Thoughts on moving to Japan [Part 1] – Money, work and childcare.

I had no idea which picture I should use for this post, because when searching “Japan” on image searches, so many different kind of pictures shows up. The beautiful ones of nature or historic places, the pictures of busy city lights and skyscrapers or the goofy ones of everything weird in Japan. Japan is so many thing and I’m still not sure, after all this time, what Japan actually is to me. Most of all I would like to see it as a beautiful country, with stunning sceneries and friendly people and there’s no doubt that this is a part of Japan, but there’s also so many other things – some positive, others… not so much.

After all these years traveling between Denmark and Japan and been in a Japanese marriage, I do feel like I’ve seen a lot of sides of Japan, some I would have liked to leave out, but it’s still a country, still a place with more than 100 million people, so you are to come across both positives and negatives. Just like everything else in life.

This blog will probably both be filled with the fun moments, but also the struggles I will face when I begin my life in Japan. I’ve known for 4 years that I would move to Japan in the year of 2014 and on the way there’s been many doubts if this was the right choice. I love my own country, with our high taxes, high quality in life, free schools, doctors and hospitals and a government which is ready to catch you if you fall down. It’s a lot to leave behind. Going to Japan I’ll enter a life with more uncertainty, lower taxes, but medical and education bills, almost no economical security net if get lost somewhere along the way and not to mention lower salary and close to non-existent childcare service. A country with lower equality of the sexes and where women often have to choose between family or career – because trying to juggle both will mostly just leave you stressed out. Even though women do have to chance to work on the same terms as men, they will also have to face the extreme over time schedules, the possibility of being transferred far away and close to no holidays.

The husband is often also taxed a lot higher if his wife earns a full time salary, and that tax money often equals a good amount of the wife’s salary, which just makes it seem like she’s working for free. Why even bother? The childcare service for children under 3-4 years of age is also extremely limited, have long waiting list and will take a big bite of your possible salary.

I will probably stay at home the first few years with our future children. Not because I in any way believe it’s a woman’s place, but because I feel it’s the best course to take in Japan. I could find a full time job, get pregnant, take leave, pay big bucks for a nursery, then I want a second child and it’ll probably be even more complicated to take a leave again and once again pay a lot of money for someone to look after my child. It’s not impossible – far from, but I don’t really have any career dreams. I think I would like to be a teacher or something, but if I have to chance I feel like I want to take things slowly and therefore have one or two kids before searching for work. I think I want to do some work from home – I have some business plans I want to elaborate in a later post.

My husband and I do think about our future economy a lot. It is kind of embarrassing to say as a soon-to-be university graduate, that I have no career goals. I have a lot of goals and dreams when it comes to children and family life, but none for any future jobs. Does that make me sound old-fashioned? For me, I think I find these dreams acceptable, because they are my own, not any social norms or society told to. I guess somewhere, women of the modern world started to feel bad about wanting to focus more on family, house and childrearing, rather than career, because women for decades have fought for the right to leave their houses and seen equal to men. I did take an education – I went 4 years to university and got almost only A and Bs. I speak several languages, I have strong opinions and I know what I want to in life – and… it’s not a stressful job.

Look at me talking about women’s rights and such, this what not what I was going for in this post, I guess as a women we’re brought up to not only believe that we can do everything – but also believing that we should.

I think the only reason why I know that I will find a job in a near future is not because of financial reasons, well maybe a little, but also because being home everyday would bore me to death. I’m not a native English speaker, which puts a few bumps on the path to become an English teacher in Japan, but I guess it’s not impossible. At least I speak Japanese, unlike many other foreign English teachers.

So I think I will end this post now, since there’s a lot of other things I have been thinking about, but I’ll safe that for a later post. Who want to read too long blog posts anyway?

I will move to Japan around the middle of September this year. It still seems far away, but considering how fast the past 4 years have flown by, 7-8 months is nothing and there is a lot to prepare.

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My new expensive obsession (Disney LE dolls)

Hi, so long time no see. It’s been a lot of stressful months for me, but I hope to get back on the blogging and youtube horse.

Lately I’ve gotten a new hobby, or rather a new obsession, which is limited edition Disney dolls – especially the 17 inch limited edition dolls. Never heard of them? Well, me too.

Since 2008, the Disney store have released 17 inch limited edition dolls, often to coincide with DVD releases or anniversaries – the standard price is often 99.99 USD.
Their first dolls was the Snow White doll, she was limited to 5,000 dolls worldwide – due to her being the first and now been around for almost 6 years – she’s the most wanted doll among most fans and buying her on ebay will set you back at least 1,500 USD. She is the holy grail of Disney doll collectors.
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Another famous doll is the “17 Alice in Wonderland doll, on auctions she costs the same as Snow White, one of the reasons is her extremely limited number, since there’s only made 500 Alice dolls worldwide.

How did my interest start? As readers of my blog probably knows is that my interest used to be Japan, traveling, fashion and make-up – never dolls or Disney. My husband and I decided around November to start trying to get pregnant and therefore I started buying my favorite Disney movies on DVD (mostly the princess movies and the Lion King), since I wanted them with the Danish dub and not the Japanese, so I felt I needed to hurry and buy those available before moving to Japan. I started seeing some of them and was reminded of the lovely stories of my childhood. I came across a picture of the Animators’ Collection Dolls on the internet…

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It was love at first sight. I went to my local Disney store, “just to see them” and on a whim, I ended up buying Belle and Mulan, my first doll purchase as an adult. Brought them home and I was in love. Called my mother and asked her to buy Ariel and Jasmine for me. Before I knew it, around the end of December I had bought them all – most on Japanese sites and shipped to my father-in-law’s house in Japan, so I didn’t have to bring them with my when I move, because these dolls are huge (also around 17 inches/47 cm).

Then I thought that was it. Then I saw the lovely Elsa (from the Disney movie, Frozen) classic doll (a classic doll is like a barbie doll, just made by Disney and not Mattel) on the Disney store page – she was beautiful. But I thought “what are you going to do with her?” and I didn’t buy her. The next day I looked she was sold out and that’s when I knew that I needed her. I looked on ebay, but the prices were too high. I looked on Japanese sites, but Elsa was sold out – only Anna was to find. Then a day later, I was checking Yahoo! auctions (like a Japanese ebay) and there the classic Anna and Elsa dolls were and their price was the same as the Danish retail price and they were buy now. Then I decided to buy all the Disney classic dolls (except Merida). Then I saw the limited edition of the Anna and Elsa dolls…

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They are both 17 inches tall and limited to 2500 worldwide and their retail price was 99.99 USD (per Doll). I looked them up and it turns out that they were sold back in November, around the release of the movie Frozen and they sold out within minutes of being released online. I looked at ebay and the prices were crazy and so was the Japanese prices.

A few days later I heard that a new pair of limited Anna and Elsa dolls would be released for pre-order on the 10th of January, limited to 5000 worldwide. I thought… that’s it! I studied up on how to get the dolls, the best ways to prepare myself (seriously, for those who haven’t tried it, buying the limited editions dolls are like a war online and they sell out within minutes) and then I was ready for the 10th of January. My husband and I got up 30 minutes before their release (which were 00.00 am California time) and 9:00 am Danish time. Around 00.05 am I got the link for the dolls and my heart was beating while I checked out and it went through at 00.07 am. I had my first Limited edition dolls. !!! The dolls sold around within around 40 minutes or less.

After that I just looked on Yahoo! Auctions for my next chance – which was limited edition Ariel, which my husband bought for me. She’s limited to 6000 worldwide.

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Then things happened fast and the same day I got the fairy tale designer couple of Snow White and the Prince (limited to 6000). These designer dolls are a bit smaller than the “17 dolls – think they’re around 12 inches tall.

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I still was searching for a good price on the November edition of the Anna and Elsa dolls (the ones pictured above), but their ebay prices kept rising in an uncontrollable speed – especially Elsa. No other dolls has seen such a price jump in such a short time. It took years for Snow white to reach the level she’s at now, but for Elsa it took only weeks. Elsa’s newest sales price on ebay is 750 USD and the pair was sold for 1200 USD a few days ago. It’s crazy. They finally showed up on Yahoo! Auctions as “buy now” for around 600 USD – an expensive price, but compared to ebay it was cheap and my husband bought them for me. I had finally gotten my two most wanted dolls.

Two days ago I bid on more Japanese auctions and won: Designer Mulan doll, Designer Snow White doll (the designer is very different from the “17 doll) and then I won the “17 Cinderella doll.

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All these dolls bought within a month – I’m officially obsessed. Though the good thing is that these dolls can be considered an investment. They might be expensive – but they will only get more expensive with time. Meaning if I don’t want them anymore in a few years I can sell them and probably get more money than I paid (or my husband paid, to be honest).

So what’s next? Of course my dream is to get Tiana and Belle (both “17), but their price level is out of my reach – at least what I feel like paying since they’re both close to 500 USD per doll. The same goes for long haired Rapunzel. So the next doll I’ll try to get is the Ever After Rapunzel (short haired), since she’s limited to 6,000 worldwide and not as popular, so often she’s sold around retail price. She’s the final doll that I feel is within my reach of price and that thought makes me happy. I can’t wait to see all my dolls, which are stored in Japan. I want to buy a glass case/cabinet for them, with LED lights and a lock, so they can be show cased in my future living room.