I got my Japanese spouse visa.

In order to study for one semester in Japan and because I for certain reasons do not go for the student visa offered, my husband and I went to the Japanese embassy located in Copenhagen to start the ”spouse visa” progress.

Besides the obvious fact that you need to be married to a Japanese, there are some paper work when applying for a spouse visa. In Denmark the needed documents for obtaining a spouse visa are the following:

  • Visa application form (English) – 2 copies.
  • 査証発給申請書2通 (Visa application form – 2 copies)
  • 写真2葉 (Two pasport pictures)
  • 旅券 (Pasport)
  • 戸籍謄本1通 (Family registration – 1 copy)
  • 住民票の写し (Prove of residence)
  • 納税証明書 (Tax certificate)

Overall, there was a lot less paperwork than I expected, especially considering the fact that only the two documents we had to fill out were the two visa application forms. The rest were papers my husband obtained at his city hall in Japan.

Then we gathered the papers and went to the embassy on the 20th this month and already the next day, less than 24 hours later, I got a call saying that my visa was done and ready to be picked up.

I never expected it to be progressed that fast and without much work and above all the embassy charged no money for the visa. So now I have a one-year visa for Japan.

(Yes, I don’t really like the photo in the visa, which is why I decided to hide it. –  I have shown my face numerous times in other posts)

The part the flash is covering says: Spouse, Child of Japanese.

The passport is a “single entry” passport, which means that if I leave Japan, without having applied for a re-entry the visa is “cancelled”. Though, I’ll only need this visa for 5 months and not a year, but it’s nice to know that obtaining a one-year visa is not as complicated as I feared and we can easily do the procedure in a near future again, when I really need to be in Japan for longer periods. Since my plan is to move to Japan after I graduate university, then I guess we apply for the one-year visa and then when in Japan, we’ll have to apply to get that visa renewed.


My first name disappeared.

Today I received my acceptance letter from Kobe University, which means I’m officially an exchange student for the spring semester in 2012. The acceptance letter came as an attached document in a e-mail. The e-mail was also sent to two of my other class mates who have been accepted into Kobe University as well and reading that e-mail reminded me of another thing – the fact that I didn’t just change my last name when I married a Japanese, I also lost my first name.

 The e-mail said: Dear, Nicolai-san, Anton-san and Kayashima-san.

 The first two were addressed by their first name, but I was addressed by my last name.

Later on in the e-mail my class mates were mentioned by their last and first names, where I once again was only mentioned by my last name.

This is not an one time incident. It’s actually something I’ve gotten used to when it comes to most Japan-related aspects of my life.

Ever since I got married my Japanese teachers stopped calling me by my first name and are now only using my my last name when they address me in class.

This is quite unusual in Denmark, where you rarely use your last name and now after marrying I get called by it all the time. Of course if I married any other nationality nothing would have changed, but since I married a Japanese, it seems like my new last name has caught the interest of other Japanese people and now they refuse to call me by anything else.

 I guess Japanese people are just more familiar with a Japanese last name rather than the name Isabella, but what about my teachers who has known me and called me by my first name for almost a year before I married last spring?

Why is it that my first name suddenly disappeared as soon as I changed my last name? Of course there is not really any problems when coming to non-Japanese speaking people, since they prefer to not having to pronounce my last name.

My husband thinks that Japanese feels more “safe” by using my Japanese last name, rather than my first name, since it avoids confusion and possible mistakes, but what about my teachers?

“Maybe they just feel like saying it” my husband answered.

Like I said, we rarely use last names in Denmark, not even when we address our teachers, so I guess it just feels weird to me when my teachers suddenly starts calling me by my last name.

J-Pop talk: Abe Mao.

So today I’ll make an small introduction to one of my favorite Japanese music artists.

I have two favourite singers; one is YUI, who I’ve been a fan of since the release of her single “Feel my soul” back in 2005. The other one is a singer called Abe Mao, compared to YUI she is rather unknown, which is why I thought I would mention her.

Abe Mao is 21 years old, born in Oita prefecture and debuted in 2009 with her album called free.

I discovered Abe Mao while looking around on youtube, where I came across her debut song free, which was not long after the release of the album of the same name.

I liked her music style, which showed some similarities to YUI. I liked her voice, her energy and overall presence.  Her voice wasn’t flawless, neither is it today, but her voice is filled with personality, a charm that lures you in and a voice that isn’t just one among a million.

Like with YUI, Abe Mao posses a kind of uniqueness that can draw an audience. They both also write their own lyrics, play the guitar and piano as well.

After listening to “free”, I looked up some of her other songs, which was part of the debut album, and I was quickly hooked. On a whim I decided to buy her album and even managed to get my hands on the almost sold out limited edition. Shortly after her first single was released, titled “Tsutaetai Koto / I wanna see you” and from there I started to anticipate all her new releases, which I of course also pre-ordered to keep my newly found and growing Abe Mao CD collection in tact.

What I also love about Abe Mao is how she doesn’t try to look or act perfect. She doesn’t try to be a polished idol. She has a nice humour, which she doesn’t mind turning against herself. I mean, how many singer would write a song called  ストーカーの唄~3丁目、貴方の家~ (The Stalker Song ~3rd block, your house~). Which has lyrics like these:

”You little sister, she’s cute. She’s called Moe-chan, right?

”The 3rd block, the stakeout of love”

”Don’t be scared. I’m just looking.”

”I’m just loving you. Please notice”

Abe Mao has a great array of both; fast paced, rock-ish songs, amazingly beautiful ballads, acoustic-like songs, fun, upbeat pop songs and many other styles that are hard to put in categories. Especially because Abe Mao possesses great diversity when it comes to her music and she never becomes neither boring nor ordinary.

Of course the biggest highlight for me occurred this summer when I was able to see Abe Mao live in Tokyo. She has an amazing stage presence and energy and while seeing her perform you have no doubt that she’s doing something she loves. Something I hope she can continue with for years to come, because she deserves it. She’s not just one in a million, she’s Abe Mao.

Last, I’ll finish of with her latest single, Soba ni Ite (Full version), which is a song I really love. It’s a beautiful ballad, both in words and overall feel and really displays Abe Mao’s talent and potential.

My newest travel computer.

So, normally I do not blog about computers, but decided to make a post about my newest laptop addition. People who know me would say that computers have a big importance in my life and have been ever since I got my first PC. I don’t play games and such things, but I my computer is the resource of Japanese tv dramas, music and other medias. It was through the computer I developed my passion for Japan and Asia. It was with the help from the downloaded dramas that I learned the Japanese language and without that I wouldn’t have been able to meet my husband. I use my computer a lot and therefore I also have certain expectations to the performance of my own computers. I do write “computers” because I don’t just have one computer. As from this week, I have three laptop computers. The newest addition is the Apple MacBook Air 11” which was released July this year.

I know many people will dislike me for saying this, but I own three MacBook computers and I have not used a windows computer since my last PC, which I stopped using around 3 years ago. I got my first Apply computer in my last year of high school, where I got the MacBook Pro 15” (2008 version). At that time it was considered a computer with a great sleek design and very portable with the weight of 2.5 kilos. Shortly after apple changed the line-up and the new MacBook Pros were released. I liked the new design a lot better, which resulted in my mother buying the new version for me around a year after I had gotten the first one. I got the MacBook Pro 13” (2010) with the weight of around 2 kilos. I was a lot faster than the first one and it became my main computer. I still now, almost 2 years later, love my MacBook Pro. I use it several hours everyday, have brought it with me on several travels and I’ve written all my university assignments on it. It’s silent, it’s fast and I haven’t experienced any crashes or freezes despite my heavy use.

Then my mother got the idea that I should get a more travel friendly computer, since I do travel several times of the year and especially because I’ll spend half of 2012 abroad, both studying in Japan, but also traveling around in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. She offered to buy me the newest MacBook Air. First I refused, because I already felt bad about the first MacBook Pro, just laying around and collecting dust. But, she took me along to an Apple shop, where I could take a better look at the computer and I must admit, it was love at first sight.
So now I have three Apple Macbooks:

 (From left: MacBook Pro 13”, MacBook Pro 15” and MacBook Air 11”)

An easier comparison:

I got the 128GB memory and 4GB RAM version, mostly because 64GB memory is just too small; especially considering my music collection is over 70GB. I decided to take the 11″ version (over the 13″), because I was looking for a computer as small as possible.

The MacBook Air is the perfect travel computer. It’s incredible thin, weights around 1 kilo and has a great design. Despite its’ size, this computer doesn’t lack in performance, both when it comes to speed, power and overall durance. It is a mini version of the MacBook Pro, of course with less memory and such things.

I have sometimes thought about buying a cheap Notebook computer for travel purposes, but in the end I knew such computer wouldn’t be able to live up to what I ask of it. What a Notebook computer lacks in size, it also lacks in speed and performance. Overall, a Notebook computer is not a laptop; it’s just a notebook. The size of the notebook computer also affects the size of the keyboard, which, at least for me, makes it less “writer-friendly” and certainly not a computer that expects you to write a 15 pages assignment on it.
The MacBook Air has a great designed keyboard as well, where the size doesn’t differ much from regular laptops, which makes it more enjoyable to write on. The new MacBook Air has also gotten the adjustable light in the keyboard (which MacBooks normally have.) so you’re able to clearly view the keyboard at dark places as well – such as onboard airplanes.
The MacBook Air is easy to stick down in it’s protective computer bag and doesn’t require much space in ones backpack.

Overall, it’s a perfect travel computer. Since it’s very thin and light, but at the same time the small size doesn’t affect its performance. The only thing speaking against this amazing computer is of course its’ price, since Apple products are without a doubt expensive – too expensive if you ask a lot of people.

The Apple computers doesn’t come with a writing program either, so back in 2009 I bought the very expensive Microsoft Office package for Mac that included Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Entourage and Messenger. I also installed the package on my MacBook Pro (2010), but since my MacBook Air doesn’t have a disc drive I haven’t installed the package this time around. Instead I decided to download the free “Open Office”, which offers a word-like writing program, presentation program, paint and etc. So now I’m all set for going away to Japan for a semester from February and bringing along my newest MacBook.

Bought my flight tickets.

Yesterday I decided to buy my flight tickets for my semester in Japan. This time around I had to put a little more planning into buying flight tickets than I normally do. First of all, I had to consider when my semester ends at the Japanese university and when my exams might start at my Danish university. My husband and I have also been talking about staying in Thailand for a few weeks before I enter Japan, which resulted in the fact that we also had to take his work schedule into consideration.

So after having fully discussed with my husband on the phone, I went ahead and started searching for the cheapest tickets. My husband wanted us both to arrive in Bangkok at the 26th of February (me from Denmark and him from Japan), but flights with departure on the 25th from Denmark cost around 30% more, so I chose to departure on the 24th and then arrive in Bangkok at the 25th.
Since the cheapest tickets were Air China I’ll transfer in Beijing. I e-mailed my husband my ticket information and he decided to then also book his flight with Air China, also with a transfer in Beijing. Then we’ll both board the same flight from Beijing to Bangkok. He also found the same tickets for going from Bangkok to Osaka, as mine.
I’ll enter Japan on the 16th of March and I’ll return back to Denmark on August 13th.
It felt a little weird ordering tickets with a return date so far away, since the longest I’ve been traveling yet is two and a half months. This time around it’ll be for six months.

So my overall flight plan:
[February 24th – 25th ]Copenhagen – Beijing – Bangkok.
[March 16th] Bangkok – Beijing – Osaka
[August 13th] Osaka – Beijing – Stockholm – Copenhagen.

I’m very much looking forward to experiencing South Asia, since I’ve so far only been able to visit Japan and China. My husband and I have also talked about visiting Vietnam and maybe Cambodia while we’re in Thailand – since these are also countries I’ve wanted to see for quite some time. I’m very exited about this opportunity to see interesting and unique countries and I’ve always wanted to explore more of Asia and experience so many new things.

I’ll also be my first time flying with Air China and transferring in Beijing. (When I went to China I went to Shanghai and Nanjing). I hope everyone had a nice weekend.