Hello fellow cyber friends. I have a request in which you may help fulfill. For the past months, I have been learning on my own to become a web graphic designer. To get me started, I purchased a copy of Adobe Illustrator as my graphics tool. It is a great software and I have learn so much. There is another piece of software that goes hand-in-hand with AI, I feel will definitely help me progress. This piece of software is call VectorScribe by Astute Graphics. Unfortunately, AI carry a high price tag which has set me back and am unable to purchase this plugin on my own.
This is where you come in. All I am asking is for you to donate $1.40 US using your Paypal account. I only need 119 people to help fill my donation box. What you will get in return is my unconditional gratitude and thank you. Please spread the word by tweet, retweet, like, and share. Thank you very much for your time. My Paypal account is 'firstname.lastname@example.org'http://allthingsvector.netii.net
Here is a request you don't find everyday. Last year, I climbed Mt. Fuji
for the first time. I have to say it was a great hike and the sunrise looked awesome. I plan to go again this year and am currently rounding up a group of people who wants to go. Yes, I know it sounds a bit strange since we have never met. However, I like to think we have a bound and have one thing in common; we are both foreigners living in a foreign country. Agree?
My plan is that we all meet up at Shinjiku station with our pre-ordered round trip bus ticket. Get to the 5th station around 7pm and start our climb at no latter than 9pm. This will give us ample time to reach the summit in time to see the sunrise. The date is not set, but it will be either the 1st or 2nd week of August, preferable mid-week to avoid the crowds. First time interested souls, I strongly urge you to read up on other climbers who have posted their experiences on the Internet. Mt. Fuji is NOT
as easy as you may have heard or read. I should know. I've climbed it last year. The ascend starts off with a mild walk through the forest than later have you on all fours humping up rocks. It sounds rough because it is. But in the end, you will enjoy a spectacular view of the sunrise at 3,776m.
If you have further questions or interested, please contact me
for further details. Looking forward to a great and safe hike this year and also meeting new faces.
About a month ago, Tom at Expats blog interviewed me about my life in Japan. You can learn more about me living in the Far East by reading the full interview
. Comments are welcome.
It hardly snows in Tokyo, but on occasion we do see snow falling down much like today. Perfect timing if you ask me. For today is a national holiday. Anyone who works for a big corporation or a government office gets to stay at home and couch. The snow had caught me by surprise actually. I knew it had rained the night before, but snowing the next morning came as a surprise.
I didn't go out, although I should have. Instead, I took my camera and snap some photos and a videos I titled "It Doesn't Snow in Tokyo Or Does It
." right outside my door. It's ok. This February we will have a family gathering up at Yuzawa. Plenty of snow will be waiting for us there. This would be Shion's second time seeing snow. Of course, I don't think he will remember much going on 1 1/2 years old.
Snow only means one thing. It is colder than usual. Not that it doesn't get cold in Japan, because it does. For any travelers who are going to visit or will be staying during the winter season here, make sure you pack warm. Tokyo can get very cold. Temperatures can drop down to 0c during the day. Expect even lower temperatures at night. One suggestion I highly recommend to keep warm is getting a decent down-jacket. Don't settle for a cheap quality down. Purchase one with at least 95% down. Make sure you look at the label and don't purchase the jacket by it's thickness. More than likely, the jacket will have more polyester stuffed inside than down feathers. Spend at least a $100 price tag. Your body will thank you for it.
For anyone who are new to down material or don't know what they are. Basically, it is a nylon shell jacket stuff with down goose feathers. It is light weight and retains your body heat between the layers of your clothes. Keep in mind. Don't think you only need to wear a down jacket by itself to keep warm. It doesn't work that way. You also need to wear more layers of warm clothes underneath the down. For example, a sweater, scarf, thermal.
I received our gas bill the other day from our meter lady. O-M-G. The bill had doubled from our last statement and it is only mid-month. Our house is not that old, nor is it modern built. No central heating/cooling and not enough insulation between the walls apparently. Either, the house gets very cold or very hot during the season. Since we are in winter, a gas stove as we call it is a must have. Just to clarify how cold it gets in our home. At 6 am, our downstairs gas stove temperature reads 3c or 37f. I can literally see vapor coming out of my nose when I exhale.
Before we moved in to this house, we didn't have a gas stove. There is an ac/heater unit in the living room, but I figure the price of electricity will be higher than using gas. So, we decided to get a gas stove instead. It would heat up the room faster and the cost of gas will be cheaper. Apparently, I was wrong. It costs just about the same.
What to do now to reduce our gas bill? We definitely cannot afford paying at this rate. Last year, I try not to use the heater as much and just double up on my clothes. It wasn't comfortable; I can still feel the cold air through my feet and hands, but it was bearable. This year is a little different. Instead of just me, I have my 1 1/2 years old son. For some strange reason, he doesn't like to wear clothes. Whatever he can take off from his body, he will. Try walking around the house with just a thin layer baby overall and a diaper.
Well, it's not the coldest place on earth, but it was cold on this particular day. We had a discount voucher for the amusement park, so we decided to use it. Since we went to Disneyland last, it was only fair to choose Disney Sea this time. Going to Disney Sea wasn't planned. It was a spur of a moment thing decided the night before. My wife had requested this Friday off from work last year in December. The forecast looked great, no rain insight and it was after the holidays. Why not?
It was definitely a great day forecast. No clouds and no rain. Just clear blue sky. What we didn't expected on this day was the chill factor. Sure we bundled up with warm clothes, hats, gloves, and thermals, but being outdoors most of the time and near the ocean didn't kept us warm. In fact, my wife nearly froze to death while waiting in line for a lunch buffet at 11 am. We took turns standing in line while one of us stand under the sun. Not that it helped much. We preferred waiting indoors instead.
Overall, we had a great time. My son now has experienced being in both happiest places on earth. However, I seriously doubt he will remember being here when he becomes of age and starts speaking. But hey, that is what pictures are for right? In addition, we got to try apple cinnamon flavored popcorn.
Living in a foreign country can be tough at times when you cannot visit your family on a regular basis. There will be times when you feel a bit homesick and you want to see your family. Fortunately there are services on the Internet you can sign up for to make video calls to your love ones. Such services available are Skype
, and GV mobile+ app
. Certainly there are many more. I just list the ones I use often. What is great about these services is that they are free. All you need is a computer, internet service, speaker/mic for your computer, and a webcam (optional if you want to make video calls).
Last year when I visited my parents back home, I bought a webcam and installed Skype on their computer. Since they are not computer savvy, I also installed a remote client application call splashtop
where I can remotely control their PC if there were any issues later on down the road. Technology these days are far more advance compare to the times when I was a teenager. The latest gadgetry would be the pager and cellular phone. Even so, mobile phones in the early 90's were still primitive. We can only make voice calls.
Unfortunately , the convenient of technology has its price to pay. My parent's computer was recently attacked by this so call FBI MoneyPak malware/virus scam. It sounds threaten because it is for anyone who doesn't know how to use a computer. What this malware does is that it edit your computer registry and injects a script to your browser program. Whenever you open your browser and perform a search using google or yahoo search engines, a FBI page pops up telling you that you have performed illegal activities on this computer and your computer has been block. As if having an FBI logo flashed in front of your eyes isn't scary enough, criminal charges and or imprisonment will be taken if one do not pay a fine immediately through MoneyPak.
When I first looked at the page, I was terrified, but when I think about it. It has to be a scam and untrue My parent can barely navigate around their computer lead alone performed such activities mentioned on the page. The malware is harmless, but it is a pain in the neck to have to close the page everytime you use a search engine. For anyone who have gotten this malware, there are solutions to get rid of it easily. You can do a search for a step-by-step instructions on how to get rid of this malware. Although I said harmless, you should delete it from your computer as soon as practical.
I missed last year's Christmas Illumination lighting in Tokyo Midtown, so I decided to go this year's. It's more than likely that it will be the same. The only difference is the weather maybe freezing cold. It's better than having it to rain I suppose. As it turned out, the weather was perfect. No rain was forecast; the temperature wasn't as cold either.
My plan was to get there in a decent time before they turn on the lights. There is a spot I wanted to camp out to shoot the video from start to finish. However, it seems they have blocked off that area for whatever reason. The area I was referring to was on top of the stairs on the pedestrian bridge next to the elevator. They may have blocked it off since last year's lighting. Instead, I just stood along with the rest of the crowds with my XZ-1 camera and my mini tripod held up high for 7 minutes straight. I was disappointed with my new XZ-1 camera shooting in video mode. As you can see from my final video editing of the Christmas Illumination lighting
, the camera went out of focus several times. Time for a better one. We still have about a week left before Christmas.
We didn't stay long. As expected, it was more or less the same as any other year. My main purpose to go to Midtown in the first place was to have a family dinner at Outback Steak House. Blooming onion was on my mind for over a month. De·li·cious...
A bit late in posting my trip since I went on November 15, 2012. But better late than never. Ever since I came to Japan back in 2008, one of the many sites I wish to visit has finally come true, Hiroshima. Although Hiroshima city is small in size with a population of 1,181,410 compare to the population in Tokyo at 13,216,221 in 2012, Hiroshima first thought to one's mind is the atomic bombings on 1945. I have read history books and was lectured in school what happened on that tragic day of June 6, 1945. We are know the story. I will leave it as that and instead, post photos of my mini vacation with my family at Hiroshima.
All foreigners living in Japan will have to go through this process eventually. For some, it could be just a walk in the park and for others, a total nightmare. My visa is due to expire this December. Once again, I have to visit the immigration office. I am writing this post as a reminder for myself when I have to re-do this again in 3 years. The process is pretty simple much like obtaining a Japanese drivers license
if you have gone through it once. Of course, not all of us falls in the same criteria and certain documents and or forms must be filled out accordingly. At any rate, the process is pretty much the same for any applicants. To make your process as painless as possible and to limit your trips to the office, I have provided a guideline. At the minimum, you will require to make 2 trips. Read on.
Requirements/bring with you:
- Spouse koseki-tohon
- Your juminhyo
- Spouse taxes
- Alien card
- Current photo
- Current passport
- 4,000yen stamp
In my case, I am married to a Japanese. The forms I needed can be downloaded at moj.go.jp
. Scroll to the middle and download all the files associated with the name pdf. I highly recommend, you fill the form(s) at home prior to going to the office. Depending on the time and day, the experience could be like the DMV offices back in the states for those who knows what I am referring too. Do not worry about the money stamp right now. DO NOT buy the stamps until your application is pre-approve. The post office will not refund your money if you make a mistake in choosing the wrong stamp or your application is not approve which is highly unlikely.
In addition to the forms, you will need to obtain your spouse's koseki-tohon (戸籍謄本) and your juminhyo (住民票). Also, depending on who supports you, you will also need to obtain your spouse's or your taxes from the previous year if you are self-employed. These forms are call nouzei-shoumeisho (納税証明書) and kazei-shoumeisho (課税証明書). All these documents are available at your local ward office, kuyakusho (区役所).
Lastly, you will need a current photo of yourself. The size requirement is 40 x 30mm; the same size as a Japanese resume photo. You can get your photo at an instant photobooth located in most major train stations. The fee for the photo is 700yen and it prints 6 copies, but you will only need one for your application. You can cut your photo at home or bring the whole sheet with you to the office. There is a photo puncher avaliable. There is no photobooth at the immigration office in Omiya, however. Keep that in mind.
Once you have gathered all your documents, photo and signed forms, head over to the immigration office. The closes office for me was in Omiya along the Saikyo line, just 10 minutes walk from the Yonomachi station. There is also one in Tokyo. The office hours are 9:00-16:00, Monday thru Friday. Closed on weekends and holidays. Be aware that the window counters are closed at 12pm for lunch. Since you already filled out the forms as instructed, proceed to 'Window A' and submit all the documents, photo and forms. The clerk will double check to make sure your applications are in proper order and that you have all the documents. After which, the clerk will place your application in a clear folder and hand over the folder along with a number card.
Almost there gaijin. The next process is to wait while they verify your application. Usually, they will call your number in about 30 minutes depending on how many applicants are in front of you. When they call your number, they will return your passport and alien card along with a note of when you can return to the office to get your new card. The waiting time is about 3 weeks. You are done for today. Now until the stated date, you will need to stop by a post office to get a 4,000yen stamp. There is one nearby the immigration office in Omiya if you decide to get it on the day of your returning trip.
Bring with you your alien card, passport and the 4,000yen stamp if you haven't gotten it already. Proceed to Window A and hand over the mentioned items. The clerk will hand you a form, ticket and kindly remind you of the 4,000yen. Glue the stamp and sign the form. Your new card is almost in your grasp. Once they call you, they will briefly explain about the new card and return the old punched out visa card back. That is it. You are now officially done and are legal for another 3 years.Additional information:
The alien card has gotten a facelift. Is that all? Not quite. The Japanese government has improved their system on tracking us foreigners. Much like the Japanese drivers license, there is an ic chip embeded within the card that contains our personal information. Make sure you don't accidentally swipe the card over the suica machine. You may find yourself in a jam when the police officials trys to verify your identical and noticed there is no identiy associated with this card and you. The much improvement to this immigration system is that we no longer require to apply for a re-entry permit stamp whenever we leave Japan for within a year. The new card shows prove we are current and legally permitted to leave Japan and return hassle-free.
No one likes to go to the immigration office lets be honest. Yes, 3 years is a long time, but it is still a hassle. When I was there at the office, I asked the clerk about applying for a permanent status. He said I qusalify, but I need an additinally document from my wife's employment which I do not have at the time. If you have been here for at least 3 years, I am pretty sure, you are qualify for a permanent status as well. If you are interested and you want to know what are the requirements, you can view the pdf file for permanent status
(in Japanese). Also, for anyone who wants to know the requirements for 3-5 years status
(in Japanese), I've also uploaded the information as well.