  Just information about the normal trains breaking off on to different tracks but nothing about Shinkansen breaking off.   My train was number 7 and I was in car 6 but I don’t have a seat in this car so I wasn’t sure where I was allowed to stand.  In the Taiwan trains, some people would stand on one side of the car or the other side.  Or if there are a lot of people that have to stand, most people would stand in the aisle way.  Or people would stand by the doors that let you on or off the train.  I didn’t know which one of these would be true for Japan trains.  I decided to just watch where other people went that didn’t have seats.  Most of the people were standing by the bathrooms, trash cans or by the door entrance way.  I stood by the bathrooms with some other people.  This train had different interior design and looked older.  I think the ones that are in the central part of Japan are newer than this train I was on now.  It just had an old look to it and the bathrooms were a lot smaller.  I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to sit on the floor or on our bags or allowed to seat at all.  I waited for some people to sit down first.  The guy next to me sat on his bag and I did the same.  I just had to get up from time to time for the staff that was pushing the food cart through the train and for people that needed a bathroom.  Other than that, I got to sit down for most of the way.  Good thing too because it was 2.5 hours train ride.

Interesting Train Ride

There were a few other people sitting near the bathroom like I was.  Everyone is very quiet, just minding their own business.  This woman that look like in her thirties went into the bathroom.  She had white skin and didn’t look too good.  She was in the bathroom for about 20 minutes.  A few people even knocked on the door to see if she was ok.  No response.  Then a little later, she finally came out.  She looked even worse then she did before.  She was a lot whiter and could barely keep her balance.  She looked like she was about to pass out.  She was swaying a lot from left to right and barely had her eyes open and was moving very slowly back to her seat.  Her husband (just assuming it was her husband, I don’t know) but after about 10 minutes, the man got up and got the conductor on the train.  He told him what was happening to his wife and the conductor went to her.  He moves her slowly to the next car going passed us.  She still looked terrible and could barely walk still.  The conductor had the husband come with her and he sat them in a different seat.  Then the conductor runs to the food cart to grab some bags for the women to through up in and some towels.  The conductor even went back and grabbed their belongings for them.  After he was done taking care of the women the conductor was about to walk by us again then an older man, maybe in his fifties that had to stand up along with us, stopped the conductor and started asking questions about what was going on.  Then the older man started acting strangely.  He started pulling at the conductor’s name tag and said his name slowly, then re-adjusted the conductor’s name tag.  I don’t think this was normal because the conductor looked very confused about what this older man just did.  I even asked about this later if this was a normal thing and I was told it is not normal and it’s actually rude to do that to someone.  So my guess was right about that one.  Then the conductor was slowly trying to inch away from the guy because he is busy and he has things to do.  The conductor also looked very uncomfortable talking to the guy.  When the conductor was finally passed me, the old man realized the conductor had things to do and pats him on the shoulder pretty much saying, ‘it’s ok, you can go now’.  The whole thing was just awkward to see and I felt bad for the conductor.  And here I am, stuck seating next to this older guy for the time being.  Luckily, I don’t know the language and just kept my headphones on and just chill into my little world.

Arrive at Morioka Station

After 2.5 hours on the train, the train finally arrives at Morioka station.  I’m so happy to be here!!!  Finally!!  After all the craziness from yesterday, I can finally see where I’m going to be living at for the next year or two.  As I got off the train the cold air of 30F (-1C) hits me real fast.  I think I’m going to freeze to death here.  I haven’t had to deal with this kind of cold weather since I left home in May 2012.  But this cold air isn’t so bad.  It’s not windy and the sun was out.  The sun helps makes the cold more tolerable.  I started walking and tried to find the exit sign that said, ‘South Exit’.  I found the sign and started following that.  My boss Maggie told me her daughter would be waiting for me at the exit.  I have no clue what her daughter looks like but Maggie said her daughter will wave me down. Since they don’t get many foreigners in Morioka, it shouldn’t be hard to spot me.  Well, I arrived at the exit and I didn’t see anyone waving me down and I thought maybe she is at the south exit doors.  I decide to head downstairs and see if I can find Maggie’s daughter.   I was about to head outside tell I felt another hit of cold wind.  I changed my mind real quick and went back inside and stood by the big windows next to the door.  I kept looking outside, hoping to find Maggie or her daughter.  No luck.  I started wounding if they forgot about me.  It wouldn’t be the first time that someone has forgotten about me at the airport.  When I arrived in Thailand for the first time, the assistance where suppose to pick me up at 8 am.  Well, they didn’t show up till 11 am.  They said they didn’t see me, but I was standing outside in the pick-up area and there weren’t any other foreigners around or many people at this small airport.  But it turns out that one of the assistance just had a hangover and was busy in the bathroom.  Even after they picked me up, they needed to make another bathroom stop and we sat in the car for about 30 minutes before the other assistance got out of the bathroom.

Anyway, back to the story.  As I was still standing by the big window next to the exit, a tall Japanese girl, in a thick long coat and scarf approach me and asked if my name was Arita.  I said yes, and she told me she is Maggie’s daughter.  She said she saw me upstairs at the train exit but didn’t know if it was me or not and didn’t say anything.  And when she saw there weren’t any more foreigners coming off the train, she thought the girl she saw before was probably me.  So she found me by the door.  We went outside in the cold weather to find her mom’s car.  All the cars here in Morioka are either white, gray, or blue.  But most of them are white and gray and are in really good condition.  You would never see anyone driving a junk car.  I was wounding how we are going to spot her mom’s car with all the cars looking alike.  Then I saw a green color car.  It stood out like a sore thumb.  Maggie’s car was about to pull away and her daughter stopped her by hitting the trunk of the car with her hand a few times.  The car stopped and we got into the nice warm car.  Maggie said hello to me and we talked for a little bit as she was driving to my apartment.  She started telling me all about the area I will be living in and where to go food shopping, where to find Starbucks for WiFi, and so on.  She asked me what kind of food I would like to eat.  I told her I eat anything.  I’m not allergic to any food.  I’m very grateful for that.  I’m only allergic to nature, pollen, dust, anything living but not food.  (I’m not joking about anything living part.  If it has skin cells I’m allergic to it, if it has dander, I’m allergic to it.  That means all animals and humans.  Luckily, not so much on the human side but I’m sad about not being able to own a cat or dog.  I love cats).

Ok, I need to stop getting distracted.  I told Maggie about eating anything and she began to tell me about two restaurants that are next to my place.  One is a Japanese/Western-style restaurant and one is Japanese Curry restaurant.  The Japanese Curry restaurant is similar to CoCo Curry.  But it’s a Mo and Pa kind of restaurant.  I’m always for supporting the local shops so I decided to go to the Japanese Curry restaurant.  After a little bit of driving, we finally arrive at my new apartment.

New Apartment

CIMG9606Maggie’s daughter and I get out of the car while Maggie goes to park the car.  The apartment building looked really nice on the outside.  Just your normal single, tall building, with a few rooms on each floor.  If I remember correctly, I think Maggie said this building can hold up to 20 attendants.  I did some research about the rent I was going to paying at my apartment just to see what kind of apartment I might be moving into.  The rent is about 37.000yen ($328US Dollars) a month and from the research, it was going to be a pretty small apartment.  Not much room.  Only room for a bed, desk, closet, and a separate doorway that goes to the bathroom and the front door.  I was ok with that.  From what I read online, it can be difficult to find an apartment on your own if you don’t know Japanese or you don’t have a Japanese friend that can help you.  Also, some places won’t take in foreigners because the landlord had problems with foreigners in the past.  That was the only ideal I had for my apartment.

At my new apartment, there are 6 floors in my place and an elevator.  I was surprised that there was even an elevator in the building.  Usually, single buildings only have stairs.  I was very grateful for that one.  I’ve sent quite a few boxes to Japan that I have to wait another week or so for and having an elevator to carry them up will be a big help.   We get to the 5th floor and we exit the elevator.  We turn right and we pass one door and then we get to my room.  There was a note in the crack of the door.  Maggie’s daughter took it out and read the note.  It was from the gas man letting us know that he was here 15 minutes ago.  She calls the gas man right away and the guy said he will come back in an hour.  We figured we could just go downstairs and eat and wait for the guy there after we are done with my room.   Maggie’s daughter gives me the keys to the apartment.   I tried to unlock the door but I was struggling.  I found out you just turn the key left half way and that should unlock the door.  We get inside and there is a small step but you have to take off your shoes first.  Then to my left, you see the bathroom.  I opened up the bathroom door and that bathroom was pretty small.  Everything is crammed inside next to each other.  I even get a tube.  I haven’t had a tub since I left home too.  It’s nice seeing this stuff again.  When I looked to the right of me, there is a closet where they put two gas cans on the bottom shelf and on the second shelf there are some cleaning supplies and some other random stuff that I need to go through and figure out.  Next to the closet is a washing machine and another shelf above the washing machine.  This shelf had some stuff for cleaning cloths, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and so on.

We hear the doorbell ring and it’s Maggie.  She just got done parking the car and came right up.  Maggie’s daughter told her about the gas man and what we could do.  Maggie was ok with eating first before the gas man comes.  Then we proceeded to go to the next room.  There is another door that you have to open that takes you to the room.  Once you open the door you will see on the left side is a small kitchen.  It comes with a gas stove top with two burners, a sink, and lots of cabinets that are filled with plats, bowls, containers, cleaning supplies for the sink and supplies to wash dishes.  Then you look to the left and there is a mini-fridge, and another small shelf above the mini fridge.  Next to the mini fridge is a big closet that is filled with hangers and some drowse.  In the next area by the window is a bed, another closet that is smaller, a desk with a chair, a gas heater, and two cabinet drawers.  The place was a lot bigger than I originally thought.

I was very pleased to see my apartment and could not wait to sleep.  In the smaller closet, there were about three big blankets inside and three towels.  I was happy to know I wouldn’t have to go out and buy towels or blankets.  Maggie bought some sheets and pillows for my bed to put on later.  She also bought me water and some tissues.  That was very kind of Maggie to do for me.  Maggie was telling me how we can stop by Aeon Mall later to pick up what I need since Maggie has the car it will be easier to transport everything that way.  Also, we will stop by Big House to do some food shopping and Big House is right across from the school.  Then we hear the doorbell ring.  The gas guy wasn’t supposed to show up till later.  We were surprised and were wounding who would be at the door.  Maggie’s daughter went to check it out and looked through the peephole.  It was the gas guy.  He wasn’t far from my place and he came by early.  We were very grateful and happy to see him.  He checked out the gas level and had a fee ready for the landlord to pay off the final fee for the gas before transferring it to a new attendant.  The last girl gave the gas fee to Maggie already and Maggie paid the man with that money.  After that, I had to sign some paperwork and then the gas man had to show me how to use the gas valve and some safety presages.  He also gave me a brochure that shows pictures and English on what to do if there’s an earthquake, an unusual smell from the gas, and so on.  The gas man showed me these things and it was pretty straightforward and if I ever forget, which I well, I can always look at the brochure for help.  It even comes with a number to call.  Once that was all done and the gas man left, we could finally go eat.  I was starving at this point.

Food Time!!

We got downstairs and turn left and only walked a few steps and there was the Japanese Curry shop.  We go inside and the heat hits me real quick.  It was great. I love walking into a nice warm place after being out in the cold.  There weren’t many people there and we grabbed a table in the corner.  The menu is all in Japanese so Maggie’s daughter started translating it for me.  I got fried chicken that is in smaller pieces with rice curry.  There is a chart on the wall in Japanese telling the level of spiciness they have.  Its all even numbers tell you rich level 15.  From 15 to 20 is a very hot level and in Japanese, it says you could die from this level of spiciness.  I wasn’t sure how spicy it was going to be so I went with level 2.  Then we had to give our order to the women and we waited.  We just talked about the culture of Japan and what hobbies I like to do.  I told her I like hiking and I was hoping I could find a hiking group that I could join.  Even if it’s only all Japanese people, that would be fine.  They can help me learn Japanese.  There are so many hiking areas in the area and there must be hiking group somewhere.  I’ve tried to look up hiking groups online but I couldn’t find anything in the area of Morioka.  I found some hiking groups in Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo but nothing here.  Maggie said she can help me find a hiking group that I could join.  I just need to let her know when I’m going hiking and where.  For safety reason and if anything happens she can call the necessary people.  Finally, our food arrives.  The smell of curry from my plate smells amazing to me and I can’t wait to eat it.  I love curry!!  I got our spoons from the small black box next to us and started eating.  It was so delicious!!  The chicken was nice and warm with a bit of crunch to it.  The curry wasn’t too spicy for me and I might go with level 4 next time.

Aeon Shopping Mall

After we were done eating we had to go get some shopping done.  I need a few things from Aeon Shopping Mall and some food from Big Red Store.  Maggie drove us to Aeon first.  She said there are two Aeon shopping Malls in Morioka.  This one is closer to my house and only a 10-minute bus ride from my place.  The other one is in the opposite direction and maybe about 20 minutes.  But that one is bigger and has an H&M inside.  I will defiantly have to check this one out when I have time.  We drove to the Aeon Mall and it looked pretty big.  It only has four or five floors but everything was spread out.  It was your normal mall that you would find anywhere else in a shopping mall.  It had cloths store, electron stores, supplies for the home area, a foreign food store, small food stalls, and so on.  We walked around for a little bit.  Picked up some of my things I needed for my place.  We had a small snack from Mister Donut shop.  I love strawberry everything so any donut and snacks that have pink on it, I know will be good.  It hasn’t let me down yet.

SIM Card (Attempt #2)

We went to the phone areas because I still wanted to try to get a SIM card.  Maggie’s daughter asked the first guy but he didn’t seem to really know and didn’t look happy to be there.  So Maggie’s daughter went to find a different guy to talk to and this guy seemed happy at his job and was able to answer her questions better.  He also said the same thing that the women told me at the airport.  I need a Visa that says 2 years for me to get a SIM card.  The guy even went to ask the boss about it to make sure or if there are any other ways to go around it.  I couldn’t even get a co-signer.  They are pretty strict about the two years Visa.  So now I have to get internet a different way.  Maggie told me about getting AsahiNet.  Most foreigners that work at her school go with AsahiNet.  You order a small personal router that you can carry with you that is only connected to your phone.  You can have unlimited internet all day for just a little over 3,000yen a month.  But you need a credit card or debit card to order it and it takes three days to deliver.  I will have to wait till I can get my Debit card from the bank to do that.  Like I said before, my American credit cards got canceled because I decided to live overseas.  I was told I could apply for a credit card online but I haven’t gotten around to doing that and I just used my debit card from the local bank that I was using in Taiwan.  But I had to cancel that bank account because I moved here.  All I have is cash.  Wish is good because Japan is still mainly a cash country but bad when you need to order things online.

Open A Bank Account At The Post Office

After we were done shopping around.  We got back to Maggie’s car and drove to the Post Office.  I needed to open a bank account there and apply for a Debit card.  We arrived at the post office and went inside to fill out the paperwork.  It was very quiet inside and no one was really loud.  A man helped us to fill out the paperwork and he said I should be able to apply for a credit card.  He said they don’t have Debit cards.  They only carry ATM card or credit cards.  So I filled out for both paper works for both cards and hope things will work out.  We got all the paperwork done and had to get a ticket with a number on it and wait for our number to be called.  This is a pretty common thing in Asia.   You grab a ticket number and just wait your turn.  You can just sit down and relax the whole time.  Our number was called and we gave the clerk my paperwork.  They needed to see my visa card and passport.  They told us that I can’t open a bank card right now because I haven’t registered at City Hall yet.  My ID card would have that information on it in Japanese if I have been to City Hall yet.  But City Hall was closed because of the holiday and won’t open until January 4th.  Even after I apply for a credit card it will take up to a month before I can even receive it.  I think I’m going to be living in Starbucks for about month now.  It’s not so bad.  I didn’t have internet on my phone for about a year when I was living in Thailand.  I lived off the WiFi from school and my place.  But I won’t have WiFi at my place because you will also need to be registered at City Hall just to do that.  So I pretty much can’t do anything till I get registered.  Fun fun.

Big House

We left the Post Office disappointed and I was a little sad that I have to travel for WiFi once a day but when I start work, that might be less.  We got back into the car and started to drive to Big House.  It’s a local grocery store where I can pick up my food after work since its right across the street.  Maggie drove by the school and pointed it out to me but it was dark outside now and I couldn’t see the school very well.  We drove in through the back of Big House because there are more parking spaces there.  We got out of the car and headed into Big House.  It was pretty busy because of the holiday and everyone trying to buy food for the family. It was a pretty big store and it had all the things that I normally eat so I’m ok with this store.  I eat a lot heather now then what I use to and like to cook things from scratch now.  Manly, vegan food because those ingredients are easier to find anywhere in the world.  I just bought some bread, cucumbers, fish, lattice, ginger, tofu, eggs, milk and some rice cakes.  I can make some nice worm ginger soup tonight.  Yum!!!

Back To My Apartment

Maggie took me back to my place and her daughter helped me with my stuff and we took it to my place.  I was able to unlock the door this time without much of a problem.  We dropped off my stuff inside and waited for Maggie to come back.  Maggie’s daughter showed me how to pour the gas in the gas heater and how to do it safely.  It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.  Then she told me some of the numbers that might come up on the gas heater.   For example, it will beep every three hours just to ask me if I’m still using the heater.  If yes, then push the blue button.  If no, then push the turn on/off button.  Sometimes the gas heater will turn off if there isn’t enough oxygen in the air or if there is an earthquake.  If it turns off because there isn’t enough oxygen in the air, I just need to crack the window open.  If it shuts off because of an earthquake, just turn it back on.  Then the doorbell rang and it was Maggie.  Maggie’s daughter was telling her what we have done.   Then not long after, the doorbell rang again.  Who could it be?  Maggie’s daughter looked through the peephole and it was the Postman.  He was dropping off my luggage.  I was so happy!!  The Post Office in Osaka told me it would take two days.   But there was one little problem.  One of the wheels on my blue luggage broke off and cracked the side of my luggage.  I needed to empty out this luggage so they can take my luggage and fix it for free since they are the ones that broke it.  It would be fixed within one or two weeks.  I told Maggie that would be fine.  Not like I’m moving again anytime soon.  I got my clothes out of my blue luggage first just so they could take it faster.  I put everything on my small pink couch and handed off my luggage to the Postman.  He said he was very sorry and left.  After a little bit of chitchat, we said our goodbyes and Maggie reminded me that I need to check my e-mails from her when I can because she won’t be able to call me since I can’t get a SIM card.  Then they left.  I turned on my heater and got around for bed.  I was so tired.  I didn’t feel like putting anything away.  I just needed a nape.  I crawled into bed and took a two-hour nap.  Once I woke up it was about 7 pm.  I started organizing my stuff and putting things away.  I realized I still needed a few more things from the store but figured that can wait and I can just go to 7/11 for that.  After I got all settled in, I put in a movie on my laptop and fell back to sleep.

That’s all for now.  I hope you enjoyed the read.  If you enjoy reading these long blogs for the past few days just follow me so you know when I post a new blog.  Also, if you want to see more pictures of my adventures, just follow me on Instagram or Facebook page or both.  I post more pictures on my Facebook page then I do on Instagram.  Just an FYI.  Have a great day.


Morioka, Japan

Moving To Japan Adventure Part 1

December 27th, 2017
Traveling to Morioka Day 1
Well, let me tell you. I should have double checked a few things before I left. With lack of sleep and things not going as plan, it was an up and down day. But there were some good things that happened that made the day not seem so bad. Now, let’s get started.
My good friend Ruth let me stay the night with her in Kaohsiung since I moved out of my place a day early, she offered her place to me. Also, my friend Libby stayed the night with Ruth too because she wanted to accompany me to the airport. Libby is such a sweet person. Most of the time, I go to the airport by myself. I don’t like to inconvenient people. But she wanted to join me and I appreciated it. For once, I didn’t have to go alone. I was jumping for joy on the inside.

Starting the Day
The clock said it was 6 am. I slowly got out of bed. I didn’t get much sleep because of the evil misquotes in the house. I had the same problem in my old apartment. Every winter I would have misquotes in my house and nothing seemed to get rid of them. Ruth has the same problem with her home. So another night without much sleep. I got cleaned up and started to re-pack my things and Libby and Ruth started to get up and around. We planned to go out for breakfast. I wanted to have my last Taiwanese breakfast before I left. So that is what we did.
We left Ruth’s place around 8:30 to get my last breakfast in Taiwan. I was excited, sad, and tired at the same time. I’ve been so busy all week that I haven’t’ had time to think about how I felt. I just know I had a to-do list that I needed to get done before I left Taiwan. Also, another to do list when I arrive in Japan. Once I arrive in Japan, I will have to ship my two luggage to Morioka, buy a phone with a SIM card, get to Shin-Osaka, take the Shinkansen train to Morioka station, find my hotel, sleep, and meet my boss in the morning around 10 am. She would take me to my place and we would have to wait for the gas man to come and then go out for lunch. Like I said, it’s going to be a busy day or two. I just hope everything goes ok.
We had a wonderful Taiwanese breakfast at a local restaurant. The place had some nice drawings on the wall so we had some fun and took some pictures and selfies. We had a lot of fun and then Ruth had to leave. She had to go meet a student that she is tutoring. We gave each other a big hug and said our goodbyes. I’m going to miss Ruth a lot. We had many hiking adventures together and she would help lead Digging Deeper. I’m going to have to find new hiking partners once I get to Morioka.
Libby and I left to go back to her place to pick up my luggage. Libby called an Uber. I handed over my keys to my scooter to Libby. Libby has been wanting to learn to drive a scooter so I sold her mine. Libby was so happy to have a scooter. I’m glad I could sell my scooter to someone that I trust that won’t kill it. I had some wonderful memories with my scooter. Only had it for two years but it did a good job. The Uber arrived and we got in and we were off to the airport.
Airport Mishap
We got to the airport and got in line for check in with Scoot. Scoot is a cheap airline that I use. It’s not bad and they are efficient. It’s a three-hour flight from Kaohsiung to Osaka (KIX) airport. It was a long line and Libby offered to wait in line in my place because I need to exchange the rest of my Taiwan money into Japanese money. When I got done with that, Libby was already halfway through the line. It was going pretty fast. After another five minutes, I was up next. I gave the women my two pieces of luggage and everything was fine with that. I paid extra online for 40kg per luggage. I didn’t want to deal with the overweight issues. It paid off because there weren’t any problems. Then she wanted to weigh my carry on. I completely forgot that they weigh carry on items. Your carry on items can only weigh 10kg altogether. That’s with your bag and purse. It came to a total of 13kg. I had to get rid of the 3kg worth of items. We had to go to the side to do this and as we were walking and talking about what items I should try to get rid of, then the women call me back again and tell me there is something wrong with my luggage and I need to talk to the people that are handling my luggage.
Luggage Mishap
Once we got to the luggage guy, he tells me there is a camera battery that I need to take out in one luggage and a battery pack is in the other luggage. I hade to open up my luggage and find it myself. I opened up my blue luggage first. I’m so happy that I vacuumed sealed all my clothes. It made it a lot easier to go through my luggage to find the small little camera battery. I found the batter and gave it to the guy. I used this opportunity to through some of my clothes from my carry on into my luggage. After I put some of my clothes in the blue luggage, I had to go through the silver luggage to look for my battery pack. This was going to be difficult because I had trouble shutting this luggage. I manage to open it and just started throwing things around. I had no idea where this small battery pack was. Or what kind of battery pack they were looking for. So the first thing I found that had a battery in it was a flashlight. He said no, this was not the item that I needed. So I kept looking. The next item that had a battery in it was a head flashlight. He also said no to this to. I kept looking and then I found a charger that I hook up to my phone. He said that is what he wanted me to take out. I was so relieved to find it. I thought I would never find the battery pack that they wanted me to take out. After that I stuck some more things in the silver luggage from my carry on and hopefully I could shout it. I was trying to shut the luggage on my own. I was so close to getting it shut but it just wouldn’t budge. Libby notices the guy that works there just watching me and waited silently for me to ask him for help. Libby told me this and I did ask the guy for help. It was not a problem for him to shut the luggage. He did it in seconds when I was struggling for about a few minutes with it. After that, the luggage guy had me sign some paperwork. Had no clue what it said, but hopefully nothing to bad. We will see the next time I take a plane.
After all that, we went back to the check-in line. There was only one family in line now and we got the same lady that we had last time. She weighed my stuff and I was at 10kg. Finally!! So relieved to have all that done. She gave me my plane ticket and off we went. Since I still had some time left I stayed with Libby a bet longer. We talked and took some pictures. It was 11:15 am and I still needed to get through security. So I had to say goodbye to Libby. We gave each other a big hug goodbye and we went our separate ways. I will miss Libby and all my friends in Taiwan. But the Lord has a calling for me and must obey.

I got through security ok. Nothing happened there luckily. I got to my gate and just chilled out there tell it was time for boarding. It was time for me to leave Taiwan. All I could think about manly were all things I had to do in Japan and just hope everything will go ok. But it’s a new country with different rules so we will see.
KIX Airport
Three hours later, I arrive in Japan around 3:55 pm. at KIX Airport Osaka. I’ve been to this airport before, as you know if you have been reading my blog. This airport has its own island. It’s a small one, just the perfect size for the airport. The Shinkansen train is at Shin-Osaka. I still have some more traveling to do before I can even get on the train. After I got through customs and picked up my luggage it was about 4:40 pm. I asked a security guy where do I take my luggage to be shipped. He told me I need to go to the seconded floor. So I get to the second floor and I wasn’t sure where to go. The sign did not help me to find where to ship my luggage. I found the information desk and they told me I needed to go to the other end of the airport and turn left. I could ship my luggage to the post office. I was a little worried it might cost me more to ship to the post office but we will see. It took me a little bit to find the post office because I turned too early and walked around an extra 10 minutes before realizing I turned to early and need to go down further. But I finally found the post office. They were very helpful and told me it would only cost me 3,500yen to ship both luggage to my place in Morioka. That’s about $45 US dollars. I was very grateful for that. I thought it would cost more. I filled out the paperwork and had to dig out some of my clothes from my luggage because my luggage wouldn’t arrive till Saturday. Once I got that done, I handed off my luggage to them and could check this off my to-do list.
SIM Card
Now, to ask around about getting a SIM card for one year. I went back to the information desk and asked them about getting a phone card for one year. They didn’t know what to tell me so they sent me to the shop that lets you rent SIM cards and phones. I told them about wanting a SIM card for one year and they said they don’t sell that at their store and even if I wanted a SIM card, you have to sign a contract for two years and your VISA has to say two years. I asked them about going to a phone company around Shin-Osaiak and they said there should be one outside the station. So I was planning to do that.
Train Time
Now it’s about a quarter till 6 and I had to find the trains and get on the right train to get to Shin-Osaka. The red line goes in a circle but to get there I needed to get to Tennoji and get off there and then take another train that goes to Osaka Station. After that, I need to take another train that stops at Shin-Osaka. I see too many ways for me to mess this up. Let’s just hope I don’t. I find the train that I needed and I hop on. I found an empty seat and just rode the train to Tennoji. It took about 30 minutes before I arrived at Tennoji. I get off there and I didn’t have to go too far to find the other train that I needed. It was on the same platform. I even doubled checked with train conductor to make sure I got on the right one. Because after 30 minutes riding the first train, I started thinking I was on the wrong train and was about to hop off the train to go ask. Luckily, I didn’t do that because that would have taken me longer. Shin-Osaka was only one stop away. I got off at Shin-Osaka and just followed the signs to Shinkansen.
Shinkansen Ticket Booth
It was about 7 pm now and I was just following the signs to Shinkansen ticket booth. I notice that there was a different ticket booth opened for Shinkansen. There was also a sign saying this ticket booth is only opened today. I got in line and waited for my turn. Once I got up to the booth, I told the women I needed a ticket to Morioka. She told me there aren’t any more trains going to Morioka. I was shocked and sad at the same time. I booked a hotel in Morioka and didn’t expect that I would not make the last train. But I didn’t check the schedule of the trains before I left Taiwan. I also didn’t have internet at this time and I would have to find the nearest coffee shop that had WiFi. The women then started giving me options on what I could do. She told me I could book a ticket to Morioka now and just leave tomorrow morning but I would have to find a hotel for the night here in Osaka. Or I could book a ticket for Tokyo now and leave from Tokyo in the morning to Morioka. But either way, I will have to find a new hotel for the night. I asked her about busses that are going up to Morioka but she said there won’t be any busses that are going up now.  In my head, I was freaking out!!  I didn’t know what to do.

I decided to book a train ticket leaving for Morioka in the morning from Osaka. After she put the information in she said there was a train that would leave at 6:03 am and arrive in Tokyo at 8:22 am and I will have to switch trains in Tokyo to get to the other platform. That train would leave at 8:49 am. She said it should only take me 10 minutes to get to the other platform. I have never been to Tokyo station and I didn’t have to switch trains last time I took the Shinkansen. So I’m little nerves about switching trains and since I get lost easily, it’s going to take me more time. My best bet would just keep asking every single train personal that I see before every turn I make. Annoying yes, but at less this will make sure I will less likely get lost and I would get to my platform faster than not asking at all. Then the women told me I should arrive at Morioka station around 10:55 am. I decided to go with that ticket. As she was booking my ticket she told me there will be a seat for me on the first train from Osaka to Tokyo, but the seats on the train from Tokyo to Morioka were all booked and I will have to stand. I told her it will be fine. As she was booking my ticket I saw a calendar on the side of the desk. The calendar was marked in three different colors. Black, blue and red. The red color means very busy days. I asked her if this ticket booth was only opened today because of the holiday seasons and if the red marked days mean this are the busy days. She said yes to both questions. I looked at the calendar again and the red days were marked for two weeks. I didn’t realize the their New Years Holiday is just as busy as our Christmas and New Years in America. In Taiwan, they don’t really celebrate New Years. We would only get one day off. But they are really busy during the Chinese New Year. I found out later that I was very lucky to even find a train that wasn’t full. Everyone is trying to get home to their families for the holidays. After all, that was done, now I had to find a coffee shop that had WiFi and cancel my hotel reservation in Morioka and find a hotel in Osaka.
Finding WiFi
I’ve only been to Shin-Osaka station two times and only explored it once. So I got lost again trying to find a coffee shop. I looked at a map on the wall and it said that I have passed the coffee shop. Go figure. So I tried again with no luck. I was getting tired at this point. I’ve been up all day just traveling and all I want is a bed to sleep in. I saw a McDonalds and used their WiFi instead of trying to find a coffee shop. I grab something small to eat and sat down and started hunting down a hotel. It was dark outside and I didn’t feel like walking far. I was trying to Google map directions to hotels that are nearby. But the directions were confusing. I was in the underground part of the station and Google maps didn’t know that. I had no idea where it was telling me to leave from. So in the end, I decided to find a cheap hotel nearby and just take a taxi there. I hope they take walk-ins because I don’t have a credit card anymore so I can’t book a hotel. I finished my food and left McDonald’s and found the taxi stand.
Never took a taxi in Japan before but I heard they were expensive. The internet was right about that one. The fee starts at 640yen (around $5.50 US Dollars). The back seat doors are automatic. The taxi was very clean and had some seat covering since its winter. The taxi driver was in a nice suit. I was worried he was going to say no to taking me to the hotel because it was only a 4-minute drive. In Taiwan, the taxi drivers won’t drive you to where you want to go if it’s a short drive. They won’t get much money out of you. But the taxi driver took me anyway. I was grateful for that one. He dropped me off at the hotel
Sunny Stone Hotel
The hotel was nice. From what I could tell, it was a business hotel. It will have all your basic and stuff that you might need to clean or touch up your suit with. They also had a small restaurant inside. I won’t be able to eat there because they open at 6:30 am and I will be long gone before that. The guy at the counter didn’t know much English. But we were able to work it out. He asked if I had a reservation but I don’t think he understood me at first because I told him I didn’t have one. He asked for my name and he started trying to look up my booking information. I had to shake my hand no and then he understood. There was a room available but it was a bit expensive. It cost a little over 6,000yen for one night. I was not too happy with that one. Online it said it would only cost around 2,000yen to 3,000yen. But I guess if you just walk in it will be more, plus it’s the holiday. So I paid the guy and he gave me my room key. He was trying to show me how to use the room key. He had a display on his desk showing you how to use the key. Once you get into your hotel, you need to place the key in a holder on the wall. This will turn on the whole room. Lights, gas, and so on. But if you pull the key out, everything will turn off. I dealt with these types of keys before so it wasn’t anything new. After he was done explaining everything to me, I was able to go to my room. It was on the 9th floor. Once I got into the room I was welcomed by cold air. It was a simple small room. It had a desk with a kettle on it to heat up hot water. Some instant coffee bags and tea bags, a bed, bathroom, a light stand, pretty much everything but a TV. But that was fine. I was tried and all I wanted to do was sleep. I used their free WiFi to get a hold of a few of my friends, family, and my boss. Letting them know I arrive and everything was fine except for a few minor issues. Then I was finally able to go to bed. I have a long day tomorrow and I have to get up at 4 am and leave around 5 am. I don’t want to miss my train again.
That’s all for now. I will have day 2 ready to go for tomorrow because I don’t have internet at my place yet so I’m using this time to catch up with my blogging. Just walking back and forth to Starbucks for the time being. Hope you enjoyed the read.


Why I’m Moving To Japan

Sorry for the long break. A lot of things have been happening and I just got too busy to even write about anything. But from what you can see in the title, you can imagine why I have been so busy lately. Hope this blog post can give you some understanding.

Why Am I Writing This Blog Post?
Well, I’m writing this blog because I know I’m going to get a lot of questions asking, ‘why are you leaving Taiwan? I thought you Love Taiwan!!’ ‘Do you not like Taiwan anymore?’ Well, I hope I can answerer all those questions that any of my friends or family members might have right now.

Love For Taiwan
Taiwan is such an amazing place and I still love Taiwan very much. I moved to Taiwan in April 2013, after my one year stays in Thailand, my sister told me about Taiwan and I figured I would just stay for one year. Almost five years later, I have grown to love the people here, the food, the culture, and so much more. I’m so comfortable here in Taiwan. I have amazing friends that I can hang out with, I have an amazing church that I call home, and I love the food!!!! I’ve had my ups and downs just like anyone else when it comes to living overseas but I always felt Taiwan was the second home to me. But the Lord has other plans that I didn’t see coming.

Japan Trip
As some of you already know, I visited Japan for two weeks. Most of it spent in Kyoto and a few days in Osaka. I’ve always been thinking about coming to Japan since last year and I thought I would just visit Japan. I didn’t have any planes to live in Japan. I thought about it, but I love my comfortable life in Taiwan that I didn’t want to leave. So I figured I would just visit Japan. I didn’t know when I should go but I felt the holy spirit telling me I should go in September. I didn’t know why it had to be September but that was what was in my heart. So I did some flight searching and found a really good deal on a flight to Japan that I couldn’t pass up. I only had to pay a little over 7,000nt ($233US) for a round-trip ticket from Kaohsiung to Osaka. Most of the time when I was looking at flights for other dates or months, the price was always between 20,000NT to 30,000NT ($665-1,000 US). I pay over 30,000NT ($1,000US) just for a round trip tick to America and back to see my family. That flight takes about over 16 hours. And the airline wants me to pay that same price that is only 3 hours to Japan? I don’t think so. So as you can image, I was very happy to see this ticket that was only 7,000NT ($233US). I prayed about it for three days first to make sure this is what the Lord wanted me to do and the ticket was still available after three days. So I booked it!!! I was so happy that I would be going to Japan finally.

Up and Down Emotions
While I was in Japan for two weeks, from what you read from my other blog post about Japan, you know that I was having a great time, staying busy, and exploring everything that I could for my two weeks. What I didn’t mention to say in my blog post is that I was suffering emotionally. Something in my heart was telling me I had to stay. It was such a heavy feeling that I was getting very emotional and crying sometimes at night over it. I knew if I stayed I would have to give up my comfortable life in Taiwan. I would have to give up my friends, church, my apartment that I love so much, the food. I was not ready to leave my comfortable life yet just to move to another country that I knew very little about. Sure, I read all about Japan from the internet and what my life would be like if I stayed in Japan, but I didn’t feel like I was ready yet. I was holding on to my conferment zone in Taiwan. If I move to Japan, I would have to re-learn how to live a new everyday life. Some of those differences would be where to go grocery shopping, instead of riding a scooter I have to ride a bike, different work ethics, re-learning what is the polite things to do in Japan, how to wash my clothes, taking out the trash and recyclables, learn some of the basic Japanese language and try not to say Chinese, (I would get strange looks when I would say ‘thank you’ in Chinese instead of Japanese) and so on. I already learned how to do all these things in Taiwan and now I have to do it all over again. This strong emotion was very powerful and I didn’t know why at the time.

After I got back to Taiwan I started reflecting on my trip to Japan and wondered why was this emotion so powerful during my whole trip in Japan. While I was blogging my trip in Japan, it helped me reflect on it a lot better and I came to realize a few things. One thing was I was able to introduce a girl from America to a church in Osaka. She is trying to get into the JET program and what a coincident, the church that I took her too had someone there that was already in the JET program. This girl planed on helping my friend out on getting into the JET program. I don’t think that was coincident. Another thing that happened during my stay in Japan was I took a cooking class. And while we were setting up the table for dinner, the chef asked me if I was a Christian and if I was, she wanted me to pray for everyone at the table. None of these women that came to this cooking class was a Christian. No one knew how to pray, bow their heads, or anything. The chef that even asked me to pray wasn’t even a Christian. Another coincident, I don’t think so. After reflecting on all of this I came to a conclusion that the Lord wants me to help plant some seeds in Japan. I have no clue how, no clue where, no clue where my job will be. But the Lord wants me to go to Japan so I can’t say no to what the Lord wants. Even though I have no clue what I am doing but with the Lord guidance, I know everything will be ok. I just have to give up my conferment and friends in Taiwan. That’s not going to be easy.

Finding A Job
This decision was not easy but with prayer, reflection, and guides from friends, I decided to start looking for a job in Japan. To get a work visa, you have to have a job that will sponsor you. So the search began. I applied to several jobs through Indeed that connected me to GaijinPot. I started applying in October. At the end of October, I had three job interviews lined up. I decided to go with a group called Friends English School in Morioka, Iwate. It’s in the north part of Japan where they get lots of snow. Not my ideal place, but I felt the Holy Spirit pulling me towards this school. I’ve been living in Kaohsiung where the temperature never goes below 60. I haven’t seen snow for almost 6 years, and now I have to go back to freezing cold weather. Should be fun. (Not really.) I will just have to adapt again. Blah… But the Lord wants me there and I won’t go against what the Lord wants me to do. Jonah ran away when the Lord told him to go do something and look what happened to him. He got swallowed by a fish!! Just saying. I would rather do what the Lord wants instead of what I want. Even though it’s not easy, but I’m not going against the Lord.

I’m Realy Going To Japan
So now my visa stuff is done, my plane ticket is booked, and now the packing and selling my stuff begins. Also, my departure date for Japan is December 28th. I want to celebrate the New Years in Japan. Also, to get my baring and figure out where everything is at. I start my new job on January 4th. On my birthday!! That’s exciting. Starting a new job on my birthday. Can’t wait.
That’s pretty much everything. Hope this clears some of the questions that my friends and family will have for me. And pray that everything goes well and I try to do my best with the Lord’s help in a new country.