Happy New Year! New Year, New Blog

Happy-New-Year

Happy New Year! At this time so synonymous with new beginnings, I think it’s ironic, but fitting that this will be my last post on Whoa…I’m in Japan? I’ve been living in Japan for a long time now, and it’s gotten much less “Whoa” for me, but don’t get it twisted. I still love my life in Tokyo.

So, like a phoenix, from the ashes of this blog’s demise rises Novel Metropolis, where I’ll still be blogging about Japan, especially Tokyo, but also about my hustle as a young writer trying to make it to the big time.

Check out the new blog at http://novelmetropolis.wordpress.com.

Whoa…I live in a Manshon in Tokyo?

Yes that’s right. I live in a real, honest to God Manshon…apartment. And no, I didn’t spell “Manshon” wrong, that’s the phonetic Japanese spelling, since I still can’t get this WordPress blog to render Japanese characters, no matter what plugin I install. Sigh. But I digress.

A “Manshon” is basically a large apartment building with a front lobby and an elevator, from what I can tell. And the word does come from English “Mansion”. An “Apato” is an apartment building that’s usually no taller than four stories and has doors that open straight onto the street like a house, making it easy for the Jehovah’s witnesses to come knocking. Yes even here in Japan. I’m sure if you go to the centre of the Earth there are mole people going burrow to burrow with pamphlets hanging from their mouths, while other mole people hear them coming, say, “oh crap!” and hole up, barely breathing, waiting for them to move on.

Manshon apartments are usually nicer than Apato apartments. They’re taller (so they have a better view), they tend to be newer, and Apato buildings are often made of wood. I have an irrational fear that a place made of wood would come tumbling down like a house of match sticks in a big earthquake, and light on fire just as quickly. It’s also likely to house a small independent state of roaches.

The blogs I’ve seen would have you believe it’s next to impossible to rent a Manshon in Tokyo as a foreigner. They’re pretty doom and gloom about the high price and the discrimination that are often deterrents to renting. But I’m here to tell you it’s a challenge, but not impossible, and I know many foreigners out here who are living in nice, new Manshons with a view. It just takes some work, patience, perseverance and money. There are three main steps to finding a decent living space in Tokyo

1) The Search

The internet is your friend, especially if you can’t speak Japanese at a near fluent level. That’s where I found a lot of agencies who catered especially to foreigners. You can plug in what you’re looking for and the sites will spit out some results, but I found that when I made an appointment to see the places, a lot of the time they were either already rented, or the landlord didn’t actually want to rent to foreigners. That was the most difficult part of the search for me. If anything has made me feel like a second-class citizen in this country it’s apartment hunting.

However the agencies I worked with were all very professional. They have no control over who a landlord wants to rent to, but they all tried their best to help me find what I was looking for. Although the internet can help you find an agency, when it comes to searching for apartments it’s best to schedule an appointment with an agent and have them manually search their databases. Some agencies I viewed apartments with are AghartA Inc., FLAT Inc., Tokyo Rent and Kimiwillbe.

2) The Application

Manshon-View

View from the Top

After you’ve narrowed down where you want to live, you need to apply. Many Japanese places, especially Manshon apartments, want you to have a guarantor. This is a person who is financially responsible if you can’t, or won’t pay rent. The best choice for a guarantor is a middle-aged Japanese man. If you know someone like that who’s willing to put his wallet on the line for you you’re set. However most of us foreigners don’t. That’s where guarantor companies come in. This is a company who will act as your guarantor. This company has to accept your application. So the average foreigner will be sending in applications to both a guarantor company and the housing company/landlord. BOTH have to be approved before you can get the apartment.

When I decided to move this year, I gave the housing company for the place I was previously living the obligatory one month’s notice, and began viewing apartments. I did it that way because I didn’t want to have to pay overlapping rent. With just two weeks to spare before I had to get out of my old place, I found it, the perfect Manshon: spacious, a rent and move in cost I could afford, and it was in a new building and with a great view. I heaved a sigh of relief and applied. I wouldn’t be homeless. I sat back sure that with my steady income and work visa it would be no problem. A week later I received an email from the housing agent.

I’m sorry but although the housing company has approved your application, the guarantor company has rejected you.  

Oh.my.god. What was I supposed to do? The agent said he would try another company. Yes please do, I said. A couple of days later I received another email.

Hello Amanda. Bad news. The second company has also rejected your application. I have one more company I can try. 

What the hell? What could possibly be the problem? I’d lived in Japan for two years, steadily employed the whole time, no problems with the law and paid all my bills on time. By this point I had my theories, but nothing I could prove. And the companies didn’t divulge why I seemed to be such a huge risk. At this point I was sweating. I had a week to go before moving day, and technically no place to live. If this last company rejected me too…would I have time to find another place?

After another day, I checked my email with fingers sporting nails bitten down to stubs. There was an email from the housing agent.

The last company has approved your application! When can you come in to sign the contracts?

Yay, yay yay! So to all of you let my recklessness be a lesson. I really didn’t think it would take a month to sort out an apartment, especially when I had been browsing for a month before that! But for a foreigner, there are some complications that can come up. So even though you’ll likely end up paying a week or two of overlapping rent, don’t give notice that you’re leaving the first place until you’ve found the second.

3) The Payment

Manshon-Room

My Bedroom

I won’t lie, if you want to move into a nice place in Tokyo it’s gonna hurt, BUT you can negotiate! This really surprised me because it’s been my experience in Japan that most things are pretty non-negotiable. I swear, if you go to McDonald’s and ask for McNugget sauce if you didn’t order McNuggets they’ll treat you like you asked for “filet Mignon– but hold the Mignon”.

There are at least three fees you’ll likely pay, but it’ll be more like 7-10 fees. The most common fees you have to pay are to the agency, the guarantor company and the deposit. You may also have heard of key money. This is a gift to the landlord for letting you rent the place and can be 1-3 months rent. But I asked the agencies to look for places that didn’t have that fee, and I think it’s becoming less common. There may also be a lock change fee, paperwork fee, insurance fee, cleaning fee, oxygen fee, Friday morning fee, Japan fee, or because-we-said-so fee, depending on how much money the renter thinks they can squeeze out of you. Expect to pay 225,000-400,000 yen (about $2500-4000 CDN) upfront to move into a nice place.

But as I said, you can negotiate. I was able to bring my upfront costs down by having the agent negotiate to lower the rent. Also the guarantor company I used turned out to charge less than the first two, the cleaning fee will be charged when I move out rather than upfront, and the housing company agreed to pay most of the agency fee, so I didn’t have to shoulder it. At the end I think I paid around 225,000 in initial fees.

So there you have it, the process for renting your very own Manshon in Tokyo.

 

Funny Stories on Being a FOB in Japan

The Nametag

nametagI am still such a FOB out here. One night my friend came over and we were drinking. There was a nametag on my table, which had my name on it in English, and above that my name in my own crappy katakana writing. (For those who don’t know, katakana is the Japanese alphabet  for writing foreign words.)

“What’s this?” he said. I took one look at it and burst out laughing. It was the nametag I wear for Japanese class. I’m supposed to leave it behind and find it again every week but I always forget and wear it home. And last time, I even went shopping after class and had it on. If you were a Japanese person, what would you do if some foreigner came up to you and started asking for help in toddler Japanese with a childishly written name tag pinned onto her collar? I must have seemed mentally challenged–more so than usual. Maybe that’s why the staff girl didn’t laugh in my face, the pity in her heart wouldn’t let her.

The French Fries

Fries

Japan is known for having the best customer service, and yeah, the staff are way more polite in general than any other country I’ve been to, but Japanese businesses are not so big on bending the rules to be accommodating. I was out at an izakaya restaurant with another foreign friend. Now this next part I won’t blame on my own fobishness, because the menu was in English. We’d already eaten a lot, but the French fries at this place must have been salted with crack cause I was  jonesin’, so even though I felt like I was about to pop I said, “let’s order more!”

We order the fries and there are options like “ketchup and mayo” or “garlic butter”. Now, these sound like the names of condiments right? But no, they were actually the “flavours” of the fries. So I thought I was getting fries with ketchup, mayo and garlic butter on the side but it turned out to actually be two orders of fries, one that was garlic butter flavoured and one…with ketchup and mayo on the side -_-. There was just no way we were gonna finish all that off.

There was still a full plate of fries left and I felt bad throwing them out so I wanted to find a homeless person and give them away. So we asked the waitress for a box.

“Oh I’m sorry, we don’t do take out here.”

“A bag? Anything?

“No, I’m sorry.”

Nope there was no box or bag anywhere in the whole establishment, no sir. So what happened was while my friend kept watch I put the two plates together and shoved them in a plastic bag and into my purse, like a ghetto Robin Hood. Yes, I stole my own food and the izakaya’s plates were a casualty. I felt a bit guilty but the homeless woman who got the crack-fries was really happy. They were still hot and everything. Unfortunately, I can’t go back to that izakaya anymore.

The Devil Sandwich

sandwich

Sandwiches in Japan don’t make no sense. I remember when I first came here I was shaking my head at the spaghetti sandwiches at the grocery store, literally noodles in a hot dog bun. But Japan gets a lot more creative than that. I was running late to work one day. There’s a cafe next to my building and I needed to quickly buy something for lunch. So I breezed in there, glanced at the sandwiches and grabbed one that looked good. Lunch time came and I was huuungry. I was ready for that sandwich. I took a bite and I thought to myself, “huh, this tastes familiar, but somehow wrong in a fundamental way.” That’s because I was eating the unholy union of potato salad and bread. It was a potato salad sandwich. I ate it all and hated every minute of it.

The next week I was prepared. I gave myself lots of time, I carefully read what the sandwiches were, and this time I picked up a ham and lettuce sandwich. But in Japan, (and of course this is understandable) sometimes the spelling is a bit wrong for English words, and while they spelled it ham and lettuce what they really meant was potato f*cking salad again!!! Seriously, I don’t know how this demon sandwich made it into my hands for the second time. It probably possessed what actually was just an innocent ham and lettuce sandwich. I had to eat it again, and again it sucked. And I will never return to that little cafe of horrors.

 

Tokyo Where to Go: Spa LaQua

spa_02Last year I was going on about Tokyo Dome City, and how I just had to one day try out the hot spring and spa nearby. Well my friends, it took a year but I made it out there with a couple of friends recently.

It’s just as fabulous and embarrassing as I expected! It’s not so expensive to get in there, about $30 US if you want to use the hot springs and the “healing baden” (and no I don’t know what a ‘baden’ is).

So here’s what went down. We went up to the sixth floor of the LaQua shopping centre. When you come out of the elevator there’s a pretty lobby area where you gotta take off your shoes. You throw them in a locker and then go to the reception. They give you these sparkly sticks, one for the hot springs and one for the healing baden. Then you walk maybe 20 feet and turn them in, and you get two sets of clothes and towels. This was the point where I got so confused my head exploded.

After my friends picked the pieces of brain out of their hair they figured out that at the next area, where there were more lockers, you’re supposed to get nekkid, throw all your stuff in there including the clothes they just gave you, take your little ‘privacy towel’ (that covers about as much as a landing strip wax job) and hit the hot springs.

I like hot springs because I never had a reason to be grateful for my poor eyesight before. It’s easier to be naked in public when I can’t really see any details, or can’t see the stares my lovely foreign body is inevitably getting.

spa_01

There are a lot of different hot springs that are supposed to have different magical powers. There are some saunas in there too. My favourite was the outdoor hot spring though. Ask me two years ago if I could even understand the idea of sticking just my naked pinky toe outside in  February. But the combination of warm water and cold air is really relaxing. It’s like the hot spring is a reward for dashing outside in the cold. No one can see anything from above either. It’s enclosed, with some potted and hanging plants, like a rooftop patio. I think there was some relaxing music playing too, or I could be imagining it. It may just have been the music of my soul at peace.

After hot spring time we went to the healing baden, and that’s when we were supposed to put on the second set of clothes. We still haven’t figured out what the first set of clothes was for. The healing baden is made up of levels of saunas and “relaxation spaces” where you can lounge and take in the view of Tokyo Dome City. We went at night so the Ferris wheel was all lit up like a circular rainbow and there were skyscrapers twinkling in the background. I would have taken a picture, but just because the place is full of naked people they don’t allow cameras or phones, if you can believe such draconian rules.

Never go to one of these places if you have something to do after. It’s just too relaxing. I was lucky I only had to drag my jelly legs to the train station and get home.

 

How Long Are You Gonna Stay in Japan?

Japan

Happy New Year! And welcome to my first post of 2013. The start of a new year is usually the time when people take some time to plan, think about the future, make resolutions…and what am I but another bumbling fumbling earthling trying to make sense of the vastness of the universe and the puzzle that is life?

The end of 2012 came with some big changes for me. I ended relationships, both romantic and platonic, and reconnected with old friends and family who had been somewhat neglected in favour of “finding myself” in Tokyo. Last year, I blogged that my homecoming at Christmas was kind of anticlimactic. However this time around, when it was time to go home I found myself in a bathroom stall in Pearson airport, staring at the speckled grey door in confusion with tears running down my face because I was so sad to be leaving Canada!

So although I still love my Tokyo, I’ve decided this will be my last year-and-a-bit in this city, and likely Japan. The yen is dropping, so I can’t make as much money. There’s no longer a love interest keeping me here. And truthfully I miss feeling like I belong somewhere. Though I’ve met some wonderful people here and I have a lot of fun,  there’s nothing like being able to let your hair down the way you can with people who’ve known you your whole life and love you unconditionally.

While I’m having the time of my life here there’s something about expat life, at least for me, that feels like a detour. I’ve even had some expat friends compare living here to being in university again, but with more money. I feel like at some point I have to “get back to real life”…though I’m not sure why I feel that way. I’ve always wanted to work as a writer/editor, and I can theoretically do that from anywhere in the world  now that we’ve got this magical new thing called in-ter-net. I guess there are other things to consider, like “settling down”. In my last post I touched on the trials foreign women face dating out here. There’s that, and I don’t really want to raise a child in Japan. On top of concerns about bullying/out-casting (this IS the country that still has a ‘no foreigners allowed’ policy at certain establishments), I don’t want to add language difficulties to the challenge of parenting.

Maybe it’s my impending birthday, looming like a hungry seagull ready to swoop down and snatch another french fry of life, that’s making me feel this way. I only have a couple of years of my twenties left, and I guess I feel once I’m thirty that’s the time to stop searching for materials from which to make a life and start actually building one.

 

 

Super Fun Time Tokyo Summer 2012

Well, these days I’ve been trying to look as dignified as I can wiping the streams of sweat running down my face while I’m waiting for the train. In a few short weeks, summer will be over, and though I complain, it hasn’t been all bad, far from it. In fact this summer has been one of the best I’ve ever had!

Some of the highlights of super fun time Tokyo summer 2012 have been:

  • Crossing Izu Peninsula off my places to go list
  • Finally going to Kamakura
  • My first trip to Tokyo Disneyland
  • Facing off with insect after insect until I finally reached the end boss — giant cockroach.

Let’s start off with my trip to Izu. I went with a whole big group of friends, and we all stayed in the same hostel, so it become something like summer camp for 20-somthings, featuring fireworks, alcohol and swimsuits — in other words the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. On top of that, my friend from Canada was visiting at the time so I also got to be a showoff wowing her with my crappy Japanese and how well I’ve adjusted to Japanese life. Hey! Don’t cut your eyes at my blog like that! OK fine maybe not “wowing”…but she was impressed, I think…Oh just give me this!!

Anyway, Izu was just as amazing as I thought it would be. I said we stayed in a hostel, but I use the world lightly. This place was gorgeous, and had it’s own hot spring.  It was made to resemble a fancy Ryokan — traditional Japanese Inn — except they don’t give you food, they make you cook your own breakfast and dinner and stuff, and then pass the savings on to you!

 

We went beach hopping, and my favourite was Shirahama beach in Shimoda because this…

I also ate a lot of sashimi that weekend. I’ve liked sashimi since I lived in Toronto, but this was SA-SHI-MI — straight from the ocean, kicking and screaming, to your plate, and it was just as delicious as it looks. 

I also finally, after a year of saying, “I’ll go next week, I’ll go next week”, made it out for a day trip to Kamakura. First I went to Hokokuji temple, which has a big bamboo grove.

Then had a break to eat my third favourite Japanese food, okonomiyaki. Then we went to see that big buddha everyone’s always going on about, and yeah it was kind of amazing. I hear it took ten years or so to build it. 

The Happiest Place..uh…in Japan!

 

And, at last, I went to Tokyo Disneyland, with Loco as my guide/date. We went at night so by then all the little kids and babies had left, and there wasn’t the usual ridiculous crowds. Still, there were no rides that had a wait of less than half an hour. To be honest, the rides at Tokyo Disney ain’t alldat anyway, it’s geared more toward kids, but the atmosphere is fun.

We mostly ate. Loco was hyped to get this smoked turkey leg they had there. See turkey is pretty rare in Japan. And people must be really jonesing for that sweet, sweet turkey meat because the line was really long. So after waiting in line with the smell of delicious smoked meat teasing our noses and making our mouths water the whole time we finally got our hands on them drumsticks. I took one big bite and it was…OK. Kinda bland actually. Hmmm, you got some ‘splainin to do Loco. He said it was better the last time he was there. Maybe he was really hungry back then. You know like when you get so ravenously hungry even tootsie rolls from Halloween three  years ago taste good? But whatever, turkey is turkey.

 

 

Look at that barely contained panic…but he didn’t scream even once. I was so proud!

And then, even though he hates roller coasters, Loco went on space mountain with me…awww! Here he is, a doomed man waiting in line…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup, I’ve seen some good times this summer. But if there’s one thing I cannot stand about summertime in Tokyo it’s the giant (compared to Canada anyway) bugs! All August big disgusting cicadas have been flying around, having loud sex, and then leaving their dead carcasses all over the damn street! Somehow a little green mantis got into my apartment during mantis season in July, and I kicked him out. I gotta always check my laundry that’s been hanging out for little spiders before I bring it in. And then there are the roaches…ooooh don’t get me started on the roaches. The “small” ones are almost two inches long, and the mofos fly! Flying roaches!!

I always had, what I felt to be an irrational fear that one would somehow turn up in my apartment. Even though in almost a year of living there I hadn’t seen one and the walls are concrete. How could something that big get in? Nevertheless, after a summer of dodging cicadas and sweeping  up spiders and crushing beetles, it was time to face the boss. One day, after a nice nighttime bike ride I came home, opened my door and there it was, a creature from the foulest garbage bins of hell, a big black roach staring at me in my entryway. I froze, and it bolted to the left and into my bathroom. I was still stuck in shock, sure this was some kind of nightmare, but during my hesitation the thing skittered — like literally skittered I could hear it’s legs scrabbling on the floor — out of my bathroom and straight into the bedroom under the bed. How do they always know we can’t get them under the bed!! I could not believe this thing was in my nice, clean, cute apartment. Anyway, once my body could move again I went out, bought roach traps and put them down and hopped on my bed wearing my shoes. You know that game the floor is lava? It was like that, except the floor was a god damn roach playground. I turned off the light to lure him out. Sure enough he couldn’t resist the  succulent roach trap, and when he came out he got one shoe to the face. But one hit wasn’t enough to kill this bad boy. I had to hammer it like five times to get it to stop moving, until it was a mess of guts. Then I shakily scooped it up in toilet paper, and flushed it down the toilet, and spent the night obsessively cleaning.

So, my nightmare happened, and I dealt with it. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you roaches. Don’t mess with me, I’m a badass roach killing commando. Hell, that one was probably the scout. I  hope the rest are warned by his lack of return and keep it moving. They better, or I got a nice hard shoe waiting.

A Letter from the Assistant Editor

In the August 2012 issue of tsuki magazine, I didn’t write an official letter from the editor. I figured I’d leave that up to the boss lady, miss Caroline Josephine, the mastermind behind tsuki magazine.

Me working on tsuki magazine

But with CJ gone on a pilgrimage back to her motherland, America, it was up to me to put on the editor hat and get all that juicy content, sent in from contributors all round the world out into the internets. It was an amazing challenge! And I’m proud to say tsuki magazine vol. 4 has officially debuted.

I had more fun than a mouse in a chunk of Swiss cheese (awwww!) designing and editing this issue. More and more people are asking to be contributors, and the content keeps improving in quality. And we over at tsuki learn a little more with each issue about how to make the magazine better.  I’m really excited to see how far this magazine can go.

Thank you, Thank you and thank you again to everyone who contributed, purchased, tweeted, facebooked, and otherwise helped push tsuki into its 4th issue!

Get a sample of the August issue here.

 

 

 

 

Life is Puzzling

The other day I went to what is probably my favourite store in all of Japan: Tokyu Hands. It’s a splenderifous place of wonder, filled with all kinds of fantastical things for creating anything your imagination can imaginate. I love to go there and browse for a couple hours, just looking at all the arts and crafts stuff and thinking about what I could make. I bought some things to decorate my apartment — some tiles to stick on the walls and a puzzle of Tokyo Tower.

If you are ever having a rough day, may I suggest taking 10 minutes to work on a puzzle? It will completely tune your brain out to anything else. All that matters is finding that missing piece.

The puzzle really reminded me of life in general. For example:

Sometimes you find a piece that looks like it’s perfect, and it should fit. It matches the pattern you’re looking for, and it even looks like the right size and shape, but when you go to put it down, it doesn’t quiiiite fit. It’s just a little off. It’s tempting to leave it there, because oh man it you were so excited when you found it! Yes, this is the piece, you thought. But you know that if you leave it there it’s just gonna screw up the rest of the puzzle. Besides, there is another piece somewhere in that daunting pile that fits perfectly.

Sometimes you find a piece and think, nah, this can’t be it and you throw it back and keep looking. But it nags you, and after numerous failed attempts you go back to it thinking oh what the hell, none of the other pieces are working might as well try and well I’ll be damned, it fits! I never would have guessed.

Sometimes you have an instinct about a piece. You haven’t really examined the pattern or the shape, but it kind of looks like it should fit in with the other pieces, so you give it a try and it slides satisfyingly into place.

Sometimes you get a piece that looks like “the piece”. It has the right pattern and shape, but when you try to stick in in place it’s all wrong. Huh? But this has gotta be it you think. You stare at it and stare at it, willing it to become the piece you need, you believe in this piece! Then it hits you: What if I just… You turn the piece around, and it slides snugly into its rightful spot.

Sometimes a piece just refuses to be found. In these cases it’s best to move on to some other area in the puzzle, an easier area where the pieces form a distinctive pattern, and eliminate some of the pieces. Before you know it that other piece, the piece the couldn’t be found, will be in your fingers.

And speaking of distinctive patterns, it’s the areas of the puzzle that are the most busy, that have the most contrast that are the easiest to put together. You ever try to make a puzzle of a cloudless blue sky? It’s a pain.

 

 

Reflections on My First Year in Japan

The anniversary of when I first set my restless, adventure-seeking feet down on Japanese soil is shimmering on the horizon. Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year! I made this move not knowing exactly what to expect, only sure that it would be big, new, exciting and a tremendous challenge, and has it ever. In this past year in Japan I have:

  • Experienced the worst Earthquake in Japan’s history
  • Learned to be more giving and less selfish, not just materially but with myself
  • Started learning another language
  • Learned to no longer hate seafood
  • Created new bonds, while sadly seeing some old ones weaken
  • Learned a whole lot more about the nature of love
  • Finally made it to Thailand to eat authentic Thai food
  • Got up close and personal with freaking tigers
  • Moved into my first apartment
  • Realized I’m a lot stronger than I’d ever thought I could be.

I moved with the aim of learning something more about the world and about myself. I moved with the aim of finding a new adventure. I moved with the aim of proving to myself that I am strong and independent, by surviving and thriving on my own in a foreign country, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. So despite the trouble and stress that came with all the changes and challenges in 2011, I officially declare this year a smashing success.

And, thanks to all of you who read and commented. I’ve also learned a lot about blogging this year as well, and seen a lot of growth and success on this, my very first blog! Blogging has been an invaluable tool to me in learning how to navigate in Japan. I’ve learned a lot and avoided some pitfalls simply by reading about the experiences of others, and I’ve also been able to share what I’ve learned with others who stumble my way. This blog has led to interviews, new friends and I even met up with one of my readers for a lovely afternoon in Shinjuku.

So I have to say a big, heartfelt DOUMO ARIGATOU GOZAIMASHITA!!!!! to all of my readers and fellow bloggers. It’s been a great year of learning and sharing, and I think this year would not have been as interesting without the input of the j-blogosphere.

Thank you and hears to an even better 2012!

 

This is What Makes Blogging Worthwhile

This is What Makes Blogging WorthwhileEvery once in a while I get emails asking for advice from people who are thinking about moving to Japan. And one of my readers, Josh, was so thankful that when he ended up in Japan on business this month he wanted to meet up!

I said yes and we went out for his first ever Japanese curry.  Then we went on a souvenir Kit Kat hunt in Shinjuku, but unfortunately the only interesting flavours we could find were green tea and white chocolate.

After that were massages courtesy of the massage chairs at Labi electronics store. What I wouldn’t give to be able to afford one of those/fit it in my apartment. I think the attendant there had a good time practicing his English on us.

It was really cool to meet someone who I’d helped, and we had a great time and good conversation. Look me up whenever you’re in Japan, Josh!