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Showing posts from July, 2017

Artistic Aspirations, Foiled

Today, for a bit of culture on my off day, I went to the National Art Center located in Roppongi, Tokyo. The building itself is quite lovely, with a rippled glass exterior and interesting upside-down conical concrete structures that feel a little bit like massive stalactites in the main atrium. The other somewhat curious feature of the museum is that you don't pay for entrance to the museum itself, you pay for admission to each individual exhibit. On the one hand it means you are only paying for what you want to see, but on the other hand each ticket is...pretty expensive. So I elected to see only one exhibit: a contemporary art exhibit from artists of the eleven ASEAN countries called "Sunshower."

You don't often see exhibits that include artists from Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malyasia (just to name a few), and the art was certainly infused with explicit references to colonialism, geo-politics, revolution, home, and personal identity. 
This is just a sma…

Semi-Homemade Cooking with Claire Williamson

Ok, so, yes the title of this post is a total ripoff of "Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee," but it's true that I'm trying to actually feed myself while I'm here.

In fact, as you can see by this weirdly written chart, I've even been trying to "meal plan," or at least make sure that when I cook I eat all the leftovers since I'm still limping along to my first paycheck (it should arrive on the 25th!). As you can see, it becomes a work-in-progress as meals get shifted around or as ingredients start to look a little funky in the fridge (I had to throw out two bags of spinach today because for some reason they were secreting some weird brown liquid...which was not only gross but a waste of money. Lesson learned: buy your perishables as close to the day you were planning to make/eat them as possible.)

But I've had some decent successes, too! I have to find things that I can make in one pot without an oven, and I've also been prioritizing t…

Back to my Roots, In a Way

Happy Umi no Hi (or as we would say in English, Ocean Day)! Umi no Hi is one of Japan's plentiful national holidays, and is not the only one that is dedicated (arbitrarily?) to some force of nature.

I finished up my training yesterday. They had us work in the store our classroom was located in for a few hours, albeit under supervision. So I greeted customers, helped a few find the items they were looking for, rang up an order slip for a pillow, and helped pack and wrap items at the registers when they were busy. It was a fast-paced few hours, so I can tell that my workdays will always be busy and changing.

I won't lie when I say I'm nervous for tomorrow--my first real day of work. All I can do though is try to remember the things I learned over this past week to the best of my ability and approach all new learning opportunities with a smile and a can-do attitude. I'm trying to keep the Yale Glee Club's unofficial motto in mind here: "Always be the first to he…

Medical Checkups and Minimalism

Today was day two of my de facto weekend: I have three more days of training (this time in uniform, even though my commute still has to be in a business suit), followed by one day off on the 17th for Ocean Day (also known as "Umi no hi," one of Japan's plentiful national holidays) and then I FINALLY, OFFICIALLY start in my assigned store on the 18th. Ulp.

Today I spent the morning lounging around my apartment, Skyping my mother, and cleaning the bathroom. Then I set off for the Tokyo Midtown Clinic where I had scheduled a "health screening" which is essentially a battery of seemingly random tests that is required, annually, for all employees at Nitori. This clinic is in Roppongi, a bit of a ways away from me but it could 1. do all the tests required (some clinics did not have, for instance, the equipment to do the hearing test) and 2. had staff that could speak English. While I did end up conducting all of the procedures in Japanese, the fact that all the PAPER…


Today I...splurged, just a bit.

I don't get paid until the 25th of the month, so until I start actually getting yen deposited in my Japanese bank account I have to withdraw yen via the ATMs at various convenience stores until I run out of cash and the cycle repeats. So I've been trying to live frugally: not using my air conditioning, for one, buying the foods that are in-season and on-sale, and generally being pretty cheap. Often times that translates into denying myself things like fruit, yogurt, and the occasional dessert I'd really like to eat. Of course there's so many more up-front costs to living that I wish didn't exist that my bills for the first month or so will likely be higher than I would like but, what's to be done? I'm sort of jealous of the other new hire who is starting at the same time as me because she's living with family and therefore doesn't have to deal with half of these costs.

Having to use cash is, somewhat unfortunately, a …

Weekend? What Weekend?

I have officially lost all sense of time, here in Japan. 
Technically yesterday was Saturday and today was Sunday--the weekend, a joyous time for most people!--but for me I just had more job training. I'm looking forward, instead, to this upcoming Wednesday and Thursday when I have my next two days off: my newest "weekend." Conversely, I like commuting to work/training MORE on the weekends because the morning trains are much less crowded. Maybe the days of the week would matter more if I had friends I could meet up with on a regular basis, but since I can only see people I know here irregularly, if at all, if doesn't really matter much if my days off synchronize with everyone else's.  
So on my last two days off I did several things, some fun and some practical. The practical side consisted of doing laundry on one of this month's rare sunny days--since everything has to dry outside, whenever there's a sunny day in the midst of the rainy period, most balco…

Business, in Brief

Well, it has been quite a week, everyone. For the past six days I've been commuting an hour to and from Nitori's main office in Tokyo for my first week of job training, albeit of the intellectual variety. And since it's of the intellectual variety...I actually am legally not allowed to tell you guys terribly much of the content of what I've learned. The short of it is: if I can find the information elsewhere (e.g. it's already on Nitori's website or there's already a public article written about it) I can talk about it, but otherwise everything I've learned, including things as seemingly basic as company slogans, are private information.

So. Moving on.

Here I am on day one, looking all bright and shiny in my very basic black suit (sans jacket, in this photo). It is so hot and humid, now that Tokyo is in the rainy season, and wearing these suits is a miserable experience. Almost as miserable, in fact, as the state of the trains during my daily commute: