HOW TO: Find a pregnancy test in Japan

Perhaps you're trying to get pregnant, or perhaps you weren't and suddenly you realize (or your partner realizes) that you missed your period. Probably the first thing many women do is head to the store to pick up a pregnancy test (after possibly panicking or being overcome with excitement). And if you're in Japan? Well, I'd assume you'd probably still want to pick up a pregnancy test in this case...

The pregnancy tests in Japan are really not much different than those in Western countries, but ALL tests in Japan are only proven to be 99% effective if taken one week after the expected start day of your missed period. I believe most tests in Western countries are like this as well, although there are some that supposedly can detect sooner.

Some of the pregnancy tests in Japan have an explanation in English about how to use them, though, most of us can probably agree they are pretty simple to use. Just pop the cap off and pee on the stick part. Wait a minute until the results show up. If there's a line, or plus sign, or whatever the positive symbol is, then you know you're most likely pregnant. If it's there but slightly faint, then try again in a few days.

Pregnancy tests in Japan: Clearblue, Check One, P-Check, and do test from left to right

Q&A - how to send gift money to Japan from overseas

Hey everyone! Today I want to post a little Q&A (question and answer) that actually comes from an email sent to me by Andreea. She has a friend in Japan who is getting married, and was wondering what to do about the gift for her friend. You can read about how much money to give at a Japanese wedding, but Andreea also has some unique circumstances.

6 reasons to shop at Uniqlo

Most people in Japan, Japanese and foreigners alike, know of Uniqlo (ユニクロ) - the giant clothing chain known for its typically inexpensive clothing and goods. And the clothes are often very basic and no-nonsense, which for me, is a huge plus. Shopping in the feminine sections in Japan can sometimes get overwhelming (for me) with lots of frill and fluff, so I’m happy that I have Uniqlo. I'm just a simple style kind of person. There’s also Muji, and Gap, and a few other places, but let’s save those for another post. Granted, some western guys may find the colors and selection slightly on the feminine side, but this is Japan after all. It’s normal here. And it's not like there aren't dark colors that are typical of men's clothing.

So why Uniqlo? Why, other than the most obvious reasons? You'll find the obvious below (which may or may not be as obvious to those that are new), but hopefully you'll also find a few new things (at least for those of you who aren't already well-versed in Uniqlo shopping).

interesting links around the web (December)

Hey everyone,

I wanted to share some recent links I've stumbled across in the past few weeks that you might find interesting.


A Guide to Birth Control Pills in Japan

The question of birth control is a common one among foreigners in Japan (or those moving to Japan). While there are various forms of contraception, in this post I want to focus solely on birth control pills. (Though, no worries, I will write a post sometime after this about other forms of birth control). So for those of you heading to Japan (or perhaps in Japan but wondering about it), I rolled up my sleeves and did some research (in addition to what I've already been aware of) to give a more in-depth overview of "the pill" in Japan.

Question/Poll and updated design

Hi everyone!

I'm excited to introduce an updated design format - hopefully one that is cleaner and a bit more simple to navigate. The top links and archive are the same as usual, but you'll notice the search box is up to the right now. I gave the logo some tweaks as well, and looking forward to showing you something else design-related in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for that! (I updated my Twitter background too... about time, huh?)

If you run into anything amiss while browsing around, feel free to let me know, or if there is some kind of feature you would like to see, feel free to contact me about that as well.

I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone, for your constant support, ideas, feedback, and for sharing your own experiences. I truly enjoy interacting with everyone and your support has meant a lot to me, as has getting to know other expats all around Japan and those around the world. You are such an awesome community.

Finally, I'm doing a short little poll. I started this discussion on Facebook, (thanks to those of you who have responded thus far!) but would love any and all comments. You can reply in the comments below, email me, reply via Twitter, or let me know over on Facebook. It's short, so it won't take anytime at all. Thanks much in advance!


For those that have been living in Japan for at least one-two years, what do you WISH you had known about living in Japan before coming and during the first year or so? (i.e. what might have made your life simpler or just all around better?)

For those who are NOT in Japan yet or still in your first year, what would you like to know (or need to know) about living in Japan? (i.e. what do you worry about, what are your concerns, if you could ask any question to those already here, what would you ask?)

HOW TO: Customize Your Drinks at Starbucks or Tully's in Japan

[Updated March 1, 2012]

Many of you may already know I'm from the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. (Greater Seattle area), the birthplace of coffee shop giants Starbucks and Tully's. As much I also particularly enjoy small, mom-and-pop cafes, there's just something about the sight of a Starbucks or Tully's that brings me a bit of nostalgia and comfort.

My nearby Starbucks (well, all four of them...) has been particularly inviting for me the past couple years, given that it is non-smoking and offers wireless internet service so I can sit and type away while sipping my soy matcha tea latte. (Note: Not every Starbucks has wifi...)

So if you have allergies, or a specific way you like your drink, rest assured it is possible to get these customizations. If you are a coffee fanatic and prefer your latte grande-nonfat-triple-shot-decaf-foam-extra-hot, this is possible, of course, but I wouldn't say it's common in Japan, at least compared to the U.S. Especially considering has an interactive tutorial on how to order a drink...

HOW TO: Deliver your (extra) luggage to the airport

Heading home for a holiday? Going somewhere exotic on vacation? Did you know you can have your luggage delivered straight from your home to the airport? The cost is actually quite reasonable (depending on how far you are from the airport, how much luggage you have, how heavy it is, how big it is, etc.)

HOW TO: Find a Christmas tree in Japan

My first Christmas in Japan was spent walking amongst the streets of Tokyo with my husband (then fiance). It was a short trip just over Christmas Eve/Day, but I returned to my apartment a day later with no hint of Christmas anywhere - no tree, no lights, no decorations.

As someone who absolutely loves Christmas, this was rather depressing. The most I got was visiting cities near mine to view the “illuminations” (what they call Christmas/Holiday light displays here in Japan). So the following Christmas I made sure to buy a 150cm artificial tree and some decorations, though I skipped the expensive lights.

Of course, I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, so if not, feel free to ignore this. For those of you who do celebrate and would like to put up a tree in your home, let’s check out some options. And remember, Christmas tree is クリスマスツリー (kurisumasu tsurii) in Japanese.