Sunday, February 27, 2011

Living cheap in Japan

I often hear the question in my classes about how I feel about how expensive Japan is. Well, ya, Japan has it's expensive points- a lot of food and materials need to be imported to Japan with no native natural resources readily available. And in a city like Tokyo, shops and landlords can get away with charging a premium because the customer base (and love for shopping there) is very strong.

But now that I have lived here for a bit of time- there are some tips that you can bear in mind to maybe help you get through the first month or so here.

1. Buy food late. This could apply anywhere I guess, but I never thought of it before living here. If you are the kind of person that likes to buy ready-made dinners- you have lots of options out there. If you want the better prices- go to Supermarkets rather than convenience stores. And go on your shopping runs an hour or so before closing (closing time here is early- basically 8PM- 10PM) when the discount stickers are out... usually from 10- 50 percent off. Ex. 3割引- would be 30 percent off.Big savings to be had. Also some meats in the not-prepared area can be discounted later in the day.

2. GyuDon. Gyu don. Beef Donburi. It's beef, it's rice and it's onions. At 2 big chains in Japan it's also cheap. At Yoshinoya and Sukiya there has been a price battle and it hovers somewhere around the 280 yen mark- about 3 bucks. Cheap and should be enough food to get you buy.

I will try to report back with more saving money in Japan ideas in future posts.....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mona and Brother

 At this point, Ken's personality is really filling out and of course so is his sense of independence and possessiveness. It is a no-brainer that he is starting to get into the selfish fights and battles that hang over the heads of little generals like Ken. But overall Ken and Mona get along well, and obviously Mona loves her brother very much (one of her first words has been 'bra-za!' which either means brother or brazier).
 And while Ken resists at times, he likes to make a production of when he decides to share with her and we often catch him sweetly looking out for her.
She is happy and carefree still, great to have around the house!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some recent pictures

 There is the view of Hamanako between one of my classes, which is very far away, and my home. Lovely- picture does no justice to.
 Mona is a full pro with the iPhone now, very dangerous to let her get it in her hands.
 Ken is a handful some days but is slowly coming around and starting to learn to be more considerate and focused.
Mona looks sharp in her new suit jacket Steve sent her for her birthday. They both love the book store.
And of course Mona is walking more and more these days!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The end of April's trip to Vancouver

 After driving back to Vancouver from Lillooet early in the morning, I met with my financial advisor at Metrotown, then returned the car and went with Scott to the hockey game. He managed to secure some fantastic seats and we had an excellent time- it was long time no seeing a live game for me!
 The next day I met up with Carrie and Rosey who is filling out to be quite a cutey. (Rose that is) I can't remember if this was the time she broke the news that she was pregnant with child number 2...
We went to a cool cafe where we could drink coffee and Rosey could play then she dropped me off where I could do my shopping. Love the clothes in Vancouver! There was a party that night which I didn't take any pictures of and I was off home from there. It was a fantastic trip- and only the first of my journeys to Vancouver last year!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A drive out to Lillooet

  After taking a day of recovery in Vancouver, the next day I rented a car and drove all the way into the mountains to visit my sister.
 A beautiful drive I tried to take a few pictures for Ken to see, but maybe interesting to some blog readers wanting to see a bit of the BC mountain atmosphere.
 The drive up Lillooet goes into the Coast Mountain range. There are 2 options that take roughly the same time, but I felt going up through Hope then over was a bit safer than through Whistler. 
 A lot of mountains and rocks.
 And trees
And rocks. Indeed one dinged the windshield right when I arrived in town. I had made a mistake about the insurance coverage- thinking I was covered by my Platinum card, but because I am living in Japan I am not. Well it looked like I must pay for it, but have yet to see a bill.
I could catch up with Mac who showed me all of his trains and trucks.
And Tracey who has a similar interest in trains and trucks so she also showed me her many toys. Ya.... well it was nice to catch up with my sister and hopefully bring a bit of cheer for her, as she is going through a dark time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Scotty's 40th party

 As I mentioned last year in the trip for Scotty's big day, I only had my cheap camera, so I had to dig into Scotty's pictures from the event. It was a definitely memorable party so I am going to go a bit over my new imposed limit of pictures posted.
Our old friend and co-worker Dave Ginch shocking me with his stories.
 Bill, Nita and their beautiful children.
 As the night grew later- the drunkbirds started litting about. I introduce Mr. Dave McGhee(arm around Scott).
 The Vancouver metrosexuals- Scott and Colin.
 Carrie shocked by some picture, wish I could remember what she is looking at...
 Shawn Taylor fighting off the kiss of McGhee. He lost.
 Also got to catch up with Christian- it had been a while.
Finally Dave passed out, but the party moved to the pool for a bit. It was a great evening.

Surprising Colin

 Above is pictured a couple of my older friends- Bill Rogers and Colin. Bill has been busy with his family, so haven't seen him so much, but we usually get a chance to see Colin (on the right) when we visit Vancouver. For Scott's big birthday last March, we decided to keep it a secret from Colin that I was coming. So as he arrived here, he was none the wiser that I was in the same place. ( I actually had to slip out through the garage to escape being detected).
I ran downstairs to my PC and fired up Skype where they pretended to call me up in Japan. After about a minute I excused myself and popped out to surprise Colin.
 He was in shock.
 Great reaction.

It was a good start to a fun night of catching up with everyone. (Pictured Bill, Scott, Colin, Me and Jimmy- a full blast from the past).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Last year- first trip to Vancouver

 Unfortunately I was only armed with my small digital camera which is taking some grainy pictures these days, so the pictures I selected here aren't the best. But... Last year I was extremely fortunate, through the generosity of my friend Scott sharing his surplus air miles with me, to travel to Vancouver 2 times. The first time was a momentous occasion- the big man's 40th birthday.

You can see the shock from Yurika as she discovers that he is indeed not 30 years old like she thought. Actually I think the reaction had something to do with a picture featuring Hillary Duff and Mike Comrie- can't remember specifics. Anyway-- needless to say the party was epic. 

Hence the next morning we can see Scottoi and Steve recovering in their snuggies or whatever you call those wacky blankets with sleeves they were wearing.

As we recovered Sean Taylor and I charmed everyone with our sharp humour, which I realized is very similar. Next time I will dig up some pictures of the party.