A Simple Guide for Living in Japan - A Month Experience


It's been a month!
So last weekend, I made a poll about what should my next blogspot post will be and most wanted to know about my thoughts living in Japan.
I was thinking to post about my experience since I did not find a post that answered some of my questions before coming here so maybe, it'd be great if I could share my short experience for people who are going to live in Japan.

Living in Japan, surely sounds like a dream for some people - but what kind of Japan that you think of when you hear about this country?  All bright city lights, super stylish people with busy zebra cross?  Not wrong!  But who would have had a thought of living in a small rural area in Japan?

Where I am living now - I'm currently in Kikuchi, Kumamoto.  Kumamoto's icon is Kumamon, which some of you may recognize of.  Kikuchi is located around 30 minutes from the center of Kumamoto City.  It's a small place, 276.7 km² and famous for the Onsen (hot spring water).

Before going to Japan - Are you planning to go to Japan?  Be sure to check the weather!  Since Japan is a 4 seasons country, people who come from tropical country (like I do) should pay more attention to the weather condition.  Especially if you're going in Autumn & Winter.  Unless you're going to Okinawa - where the weather is warmer, during those seasons the weather is already colder than in tropical country (Autumn around 19-21, winter can reach 0 or some places like Hokkaido below 0).
Before going to Japan, I had a huge confusion about bringing laptop.  So far, when I came, I did not get inside of my laptop checked.  Not in Soekarno Hatta Airport, nor in Narita, nor in Haneda.  I just asked to put my laptop on the tray and done.
Also about internet, Japan does not have lots of free-public WiFi places.  Some free WiFi needs you to log-in, using Japanese number and mostly limited for specific provider (e.g., free WiFi in Daiso near my area is only for Southbank users).  So if you're going to stay in Japan for a short term, be sure to check about the travel SIM card (usually 2 GB for 3 months for about JPY 3.000 - 3.500) or you can also order pocket WiFi that can be taken in airport.

What it is like living in Japan:
I currently live in a 2 bedroom apartment.  It's normal size in Japan, I guess?  Not too small and not too big.  So after living here for a month, I notice some things that are different from living in Indonesia.

from this blog

Trash - In Japan, they have the schedule about when is the day for you to throw burnable, not burnable trash (two most general classification for household waste).  You should check your are, or maybe can ask for the trash calendar.  Burnable trash will be collected twice a week, in my area is on Monday and Friday while the not burnable trash will be collected once in two weeks.  If you throw the trash aside from the days that have been scheduled, your trash won't be collected.  I read in some area, you'll get a warning by sticker on the trash plastic that you have to re-classify your trash.  FUN FACT!  In Japan, plastic is categorized as the burnable trash.  At first I thought it was not burnable (in Indonesia, the trash only classify as organic & inorganic, plastic is classified as inorganic) but my Japanese life guidance told us that plastic is classified as burnable.  For not burnable trash is usually can and bottles.  Notice that in Japan, the bottle's cap & label should be thrown in burnable, the bottle - only the naked bottle - is in not burnable.

Picture from Google

Bath -
You may heard お風呂 (ofuro), the Japanese bath tub where steam coming out and some anime character put towel on their head.  Ofuro is common in Japan, I think almost every apartment and house has it in the bathroom.  Since I am living during cold seasons, dipping myself in ofuro is such a pleasure.  I usually set the water temperature on 41 degrees Celcius, it may hot but actually not during cold seasons.  It helps warming your body temperature through the night! (That's in my case).
Rule for Ofuro : Clean yourself first with shower before dipping into the bath tub!  Yes, this is a must because the concept of ofuro is not for cleaning yourself, it's more to relax your body and keep your body temperature.
In my place, the water heater is in the digital, one inside bathroom, one outside near the kitchen.  It has microphone that connects each other and can automatically fill the bath tub (but closing the 'hole', you have to do it by yourself).


Grocery Shopping
Since I live in rural area, my only entertainment is going to several supermarket and mini markets (konbini).  There are usual supermarket, drug stores and mini markets.  Supermarket is just the normal supermarket where you can buy everything that you need for daily life such as foods, frozen foods, toiletries, etc.  Mini market in Japan, Seven Eleven, Family Mart, Lawson - you name it, usually on the corner of the street.  It has coffee machine, foods like bento, onigiri, sandwich, snacks, magazines, iTunes voucher (seriously).  You can also print photo and document, send package in mini market!  Drug store in Japan has cheap products perception for Japanese people.  Many discounts are given in drug store.  Yes, in drug store you can find a lot of interesting Japanese skin care products, make up, health & beauty supplements.  What's so Japanese is Daiso.  Daiso is a store that sells most of the items on 100 JPY!  It's a heaven for me because you can buy beauty tools, gardening tools, stationaries only on 100 Yen!  Daiso is really popular in Japan because of the price and the variety of the product, seriously you can find almost everything here.

That's it!

So far, those are what I can think of about living in Japan, at least the basic things.  I would love to share more about the simple guide, so if you want to ask some questions, you can ask anything and I'll try to answer / explain it on blog.
It's only a month left until I am going back to Indonesia and I have mixed feeling about this.  Kikuchi has been beautiful and the beauty of Kumamoto also will be shared on the next post(s)!


Tokyo, October 2017.


I'm back in Japan.

I am here joining METI Japan Internship Program.  This internship is a program held by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Japan which has a goal to globalize local companies in Japan.  Some companies and industries are still developing their business and some of them want to expand the business abroad.

Until December, I will be in Japan as an intern in a hydrogen water company located in Kikuchi, Kumamoto.  Before, 8th - 12th of October I had a training in Chiba.  Chiba is near Tokyo about an hour train trip.  During the training, I had learn about Japanese business manners and intercultural case studies.

Since I have never been to Tokyo, I always made a way to go to Tokyo - every night when I had a training in Chiba.  Japan never disappoints me, not until now.  In Chiba and Tokyo, I was so amazed with how people were dressed up freely, expressing themselves in style.  Not only young people, middle age and old people looked so stylish in the streets.  It's autumn now and I saw so many people wearing tartan patterns on their clothes.

GINZA - The first night, I went to Tokyo Station to meet Luthfan, my AFS friend who is currently studying in Tokyo.  We went to Tokyo Station and strolled around Ginza.  Ginza was popular for being the place where people shop branded and luxurious stuffs.  No, I didn't go for shopping because 1. I did not have that much money, 2. The stores were closed at 8 PM (meanwhile we arrived in Tokyo Station around 7:30 PM).  But Ginza was beautiful, a lot of people, I found a street musician playing 'Just The Two Of Us' which made Luthfan and I stopped for a while, listening to the song.

HARAJUKU & SHIBUYA - I was so hyped when I arrived to the Harajuku Station.  Grew up reading GALS!, I always dream to go to Shibuya one day AND IT HAPPENED THIS MONTH, THIS YEAR.  I was so hyped, I couldn't really tell how I felt.  The nervousness was exactly like when you were going to meet your crush after a long summer holiday.  Well, so there I was in Harajuku and Shibuya.  Two big cities in Japan, two famous cities in Japan.

I made to see the famous 109 tower and the super busy street.  The famous zebra cross in Shibuya.  ALSO I MET HACHIKO!  Harajuku and Shibuya gave me a lot of tingling sensation that I would never forget.  This was the city you would not simply forget, yet for me, once was enough to be around (because it was crowded, unless you love crowded places, you'd definitely love Shibuya).

SHINJUKU - Came here for the sake of Halal Ramen and it was worth it.  Shinjuku was bright, with all the store lamps.  I guess most people in Tokyo, they would go to Shinjuku for after-work-drinking time (nomikai)?  Because there were so many places that sold beer and beef, which could be a heaven for a beer lover.  Halal ramen was amazing, it tasted so good.  It was quite expensive (2.500 Yen for a portion) but it WAS WORTH IT because of the huge meal size.  Most of the people who work in the halal ramen restaurant that we visited were Indonesians (some Malays).

3 nights in Tokyo, in a row.  At that moment it was more than enough for me because I get to stroll around and met my old friend, Luthfan with who I talked a lot during the trip.  Tokyo was no doubt, attractive.  No wonder a lot of people wanting to come again to Tokyo after the first visit.  The vibe was amazing, so beautiful to see people dressing nicely in the street yet they still queued in a line while waiting for train and before going on the escalator.

To sum up the vibe, I made a video (finally) about the strolling nights in Tokyo.  The video is blurry and shaky, most of the clips but I can say that I'm satisfied with the result.  It captured my favorite moments, train rides & night walks.

It was a pleasant quick trip, Tokyo was fun of course but now I am living on the other side of Japan that may be different from others show in social media.  Living in Kikuchi has been (so far) amazing and giving me a whole lot of new experiences.  Many great posts coming ahead!

On Thought : The Stranger by Albert Camus


The Stranger (LÉtranger) is the first Albert Camus' work that I've finished last week.

The writer, Albert Camus, was also known as a philosopher.  Many said that he was more into absurdism rather than existentialism.  The absurdism was there in The Stranger because there were some descriptions and dialogues that would make you raise your eyebrow and reread it to understand what Camus meant.

The story is opened with the famous line: "Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday."
Set in the 1940s in France about a man named Meursault who just had a news that her mother had passed away and his life after that - which was not really go well because of his lacking of grief for her mother's death.

Meursault is probably the most ignorant character I have ever read in a book, though I'd rather like to think that he was just denying to acknowledge what he really felt.  Some readers said that he was detaching himself emotionally from the environment but in some cases I found that Meursault didn't want to feel what he was supposed to feel because of 1. He did not know how he should express it, 2. He gave up on finding out what he felt.  The main trait that I found was ignorance.  He did not care, at all, though he might not show it explicitly and most probably not show it in his own knowledge.  Even after his ignorance led him to a death sentence, he did not seem to do anything to make it better.

The story got more emotional and intense as it would end.  The emotional moment would be at the last chapters when Meursault repeatedly thought about life and death.  It got sadder and more intense as he slowly showed how he actually felt.  Quoting my favorite line, "But everybody knows life isn't worth living.  Deep down I knew perfectly well that it doesn't matter whether you die at thirty or at seventy, since in either case other men and women will naturally go on living - and for thousands of years."  I got an interpretation that Meursault was sad knowing that nothing would change after he died, so life itself wouldn't matter anymore.

I read the latest version which was translated by Matthew Ward, published by Vintage International Books.  In general, the book itself was light, it wouldn't exhaust you because the story line itself was slow.  You wouldn't feel the rush to finish the book, rather you'd be taken slowly until you really had to feel deeper into the later chapters.  What I like the most about this book : It was not cliche and would leave some odd aftertaste.