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Wonders of daily life

Back when I just came to Japan I used to work with two other foreign interns who helped me a lot during my adjustment period and taught me everything I needed to know to start programming. One of them was Cang – my Canadian buddy. Ever since he left the company he was visiting Tokyo every three of so years and he came again last week for snowboarding…(yeah, my thought exactly..Why would a Canadian guy go to Japan for snowboarding and bring all his gear with him?) Nonetheless he came and I was thrilled to see him. He hasn’t changed at all, not a single aging feature, quite scary actually.

I took him and his friends to Korean restaurant in Shibuya. We started to talk about traveling so I shared my favorite story about how last year I was going to fly to Patagonia through the US changing planes at LA airport and how I had to come up with another route because the transit visa cost too much time, money and nerves. I went on and on about how they wanted my family’s passports and prove of properties and financial background and how they charge you for every call you make and how you can only ask one question per inquiry. My bitching was brutal, all true – but brutal. It was then that I found out that one of Cang’s friend is working close to immigration department. I was seriously scared for myself. I still plan to go to the US some day so I really hope poor girl didn’t take it personally…

Then, I got hooked up on Cheburashka mania. I mean. it was always my favorite toy when I was growing up – it was actually the first toy I ever received but then recently with all the Japanese attention to the little guy and me obviously living in the country of “kawaii” for way too long time, I joined the obsession and got myself a limited edition Dotour coffee mug with white Cheburashka on it. Oh and it’s not white, it’s just covered with snow. How cute is that? There is the whole cover story on his new look. Cheburashka went to crocodile Gena’s place to give him his Christmas present – a hat but it was snowing heavily so he got covered in show. When Gena saw him, he didn’t recognize him at fist but then they laughed it off and exchanged the gifts and that’s how Cheburashka got his red scarf. The coffee mug was available in every Dotour coffee shop but was sold out the first day it was out – and that’s pretty normal in Japan. You should see the lines every time Christian Dior releases a limited edition makeup pouch! ^-^ Everything limited and hard to get is like a honey to the bee for these folks. And I am all the same because I had to get that mug and so I bought it at yahoo auction for double the price…Now, I am proudly going to use it in the office!

And to continue on the mania and Japanese consumer ability to easily pay ridiculous amount of money for something you can get cheaper elsewhere, here is my experience with Abercrombie and Fitch – a preppy, all-american apparel brand that I am so hooked up on and that I truly despise for that. I used to get it online at their official site. Luckily they shipped the clothes to Japan. Then, when they opened their first flagship store in Tokyo, their website suddenly became unavailable for my sad little Japanese IP address. Instead, I was being re-directed to Abercrombie Japan where I could buy all the same stuff as on the US site but with a “slight change” in price. Here is a little example. These are the jeans that I wanted to buy  – in the US they cost 70$ which is roughly 6200yen and here is how much they cost in Tokyo – 19200yen.

The difference is 13000yen!!!!!!! Can you believe it? And yet it’s true. So of course at first I tried to use public proxy service that basically hides your IP address so you can access US site but then it doesn’t let you run any scripts for free so you can’t actually purchase anything. Then, I called my mommy and cried for help. She could access US site from Russia and buy the jeans for me using my credit card and my Japanese address without any problems at all! And that’s how I fooled Abercrombie Japan. There is just no way I am paying three times more for the same jeans. By the way, I found out that if you access US site via public proxy and then contact customer service by email or phone, they can still accept your order even if it didn’t come through web form. How cool is that? Go to Ginza, try on stuff – find your size and then buy it online. Even with delivery fee it’s still gonna be much cheaper!!

On thursday I had lunch with my girls. Lille went to Thailand and brought us back cute little tshirts. Little miss naughty for me, Little miss chatterbox for Gow and little miss stubborn for herself. These are so true – she couldn’t say it any better! We are planning to wear them for our next outting. ^-^

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Alex #

    I always thought that this Cheburashka was mine:(


    March 1, 2010
  2. No!!! I was born first so how could it possible be yours!!!!!!

    March 2, 2010
  3. Chris #

    Hey Natalia:

    I like your blog. Interesting reading here. I have a strange question, but since you’re in Japan, maybe you can help me. I am looking for the new Japanese Cheburashka DVD in Russian language with English subtitles. It came out in 2009 or 2010. I think the original was a movie and then they made it into three parts.: 1. Cheburashka first meeting, 2. The Circus, and 3. Mrs. Shapoklyak’s Advice Service. If you look up you will see what I’m referring to. I can only find the original series on DVD over her in the USA on eBay, Amazon, etc. But not the new one. I was figuring you might come across it somewhere or be able to access some websites locally that sell it. Anyway, I love the cup. Wish I had one. My background with this character is that I used to work at a youth hostel on Martha’s Vineyard and every Spring I would meet Russian workers here for the summer staying at the hostel while they arranged summer employment/place to stay (I am from Newfoundland, originally, and if you know anything of our people, most are genuine and kind). Many times I loaned my new friends cash to get started as some came with very little until their jobs started and they needed to cover rent, food, etc. I loaned what i could afford to lose, but everyone always paid me back. :) One of the girls became a dear friend of mine and introduced me to the character. And once I watched the animated series I was hooked. Now I want to get some DVD’s and stuffed toys for my nieces. So was hoping you could help me on your end, perhaps; because I can’t find this DVD here anywhere!

    Anyway, great blog, Natalia! I’ll read more later as I like seeing how one copes with a different culture, especially Japan (I might go to China at some point myself to study Wing Chun at Shaolin in Qufu). Take care and all the best!

    Chris C.

    June 11, 2012
    • admin #

      Hi Chris, I apologize for my late reply. I am thrilled that you like Russian animation. Cheburashka too is my favorite of all times. Unfortunately what you are looking for is not available, at least in Japan. There is a new Japanese Cheburashka DVD but it is in Japanese with Japanese subtitles. There is also a limited edition one in Russian with Japanese and Russian subtitles. I looked everywhere and couldn’t find DVD with English subtitles.. As for the toys and other merchandize, you can find a lot on Rakuten. ^-^

      June 21, 2012

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