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One year in Japan

A little over year ago now, I received a phone call. As I was supervising a class of first year students in a chemistry lab, I left the phone call to go to voice mail, while I rushed to ensure the laboratory wouldn’t be blown up by my students’ slight incompetence. The class having finished with no one minus an eyebrow, but many complaints about my marking of lab reports, I finally checked the message on my phone. Expecting a telemarketer, I was surprised to hear a gruff voice, belonging to a man I had met once before at a job interview. The voice informed me that he might have an opportunity for me, and could I please call him back as soon as was convenient.

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Melissa's Guide

Melissa’s guide to someone else guiding me through the process of Indigo Dyeing

A few months ago, I was invited to a dying event. The exact invitation read;

Do you have an interest in dying? Would you like to join the Takasago dying event held on the 27th of August?

Obviously, I’m always keen on a bit of death, so I said yes. And if that invitation had been correct, I’m sure this would be a very different blog post. However, lost in translation moment, the invitation was actually for a dyeing event, not a mass sacrifice. That also sounded interesting, and came with less chances of arrest, so again I said yes, and yesterday attended the event.

The event was to showcase a traditional method of fabric dyeing using indigo dye, which was either invented in Takasago or somewhere nearby. I did receive an information pamphlet and even attempted to translate it (using the cheats methods of google translate), but I couldn’t understand it. Where ever it was invented, there is a group of ladies in town who still practice this method and were obliging enough to show a group of Japanese, and the token me, how it’s done. So here is a step by step Melissa’s guide to indigo dyeing, as guided by someone who actually knows what they’re doing.

Melissa's guide to Indigo Dyeing
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Melissa’s Guide to Transitioning to Life Overseas

It’s official, I’ve been in Japan for 6 months. What started as an unexpected opportunity has turned into a hectic whirlwind adventure and I wouldn’t have it any other way, or would I?

I would be lying to you if I said my life in Japan was perfect. It can sometimes be overwhelming, confusing and embarrassing. However, it can also be amazing, exciting and a great learning experience. I just sometimes wish there was a handy guide book on how to make the transition into living overseas a little easier. So, being a legitimate expert after living in a foreign country for 6 months, I decided to write the guide book for you.

So, here is Melissa’s Guide to Transitioning to Life Overseas.

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Melissa's Guide

The solo traveller’s guide to taking the perfect picture

In this day and age, travel is almost invariably accompanied by friends, colleagues, family and randoms, begging to see your travel pictures. It’s all well and good to show them your hastily thrown together picture album you’ve been carrying around for weeks hoping someone will ask to see it; but you’re just noticing that all the pictures you’ve taken look like postcards or awkward selfies, not the cute Instagram aesthetic you were going for. That’s because you travelled solo and you only had your own arms, and potentially a selfie stick, to try to capture yourself in the magic of the places you visited. Sure, you’ll always have the memories, but most people won’t care about that time you became Snow White and led a procession of deer down the street. They’ll want to see the proof through pictures and videos. So, how do you take the perfect holiday snap, when you just have you, yourself and your camera. Well don’t worry, because I put together this another super helpful Melissa guide, this time on
“The solo traveller’s guide to taking the perfect picture (of yourself)”.

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Melissa's Guide, Uncategorized

 Melissa’s super helpful guide to hiring (and wearing) a kimono in Japan

So, you’re in Japan and everyone keeps asking, have you worn a kimono yet? Why not? You’re getting a little sick of the questioning and therefore decide to bite the bullet and find somewhere to wear a kimono. Finding somewhere turns out to be fairly easy because during your wanders in Kyoto, every second shop seemed to be a kimono rental place. However, a new problem is raised, you don’t want to be the only white girl wearing kimono, because you already get enough looks for being white without going for the whole “Memoires of a Geisha” vibe. When your friend comes to visit from Australia, you therefore tell her we’re going to wear Kimono together, because it’s something everyone does in Japan.

Does this sound like a familiar problem to you? Well, probably not because you’re likely reading this because you think Japan is cool or because I titled this something really awesome and it piqued your interest but then you realised I click-baited you (I didn’t mean to, I swear). Or maybe you’re more like my friend, where you were interested in wearing a kimono but don’t know how to go about it without local help. Well you’re in luck, because this is:
 Melissa’s super helpful guide to hiring (and wearing) a kimono in Japan.

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Review

Ninja Trick House in Tokyo

Flashback to last year with my Mum and Dad visiting me in Japan. We’d had a full day strolling about Harajuku, Shibuya and finally found ourselves in Shinjuku. Shinjuku is the home of the world famous ‘Robot Restaurant,’ but all of us took one look at the flashing lights, creepy giant robots and nauseatingly loud, kitschy music and immediately said, “Yeah nah,” to paying a visit. However, we still wanted to do something with our afternoon, rather than go back to our Airbnb and nap, so I pulled out my phone and had a look google maps. Located just a 4 minute walk from the robot restaurant I discovered the ‘Ninja Trick House in Tokyo’.
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Review

Fushimi Inari Taisha

As you may have gathered from my previous post, my parents came to visit me in Japan last week. I spent 8 days playing tour guide, giving them as much of a taster, of Japan, as I could cram into our limited time together. We managed to cover Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Arima and my current home town of Takasago, in that time. Also, while we were together, my parents brought me my birthday/Christmas present of a new DSLR camera. I therefore have a heap of photos of these places and I wanted a way to share them with you. I’m therefore going to be doing a series of travel related blog posts, highlighting the places I’ve visited while living in Japan. Hopefully these posts give you some ideas for your own travels to Japan, and also keep you updated about my life living overseas. And now all that’s out of the way, onto today’s blog post.

Characterised by its vermillion tori gates Fushimi Inari Taisha can be found a short train trip from the heart of Kyoto. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to the god, Inari. Primarily he is the god of rice, but also does a roaring side trade in being the patron god of businesses. Therefore, to get in Inari’s good books and to get business booming, many companies have donated tori gates to the shrine. Thousands of these gates now line trails spanning about 4 kilometres, on the mountainside above the main shrine.

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Review

Food Samples, Japan – Morino Sample 

Can’t decide what to eat? Not sure what foie gras is, let alone what it looks like? Are you in a foreign country and can’t understand the language enough to read the menu? Well don’t worry, Japan has solved all these problems for you with the concept of food samples. These perfect replicas of menu items on offer appear in most restaurant windows and, with a quick game of ordering charades (pointing, gesturing and generally nodding at these displays), you’re likely to end up with a delicious meal that looks somewhat like advertised.
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Melissa's Guide, Uncategorized

Melissa’s Guide to DIY Passport/Visa Photos

Hi everyone and welcome to the newest section on my blog, Travel! This section has been created because I am moving to Japan on the 21st of September, 2016. This move has happened really suddenly but I wanted to share some hints and tips on how to live and travel overseas (you know, once I’ve actually experienced it myself).

The first post I have for you is how to save yourself some money by taking and printing your own passport/visa/identification photos. You’ll need a lot of these pictures if you’re planning on moving overseas, so any money saved here can go directly back into your travel plans.
Keep reading below for how I created these DIY passport/Visa photos.