AKB48 Phenomenon

I don’t know what was up with AKB48 in Japan, but let me tel you, they’re really popular. Most of the popularity is with men because they are always dancing around with little clothes on and are just really cute, which fits into Japan’s “kawaii culture”.  I not going to lie when I say that I kind of like their music…maybe a lot lol, but I just don’t like the concept of wearing such little amounts of clothes and selling those pictures of themselves. Everyone should know that idols in Japan are a big market, but when you see old men in stores looking at AKB48’s picture in the store, which the members range from 12+up, it’s kind of nasty lol. Here is one of their biggest songs!! Enjoy!!

Nikko Trip: On the way there

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First, before you read on. Here’s a bit about Nikko from  Japan-Guide.com

 “Nikko is a town at the entrance to Nikko National Park, most famous for Toshogu, Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Nikko had been a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for many centuries before Toshogu was built in the 1600s, and Nikko National Park continues to offer scenic, mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails.

Nikko and the Okunikko area around Lake Chuzenji, in particular, are well known for their beautifulautumn colors (koyo). In the average year the colors start descending from the higher elevations ofYumoto Onsen in early October, are best around Lake Chuzenji and the Irohazaka road in mid to late October and reach the town of Nikko in the first half of November.

Nikko is located along Japan’s Romantic Road.

I decided to go to Nikko because I felt that even though it was spring break at ICU, I didn’t really go anywhere out of Tokyo and I really wanted to, so I did. I got a deal from my friend to buy her JR Rail pass for a low price and I took it. I also decided to go because it was highly recommended as a day trip from one of the regulars of the bars a frequented.

I left on the JR line round 6 in the morning and got to Nikko round 9 or 10am. It took some time because I missed the train I was supposed to be on and ended up taking a local. Local trains end up hitting every stop. Also the local train I went on didn’t go all the way to Utsunomiya Station so I had to transfer. I didn’t mind it though. The scenery was nice and it was quiet. I kept on recalling scenes from Kamikaze Girls, which take place in Utsunomiya. (BTW, I recommend the movie. It’s a very good example of Japanese cinema.)Image

When you arrive at Utsunomiya Station, most likely you’re going to have to stop wait for the Nikko line to arrive. The wait was nice through. If you have a JR Pass you can exit the station freely and enter freely so go ahead and do your thang, but I just sat in the waiting area and grabbed a green tea mocha with was delicious. I love mocha!!(Japanese sweet)

I loved the Nikko line. I was so cute. The seats where red and it felt like I was on my way to Disney land lol. It took about an hour to reach Nikko and when I did it reminded me of an old town in the wild wild west. It was uuber cool.

Please continue to the next post!!

Drinking in Japan: The HUB

ImageI never really drank before I went to Japan because I just never really thought it was something I would do, but living in a foreign country can change that for a person!! I wanted to recommend one of my favorite drinking spots for you guys. It’s called, “The HUB”.

The Hub, from 4-7pm (weekdays), has something very amazing called, “Happy Hour”.  Drinks during that time cost from $3-$5 and even more I believe. But that only depends on what you’re getting. The price is higher for drinks, but it all depends on what you buy.

The style of the HUB is like a pub. It really does have a foreign feel to it. There’s sports on the teli, the whole place is covered in dark wood, flags of different counties, flags and posters of sport teams, and the music is usually varied in different genres. It’s a really chill vibe you get from this place and it’s a great place to hang with friends on a Friday after a test, on the weekend, and with coworkers.

I love the HUB and I totally recommend it. It’s like everywhere, especially in Tokyo: Shibuya, Shinjuku, you name it!! Oh and they have delicious food!!! 

Tips on how to save money while in Japan

I said most of what I needed to say about my cousin’s stay in Japan I believe. Now on to little things here and there about her stay that I feel I need to tell you about.

TIPS# 1

Tips about trying to say money whiling traveling Japan: FOOD!!!!

So when you’re in Japan, other than the fact that EVERYTHING is expensive, depending on the country you’re from, there is a way to save money during your time there.

The first step is food. Food is one of the best ways to learn about a country’s culture and one of the greatest ways to feel happy. I mean it’s true right?? You get depressed, you eat. You’re boyfriend/ girlfriend cooks you this amazing breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you eat. You’re hungry, you eat. And comes after the first bite?? This burst of Happiness from eating something sooo delicious!! Yes, now to save money on food. You’re going to have to choose at what time of day did you want to eat out at a restaurant: breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Alternating? Well once you decide that, you have two times of day where you’re to have to eat elsewhere.

Places I recommend:

#1 100 Yen Shop

The “hyaku en shappu” (Japanese pronunciation for the store) you can find breakfast food, lunch food, and diner food and other random things for only 105 yen. This is equivalent to 1.34 US dollars. Yah I know, the price changes once you enter inside lol. I guess you can compare this to the 99 Cents Store within the states. It’s very convenient prices for when you’re traveling or when you are living in Japan, doing study abroad, teaching and stuff. The 100 yen shop was the go to store when I was at the International Christian Univerisity. It was right down the street. I also continuously used this store when I was traveling Kansai and staying in Asakusa.

#2 Conbini (Convenience store)

Conbini’s in Japan range from 7 Eleven to Family Mart to Sunkus to DailyMart to other shops, but these are the main ones. It’s there that you can pick up cheap food, and not just warm-up sh*t. My cousin and I always stopped by 7 eleven to pick up an onigiri, rice ball, for breakfast. It’s quick to eat and filling-ish lol. Also onigiri’s usually have some sort of surprise in the middle, for example, tuna. We always got the tuna onigiri. The prices range from 105- less than 300 yen. It really all depends on what’s inside. ^^

#3 Fast Food

Fast food may not be the healthiest choice, but it does save money. I can’t really speak for many places for being low [rices, but I will mention the places I have gone that had a menu similar to the states “1 Dollar Menu”. First off is McDonalds. This do have a 10o yen menu, but I think the 120 yen menu is way better. The breakfast menu for those two prices are good too. Second is Lotteria. I LOVE Lotteria. I usually got some sort of pie, or the ebi (shrimp) burger. It was sooo delicious. My absolute fav!!

#4 Side shops/ restaurants that don’t look too fancy

Let me tell you, I didn’t have to go to some top notch restaurant to get some authentic Japanese food. There are splenty of not-so-top-notch looking restaurants that see amazing Japanese food like udon, ramen, katsudon, and many more. You just have to look around. I prmise you will find something good, filling, and cheap to eat!!

PLACES TO CHECK OUT: These are chain restaurants (SUPER CHEAP) throughout Tokyo, and probably Japan that I recommend.

Matsuya, Sukiya, Yoshinoya: These are two different chains, but they sell practically the same types of foods. (i.e.beef bowls)

Gusto: This restaurant is a 24hr restaurant. They have something called, “drink bar,” where you can have access to all non-alcohalic drinks, limitless time, for like 4 bucks. It’s a good place to study!! The also have pretty cheap meals too. Check it out!!

The Cousin in Japan Part 7: Hana Kawa Door

My cousin, friend, and I were invited to go to this jamming place by the guy I met at the club the other night. I didn’t really want to go at first because I’m a shy person!!!! So what if I was interested in him??? No just kidding, I wanted to go secretly but I didn’t want to say yes without the approval of my cousin and friend because my friend came out to hang with us, all the way to our hostel, and we already kind of decided to go clubbing. Therefore I didn’t want to say yes to blue eyes because I already had plans, but my cousin and friend were down to go, so everything worked out.

We drank a bit before leaving. I think I had 2-3 shots, a ½ bottle of whiskey, and a cocktail before leaving. I’m not sure but I was feeling good and was sane. I’m a heavy weight champion what can I say?? Bwahahahahaha!!! But yah, my friend was new to drinking at the time so he got a bit tipsy after one cocktail and when he drinks he begins to speak in Keigo. Keigo is the SUPER polite way of speaking Japanese. It’s only used we speaking to someone of a higher status than you. For example, when you come to restaurant out here, the waiters and waitresses are going to speak to you in Keigo, be you as the customer are in a higher standing than them because they are serving you. It’s also used in boss and subordinate relations and teacher-student relations.

Yah but he kept speaking in Keigo and no one understood what he was talking about. I’m proficient in Japanese, but NOT when using honorifics (polite forms). It’s very difficult for me. But yah, it was funny. Nolan ended up going home that night, but my cousin and I still went to the Jamming place with them. It was called, “Hana Kawa Door”.

HANA KAWA DOOR

This place gets popping from Thursday-Sat I believe. I don’t remember what day we went though. But they usually have live music playing and performances from various underground artists and Djs, has a bar, and just lots of chill people there. It was kind of like a hippie fest lol.

The reason why I recommend this place is because I performed there with blue eyes. He played the guitar, I sang, mind you with the band still playing behind us. It was just such a cool experience for me because I love music and I love to sing. Hana Kawa Door made me get out of my shell to the max. It was a beautiful night. Also his brothers rapped, which was so cool, and the owner of the bar, her name is “Mimi” remembered me when I returned a couple of months later. She only met me once, so for her to remember me made me really happy. Both times I went there were good times.

If you plan to go, please email her to ask what’s going on that night because I did go there out of the blue one more time but there was no one there, only the bartender lol.

http://www.hanakawadoor.com/

THIS VIDEO IS FROM TWO MONTHS AFTER MY CUZO CAME :]