Living Nippon   

For the first time in all of my dozens of years on this earth, I’m the queen of my own castle. I am now living solo.

(In my apartment)


It is almost 7 months since I arrived in Sapporo.

And today, I have listed 7 things I learned about living alone and as an expat in Japan.



#1 Convenience stores
Convenience stores in Japan are awesome. Since I live alone, I find it a waste of time to cook for one. I usually get myself a meal on my way home from conveniene store. You can find almost anything there, and they're always clean, well serviced, and safe.


#2 Food
When I'm not eating conbini food -- I get out and treat myself to a nice Japanese restaurant. I like ramen, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, udon, soba, ebi tempura and the list could go on and on. I like Japanese food very much. Japanese food is great. It's healthy, tastes great, and is fun to eat. Though tons of choices, I was overwhelmed when I arrived how expensive it is to eat out in Japan.

(Food shopping!!! My favorite kind of shopping)

(Takoyaki to go for dinner)


(At Victoria’s — I love Japanese food and steak too!)




#3 Not safe
Sapporo is not safe, it is ridiculously safe. No guns. No drugs. There are some bad gangster folks downtown but there is not very much violent crime.

One thing that I have never seen anywhere else is that people in restaurants leave their wallets and expensive smartphones on the table when they go to the bathroom. And they would go together, so nobody in the party would be there to guard them and their money and expensive electronics would be out in the open unguarded.

Coming from a third world country -- I've never come across such great confidence in strangers!


#4 Job

Probably the easiest way to get yourself over to Japan is by getting yourself a teaching job there. Luckily, there always seems to be an abundance of positions available, because Japan always wants to learn more English. For some people, the job market isn't so hot in their home country, so getting a teaching job in Japan can seem like an attractive option.

It is all about your connections. Once you have a base of contacts and a group of friends you can relax. When people first arrive they typically befriend other expats or people who want to practice English, but making an inroad with the locals is the only way you are going to develop a strong work and social network. It is a bit of a struggle at first.

(On my way to school)


(Prepping for my class — but selfie first)

(Walking to school 🍁)


#5 Commuting
Compared to Philippines public transport, Japanese public transport is unbelievably awesome. (at least trains and subways)
Its subway and train systems are crazy convenient, accurate, and make getting around the city so much easier.

But taking taxi is a absoulutely expensive. Once, I was out late at night, I had no choice but to take a taxi. A less than 15-minute drive cost me almost 2000 Yen. I swore not take taxi again.

(Going home from school — I take JR line everyday.)


#6 People
Being polite doesn’t mean it must be fake or unnatural, it can be more of a lifestyle. Japanese people are friendly and polite, at least the the middle-aged generation. Old people may be curious about your background but might not know how to interact with you. Young people keep to themselves on their smartphones and electronics, as I'm sure most are in any country. People here are always ready to help you even though there would be a language barrier.

The Japanese are very friendly, and incredibly welcoming and I was so pleased to confirm this for myself! It's a very different world, and a country that I highly recommend to my friends to visit someday.
(Haloween party at the cafe)


(Random Saturday night at Susukino)


#7 Toilets
Honestly, I’m spoiled now. The welcoming feeling of a warm, toasty seat during your private time makes going to the bathroom in Japan a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

Who knew you could have so many buttons when in the Philippines we just have a flushing option!

Shiela (Philippines)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-11-09 19:55 | 英会話 教師 札幌

Reminiscence   

It has been a little bit more than one year since I left Brazil to study somewhere else. In this case, Japan. However, due to my summer vacations, I went back home for a month.


When going back home, I got to say I had mixed feelings. What to expect from a routine that is not mine anymore? Especially when I arrived and everybody else was doing something else. That was due to the inconvenience of vacation times that do not coincide.


Despite, I arrived in my city in the best possible moment to travel there. There's a festival every August that colors the city as the clothing of traditional dancer hats. When I was younger I did not care that much about this festival, to be fair. But ever since I started high school, and my school was in the very centre of this festival, I started looking forward to this time of the year.


This is my first experience as an expat. Even though I had some short-term experiences abroad, so far, this is a totally new (and amazing) experience I'm having in Japan. And because now I have this new viewpoint, I was a tourist in my own hometown. Unbelievable, right?


Of course, it is great to see family, old friends, classmates and the such, but it is as my heart is not completely there anymore. Some would say that your heart/soul is split and each little piece of it will remain in the places you went and had good experiences. A part of me is still there. But a part of me also feels I do not quite belong there anymore, maybe that I never belonged so well, maybe that I will never belong completely. Or maybe it is just an impression that I had while traveling half-way through the world to come back to Japan.


Below, there's a photo I took from the August festival. Hope you like it!

Fernando (Brazil)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-11-02 17:27 | カフェ 英会話 札幌

My first time to Susukino   

Hello everyone,

I was lucky to arrive in Sapporo on the 25th of September 2017, which was early autumn so the scenery was fantastic. The green leaves started to turn yellow, the weather was really nice, and the temperature was perfect, around 17 degrees. My friends and I decided that every week we’re going to have a new adventure, go to new places and travel around Sapporo, after that, Hokkaido. The first place that we decided to visit is the Susukino area.

It was a beautiful Sunday night, we met up at Sapporo station, and since everyone was hungry, we went to a curry restaurant. That was the first time I had soup curry here in Japan. We have curry in my home country (Vietnam), but the flavor is much different. Vietnamese curry uses a variety of spices, but the main ingredients that we use are only chicken and sweet potato, while the soup curry here has a mix of different vegetables, which I really love. After dinner we headed to a small, cozy bar. Unfortunately, I’m not 20 yet so all I could drink was Soda and water. I don’t remember the name of the bar, but I friends said they have some of the best drinks they’ve ever had.

The southern part of Sapporo at night really reminds me of Ho Chi Minh city ( my hometown). All the crowded streets, the flashing lights seem to bring the city to life. We went for a walk after leaving the bar. Although it was quite late, we decided to go to a nearby karaoke. I love singing (although I’m not really good at it). We sang for 2 hours, mostly English songs. I tried to sing a Japanese song called “なんでもないや” from the movie “君の名は“, it’s my most favorite song.

I miss my family back in Vietnam but I don’t feel homesick because I’ve made friends with really nice people from Sapporo, and although I have only been here for 1 month, I think I’ve already fell in love with this amazing city.

Avery (Vietnam)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-11-01 16:27 | 英会話 プライベート レッスン

Relaxing summers holiday   



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Over the last month I've been to a lot of new places during my summer break, found a lot of food from my country in Sapporo and did a lot of resting before heading back to my language school. Over my summer break I got to go to Furano to see the lavender fields and the blue pond. I went with some friends by car which took almost 3 hours but took us through the mountains. The mountains were such a change from the tall concrete buildings of Sapporo so it was a nice change of scenery. When we were close to furano we decided to got to the blue pond first to try and beat the crowds but we didn't manage that. The blue pond hand lots of tourists so it was very noisy and cramped but it was still an amazing experience. It was a warm day and we didn't have any drinks with us so we decided to go to furano to get a drink and lavender ice cream. The lavender ice cream was strange as it felt like I was eating an air freshener but it was too good to miss out. After that we walked around the fields taking pictures and since I have hay fever I start to get sore eyes. It was such a lovely place but it was ruined by my hay fever. Later in the summer holidays I got to eat some British snacks that I loved when I was back home. I let my Japanese friends try some but they all thought the sweets were too sweet. It was interesting to see what others thought about something I have grown up with but it being a strange taste. I thought it was the perfect time to let them try it as I was at a barbecue and thought at the end of it, you might want something for dessert that is sweet. Over my summer holidays I didn't do much. Mainly talked to my friends from my share house or talked to my friends from Scotland over the internet net. I don't like extremely warm weather and this summer was very hot. Scottish people burn easily so I didn't want to look like a tomato. So I just relaxed, slept and prepared to go back to school. It was a fun summer holiday but next time I hope I'll be able to go more places since my Japanese will be better. Thanks for reading!

Adam (Scotland)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-08-29 12:57 | 英会話 個人 レッスン 札幌

Finally summer break, after all.   

So what is there to tell about summer life in Sapporo.

For now I am enjoying my spare time.
Of course I have planned to travel in Japan a little. I am looking forward to go for a few days to Niseko that is said to be a really nice travel destination with great scenery. Start of September I also was invited to visit a friend in Chiba, but up till now my break was more relaxation than eventful. Therefore what have I done with my moderate leisure time so far?

Near to my apartment there is a small café/bar. Because I have a test after the break I currently learn a lot Japanese. But writing grammar exercises and Kanji for hours just is neither the most satisfying task nor the most helpful for actually using or speaking a language. For this I started going to this shop to talk to the owner and other customers. In such a casual setting, sitting together with native speakers, it feels comfortable to experiment with speaking and not being afraid of making mistakes. Already I feel how my speaking has improved.

Another thing I have been doing a lot is reading. Gladly I have rediscovered my capabilities. As a kid I used to read a lot and even the bigger books didn't last long. Over the years I always felt that I had lost the ability to read as curiously and passionately as before. Recently even shorter books took a longer time than I was used to. Over the last two weeks I already read two fairly long books and still going with the next. With his great writing style and amazing world-building I developed a love for the books of China Miéville. The first I read was a historical narrative of the Russian Revolution 1917. In an interesting mixture of compelling writing and proper research it gives not only great insight into many aspects of this significant historical event but also makes for an entertaining reading. The author is quite renowned especially for his works in Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
The Bas-Lag book series, I started reading after that, consists of the titles "Perdido Street Station", "The Scar" and "Iron Council". It is hard to put the trilogy into a genre but it definitely is fiction. The press has called him an author of the "New Weird" which fits very well in my opinion.
"Perdido Street Station", the first of the series, tells a mysterious story revolving around a quirky scientist and his group of friends that face unforeseen troubles. It is impressive, how in these books, a complex society is created with so many minutely described details. I am looking forward to see the other stories unfold now that I have finished "Perdido Street Station".

So much for my summer break so far. In my next blog I hope to be able to report about my travels to you.

Jan (Germany)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-08-27 12:21 | 英会話 教師 札幌