Anxiety Lair

Anxiety Lair

[Caption: ALWAYS listen to the ALPACA]

Let’s start from the basics. Generally, I love Japanese lifestyle. I love how everything is carefully scheduled at least one month prior. I love how everything has a starting and a finishing time, which is meticulously respected. I love how every action is based on a clear motive, and the fact that reaching a goal is celebrated wholeheartedly.

However, what I don’t like is blindly focusing on schedules and goals only. Sometimes there is not enough room to sit and take a breath, or no time for divergence or adaptation. People running around with straight -though either tomato red or dead white- faces, trying to manage everything on time, trying to avoid the disgrace of being incompetent.


Random break to enjoy today’s sunrise in my tiny village in Greece [live update – friends keep me informed]

Don’t get me wrong, my hobby is scheduling and I don’t consider myself lazy. Nevertheless, I know that you cannot be fast-paced all the time, else it’s certain that a breaking point will be reached. Yours, your colleague’s; someone’s in the vicinity. And that’s has been happening the past few days in my everyday life.

As I said, I love scheduling. Because of that passion, I save myself a lot of time and effort. I set my goals, and plan a tactic to achieve them early on, including emergency breaks or procrastination prognosis. This style has  proven effective throughout my years in school and university. It still works now in my postgrad course. Apart from one small thing; Now I’m anxious. Even though I know my plan, I know that I am moving steadily towards my goal, I feel uneasy. I never felt that before. The only time I get frustrated is just before receiving the answer sheets of a written exam; as soon as the exam starts, I’m light as a bird.

But here EVERYONE is anxious about EVERYTHING. And they transfer that feeling to you, even if you violently fight against it. I’ll present you two simple examples from yesterday. Recently my neighbor casually fainted on the cashier table – she didn’t eat much the past few days and 4 days after that she is still feeling weak. According to her words, it is a combination of the hot and humid Japanese summer (蒸し暑い mushiatsui – what a lovely, on-point adjective) and her anxiety about the exam. What will happen if she fails? She has to go back to her country, she has to rearrange her life; the unexpected turn of events scares her immensely. As for the second example, I was planning a meeting with a Japanese friend. We were thinking about visiting some waterfalls and one of the famous suicide forests, after I finish my exam. His reply was “I hope you do well to your exam, else I will be afraid to take you there”. In my mind, that was absurd. I would never have thought like that! I would never associate my failure with suicidal thoughts!

My point is, I care about failures, I want to be perfect always, but I know that it’s not always possible. I strive for the best, I gather any and every experience that a get the chance to live, and carefully treasure it in the back of my head, in case it’s needed in the future. Not the expected results? What’s done is done – Shikata ga nai. I’ll stand up, switch my thinking mode, come up with another plan, and at some point I’ll eventually get to do what I want. If you scatter your thoughts and loose your chill, though, nothing is guaranteed. There is a reason why people always advice ‘Calm down’ and ‘Don’t worry’. There is only one thing to do: Start over with a fresh mindset. Plus, remember what my Ghanian friend says ‘Bibia Be Ye Ye’ (=all will be well).


Drink-related random rants

Drink-related random rants

The past weeks were so full of trips and outings, that I feel like staying in for a week is the best way to go, which is pretty strange, because if you know me, you also know that I NEVER do that! Anyway, baito is fun, meeting new people is fun, drinking with new people from the baito is even better. Here follows a petite introduction to some random drinks etc that I came across last week and attracted my attention.


Lab party with random japanese and finnish drinks. I tried to google translate the contents of jaloviina, but the only thing I got was “jumbo jumbo jumbo jumbo jumbo”.


How NOT to make toast bread. Attempt #1: put ham and cheese, text for a while and you get this magnificent colourful result. Attempt #2: re-do by putting nothing on top, and get a DIY world’s blackest black easily at home.


Frula pear soda. It took me a while to figure out how to de-attach the ball on the cap. This thing needs strength!  But the drink was all about the looks after all, nothing special regarding the content.


Precure donuts from Mr. Donut. Comes with marshmallow ears and smarties-style eyes and cheeks. The strawberry flavour of the topping hits your nostrils right away!

little ripa

New Zealand red IPA beer. I adooored the smell, it was perfect for a cool summer evening. And the taste was also full of fruit flavors. Highly Recommended! (Also, I don’t know if it was intended but the name sounds like “Little  -grim- ripper” to me)


How to properly drink nihonshuu. 1) Put a shot glass inside a square box. 2) Fill the shot glass with sake, let it overflow until it fills the box to the brim as well. 3) Drink from the shot glass and then drink from the box as well. 4) Triple quantity in one go, that’s the way to go!


The best flavoured filter coffee around here, for the time being. This one is “vanilla macadamia”, but I think i liked “hazelnut” more. Hawaiian dancing coffee beans – hooray!


Female thoughts

Female thoughts

[Featured image: The closest thing to a beach atm – Omotesando station]

The situation with big supermarkets in Japan is the following:

  • You buy what you want and put it in a basket.
  • The cashier scans the price tags and puts the products in a differently coloured basket.
  • You pay, the  cashier gives you some plastic bags, you go to a counter nearby and tidy up your stuff.
  • You are good to go.

But what happens if you bought female products like sanitary napkins? As soon as the cashier notices it, puts it in a non-transparent dark coloured bag, and even closes the top part with a sticker, so that the contents are visible in no way. The cashier’s hand movements were so spectacularly quick, avoiding a single glance from other customers was of utmost importance.

When I got back home, I expressed my surprise to my Asian roommate and her answer was: “But it is obvious that it should be hidden, I want no one to know! Why would anyone?”. I tried explaining my logic to her, but she was persistent on her opinion, so we reached no conclusion.

OK, I get that the female private parts are a sensitive topic that most women are not comfortable talking about. I get that all of us don’t want to vaunt about it either. But is it that big a shame that even at the super market we should completely hide it? Every woman has it, that’s where the mother functionality derives from. When you have to deal with the menstruation cycle, sometimes it may be hard, uncomfortable or even gross. But every woman has it, every grandma had it and every girl will have it. Fear of buying tampons etc is an emotion close to the fear of buying condoms. However, if we don’t accept it and don’t learn to talk or ask questions about our sex’s private parts, we may come across much more serious health-related issues, far exceeding in importance some trivial social shame.

Buying tampons or condoms, wearing no-sleeved blouses, wearing no make up: everyday things like that are no a norm for females in Japan and such a behaviour will probably give you some weird looks. I am ok with that, because as a foreigner I usually attract the attention just for existing. But what about a rebellious Japanese girl who got bored of all those rules and norms ?

Sweet-related random rants

Sweet-related random rants

Today I tried karumeyaki (かるめ焼き) randomly for the first time. Gosh, I should have filmed my reaction at the first bite! As soon as I saw the fluffy outside, the foam-like texture full of cracks was reminiscent of hazelnut or semolina cookies that bakeries in Greece usually make.


But when I tasted it… SOoooooo sweet! And then I realised ‘Hey, that’s pure sugar’ . And that was indeed, as this wonderful video kindly explains:

I bought it along with a pack of Kokutou Karintou (黒糖かりんとう), from an amazing store in Yokohama called 銀の杵 横浜中山店. I’ve been there more than once, the couple who owns the place are adorable, plus the ojiisan speaks perfect English.


kokutou karintou (sugary sugar sticks)

Next stop: 100yen shop. It had olive oil shampoo made in Greece. Obviously, I was intrigued about who the hell exports this stuff here, so I checked the label in the back. Ingredients, usage, blah blah – Ah here it is , production location – where now?  >>>>>> Only a plain useless ギリシャ(Greece). I bet you , it’s fake af, Japanese (olive?) oil baptized as Greek to attract customers!


olive oil products – fake or not ?

You probably already know that karaoke places are everywhere. Karaoke + live music? Hmmm, maybe it will be cool. But what about awfully designed posters of people with fancy 80s colourful suits, that look exactly like greek summer panigiria posters? Yeah, come to wagamama, it has the proper vintage vibe. Though people gave me strange gazes while I was taking the pictures. Maybe it’s a creepy place? Strictly for locals? I will never know …


Old school, neighbourhood karaoke

Finally, as I was returning to the station, that weird Japanese way to promote political parties made it’s appearance. I have no idea what they were saying, even though I am an intermediate Japanese user, but they kept waving with their white gloves and sure seemed happy and confident. However, no one seemed to pay even the slightest attention to them, one could argue that this kind of promotion is completely worthless.


Political promotion in Nakayama, Yokohama

PS. (From my visit in Hase-dera temple in Kamakura last week) :

What age NOT to have during 2017. Left for boys, right for girls. Red colour indicates absoulute-super-ultra-mega-dangerous age. As for black colour, ehm, there is a slight chance of surviving. In any case, a generous monetary offer to the temple will cast out all bad luck, for sure (#screw_them19yo). As you can easily notice, there is no bad luck for women after their forties. That makes sense considering that if you ever ask a woman how old she is, paradoxically the maximum age is 38.


Table containing dangerous ages for the year 2017 (Hase dara)



Featured Image: It’s super strange to see a map where the center of the world is not Europe, but I guess – it is what it is ..

Hello there !

I’d like to share some strange/paradox things I came across in Japan recently. Nothing too fancy, just enough to make you smile a bit (I hope!)

I think the basic point of considering something funny is the use of English. Correct grammar, correct spelling, but the meaning is chotto…. Not quite as a normal person would have expresses oneself.

Japanese foodporn (Part 2) [aaaand a little bit of Yotsuba~~~]

Japanese foodporn (Part 2) [aaaand a little bit of Yotsuba~~~]

Featured Image: Night sea in Kamakura, the foam on top of the waves was glowing with an awesome electric blue hue. No camera could capture that view.

You know, my main goal since I came here, is to try every silly food that exists. It’s the country of infinite possibilities! Also, after a quick experimentation session I decided that (apart from maccha that will always have a special space in my heart and stomach) my favourite flavour is kurogoma(黒ゴマ - black sesame). Subsequently, I started using kurogoma oil in pretty much every dish I cook at home.

Also, I tried to cook a traditional Greek dish with green beans the other day, you know? Ah, didn’t work out well. The beans that I bought at the supermarket had the correct colour, correct shape, correct texture – but they were not the normal green beans! It was soy beans, the ones that Japanese grill and eat while drinking alcohol. You cannot eat the outside part, so my whole dish was ruined, it was a disaster. Meh, they do say that ‘as long as you live, you learn’.

Finally, let’s hear what Yotsuba (from Yotsubato!) has to say about Taiyaki.


I personally conclude that the only reason the taiyaki shop went bankrupt was because of bad management – Taiyaki is soooooo much better than pudding.

What about this week’s stuck song?
Hydrogen Sea – Beating Heart (Always thankful to Suicide Sheep for the music he introduces us to)

How is Japan after 3 weeks living here (Part 1)

How is Japan after 3 weeks living here (Part 1)

[Featured picture: Ookayama campus of TokyoTech]

I just recently moved to Japan, and the only thing that can describe life here is that everyday is completely different (Please read the Yotsubato manga). The people are truly kind, they may not now English at all, but they will do their best to help you. 

  • The stories about drunk Japanese salary men? True. 2 Parties in my lab and 2 Shibuya night outs later, I realized that the do get drunk easily and that they are super funny with their expensive suits and drunk yelling at the same time.
  • The stories about train employees pushing you to get inside the train during rush hour? True. Been there, seen than, not so funny. Luckily, I get of just as soon as that strange custom starts. 
  • The stories about too many old people here? True. Really large percentage of people over 60. And everyone here is aware of the dropping birth rate problem, they talk about it and seriously try to solve it.
  • Discrimination issues? True. I am a Caucasian white woman, I don’t have it as hard as an African or a Vietnamese person, but still, I stand out and the Japanese notice it. For me it’s a good think, because that way I can easily struck up conversations. For many others I agree that can be a bit problematic. As soon as you walk inside a non-tourist izakaya or food place, they will notice you. In my case I made japanese friends that want to get out and have drinks together every week, in order to help them improve their English. Also trust issues. I, a white Caucasian female eventually am more trustworthy than a Vietnamese woman. At the same company, for the same contract, she was asked to deposit money upfront, while I wasn’t. 
  • English and Japanese knowledge. Yes, Japanese people usually don’t know English, nothing at all. But, they are willing to learn, mostly young people. So, they will try to speak to you in English in order to practice, even if you are speaking to them in Japanese. The bad side: in tourist places like Shibuya, if you look like a foreigner they will ignore you if you speak Japanese. They will try to communicate in English, even if the don’t know how. 
  • It’s quite difficult to find what you want in the Supermarket. All the labels are usually in Japanese only. JUST GO FOR THE KITKATS. Oh, and it surprised me so much that the ‘International stores’ here are those that sell cheese and other western products.
  • It’s the first time that I’ve seen so many people with mental disabilities to actually work and help the community. My previous experience in Europe was not so positive.
  • They have actually implemented a system with red, green and red points awarded for every meal at the university campus, in order to encourage young people to eat healthily. Actually, I’ve only noticed a handful of overweight people in japan, they are so conscious about healthy eating habits. (And cleaning and saving energy)
  • Most Asian people around here are either married around their 25’s or are going to do it soon. Many of them already have children that want to bring here. One of the first questions to be asked usually is “do you have a husband/wife?” . If not, they will usually try to find you a partner, especially if they are drunk. Some Indian guy even stopped me in the middle of the road to ask me if I have a husband, and after my negative reply he asked me to marry him. So easy! 

That’s it for today. I will return soon with more interesting facts. 

hakone (2).jpg

[Above: View of Mt. Fuji and Lake Ashi, in Hakone]