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Tokyo is such an impressive city - it makes well for photos はは〜

So, earlier this week I said that I feel like school is going more smoothly this week than last week — and I'm going to go ahead and take that all back. Yesterday we went through so much I just sat in class like a gaping fish. (I'm up early today to study before class... so glad it's gonna be weekend after today so that I can go through everything ten more times)

I've been walking around trying to locate some good shops and stores, and I found one that I especially liked so far. It's called GU and is part of the UNIQLO (ウニクロ) franchise, but with a lot more modern/edgy fashion. It's interesting, because when I visited South Korea last summer, UNIQLO was an expensive brand in Seoul, whilst here in Tokyo it's considered a low-price brand with cheap and affordable basic clothing. (Pretty much like H&M back in Sweden) Dully noted for future basic purchases.

My journeys bring me to nice views every now and then at the very least, and Tokyo really is beautiful no matter what time of the day you happen to walk down the streets. It really is nice.

The other night I decided to study in our lounge which turned into a really nice and cosy evening with my housemates. Me and another girl were studying by the table while another girl was playing dark souls on the TV. Some of our Japanese housemates were cooking in the kitchen, and then to our surprise they offered us the dumplings (Gyoza) they had made. So all of us who were present ended up eating the Gyoza together — and it was really good! Some of our English housemates dropped by too. It was a really nice evening, although I feel like I should've studied more than I actually did hahaha. My share-house is a nice place, and I consider myself pretty lucky in that aspect.

Yesterday our school held an event, 餅つき (Mochi tsuki — Michu pounding) where we got to both watch and try for ourselves to make mochi! Mochi is pounded rice that becomes rather soft and fluffy and chewy (??) I can't describe it properly, but it was really cool! I even got to try doing the pounding, although I wasn't very good at it haha! Afterwards we got to eat the Mochi we made ourselves and it was surprisingly good, especially with red bean soup (a very sweet soup). It was surprisingly hearty too, for just being pounded rice. It was worth getting up early for!

I bought a new jacket yesterday in Shibuya after school (a coat that I had found online that was on sale, so it was really cheap, yay~) and as I was headed home I got to ride a really packed subway. I've ridden a full subway a few times now, but yesterday it was more so than the other times. You couldn't even move your arms and it got really, really, almost unbearably warm inside the train. But that too is an experience~

Today it looks like it might rain. Or snow(??) It snowed briefly earlier when I went to the combini (convenience store) to buy coffee. It didn't settle or anything, but it surprised me. I'll have to remember to bring my umbrella to school today, just in case.

Now I'll go back to studying. I'm just procrastinating at this point ㅠㅠ Another time!

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I know how to order in Japanese now — how to say I'm ready to order, how to ask for the things I'd like, how many/much of a certain item I'd like, how to ask for the bill, and how to thank the chefs for the food once I leave.

School is moving along briskly, I'd say. The hardest part in my opinion so far is to remember all the rules about their numbers. Like how number 1 is called a certain thing, but the 1st of a month is called another, and if you want 1 of something (example, one beer) it's called something completely different again. Counting is hard too once you get to the ten-thousands, because it stops making sense and isn't similar to the numbers I know in either Swedish nor English, so it gets hard to remember what the correct word is. But as long as I study, it'll settle eventually.

Today we ate Sushi on our way home. We were walking along Ayameyokocho towards Ueno when we spotted a restaurant and we decided to head inside rather than each one of us go home alone and cook on our own. I ordered grilled fish, because I'm not the hugest fan of Sushi, but I tasted some from the other guys' plates and it was actually really nice! The staff shouted loudly when they took our order and when we left (Japanese restaurant tradition, it seems) and it's quite cosy and inviting to be in that sort of atmosphere.

It's also fun to get to try out the things we learn in class, which these past two days have been how to order food at restaurants, how to ask for items in a combini (convenience store), how to ask for directions, how to ask the price of something, and how to ask what subway line to take to certain stations as well as how much specific journeys cost. We've also learnt how to introduce ourselves, where we come from, when we arrived in Japan, when we will be leaving/how long we'll be staying in Japan, our birthday, as well as dates and numbers and how to read Kanji for the most common/necessary things, like toilet, exit, entrance, station (like train station or subway station), student, teacher, homework, break, emergency exit, stop etc. On top of that, we have homework every day as well.

As you can tell, we're moving along quickly. Today was only the fourth day of school, and tomorrow will be the last day of our Hiragana (first alphabet) lessons, and the day after tomorrow we'll begin with Katakana (the second alphabet.) I know both since previously, so those parts aren't too difficult, but they're really picky about your calligraphy, so you have to be really careful how you write every sign.

Like I wrote yesterday, it feels better this week than the last, and I think I'll reset into study mode a lot quicker than I thought I would.

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I'm in school at the moment, having a short break, so I'll try to update quickly~

Yesterday, (Sunday), I went to Shin Ōkubo and visited the many K-pop shops. I even ended up in a K-pop cafe where you got to request songs and watch live performances of K-pop idols. It was really nice, and the desserts were nice too~ I also found my groups latest album.

Afterwards I went to Shibuya and met up with one of my friends — as always, there's a lot of people, even on a sunday, and it really makes for amazing pictures. We visited Shibuya 109 and looked at shoes — there were some with fake fur on that were really soft! I'd never wear anything like them, but they were really soft to the touch! The things you can find are amazing. (Very different from Sweden)

In the evening, we went to a Go Go Nihon event where they gathered the students of January and gave us tips for living etc in Tokyo, and afterwards we got to mingle with a few Japanese people and practice our Japanese! It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad that I went! I was told by the Japanese friends I made that my Japanese is good already~ (that made me very happy to be honest)

I've caught up on our schoolwork and am starting to feel like I can follow the teacher a lot more easily today compared to last week. I really do think studying here will be a lot of fun!

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Two days pictures combined. The fifth picture is of where I live~ Tokyo really is going to be my city for a year now. I wonder how long it's going to take before I get used to that thought.

Since school started, I've been busy! When people ask me how it is, I keep saying that it's hard, but it's not "hard" per se (not yet...) I'm just really unused to studying. It's become clear to me that my mind is immensely out of shape when it comes to absorbing information and remembering phrases. (I guess that's what two years of dull work will do to you, haha.)

It's only been two days, so I'm sure it'll be easier once I get used to the school and the academic lifestyle again, but there really is no time for slacking. We have homework everyday. I know Hiragana and Katakana from previously, so those aren't a problem, but the phrases and words, the numbers and their numerical rules and differences, and the kanji makes my head spin in class. As long as I study, I'll be fine. I've also gotten a general tip from other students in my school to read ahead on the lessons the evening before we'll have them in class to keep pace more easily, so I'll guess I'll have to start doing that too. At the moment, it sounds like a lot, but like I said, I'm just out of habit.

On other news, I've finally gotten a Japanese cellphone provider, which makes communication and everything else easier while I'm over here. Now I can find my location on a map if I have to and contact people on the go 👌🏻

The company which I got a contract with was located in Korea Town (Shin Ōkubo) so I got to briefly see that part of Tokyo and peek into some of the many K-pop shops in the area. I'll definitely be going back another time!

We went out yesterday, to Golden Gai in Shinjuku and ended up at a small bar in the wall where they had karaoke. We stayed for hours, talked to and met a lot of people, and everyone sang together in the bar — it was really nice. Afterwards we asked a local for a good club and they told us to head to a place called Atom in Shibuya, so we did. There were way too many people, so you could barely dance, and everyone stared at you.

Now, here in Japan, foreigners seem to be kind of fascinating (probably because our light hair and eyes are rare), so wherever you go, people stare, and while no one is rude or anything like that, it still makes me kind of uncomfortable if people are being too obvious with their ogling. Mostly because I feel awkward. (Like, what am I supposed to do? Smile and wave? Or is that creepy on the subway?) Haha it'll take me a while to get used to that too.

I got home early in the morning, and today I've just stayed huddled up inside with my homework and my computer and only went out to buy food for when I cooked dinner.

Tomorrow GoGoNihon (the company which I came to Japan through) is throwing a welcome party in the evening that I'll be going to. During the day I'll probably go shopping for notebooks and stuff like that for school (maybe head back to Shin Ōkubo and see if I can pick up my idol groups latest album)

I really have no trouble sleeping over here. So many impressions and things for my mind to process that every night I just completely shut down.

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I'm grossly pleased that it's sun and 12 degrees Celsius here in Tokyo while there's a blizzard back home in Sweden.

Today was a rather short school day as we only had orientation. The teachers are nice, but the studies really do sound like they'll be challenge. I'm anticipating that I'll struggle a lot in the beginning, but with a lot of studying and practice, I can only get better, so I'm rather looking forwards to it!

The school helped us sign up for our own Inkan, which is a stamp that everyone in Japan has and uses to sign official papers (instead of a signature) Usually it's of your family name, but the less syllables, the cheaper, so for us Swedes, we were allowed to use our first names. Mine will say ミイ (Mii — Could also have been spelled ミー, the horizontal line indicating that you draw out the last syllable, in this case I in the sign of Mi, but my teacher's said that ミイ was a cuter way to spell my name, and insisted I go with that) It'll be done in a week, and after I receive it I'll be able to get myself a bank account (which I'll need in case I work part-time)

We took stroll down the blocks around our school, and actually ran into a filming of a Japanese drama that we got to stay and watch as long as we just watched quietly. (It was so cool to witness!!) We looked around for someplace to eat Sushi, but ended up finding a Yakiniku restaurant instead which we eagerly entered. I think this type of food will always be one of my favourite. It's absolutely delicious.

We parted early because all of us had to head to each our own town areas Office wards to register our address in Tokyo to the authorities and apply for National Health Insurance (NHI) that everyone staying in Japan for longer than 3 months has to have. It ensures that if you're in an accident, you'll only have to pay 30% of the price for the hospitals etc. Luckily for us, our school covers those remaining 30%, so if I ever break my leg, my expanses will be 0. Nice indeed. (Not that I plan to get injured. I'll take care.)

So that was all good, but not only was the Adachi-ku office ward quite the ways away from Ayase (I got to ride a bus for the first time) but it also took a long-ass fucking time for them to go through my paperwork and get everything in order. (Which is why I look so tired in the photo lmao) By the time I was done, it was already evening. But I got to see Adachi and the centre around Kita-Senju, which was nice, and I think I'll take a day to explore that area as well sometime. I was lucky though, because at my ward they had English speaking personnel, which the other Swedes weren't as fortunate to find at their places.

I took the subway back to Ayase where I grabbed a coffee by the station and watched the people passing by for a little while. I headed into Daiso (100yen store) and bought pencils to use in school (because I only brought ball-point pens from Sweden) and then I headed into Ito-yokado (the big everything-you'll-ever-need-department-store just outside Ayase station) and purchased a sleeping-pad to put on top of my mattress — because I can feel the springs in my back and while I am able to sleep, I'd rather sleep as comfortably as possible — a new pillow to exchange the hard one I got from my sharehouse, as well as a soft, warm bedspread. I like making myself at home, and with this, my bed will be a lot nicer to sleep in.

So tomorrow will be my first day of classes. We were told today whether or not we would be in the AM class or PM class, and as expected I ended up in the afternoon classes (for beginners, that is), which means I'll be attending school during the hours between 13.25-17.15 every day until I advance to J3 or J4. I'd prefer to have school in the morning, because that would give you the entire afternoon off to explore and do activities, but on the other hand this means I can sleep in if I ever feel like it, or get up early and head into Tokyo for breakfast and a morning stroll.

Tomorrow I'm meeting the Swedes at Ueno at 11AM to do basically that, walk around, grab breakfast together, before we have to be in class by 13.25. I secretly want to work extra hard to advance faster through the Japanese levels in my school, because I really fancy the idea of succeeding at the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test)

がんばってね (I'll do my best)

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I'm so tired, and my feet are killing me.

The first picture is of the road I walk down to Ayase station everyday~ Pretty, isn't it?

Today was my first day of school! I didn't want to be late, so I got up really early this morning, made breakfast, and set off with time to spare — which turned out to be a smart move on my part, because I walked around for 20 minutes trying to locate the building of Intercultural Institute of Japan.

We had a multi-options test entirely in Japanese, and then a private interview with a teacher of the school, also entirely in Japanese, both of which went so-so, but I'm here to learn so anything else would've been strange, wouldn't it?

To my surprise I met a couple of other Swedes who'd also applied through GoGoNihon, and the five of us hit it off pretty well. We had a break for about 3 hours, which we spent walking around Akihabara and eating ラメーン (Ramen) and at 2PM we attended the school's opening ceremony. I think we were about 50(?) new students in total, and we all had to go onto a stage and introduce ourselves in Japanese. All in all, I've gotten a good impression of the school, and I think I'll exceed as long as I work hard!

After school, me and the other Swedes (we've taken to calling ourselves 'The Swedes in Tokyo') walked to Ueno and strolled around Ameya-Yokocho and Ueno park until the sun had set 🌅 We briefly visited a small charms-temple where you could offer money and pray for good fortune and buy small 'lucky' charms, 'do-well' charms, and even 'make money' charms. (btw, there's the picture of the trees that I told you about in my other post about Ueno)

I got home late and took a warm shower, made myself some hot cocoa and now I'm tired and ready to sleep.

Tomorrow will be a day of orientation at the school, we'll be divided into classes, and on Thursday, our studies will begin. I'm about to set off on an adventure where I'll take on the challenge of mastering the Japanese language, and I'll do my best to make it!

I'm certain this year will be a really good one.

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Monday turned into a Sunday.

I didn't do much today, lazed about mostly. I watched Steven Universe in the theatre room with one of my housemates for some time, and then we hung out with a couple of our other roommates in the kitchen while people made late lunch, early dinner and chatted. (They taught me how to use the rice cooker, which I'll be definitely needing) After the sun had set I was accompanied to the supermarket where I finally bought some rice, salt, pepper and soy (basics, I figure, for when I'm going to cook) and on our way back we located some cafes (for my future happiness) and a ramen place hiring part time (to my housemate's pleasure, because she's looking for work.) Finally, the two of us stopped by the fair outside Ayase station and bought Okonomiyaki that we shared back at our house. It was delicious~

I got to see a little of Ayase, but I still want to walk all the way to the river one day, just to see it from up-close rather than a metro

I had planned to buy more stuff for my room, but I was too tired to haul bags back to my room today, so I decided to procrastinate my chores and just accept sleeping on a hard pillow another night, haha.

Tomorrow is the first day of school. I never got to ride the subway and check the location of the building out in advance, so I'll have to take extra care tomorrow as to not get lost on my way there. I'm a little nervous, and a little excited, but mostly I just want to do well and get started learning Japanese already. I guess I'm impatient in that sense, but I can't wait to be able to communicate properly with the people around me.

Language really is a wonderful thing.

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Yodabashi Akiba, ABAB, Daiso, Ameya Yokocho, and Ueno Park

These were some of the places I visited/got to see today. I awoke 7.30AM today, so the jet-lag is definitely getting better already. I had a lazy morning and took a long time before I headed out at 12.30PM to go to Akihabara, where I knew Yodabashi Akiba (a great, big electronics store of 8th floors) lay. I went to buy a hairdryer, because mine was sacrificed to fit other stuff into my luggage before I went, and fortunate for me, most things are on sale here in Japan at the moment, so I got one for just 1500円 (about 116SEK) as well as my very own instax camera 👏🏻 I've wanted one for months, but in Sweden they're pretty expensive (I got it for half the price here) so I'm very happy now~ I look forwards to filling my wall with pictures over the year. (I also got new headphones, since I lost my white ones in Sweden, and they were even cheaper than the hairdryer.)

I grabbed some Takoyaki for lunch (which is like squid wrapped in a wheat-dough and served with takoyaki sauce) before I headed back down into the Hibiya line subway.

Because it was still early, I decided to head to Ueno because I knew Daiso (a 100yen store) was supposed to around there somewhere (and because it was a passing station on the way back to Ayase anyway) I was pleasantly surprised to find street performers right outside Ueno station and stayed to enjoy the music for some time.

It's been raining all day, so I got myself an umbrella as to not get drenched while I made my way around Ueno. I walked through Ameya Yokocho (which is like a lot of alleys with stores that sell all kinds of merchandise, food, shoes, bags, you name it. Used to be a black market for candy, of all things, during World War Two. Pretty cool.) until I found ABAB, another multi-story building in which I knew Daiso would be.

I looked around the many shops on the different floors, and when I felt satisfied I decided to go back home. My phone map told me that a tourist information centre was supposed to be nearby Ueno station somewhere, and since I forgot to pick up a Tokyo city map when I arrived to the airport and I thought I might seize the opportunity and do so now instead.

I swear I spent over 20 minutes walking around in the rain and cold (thank god for the umbrella) trying to find it, but I just couldn't! It was nowhere to be found. I strayed into Ueno Park, which was a good thing because I got to behold some lovely trees decorated in different lights, which was a really pretty sight, even in the rain. Unfortunately my phone died as I was taking pictures and they weren't saved. But I'm set on going back another time to get those pictures, because it was really beautiful.

I gave up finding the tourist information centre and headed back to the subway, only to find that there were signs underground that pointed to where the tourist centre was (because it had been in the underground subway all along *long sigh*) Finally, with my map, and my Tokyo city guide I headed back home.

I also purchased a Pasmo card today. It's similar to the public transport cards we've got in Sweden — you charge it with money and you can use it to ride the trains and busses without having to buy tickets every time. But here's the cool part about the IC cards here I Japan: it can also be used to buy drinks and food from vending machines as well as make purchases in selected stores. So in a way, it's more advanced (further ahead?) compared to the ones back in my country. I actually wanted to get a Suica card (same thing, different provider) but the stations I visited only offered Pasmo, so I figured that I'd save myself the trouble of the hunt and just get the Pasmo card instead. This will make my future journeys to and from school much smoother, and my roommates highly recommended me to get one.

When I got back to Ayase, I checked out the stores lining the station to make myself a little more familiar with what boutiques I have in my close vicinity, and I was surprised to find that we had Ito Yokado, also a multi-floored store with everything you might find yourself needing (like I need a comforter for my bed, because it get's cold at night, and my duvet isn't enough. Might need another pillow, too.) And when I write that some stores have everything, I mean everything. Makes life a lot easier when you're in dire need. It was nice to find a place like that that isn't far from where I live.

I finished my evening by taking a shower (using my new hairdryer to dry my hair afterwards — yay), going to the 100yen store around the corner to stock up on edibles, eating some of those edibles once I got back, and finally I'm getting ready to sleep deeply after another day well spent.

Another good day, another one gone. Still doing good. Tomorrow I'll check the weather, and maybe I'll just do Ayase.

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I woke up 4AM because of jet-lag... Not very fun.

I successfully went back to sleep and slept until around 11AM (when, for some reason, I was dead tired) and then headed down to make myself breakfast. I had company by one of my housemates while I ate, and when I had cleaned up after myself I set off towards Shinjuku 🚈

I was never to Shinjuku when I visited Tokyo last, so I figured I could waste a day going there this time since my school doesn't start until Tuesday. I got to ride the JR circle line (don't remember what it was called in Japanese) and got off at Shinjuku station.

Shinjuku was very nice in my opinion - lot's of tall buildings, big department stores, and a lot of people, but nice all the same! I went because I had googled that a Tokyu Hands (a store with pretty much everything you might find yourself needing) was situated there and navigated myself around on the free wifi spots until I found it. I also found this cute little interior/design/mixed goods store called FrancFranc just outside where I think I might be going back someday to buy some nice trinkets, odds and ends.

I bought some necessities at Tokyu Hands (like clothes hangers, since my room lacked any) and then I headed towards the station and where my phone pointed me towards a 7/11 ATM (where foreigners can use their cards to obtain money) through this really smart app called ATM Navi. As I was going there I spotted a ラメーン (Ramen) sign, and once I had more cash I headed back there and had a late lunch/early dinner. It was great. (Ramen broth is rather thick but really delicious. You can choose between soy-based and salt-based broth, and I chose soy and it was super good)

The sun was setting when I was done, but before I went back, I grabbed a crêpe from a small crêpe place I had seen when I first came out of the JR Shinjuku station.

Having been to Tokyo before makes it a lot easier for me to navigate the Metro/Subway and train stations, what with all their different lines, companies and exits that can be very confusing for a first-time visitor, so I'm glad I'm familiar with the system already.

I went home, packed up my final things, redecorated my room, twice (until I was happy), and put up some pictures on my walls to make it feel a little more like home.

I spent my evening down in our lounge (joint kitchen and living/entertainment room of the house) and even got to listen to and play shamisen!! (It's a Japanese type of guitar - I recommend googling it!) There's a woman in my house, Kazumi, who plays it professionally. It's a very special sound, and I was very happy that I got to listen to and even hold and play it!

My second day has been nice. I keep feeling like I'm in a hurry to do a lot of things, only to realise that I've got all the time in the world (or, well, 1 year and 3 months Tobbe exact) and that there's no need for me to stress with anything. (Isn't that typical vacation behaviour? "I have to do everything before it's too late!")

I've got two more days until school starts. Tomorrow is Sunday and on Monday is a national holiday here in Japan (My housemates have explained it as a holiday to celebrate those who've turned 20(?) like adulthood kind of thing, but I'm not sure if I've understood them correctly) I'm not sure if stores and other things are going to stay open like usual, or if things will be closed, but I'll look it up before I head out.

It's almost midnight where I am, and I'm dead tired, so I'll be signing out now. おやすみ~ 🌙

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This is me.

I've arrived safe and sound to Tokyo, Japan, and got from the airport to Tokyo Station to Ayase where I was met up and escorted the final way to my new home without any incidents. Success!

Japan, Tokyo, Ayase - this is my home now, where I'll be spending my next year (and three additional months).

It was scary, but at the same time easier than I thought it would be. I've always loved traveling, so sitting on and changing airplanes on my own was no problem.

I made it to where I'm supposed to be and I've already been welcomed by many of the other tenants in my share house. Everyone is really nice and friendly, which makes me believe I'll do more than fine sharing a house with them.

Today was just a day of arrival, and tomorrow will be my first day as an explorer.

So, here I stand at the start line of my new life 🇯🇵

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