My Weekend, Part 1

Hi again,

Long time no see!
I have been so busy since friday that I’ve had no time to update my blog. Even though I’ve only been doing this for a little bit more than a week I already miss writing if I skip a day. So I thought I should give you summary of what I have been up to these past few days during the weekend. First of all I have to say that you never have to worry about being bored in this city. There is always something exciting to do or see in Tokyo. 🙂

Friday

Friday was a really long but really good day. It started at 10 o’clock at Komaba Campus. One of the big banks here in Tokyo was there to help the new international students open up a bank account. That took almost to hours and required a lot of paper work (reading through agreements, signing papers, etc) and speaking to a bank man and go through certain procedures. But I think it worked out well so in a week I should have a Japanese bank account and new Visa Debit Card.
At first I was not sure if it was necessary for me to open one but then I decided to do so since I hope I will be able find myself a part-time job and then I’m going to need it anyway.

We had to sign some of the papers in japanese and worked really hard to make a nice signature!

Then after lunch there was a guided tour of the campus in small groups together with some of the local students. It took us one and a half hour so the campus is quite big even though it is a lot smaller than Hongo (the other campus). I thought it was really interesting to walk around and just look at everything. It’s so different from home. The campus itself looks kinda old in some places but much newer and better restored in other. There are so many buildings, high and low, big and small ones and in all shapes and sizes.

The japanese students are very active and there are a lot of sports areas on the campus. There is an athletic arena, a rugby pitch, a baseball field, tennis courts and football fields, basketball and volleyball areas and a lot more! They have a regular gym too of course. Most of the activities are conducted through the different clubs at the university, most students are part of at least one and it’s very common to spend a lot of time doing sport activities (or others) when they are not studying.

The Campus is very green and there are so many amazing trees everywhere! I really like it.

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There is an only boys car-club at the University and if you are a member you get to park your car in this spot and you apparently get to participate in certain street race (is that legal??) a few times a year. Sounds like The Fast & Furious version Tokyo to me.. 🙂
Pretty cool! Our guide is a member and he was really enthusiastic about it!

Of course we also paid a visit to the Komaba Campus Library which was huge! Tall building with many floors and sooo many books. I think it was amazing! Very impressed. I will probably spend a lot of time there.  I liked the atmosphere and the silence. The order.

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No-nonsense knowledge here people!

After the tour we went to a very interesting earthquake seminar with a geology professor specialised in, well yeah, earthquakes, especially in Japan. He explained the basics about earthquakes and tsunamis and some other natural hazards. Since I’m an earth science student I knew most of it already but it was very interesting to hear him talk specifically about Japan. He told us some their history with earthquakes and what they expect in the future and how we as new residents in Japan can prepare ous selves and of course what we should do in an emergency. We will most likely (or almost definitely) experience a quake of magnitude M6 (which is quite big) during our time here. I think it’s a bit scary of course but I cannot help feeling a little bit excited as well..

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They very clearly instructed us to prepare an emergency backpack with important and necessary things to have and food and water for three days in case of a disaster. I am almost finished with my bag! The only thing I’m missing is food and water. I’m good for more or less all the rest.

When the seminar ended at 5 pm we continued o to a welcome party arranged by the university for us. There were a few speeches from both teachers and local students before they served us drinks and food. It was more of nice gathering where people mingled than an actual party but I really enjoyed it! 😀

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We are around 100 exchange students from all over the world and it’s going to be a blast getting to know them as well as the japanese students. Everyone is so polite and has completely different backgrounds which makes it so interesting to talk to more or less anybody. It’s going to be amazing!

I only stayed until 7 before I went back to the loge to prepare for the rooftop party arranged by GoGo Nihon which Jamie had invited me to. So at 9 pm I met him just outside of Ikebukuro station (it’s the second largest and most trafficked station in Japan) and we went up to the roof of the Seibu building together. It was so big and absolutely amazing! Much people from everywhere, both japanese and westerners and everyone seems really nice. I only talked to a few though but I had a really good time.

I will definitely go to rooftop parties more often! 😀

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Meet Jamie (from Australia to the left) and Jamie (my friend from Norway to the right).
Two delightful boys. 🙂

After some more mingle and fun conversations at the rooftop the evening ended in a karaoke bar! Karaoke means singing and I hate singing in front of other people! But I did it! And I didn’t die of shame. Must have been the Gin&Tonic… 😛 It was my fist real karaoke experience and I have to give it to my friends, it was more fun than I had expected! I will probably do it again…

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Karaoke bars have really nice bathrooms… 🙂

That’s all for today I believe. I’ll tell you about the rest of my weekend tomorrow.

Have a lovely day or night wherever you are.

Good night from a stormy and very rainy Tokyo!

 

Earthquake morning

Good day or evening or morning, depending on where you are in the world.

As you can probably guess from the heading there was an earthquake this morning! Not a big one of course (mom, dad – don’t worry!) but I still felt the shake. At first it was only like a really heavy vibration so I thought it was caused by a monster train passing by outside but then the whole room stared to move. I was still in bed and it kind of felt like riding the train. I have experienced earthquakes in Japan before when I visited last year with my mother but this is the first one since I came here last week and the biggest so far (still a small one though!). It was actually kind of exciting. I can only say that because it wasn’t serious in any way but since I’m into earth science studies it is cool to see what a phenomenon that you usually only read about in your textbooks is like in real life. There are earthquakes in Sweden too but it is extremely uncommon to actually feel them. Tomorrow we will have an earthquake seminar in school for all the new international students. I think it’s very good that they arrange that for us and teach us what to do in an emergency situation. It will probably come in handy….
Before I left Sweden I also promised my mom to prepare an earthquake emergency bag in case a disaster struck. I will have it ready before next week begins. I have to buy a few things before it can actually be used for its purpose. In it I will have :

  • A pair of extra shoes and socks
  • A sweater
  • A blanket
  • A flashlight
  • A pocket knife
  • A power bank and cellphone charger
  • A few bottles of water
  • Snacks
  • Bandages
  • Some cash
  • A copy of my passport and residence card with my japanese address

Did I forget anything? If yes please add it in a comment.. 🙂
So if anything happens while I’m at home, in the middle of the night for example, I can just grab it and run to a safe place (they have special meeting points here for when big earthquakes struck).

So except for this small event nothing much happened today aside from the japanese language test we had in school. Some students already study japanese at their home universities and are at a more advanced level and will take courses on a higher level. I know most of the hiragana and katakana now but I will start from scratch. Really looking forward to begin my studies for real in one and a half week. We actually got our first homework today and that was to be able to master the two alphabets until the language classes begin on the 26th of September. Since I know most of it already I think I will manage.

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Homework and tea

During our lunch break I, Nathalie, Vincent and Andrey went to eat lunch at restaurant here in Komaba very close to our lodge. I had some soba noodles with something that I have absolutely no idea what it is… But it was good! I love to eat here. I wish I was hungry more often.. 🙂

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I really have no idea what’s in the green bowl except for the soya sauce. Very strange consistency, liked whipped raw egg but still a bit thicker and more sticky.

Imagine if I could be fluent in french as well after a year here (since my friends here are all from France). That would be awesome. However they only teach me slang so I doubt I will have any greater knowledge of proper french… 🙂

For dinner I just had a small minibento from the supermarket with some salmon and rice, together with soya sauce and wasabi. Almost like sushi.

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Very delicious!

When I came back to the lodge today I found an interesting note on the board outside the office. Apparently there is a risk of snakes getting into our dormitories..

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I really like snakes in general but I don’t know if I should be worried? I live on the ground floor after all and I always have my windows open when I’m home.. But maybe they are nice and just want company? In that case they are welcome!

Then in the evening I just spent my time washing some clothes and cleaning my room here at the lodge. Feels good to be done with it. I also got to shave Luke’s head with a trimmer and poor guy.. I screwed it.. I mean the top of his head and the sides are okay but the neck… Well, I’m not gonna say anything more about that… Thanks for letting me try though!…

Tomorrow there will be a welcome party in the evening here at Komaba and I am also invited to a Rooftop Party in Ikebukuro with GoGo Nihon. Jamie (my norwegian friend was kind and asked me to come along with him and some friends. really looking forward to it since there will be both westerners and Japanese people to interact with.

Now I will go through some paper handouts from the orientation days and then maybe just see a film or something. That would be nice tonight.

So good evening to you all! Hope you have a great day wherever you are!

Love from 東京 (Tokyo)

Komaba Campus Orientation Day & Supermarket Shopping

Konbanwa こんばんわ !

Okay so before I start telling you about my day there is something I just have to mention right now. Half an hour ago I tasted the best red grapes I have ever had in my entire life! I mention this because I have never tased anything like it ever! It was soooo good! And that doesn’t cover it by far.. I was on my way home from the supermarket and I literally stopped in the middle of the street and nearly got bumped into by some Japanese people who threw me weird glances. I was so surprised and shocked over this divine explosion of flavor on my tongue. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say it was fantastic! And I also bought some japanese rice crackers with sesame and soy sauce flavour and they are definitely my new favourite snack together with the dried mango! Japan is my heaven! I know they have some nasty and wierd stuff too that they eat which I don’t even want to taste but, God, they do have the most amazing other things!

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It might not look like anything special but everything is not always what it seem to be. Sometimes it is way better! Like now. 😀

So I just had to say that and now that I have I can go back to tell you about the rest of my day. Since I went to bed very, very late yesterday and had some trouble falling asleep I had some uneasy dreams and woke up exhausted. Luckily the orientation didn’t begin until after lunch so I had time to take it easy in the morning and to have a nice shower and freshen up a bit so that I at least looked better than I felt when I went to campus. It was very similar to the orientation on monday at Hongo campus with a lot of information and a lot of papers to read through. But all in all I thought it was good. I will take most of my courses here at this campus at Komaba and I will have no more than 5 minutes by walk to get there and it feels so luxurious!

The lecture room where the orientation was held just before it began

Today they also gave us a brochure about the different clubs that you can join and be part of as a student at the University. I have read a lot about these kind of clubs in my manga books over the years and I always thought that it would be so cool to be able to join a club like that and now, finally, I can! I am so excited! This is really going to be the year of my life! I am smiling so much as I write this. I am really here. In Japan. I  am really living the dream I’ve had for more than 15 years. And when you do that everything sort of falls into place and you know that everything will work out in the best possible way. I am so grateful. ❤

On our way home to the lodge from the orientation. On the bottom picture you can see the representative building/clock tower of Komaba Campus.

When we came home Nathalie and I cooked and ate together before I went to study and rest a bit before I went to the supermarket in Shimokitazawa. On my way there the sun was setting and it was a really beautiful evening. And it’s so hot! Even when the sun has set the temperature remains over 25 degrees. I haven’t needed a jacket or a sweater once since I came here. I love it!

On my way to Shimokitazawa at nightfall.

Like I have mentioned before the supermarkets are really fascinating and I can really walk around forever in them and just look at more or less everything. Especially the counters with prepared meals are my favourites. There are so much that looks so good (and lots of sushi!) and its fairly cheap. And much of is healthy as well. It’s not fast food like Findus that we have back home in Sweden. Its real food, prepared and cooked from scratch. And they have so much different tofu! It’s a paradise for the vegetarian if you are cooking by yourself. However I am not a vegetarian anymore since I am now eating some fish. But tofu will probably be the main ingredient in all my food.

Outside, in front of the Supermarket.

Look at the squid, all the sushi and tofu. And everything else!

Tomorrow there will be a Japanese language placement test on Komaba campus for all students to determine what level of Japanese we possess and to see what classes they will put us in. I’m not that nervous since it’s not a test they will grade us on but more excited cause I am really looking forward to begin taking some real japanese classes!

In other words, more studies now and then bedtime. I have to sleep earlier today… 🙂

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Here’s a kiss for everyone that I love and miss back in Sweden and in other places of the world. ❤

Oyasumi おやすみ ! ♥

 

Tuesday

Good evening.
Or night actually if I stick to my local time.

It’s way to late for me to be blogging right now but still here I am..
This day felt really long. I spent a few hours practising my Japanese in mornning and middle of the day and then I went to explore the University Campus that I live next to. Since we are having an orientation day at Komaba as well tomorrow I thouht it would be good to know where to go before we start. I don’t want to be late again.. When I had learned the way I simply took a walk through the campus and around the area before I came back to the lodge again.

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Japanese requires a lot of determination. Luckily I enjoy it very much!

Some pictures from my walk

Sometime during the day Andrey knocked at my door and wondered if I wanted to join him and a couple of other people from our floor to a restaurant in Shimokitazawa in the evening (Vincent have been talking about this place since the first day so I was really curious and of course I said yes) and then later Luke came and asked if he could borrow my charger. I really like how simple and familiar it feels. It’s so easy and nice. I’m going to enjoy loving here so much and I know I will have a lot of fun with my new friends. They are all great people!

Vincent had booked a table to 19.30 and before going there we went out to buy a can of beer. It was my first try of Japanese beer and it was actually kinda good. It was harmony in the flavours as Vincent so nicely expressed it, haha!

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Only the can itself gets 10 points for looking so appealing… 🙂

When we came to the restaurant I was really pleasantly surprised. It was a really cool place and the food was awesome! Not very cheap but not super expensive either and definitely worth it! We sat on the floor and the atmosphere was very japanese in my opinion. Very nice!

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I guess I’ll start with introducing my friends. To the left you have Paloma from France. Next to her is Andrey (you already met him yesterday) also from France and beside him we have Vincent and surprise even he is from France. However to the right we are breaking the french trend with Luke from England. Wonderful people! 😀

As you can see we had a great time together and a lot of amazing food! I even tried real saké for the first time in my life and I really liked it. It was not too strong and had quite a.. natural taste I would say. And the in the bottom right picture was home made only minutes before we got I and it was warm and absolutely delicious! ❤

After dinner we went to a Lawson store to buy some desserts (and japanese whiskey for the boys, or maybe I should call them men?..) and then we went back to the lodge and saw a 90’s thriller film together in the common room called Basic Instincts I think. In other words a perfect evening and night. 🙂

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Now bedtime!

Oyasumi!

おやすみ

First day at Hongo Campus

Hej hej!

I woke up as usual just before 5 in the morning today when the first train passed by.. But I managed to go back to sleep again and woke up shortly after 7 instead the next time. I almost didn’t hear my alarm clock even though I had it turned up on the highest volume but only almost, luckily. I went out of bed, washed up, got dressed, had some juice and went to meet Andrey at 07.50. The academic orientation should start at 09.30 so we thought it was best to have some time since we were going to bike to Hongo campus. The GPS said 12 km so one and a half hour should be fine. But.. Of course we got a little bit lost on the way and when we finally arrived at campus we had some problems finding the right building (believe me Hongo is HUGE!) so we were a little bit late unfortunately but everything was okay and we didn’t miss much. I hate being late so I was really nervous but Andrey were just laughing at me and telling me to relax.. I tried!

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Meet Andrey everyone, my biking mate and neighbor on the same floor at Komaba Lodge. He’s from France (or actually originally from Ukraine) and a funny guy.

Biking across Tokyo is really cool but it requires a lot of concentration to avoid hitting all the hundreds of people walking everywhere, especially in the morning rush hour. But we did good!

The academic orientation lasted for about two and a half hours and we got our student ID cards and lots of papers with information about almost everything you could possibly need to know as well as an international student handbook. Very handy. After that we went to a restaurant at the top of another building were we kind of mingled for a while and had juice and cold japanese tea while we waited for all students to arrive and for the food to be served. It was very pleasant! I actually found two other swedish students from Stockholm University who were really nice. Viktor and Maja. I think we will be great friends. We don’t live on the same campus but there doesn’t seem to be too many swedes here so I have a feeling that we will probably stick together. I also talked a lot with my neighbour Luke and his friend Henry from Ireland as well as a guy from Switzerland, a girl from Poland, one from England and another one from Australia. I also met Freya, a really nice girl from Copenhagen University in Denmark. And people from lots of other places of course. When this year is over I will have friends from every corner of the world and that is amazing! I am so happy and excited about this chance and opportunity that I have been granted.

The student orientation classroom,
A cool view over Tokyo Sky Tree from the restaurant &
Some of the food we were served (it turned out to be an Italian restaurant).

After having filled our stomachs with a lot of salads, finger food, different pastas and Tiramisu we all rolled out of the building to take a group picture in front of the University before we went on a smaller tour of the campus. I think we were all too busy talking to each other to actually take in our surroundings and learning how to find our way around.. But we had a good time!

One of the University buildings and a big pond in the middle of campus area with lots of beautiful Koi fishes!

Then it was finally time to go home. I was actually very tired after all the given information and all the new impressions and meetings with new people. It took us about one and a half hour to get back to our lodge, this time because I wanted to stop all the time to look at buildings and people and take some picture. But it was a nicer trip now that we didn’t have to stress and a very good exercise. My butt somewhat  hurts after 24 km on a new bike.. Feels good to know that I was active. ^^’

We actually passed Tokyo Dome which is a big amusement park (I have read about it in so many shojo mangas that it felt just like meeting a celebrity in the street!). I so want to go there! You can see a glimpse of one of the rollercoasters in the upper right photo. We also met a lot of elementary school children on their way home and just look at them! They are so adorable that I almost fell of my bike twice just because I couldn’t stop looking. Same cute clothes and hats and many of them are holding hands. So lovely ❤

And finally I want to introduce you to this new friend of my. I’m sure she will be a faithful companion. I call her the Black Flash (I made that up just this second, it’s a terrible name…) because she is black and well.. If there only wasn’t so much people everywhere to slow her down she would definitely be fast as a flash…

I actually lost the key to my bike lock today so I told one of the orientation leaders that I had probably dropped it somewhere in the restaurant buildning, however I wasn’t sure, but I asked her to tell the staff that if they found a small key somewhere it would probably be mine. I had the spare one in my wallet so it would have been okay anyway but guess what, no later then 15 minutes later she showed up with my lost key! It felt so unlikely that they should find it because this building was so big and we had been so many people in there. But everyone is just so helpful and everything is so efficient! It’s amazing and fascinating at the same time. I can’t help but smile. 🙂

Now it’s time for more Hiragana and Katakana studies and then bedtime!

Good evening to you all!

Sunday in Tokyo

Hello people

The weekend is coming to an end. I can’t believe that I have been in Japan and Tokyo for five days already! My time here will pass so quickly, that is for sure. If I don’t chose to stay, that is.. Who knows what will happen. I am enjoying myself now, the rest will figure itself out I think.

I woke up shortly before five this morning when the first train passed by just outside.. Oh, this is going to be tough. It’s not good to be a light sleeper.. Then it took me maybe one and a half hour ta fall asleep again and when I woke up next time it was almost 11! I have some trouble getting into the right rhythm obviously. But tonight I hope I will do better. I will sleep with ear plugs and set my alarm signal on the highest volume to make sure I will wake up. Tomorrow I have to be on time because according to the schedule we have to be at Hongo campus at 09.30 in the morning (another campus, not the one I live next to) for an academic orientation. Hongo is located in the other side of the inner city and is about 10 km away from here. So not to far but it will still take some time. They say it takes almost an hour with the train but I’m going to bike since I bought one today! That’s going to be fun and interesting. I hope we will find our way without much trouble and that it will be easy to use the roads and not too much people. I am a little bit nervous but very excited. And it will be a good exercise!

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Since they do have special roads for biking there shouldn’t be any problem

Before Andrey took me to buy the bike in the afternoon I went to Shimokitazawa with Nathalie to do some shopping in the 100 Yen store Daiso and then in the regular supermarket. We bought cleaning products and things for the kitchen and some food of course. My fridge is full now of different kinds of tofu and I am so pleased! I love tofu! And they have so many different kinds. I have been a vegetarian for some years but since I am now living in Japan I have decided that I will eat some fish sometimes, however that will probably only be when I am eating out in the restaurants and not so much at home. I think it will make my life here a lot easier and that is okay. So today I had a very simple lunch with rice and beans, some kind of egg tofu which Nathalie advised me to buy (it was very good!) and some sort of vegetable beefs. Nothing fancy but easy, quick and tasty. I feel so good about the food here. It’s lighter and easier to digest and I feel so much better than I do when I eat at home.

It might not look too good but it was and it went down easy peasy.

I also bought lots of dried mango in the supermarket today! I’m afraid im going to spend more money on that than on actual food..  It tastes divine! ❤

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Only three left… Where did the rest go?

I have clearly spent the evening eating a lot of this dried mango but while I’ve been doing that I have also been practising my japanese skills. About a year ago I knew all the hiragana and katakana by heart but I have forgotten some of it and now I’m doing my best to learn it again. On friday there will be a placement test on our Japanese skills so that they will know what class they are going to pu us in. So I have to know it by then. But I will! My neighbour Luke left a Katakana chart with a note under my door earlier and I was very happy when I found it and got extra motivated to learn!
When I study languages and especially the ones with signs and not letters, what I do is to write them again and again and again until they get almost impossible to forget and I repeat the sounds and words and the translations just as many times as I write them. I think it’s so much fun! If I wasn’t into science I would definitely study languages (and creative writing)!

To the left is one of my scrap papers and to the right the katana chart from Luke

Now I’m having tea and when I have finished my cup I will go and prepare for bed. Even if the actual classes doesn’t begin until the 25th of September tomorrow is a big day with a lot of happenings and events and new people so I need be at my best and well rested.

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Good night from Tokyo!

おやすみなさい !

 

Harajuku, Yoyogi park, Gyoen and Shibya

Greetings!

I hope you all have a great weekend so far. I do!

Today I met up a friend from Norway who also lives in Tokyo. It was actually the first time that we met but we have been in contact with each other for the past six months and are acquainted through his aunt who was my ”landlady” during some time when I lived in Norway so he didn’t feel like a stranger at all. It actually felt like we had known each other for a long time since we had so many interests in common and share the same love and passion for Japan. Jamie and I will be great friends! It feels good to have another Scandinavian around and to be able to speak swedish with at least one person.

We met up at Harajuku station at 1 pm, just outside of Takeshita Dori Street (where you can see lots of people dressing up as Lolitas etc and so many cool shops of all sorts) and stared by taking a really nice walk in Yoyogi park just next to Harajuku. It is so big! Like a forest in the middle of the city. There is also a temple in the park which we went to see but they since they were doing restorations we didn’t go inside but still stayed in the temple area for a while. Then we kept walking in the park for a while and I must say that the trees, they are amazing! So beautiful that it’s breathtaking! I could look at them all day and ever get tired of it I think.
After a while we came to Meiji Jingu  Inner Garden, also called Gyoen, which is also a part of the park but you have to pay a small amount to enter. We did and it was really beautiful so I appreciated it very much.

The Temple in Yoyogi Park

Some beautiful trees and treetops

Meiji Jingu Inner Garden (Gyoen)

After that we went back to Harajuku to have a somewhat late lunch. Jamie knew a good place so on our way there we went through Takeshita street and looked into some cool shops, I even got him to follow me into some store full of wigs, dress up clothes, lolita shoes, weird glasses and other stuff. Happy girl! It was the same store as I went to with my mom last year and really emptied my wallet in. So happy to be back!..
We had lunch and Jamie ordered everything completely in Japanese! I’m so impressed and just a little bit (or maybe very much) jealous! He’s been here about two months so I hope I can do the same in that time. After having some food in my system again I felt really good and just enough full so we went to walk through Harajuku to a store in Shibuya called Bic Camera, which is basically a huge shop for all kinds of electronics. There he helped me to get a japanese sim card so I have a new number and can use the internet on my phone again. Now I really feel like I’m living here. That I will actually stay and not go back home in two weeks. That’s amazing! I’m going to love it here. Every second of it! This is my place. Maybe not Tokyo specifically, even if it’s awesome, but Japan. It feels like home.

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Another Udon noodle soup with fried tofu for me, really tasty!

Harajuku och Takeshita Street

We found a small shrine on our way to Shibuya!

Then we went for a drink at a cafe somewhere in Shibuya and on our way there we stumbled upon another shrine, just like that. You gotta love Japan! It was a really calm and nice place with almost no people so it was a welcoming break for a few minutes.
We had our drinks and then went back to the station where we parted. He took the train back home but I decided to walk. On my way back I stopped in a store to buy some dried mango (my favourite snack) and oh God, it was sooo good! Here they taste so much. So I was chewing mango all the way home and can proudly say that I find my way around pretty well now!

The second Shrine. Bigger than the first.

It was a good day but it’s almost bed time here. First I will learn a few more hiragana signs though.

Have a lovely morning, day, evening or night wherever you are and a nice weekend!

おやすみなさい !

I have no idea what kind of instrument this is but we found this man playing just outside Harajuku station and I really liked it.