!!Coming soon!!

Here is the list of the up and coming post on Gaijinlife

Internet and Manga Cafes

An interview with Dan from Japanese castle explorer.com

money gifts gosyugi

skateboarding in Tokyo and Japan

Koishikawa Korakuen Garden in Bunkyo-ku

Tips to understand Japanese’s sense of humor

Many more post coming in the next weeks


Here is the picture of the day

This picture was taken by Guillaume Marcotte form tokyoluv.com

The shibuya crossing

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An interview with Guillaume Marcotte from Tokyoluv

Today I’m bringing you in the world of Guillaume Marcotte or as most people call him Mac. Guillaume is a French Canadian from Montreal. He moved in Tokyo in November 2009, to in a way escape the dreaded Canadian winter and to accomplish a dream of his. Mac is an urban fan, he love the atmosphere and the vibration of a big city. He grew up in the suburbs around Montreal, when he got is first job he quickly made the move to the city of Montreal and ever since kept his passion for big metropolis. Now he lives in one of the biggest and busiest city in the world Tokyo.

Here is Mac

Guillaume is an up and coming photographer, he owns the www.tokyoluv.com website which

as an incredible daily collection of photos, and he now writes and takes picture for the famous Japanese fashion website xojapan.jp.

Here is my interview with Mac

Hello Guillaume, how are you today?

” I’m doing pretty fine today”

What is your favorite quote or life motto?

”You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

When did you start photographing?

”Not so long ago unlike many people think, just over a year. But since I got my first SLR I’ve shot every day, everything, with everyone. I’ve learned from great photographers and I think my graphic design background

help me progress in photography.”

What are your interest in Japan?

”Tokyo, I’ve always loved city, I’ve grew up in the suburb and as soon I got a job to pay a rent I moved to Montreal. I also went to New-York city countless times and now I moved in the biggest and most interesting city in the world.”

What truly touch you since you moved to Japan?

”It’s the people maybe, or at least how respectful everyone are to each other, I wish it could be the same in north America. I think it is something we are lacking else where in the world.”

Do you speak Japanese?

”I speak English , French and I’ve been trying to improve on my Japanese’, but I’m still at basic conversation level, like, “Bar” conversation level hehe.”

What did living in Japan brought you in your life?

”Joy, maybe… I wasn’t unhappy back home, but it seems like every day in Japan is a new adventure. I am always meeting new people and experiencing unique stuff, I guess the kind of work I do help thought…”

Where do you

picture your self in 5 years?

”If it’s not a photographer in Tokyo, then I really don’t want to think about it. Plus as long as I find work to pay my rent and onigiri I’ll stay around here.”

What kind of music do you like? any Japanese bands?

”I love electro music, my favorite band are Boys Noize, The Qemists and MSTRKRFT. I also like smooth stuff like shirft, Emiliana Torrini and Radiohead. I don’t know many Japanese artist beside FLOPPY and Hatsune Miku, if she really count like one ^_^”

And to finish off could you tell us what are you working on at the moment?

Well of course there is always my website tokyoluv.com which I try to update everyday with some original photos, also I’ve recently start blogging for xojapan.jp a blog about fashion in Tokyo, those people are super cool. I’ve been shooting more and more fashion lately and I have a new project in progress that I will announce soon. I’m always open to collaboration and proposition too! ^_^

Of course I strongly recommend you to visit his web site.

If you are also interested to communicate with Guillaume all his contact info are on his web site or just click here

It was a pleasure fo me to bring you a little insight in the life of a gaijin photographer in Japan hope you liked it.

Yugo

I will leave you with some of my favorite pictures taken by Mac and that you can view on his web site.

all the pictures used in this post are copyrighted and belong to Guillaume Marcotte

New video section

Today I just added a new video section, it’s just under the calendar on the far right!

I will constantly add new videos on there, video that in my opinion are worth watching. Of course all about Japan related stuff.

Plus you can visit for more of my favorite videos

http://vodpod.com/gaijinlife

Hope you will enjoy.



Impressive views of Tokyo

On a beautiful day in June, I was walking to a post office near Asaka city. After going to the post office I stopped at a near by river. Sitting near a river in Tokyo is a must do in summer, those of you living in Japan will understand me. It so hot here and humid. All of a sudden I saw a weird thing in the sky. It was a blimp! Actually it was the world largest zeplin, the Zeppelin NT of Nippon Airship Corporation.

Seeing this beast in the sky was pretty nice. I must say the Tokyo sky or Japan sky is incredibly fun to watch. There is a lot of chopper and plane traffic especially military ones. Back in Canada the sky is not so entertaining except for commercial airplane.

Not long ago I was surfing the web to find a good panoramic picture of Chiba city. I came up on an article on the NT zeppelin. The night pictures of Tokyo and the surrounding took from the blimp are amazingly beautiful, I need to share them with you on my blog. Here their are!

Tokyo and Mt Fuji

Saitama City

(near where I currently live)

Tokyo Tower

Ripongi and the Tokyo tower

Shibuya

Shinjuku


Tokyo Dome


Imperial Palace


Chiba city

Rainbow Bridge and Odaiba

Akihabara

River City

Toyosu and Tokyo Disney Resort in the distance



Sapporo and the anual snow festival

Ooooh Sapporo wow what a city. I lived in Sapporo for a year, actually my first year in Japan. I must say it was one of the most comfortable city were i lived in Japan. People from Sapporo are extremely nice and welcoming. There is a really small population of gaijin living in Sapporo which I must say makes living there a little bit more special. The city is kind of small if you compare it to some other major cities in Japan. It size make’s it warmer and comforting, you don’t get the vibe of a big city. Living in Sapporo makes all the life easier everything you want and you need within 10min of walk or metro. Like the roads too! In the urban district the roads are laid to make grid.  If you like to go out for a drink or more , you don’t have to worry about the metro closing at 12am and all that in Sapporo, because taking a taxi to the hotel or home will be relatively cheap. Of course the city has some down sides. The island and prefecture of Hokkaido where Sapporo is situated  does not have a major history in japan apart from being small agricultural settlement. Which mean there is not a lot of old temple, most of them are new. There is no castle in Hokkaido. The Sapporo city surrounding area are full of nature and beautiful scenery. It is near the Toyohira River, on the western and southern part of Sapporo you can see many mountains including Mount Teine, Maruyama, and Mount Moiwa, as well as a lot of rivers including the Ishikari River, Toyohira River, and Sousei River.

If you are traveling to Sapporo there are many places you should check out!

The Sapporo beer factory


It a really important and historical building in Sapporo. It is a bit out side of the city itself but easily accessible by public transports. At the factory there is a museum you can visit about he Sapporo beer brand and the process of making beer. The museum is relatively cheap around 10$ per adult.

The Sapporo Factory


The Sapporo Factory is the old beer factory that was transformed into a shopping mall. It’s a really nice shopping center 1/2 modern and te other 1/2 in the old factory. On the in side there is an impressive glass dome which is fully illuminated and decorated for the winter holidays. It is near odori station and accessible in metro or buses.

Susukino and Tanokikoji


Susukino is where the night life happens, there is a multitude of nightclubs, bars, dance clubs, restaurant, lat night shopping and adult entertainment. But when I say adult entertainment it’s mostly for Japanese only, maybe if you speak really good Japanese. Susukino is also where you can find the famous Sapporo Ramen Yokocho which is the ramen alley. Over there you will find a multitude of incredibly delicious ramen shops. Be sure to try the miso ramen because it’s birthplace was Sapporo. Betwin Susukino and Odori park you can find Tanokikoji The oldest Shopping center if I can say in Sapporo.The Tanokikoji is a street which is covered, the circulation is closed on that street. really near tanokikoji 6 you can find the Norubesa a building with a ferris wheel on its roof and the famous Gaijin bar where my name is probably somewhere on the wall of the second floor if they did not repaint.

The Sapporo Jr tower


If you visit Sapporo you will pass by the Jr tower. It is the main train station in Sapporo. The Jr building is the highest in Sapporo. There is an observatory on the last floor where you can admirer a splendid view of the city. You will also find a shopping center in the tower and a hotel. If you are adventurous you can go in the 2 basement floors where you will find more shops in different underground passage and metro passage. If it cold outside or snowy you can always walk from the Jr station to Odori park and Susukino because those 3 area of the city are connected with an intricate underground system.


Odori park and the T.V. tower

In the middle of Sapporo you can fine an impressively big park. It’s called Odori park. In Summer the park is full of flower and is a really nice place to picnic or to sit down and relax. In winter the park is not so attractive but during Christmas time you can witness the Odori park illumination. All the trees and the T.V. tower are illuminated and it makes for a really pleasant holiday feeling. During February the Odori park transform into the annual snow-festival also known as the yukimatsuri.  It you walk to Odori park 1 you will be confronted to the Sapporo T.V. Tower. The tower is a nice vantage point to admire Odori park and downtown Sapporo. The tower is not as high and massive has Tokyo tower but it’s a fun activity. Of course Odori park is not a place that you will spend an awful amount of time but its a really nice stop to put on your list wile visiting Sapporo.

The Sapporo sweet’s factory

Shiroikoibito park



This is a special place in Sapporo. It is kind of far from downtown but I think that if you are in the Sapporo Area for a week or more you should plan a trip the sweet’s factory.  First time I went there I was impressed. You know the Willy Wonka factory!? This is it!! The Shiroikoibito is the Willy Wonka factory.  The building look like a big Swiss inspired castle. Just having that view makes you get in a childish mood. If you are visiting during the summer you will be able to see beautifully maintain gardens. Making your way inside will revive your inside child. You will be treated with a wonderful architecture and an old European style. The Factory museum is the host of a major tea-cup and accessories collection, an old toy and memorabilia collection and sweet confection activities.  If you want to have a great time I would plan 3 or 4 hour to visit the factory. The sweets made at this factory are famous all around Japan and the factory is a major attraction for Japanese tourist in the Sapporo region.

I’m sure I could write even more about things to see or to do in Sapporo. It’s a great city and region in Japan. lots of things to do, lots of nature, incredibly good food especially sushi and wonderful people. I would now like to finish this post with 2 events in Hokkaido that are 2 must see in a life time.


Sounkyo ice fall festival


The little village of Sounkyo, is situated at the foot of mont Kurodake (1984meters) in Japan’s largest national park, Daisetsuzan.  The city of Sounkyo is mostly an Onsen (hot spring) village, with a population of about 300. It takes about 2 hours to get to the village from Sapporo. The multitude of Onsen resorts gives you the possibility to enjoy a traditional Japanese activity. During your stay there you will be able to relax in a hot bath filed with natural mineral water and relax in a traditional Japanese hotel room. From january 23th to March 28th the city of Sounkyo holds its anual Ice fall festival. The festival is really a magical place. They transform the ice falls in big sculptures, slides and even a shrine. At night you can enjoy a wonderful view of the festival and some fireworks. Every time im in Hokkaido i take the time to stop there for a week-end. There is also a lot of travel agencies in Sapporo that offerweekend trips, a popular one is Asaikawa zoo, Sounkyo and Mombetsu.

The Sapporo snow festival

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri さっぽろ雪まつり

Every year in the 2 first weeks of February, the city of Sapporo hold’s its annual snow festival.The first festival began in 1950, at that time six local high school students built snow statues in Odori Park. In 1955, the Japan Self-Defense Forces from the nearby  base joined in and built the first massive snow sculptures, for which the Snow Festival has now become famous. The festival is one of Japan’s largest winter festival. International Snow Sculpture Contest has been held at the Odori Park site since 1974.Every year the number of statues displayed is around 400 in total. In 2007, there were 307 statues created in the Odori Park site, 32 in the Satoland site and 100 in the Susukino site. One of the best place to view the creations is from the TV Tower. Most of the statues are illuminated in the evening.  In the susukino district, on the main strip you can see some 100’s of ice statues and even an ice bar. I’m from Canada so obviously I don’t mind the cold, if you’re like me and not afraid of the cold and you love winter the Snow festival is the place for you. During the festival brings many Gaijin to Sapporo which makes the nigh life even more interesting.



Here is some useful links about Sapporo check them out!

The Sapporo tourist assosiation.

http://www.sta.or.jp/english/index.html

City of Sapporo

http://www.city.sapporo.jp/city/english/

iPhone and iTouch Japan related App’s

I’ve being living in Japan for 3 years now, 1 of those 3 year was made easier. It was made easier with the use of one tool that I now love the iPhone or iTouch. I’m not going to talk about the actual machine most of you already know what it is. I want to talk about some applications that I find brilliant. I would like to point out that most application are not free. There is always the option to Jailbreak your iPhone or iTouch. The jailbreak in simple terms will allow you to use a program that will enable you to download App’s for free and apply some changes in the iTouch or iPhone itself.

I do not recommended or suggest that you Jailbreak, I’m only informing you. Search the web for more info on that topic. Back to the Japan related App’s, I will break all App’s in categories.

  • Language App’s

All sorts of App about Japanese


Japanese

by Mark Gansicke, size 48.1MB. Price 19.99$

Language supported: Japanese and English

Japanese is suppose to be a dictionary app but I must say it more a kanji repertory to me. If you are looking for an App that will help you’re traveling needs in Japanese this App is not for you. If you are unfamiliar with Japanese you will get lost. The search functions are not really easy to use and the results could be better. The positive point of this App is if you are familiar with Japanese or are studying it. This App will greatly help you learning kanji’s, the classification systems of the kanji’s is really nicely like JPLT 1,2,3,4 categories, by strokes categories, by school year and much more.

Overall:

For travel purpose I think it’s not worth the money.

For studying purpose or for someone living in Japan it really worth the money. A really good addition to a Japanese learning arsenal.


Jisho Touch

by James Van Dyne, size 34.8MB Price 9.99$

byJames Van Dyne, size 34.8MB Price 9.99$

Language suported E

nglish, German, Japanese, French and Russian

This for me is a real dictionary App, Jisho Touch let search for a word in a multitude of language then give’s you the Japanese romaji Hiragana and Kanji translation. It really simple to use really fast. The dictionary has over 100,000 words and lets you even bookmark your favorite or mostly used words. Me I use this program everyday, from using it to study, make a kanji translation or check for a word I don’t understand. It’s really amazing! Plus it’s a really affordable App only 9.99$. The only thing I could say is that if you are using this App for traveling purpose it will not give you sentences or expression only words.

Overall:

This App is for everyone, student worker in Japan, travelers anyone. It’s a must buy

Talking Japanese Phrasebook by iDev entertainment, size 6.6MB Price 0.99$

Language suported: English

If you are a traveler to Japan, first timer or veteran this is your App. It’s a really nicely made App that has over 500 words and phrases for any situation in Japanese. The organization of this App is really simple and functional. W

hen you chose a phrase you will have the audio Japanese version plus you will have a romaji, Japanese and English written translation. Little side notes sometimes the translations could be shorter or easier but overall really good and everyone will understand what you need or want.

Overall:

This is the app for all travelers to Japan, I really recommend it. Even for people using Japanese daily this App could still be useful.

I would like to also recommend these app’s for Japanese

Japanese Verb Conjugator Is a really nice App that helps you with verbs. rating 4/5

Japanese Flip is an App that helps you study and practice Kanji’s. Mostly for people studying for the JPLT 3/5

There is a new

Dictionary App on the block it’s called Daiiisen Jpn-Jpn Dictionary from a Japanese company Shogakukan. I will try this App shortly and up date this post after.

  • Transportation App’s

All sorts of App’s for you

r Japan transportation need’s

First off, if your living in Japan using your cellphone with yahookeitai or google via your cellphone internet, are still two of the best way’s to find info on transportation. Japan transport system is really efficient but for travelers and even people living in japan, it can be really complicate. Knowing where you’re going is sometime not enough. Here’s some App’s that could help you around.

Tokyo subway 2009 by Eric Redlinger, size 4.2MB Price 2.99$

It was known before as Tokyo Metro, the new edition is quite similar to the old one. With this App you have a map of the Tokyo metro, individual map’s of all the Tokyo metro lines and a list of metro connection and train connection for each station in the Tokyo metro. I find this App really practical, if I’m on the go in Tokyo and I’m not sure i have my map on my phone. Sometime the map’s in some stations in Japan are only in Japanese, having a digital map in English can be really resourceful. If you’re planing a trip to Tokyo, this would be a must have App.

Overall:

Really easy to use and practical.

For every one going to Tokyo. Downside I did not like the main map zoom in and out system. Great buy.


Japan subway rout map by Kazuhiko Inoue, size 20.6MB Price 1.99$

I just got this App today, at first I must say I really like the map’s in general. Unlike Tokyo metro the main map is more versatil in terms of zooming and mobility. I did not have the chance fully use this App but for all I see it’s a beef up version of Tokyo subway. Only downside I see now is that it’s suppose to have Osaka and Nagoya subways maps too but I can seamed to find them. Like the Tokyo subway App this one is a must have. Having one or the other is a personal choices but Japan subway rout has exit’s plans for the Tokyo metro which is really sweet.

Overall:

Nice interface, good usability. For e

veryone going to Tokyo. Great Buy like Tokyo subway

There is also a many App for trains information. I never used them because my Japanese cellphone service allow me to have faster information on trains or schedule.

  • Fun Japanese related App’s

Japan related games and fun App’s

Ikoto is an App that let’s you play the Japanese koto a guitar like traditional instrument. You can also record 3 songs on this App.

Samurai way of the warrior lets you play a 2D slash and kill samurai game. It has a fun game play and nice art work. It can become repetitive.

Draw slasher ninja Vs Zombie Pirates is an other slash and kill game with a fun game play interaction.

I am Ninja let’s you become a Ninja. this game is from the guy’s of Ask a Ninja.




If you want more information on those iPhone, iTouch applications you can visit the Apple Appstore, youtube for videos on App or search the web.

Odaiba and the giant Gundam

Odaiba お台場  is a city in Tokyo,  to be more precise it is a artificial island in the Tokyo bay. It as a wonderful view of Tokyo and the Rainbow bridge. I prefer the view at night, it as a crazy vibe to it. It could be classified has magical, from my point of view. I would even recommend taking a little boat bus from Asakusa to Odaiba. It’s a wonderful, nice trip that takes about 1H30 and cost around 1000yen.  5pm is a great time to take the boat, it’s also really romantic for those of you with their loved ones.

Odaiba is a popular shopping and sightseeing destination for Tokyoites and tourists alike. It as a lot of attractions: The Decks Tokyo Beach shopping mall, Aqua City shopping center, Shiokaze park, Museum of Maritime Science, a beach,the  Daikanransha which is a huge Ferris wheel and much more. The architecture is really modern and pleasing to watch. The Fuji Television  building is a must see.

This summer something got me all exited. Starting from July to August a 1.1 scale RX78 Gundam would be standing in the middle of Shiokaze Park in Odaiba. For those who are wondering what’s a Gundam, It’s pretty easy, Gundam is a popular Japanese animation series. An RX78 is a big giant robot that was feature in the animation. The Bandai corporation producers of the Gundam series wanted to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Gundam original series.  So there I was standing in front of a 18 meter Gundam. Fan or not it was really special. Unfortunately it was there only for 2 months which I think was a mistake, but hey who am I to say a word.

If you plan to go in the Tokyo area during a trip to Japan be sure to check the Odaiba Area

Easily accessible  via the automated Yurikamome transit system from Shimbashi and Toyosu. There is the Rinkai Line. City buses offer cheaper if slower access. Ferries connect Odaiba with Asakusa running along the Sumida River and the Kasai Rinkai Park in eastern Tokyo.