Posts for 'Travel'


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Summer Comiket 2013

August 12, 2013 •

Even though a great deal of my friends have said how amazing Comiket is, sadly, I’d never had the opportunity to go. Until today. :D

Since I’m almost about to go home to Australia, I have very little space for buying any more things, and not to mention this weekend went on record to be ONE OF THE HOTTEST in Japan’s meteorological history, I was a little hesitant about going. But I figured, since I’d come this far, it’d be worth going to check it out, if only  for the experience. Whoo boy, and what an experience that was! XD

I decided I was only going to rock up and hour or so before it ended. I just wanted to walk around a bit, check out how the place was laid out, check out the pixiv booth, and then pop home before heat stroke set in. XD

Being from a small Australian city, I’ve only ever been used to conventions ranging in sizes of 4,000 to 18,000 attendees. Jumping off the train and witnessing the magnitude of Comiket’s over 500,000 attendee reputation BLEW MY MIND. This thing is big. It is crazy big. Holy crap it was big. XD

Having been a volunteer at Perth’s most kickass Japan-themed convention, I was also keeping an eye out for how the event was managed. It was absolutely incredible how meticulous crowd flow was managed from the train station right through the entire convention centre.

I basically did one lap of both halls to check out what kind of goods were on display, before heading up to the industry booth section. While I was walking through the rows of tables, looking at all of the comics, music, games and animation DVDs, I couldn’t help but feel a great deal of admiration for everyone there. I feel like I can only appreciate a small amount of the sheer amount of work that goes into those creations and how proud they must feel when people come up and buy that work.

Since my Australia-bound luggage-space is already at a premium, I originally wasn’t planning on buying anything. But as I was walking through one of the rows, a very enthusiastic chap offered me to browse one of his artbooks, and then got 4 of his friends to train their fans on me as I was browsing it. Figuring that gesture alone was worth it, I bought the book off him. I plan to cherish it as my first official book from Comiket. ^_^

Comiket Art Book

In any case, while I was a bit sad I didn’t get much time to look at any more goods in great detail, I ultimately don’t regret going at the end of the event. To say it was HOT is a crazy understatement, and by the time the event officially closed, I was completely drenched in sweat and partially blind as a result. ^_^;

Overall, I still found the whole experience amazing and definitely worthwhile, even in the extreme heat. Even though I’ll be back in Australia by then, I’m definitely considering flying to Japan for Winter Comiket and actually doing the whole thing properly next time. :D

Getting an apartment in Japan

August 10, 2013 •

When I came to Japan to work at pixiv this year, I knew this was going to be my first time in the country where I’d have to actually find a proper apartment to live in. When I came here on my working holiday, I spent the first half of it living in accommodation provided by the company, and the second half was traveling around Osaka, home-staying with Japanese families (Excellent fun, by the way!).

Making things a bit more interesting, I also had a few criteria for the apartment of my dreams:

  • pixiv have a policy where they can add help subsidise your apartment rent, providing the apartment is within a certain distance from the office (So, the closer to the building in Sendagaya, the better!)
  • Since I knew I wasn’t planning to stay in the longterm, ideally the place would be pre-furnished.
  • IDEALLY (but not necessarily), I would like a place that wouldn’t require me to commit to a 2 year contract (And then having to pay piles of money to cancel down the track)

A few weeks before leaving Perth, in probably the most stereotypical way of looking for apartments in Japan, I started my search on GaijinPot.com. I’d heard from a few people that it’s not unheard of for landlords to refuse new tenants purely because they’re not Japanese before, so I figured if it was listed there, they should all be okay.

There ended up being quite a few interesting places on GaijinPot. There was one particular one that I especially liked the look of since it had a loft above the kitchen where the bed (I like lofts. XD) So I sent a message to the realtor and asked that (given my set of criteria above) whether it might be possible to rent that one when I got to Japan. I promptly received a reply from a realtor from Tokyo Best Realtors explaining to me that although that particular unit DID require a 2 year commitment, if we met up once I arrived in Tokyo, they’d be able to help me find a much better suited apartment. I agreed and we scheduled a meeting on the first Saturday of me arriving in Tokyo (free of charge!).

When I actually arrived in Tokyo, I was expecting to start working at pixiv straight away, so I was a little nervous at imagining how I was going to manage full-time work, out of a hotel, while at the same time searching for an apartment (To the point where I was wondering if I should have committed to an apartment before coming to Japan). Interestingly/thankfully, when I arrived at the office, I was informed that it was necessary for my employment registration (including bank account registration) that I have a permanent address before I could actually officially start work. So with my newfound free time, I was looking forward to securing an apartment as fast as possible.

On the first Saturday of being in Japan, I went and met Mr Taka Nomura of Tokyo Best Realtors in a café in Shinjuku to discuss apartment options in the area. Thankfully, he spoke absolutely flawless English, so it was very easy to get down to business (I doubt that I could have done that with my Japanese!).

Mr Nomura explained to me that there is actually a central database of available housing in Japan, accessible only via licensed realtors, and that although online sites like GaijinPot display a good number of apartments, the central database has the most comprehensive list. After showing me the database, he told me that even if I couldn’t get a furnished apartment, it IS possible to rent a full furniture set in Japan (on a yearly basis), so it’s not completely necessary to search for furnished apartments. Anyway, after doing a little bit of searching in the general Shinjuku area, we discovered that there were actually 2 short-term apartments that were available for rent on an ongoing basis (ie you could cancel at any time). One was quite small, but close by, and there was another one that was further away, but a lot bigger.

As it looked like time was going to be of the essence, we left the cafe to go check out the smaller apartment to see what it was like. Since I was actually expecting something tiny, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was actually quite open and felt rather roomy; more than enough for my needs. On top of that, it was still in the range of the pixiv housing subsidy. So without doing too much thinking, I told Mr Nomura that I would definitely like to rent this apartment. Mr Nomura said he’d contact the landlord and see if they’d accept my application.

A few days later, I received an email from Mr Nomura saying that the landlord approved and the apartment would be mine once I’d paid the initial invoice, which consisted of all of the initial setup fees such as cleaning, lock fitting, and remaining rent for the month. After paying that straight away, I had another meeting with Mr Nomura to sign the contract and receive the key, and that was it! The place was mine!

Overall, the process was very quick. It took less than 2 weeks to go from having absolutely no idea what to do, to receiving the keys to my new apartment. I was very impressed at Mr Nomura’s handling of the whole process. He was extremely professional and meticulous in explaining all of the details, and was always extremely prompt when communicating via email.

After this experience, if I was going to do this again, my recommendation now is to most likely bypass GaijinPot and just meet with a Tokyo real estate agency directly once you’ve arrived in Japan. Since they all have access to the same database, you won’t find different places at different agencies, and so it’ll boil down to how the agency will treat you. At this point, I’m very glad to vouch for Tokyo Best Realtors as their service was absolutely amazing.

If you have any questions about this post, feel free to follow me on Twitter, or like my Facebook page!

Sup from Japan!

February 13, 2013 •

Japan Flag

G'day everyone!

Sorry about the delay, things have been absolutely crazy lately. XD

Due to various circumstances, I've ended up with a bit of spare time, so I thought I'd give this blog a bit of love. :D

So, in case anyone missed the memo, I'm in Japan right now. ^_^ After applying last year, and making it through 2 interviews, I accepted a job to work at pixiv as a mobile application developer. I arrived here last Thursday and have been settling in since. I haven't started work yet as there's still a few logistics involved with getting set up beforehand (Really important things. Like choosing an awesome email address. XD). However, I've already gone and met my team and had a look at the kind of projects I'll be joining/potentially spearheading. Sadly, I can't publicly talk about them until they've been announced, but trust me when I say, they're pretty damn awesome. :D

In a sad, sad, tragic, horrific series of events, I'm currently without a laptop; my MacBook Air's keyboard kicked the bucket a few days ago. Figuring that now would be the best time as any to go without a laptop for a few days, I handed it in to the Shibuya Apple Store and have been rolling on just my iPad since then.

It's definitely a bit of a different experience coming to Japan to work, instead of on travel. Obviously, there's a few more things you have to worry about like setting up a bank account and working out a short-long term accommodation plan. Also, things that are pretty easy to manage when on a quick stay, like renting a SIM card for your mobile phone become a little more complicated. These are all excellent topics for more blog posts down the track.

In any case, I've still got a backlog of posts I want to write from 2012, so I might spend my laptop-less time updating this blog with all of these incredibly late posts. XD

Take care everyone!

Pixiv Logo

 

Pokémon Black and White Released!

September 19, 2010 •

Pokémon Black Box Art. The new logo looks purdy!Yep, I definitely have to admit… after getting hooked on HeartGold, I’ve become pretty epically addicted to the Pokémon Game Boy series again. XD

In case you haven’t heard yet, as of today, the next generation of Pokémon games, generation 5, Pokémon White and Black were released today!

It’s a pretty interesting turn of events here. There are now 156 new Pokémon (more than the original game!), as well as a pretty radical new 3D camera perspective compared to the last games. Interestingly, it’s still out on the DS, which is a first for the Pokémon generations. Maybe this is an indication of the refresh of game consoles slowing down… O_o

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Getting my Aussie iPhone working in Japan

September 7, 2010 •

Back in January of last year, I went to Japan on a ski trip for 3 weeks. :)

Since having a phone with which you can make phone calls is VERY useful in Japan, before I left, I had a chat with Optus on using my iPhone package internationally. The deal was simple; you can do everything overseas as you can at home, but it’ll cost a LOT more.

Several phone calls and 8 hours of using global data roaming, I came home to a phone bill $200 more expensive than what I usually paid. ^_^;

Erm… so. When I was planning to go to Japan this time around, I figured there must be a better way. And so I did a little research. :)

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Japan trip is over!!

September 1, 2010 •

All of my news pals and I at the end of the Asian Youth Camp Wow. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun haha. Before I knew it, I’m back in good ol’ Perth again. XD

Well, if I gotta sum up the whole trip in a few words: it was pretty epic. ^_^

The Asian Youth Camp was a very cool experience. Just to rehash what I said in my last post, it was a 2 week course covering many issues and aspects of multicultural interactions in the Asia Pacific region, and also included several days of going out and experiencing Japan too. We were also required to present a report on our own respective countries, unto which I had a total blast pimping out Australia’s cities, animals and slang (She’ll be roight, mate!). XD

Overall, the camp experience was really cool. I learned a lot of new things, gained a lot new experiences made some very cool new friends along the way.

After the camp ended, I’d booked an extra week before my flight so I could have some free time around Japan (As I expected, the camp was so intense, there wasn’t much time to go out and do any shopping at all!). I caught a bullet train over to Tokyo, and stayed there for a few days between a really cool youth hostel and a good friend’s house.

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