Only in Japan...

Only in Japan…The Hello Kitty Car Park

There are things you instantly associate with Japan. Things such as sushi, geisha, robots, the widespread inability to speak English and, all things kawaii. For visitors to Japan, these are things to gape and exclaim over however, having lived here for almost a year and a half, these things now rarely make me miss a beat. But even I occasionally find myself laughing over something saying, that is so Japanese, hence this new series has been born. Only in Japan… is going to be a photo series, where I show you something that made me take pause and realise I am indeed living in Japan.

The first in this series is this Hello Kitty Car Park, I found in my wanderings of Osaka. Please enjoy.

Hello Kitty Car Park

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Melissa's Guide

Melissa’s Guide to Mt. Fuji

When it comes to Japan there is no greater symbol than the giant that is Mt. Fuji. Standing at 3776 metres tall, this monolithic volcano even has its own emoji (🗻). Not even Mt. Everest can make this claim to fame. For millions of people, this is a bucket list destination and, as I bought my bucket from the same 100yen store as those other people, it’s a place I’ve also wanted to visit. Well, 2018 is the year to make my dreams a reality, or some stupid resolution like that, so I went to see this mountain for myself. Here is Melissa’s Guide to Mt. Fuji.

Melissa's Guide to Mt. Fuji

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Melissa's Guide

Melissa’s Guide to Japanese Autumn Festivals

A cooling breeze drifts through my open window, bringing with it the scent of the fragrant Kinmokusei trees and the distant strains of repetitive drum beats. This can only mean one thing, autumn has come to the land of the rising sun. Unlike the pictured Japan, autumn does not start with brilliant coloured leaves, but instead starts with something just as interesting, and just as worth seeing, Autumn Festivals (in Japanese – Aki Matsuri). For the first few weeks of October, instead of cars driving down the street, you can see massive Yatai carried by groups of scantily clad men. On certain days, you can watch elaborate religious parades, and if you’re lucky, you can watch a Yatai fight. Thankfully, I live in an area famed for its Autumn Festivals, and I consider them to be one of the best cultural experiences Japan has to offer. Therefore, I’m obviously going to provide you with a Melissa’s Guide to Japanese Autumn Festivals*.

melissa guide

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Melissa's Guide

Melissa’s guide to surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

USJ, which is how cool people say Universal Studios Japan, pulls out all stops to celebrate Halloween in style. There’s themed food, attractions and best of all, a zombie apocalypse after dark. Although this is a simulated apocalypse, I did pick up some handy tips for the day ‘I am Legend’ will occur and we’ll all be faced with flesh eating monsters. Welcome to Melissa’s guide to surviving a Zombie Apocalypse.

Mel's Drive In

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Uncategorized

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.

melissa guide.jpg

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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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