Skip to main content

Leaving (Again) On a Jet Plane

Hello everyone! It's Claire again, here to revive (for much longer than a summer this time) this Japan-focused blog. Since the last time I've written there have been several major updates to my life:

1. I finished my thesis! Those of you who have followed me for some time might recall that in the summer of 2017 I spent six weeks in Japan researching coffee--the end result was a 65-page monstrosity about history, modernity, gender, and generations.

2. I graduated from Yale! It hasn't quite sunk in that I'm actually done: that probably won't hit me until the end of the summer when I don't fly back to New Haven and move myself, yet again, into a dorm room.

3. Perhaps most importantly, I got a job at Nitori, a Japanese furniture, home-goods, and logistics company. For those of you interested in the company overall, I'm providing a link to their English-language website HERE.

So. I'm moving to Tokyo. Tomorrow, in fact--surprise! I've packed my life into one cardboard box (to be shipped to my new apartment), two suitcases, one duffel bag, and one backpack. These don't, admittedly, contain my winter clothes which won't make their way to me until the fall, but I still feel I've done a decent job of paring down my belongings into manageable, movable sizes. Not to mention, my room at home is being transformed into a guest room so nearly all of my belongings have been transferred to boxes that are now being stored in the basement. I'm honestly quite proud that about 3/4 of these boxes are full of books.

For those of you who are curious (or those of you who need a refresher, since it is quite confusing) here is the basic explanation of my new role with Nitori.

In Japan, you're not exactly hired for a specific position, instead you're hired for the company as a whole. Large companies in Japan typically practice a sort of "rotational" system, where employees are transferred every 2-3 years between departments. So at Nitori, while everyone begins in retail, assigned to work at a specific store, someone could be transferred from Logistics, to HR, to corporate etcetc. People do end up specializing in one area, but you begin as a generalist, able to adapt to whatever position the company needs filled.

I'm also beginning at the retail level. I've been assigned to work in the Nitori located within the Shinjuku Times Square Takashimaya, a well-known department store (like Nordstrom's). The company has found me an apartment in the Setagaya neighborhood of western-Tokyo, and I'll be commuting from this 26.08 square-meter studio to work on the train. Officially I start July 1, so I'll likely be spending the next week+ settling into my new place, sorting my finances, and getting acclimated to living on my own and the work that will be expected of me.

To answer your question: YES, I'm very excited. I'm excited to be back in Japan, I'm excited to be working for Nitori, I'm excited to live abroad and work on my language skills. But also YES, I'm incredibly nervous. Worried. Thrilled. Terrified. Sad to leave behind my friends and family and only city and house I've ever lived in (dorm life at Yale notwithstanding). All of the above, emotionally, I'm feeling.

So buckle up. Bookmark this blog's homepage. Check out my Instagram (link above). I'll be posting regularly about life and work and my general adventures and I'm excited to share them with you all. As always, thank you for your support and your faith in me. I'll see you again in the land of the rising sun.


Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.

The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

Feeling a Bit Blue

It astounds me that it's already the end of August. Time has seemed to pass in a bit of a blur: one hot, sticky mess of 100-degree days and only mildly more bearable evenings. I was also fortunate to visit the U.S. for a week (not Chicago I'm afraid, but Wheeling, West Virginia and then San Francisco) for a family reunion. It was lovely to see all the aunts, uncles, and cousins who I hadn't seen in person for several months, if not years. But given the short visit I essentially spent two weeks with my body clock completely confused about what time zone it was supposed to be in.  However, I'm now I'm back in Japan for the near future and have essentially settled back in to my usual rhythm of life. 
This past weekend I decided to engage with my arts-and-crafts side. The summer of 2009, when I first visited Japan, I was lucky enough to try my hand at aizome (indigo dying) in Kyoto. Recently I had a hankering to try it again, and e-stumbled upon a shop in Asakusa call…