The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 20

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Last time I wrote I had yet another sinus infection. Well, after demanding a week of antibiotics from the doctor, I am better, but I don’t think it had anything to do with the medicine.

Let me explain.

As you all know, last week I decided to give myself some time off/out/whatever word you want to use, from the Internet and social media and well, communication in general actually.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past few months (oh, okay, the past two years) about staying in Japan or deciding to move on and I finally made the decision.

I’m moving back to Australia in January.

And making that decision was what I believe cleared up my sinus infection. It was mostly from stress.

Now I don’t want this week’s column to be all about that (I’ll write a separate blog post), but I do need to say that I won’t be continuing my Daiso column in Australia. It’s a Japanese thing, not an Australian thing and anyway, I’ll be really busy with my new job! (I’ll also be writing a post on this).

Anyway, let’s just launch into this week’s column and I’ll tell you at the end when my final column will be.

I once said that I was going to set myself the challenge of eating only konbini (コンビニ) food for a week, but so far, I’ve never done it. Either the appeal wore off or I realised my diet was comprised of mostly konbini food anyway, so it was hardly a challenge.

I was thinking about that the other day and then started considering the food possibilities in Daiso and whether you could actually make a full week of eating ONLY Daiso products. After browsing in my local Daiso, I decided it is ABSOLUTELY doable.

In fact, there are enough options to eat something different for every meal for seven days. Yep, you heard me; no repeats. I’m not saying these are going to be balanced or healthy meals, but it is food (of a sort). And because I’m an amazing person, I have devised a sample menu of three meals a day and snacks. Obviously, nothing is fresh. Duh.

So, let’s begin!

Monday:

Breakfast: Blendy coffee stick Café Au Lait (‘half the calories’ brand).

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Lunch: Onigiri (おにぎり) or riceballs (however many you want!)

NOTE: Not all shops have these! Wait, I said nothing was fresh…these are fresh (kind of) if you can find them. Not all Daiso branches stock them.

Dinner: Cup noodles.

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Snacks: Banana chips. I can eat a pack in one sitting as a snack, but I guess you could be frugal and split it for two snacks in a day.

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Tuesday:

Breakfast: SoyJoy breakfast/snack bars (all different flavours so you can choose whatever suits your fancy).

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Lunch: Miso soup (whatever flavour you want; many kinds).

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Dinner: Hello Kitty pasta shapes with canned tomatoes and spices or a ready-made pasta sauce (YES! All available at Daiso!)

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Snacks: Pickled plums.

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Wednesday:

Breakfast: Muffin Cakes.

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Lunch: Sandwich with beans and/or corn (the bread and other baked goods are usually at the front of the shop or just near the cash registers).

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Dinner: Curry.

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Snacks: Fruit tea.

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Okay, I’m bored. You get my point. It IS possible to find food to eat at Daiso for every meal.

The question is: do you want to?

The answer is either: A. No, not really or B. Hell yes, because I’m paying less than 1000 yen per day to eat.

Fuck! That’s cheap! That would literally halve my weekly food budget… but… and there is a but… I would probably be lacking in essential vitamins and minerals.

Then again… Daiso also has a section of health supplements…

It’s all up to you!

What do you really want?

I know what I want.

And that brings me to the end of this week’s column and in fact, the end of The Daiso Diaries. Yep, I decided I need the time to start getting ready and packed up and writing these consists of a lot of time and research. I’ve had a blast and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. I will be starting some new projects back in Australia as well as a new blog… so stay tuned! I will let you know, I promise.

Thank you.

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English teaching in Japan: no sugarcoating

I know I’m going to get shit for posting this from someone who doesn’t agree with me, but since when has that ever stopped me? 😉

Everything I say, of course there are exceptions, but they are not the norm. What I’m going to say is the norm and so I’m going to just come straight out and say it:

English teaching in Japan (and many other foreign countries) is not a proper job.

There are a number of reasons people (including me) chose or have chosen at some point, to do it. These are in no particular order.

  1. They want a gap year (either before or after high school or university).
  2. They have no idea what they want to do with their lives (and that’s PERFECTLY okay!)
  3. They’re running away from something or someone in their home country (and yes, I once met and made friends with a guy I later discovered was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, so I’m not making this shit up!)
  4. They love the foreign country they’re in so much and hate or don’t want to return to their home country, so they’ll do anything to stay.
  5. They’re scared of getting a proper job back home.
  6. They did an Arts Degree at university in something useless and couldn’t get a real job (I speak from personal experience!)
  7. They want a boyfriend or girlfriend in that country.

There are a rare few of us who are actually qualified teachers, but even then we are seriously over-qualified, under-utilised and majorly under-paid.

This pisses me off because we’re lumped in with the young, male, white dickheads who come here to get shit-faced at the foreigner bars and fuck pussy. I’m not sugarcoating this; I’m being real and using language I’ve heard more than once from men here. And yes, this is a male problem; women here don’t act like that.

Apart from the seven reasons I mentioned above, there are also the men (and the very, very occasional woman) who end up getting married to a local and who simply settle for teaching English despite their amazing qualifications in other fields. They give up their dreams and settle for far less than they’re worth.

Japan is notorious for assuming that just because you speak English that must mean you can also teach. Even if you can do other things and often times speak fluent Japanese, you will rarely be permitted to infiltrate Japanese society. You are only good enough to teach English because you’re a foreigner and you will never understand or be a part of the culture and society no matter how long you live here or how hard you try to fit in. Honestly, don’t bother. You need to know your place and not disturb the harmony and peace. This is what I’ve not only been told, but read and experienced.

I don’t want to be a 40-year-old single female teaching English in Japan. That is not, has not and will not ever be my destiny. The 40-year-old women I do know here are still teaching English despite being highly qualified and speaking fluent Japanese. And yes, all but one are single. And she is dating a foreign man, not a Japanese one.

I’m not being a pessimist; I’m painting a picture of reality. Google it and see how many other foreign females have a story identical to what I’ve just said.

All I can say is thank fuck I’m not a white man here. They fall into two main categories: drunk/alcoholic singles or unhappily married to someone who refuses to have sex with them after marriage and/or children or are divorced and bitter. And, trapped in the country because they have kids.

I realise this post has morphed into being about multiple issues, not just English teaching, but that’s because it’s all connected.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion and experience of it here. Some people aren’t going to like what I’ve written simply because I shattered their illusion. I’m not apologising for that. Japan (and every other country in the world!) is not perfect and the longer you live here, the more you see. Some people see it though, but refuse to believe the facts. I will never sugarcoat something in order to make someone more comfortable with the lies they are being fed to believe. If you don’t like what I’ve written, that’s fine, but if you choose to come to Japan or to work in another country as an English teacher, do not cry if you discover that what I said was actually true.

English teaching is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Don’t sell your soul (or your identity) for Japan

Ah, Japan.

Love it and hate it at times. Not the country, of course, but the society.

Now when I say/write all this, I will be crucified for some points. Not by Japanese people, they couldn’t care less, but by fellow foreigners. They’re the type who sell their soul and often give up their own identity for the culture in which they’re living.

It’s common.

Many foreigners arrive here and decide to forget who they are and where they’ve come from in order to fully embrace the Japanese experience. I get that, I really do. I understand that they want to live the way Japanese people do because they’re here now, not their native country, but let me just point out one BIG FUCKING DIFFERENCE.

THEY ARE NOT JAPANESE.

And they never will be, no matter how much time, effort and lifeblood they put in here.

Japanese culture and society will never accept you for being Japanese. This is reality and something that some naive people need to hear early on and time and time again for it to sink in. Some people realise this weeks after they arrive. Some people never realise it despite living here for 20 or more years. Japanese society and it’s people will want you to be foreign sometimes and to use it for all it’s worth and at other times, they want you to be Japanese and fit in because that’s what makes them feel comfortable.

Question is: does it make YOU comfortable? Are you comfortable switching between two identities (one real and one fake/adopted) in order to fit in?

Me? Nope, not anymore.

I’m a foreigner here, obviously, but I refuse to be like so many other foreigners who sugarcoat stuff. I’m Australian, we don’t do that.

But at one point, I did.

I didn’t want to change my identity; I’m always going to be an Aussie and fucking proud of it, but I did want to try and make my life a little more comfortable by being adaptable. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you find you lose vital parts of who you are because it’s easier than rocking the boat.

One thing I picked up very early on was to avoid conflict. The thing is though, sometimes you need conflict in order to change a situation for the better. Japanese society is very rigid and conservative and the society is very much based on hierarchy. Us Aussies, we don’t believe in that. Sure, we’ll give someone respect if they deserve it, but not just because they’re older or more experienced. If you fuck up, we’ll call you out on it no matter who you are.

I’ve done a lot of things here that I would never have done in Australia. By this, I don’t mean eating horse meat or drinking sake in a local festival. I mean stuff that compromised who I am essentially as a person and an Aussie, simply because I thought I should try to blend in.

Sure, sometimes you should. But you know what I’ve learned? I’ve come to see that you can’t blend in and why should you? You’re not Japanese, you’re you. And that uniqueness is special and no one can ever take it away from you.

Foreigners, don’t ever let a country change you so much that you forget who you are and where you’ve come from. In the end you need to be true to yourself and not suppress who you are to stay somewhere. If you do, it will just make you sick and miserable. If a place and it’s people are no longer making you happy, change your situation. Leave before you become a bitter shell of your former self.

Be who you, not who you’re being told to be.

 

The Daiso Diaries: Chapter 19

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WARNING: This week’s column has an extreme language warning. If you are easily offended by offensive language, sorry, we can’t be friends, I’m an Aussie and even us chicks have potty mouths. If you don’t like it, too fucking bad mate. To everyone else, please enjoy. 🙂

 

Halloween is officially over and yes, the Christmas decorations etc. have already appeared. In fact, they appeared just before Halloween was over. As in, the Halloween stuff had been cleared and was on discount tables outside and the Christmas stuff had already taken over.

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But I don’t want to talk about Christmas this week because it’s too depressing. I don’t want to think about the end of the year and yet at the same time, I desperately want this year to be over…

Instead, I want to talk about this wonderful time of year for the autumn leaves, but shitty for all of us with allergies. Seriously people, I’m going to be all Aussie here and just say it honestly:

Fuck this shit.

Fuck the allergies I’ve had for weeks.

Fuck the fluctuating temperatures (thanks a fucking lot global warming and fucking stupid humans like Donald Trump who don’t believe in it!)

These two lovely factors (as well as a few others I won’t go into here) have combined to make my life a living hell. Four sick days in just over a month because of sinus infections.

Yes, I’m angry.

And anger is a wonderful motivator for writing. Thanks for the inspiration.

In this week’s column, I want to talk about my top three products that are available at Daiso (the first, all year round and the other two exclusively for the cooler months) to make your life a little easier and mine a little warmer so maybe, just maybe I can get over this latest infection.

Number One: Masks:

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You can get these all year round, but I use these from September to… well… till whenever I need them. I wear them at night while I’m sleeping so that I can smell my own shitty, sinus-infected snot, sorry, that slipped out… I meant to say, so that I can create a nice humid environment so that my mucus membranes don’t dry out (that sounds all lovely and scientific of me, doesn’t it?) Apparently that can cause issues and it also keeps the nasties out and by this, I mean the dust that is sitting around in my apartment which desperately needs to be cleaned. Properly. With an exorcism. Sorry… I mean by a vacuum cleaner.

Some people insist on buying expensive masks, but seriously, buying five in a pack at a pharmacy/chemist/drugstore (insert your country’s word for it here) for up to 500 yen is a total rip-off. Do yourself a favour and go to Daiso and buy 30 in a pack for 108 yen (including tax) total. Bargain mate.

 

Number Two: Hand warmers (known as kairo or カイロ):

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One word: fucking brilliant. Sorry, that’s two words but who fucking cares. You get my point.

These lovely little packs of warm and toasty goodness can be added to your pockets to keep your hands, well, warm and toasty when you dip them in.

How do they work?

You open the individual packets and whatever is in them is activated when the air hits them. I know that’s not very scientific in keeping with the above stuff, but I don’t know and it doesn’t matter, because all I need to know is that it keeps me warm. I always squish them and roll them around in my hands to speed-up the process before I insert them into my pockets. The Daiso ones being so cheap don’t stay as warm of course as the more expensive ones you can buy at the pharmacy or supermarkets, but hey, they’re good enough. Bring a spare two to work or wherever you’re going and you’re set for the day. Be warned, they do get hot.

 

Number Three: Sticky hot patches (known as haru taipu kairo  貼るタイプカイロ or adhesive-type kairo):

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These babies keep me alive in winter here. You peel off the sticky back and attach them to your clothes, NOT your skin. They are super-hot and will last all night and well into the morning if you put one on. I like to add them to my lower back and ladies, they’re also great for period pain believe it or not. It’s like walking around with a hot water bottle, except you don’t have one. Again, you know what I mean. There are also types you can stick to your socks and for me, that’s wonderful, because my feet are often the only part of me that I can’t seem to make warm and they’re making me so cold I can’t think about anything else.

Yep, that’s my top three, guaranteed to make you feel a little more human instead of the ice cube you may resemble at times during autumn and of course, in winter. Go down to your nearest Daiso and find them! And yes, Aussie fans of Daiso, you can get them there too because I looked up their Australian website. And yes, Japanese people (and foreigners who don’t know), in some places in Australia it’s very cold and in fact, just as cold as Japan.

Keep warm and let’s hope this sinus infection (and the ones that will try to follow it up), fuck offs and goes away. It’s only autumn and I already feel like I have the winter blues.

Until next week, over and out. Roger that.

P.S. I’m not even sure I know what, ‘Roger that,’ means, but it sounds like something I should say to end.

Roger that.

 

 

Aussie chicks: a breed apart

Us Aussie chicks (girls, women) are different from other women. I’m not sure if it’s because we have the most dangerous animals in the world and pretty much everything can kill you, or maybe it’s because we’re an island nation that’s been isolated for a long time.

Either way, we’re different.

As my Aussie female friend and I swapped stories the other afternoon/night, I immediately adapted my mannerisms and watered-down, tame English I’ve been using for years and became a proper Aussie again.

“Fucking oath, I know!” I exclaimed.

Aussie girls like to swear. And we’re honest. Sometimes brutally so. We don’t like playing games and if a man fucks us over, he’s not only going to hear about it, but in the end we’ll just walk away.

Aussie girls are resilient. We have to be. Most of our home country is desert and the sky, ocean and land are hotbeds of things that will sting, bite, stab or eat you. We know how to kill a snake and we will.

As we talked the other day, I told her of a white man last year who, rather than telling me directly that he wanted me to be more demure (demure isn’t something Aussie girls do), he told some ridiculous fucking story about the Jurassic Park scene of the goat and T-rex (or Raptor or whatever it was). I had no fucking clue what he meant and ended up eventually watching the movie again to see what he was on about. He’s a wanker (an Aussie term we use a lot).

What he wanted, was for me to be less enthusiastic about sex. Maybe that’s an Aussie girl thing. We like our sex and we will tell you. We will not hesitate to say we want it and as my friend summed it up yet again with her beautiful Aussie honesty, she said: “We want someone who rips our clothes off.”

Yes, we do.

That’s when I told her after four years in Japan I have finally reached the point where I can see the appeal of Aussie men. They might not always be the most romantic guys in the world, but they’re honest and they have good hearts (most of them- like people everywhere). And they will never ask us not to be so enthusiastic about sex. They’re Aussie, hot-blooded men. Thank fuck.

The same man (the T-rex dude/Raptor, whatever), also told me he didn’t like me drinking. That’s something you should never say to an Aussie woman.

Thinking about all that now, I wonder how or why I ever put up with his bullshit for so long. Sometimes us Aussie girls fall in love and do that kind of thing, but eventually we see the light and we will fuck your arse off as soon as we can and never look back.

I started looking into this topic yesterday and found countless articles of men and women who are now dating Aussies and have some advice. Here are just a few links for you to enjoy.

https://www.bustle.com/articles/93044-12-reasons-to-date-an-australian-woman-if-youre-lucky-enough-to-have-one-want-to

http://www.thecortex.net/what-you-need-to-know-about-dating-aussie-girls/

And perhaps the best article I found because it’s ALL true:

http://www.topdatingwebsites.com.au/dating-tips-easiest-way-impress-aussie-girl-dating-site/

And a story from a man living in Japan who is now dating an Aussie girl and not a Japanese one…

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/08/27/voices/love-japan-led-stop-dating-women/

If I was a guy I would totally date an Aussie woman, but I’m starting to think that maybe us Aussie girls are too much to handle for men here, unless it’s another Aussie man. I know people will read this (men, I mean) and be all, “Oh, that’s fucking not true! Rah rah rah!” but seriously, if it’s not true, prove me wrong. I don’t have any issue with being proven wrong.

We like men with balls because us Aussie girls sure as hell have them too.

The Youth of Japan

Last Sunday Japanese people took to the polls in a snap election called by the Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. You can read countless stories on The Japan Times website, as well as every other major newspaper, online or in print.

Despite winning again, according to statistics, 51% were dissatisfied with him. Why then, would they vote him in again?

Some say that it’s because there wasn’t a lot of other choice, but to be honest, isn’t this always the way with politicians and elections no matter which country you’re in?

What I found most fascinating though is that unlike my native country of Australia, voting is not compulsory and with the typhoon and rain last weekend, many people simply did not go to vote.

Secondly, many young people both in the media and ones I spoke to said there was no point: 2/3 of the population are over 60 and as the majority of them are conservative voters, there was no chance of anyone else but Abe winning the election.

I am watching with interest and wondering what will happen when all those old people finally die and the population of Japan has the decreasing youth who will be in charge of the country.

Knowing a lot of the radical students who are already breaking tradition in Japan, I think the future will be very different indeed. I suspect that people like Abe will be cast aside for new blood that will restructure the face of Japan. Many older people wish that Japan was more like it used to be, but like everything in life, you can’t go back. The youth of Japan, with their fascination with foreigners and the Western ways and ideas of life will change Japan in the end. Sure, Japanese culture will still be there, but it will never be what it used to be.

Prime Minister Abe has his work cut out for him.