Never Want To Go Away

Why does it feels like always the first time whenever I come to Japan? And when i depart why does it seemed like I’m leaving a part of me behind? I was excited surely. Thinking I get to reunite with my relatives and friends again. Though it was only for three months that I was gone, I still feel the need to catch up. Regardless when we actually connect in all of our social media accounts. Nothing beats being with them in person right? And now that I’m home I can’t decide what to eat first amongst all my cravings from all the local dishes that I mostly missed.

Setting the days back in Japan, I made friends with my co-trainees. We do work for the same company but only then that I am able to know them very well. I also found an acquaintance from a trainee in another country. We didn’t talk much but we knew we like each other and we could have been closer given with enough time.

Also I had my very first festival to witness and experience which was the “Hinamatsuri” or the girls’ festival a.k.a. doll festival. It is meant and celebrated for women particulary young girls to wish them luck and good fortune.

As for the training itself, I had the privilege to be a support for “kaihatsu-ka”. A small group that mainly handles software development that we use in steel production. I get to work with a bunch of good and accommodating people. I am able to run tests and try the latest software version before its release. Work has never been thrilling before this.

And then there came the comfort of living. People were very intelligent, disciplined and calm. I don’t see any of them angry, probably because they were too busy and focused at work to be. Thus, the peaceful working environment and life in general. Household chores was made easy too. Machines and appliances for the most part do the job. Way so convenient are their road networks also. It wasn’t difficult to adapt their commute system may it be via train or bus. Not to mention the amazing beautiful spots I had the opportunity to tour in. Oh and the food, maybe real pricy yet worth every penny. Serving for one person is quite big and many just like in a bowl of ramen.

All these and more were plausibly the grounds on me having the separation anxiety everytime I left Nippon. I somewhat missed home at the same time don’t ever want to go away from Japan.


Millennial’s Springtime

Me: let’s find somewhere shady.

Millennial self: no let’s take some more photos.

In aobanomori park at 1 o’clock in the afternoon.
The wind is too strong that I had to clip my hair with my hand to prevent it from covering my face. Coz I don’t want myself end up looking like sadako from a horror movie. Hehe.

This is how social media ironically influenced myself. At the beginning I would take numerous pictures of myself then select the best ones and upload it in my facebook, instagram or sometimes on my twitter account. But now it seemed like I have mastered the art of timer and the angles I thought I look good. I’d like to make myself believe, it is only because sakura is just a phenomenal season in Japan justifying myself for frequently snapping. Yet it wasn’t just that. The narcisism in me has been developed pretty much ever since I owned a mobile phone with front camera and when “selfie” is forged. So why am I saying all these again? Hmmm.. probably so I can get more exposure here on my blog! Nevertheless I loved everything about spring here in Japan, not only the cherry blossoms but the weather, the tulips and any other radiant flowers, and the feeling of goodness it bestows.

Making springtime an excuse for more selfie photos.
I’ll just be here and be happy and carefree and beautiful like a flower that blossoms in spring.

Note: All photos were taken by myself. It is very convenient though setting cam on timer. Like my friends say, it is important to get the hang of it when you don’t have a partner to do it for you. Somehow they were right. Urghhh.

A Walk Through Chiba

Yesterday my migraine was triggered by me doing all the chores in the house ensued to skipping my lunch meal. Therefore, I thought I’d just stay and rest today since it’s holiday in observance of Japan’s National Foundation day. Yet again, I got too bored doing nothing so I took a midday stroll. I never had an idea where but I knew I had to get going. I imagined a long trip wouldn’t be practical as I only have half of the day left so I settled to somewhere near. Not be long after googling, I learned that there are many interesting things to do and explore in Chiba.

I have been wanting to visit Chiba castle a.k.a. Chiba City Folk Museum as I’m always fascinated by exhibits showcasing history and rich culture. Though it’s Monday (mostly museums are close), with no hesitation I went forward to see it. From Soga station, I rode the train and get right off to next stop which is Hon-Chiba. From there, I walked and took turns for about 13-15mins to reached my destination. I’m aware that I might not be able to come inside but I believe I have more chances of taking better photos if there’s not much of people around.

True enough I was the one and only person when I got there apart from those who were passers by.

After a decent number of snaps, satisfied with each of them, not far from the castle I found an eyeshot of a restaurant. Delighted with the scenery, I stopped there for awhile not to eat but to appreciate the vista.

The trellis covering the walkway caught my attention that I had to take photo of it.

“It isn’t too bad to have the whole place by yourself was it?”, I dared say and then walked off with a grin.

Few minutes later jaunting by foot, I arrived at Chiba Shrine.

Unlike any other shrines and temples I travelled to (Meiji Jingu, Asakusa and Narita) this one is slightly less spacious. Thus, every corner has this strong sense of peace and solemnity. The spot is very quiet and people go there to truly worship.

Not what I expected but there are only few tourists like me who were there to check it.
Torii~ normally a gateway to shinto shrine. This one is just a replica and situated before a bridge.
I managed to perambulate the whole place in less than half an hour including taking of photos.

It may not be as vast as any other tourist attractions, Chiba Shrine is worth the call especially when you want to contemplate or just to observe how Japanese worship (traditionally). The whole unplanned trip only took less than three hours, still it has made my day. I was ecstatic taking advantage of the holiday and exploring the neighborhood.

Redirecting Femininity

Was it not too cold today or I’ve just only gotten used to this chilly weather? Either of which I cannot tell. What I can say is that I have managed to go out for a quick walk at my favorite park (which I have already written about in my previous blog) earlier today. Yes finally, passed two weekends and I’m able to drop by. Aobanomori park hasn’t changed at all. It still feels like home to me.

What bothered me more is that it took me too much time prepping. Funny as it may sound, it’s far worse than having a date. Like real date (which reminds me valentines is fast approaching, dinner maybe? I wish), you know there’s just lots of things going on in the mind before it. How to impress the one you’re dating, what dress and perfume to wear, or how to do your hair and makeup? Stuffs like that. Anyway, back to what I did before going to park, I showered a little longer than usual, chose my clothes well (changed couple of times) then put makeup on. Not normally doing these things as I have always been the on-the-go type of person. I’m always in a hurry thus I cannot accommodate all those.

Yet today (maybe more like recently), I cared so much for myself like completely losing it. Why is that so? I’d like to blame it on PMS like any other women would do so but my thoughts are on to something better. Perhaps it’s personally redirecting my own femininity realizing that it isn’t too late to be conscious on how you look. More over so, how you wanted to present and carry yourself.

This is actually one thing Japan has taught me. You see, I ended up in clothes where colors are all mix up. There is no such thing as “overly dressed” here hence, I couldn’t care less and still wore what I wanted. People freely express themselves more specifically on how they dress up regardless of the occasion, the place they are into and the people they are with. In fact they are very appreciative of things around them. And if at some point they didn’t like what they see, they won’t ever insult or judge you. They have high regard in everyone irrespective of your ethnicity, status or job. Really admirable that is. Merely this is just my very own opinion and does not bear any other people’s.

My Starting Week

Full meal at the plane

Today I’d like to write about my first week since I got back here in Chiba, Japan. It was Monday, January 22, when I flew from Manila to Narita. We had a good weather back in Philippines that day so I was surprise when we encountered excessive turbulence before we hit the ground. Little did I know that Japan’s weather forecast was that it’s going to rain and snow heavy in Tokyo also including Chiba which is where I’m heading to. We landed safe though. When I alight the plane and went out of the airport around two thirty in the afternoon, it was only raining but as I travel through Chiba (via taxi) it gently started snowing. Along the way, I was informed that office work has been suspended due to bad weather conditions that may cause trains to stopped operating thus it might be hard for employees to commute going home.

View that night from my balcony.

Snow intensifies as we went on. Two hours later, I made it to the place I’ll be staying in for three months. Before I came in, I took a video of the snow fall as a souvenir of my very overwhelming arrival. Inside, I found two boxes containing some basic necessities (towels, shampoo, body wash, detergent, frying pan, cooking oil, salt just to name a few). Yes, they do provide us such things, to survive our first week or so. Very well accommodating hosts, who are actually our clients and also sponsors of our training.

Realizing I am all alone, delighted with the fact that finally, for once I can live on my own even on a short period of time. Privacy and independence is exciting especially when you’re in a safe foreign country. Freedom? Oh yes freedom, where you can actually run around the house naked or play music and sing your heart out loud! Not long since, my deep thoughts were shattered by a rang. When I checked and answered my phone it was a video call from my parents. It surely made my day. Yet brought me back to reality that I’m way too far from home. It sadden me for a moment but I need to keep moving. Being stagnant is not my thing, least I thought. I carried on cleaning and arranging things, maximizing the comfort within my space. “My space”, how lovely that it sounds to me. And I concluded that night and have fallen asleep merrily.

Walkway down at my place

Morning of Tuesday, the following day, I got up, opened my balcony door and saw an endearing view. All of a sudden, it felt like Christmas again. Everything is covered in white and it’s very enchanting. Much as I would like to play and enjoy more of the snow, I geared up for my first working day in lieu. Prepared my own food, ate by myself, showered, dressed up and catch the train. It was a typical day at office. I finished early for I had to run an errand and buy some things I need at home. Same with the next day, Wednesday, it all went good.

After the visit

My Thursday was a bit different. I, together with my co-trainees, visited and observed a job site somewhere in Kanagawa Prefecture. About an hour and a half drive from office. I was on facetime with my co-workers in Manila the whole time so they can also keep an eye to what is there at a construction site managed by our clients. Also for them to see in actual what they are designing in paper and point some differences between two. After more than an hour we head back to the office. Exhausted as I was, still I rendered more than an hour overtime to finished a deadline. It was a fulfilling day.

Came Friday, it was also a normal day till we were done working. We were invited and went out that night with the bosses. It was a welcome dinner for our general manager from Manila and for us trainees. The whole event was filled with fun and laughter. Everybody enjoyed each other’s company. Only that there’s lot more to drink than to eat (coming from someone who doesn’t really appreciate raw food, sorry I honestly don’t like it). Anyway, it wouldn’t be called “nomikai” meaning drinking party for nothing. The best part was, each trainee received a gift from our general manager. She got me scarf and I loved it.

I started as early as 7am the succeeding day, Saturday. I did my laundry (some items I have to hand wash), cleaned my crib and made myself food. I was eating when I came to understand some things. That it will never be easy moving out from your comfort zone. That it’s a lot of hard work setting up your own place. That time management is difficult particularly if there’s so much in line to do. And that all these things would have been more light with another pair of hand.

The smile you make after shopping

As a reward for surviving my 6th day and hopefully for the days to come, I went to the mall and bought myself some stuffs, clothes and a pair of shoes to be specific. And then again, it was a happy day. No days are happier for a woman who stumbled on lots of sale while shopping!

Goi Catholic Church

Today, Sunday, I went to church but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the mass as, unknowingly, they moved the schedule from 12:30 in the afternoon to 10 in the morning. Some things changed, if only google had known (yes I did my research first before coming). So I just stayed there for awhile and pray. And then I planned to have a walk in the park but it’s cloudy making the weather even more chilly. So forget the park, it can wait. I dropped by the supermarket instead before coming home.

My very own ginataang gulay

As soon as I got home I put everything I purchased in place and started cooking one of my favorite Filipino dish, Vegetables with Coconut Milk (Ginataang Gulay). It was only 4pm when I completed the recipe but I was so anxious to have my first real meal of the week. I have only been consuming everything in instant the past few days. So with no second thought I dug in and ate up my dinner early. So now I’m ending my day with this blog completely contented and full. Choose to find joy in little things and end each day with a smile. Life doesn’t have to be that complicated, does it?

Modern Day Nirvana

Leaving home for the first time is both horrific and thrilling. It was August of 2013 when I departed for Japan in compliance for work. My adaptation for this new environment started really slow. For instance, English, a common language, is hardly spoken except in other parts of Tokyo. I lived in Chiba by the way (adverted from a previous blog). Although I barely understand them, locals without a doubt are very heartwarming. Perhaps because they smile a lot.

One Saturday morning, my co-trainees (yes I wasn’t alone, there were 6 of us), settled to bike around. I had to passed up on this as biking excludes my expertise (alright I don’t know how really and yes I did sky bicycle only because it’s cable-suspended). Arrived back to our apartment, they spoke about the places they went to. However, what really caught my attention was this not-so-far-away (according to them) park called Aoba no mori. They sounded like it’s an entertaining place to see.

My curiosity being preyed, I went on a stroll to locate it. I found it after walking for 25 minutes, (thanks to google map). Avowedly, it’s a very interesting spot. It is a huge park for diversion, nature jaunting and Japanese culture cognisance.

The ambience instantly felt like ménage. Where I can be myself. Where I can do what I want not minding of what people will think of me. See my mimics below. About 2-3 locals were looking at me while doing so but I couldn’t care less. It has somehow taught me the value of freedom (with limitations).

Falling upon a crib amidst everything foreign was reposeful. Dope as it may seem, to me this was the closest I can get to home.

Since then, in whatever mood I am, I would ran into this cradle to loosen up. It has brought me peace, happiness and contentment all at once. Indeed a modern version of nirvana.

Salute to Japanese people for their fast-paced technology yet still so exquisite in preserving and keeping everything intact from their language to their culture, traditions and recreations.

February 8, 2014 Chiba, Japan

My first snowfall experience.
To begin with, let’s make a recap on how I’m able to set foot on this so-called the Land of the Rising Sun. I’d like to believe that it’s pure luck that brought me there. After passing licensure exam for architects in January 2013, I immediately looked for work. I have high hopes back then and I was determined to follow my dream job (that is to practice my profession on a highly respected company). Few months later, applications after applications, still nothing (like literally nothing). It got me furious and frightened. Until one day a colleague (hi Vicky! haha) invited me to come along to try and apply for an unknown company. Yokogawa sounded strange to us but what caught our attention was their add for qualifications stating “willing to be trained in Japan” (who would say no to Japan anyway? Even as a steel detailer, which we never had any idea of what it was). So I hesitatingly (I badly need a job you know!) took the offer. My friend declined (but of course for a greener pasture as the cliche goes). Unknown to my co-applicants, the manager told me she liked me too much (already) disclosing that I was the one chosen to train in Japan for a year. Like I said, pure luck isn’t it? I haven’t proven anything and yet..

Moving on, back to my snow experience, it was 8th of February 2014, woke up with a call from my co-trainee from the other room bursting and I quote, “Shella gising tingin ka sa labas ang lakas ng snow puting-puti ang paligid ang ganda” >> “Shella wake up look outside it’s snowing hard and everything is white it’s nice”. So I hastily got up (ignoring the biting cold), opened the door from my room’s veranda and went outside. For a minute, I could only stare at it (the roof, the cars, the leaves and the trees) covered in white. It really is breathtakingly beautiful. Only we couldn’t just stare at it, we knew we had to go down and touch it and play with it and savor the moment. And so we did. We walked to the park. Headed to a playground and waited for our turn for the slides and swings. Also throwing at each other balls of snow. Stayed there for hours unleashing the kid in us. None of us went home not until we felt numb due to too much cold. Oh what a fun-filled day it was!

Other former trainees would cry out to me, like some of them were sent during summer, spring or fall season so they haven’t experienced these tiny little ice crystals during their time. While others say, during winter they would have to go to Nagano or any other snowy areas and spend thousands of yen just to witness something like this.
I became, very well, too lucky I guess. “The heaviest snow in two decades” as I quote Japan Today (a reliable online newspaper) struck Tokyo as well as other areas in Japan including Chiba (where I stayed during my one-year training) –posted the very same day we woke up to all is white and lovely outdoors.
For someone who grew up and spent all her life in a tropical country wherein snow is almost impossible to envision, forgive me if I overreacted. But hey it’s my page anyway! Thanks for generously giving time and patiently reading this. See you on the next.