Kittenssss @ neko café

On February 1, 2015, in English, Life in Japan, by 04. chiarac

I love cats! Who doesn’t? *^* They’re so fluffy and amusing and damn annoying xD

Some of you may not have experienced this before, so I’m sharing my experience in a neko café with you^^
I went a couple of times to a neko café in Takadanobaba. It’s near school of course, you can reach it in a 10-15 minutes’ walk! The place is really small, like 2 japanese rooms, and the price for 1 hour is 800 yen. I was told before that spending that much for 1 hour is too much, that it’s not worth it etc, but it must be considered that you have free soft drinks (there’s an authomatic machine) for all the time you decide to stay there, so if you drink something like 2 drinks you are repaid of the money you spent and you get to cuddle some really cuuuute nyanko. :D

All the cats have a name, there are many usual customers who come to cuddle their favourite ones (there’s actually a ranking, like in host clubs! xDD), I think it’s probably people living alone in apartments that don’t allow pets, so they “adopt” one or more of the cats in the neko café and end up going there many times. There are also people wanting to relax, like after a long day of work, once there was a girl who had brought a blanket and a book and was reading calmly on the sofa with a cat on her lap^^

As for the rules, I think they are more or less strict depending on the café. In general you take off your shoes before entering the rooms (you can ask for slippers), there are lockers in which to put your bag and jacket. Before touching the cats you will be asked to wash and disinfect your hands. It’s good custom to not disturb cats if they’re sleeping (some light caress is ok) and in general you shouldn’t forcedly approach them (for example following them and trying to catch them at all costs even if they’re visibly running away from you xD), in some café you can just cuddle them but not pick them up (the café I went into was fine with that). There are many toys to make the pets play and sometimes the owner dresses them up with little hats, ribbons and such xD Once you go away the staff will give you one of those rolls for pet hair removal, they really think about everything! :P

Many café have a free point card, if you reach a certain number of visits you get little prizes such as little bags with treats for the cats (so that they’ll submerge you with their fluffiness <- in order to steal food from you, of course) and such :3

And now….ready for the ultimate cuteness?? Here we go!

Here a tip for a funny day in Takadanobaba: go to Big Box department store, reach the game center and play some ufo catcher and games, do a purikura with your friends as a memento of the day; go to karaoke with free-time formula the whole afternoon, I usually go to the utahiroba near the neko café, the whole afternoon till 20 pm with non-stop softdrinks included is just 980 yen (sometimes they do promotions for students at 780 yen, check the notice at the entrance!) and you can also eat french fries, takoyaki and such for a ridiculous price; spend 1 hour at the neko café to relax with cute kitties :3


New Year + Hatsumoude

On February 1, 2015, in English, Life in Japan, by 04. chiarac

So I was telling you about Japan’s marketing streak, especially during festivities adopted from the West. We usually spend Christmas with our family, while at New Year’s eve we go out with friends and party all night long in order to celebrate. In Japan it’s quite the opposite, as I told you Christmas is especially meant for couples, except for the habit to buy a Christmas Cake to eat with family members on Christmas Eve..oh, did you know about the japanese comparison between Christmas Cakes and girls? Christmas Cakes are meant to be eaten on 24th, so on the 25th a big discount is put on the exceeding ones because on the 26th they would have gone stale and should be thrown away. In the same way, girls are marriable till they’re 25 y.o., after that they reach their “expiry date” and start tasting old. So sweet :333 T^T. But I was talking about something else…

..yes, New Year’s eve and New Year’s day, that’s it. These days are perceived as really important ones in Japan and they’re normally spent with family members. On New Year’s eve the family reunites and eat together, typical New Year’s food is お節料理 Osechi Ryouri, but since it’s really cold families also like to stay home all together around a Nabe (hot pot).
There’s also a custom to give money to children, depending from the age it may consist of pocket money or some thousands yen.

After midnight, the family goes for 初詣 Hatsumoude which means “first visit to the temple”, to pray and make wishes/aims for the new year, and to get their 御神籤 Omikuji, a fortune paper which predicts your fortune for the year in a really detailed way.

I was told by different people that the biggest celebrations for Hatsumoude are held in Asakusa’s Sensouji and Yoyogi’s Meiji-jingu; instead, I went to Zoujouji (増上寺) in Roppongi, it was also crowded but since we arrived there at 2 a.m. it was bearable!

As you can see there were also many food stands and such, my japanese friends ate Soba, it looks like it’s a tradition of the first day of the New Year :P The temple was open and the inside was very beautiful, this picture may help you figure it, although there wasn’t any notice I didn’t feel like taking pictures inside since there were people praying and such..

In the end we got our Omikuji, when we opened it we also found a little charm, everyone had a different one, I got 熊手 Kumade which literally means “bear paw” and is the name with which little bamboo rakes typical of New Year’s are called. Those rakes are said to attract wealth and that’s why, at New Year’s, everyone who owns a shop or has a business and such buy one, the bigger it is the more wealth will come. My pocket kumade was meant to be put in the wallet, it should bring money inside of it xD

Oh, I got 大吉 daikichi (big fortune), let’s hope it’s true! ;P


Ok, questa sera la mia tastiera ha deciso di abbandonarmi, quindi scriverò un paio di cose solo in italiano.

Sicuramente, chiunque appassionato di Giappone conoscerà i famosissimi dorama giapponesi: sceneggiati in stile telefilm americani dalla durata di 46 minuti circa (0 54) e composti mediamente da 10 o 12 puntate (più eventuale special conclusivo di 1 ora e mezza circa). Generalmente trattano diversi generi fra cui commedia, commedia romantica, giallo, poliziesco, thriller, horror (anche se sono pochini), mistero, fantascienza, storia, live action di manga ed anime e così via. Ogni rete televisiva trasmette più o meno tutte le sere (ma anche la mattina e il pomeriggio, proprio come il nostro Cento vetrineBeautiful, Tempesta d’amore) una puntata di un drama diverso. Ogni stagione vengono mandati in onda telefilm diversi per ogni emittente: ci saranno quindi i drama della stagione invernale (ovvero questa) che iniziano intorno alla metà di gennaio e finisco intorno la fine di marzo/inizio aprile; la stagione primaverile che va da inizio/metà aprile fino a fine giugno; la stagione estiva che va da luglio a settembre; infine la stagione autunnale da metà ottobre fino a fine dicembre circa.

Recentemente ho notato comunque che il genere che va alla grande in tutte le stagioni e su tutte le reti è il poliziesco, seguito dalle commedie in cui ogni puntata è fine a sé stessa (quindi con una storia di sfondo, ma l’accento viene posto su un avvenimento/problema che viene risolto entro i 46 minuti della puntata) e dai live action di manga.

Un’altra cosa che ho notato è che generalmente i protagonisti sono quasi sempre idol giovani o vecchi (per “vecchi” intendo per esempio gli SMAP della Jhonny’s Entertaiment), i cui gruppi cantano anche la sigla iniziale o finale del drama.

La cosa carina dei drama giapponesi è che non essendo lunghi si possono seguire senza stancarsi troppo e aiutano tanto nella comprensione della lingua (viene infatti usato il giapponese usato quotidianamente che va da formale al super colloquiale) e anche della cultura e dei costumi giapponesi.

Proprio per questo motivo nel livello 7 ed 8 della KAI si dedica un giorno a settimana alla visione di un drama. Nel settimo livello io e la mia classe avevamo visto “Freeter, Ie wo kau” (“Un freeter acquista una casa”). Dal mio punto di vista è stato un drama moolto interessante che tratta diversi temi delicati, ma radicati nella società giapponese: in primis il concetto di freeter (giovane che dopo l’università o lasciato un posto di lavoro fisso non trova – o non vuole trovare- un “vero” lavoro e vive continuando a fare lavori part-time), la depressione e le “antipatie” fra vicine di casa, l’avere il destino già deciso dai propri genitori o nonni, il significato di essere una moglie e madre in Giappone… In questo caso il protagonista è Ninomiya degli Arashi, quindi provate un po’ ad indovinare chi avrà cantato la sigla finale?! Ma cert” Gli Arashi!


Questo semestre, invece, abbiamo cominciato a vedere “Hanasaki Mai ga damatte inai” (“Hanasaki Mai non sta zitta”). E’ un drama di quelli fini a sé stessi: viene presentata la “vita” in una filiale bancaria dove in ogni puntata accade un problema che viene prontamente risolto dalla protagonista. E’ inserito nella categoria “commedia” ed effettivamente alcune scene fanno un po’ ridere, però per il fatto che ogni puntata si svolge sempre nella stessa maniera e vengono usati spesso termini inerenti all’ambito bancario (quindi incomprensibili anche se fossero stati in italiano!) lo rendono a mio avviso abbastanza noioso. Però in questo caso, non essendoci stranamente idol appartenenti a band nel drama (la protagonista è Anne), la sigla finale è cantata dalla carinissima Nishino Kana (come la sigla iniziale di Freeter, ie wo kau).




On February 1, 2015, in Categories, Italiano, Life in Japan, by 02. veronica

C’è una domanda che viene (troppo) spesso posta ai “non-giapponesi” una volta giunti a contatto con la popolazione indigena del Sol Levante. Una di quelle che già dalla terza volta si intuisce essere una domanda di routine, una di quelle create per rompere il ghiaccio, che potremmo esattamente collocare tra il “Come ti chiami/da dove vieni?” e il “Hai il/la ragazzo/a?” . Insomma, né troppo scontata, né troppo personale: “Qual è stata la prima cosa che ti ha stupito del Giappone?”

C’è un’espressione nella lingua giapponese che difficilmente si riesce a tradurre in italiano senza perderne il vero valore culturale. Urlata, sussurrata, ripetuta a catena, gracchiata o storpiata, la sentirete uscire dalla bocca di CHIUNQUE vi stia invitando ad entrare in un qualsiasi ristorante, izakaya, conbini, negozietto: “Irasshiaimase“. Letteralmente significa “Venite, entrate, per favore”, è una forma imperativa del verbo irasshiaru ,che a sua volta è la forma onorifica del verbo kuru/iku/iru (=”venire/andare/esserci)” , essendo il cliente un’entità sacra. Si potrebbe paragonare al nostro “Accomodatevi”, “Prego, entrate pure”. La differenza sta nel fatto che questa espressione viene ripetuta tante, TROPPE volte, fino a stordire il cliente non giapponese,quindi non abituato a questa usanza.

Irasshiaimase rimbomba nelle orecchie di qualsiasi turista si aggiri per le strade di Tokyo (e non solo), per chi trascorre almeno un mese in Giappone diventa un insieme di suoni familiari, mentre chi inizia a viverci e a lavorarci diventa immune a queste grida. Già, perchè chi non è mai stato in Giappone non può comprendere fino in fondo quanto possa diventare fastidioso questo motto onorifico.


Ora vi starete chiedendo dove voglio arrivare con questo discorso un po’ confuso. Ebbene, dopo dieci mesi di vita a Tokyo tra studio e lavoro part-time, alla domanda ” Qual è stata la prima cosa che ti ha stupito del Giappone?” io rispondo “L’usanza che inizialmente mi ha stupito e che tutt’ora mi stupisce del Giappone è proprio il famigerato irasshiaimase.” Questa è un’usanza che conferma che anche i giapponesi sanno urlare, sanno essere rumorosi e, talvolta, fastidiosi molto più di noi italiani. Vorrei sottolineare che queste considerazioni sono tratte dalla mia pressoché breve esperienza di vita a Tokyo, ma posso testimoniare che in un’ora di vita quotidiana trascorsa in città, senza inoltrarmi nei depaato, le mie orecchie vengono bombardate almeno una centinaia di volte da irasshiaimase. Il ragazzino che mi inviata ad entrare nel pachinko, il commesso del Lawson store, la commessa del negozio di cosmetici coreani (a quel punto mi tocca fuggire correndo per non sentirla urlare almeno altre quindici volte), il nonnetto della ramenya, il fruttivendolo (in questo caso assisto all’evoluzione “aaaairasshiai irasshiai irasshiai douzo”) e poi mi accorgo che nel giro di quindici minuti sono già a quota 40!



Christmas & Festivities

On January 30, 2015, in English, Life in Japan, by 04. chiarac

Ok, I know, we’re almost in february so this post should have come earlier. But due to this and that (see exams, work, I want to sleep, meh) I wasn’t able to write about my december in Tokyo before, however while I was looking at the pictures on my Iphone I decided it would be a waste not to talk about it, so here we are.

For many of you Tokyo’s Christmas atmosphere won’t be a new thing, so this post is for those of you who went back to their home countries during vacation or new students who came here starting from January. ;) And for everybody else willing to read of course! :P

Let’s see, the first impression of Christmas in Tokyo, and festivities in general, is that they come with much advance..for example, in Italy lately we started to celebrate Halloween but themed-sweets and such start being sold like 10-14 days prior, same goes for Valentine’s day, as for Christmas we start by decorating the Christmas tree on the 8th of december (not everybody do that, in my family we happened to do it even the day before Christmas actually xD) and you start feeling the Christmas atmosphere when December has already started.
Japan tries to squeeze as much as possible out of their consumers, the faster a festivity starts the more they’ll sell, in fact when I came on the 2nd of October we were already in Halloween’s atmosphere, Christmas started right after Halloween while Valentine’s advertising and such started from mid-January.

The first pic was taken by a friend in Roppongi on the 31st October while the second one was taken by me on the 16th of January.

The second astonishing thing can be reduced to a single word: ILLUMINATIONS. They’re amazing. You know, in my city the municipality is always short on money so one year they didn’t want to pay for Christmas illuminations and asked shops to pay entirely by themselves, shops didn’t want to pay too so that year the city center didn’t have Christmas illuminations at all…it was really sad xD Well, when I saw Tokyo illuminations I thought about that circumstance and started laughing (alone, in the street, with people giving me scared looks 8D).

Here’s a series of Christmas illuminations and decorations of different parts of the city:

- Shinjuku

- Harajuku/Shibuya

- Roppongi


The most astonishing illuminations were probably in Roppongi, where there was also a magnificent play of light as you can see here.

In the end I think that’s pretty much all of it. Christmas is illuminations, advertising, going to a restaurant with your girl/boyfriend on the 24th and after that maybe to a love hotel xD

The 25th is not really celebrated, as demonstrated by this pic taken on that day, when operators where actually already dismantling decorations and such! Christmas ended there xD

While Christmas is that kind of festivity here in Japan, Japanese are much more devoted to New Year’s day, but this leads to another topic that I’ll discuss soon on the next post!! ;))