The Fun and Frustrations of Moving   

Hello everyone! It has been a little more than 2 months since I moved to Sapporo and it's been one of the best decisions of my life! Every day brings something new, some fun and exciting, but sometimes it can be challenging. Coming from a small town in Australia didn't exactly prepare me for living in a big city, let alone a foreign city where I don't speak much of the language. However, the people have met here have made it all worth it, and I wake up every day excited.
Since I arrived here in early September, I have climbed mountains, bathed in isolated outside onsens, attempted to master Japanese bureaucracy and getting healthier than I have been in years. Every day I go for a run/ride just, so I can enjoy the autumn leaves, feeling that winter chill getting closer and closer.
Last month I also moved in with my cousin Jessica, and every evening we try to talk for a few hours about what we've been reading, sometimes at the expense of sleep. It took me a while to get settled in, but now I feel this apartment is now my home.
It has been nice meeting everyone at Chit Chat, some customers I have met during chat session, and some I terrified with my Halloween costume; A big thanks to everyone who voted for me! I'm looking forward to meeting every one of the next few months and I am looking forward to the nest party.
And so here I am; into a new routine in a new country and I know it’s going to be a fun and exciting 12 months. Hopefully I can become more confidant, wiser and of course a better photographer.

Rocky (Australia)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2018-11-14 15:50 | 英会話 プライベート レッスン

Schnookums!   

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I use many words to describe my dog. For example, angel, baby, gorgeous, Willie, Wilhelm, etc… His real name is William and he is a beautiful brown/red colored dachshund. The story of how I got William is a bit strange. My mother’s friend found William wandering the streets of her neighborhood. She tried to find his owner, but no-one would claim him. After a few days she took him to the Humane Society, where they would keep him until someone came looking for him. Two weeks had gone by and no-one was interested in William, my mother’s friend knew he was a very good dog so she called my mother and asked her to adopt him. My mother was at work at the time, but she has a soft heart so she sent me a picture of William and asked me to go pick him up. At first I was very confused, I loved dogs, but wasn’t sure if we were ready to just go pick one up that day. We didn’t have food, a cage, or anything else necessary for owning a dog. But my mother insisted, so I went to go find him at the Humane Society. As soon as our eyes met, I knew William was the dog for me. I took him home that day while he was shaking and scared, but he has lived with my family now for almost four years, and is the happiest dog in the world. The hardest part about living in Japan is being away from William. That is why I made him a new name that only I call him, schnookums. It is a rarely used term of endearment, and it is the only name I think of when I think of my dog. I call my schnookums every day and hope I will get to meet him soon!

Maggie (USA)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2018-11-10 15:44 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

My pearl   

Since I was a child, I've always loved animals. My house in Spain is quite small, so I only had small animals like birds and hamsters. Once I had a puppie (a small Yorshike) but I was too scared of bites and scratches, so my parents had to give him away to someone else a few months later. After that, they decided to not get any more animals... Until August 2012.

It was a normal day. I had to go to the University by bus early in the morning, then had lunch at campus and returned home again. When I arrived, my mum asked "Isabel, did you hear a cat meowing in the wall in front of our house?" That was really surprising! We kept watching the wall... and then saw her. It was a small little white and brown cat hidden between the rocks in the wall. At that moment, we supposed that the mom might return sooner or later, but the next day the tiny cat was still meowing. We didn't know what to do. Is it an abandoned kitten? Will the mom be back or will the kitten die of starvation? Might it die by getting hit by a car? We had to do something! So, I grabbed a tuna can and a bowl with milk and climbed the wall to reach the kitten. Surprisingly, the cat didn't runaway from me, it ran straight to me, purring and meowing while eating the tuna I gave. From the window, my mom suggested that I try to hold the cat and see if it was scared or not. Again, the cat surprised me and let me hold and touch it, always purring and thankful for the food. There was no doubt for us, it was an abandoned kitten. At that point, with the tiny cat in my arms and my house a few meters away, I asked my mum to bring it home "just to play". I remember she said "ok, but just for 1 hour"... That hour is now 6 years.

I called her "Perla" (pearl in Spanish, due to the colour of her beautiful fur) and she is the cutest Siamese female ever! We fell in love with her clear blue eyes and the love she gives us is priceless. I'm hoping to see her again soon!

Isabel (Spain)
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# by chitchatcafe | 2018-10-03 14:48 | カフェ 英会話 札幌

North to East – Tokyo to Sapporo hitchhiking!   

Hello guys! I haven’t been in Sapporo lately, so those who regularly drop by Chit Chat Café probably have not seen me. I recently got back from working in Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture in a ski resort. I also went and worked there last year. This year was actually my fourth season working in a Japanese ski resort! While travelling through Japan on a working holiday visa I was able to work two winter seasons.

I flew back to Sapporo on the 28th of March from Hakuba but after spending less than a week in Sapporo I decided to enjoy my spring holidays just a little more. Many of my new friends from Hakuba were in Tokyo after the ski resort closed for the year so I wanted to go hang out with them a little more before university started again.

A spontaneous flight to Tokyo is expensive however! Almost 10 000 yen even for JetStar! And I wasn’t enthusiastic about going through the annoying airport security procedures yet again in the same week. So rather than sacrifice my hard earned money on a flight I resolved to have an adventure to get to Tokyo instead.

In Hakuba I challenged myself to learn how to ski. I can snowboard, but never had I tried to ski. Trying something new was enthralling and a lot of fun (but pretty painful when I crashed all the time). But it was a great experience.

So I decided my next challenge: To hitchhike from Sapporo to Tokyo to see my friends.

Was it easy? No. But was it worth it, definitely yes!

I made it from Sapporo city to Tokyo in three days. I rode with approximately ten different people for the duration of my travels, my average travel with each ride was two hours. I had an enjoyable hour with a family and their two dogs who sat on my lap and kissed my face.

However, my first night I found myself stranded in the tiny town of Date in Hokkaido. Fortunately I had two offers by kind families to stay with them the night. In the end I stayed with an elderly man and his cat with a stub for a tail.

My second night I stayed in an Internet café in Aomori city after riding the ferry from Hakodate ferry terminal where the elderly man dropped me off. Waving goodbye to him I had tears in my eyes as he hesitated looking outside his car window in the rain. We had talked for hours on end about many things, about his crazy childhood and the way he moved around for work. Yet I will probably never meet him again. In Japanese you would call this kind of meeting 「一期一会」which in English could translate to “once in a life time meeting.” Yet in the end I had hadn’t even spent an entire day with him.

From Aomori it was straight to Tokyo, a distance over 700km and 9 hours of driving according to Google sensei. In one day I passed through Aomori to Akita then Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Tochigi and Saitama prefectures before reaching Tokyo.


Jessica (Australia)



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# by chitchatcafe | 2018-04-14 15:45 | 札幌 英会話 国際

There’s something fishy going on…   

Dear all, thank you for reading our blog series and for working so hard to improve your English language skills. This is my first blog for the Chit Chat Café, having started working here this month. I hope I get to meet many of you in person in the coming months!

This week a friend came to visit me from Kyoto, so I thought it would be a good idea to go out to eat delicious fresh Hokkaido sushi. Normally for kaiten-zushi I visit my local branch of Toriton, which is always fantastic. However, this time I thought it would be more convenient to go somewhere in the city centre, so we decided to try the Stellar Place conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, Nemuro Hanamaru.

I knew that this restaurant is very popular, so we made an effort to arrive early for lunch – around 11.30am – but we were surprised to see that there was already a long queue of customers. We took a numbered ticket and waited patiently. After about 45 minutes our number was called, and we were shown to our seats, but during that time the queue had grown to at least double the size. Thank goodness we arrived early!

I am pleased to say that the food was worth waiting for. I have always been told that in sushi restaurants the best thing to do is to try the special seasonal dishes and to order directly from the chef so that you can eat the freshest ingredients. Of course, the sushi on the conveyor belt was very good, but it was the special orders of mekajiki (swordfish), nishin (Pacific herring), hotate (raw scallops) and uni (sea urchin) that we enjoyed the most. The kanijiru (crab soup) was also amazing.

As a British person who loves fish and seafood, I always find it so interesting living in Japan. Every time I go to restaurants like Hanamaru, I end up trying varieties of fish that are not available to buy in the UK. Even visiting the supermarket here becomes a learning experience, as there are so many fish and shellfish that I have never seen before. It is exciting that in Japan, you know that spring is here when nishin becomes available, and that autumn is approaching when sanma (Pacific saury) arrives. Nishin and sanma are not available in Europe.

Japan and the UK are both island nations, with the ability to catch lots of fish, so I find it very interesting that the attitude towards fish and seafood is completely different. In Japan, fish is a main part of everybody’s diet, and many different types of high quality fish are available everywhere at very cheap prices. In the UK, there are many people who rarely eat fish, or don’t eat it at all. At most shops the fish is very expensive, and at supermarkets there are usually only a few varieties available, which are often poor quality or not very fresh.

The UK town where I was born is a fishing port and is famous for its big brown crabs (kani), whelks (tsubu) and oysters (kaki), which are very tasty. I remember my parents used to buy live crabs directly from the fishermen at the harbour when I was a child. However, most British people I know don’t know how to cook or eat seafood, or don’t like the taste. This is quite common all over the UK. Unfortunately, this means that most of the delicious seafood caught in my hometown isn’t sold in the UK – it gets exported to France, or recently even as far as China!

Luckily, British food culture is improving, and fresh fish and shellfish are becoming more popular, especially in good restaurants. But sadly, our most famous dish is still ‘fish and chips’ – which is not a very good representation of British fish! I hope that the UK will learn from Japanese food culture to make the most of all the fish and seafood that is available around the British Isles. I am certain that if British people tried dishes such as the kanijiru or scallop nigiri at Hanamaru, they would fall in love with seafood. Maybe then they would buy some of the delicious fish caught in my hometown, instead of it being exported to other countries!

Oli (UK)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2018-04-10 15:01 | カフェ 英会話 札幌