what do I eat!?

As a native Washingtonian, I grew up surrounded by great food - the fresh seafood, ripe, juicy apples, and a plethora of tart, sweet berries. After high school, when I moved to Seattle for college, my new found food independence couldn't have established itself in a better city. Farmer's markets, organic food stores, a wide ethnic variety of restaurants and one of my absolute favorites - Uwajimaya, the Asian food market in the International District. My taste for quality food developed, along with my chopstick usage skill. When restaurants were too expensive (especially at the end of a paycheck cycle), I found it easy to pick up a pre-prepared meal from Whole Foods or PCC on the way home from work. This, along with my time-consumed schedule of work and school, kept me from pursuing cooking and baking as much as I would have liked.
That changed when I came to Japan.

how to get something redelivered (online) from Japan Post

There it was again. That red and white notice in my mailbox letting me know I had missed a package. I'd gotten them a few times before, along with notices from other delivery companies (such as Yamato and Sagawa). Everytime they'd come before, I'd shove the notice in my backpack and pull it out at work to show the coworker next to me. She'd offer to call for me and arrange a redelivery time. After three or four times bringing her my notices, she said, "did you know you can do this online?"

That may have been her subtle way of letting me know I didn't need to keep bugging her about it. Though, when we looked online, I had to sign up for an account, and I felt I shouldn't have to do that... (This is before I realized you need to sign up for accounts to do almost anything online in Japan).

Later on at home, I pulled up the site for Japan's postal system. (There is also an english version of the website, but it is more limited as to what you can do from it). Of course, you can also bring the notice into the post office and give it to the clerk, but I was never able to make it to the post office before it closed due to work.

The Japanese site overwhelmed me - as kanji swam everywhere on the page, looking like nothing intelligible to me. My first thought was to find a way to translate the Japanese, so I could find the "redelivery" link. Now, there is a simple way to do this, especially if you use the Firefox browser. In Firefox, you can install widgets to the browser, and one particular one I use is called "FoxLingo". Now I can click "AutoTrans" (auto translation) whenever I come across a site too complex for me to decipher. (Alternatively, you can use Google Translate in the Chrome toolbar, or any preferred translation service).

ようこそ and welcome

Expat Women Blog Directory

ようこそ! (yokoso) Welcome! to my version of a Japan survival guide. Rather than a travel guide, this blog is for anyone moving to Japan to live for any length of time, or folks currently residing here.

So, if not for travel, you ask, what is the purpose of this blog? Why this particular blog?

Hundreds of blogs written by foreigners living in Japan already exist. Dozens of people have written books about living in Japan as well. An internet search would give anyone new to Japan plenty of information about living in this great and unique country, also known as nihon in Japanese. Yet, after living here for a year and a half, I realized there were many things about living in Japan that I had not come across in the many books I read, or the various blogs and internet research I had done. It was easy to find how-to's for introductions, bowing etiquette, and table manners. Books and lectures on culture and the latter said items were incessantly reiterated by those attempting to prepare me and hundreds of other new language teachers for the big transition. I even spent nine months learning basic Japanese and given explanations from my Japanese teachers about the Japan facts, such as: Japanese people sleep on futon (different than a futon in the western world) and use ofuro (a bath, deeper and less wide than a typical western bathtub, but the etiquette also differs from how westerners would usually take a bath).

So, I arrived in Japan, feeling quite prepared. I know the basics; I can order food and say thank you and introduce myself; I know how to use the onsen (public bath). The bustling and neon lights of Shinjuku mesmerized me, as every new and different thing I came across in those first few days left me in a state of awe and constant exclamation: "Japan is AMAZING!" Ah, yes, that first meeting with Tokyo could leave anyone in a state of exhilaration.