Why Koenji is an awesome place? ChapterI

Tokyo’s one of the coolest hipster area, Koenji. It is already popular among the local Japanese and step by step the tourists discover this area too. Koenji has a young and energetic vibe in an area with low-rise buildings, which makes it cozy and cute as well. Why is Koenji an awesome place to live and to be in?

Since, we have one share house called Happy House Koenji, close to Koenji station, we would like to share some cool or convenient spots in this area. This time, we have listed up some of Koenji’s characteristic popular spots! Go there, if you have time.

Koenji is well-known of the various vintage second hand stores, like second hand book stores, music record stores and especially second hand clothes stores. The most of these stores are in the south of Koenji station in the famous street called “Look Street” and in the north of the station in the street “Azuma Street”. Here are some examples of second hand stores.

CLOTHES
There are a lot of different clothes which you cannot find anywhere else and they are still in good condition! For Vintage clothes, Loversoul, Re’all, Chart and Small change are interesting. These are the most popular ones where they sell clothes, shoes, bags and other accessories.

Small change: https://www.smallchange.jp/shop_koenji.html

Lover Soul: http://koenjilook.com/modules/shop0/index.php?id=290

Re’all: http://reall-koenji.com/  

Chart: https://ameblo.jp/whistler-and-chart/

Re’all
credit: http://img11.shop-pro.jp/PA01294/717/slideshow/slideshow_img_6d22fc.jpg?cmsp_timestamp=20190109205535


Small Change
credit: https://media.timeout.com/images/102566928/750/422/image.jpg

 

BOOKS
For interesting and unique books, you might like Ehonya Rusuban Bansuru Kaisha, Cocktail, Tomaru and SUB-store. Enhonya Rusuban has a lot of children books from all over the world. Cocktail is transformed from a full bookstore to a bar with some books. Tomaru is more for people who can read Japanese and the last one, SUB-store is a place where you can eat, drink, listen music and read books.

Rusuban: http://rusuban.ocnk.net/page/36

Cocktail: https://www.tokyocreative.com/sights/7509-cocktail-koenji

Tomaru: https://nakadori.jp/shop/0333373690.html

SUB-Store: https://substore.jimdo.com

SUB-Store
credit: https://experience-suginami.tokyo/exstcms/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/054-720×540.jpg

Cocktail
credit: https://www.tokyocreative.com/sights/7509-cocktail-koenji

 

MUSIC RECORDS
Beside of that, Koenji has some music live bars and music lovers come to Koenji for music. Beside of live band performances, you can find second hand music records in small shops between the streets.
EAD records focuses on New Waves, Jazz Funky and Dance & House Classics. For Punk and Metal, Record Shop Base is the place to be. Be-in-records has vinyl records of the most famous international musicians like the Beatles. This store actually has a lot of different kind of music genres. If you are curious about Japanese indie music, you will like Enban. Enban sells CD and DVD of Japanese artists.

EAD records: http://www.eadrecord.com/

Record shop Base: http://www.recordshopbase.com/

Be in records:http://www.bein.co.jp/

Enban: http://enban.web.fc2.com/

SUB-Store
credit: https://www.lifein.tokyo.jp/thegear/content/theme/media/article/archive/20-180528_%E3%82%88%E3%81%BF%E3%82%82%E3%81%AE_SUBstore/SUB%201%20Dadang%20Pranoto.jpg

Record Shop Base
credit: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DBzSEkqUIAAQixk?format=jpg&name=4096×4096

Tulip’s Japanese to English Share House Cheat Sheet – You’re Welcome!

Are you new to Japan and trying to settle into your new share house or apartment? Or have you been living in Japan for years and still haven’t cracked the code of Kanji? You’re in luck because we have made a Share House Cheat Sheet Series for your electronic appliances so go ahead and finally give Google Translate a rest!

Image result for learning kanji

Tulip Real Estate is a female-run share house company located in Tokyo that aims to support women who want to enjoy the city life, maintain their careers, or start up their own business ventures all while saving up their finances. When living in a share house, not only can you practice your language skills and meet new people, but you can also save a ton of yen by not having to buy your own home appliances. Tulip Real Estate share houses provide furnished living rooms, kitchens, dish ware, cookware, utensils, and electronic appliances.

Being able to use all of these appliances freely at your fingertips is amazing, but if you can’t read the language,  be prepared to run into some issues. Luckily we have got your back, enjoy these cheat sheets and let’s memorize them once and for all!

Air conditioner/Heater remote controller translation from kanji so you can finally know right away not to turn on the heater on a sweltering summer day in Japan.

Next up is our kanji cheat sheet for the washing machine and drying machine. Say goodbye to the days of pressing that one, standard button for all types of clothing or accidentally pressing the wrong button with no return. Wash your delicates with the love and care that they deserve!

  

Most Japanese kitchens do not have a large, industrial oven like many households might have in the west. Instead, 2-in-1 microwave ovens are quite standard in order to save space.

Another common appliance in most homes in Japan are IH stoves opposed to the gas stove. Take note that some power buttons require you to hold for about 2 seconds!

The most-loved toilet around the world, Japanese electronic bidet toilets. These bidets can be found not only in homes but are pretty common in many establishments all around Japan. There are also two flush settings you may find on the handle with 小 (small) and 大 (large) in order to save water. Eco-friendly and luxurious!

Who knew that there were so many ways to cook rice! Check out the rice cooker kanji guide so you can cook rice properly, it is after all a staple in every Japanese meal.

There you have it, hopefully you are one step closer on your journey to mastering kanji!

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Resident Interview: Vitamin Color in Nakano

Resident Interview: Klaudia from Poland

 

We met up with Klaudia, a resident in our Happy House Vitamin Color shared house. We strolled through the park with her and ask about her experience in the house.

Happy House Vitamin Color

Klaudia, what interested you to live in a shared house?

 

As a foreigner, looking for a place to live in Japan is pretty difficult. It was a much easier method than an apartment and I really liked that Tulip’s shared houses are for women only, so I don’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable.

 

What is your favorite thing about living in Happy House Vitamin Color?

 

I work and am a student so I actually don’t spend too much time in the flat. But I love to cook so I use the kitchen often and also love to relax in my room. I have a balcony in my room so I can even sit out there!

 

Admiring the rainy season’s hydrangeas

 

How would you describe the surrounding area you live in? Do you have any favorite spots?

I think Nakano is great because it is a bit of a student’s area.  Other areas like the main Shinjuku area or Shibuya are very loud and are like party places. I’m a student so for me, it’s better to live in this area because it is so much more quiet. It’s so nice because there are a lot of parks, temples, and shrines around here.

 

Taking a stroll at the nearby park

 

What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?

I am busy working usually, haha! But I love travelling outside of the Tokyo area like to Kamakura or Yokohama because of the port. At night, it really looks like a movie with all of the beautiful lights. I like the Chinatown in Yokohama too.

Has living in a shared space help or change you in any way? How so?

I love cooking at night and early in the morning, but I think about others more like, “Oh, people are asleep right now. I can’t be noisy!” In Poland, we make a lot of food that will last us for a couple of days. But because there is not so much space in Japan, I get to cook more and am more aware about space now.

Klaudia’s favorite jogging route

 

 

Have you had any challenges in the house that you were able to overcome or resolve?

I don’t have any problems with the house or the people living here. I’m so relaxed so if someone is making a little bit noise, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve heard some people singing in the house sometimes and I think it’s really funny!

Do you have any other plans in the future while you are in Tokyo?

I would firstly like to finish my Japanese studies and would like to have some time to travel more in Japan. Since I love to bake pastries and cakes, it would be great if I can open my own business here one day and run a bakery.

  

             

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your shared house?

 

If you have never lived in a shared house before, it might take a bit to get used to at first. It’s important to remember that you are in Japan, so the size of the spaces are different if you come from a western culture. It is a good and unique thing to experience here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resident Interview: Witt-style Roppongi with Alex

We visited Alex at Witt – style Roppongi shortly before Christmas and then took a short walk with her before we stopped at Starbucks for a chat. Alex has been living in Japan for 7 years, and is now working near Tokyo Tower. For 3 months, she had been walking pass the house that would become Wit t – style Roppongi everyday. When we turned the building into a share house in June 2017, she became one of our first residents.

Tulip: Hi Alex, what interested you in our share house, and how was your experiences with shared houses before Witt – style Roppongi?

Alex: I lived almost door-to-door an hour away from where I work. And though I loved where I used to be, I was looking for a place closer to work because I did not like riding the train during rush hour. While I was looking for an apartment on Craigslist I came across an ad for this share house. I emailed your company, viewed the house and then moved in by the end of that month. As I’ve lived in shared apartments in Japan in the past I was looking forward to moving and being closer to work and friends.

Tulip: What is your favorite thing about living in Witt – style Roppongi?

Alex: I’m most happy about the convenience of living here. It’s really close to my work so I don’t need to take the rush – hour trains. And I hang out with my friends around here too because they all live near the area. About the house itself, I wish there were more common space s that would allow more socializing, like a proper living room. But I like the set up of the kitchen, with the common dining table and TV. It’s good for the size of the house.

[Witt-style Roppongi]

Tulip: How would you describe the surrounding area you live in? Do you have any favorite spots?

Alex: The surrounding area is surprisingly quiet though it’s just right off the main Roppongi Crossing. You only hear people walk up and down Roppongi and the Izumi Garden area. It’s such a nice area and again, it’s so convenient if you want to go shopping or go out for food. I eat out a lot so I can name a few favorite places. Down the street, there’s this place called Downtown B’s Indian Kitchen. Right across from there, in Izumi Garden, there is a Thai restaurant and a salad restaurant I enjoy going to. Right next to the share house is another Thai restaurant. If you go further down to Roppongi Hills there is a soup dumpling place that’s really good [Nansho Mantoten] and a French place called Brassaerie Va-tout. They serve really good lasagna. Everything is just within a fifteen-minutes’ walk from the share house, including my favorite sushi bar, Uramakiya.

[Downtown B’s Indian Kitchen (left) and a cute, little bar down the street (right)]

Tulip: Thanks so much for the recommendations! Do you have other favorite things to do in Tokyo?

Alex: I run, so I really like to go running around the Imperial Palace and seeing what’s around there. That’s my favorite place to run in Tokyo.
Tulip: Do you discover new places while you run?

Alex: I don’t technically go and explore. I figure out where things are while I run. For example, I didn’t realize how close we are to Hibiya Park. One day while I was lost I ran by Hibiya park and it was a nice discovery. I like exploring, but I especially like going outside of Tokyo. I don’t like being around a lot of crowds so I tend not to go to places that are crowded on the weekends, like Yoyogi Park, Harajuku or Shibuya. I try to leave Tokyo on the weekends. Whenever I can, I go snowboarding or go visit friends where I used to live in the West Coast of Japan. One of my favorite hiking spots around Tokyo is Mount Takao, and I really enjoy going on trips with the Tokyo Snow Club. I go snowboarding with them in winter and on fun trips in the summer.

[HoneyBaked Ham sandwich shop (left) and the small park nearby (right) are some of Alex’s favorite lunch spots.]

Alex: I’m used t o sharing space. Every year from when I was nine, I used to go to sleep – away camps and at one time we had 21 girls in one cabin. At a sleep – away camp you learn to share your space. In college , I was living with roommates too. I had my own room but we shared a common space just like in the share house.

Tulip: How would you compare your living experience in Japan, between living in a share house and living in your own apartment?

Alex: I miss having my own apartment where I can decorate and call everything my own. I had my own apartment when I was living in Toyama. But at the same time, I work all day and I go and see friends, so it’s also enough just to have my own room to come ho me to. It’s a nice space and we rarely get in anybody’s way in the share house.

Tulip: Have you had any challenges in the house? And what did you do to overcome or resolve those problems?

Alex: I sometimes have to remind people to remove their hair from the bathtub, but there aren’t so many challenges. I think we’re doing okay in this share house. There’re bound to be issues that come up when eleven people live in the same house, but when something comes up , you can contact the management to help you communicate with your housemates in a polite and understanding way.

[A view of Tokyo Tower from Sengokuyama Mori Tower]

Tulip: Do you hang out with your housemates sometimes?

Alex: Occasionally . Most everyone in the house ha s different schedules. Mostly we just hang out in the kitchen if we see each other .

Tulip: Do you have any other plan in the future while you are in Tokyo?

Alex: For now, I’m really enjoying my work and I don’t plan to leave Tokyo anytime soon. I have some personal 2018 goals such as running a half marathon and doing the 2018 Spartan Races . But for my living situation and my professional situation, they aren’t going to change anytime soon.

[Izumi Garden (left) and Shiroyama Garden (right)]

Tulip: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your share house?

Alex: I’ve had a good experience in the house so far. I’m really happy with my living situation . The funny thing about this house is that I passed it every day for about three months on my way to my friend’s place to train for the Spartan Race. I remember that 2 or 3 weeks before I found your advertisement, I was jokingly wondering if one of the houses in the area ha d a room for rent. I really wanted to move closer to the area and when I came to the house for a viewing, I was like, I know this house! And now I’m here . Overall, I think it has been a good experience and I am glad I was able to move here.

Tulip: Thank you so much, Alex. We’re glad to hear that you’re enjoying your time in Japan and in Witt-style Roppongi. We wish you a lovely holiday!

[Around Witt-style Roppongi]

Akemashite Omedetou – A Kyushu New Year!

In Japan, New Years is not about popping champagnes, midnight kisses, ball drops, and a foggy memory of the previous night. Instead, it is a relaxing time for families and friends to visit shrines, enjoy watching New Years TV specials, and huddle under the kotatsu.

明けましておめでとうございます!(Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu) is what Japanese people say to family, friends, and colleagues when greeting them in the new year, adding 今年も宜しくお願いします(Kotoshi mo yoroshiku  onegaishimasu). It means “Happy New Year” and “I look forward to continuing our relationship this year.”

Cultural Tip: If a member of someone’s family has passed away, traditionally, it is not appropriate to send them a New Years card or say “Akeashite Omodetou” as the family is mourning.

Otherwise, it is standard to say after the clock strikes 12:00, but not before the new year! At the end of the year, people say, よいお年を (Yoi otoshi wo) when seeing someone for the last time before the new year, meaning “Have a great new year.” 良い (yoi) means “good” and the お年 means “year.”

This year, our staff spent Japan’s most important holiday in Fukuoka, Kyushu! It was no ordinary New Years, but one spent helping out in a Buddhist temple.

On New Year’s Eve, people eat 年越しそば (Toshikoshi soba), meaning “year-crossing buckwheat noodles” that represent hope for a long-lasting life. It is usually served at temples, where many people come to line up and ring a large bell, rung a total of 108 times. The number 108 represents the worldy sins and it is believed that ringing the bell will rid those sins of the past year.

As midnight approached and all were warmed up and full with soba, countdown commenced and party poppers danced in the night sky.

Most people will go to their local shrine to do “hatsumode,” the first visit of the year to the Shinto shrine. There, you will see locals praying, warming up around the bonfire, buying a fortune from the stand,  and having some sweet sake or pork soup. Usually very late into the night and sometimes until dawn, families and friends are chatting and enjoying good company to kick off the New Year.

New Years Day is a relaxing time spent with family eating osechi, the traditional New Years food assortment that symbolizes prosperity, luck, and happiness in the coming year.  Ozoni is a mochi soup also enjoyed on New Years Day, but if you are at a temple, you’ll be lucky enough to help make it!

Ozoni has different tastes depending on the region. Kyushu ozoni commonly features a white-miso base but this year’s was particularly special. One of the members of the family got married and it is a Kyushu custom for the husband to bring a large fish to his wife’s family for New Years. We enjoyed this year’s ozoni featuring yellowtail, it was delicious!

It is not as common these days, but some families will drink otoso, a medicinal spiced sake, usually served by the youngest family member. Three cups of different sizes are stacked on top of one another as each member of the family takes turns and chooses their desired cup. The person serving will drink last and will have otoso served by a different member.

After the cleanup and relaxing time over snacks and drink with family, we visited Fukuoka’s most famous shrine, Miyajidake Jinja. Be prepared to see a long wait and large crowds at the shrine on the first few days of the new year of the people who are there to do “omairi,”the act of praying at a shrine.

Some larger shrines hold a 3-4 day festival with food stands, performances, and handcrafted goods for families, friends, and couples to enjoy.

Before going back home to Tokyo, we couldn’t leave Fukuoka without eating the famous tonkotsu ramen! It was a perfect end to the beginning of the year.

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Airbnb: Norie’s Page

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Japanese Harvest Moon: 中秋の名月 (Chushu no Meigetsu)

Google informed me that today is 中秋の名月 (Chushu no Meigetsu) 2017 with an adorable mochi-pounding rabbit graphic. This marks the harvest moon and the middle of the autumn season.

So cute! (image: google.com)

But to be quite honest, I wasn’t really sure what to do with this information. Am I supposed to honour this day somehow? I asked my colleagues about it and it seems especially in urban areas like Tokyo, the harvest moon is being celebrated less and less.

Harvest Moon Traditions

My boss has fond memories of being a ‘mochi thief’  as a child in the countryside of Aichi prefecture. Apparently the tradition there is similar to Trick or Treating. The children of the town not only demand sweets from their neighbours, but are even allowed to sneakily steal mochi off the altar of the shrine.

Another of my colleagues recalled having a picnic outside with her family to engage in tsukimi (月見) which is viewing the full moon. In the past, the viewers would get inspired by the beauty to compose poetry on the spot. In modern times kicking back with some good food and drinks is enough! But sadly, she also agreed that nowadays in Tokyo, no one does much to celebrate.

Traditional Japanese Harvest Moon sweets
By katorisi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
According to Japanese folklore, the grey shadows on the moon are in the shape of rabbits pounding mochi which is why dango (little white mochi balls) are a traditional celebration food of the harvest moon.

 

But my colleagues did note that in the countryside where harvests are more important, people are probably still diligently recognising this festival. So the least we city slickers can do is eat some dango and look at how pretty the moon is tonight!

Enjoy your tsukimi!

 

Kanji List:

  • 中秋の名月(ちゅうしゅうのめいげつ) – Harvest moon (lit. middle of autumn’s great moon)
  • 月見(つきみ) – Moon viewing (having a picnic outside to appreciate the moon)
  • 餅(もち) – Rice cakes eaten as a sweet/dessert
  • 月見団子(つきみだんご) – Small rice cake balls eaten traditionally at this time of year (lit. moon viewing dango)
  • 十五夜(じゅうごや) – Another word for the night of the harvest moon (lit. 15th night but it does not necessarily fall on 15th, this just means the middle of the month)