Friday, January 13, 2017

Japanese Common Sense : Supermarket Etiquette Dos and Don's

I write this post in comparison with what's tolerated in my own home-country and in the countries I've visited. Let me know in the comments what is acceptable in your country!

1. Don't open products and definitely don't eat them or even taste them before purchasing, even if you intend to purchase them and even if you are already on your way to purchase them.

2. Never taste a product and then put it back (i.e.; take a bite of bread or apple. True story- witnessed by me many times in my home-country.)

3. Don't eat the product while you are still inside the store, even if you have already paid for it.

4. If the Japanese supermarket near you got the "sashimi preparing corner", save yourself the embarrassment and don't ask them to let you try the taste. Unlike the similar corners of cheese and hams in foreign countries' supermarkets, in Japan sashimi and sushi are not given out for "tasting".

5. The reason for a microwave being placed near the cashiers is for you to be able to warm up the ready-to-eat meals. After you warm up the meal, it is intended that you eat it elsewhere and not camp out next to the microwave. *Some convenient stores got a seating area where you can eat your meal.

6. You cannot "assemble" your own fruit/veggie basket/package from the already prepared ones. Try to choose the one you like most without exchanging the content.

7. When at the fruit and veggie corner, when you see apples and the sign "100円" or "200円" next to it (approx. 1$, 2$) it means that each piece is sold for that price. Do not mistakenly think it is by the kilos. Japanese never sell by the kilo. Sometimes the produce will be sold by grams (for example, 100 gram of pumpkin for 100 yen), but most often it is by the piece.

8. Japanese supermarkets and food shops don't do the "1+1" or coupon sales where you cut out coupons from the newsletters. Instead, if you want to buy cheaply, come in the evening, about two hours before the closing. Japanese supermarkets and food shops discount all the food which is about to expire by up to 50% (50% being the food which expires on the day or the next day).
Also, supermarkets usually have a permeant corner filled with discounted products which are either expiring soon or are not popular.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Essential Medical Info: All My Medical Information and Health Records Organized In One Book!

My Essential Medical Info handy notebook recorder
Front and back of My Essential Medical Info handy notebook
My Essential Medical Info is a handy notebook to keep your medical records (such as, family health history, allergies, illnesses, surgeries, medications, etc) organized in one place and keep track of your health check-ups year by year. Key Features: * Log your important medical information in easy-to-fill, detailed and colorful forms. It's important to have the information handy in case there's a need for a doctor visit. * Keep track on your health check-ups year by year. * Plenty of blank space for you to write memos/questions for your doctor and clip/attach documents you wish to have on-hand. * Plenty of space for doctors to write their recommendations for you at the conclusion of your medical check-up. * My Essential Medical Info can be used domestically and in many countries on your trips abroad, as it is designed in English.

You can get it from Amazon HERE

* Japanese and bilingual versions also available.

My Essential Medical Info handy notebook recorder
Sample pages from the bilingual version of the
My Essential Medical Info handy notebook

My Japanese Man VS French Food

My Japanese Man VS French Food:
Don't underestimate the power of French baguette, people!

***Pardon the total background mess.

Typical Family Vacation NOT (Part 2)

For Part 1 Click HERE

11:45AM: Came to the free hot-springs baths located in the open air at the foot of a gushing river.
There weren't that many people and the upper bath didn't have anybody dipping their feet. I got all excited (my first ever experience in a hot-spring), took off shoes and literally jumped in. Well, there is a reason why nobody was bathing. IT WAS FREAKING BOILING!
I anticipated the fact it will be hot, but that was way more than I expected. Hot-springs Tip: taking a 42 degrees Celsius bath (or possibly more) in a 35 degrees Celsius summer heat is not always a good idea.
I managed to keep my legs in the water though. Hot-springs got all those minerals and good stuff in it and hey it's free! So, I held. For the sake of my future beauty.
Then my husband chimes in, informing me that several years ago several famous locations were busted for using regular heated tap water and claiming it's hot-springs. And that many establishment might still be tricking people. Thanks, hubby.

12:10 PM: Saw an ice-cream kiosk. Hurray! Almost bought an ice-cream to chill myself from the hot water and then realized it's not just a vanilla ice-cream. It's a vanilla ice-cream...topped with a generous chunk of WASABI. Like, who eats such stuff?? (Japanese.)

12:14 PM: Our main destination in that area was the bamboo forest that every review said is absolutely beautiful. We had to hurry because our bus to the hotel leaves at 2pm and that's the only bus. If we miss it we are screwed.

12:15 PM: We all felt really hungry. Dear Husband managed to find an overpriced pizza café on the way to the bamboo forest with available seats so that became our choice. Dear Husband is a super penny wise guy. Since the pizza cost like the entire meal for 2 he decided to just order that one pizza and share it. That was a really small pizza. Japan is known for tiny dishes and that was a good example. Dear Husband didn't care.

1:00 PM: One hour to the bus and 15 minutes walk to the bamboo forest. We went out of the café. Dear Husband was hungry. I was hungry. Meanwhile my younger son oversucked on breastmilk. How do I know it? Because when Dear Husband carried my older son on one side and my younger son on the other, the younger son suddenly vomited on them the equivalent of probably one liter.
The puke shot my husband across the chest and hit directly in my older son's face. Of course it also went to the shirt, pants, shoes. Everybody except me got a generous splash of vomit and I stood there laughing like a hyena.

1:30 PM: Half hour left to the bus and only 10 min to the bamboo forest. It took us 30min to clean up and change clothes. Yes, we had to change the kids' clothes in the middle of the street because  there weren't really any other place. Husband changed his shirt in the open, too. However, no matter how much I scrubbed the shoes with non-alcohol butt wipes, the strong acidic vomit smell stayed. Poor bus passengers, I thought to myself. It's not fun to smell vomit for over one hour bus ride.

1:35 PM: My husband picked up my older son (my kids really love to be carried by dad). Darling only managed to take several steps in his new clean shirt and....My older son peed his pants. He is potty trained, but our trip wouldn't be so adventurous if out of all the days he didn't have pee accident when we are only 25 minutes away from the bus time and five minutes away from the so sought-after bamboo forest.
My husband had to change his shirt again to the last shirt he packed. I again LOLed like a hyena only that this time my face twitched more and I wanted to pull my hairs out from frustration.

1:45 PM: Huffing and puffing we reached the bamboo forest! Yay! I was never so happier to discover something with such "grand" sounding name to be so small. It was a tiny garden really. Probably a size of a very large room. In the center there was the sitting area and it was surrounded by tall bamboos. You could lean back on the seat and look at the beautiful blue sky and the tips of the bamboos trying to touch the clouds. So peaceful. So quiet. We took a deep breath, relaxed for exactly three minutes and dashed to the bus stop.

1:58 PM: Managed to get to the bus stop on time.

2 PM: One second before the bus arrived my older son fell asleep in the stroller, which meant that now the stroller cannot be folded. Husband managed to raise the stroller the few steps inside the bus, then the stroller got stuck between the seats in the middle of the narrow bus passage. I told husband to just pick up the son and fold the stroller but the bus already started moving and fiddling further would just make the matter worse. It was an embarrassing one hour.

Friday, November 11, 2016

My Life With Garbage OR How Japanese Recycle

Dear Readers, prepare to be shocked, astonished, puzzled, maybe even laugh out loud...

Except some clothes, toys and furniture, our tiny home inhabits my husband, my two kids, myself and....
a bin for milk cartons,
a bin for pet bottles,
a bin for glass bottles,
a bin for steal cans,
a bin for iron cans,
a bin for newspapers,
a bin for carton boxes (non milk ones),
a bin for batteries,
a bin for specific food packages
a bin for non-food garbage, such as old cooking pot

That's quite a lot of bins and bags! Where do they fit? They don't. We literally step on some when trying to fit into our tiny kitchen.

The worst part is in many houses and buildings you can't even discard the garbage just any time you want. There are specific days for each specific type of garbage! So, you get the joy of stumbling and smelling your waste for entire week.

Non-food garbage items, such as electronics, furniture pieces and such, actually cost money to discard. About 10$ on average. It definitely makes people discard way less, but at the same time makes them live with clutter they really don't need anymore and that cannot be used/sold (think of broken TV).

I'm all for recycling. As a matter of fact, I'm big on leading environmental-friendly and frugal lifestyle. But, while living in a small (50 square meters/ 500 square foot) apartment with 4 family members and a kitchen that can barely fit one person at a time, recycling means I lead a life of a garbage hoarder.

What do I and the rest of the population in Japan do to somewhat control the smell?
We wash every single can, bottle and even the carton boxes from the milk! Yes, literally wash very well until it is sparkling clean and neatly pack in those bins/bags and store them in our kitchen, veranda and rooms until that special day of the week when it's OK to go out and discard it. Then the cycle repeats.

How do you do it?

Food For Millionaires OR How To Survive On 2$ Per One Apple , 1$ Per One Small Tomato...

I got a pen, I got an apple...uh! One apple cost more than my pen! Pen-pineapple-apple-pen. LOL.

The good part about Japanese supermarkets culture is that about two hours before the closing time they start discounting expiring foods up to 50%. You can read my post on how to save big (aka not starve) doing food shopping in Japan here.

The bad part though, the one that had me most culture-shocked, is how expensive veggies and fruits are. I come from a country where 2$ could get you one kg of apples, not just one single apple.
Before we start our tour, here is some basic info:

* I'm taking you through a typical supermarket of a big chain. This supermarket caters low to mid range income population.

* The supermarket is in a residential downtown type of area of Tokyo, Japan.

* In Tokyo, a salary of the middle class is 4~5 million yen per year. Salaries are taxed at about 30%. And on top of that there are all sorts of other deductions occurring before the final cash amount reaches the person (labor union membership, health care, pensions, etc).

* 100 Japanese yen is approx. 1 USA dollar.

Now, armed with the above information, let's proceed to the tour!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Typical Family Vacation NOT (Part 1)

Hilariously Failed Family Vacation at the most beautiful place in Japan
Hilariously Failed Family Vacation at the most beautiful place in Japan
Ever since I got pregnant with my first child we haven't traveled anywhere. The fault was part money, part busy schedule and part me feeling it would definitely, most likely, end in some sort of nervous break down on my behalf, because, well, I was a vivid traveler pre-kids and on those trips I have seen how those little joyful angels turn their parents' holiday breaks into pure HELL.

Then, several weeks ago, my husband announced he has accumulated enough points by his work-related travel on and we could have two free nights at some nice hotel of our choice. Surely, you can't let such an awesome (free!) deal just expire, right?

Now with two kids (three and one years old) in tow, we decided that time has come for us to experience first hand the wonders of traveling as a family.

Click on the title to read more....

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review : Free Japanese Fashion Magazine : Voi by OIOI

Free Japanese Fashion Magazine
Free Japanese Fashion Magazine

I admit I own several purchased Japanese fashion magazines, but I stopped buying any new ones for a long, long time.
Japanese fashion magazines that focus exclusively on fashion (and not lifestyle/relationships/general) have only few actual articles and even fewer (in my opinion) valuable advises. Plus, those magazines cost about 500yen. So why buy magazines that look like catalogs when you can get quality catalogs that look like magazines?

Click on the title to