Monday, March 28, 2022

I moved to Japan

I am now currently living in Japan! I mentioned this in other blog posts (my 2021 recap and perhaps it was a little more obvious when I posted about my wardrobe room), but this is the official "announcement" now that everything is more finalized.
I hesitate to write and publish this post because I think I will sound whiny and entitled. It's going to be a mostly text heavy post, filled with excuses, insecurities and what is likely unpopular opinions. But if you're reading this, I've decided I wanted to be honest, if only just for myself and to have this post to look back on in a couple of years and hopefully realize how foolish I was...

How I got here
My husband and I share the same employer (it's a very large organization) which has a corresponding office/branch in many other places throughout the US and also some international locations like Japan. For many years, before he met me, he has wanted to pursue the possibly of working in Japan for our employer due to the general "ease" of doing so. We've both known a number of people who have done so and typically it's spoken of very highly. 
He applied and was chosen for a job with a minimum 3-year commitment in Kanagawa back in November 2020. Due to the pandemic and just having to work out a lot of details and competing priorities, he didn't actually occupy the position until June 2021. We made the decision for him to move to Japan by himself and get settled (receive our shipped goods, figure out where we would live, get a vehicle, etc) while I stayed back in Hawaii until I was able to get my own job over there or 1 year passed, whichever happened sooner. 
I half-heartedly applied for a number of different jobs over that time, but it wasn't until October 2021 that an opportunity came out that is my same job here but also located in the same place as my husband's new job. As is often the speed of HR/the hiring process, I was selected in February 2022 and then assigned a start date in late March 2022. 
I was lucky to have been able to visit my husband on 3 different occasions between June 2021 and March 2022, which is how I was able to get familiar with the house, area we would live in and even the office a little bit. This also offered me a small sample of what our life would be like for the following 3 years.

My (current) feelings about the move
I have loved visiting Japan in the past (pre-pandemic) and usually those trips were for about 7-10 days at a time which I always thought was just the right amount. I have never wanted to live in Japan. And I still don't, really.

Hawaii, my home
I enjoy having my family as a support system. From borrowing tools to replacing a toilet or building a cabinet, I know I can count on my family or friends in Hawaii to help me. Even something like carrying a heavy piece of furniture or changing the oil on a car. 
If there's an emergency, I generally know what to do or at least who to call. I feel like I can easily communicate with people. I am not afraid to do my own thing and feel like I'm generally able to stand up for myself. I thrive when I'm comfortable and in a familiar, stable environment. 
I loved my job in Hawaii. Well, not so much the job itself, but my co-workers/working environment/my boss, which as many of you know, can make or break a situation. 
I am sad to leave my friends and family, but pretty much everyone has said they will be coming to visit at least once. However, I will particularly miss my grandparents who I have dinner with every Saturday (I'm the only grandchild who still lives on Oahu) and being able to help them if they need something. My grandmother has dementia and doesn't really enjoy the concept of video chatting at all, so I know she will forget me more and more as I'm gone. Due to age/health, unfortunately they would be unable to visit in Japan, so I know I will prioritize seeing them when I come back home. 

"Fitting in" with Japanese society/culture
I wrote this post reflecting on my experience as a Chinese/Japanese-American in Japan almost 6 years ago and re-read it as I was drafting this post. 
I am so lucky to have grown up/live in a part of the United States where it's not noteworthy to be (East) Asian. I have generally always felt comfortable with my ethnic background and wasn't ever bullied for specifically being Asian while in Hawaii because the majority of local residents are Asian. We grow up eating "stinky" foods, using chopsticks and celebrating our cultural backgrounds. I do generally still blend in (when I make an effort to) in Japan, so this isn't much different for me although I do feel much more like an outsider internally, mostly due to the language barrier. All this to say that I anticipate that I will not have the "typical" foreigner experience that's often posted about online from those that could not pass as Japanese. I will have personal struggles - but just not because I "look different".  

Something that I've definitely picked up on in Japan is the idea of "Do not stick out" or "Blend in with the crowd". Stand out and you will be punished (even if passively/passive-aggressively). Part of that would be altering simple things that I usually consider normal like not wearing sleeveless tops (spaghetti strap tops, halter tops, or even just tank tops) when its hot or not wearing slippers (what you might call flip flops) casually outside. Even just generally not wearing anything too weird in general whether that's "too fancy" (trouncing around in an evening gown) or "too casual" (out in public in what could be interpreted as pajamas/roomwear). I would even feel quite self conscious going out and not styling my hair a little, whereas I might not give a fuck in Hawaii so much. 
Do I have a little too much entitlement to my "individuality" as an American? Sure. I wouldn't deny that. Is it difficult to change how I dress for a couple years and actually look presentable every single time I go out even if it's just going down the street to pick something up? No, not necessarily. But for me, it's just that I don't want to and that being coupled with not seeing LIVING IN JAPAN as an overall positive, this just isn't something that I'm looking forward to. That, paired with ....

Any time I get negative (unsolicited) feedbacks via comments on Instagram, it's always from Japanese people/accounts that are commenting in Japanese. I feel like Americans are known throughout the world to be entitled and rude, but I feel like I've maybe received 1 negative comment from someone who commented whose first language appeared to be English compared to likely over 30 comments in Japanese where my fashion/style, make up or just general face/looks were being criticized in Japanese - only to be compounded by those same critical Japanese comments to have 8-40??? likes on them so it's clear that it's not an isolated opinion. These comments are just so unnecessary to me, especially when it's just a comment that essentially says "doesn't look good" or "gross". 
I also will say...idk, maybe I'm inviting these comments by sometimes using Japanese hashtags? I'm not ashamed to admit, I will sometimes use them to possibly reach a different audience, especially when I'm primarily using Japanese brands that would be largely unknown in the US. But also like...with that logic and looping back to my original point, I use many, many more English hashtags and don't get an equal amount of hateful comments in English? So...? Apparently this might have something to do with my posts sometimes(?) making it onto a Japanese equivalent of a bullying 4chan type forum? I don't know enough about it or even remember the name anymore (maybe it was just 2chan?) but I remember someone who was bilingual kindly mentioning it to me in a DM years ago when the comments had been particularly bad and so confusing in my mind. 
While I totally acknowledge that I should just block them and move on, or, I shouldn't have public social media if I can't "handle" negative feedback, this....isn't about that for me. Like, I 100% know that I'm not above criticism and I don't feel like everything I do is perfect. It's kind of more about how it just generally feels like specifically Japanese (speaking) people hate how much I dress/do my make up/what my face looks like (my eye shape in particular too) enough to comment directly on my posts. I know it's not everyone in Japan thinking that, but the only negative comments I get are in Japanese. And it doesn't seem like people from any other country do that - even Americans. It just...doesn't make me feel great about being in Japan lol. 
[^ This is what I'm anticipating I'll be able to get over easiest with time...I might just be feeling a little sensitive right now, but with how the comments roll in from all different accounts, it will sometimes be hard to ignore.]

I do like Kanagawa. It wasn't an area I had previously thoroughly explored during my past travels. I've done day trips or brief stops for specific site-seeing attractions in places like Yokohama, Enoshima or Kamakura, but I've never stayed overnight before. 
That being said, it does seem like a nice place to live so far! I grew up in a suburban neighborhood and definitely prefer that for more long term (compared to liking to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle during a 8 day trip). There certainly are still quite urban parts of it for sure, especially around Yokohama, but the location of the house and the job is quieter/calmer in a good way. I love our little neighborhood and its distance from the train station and main roads.

Other good things / what I'm looking forward to
  • Shipping times - If you live in HI, you know. Shipping can seem to take forever, even with Amazon Prime, the fastest something might get to us is 3-4 days but more than likely 1-2 weeks. I really enjoy having the practically instant gratification of getting something I ordered online in 1-2 days in Japan. There was also an occasional same day delivery with Amazon JP!
  • Buying from Japanese brands (online and in store) - My style is always changing slightly but I still love buying from Japanese fashion brands like EATME and Liz Lisa and Samantha Thavasa. It's definitely easier to make my online purchases when I don't have to worry about international shipping. I took the opportunity to start buying from Romapri for my wardrobe room already - something I never would have done otherwise. Also, the possibility of buying in store from my favorites (although I still get really anxious about interacting with shop staff) and even discovering new (to me) brands!
  • 10 years later study abroad - A minor thing but just about 10 years have passed since I did my study abroad in Kobe during college in 2012! Being able to re-visit some of the places I went to and did with my husband 10 years later is something I'd look forward to. 
  • Trying new things - Obvious one whenever you move, not just internationally but basically anywhere. I'm not someone who usually yearns for new and exciting things all the time (that actually makes me feel really nervous lol), but I know this is supposed to be a positive. I know that, if anything, this will be "an experience" whether good or bad. 

This isn't a post I was intending to write when I first learned we'd be moving, but I often still like to use this blog as a place to record my feelings/experiences at a certain point in time, so I thought this might be a good snapshot about what I'm thinking at this juncture. 
It's not meant to be braggy or a pity party or fishing for compliments about things I'm insecure about or even necessarily looking for advice. This is just who I am and what I'm feeling at this time and also a wish for the future. I am sad, I am anxious, I am holding my breath but I am also a little hopeful. And I can't wait to look back on this post 2.5-3 years from now and smile and remember who I used to be and what little things used to bother me and laugh. 
Wish me luck!

Monday, March 21, 2022

EATME side belt pleats wide pants & dot tulle choker

I visited EATME's Harajuku location in late February, but tbh hadn't had a lot of intention to buy anything because I knew there were some decent online promotions/campaigns that didn't apply in store! But while I was there, I wanted to check out a few items to see what they were like in person (material/weight and estimated fit). That resulted in this small order!

EATME side belt pleats wide pants in black
I didn't love the initial stock photos for this pair of pants, but immediately went to look for them after seeing them on shop staff Mari in one of the EATME-TV youtube videos. (I guess those videos actually do work for promo haha.) She's supposed to be a similar height to me, and I loved how they looked on her - seemingly elongating her legs and actually being somewhat slimming compared to what I was seeing in some of the stock photos. That's likely because of the recommended set up top which doesn't exactly cinch the waist, but anyway, I was very determined to get a pair after that!

with Rmine decolette ribbon top, EATME dot tulle 2way ribbon choker, Paris Kids hair ribbon and EATME cross wedge sandals -

with EATME garter feather knit top -

with EATME pintuck pearl button blouse -

with EATME ribbed choker top and One Spo beret -

with EATME lace combination top and EATME faux leather cross belt -

with EATME 2way side lace-up top -

with EATME vest bustier (OP) -
The last outfit feels particularly Gen Z but that's probably just because of the cross straps and front and back middrift lol. 
I was actually surprised at how heavy the package was when I received it. I almost thought there was more in there than just the one pair of pants and a piece of ribbon haha. There's a nice weight to the material which I appreciate. I could possibly do with 1-2cm extra in length, but actually the current length is not too bad and I think I could actually wear them with flats/sneakers if I really wanted to which makes it a lot more versatile. Overall, I already feel pretty lucky that a standard size fits me pretty well at the waist (super important for how I wanted the pants to look personally) and the length being 90% OK! If all EATME pants fit like this, I would definitely get more pairs in the future.

EATME dot tulle 2-way ribbon choker in black
This was a bit frivolous (when are my purchases not), especially after my previous order which included a necklace, but I wanted to make use of the online coupon, so it just made sense. Like the cross x cross rose necklace, I was looking for something to go with my EATME items/darker color items in my wardrobe that wasn't as visually "heavy" as the solid black choker, which I do already love and admittedly overuse. This tulle version seemed like a really great alternative. 

with EATME vest bustier OP, EATME cross wedge sandals and Runway Channel novelty 2-way mini bag -
(Also wearing it in 3 of pants coordinate shots if you want more wide views.) Admittedly, from a distance it does already look quite similar to the solid black version, but I know I personally will appreciate the slight variety, especially with getting a lot of mileage out of that other one.

Another small order, but I can't be more pleased with the pants! I know it might not be all that visually exciting, but I love it when my favorite fashion pieces can be easily worn for work without being "iffy" in a professional setting and this fits the bill of a bit trendy but still modest just perfectly. The only way I think they could be A+ is with pockets! The side pleat design definitely is a bit more limiting in that way, but I also love that part, so I'll just deal with having no pocket like in most situations, haha.