The one with the souvenirs

Visiting friends and family always means you’ll have to bring a small gift from the country that you’re now living in. What is Taiwan famous for? If you live there then I’d say bubble tea, inexpensive snacks, night markets, and for me: convenience stores. Somehow a special sweet dreams to represent Taiwan better than anything else: pineapple cake. Most of the time it’s dry, filled with sweetened bits of pineapple. Rarely seen anywhere else than big department stores or airports they’re not really part of daily life and apart from being a popular souvenir they don’t seam to be relevant to Taiwanese in any way. Getting a bit off topic here. So we bought pineapple cake, baby clothes, Taiwanese sausage amongst other small snacks for our Japanese friends. In return we’re probably going to bring lots of Matcha sweets (at least for ourselves, simply in love with Matcha Kit Kat). 
What can you almost always find where a lot of foreigners work? An international supermarket with imported goods from all over the world. Of course we fell into the same trap, bought German honey and two coffees. Of we go onto the Tokyo metro once more.

 

wine,japanese,japan,tokyo,international,supermarket

Next to tea,coffee, and cereal they had a decent wine selection

 After the visa trouble we’re going to meet one of Narumi’s business contacts in Roppongi. It’s a very cool area, I’ve just been there last month and posted some pictures here. I’m looking forward to a good meal; Roppongi houses some of the best restaurants, for example the one that has been made famous through Kill Bill. Apart from the food I’m also interested in a book store/gallery that I read about on japancamerahunter: IMA concept store. It exclusively sells photo books, sometimes even signed editions and displays local artists. I’m not sure if I’m going to buy anything, the visa just cost me another 120$, but it’s definitely worth a look and they offer coffee and comfortable seats too.  

metro,tokyo,subway,sign,blue,japan,japanese,white

This can’t be right.

 
Turns out that japanesecamerahunter made it sound a lot better then it is. The gallery takes up most of the space; one big room with five to six different artists on display. Some of the concepts were really nice and stuck with me, maybe I’m going to imitate them myself and post the results in a couple of weeks. The books were mostly in Japanese, sometimes with an English translation. The quality of the prints varied with each book, some of them were part of a limited edition. Anyone interested in buying book 143 of 500 with a tiny signature by the author? Yeah, I thought so. Next time in Tokyo I’ll try to find the other bookstores mentioned in the post and hopefully I’ll be able to see the hidden treasures they wrote about for myself. Main disappointment: no coffee, no seats. If your invite people to a gallery and if you want them to get interested into your photographs, either as book or large print, offer some place to rest and take in the beauty of the art! At least the business meeting went very well and my passport is ready to be picked up at 4:30 pm. 

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The one without a plan

Planning is for suckers. Evidently. For my visa I won’t need my transcript of records, at least not now. They insist I’ll do my health check up again, here in Japan though. I can’t provide it later, so taking it in Tainan was a waste of money and time. I hope there won’t be any surprises when I come back tomorrow with a 150$ health check and the same documents I presented today. At least I know that it doesn’t take long at the immigration office, there was no line and a bunch of employees. The clinic seems to be pretty busy, filled with Chinese speaking patients.  

clinic,health,street,road,photography,hospital,taiwanese,japan,japanese

In this small alley lies the Taiwanese clinic. Right outside of Okubo station.

 Just waiting is boring so we decided to eat some inexpensive soba as you can find it on basically every corner in downtown Tokyo. It’s neither really filling not super tasty but definitely the healthier fast food that you can purchase. Another coffee later it was time to go to the clinic and get thoroughly checked. I regret that I didn’t do it earlier in Taiwan, it’s cheaper and this whole thing would’ve been over a lot sooner. Maybe planning would’ve been helpful, if I had done it right. 

In any case, this way I was able to find a clinic in which only has Taiwanese staff. For me this was quite helpful because even though I wouldn’t say I speak Chinese it’s still a lot better than my Japanese or their English. Only the doctor was able to speak proper English and we chatted a bit about the beauty of Taiwan, Germany, and Japan. We quickly concluded that all countries have their breathtaking areas and that life in each of the three is wonderful. 

I left the the clinic 45 minutes later, together with the certificate that states I’m in perfect health and condition, being no risk for the Taiwanese population.

Wish me luck for tomorrow at the immigration office. For now we’re leaving Tokyo behind, looking forward to taking Tora for a walk and eating some hot food before we have to go back to the same places as today.  

food,japan,pretzel,japanese

Pretzels with cinnamon, maple sirup, almonds, or salt.

  

Heavenly pretzels? Try Auntie Anne’s and see for yourself.

 

The one with applying for a Visa

Even though I wrote a blog post about applying for a resident visa in Taiwan I seem to have forgotten how it works. Right now I’m in Japan without the proper documents I need, mainly my transcript of records of my high school in English. I’ll try to apply for it anyway since I’ll be able to provide the document as soon as I’m back in Taiwan or within two weeks after that. Plan B is to apply for a visitor visa which makes me eligible to apply for a resident visa later on. That method has another flaw though: I don’t have a ticket for a flight out of Taiwan. 

Let’s find out how strict the Taiwanese representatives are here in Japan. I hope for the best. Otherwise I’ll have to take the costly Plan C: leave Taiwan another time to either Hong Kong or Tokyo, just to apply for the resident visa once I’ve collected all necessary documents. 

Against Narumi’s concern I didn’t want to get up too early to go to the office in Tokyo, but this matter kept me awake anyway so I prepared all documents on a USB-stick for printing. 

On a lighter note: I finalized the selection of vacation pictures that I want to put into a photo book. It’s such a shame that in today’s day and age we, or I, simply look at the pictures online, upload them on Instagram or Facebook and never retain any hard copies. Our trip together through Germany and to Amsterdam was so special though and I want a constant reminder of that time on our bookshelf at home. It wasn’t easy to choose from the vast amount of pictures that accumulated over roughly four weeks, but I think I managed to filter out the most memorable and beautiful shots of this holiday. 

relax,breathe,meditation,city,tokyo,japan,japanese,train,metro,subway,black and white

Take a breath and relax

The one about spending time at home

This time we didn’t plan to go to Tokyo that often. We’ll only go there for two days of this trip and the rest of the time will be spend at home and in the area. That meant we’ll go out with Tora a lot and he’ll get out a lot more than usual.   

shiba,dog,cute,japan,japanese,white,jeans,chucks,converse,leather,apc

Finally he starts to listen to me

 Walking around the neighborhood I found a lot of interesting spots for taking pictures. I only had my phone but I’m sure that if I find the time again then I’ll bring my camera and take a few more pictures there. The lack of coffee started to show so we decided to get some at 7/11, in Japan you can also buy hot drinks from the shelf. Super convenient! Too bad it didn’t taste that good, very weak and watery. Guess we’re too spoiled from our coffee machines and beans we have in Taiwan. Luckily we came across a real cafe and got something with a bit more taste.  

coffee,japanese,japan,black,japan,tasty,hot,winter,2016

Small cups of coffee for only 200 Yen


 
steve aoki,dj,japan,japanese,studio,music

Steve, you’re living in this small town?

 
Awoken by the hot, black liquid we walked towards a second hand store. Though store doesn’t really cut it because it’s so huge and houses basically everything that people might want to buy in a used condition. Furniture, books, clothes, electronics, music instruments, and model cars or trains. If you’re looking to make a good deal then come here after the weekend when everyone brought their unwanted stuff here and walk home with something nice for little money.   

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Love the feeling of this one

   
car tuning,tuning,car,toyota,youngtimer,trash

Run down Toyota with liberty walk

  
In the evening we shopped a bit for groceries and I found a German product in the store. I don’t know why they’d import it instead of using a Japanese brand. It’s not like this is a famous German product or that it has any special flavor. I wonder if Japanese think the same about the products that we import? 

German whipped cream

 
In addition to that I noticed how many Star Wars related products exist here. I’ve seen various snacks, stationary items, and clothes. Now I’ve found an English to Japanese dictionary in Star Wars design, is it going too far?  

Has it gone too far?


Of course we also spent time inside and we enjoyed Netflix a lot. It’s our time off and we don’t have to think about business everyday. We finished all three seasons of Sherlock (I watched the special in the cinema in Taiwan), just to find out that season 4 will not be released until 2017! That’s insane…good thing that Netflix has a lot more to offer. 

The one about spending time at home

This time we didn’t plan to go to Tokyo that often. We’ll only go there for two days of this trip and the rest of the time will be spend at home and in the area. That meant we’ll go out with Tora a lot and he’ll get out a lot more than usual.  

japan,shiba,dog,cute,animal,japanese,shoes,converse,chucks,white,apc,jeans

Tora finally starts to listen to me


Walking around the neighborhood I found a lot of interesting spots for taking pictures. I only had my phone but I’m sure that if I find the time again then I’ll bring my camera and take a few more pictures there. The lack of coffee started to show so we decided to get some at 7/11, in Japan you can also buy hot drinks from the shelf. Super convenient! Too bad it didn’t taste that good, very weak and watery. Guess we’re too spoiled from our coffee machines and beans we have in Taiwan. Luckily we came across a real cafe and got something with a bit more taste.  

coffee,japanese,japan,black,japan,tasty,hot,winter,2016

Small cups of coffee for only 200 Yen


 
steve aoki,dj,japan,japanese,studio,music

Steve, you’re living in this small town?

 
Awoken by the hot, black liquid we walked towards a second hand store. Though store doesn’t really cut it because it’s so huge and houses basically everything that people might want to buy in a used condition. Furniture, books, clothes, electronics, music instruments, and model cars or trains. If you’re looking to make a good deal then come here after the weekend when everyone brought their unwanted stuff here and walk home with something nice for little money.   

     
In the evening we shopped a bit for groceries and I found a German product in the store. I don’t know why they’d import it instead of using a Japanese brand. It’s not like this is a famous German product or that it has any special flavor. I wonder if Japanese think the same about the products that we import? 

 
In addition to that I noticed how many Star Wars related products exist here. I’ve seen various snacks, stationary items, and clothes. Now I’ve found an English to Japanese dictionary in Star Wars design, is it going to far?  

Of course we also spent time inside and we enjoyed Netflix a lot. It’s our time off and we don’t have to think about business everyday. We finished all three seasons of Sherlock (I watched the special in the cinema in Taiwan), just to find out that season 4 will not be released until 2017! That’s insane…good thing that Netflix has a lot more to offer. 

The one with the accident

No, no, we’re fine. Otherwise I wouldn’t be posting pictures of getting a haircut. Actually it happened right behind us at the salon. 

Today started kind of slow with a brunch at a Indian restaurant. I really liked the different curries they offered, the seasoned rice, and of course the different styles of naan. After our lengthy “breakfast” we decided to spent some time shopping at Doncequote. It was kinda boring apart from trying on funny hats and seeing so many cute baby things. 

Before we got back home we stopped at a pet store to get a tasty snack for Tora. We stayed a lot longer than anticipated. Inside they also have a lot of cute puppies and kittens that want to be adopted. Well, only adopted by a rich family though. A dog sets you back at least 2000 US$, cats had similar prices. Yes I love Russian Blues, Shibas, and Huskies, but in that case I’d rather go for adopting a stray. Nevertheless I played a bit with the kittens since they’re in normal cages as opposed to the dogs that are in a glass cage. 

We spent the afternoon at the Hairsalon, fixing what Taiwanese hairstylists did to us. Just kidding, I just needed a haircut and Narumis friend offered to cut out hair at an incredibly low price. She’s still learning but definitely very advanced and I couldn’t really tell the difference in technique or style. Right in between coloring and cutting we heard a loud bang behind us. Apparently one car ran a red light. The damage to both cars wasn’t too bad but it took a while to sort it all out. 

We ended the day by visiting a famous ramen restaurant. In the beginning they only had a very small place that opened only at night and served up to five people at one time. It obviously grew out of that original place and spread all over Japan, catering a lot more customers than before. Their Nori Ramen was absolutely fantastic, so if you find yourself hungry and craving a tasty bowl of traditional ramen, visit がんこ屋ラーメン. 

car accident,bad driver,japanese,car,safety,honda,haircut

Oops, he ran a red light

  
noodles,japanese,tasty,restaurant,seaweed,ramen

Nori Ramen

  
rice,egg,scallion,onion,seaweed,tasty,food,japanese,restaurant

Traditional food

  
haircut,hairstyle,white,shirt,light,hairsalon

Made in Japan

    
cat,kitten,russian blue,grey,black,cute,pet store,adoption

Big stretch

      

russian blue,car,kitten,cute,pet,adopt,photography

Curled up

The one about taking a vacation

A few stressful weeks lay behind us. Busy schedules due to meetings, visa arrangements, and many goodbyes to friends and coworkers who are going home for Chinese New Year. Now it’s finally time for a well overdue vacation in Japan, even if it’s just for a week. I’m really looking forward to breathing fresh mountain air again and I’m sure that I’ll spend a lot of time outside despite the low temperatures.  Thanks Vanilla Air for giving us the emergency seats and thus a bit more leg space!