A Small Guide to Moving Around Japan

Over the past month, I quit my old job and started a new one. I am so happy to be free from my previous position. I did not like working there. The hours were horrible and the pay was just okay. I am glad that I met the people that I did, but it’s great to have a life again.

Anyways, I started a new job and I’m enjoying it. I’m able to learn new things, my work hours are way better and the pay is better too. Before I started my new position, I had to move from Tokyo to Shizuoka. This was the sixth time I’ve moved in my life, and the second time I’ve moved within the same country. The first time was when I moved from Longyou to Nanjing.

Moving was a process. Two peoples worth of clothing, shoes, kitchen appliances and other miscellaneous items had to be moved from Tokyo to a small city in Shizuoka. Before doing some research, I had no idea how we were going to do it. Unlike China, the fast train here is mainly used for travel. In China, people will move large suitcases and boxes on the fast train.

All of this to say, if you are trying to move from city to city in Japan, here are some tips on how to make your move smoother.

1. Yamato Transport

Yamato Transport will save your save your neck, literally. They will pick up your boxes and suitcases and ship them directly to your new apartment for a reasonable price. Also, they have an English helpline where you can schedule your pickup. The day before we moved, we were able to ship 4 large suitcases, 1 small suitcase and about 10 boxes for $180. The amount is based off of the weight and size of the items. You can expect to spend about 1500 yen per item, about $15. Below is a photo of the numbers you can use to set up your pickup and a link to Yamato Transport’s website;

http://www.kuronekoyamato.co.jp/ytc/en/send/preparations/payoff/

2. Nitori

Nitori is like Ikea, however, they have more options that are suitable for a Japanese home. Most items are fairly priced at Nitori. However, some items are a little overpriced. Nobody needs to pay 600 yen for a small trashcan for their bathroom. We were able to get different organizers for the closet, living room and kitchen, as well as a few appliances. To set up the whole apartment, beds included, we spent about $700.

3. Registration Paperwork

When I was moving, I had a limited amount of time to get all of my paperwork finished. Something that you will have to do, especially if you are changing jobs, is to go to your local city hall and tell them that you are moving. If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to register in your new city. Then you will have to wait up to two weeks to get your residency removed from your former city and registered in your new city. Trust me, try to do this before you leave.

4. Make a Friend at Your Bank

The bank that I use is great and foreigner-friendly. The majority of the staff speaks English and are quite helpful. If you do plan to move and keep the same bank account, make a friend at your bank. One of the bankers is someone I spoke to often and she was able to send me important documents that I needed for my new job. Make sure to get their card and ask them the best people to contact in time-sensitive situations.

That’s my small guide to moving around Japan. If you have any tips, please feel free to mention them in the comments below. You never know who you might help!

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Beading Dancer

The Black-Owned Businesses Abroad series is a recurring installment of interviews, photos, videos, promotions, and/or article contributions covering black entrepreneurs making their way in a society away from home. This article is spotlighting Beading Dancer, an alternative lifestyle brand based in Japan.

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How would you describe your business?

Beading Dancer is an alternative lifestyle brand. We make products that help the body, mind and spirit. At the moment, our products are jewelry, skin products and digital artwork.

How did you decide to start selling your line of personal care products?

In 2009, I made a simple design from a book and my friend encouraged me to sell them. She also suggested I try different designs…the rest is history.

How do you feel that making these goods has affected you and society around you?

Making these items is a form of therapy and sharing for me. I notice that some items have a specific person for them…it’s like there’s an attraction. I feel good knowing that my products help someone and I think they change people’s thoughts around skin products/ jewellery.

Have you been surprised (either positively or negatively) by any reactions to your products or your business?

My items have no frills or extra stuff,so, people seem surprised that you don’t need so many things to make something nice and simple.

If someone wants to come to Japan to live and to work, what are some key pieces of advice you would offer?

Know yourself and your limits, because if you aren’t careful, you might sell your soul for two pieces of gold.

What is one thing you want people to know about Japan, Japanese culture, or your experience of Japan?

Being in Japan gave me the break I needed from Johannesburg and helped me look at my business in a different way. Also, I was able to engage with suppliers,unlike back home, so I’m grateful for that.

Please share anything you’d like to about your products, your business, or yourself.

My most popular products have been beaded earrings because they give you just enough pop with almost any look. I think people should use more natural skin products. I started making salves as natural alternatives to petroleum jelly. My hope or wish is for black people/ Africans to realize that they deserve good products and to let go of getting cheap products to save a buck. We are beautiful.

If you’d like to be a part of the BOBA series, leave a message in the contact section of the blog.

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Black Women in Japan 2nd Annual Convention: Empowering the Mind, Body and Soul

The Black Women in Japan Convention was an event that touched my soul. I walked in feeling excited, but anxious. For some reason, I was nervous about my outfit. I didn’t know if I was dressing for “the cookout” or for “church”. However, I walked out feeling like a powerful and enlightened being, almost superhuman.
The convention began with introductions by the women who made this convention happen. One of the founders, Avril Haye-Matsui, opened by saying “You’re at home. You are around sisters.” As she spoke, the room was silent. Eyes were widened and ears opened when Avril told us the importance of the convention and where we hope to go from here.

Avril Haye-Matsui

The Importance of Black Women’s Health

Throughout the convention, there were different workshops focusing on mental health, physical health and self-care. I had the opportunity to attend the Mindfully Me and the Be Your Own Advocate workshops. The Mindfully Me workshop was led by Kisstopher Musick. She has an MS in Psychology and has worked in the field for over 20 years. During the Mindfully Me workshop, we discussed how to describe ourselves more objectively than subjectively, self-care and the importance of black, female mental health in Japan. The ability to talk about mental health with other black women was incredible. It’s hard living in a homogeneous society, especially when your community is underrepresented. Having a woman like Kisstopher guide us through this discussion was helpful.

Kisstopher Musick

The Be Your Own Advocate workshop was led by Florence Orim, M.D. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss physical health and tips on how to navigate the Japanese healthcare system. Also, we had an opportunity to ask questions about our current health situations. I’ve only been in Japan for about six months and I am still learning about my health insurance and the healthcare system. Regardless of the amount of time I’ve lived here, Japanese bedside manner and ways of discussing health are different. I learned that I wasn’t the only one who had inhibitions about visiting the doctor. Dr.Orim taught us that getting a second opinion and communicating with doctors are necessary. After leaving both of these workshops, I felt more confident and comfortable about making decisions regarding my health.

Professional Development

One of my favorite aspects of the conference was how balanced it was. There were workshops about health, fitness, spirituality and professional development. I attended the Easy Product Photography workshop. It was led by Tia Haygood, a professional photographer working in Tokyo. Tia taught us about how to take photos of products, how we can improve our photography and budget-friendly equipment we can use. Although I take a lot of photos, I still found this workshop helpful. I was able to learn about what items work best for food photography and product photography. Plus, we got a chance to practice shooting photos and received feedback from Tia.


The Next Steps

The last day of the convention was the most difficult for me. I wanted more time with these courageous, smart and beautiful black women. I truly believe that being a black woman in a foreign country is special. Not all of us have the opportunity to live abroad. However, living abroad as a black woman can be challenging. When you are a black woman living abroad, sometimes you feel the need to represent the whole black female population. If you mess up, someone is going to remember and it could affect the next black woman they meet. After that weekend, I feel less of a need to carry that burden. I know that my sisters represent us well.

If you’re a black woman in Japan or considering moving to Japan, you can contact the group on Facebook @ black women in Japan (bwij). You can also follow the group on Instagram @BWIJ.

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A Week in Japan

In June, I visited Japan. It’s taken me a while to write this post because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. I came in with very few expectations, not because I didn’t expect my trip to be great, I always try to keep an open mind when I travel. All of my expectations were exceeded and I absolutely loved that trip. It has to be one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.

Before I went to Japan, I created a list of foods that I wanted to try. I didn’t want to miss out on any good foods, even if it meant that I had to miss out on some attractions.For me, I understand a culture through it’s food. I’ve really been able to do this in China, since every city has a local dish that may be popular in one area but not the other. I think the food in Japan told a story. A story of it’s history and culture. Where it has come from and where it hopes to go.

Below are the foods I had while in Japan.

Taiyaki

This a  fish shaped cake with sweet fillings. I tried one that was filled with sweet potato. It reminded me of a semi-sweet sweet potato pie, but portable and crispier. This taiyaki place was located near my hostel, Guesthouse U-En.

Kobe Beef

The is the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. The cut of meat was handled with care while it was being cooked in front of me. The steak was savory and mouth-watering. If you have the chance, eat Kobe beef. Pay the money for it because it’s well worth it.

Yakitori

Yakitori are meat skewers topped with a sauce and grilled. The restaurant that I went to is called Torikizoku. The location that I went to was in Osaka, but you can find them in other big cities in Japan. They have a large menu of different types of skewers, both chicken and pork, and they have dishes that aren’t on skewers, such as tofu and fried fish.

Udon Noodles

Udon noodles are my favorite type of noodles. Usually, I enjoy them steaming hot in a bath of broth, but I wanted to try something new since I was in the birthplace of the noodle. I ate at  Tsurutontan Roppongi  in Tokyo. I really liked the restaurant and they served both hot and cold noodles. I tried a cold noodle salad served with warm chicken. The dish was layered with flavors, both sweet and savory.

Tsukiji Fish Market

This was a very bittersweet moment for me. As a person who considers themselves a foodie, I really like to see what happens to the food that I eat. I was able to visit the Tsukiji fish market before it’s historic closing on November 2nd of this year. Luckily, it will reopen on November 7th, but in a different area of Tokyo. You can read more about it here.

I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. I went to my hostel and slept for maybe two hours. I woke up at 2:30am and left for the fish market. I didn’t tour the market around 5:00am. During the tour, I was amazed at how fast-paced the market was and how passionate people were during the auction. I don’t know if there will be tours going on until the market closes, and after the new one opens, but if you are able to take the tour, I suggest you go there. It sucks to wake up early, and you may not appreciate it when your there, but I can honestly say that I have more of an appreciation for what goes into my sushi after that experience.

Sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Market

After my tour at the market, I went to a sushi restaurant. I don’t know the name of the restaurant, but I took a picture and it is the sign on the far left. I waited in line for an hour and a half, not because they were slow at making the sushi, it was because there were so many people waiting to eat at the restaurant.

The restaurant is set up omakase style, meaning that the selection is left up to the chef. There is no menu and all of the fish served was raw. The only thing I had to do was sit, eat and pay. The cuts of fish were incredible. I have never eaten fish, or sushi, that was so naked and had so much flavor.

Other foods and drinks I tried while in Japan

 

 

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