Goku Day -Reminiscing about my childhood hero

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Today it’s May 9th – 5/9, which is pronounced Go/kuu in Japanese, which then became the official Goku day here in Japan.

My blog has been inactive for some time and I’ve debated about what to actually do with it, but I’ve decided to give it one more try. I hope to make at least one entry a week and I’m happy for continued traffic to this blog despite its’ dormant status.

So who is everyone’s childhood hero? Mine is without a doubt Son Goku of the famous series Dragon Ball. It’s strange because I’ve never really been interested in anime or manga, not before and not now. I’m living proof that it’s possible to live in Japan without having any knowledge about this worldwide popular phenomenon.

There’s only one exception… Dragon Ball. To be more precise: Dragon Ball Z.

It was the first manga I ever saw in my home country Denmark back in the 90’s and start of the 2000’s. The whole idea of manga was so foreign to me I even read the two first volumes of the serious backwards. My stepbrother was reading the books and it quickly sparked an interest within me big enough to go and get all the volumes released so far, though I must admit I wasn’t hooked before The main character, Goku, became an adult in the arch called Dragon Ball Z.

I loved the serious and read the books several times. All the girls around me couldn’t care less about the guys with big muscles fighting each other, so I got accepted into the the group of boys, which is a big thing when you’re 10 years old. We would talk about DBZ, practice Kamehamehas and anticipate the next book.

We watched the anime on a German channel without being able to understand what was said, but we were still mesmerized and filled with excitement thinking about the next episode. Son Goku and Son Goten were my favorite characters. In my naive childhood years, Goku was the perfect Hero – the perfect guy. I didn’t see any flaws in his actions, when he came swooping in saving the day, even sacrificing his life to save others. In contrast, I saw Vegeta as an annoying jerk and I couldn’t understand his popularity.

During the years I’ve rewatched Dragon Ball z several times, especially the Cell and Buu saga – the Buu saga being my favorite. A few years ago I stumbled upon “Dragon Ball Abridged” by team four star on youtube and it’s one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen. Binge watching their amazing episodes again and again, got me through the darkest days of my pregnancy and once again reminded me about how much I still love Dragon ball Z more than 15 years down the road. Dragon Ball Abridged even made me realize who my true favorite character of the show is, Vegeta. I loved every minute of him on the screen and made me rethink my opinion about him in the original show as well. He’s without a doubt the character showing the most growth throughout the series, going from being a villain to a hero. I’m proud to say that I’m a Vegeta fan now, I carry my awesome Vegeta bag with pride and I’m still searching for the perfect Vegeta strap for my phone.

That being said, Goku is the Hero of my Childhood. He was kind, heroic, positive and strong, for a 10 year old girl without a proper father figure, he was my ideal man. I desperately wanted a father like him.

Of course, the adult me now realize how rose colored my glasses were back then and I now see Goku as the naive, irresponsible and often selfish character for what he is, but he’s still a Hero. A naive and irresponsible hero, just waiting for his next challenge. He’s great at seeing the good in people, making enemies his allies and protecting the earth – therefore a true hero in my book. Do I want to be married to him? Hell no. In that regard, I think Bulma is onto something.

Happy 30th Anniversary to Dragon Ball! Happy Goku day! I’ll be waiting for the next episode of Dragon Ball Super.

Please follow me on instagram if you like cute baby pictures or random pictures from my life in Japan. I upload pictures almost daily. My account name is: milaya2109

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Outings with twins – in Japan. Are they boys?

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This is how most outings with twins look like.

The picture is taken in Himeji Zoo last week when we went to see the cherry blossoms at Himeji castle. Just making it from the car to the castle took quite some time, due to not only the fact that the site was booming with tourists (both Japanese and foreign), but also because a good amount of these people wanted to say hello to the girls.

I don’t mind people’s curiosity or them wanting to chat for a bit. The girls actually seem to make the Japanese overcome their fear of talking to foreigners, of course they do often show great signs of relief when it turns out I do speak Japanese.

The attention does get a bit more complicated when people just decide to stop and stare and thus block passage ways, both for me and others. It still amazes me, how two simple twin girls can make such an amount of people stand in awe, hovering their jaws close to the ground. It’s just twins, not sextuplets.

I also have to come to terms with the fact that no matter how I dress the girls, people will always ask if at least one of them is a boy. No matter how much pink they wear, how frilly their dresses are or how much flower pattern they have on their shirts, for some reason people assume they’re boys. I simply don’t get it.

I know babies are hard to tell on their face alone, but shouldn’t their gender being hinted by their pink clothes? When we went to see cherry blossoms, Yurina was wearing a pink dress and Miharu was wearing a white dress and people actually asked if Miharu was a boy, since her dress was white… even it was blue, would you make a boy wear a dress?!

Let’s not forget the fact that their stroller is quite pink.

People seem quite obsessed with the whole idea of boy/girl twins and even when I tell them that they’re identical twins, people still ask if one of them is a boy.

I also know there’s quite a lot of people from Danish pregnancy communities who would hate taking their babies to Japan. Those kind of people who can’t stand the thought of people talking to their babies without permission or even worse – touching them. If I’m talking the girls farther away from home than the supermarket, I must expect at least one of two old ladies will touch their feet or hands.

I don’t really mind, the old Japanese ladies loves the girls and if the girls can bring them smiles they can touch their feet all they want, or at least until one of the girls starts crying and scare them off. I just find it interesting, being from a from a culture which is very strict with how you act with strangers’ babies and suddenly living in Japan where apparently having a cute baby is an invitation to let people touch them.

I do think the girls enjoy the attention. Not that they understand why people look at them, but the attention brings extra people who can do funny faces, entertain them and make them laugh. A good day for a baby.

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.

J-pop talk: Ieiri Leo [家入レオ]

So, it’s been forever since I updated this blog. I have several ideas for new posts, especially I wish to make a series of “things foreigners wished more Japanese people knew”, where I’ll write about some annoying stereotypes foreigners experience in Japan – but also overall some misconceptions many Japanese people have about certain things in the international world.

Today, I just felt like sharing some music, since I realized that I’ve not, yet introduced one of my newer favorite artists – Ieiri Leo.

I feel in love with this girl a few months back, when I was looking for new music. I often look for new music and when I listen to new artists they often feel bland. I was actually thinking how I missed being completely captured by a voice or a song, when I pressed play on one of Ieiri Leo’s songs – Message. I had only listened 20 seconds when I knew that she was the girl I was looking for. Especially after YUI went hiatus and later dropped her solo career, I’ve mostly only been all about Abe Mao – who I have earlier introduced here. Ieiri Leo has the type of voice and songs I love the most – a little similar to YUI and Abe Mao. She has also been trained at the same school as YUI – which might explain the slight similarities in style.

Wonderful pop songs, which are not too cheesy or repetitive. I sometimes like cheesy pop songs to dance around to, when that’s the case I listen to AKB48 or other idols.

When I just want to listen to music, which I feel reach me on another level, I listen to Abe Mao, YUI, Nishino Kana and now Ieiri Leo.

Ieiri Leo is a young girl, born in 1994 and is now 19 years old. Like pretty much all my favorite artists and idols – (and people) she is born in the island of Kyuushu (Fukuouka prefecture). Apparently I’m drawn to Kyuushu people. YUI (Fukuouka), Abe Mao (Oita), Kashiwagi Yuki (Kagoshima) and now Ieiri Leo. Even my husband is from Kyuushu.

She debuted in 2012 with the song: Sabrina.

Next she released “Shine”, which is one of her most famous songs.

Which has nice lyrics that reminds people that you will fall down many times in life, but as long as we keep on shinning, we can climb even the “tallest walls”

By international standards, Ieiri doesn’t have a perfect voice, but in Japanese standards, it’s good. I don’t really seek the perfect, beautiful voices – that would also make it hard for me to love Japanese music in general. I actually find a lot of perfect voice to be a little boring, wheres people like Ieiri, Abe Mao and YUI has a lot of personality in their voices. A uniqueness, which I love.
After hearing Ieiri’s songs and loving them all, I hurried to buy her album and singles while there still were limited editions left to start my new collection. That’s the same I did with Abe Mao some time after her debut, which is why I own all limited edition CDs she’s made. Same reason why I have the first indies singles by AKB48, which at that time were cheap and only had very few copies – since I used to be a fan.

Ever since her debut, Ieiri has managed get the attention of many in the music world and she has won several awards, including best new artist.
All her singles have been in the top 10 of the Oricon charts.
The newest single by Ieiri, released last month, is “Taiyou no Megami” (Goddess of the sun) Got 7th on the charts and it’s another beautiful song.

Her next single will be released in the end of January.

With this, I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Aaa the ”Cuteness” [Japan Loving Foreign Girls]

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So I have been wondering something for quite some time – what is it about Japan that makes some non-Japanese young women act like little girls?

If you have an interest in Japan (or general knowledge about Japan) I’m pretty sure you know the type of girls I’m talking about. Maybe you’re even part of the group yourself, then maybe you can enlighten me.

I’m talking about the type of girls who loves Japan (often manga and anime) who then tries to take cuteness to a annoying level. A quick search on youtube will give you several videos with non-Japanese girls who should be in the age of evident maturity, who speaks Japanese with high pitched voices stretching out words like “desu”, “ne” and “etto” way too much and through around “victory signs” like they get paid by the amount. Sometimes these people are even by a popular term referred to as “weeaboos” – I do not like to use this term though.

Is this a rant entry? You might call it that, but I also think I’m generally confused about the whole thing.

I often get comments and messages on youtube from Japanese people telling me how nice to hear a foreigner using “natural” Japanese. That I don’t try to act Japanese and that I don’t overuse “ne” and other filler words. For people to actually take the time to write these comments and messages just shows that the “cute girls” are definitely getting known – and they’re increasing.

So what is the whole cuteness about? Do these girls actually try to act their image of Japanese girls or are they trying to bring their favorite anime and manga characters to life.

I think many blog entries about the difference about “real Japan” vs “manga lovers image of Japan” can be written, but with these girls I just feel generally confused. To be honest I’ve never myself met any Japanese girl act like some of these Japan loving non-Japanese girls, so should I just assume that it’s the anime talking?

I also sometime believe the more “cute” this girls act, the less the chance is that they’ve actually ever been to Japan. Visiting Japan often tend to be an awakening to these girls that the Japanese they try so hard to speak is actually neither the common way of speaking in Japan – nor is it actually wanted. I seriously doubt many Japanese would take grown up girls who says things like “Konnichiwaaaa Love-chan desuuuu YAY” seriously.

I am aware that in the recent years Japan has been associated with various kinds of “cuteness”, but is it really necessary to take it to that next level?

If it is the anime talking, I’m in no way telling people to stop acting like this if brings them joy. For my sake knock yourself with all the cute voices, pig tails and stretched out words. All I hope is that these girls keep this fact in mind: it’s not real.

I myself have no interest in anime and manga, but I never try to burst any bubbles, I often just try to tell people who have a general interest in Japan not to use manga and anime as their only sources. This concerns both the language learning and also when it comes to understanding the Japanese society. I’ve seen so many anime-loving people getting culture shocks in Japan, when they realize that anime is FAR from everything in Japan. Suddenly they had to realize that the common Japanese person didn’t know their favorite anime or manga and that they actually couldn’t care less. Also learning just Japanese from anime should also be taken with a grain of salt. One of my female class mates (I’m a Japanese major) kept talking like a guy (using words only males use) and say things like “show me your panties” during the first year, because that’s how they spoke in her favorite animes.

To all the “cute girls”, if you have fun – then rock on, but if you ever find yourself in the actual country of Japan, please have a “mature” back-up character to take over, unless you only tend to hang out in Akihabara and Harajuku. Or else you might find yourself more alienated than regular foreigners.

Accessory and Bags [Stone Market & Shimamura]

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So it’s time for me to return to Europe tomorrow, since I unfortunately can’t keep skipping classes at university and my husband also has to return to work (he works at a ship for 35 days at the time), so I had one last shopping spree here in Japan, which was accessories and bags. The earrings and necklace is bought at a shop called “Stone market” which specializes in birth stones and all those kind of things, but they also sell cute, glittery accessory – perfect for the girly girls , like me. I wasn’t before I took the picture that I realized that I ended up buying a lot of flowers and butterflies – a “heat of the [shopping] moment”- problem, I guess. The above accessories ended up costing around 4300 yen (around 45 USD – so not the cheapest).

The last part of the shopping trip took place at the chain store, Shimamura, where I bought two bags, a shirt and lots of leg warmers, over knee socks and leggings. Everything for a very reasonable price. The two bags costs around 1000 yen each, so the two bags ended up costing around 20 USD – not a bad deal. The leg warmers and such costed around 3-4 USD pr. pair.

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I hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Clothes & Shoe Haul [Honey’s & Shimamura]

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When I did my exchange in Japan last year, I lived close to a shopping mall, which had a clothing store named “Honey’s” – it was love at first sight. A lot of fashion stores in Japan only have M sizes – which is kind of seen as “one-size”, which sometimes makes it hard for me to buy clothes in Japan. I’m by no means neither over-weight nor am I considered big (I’ve sometimes even been called skinny) – but I do have curves (read: big boobs) which is something that doesn’t go well along with Japanese fashion.

The chain store “Honey’s” can save us foreigners in Japan, who loves Japanese cute fashion, but have a bit too big curves for the small sizes. Honey’s carries S, M and L sizes and the L size is the perfect one for me (Not so good news for plus size girls – sorry). Not only does Honey’s sell cute Japanese fashion in several sizes, they’re also very affordable compared to other Japanese clothing stores. Their price range is within 1000 – 3000 yen. (10 – 30 USD), where’s most fashion stores in Japan has a price range from 5000 – 20,000 yen (50 – 200 USD).

So of course during this time in Japan I of course needed a trip to Honey’s before going back to Europe, which resulted in my buying four skirts and four shirts. Totaling in around 16,500 yen (around 175 USD).

I was not able to find all the clothing items I bought on the online shop, but here’s some of the shirts and skirts I bought. If you’re interested in seeing how youth fashion looks in Japan, you can check out their online shop: Honey’s.

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Another chain clothing store in Japan which offers cheap clothes, accessories and shoes are the “Shimamura” chain, which also offers “big sizes” as one of the few shops in Japan. They have around the same price range as Honey’s (though a bit cheaper actually) and their fashion is a bit similar. In Shimamura I bought two shirts and a pair of shorts, I also bought these shoes.

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They cost around 2000 yen pr. pair (around 20 USD), so they’re also in the rather cheap price range here in Japan and for a shoe loving girl as me it was like paradise – or actually more like hell, since I had to chose which ones I wanted to the most, because it’s actually not my own money I spend here, but my husband’s. 😄

Recipe: Making Goma Dango (Sesame Dumplings) [ごま団子]

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So like a big amount of girls I love sweets and it’s a miracle that I’m not bigger than I am – since I seem to spend a good part of time eating anything from cakes, cookies and sweet bread – especially when I’m in Japan. One of my favorites here in Japan is pretty much anything with “anko” (red bean paste) and the price winner among anko desserts are “goma dangos” (sesame dumplings). In Japanese these dumplings are considered “chuka” – food which originates from China, but like with most so-called Chinese food in Japan, I feel sure that the taste is different from whatever they might have been inspired from. Anyways, I made these dumplings twice lately and since they’re very easy to make (if you’re able to get hold of the ingredients) I thought I would share this simple recipe.

These are the needed ingredients:

[For 16 dumplings]

  • 200g Dango/dumpling mix.

  • 150 ml. water

  • 200g Koshian (anko) (Red bean paste)

  • White sesame

  • Frying oil.

First pour the dingo/dumpling mix in a bowl and there after add water (some also add milk) – it’s best to pour it in little at the time to make sure you don’t put too much in. Some dango mix needs more water than other, but when the powder has a firm texture it’s done. Then blend the powder and water together with your hands till it has the wanted texture. You can also add some sugar in the mixture after your own liking.

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Then you divide the dango mass into 16 balls. (Yes, there’s more than 16 balls in the picture, but it was for a bigger portion.)

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Then your pour out 200g of red bean paste and like with the dumplings you divide the red bean paste into 16 balls.

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Then you flat out your small dumpling balls in your hand and place the red bean paste in the middle and then your wrap the dumpling around the bean paste and finally you roll them around in your hand till they reach the wanted round ball shape.

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Then you cover the dumplings with the white sesame and then you fry them in oil till they have the good golden color and the outside of the dumpling has hardened a bit and then you’re done!. Enjoy your sesame dumplings.

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Japanese styled ear & hair accessory

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Yesterday I went to the Japanese Daiso store here in Miyazaki. Daiso store is a 100 yen shop – similar to a 1 Dollar store. Pretty much everything in the whole store costs 10o yen (105 yen tax included), which is around 1 dollar. You can often find all sorts of fun things in a 100 yen shop and no matter how many times I’ve been to the Japanese 100 yen shops, I keep getting surprised about what you can actually get for 100 yen – everything from tableware, snacks, drinks, clothing items, stationary, garden things, souvenirs, storage solutions and accessories.

And yesterday it was especially the accessory area that caught my attention, since they had these interesting Japanese themed (Japanese-patterned) earrings and hair accessory. They have basically used pattern often seen on Japanese kimonos and made several shapes.

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The earrings are either made of glass-like plastic or fabric. The shapes of the plastic earrings spanned from flowers, leafs, tear drops, squares and etc. The fabric earrings were in the shapes of flowers, ribbons or butterflies. There were a lot more shapes and patterns in the shop than pictured above.

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Like the earrings the hair accessories also had several shapes to offer, though from the same brand as the earrings you could chose from flowers, butterflies and ribbons – all made of fabric. On another shelfs bigger accessories were available – like big flowers and the traditional square shaped hairband as pictured above.

All these 12 accessory items totalled in 1260 yen (tax included) which is around 13USD – which is quite affordable shopping for cute and unique, Japanese styled accessories.

Earrings and Make-up Shopping [LA Colors]

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Yesterday I went shopping in the Aeon Shopping mall in Miyazaki, Japan with my husband (somebody had to pay for the fun). And Like always I find myself spending too much time looking at make-up and jewelry. I bought a lot of earrings, stockings, leg-warmers, make-up and other stuff. I just though it would be interesting to show these “Alice in Wonderland” themed earrings I bought. Japan really knows how to create cute designs that makes you want to spend your husband’s money. All the earrings I bought (including the above) are made in Japan, which makes them a bit more expensive that the regular girlish jewelry you can find in Japan. The earrings cost between 900 yen to 1,400 yen (10 – 16 USD), where you can often buy cute jewelry for the price of 315 yen to 600 yen. (3.5 – 9 USD).

Of course if you want real silver or gold jewelry you have to dish up with a lot of more money, since Japan has never been known for being a cheap country. I almost feel like crying every time I have to pay 3,5 USD for one apple or 60 cent for one single carrot. Eating healthy in Japan might kill me.

Another purchase of mine was three make-up pallets from LA colors – each with 16 shimmer colors.

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The first one is with pinkish and purple colors, the second is with blueish and green colors and the last one has silver, copper and gold colors. This is the first time I’ve come across this brand, but when I saw the colors and the price it was love at first sight, which resulted in me buying all of them. One pallet costs 840 yen (around 9 USD), which is rarely a price I’ve come across – at least not when it comes to quality products, so I had my worries, but let the colors sweep me away. I was to be honest positively surprised by these products, the colors are a lot more pigmented than I had hoped for and the blend very nicely. I have one of the big Sephora pallets, which costs are lot more than these LA colors combined, but I have to admit that I actually can’t see the big difference between the two products. The Sephora one actually seems to have a lot more fall-outs than the LA colors, if I have to compare something else.

Of course these LA colors products are not the best make-up products I own or have tested, but considering the very cheap price I actually think they’re well worth the money, especially for everyday casual use. The colors are beautiful, shimmery, varied and transfers well from the pallet to the eyelid. I’m very happy with this purchase and I could see myself buying more LA colors products in the future.

I have been inactive for some time due to a busy schedule and a week ago a family member passed away here in Japan and I’ve been very busy with funeral preparations. I think my next blog entry will describe a shinto funeral here in Japan. Since I myself didn’t know much about this.