Piago

Ask anyone at the Gumyoji dorms back in 2012-2013 about Piago, and you’d surprisingly be met with a breadth of opinion: it’s a pretty good supermarket; the 100-yen Seria store on the top is the best; it’s okay but I like to swing by Gyoumu Super in Isezaki-cho since you get a lot more for your money; the theme song is really, really annoying and I normally try to finish my shopping there before it starts playing again; and so on, and so forth.

Zoom forward about five years since our first visits to the neighborhood supermarket, and much to the chagrin of the collective nostalgia of the ol’ Gumyoji gang, the Piago of Gumyoji is now gone (including the Seria on 3F), as of the 15th of October. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the old building, but if it’s like the other Piago that used to stand in Isezaki-cho up until 2015, it’s probably gonna be taken down and replaced with something a bit more new. Thankfully, there’s a new Yokohamaya supermarket that replaced a different building down the Kannon-dori, so it’s not like the guys living at the dorms this year have to trudge up the hill to the next closest supermarket Aoba.

In any case, thanks for the food and memories, Piago, and thanks to fellow dormmate C.M. for letting me know about its closure. ◆

Ten Things

It’s been about three months since I left Japan behind to begin my life anew back where I came from, in sunny San Jose. Although it took me a while to do so, naturally, I’m beginning to miss things. At the same time, I’m re-experiencing things I’ve missed here and I’m wondering how I could’ve left some of these behind, so I decided to make two lists: one about things I miss about Japan, and one about things I’m glad to have back in America. Continue reading

A Couple of Remaining Notes for the Incoming Students

To you Fall 2013 guys, this is for you.

I’m gonna take a shot in the dark here and assume you guys are coming in around the same time we did: sometime in the first week of October. In which case, you’ve got less than one week of life in your home country, so go and overdose on the things you’re gonna miss most, because you won’t be seeing them for (up to) nearly a year’s time! For the people you love in your life, things like Skype exist, but being there with your family and friends in person (of course) feels far better than a face on a screen. Definitely binge on the food you like, too — especially if you’re a terrible cook like I am, but even then there are some things that just naturally aren’t available in Japanese grocery stores (for example if you’re a fan of Mexican food you’re definitely not finding tortillas by themselves; though I do remember seeing imported American hardshell taco kits at the market in Kamiooka.)

In any case, here’s a handful of last-minute tips, in no particular order. It’s certainly not comprehensive, either; I might come back to add a couple more things. In any case, bon voyage! If you plan on making a blog on your stay, do link me — I’d love to follow it. 🙂 Continue reading

A Couple of Notes for the Incoming Students, Part 3: Getting to Know Yokohama A Bit Better

This is part three of my guide to JOY-sei ryuugaku life, concerning the navigation of the city of Yokohama (and travel outside). Here’s a copy-and-paste of the table of contents quickjump:

Part 1 (The Dorms, The Neighborhood, Commuter Passes)
Part 2 (Getting to School, Getting Comfy in Your New Place, Resident Registration, Cell Phones, Money)
Part 3 (Getting to Know Yokohama A Bit Better)

Disclaimers: this is not an official guide; things are current at the time I wrote this post and may change; you can probably use this as a guide for non-YNU study abroad but a good chunk of things won’t apply to you; this is based on my experience and things may be different when you get here. If a website has an English page, I’ve linked to it, but most of the links will be in Japanese-0nly.

Continue reading

Endgame: On Returning Back

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Hey, everyone: it’s been a while. Just like every other blog I’d checked out before coming here, I ended up becoming a bit too busy to update my own journal. Funny how that works, right?

But yeah, just like that, I’m back in California. The reverse homesickness hasn’t hit me fully yet, but reverse cultural shock has reared its head several times:

  • At most pedestrian crosswalks, you have to push the button to let it know you’re there
    (In Japan, they’re automatic; buttons are provided, but presumably to lengthen the amount of time needed for the disabled and the elderly.)
  • Food portions are bigger here
    Japanese sizes, I’m sorry for giving you grief. Please come back. (Though having more than 6oz a time for a drink is most welcome.)
  • Dang, our streets are huge!
    As in, the suburbs have plenty of room to breathe (and parallel park). In Japan — not so much. Heck, some of the roads around YNU are practically one-way.

I’m sure there are a couple more examples, but no more come to mind right now.

Classes have already started up in earnest here, leaving me with not that big of a summer vacation; just a week to recover from jet lag. Part of me still hasn’t: I’m writing this post at 4 in the morning with a class coming up in about six hours, which totally can’t be good for my body. Still, the beginning means less work than later on, so I hope to get that very overdue part 3 of the guide to living in the dorms up as soon as I can for people who might be beginning their next year at YNU.

To those of you who will: you’re gonna have one hell of a good time. Relax, soak in the culture, learn the language, make yourself at home. Japan ain’t a bad place to live, and it’s most certainly a fun place to explore.