Foreigner’s life in Japan – Part III: What it’s REALLY like

Walking in the streets of Japan, I am just another Japanese in the eyes of locals.

I still haven’t fully experienced what it’s like being a REAL foreigner here (I mean, a visible one… Because of my Asian background, Japanese people think I’m Japanese.. until I speak of course). So Azam (the only Canadian student at my workplace besides me) has always complained about being treated differently, though he is fluent in Japanese… He is taking the N1 Language test this year.

Here’s my day- Left work early today at 5pm sharp, and met up with Azam for dinner. We both ordered Anago Tendon (穴子天丼), which is Salt Water Eel Tempura on rice. This place makes the best Tempura I’ve eaten! No photo, because I finished it before remembering hehe. The portion was small, so obviously for big eaters like us, it wasn’t nearly enough (Hmmm, wt about my diet? :-P)! So we went to TGIF for a second round… I didn’t know there were TGIFs in Vancouver too (apparently one in Downtown, another in Metrotown…) So it’s my first time eating there, felt just like Red Robins. Cocktails were much cheaper than in Van too! But I only ordered Ice-cream w/ Brownie. Weird thing was the Brownie was dissected into small pieces- Not really to my liking, but guess it’s easy to share.

A great example today was: When we walked into TGIF, Azam greeted the waiter in Japanese, while the waiter replied with broken English… basically telling us to go upstairs, . Once we were upstairs- WOW, the entire floor was filled with Foreigners! So obviously, the waitresses on this floor were much better English speakers. When she greeted us, she automatically handed Azam an English menu and asked me (in Japanese) if a Japanese menu was fine. I said NO of course haha. Azam was like… he never got the Japanese menus unless he requested one! No matter how fluent his Japanese was, people just treated him as a foreigner.

But of course, being a foreigner has its benefits too. He mentioned Kyushu is his favorite area in Japan, especially the countryside. Why? Because he would be the center of attention! Kyushu people are.. not my opinion, but in general friendlier than Tokyo people. And when he visited Kyushu, people there would approach him and started asking where he was from. He met many people and became friends with them once they found out he could speak Japanese! Little kids would come up to him and touch his skin (with this “Are you REAL?” expression on their faces lol) Basically, he felt like he had the spotlight on him, like a star 🙂

One funny thing… so we somehow were chatting about his EXs at dinner. He was saying how girls with long legs instantly melt his heart… and how he didn’t at all mind the girls wearing heels and being taller than he was. Then of of a sudden, his eyes lit up, checking out this waitress not far away from us. She had a tall (around 5’10) and slim figure… He was saying how hot she would be, until ‘she’ turned around – Oh… his face dropped. His “goddess” was a man indeed. ROFL!!

A little bit more about Azam. He is very confident, maybe a bit too much; but I definitely can learn a thing or two from him. He loves Japan- not for its pop cultures, but for its opportunities. He came here to learn the culture, build his networks, so hopefully he can start up a tech company in the Land of the Rising Sun. Though Japan’s economy has fallen slightly in recent years, he is still optimistic about his target market. He is a very determined guy… everything he does seems to be paving the path to build up his future company. From traveling to Japan 6 years ago, being an exchange student in Kyoto University, working several jobs to immerse himself, to coming back for some real working experience… everything is for making his dream a reality. It is not easy for foreigners to adapt and establish their careers in Japan, as the society is somewhat conservative. But he put in so much effort, made many local friends and friends from various industries. He works hard on weekdays and plays hard on weekends. He works two jobs currently (a software company in Montreal and our internship company) and still manages to build an mobile app for sale in Japan (his goal is to profit from it as the capital for his startup). I asked him how could he be sure he would make profits out of it.. His reply was that his biggest risk was losing time- but actually, he gains more by learning new things: a win-win situation even if no one installs his app.

He also said if his app turned out to be a success, he would stay in Japan longer and delay his graduation. He has been in University for 6 years already, yet he said he had learnt the most from his previous traveling and work experiences. School taught him little and a degree really was to satisfy his family. I told him I knew what my goals, my weaknesses were.. yet I’m just too lazy or not determined enough. Take exercising for example, my motivation for staying fit (buy new clothes lol) cannot overcome my laziness. And I keep making excuses about not having enough time because I want to travel… yet I slept in the last weekend and barely went out at all! Azam’s right- it’s simple once you make them into routines. Seemingly silly ways to motivate oneself are great ways too. He posted a poster of some dude with hot body in his room(yet his 6-packs only lasted for a few months XD). Breaking that habit takes as short as a week or two, just jump over that biggest hurdle and your body will adapt to it. Maybe it’s a late realization, but I have to CHANGE: my first baby steps are to be more organized and manage my time better. I guess this post will serve as a reminder- if I lose motivation again…. which I likely will, I will look back at what I have promised myself.

Ambitious dreams only turn into reality with hard work, the important thing is learning how to enjoy tackling the challenges- I’ll be 22 this year(20 just felt like yesterday), so maybe it’s time to put more efforts into accomplishing my goals.

>> What’s with me thinking about all these things lately? Perhaps getting old, or perhaps it’s time to read some self-help books XD


Went hunting for Marshmallow today, but ended up buying groceries…

Before I headed for LIVIN (supermarket near dorm), I knew my chance of getting Marshmallow was low. I still went anyway, because a BBQ wouldn’t be complete without marshmallows, right? Yup, my team has organized a BBQ at a park tomorrow. I was also planning to make some 腐竹雞蛋糖水(Dried Beancurd Sweet Soup with Egg) as dessert after BBQ… so I need some dried beancurd, Ginkgo and rock sugar (?).

Of course, I couldn’t find any of those ingredients. Dried Beancurd could be replaced by frozen tofu (and strip up the layers), Ginkgo can be omitted… but can rock sugar be replaced with granulated sugar??

Anyway, I was surprised in a big supermarket such as LIVIN…. there’s NO marshmallow at all! Not even the type with fillings!! Was disappointed… but thankfully I bought tons of snacks (great with beer) last week, so I guess I’ll bring those along instead.

Haven’t been grocery shopping for a while. And as the weather gets warmer, more variety of fruits and slightly cheaper. Ex. Bananas went from 85 to 83 yen XD

Watermelons and melons of the like are still super expensive though. Half of Kumamoto mini melon costs 337 yen!!!

Poked myself while picking Durians…

I’m finally, for once in my life, able to eat the entire Durian all by myself!! Woohoo~ Saw a post made by Ivy several days ago.. and I drooled so much. A few days later, I see FRESH Durian right in front of my eyes… is this fate or what? Ever since I moved to Canada, I haven’t had fresh Durian (all they sell are frozen ones). It’s 1470 yen, but to me… it’s worth every single yen!

Now- a big problem.. How the hell am I gonna open this up? I’ve only got a small knife.

Also bought one 山竹(Purple Mangosteen)… the black fruit in photo (100 yen each >.<“), haven’t had that in years!

Because I rarely go to LIVIN these days (too lazy to walk for 10 mins), I tend to buy loads of stuff when I get the chance to. I LOVE my XL sized backpack… so convenient for grocery shopping/hiking and traveling! Um. I also bought a bag of rice too XD

Alcoholic drinks! (Left to right: Apple O-sake, Beer, Yuzu-sparkling wine, and Orange+Mango)

It just feels awesome drinking beer while writing posts. Cheers!


6 thoughts on “Foreigner’s life in Japan – Part III: What it’s REALLY like

  1. ~iv says:

    your friend seems to have big dreams, good for him! best of luck to him =)
    LOL i think its normal that you are starting to think about the future… i mean although 20ish is still young, we are no longer children… so its normal to start thinking like an adult and what we want to do with our life… i always felt weird that i was the only one that does that… but lately after you left for Japan, a few of us in our group started talking about the future as well… its nice to actually just talk sometimes instead of just eating or playing cards (though i like that as well =P)
    btw, i thought TGIF closed at metro?? maybe i remembered wrong??
    OH i never had mangosteen before! my friend recommended that i try it in HK so just bought some yesterday so planning to eat it soon =D
    are you sure you can finish the entire durian by yourself?? after that day, i realized that i actually dont really like it that much… lol…
    you put a bag of rice in your backpack?? wow did it break your back??
    SOOO jealous of your flavorful alcohol!!!

    • You’ve always been the mature one in our group. I actually had been thinking that quite often(the peak was during highschool.. and I wanted to be an astrophysicist), just that those dreams didn’t turn into real actions lol I guess it’s partly due to not wanting to grow up. The more I think about future, the more I want to avoid that thought. And it’s really easy to make excuses. I don’t know if I’ll change, but blogging is a first step I guess- you know me, I have no patience, no persistence =D
      Sometimes I ask myself: if I could redo my life, would I still pick the path I’m taking right now? I would probably pick the same thing (but of course, knowing more about my goals now, I would know which things I should focus on more).
      It’s normal for people to think about it now… graduating is another huge milestone in life… finding the first job, what kind of life we want to live, being independent from parents…. all these are overwhelming. It’s time for us to grow up, and face the reality- though it may not be as pretty as in children’s stories.

      Yup, im gonna eat it up myself .. u have no idea how much i LOVE durians.
      And ur right, i think TGIF might be closed.. cuz i have no memory of it.. Azam told me that.. and hes from victoria- so go figure.

      • ~iv says:

        overwhelming pretty much sums it up! though you see me as more mature one in our group, my parents dont agree with that… and trust me, i have my own problems… sigh… i need to be more independent but i dont think you can fully succeed in that unless i travel somewhere by myself (like you =D) or move out… i keep thinking that once i graduate and start working and get my own car and perhaps move out… the independent will come =) hey, btw do you think we can travel somewhere as a group? maybe not our entire group but a few of us? i think that might help with being more independent… well for me… you are already doing that right now =) after going to hk disneyland on wed, my family said they probabaly wont go with me again… wanna go next summer?? LOL

    • for the better or worse? XD

      well, its really hard to be mature in any parents’ eyes. dont worry about independence… u’ll figure things out once ur out there somewhere. though i survive in JP now. i dont thik im independent still.
      lol same with my mom – she said she wouldnt travel with me again XD yeah lets do that! i grad next yr… so in the summer i plan to go back to HK anyway… so it’d be perfect , and perhaps visit Taiwan on the way (so much good food)! or if ppl cant make it.. can go a short trip to US or sth. There are so many countries on my to-go list u know.

      • ~iv says:

        LOL you know me… looks the same to me =P
        o really? you are graduating next year?? wow so fast! yep as long as we are traveling outside of my practical rotation month than its fine =) it should only be 1 month long… unless i find some high paying summer intern again LOL XP JK!
        not sure about HK again… maybe if its for a short time but taiwan sounds good
        i was actually thinking closer… like US… i have never been to the disneyland in florida, i heard it is huge and you need at least 3 days to walk through the entire thing! my family definitely wont go there with me… you interested?? as for other countries like Europe, i think those require us to be working ppl so we can afford it XP

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