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Racism

Japan is a great country – most people are polite and nice, but there’s always those selected few that are mean, rude, and sometimes even racist. I never thought I would bumped into one of those people while I was here, but of course, I was proven wrong. To make it even worse, you’d think it’d be a stranger, but unfortunately, it was from someone I knew.

Recently, my friend’s host family wanted to thank my roommate and I for always letting her stay over and have dinner with us. We didn’t think much of it, considering that’s what friends do, but her host family thought it was extremely kind of us. They offered to take us to Costco, which was an hour ride away, to pay us back for our “kindness.” We were more than happy to accept – we needed to stock up on a lot of things for the apartment and Costco allowed us to do that at a lower cost. We would be able to buy our cleaning supplies and cheap blankets for winter. It was a trip that we were super excited to make.

We ended up buying food, cleaning supplies, and some winter items for the apartment.

On the day they picked us up, we introduced ourselves using the Japanese that we knew. We thanked them for taking time out of their day to drive us to Costco and the day went by pretty smoothly. It was hard communicating with them in the little Japanese that we know, but everyone was nice and friendly. At that time, we had no idea that they were saying nasty things behind our backs to my friend, who was trying her best to defend us.

On the way back home at around noon, I noticed that my friend was feeling down. She had a frown on her face and her eyebrows were furrowed. It looked like she wanted to say something, but was at conflict with herself about whether or not she should actually say it. I waited a minute or two, seeing if she was going to say something, but when she didn’t, I casually asked her what was going on. She looked uncomfortable, so I didn’t push, but eventually she explained everything to me (in English, so her host family wouldn’t be able to understand).

She told my roommate and I that her host parents were looking down on us. For my roommate who is Chinese-American, her host parents were talking about how Chinese people are “dirty” and that she was probably dirty as well, so it’d be better to not buy her food. For me, a Vietnamese-American, they were talking about how “unintelligent” I was because I was Vietnamese. They also made comments about our Japanese, saying that it wasn’t the best because we were a certain race.

My friend was getting visibly upset as she kept explaining the terrible things that her host parents were saying. In the end, I had to cut in and tell her that it was okay and that things like this are bound to happen some time in life. She told me that it wasn’t and continued saying that she was trying to tell her host parents otherwise with her limited Japanese. My roommate had to reassure her that it was fine, but it was clear we were uncomfortable with the truth.

After that exchange, we sat in a heavy silence until we were dropped off in front of our house. It was hard look my friend’s host parents in the eye when we knew what was being said about us, but we still thanked them and bowed good-bye.

They were incredibly kind of us, so it was weird to hear that they had such low opinions of us, despite not knowing us.

Racism is apparent in every country, and I often heard about racist encounters in Japan from my fellow previous program-mates, but it truly is different when you experience it first-hand. Of course, it’s better to not go through that at all, but an experience is an experience, so I’ll take what I learned from that and move on. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and smile through the uncomfortable situations for the better.

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New Year’s Cleaning

With the New Year, there was a lot of cleaning to be done.

My apartment was a mess because of winter break. Many of my friends came over to stay for the break, so the apartment was an absolute pigsty. There were a whole bunch of electronics and trash on the table and on the floor and there were not enough places to eat for multiple reasons.

To give an example, one of my friends is deathly allergic to peanuts. Therefore, when we had anything with peanuts in it, we had to sit in another room to eat it. The problem with this is that my apartment was only so big, so the solution was to sit at the staircase to eat it. It made for a funny picture, but I can guarantee you that it wasn’t a very nice experience.

Anyways, going back to my main point: my apartment was a complete mess. We had to split up into groups – some people had to sleep up in the loft, while other had to sleep on the floor. Here’s an image of what it looked like:

If you look carefully, you could see the mess that was made.

Aside from that, the New Year also meant no more Christmas decorations.

My roommate and I put up incredibly cute decorations for Christmas – we decorated each and every one of them and it took us at least 2 hours to complete. I don’t think I’ve uploaded pictures of the decorations yet, so here they are:

See how nice those looked? Well, now was the time to rip them off the walls and put them into the trash because there was no way we could take those home back to America with us.

New Year cleaning was quite sad, considering we had to say good-bye to our friends and clean up our pretty decorations. Even so, the apartment was finally clean again and there was finally space for me to breathe. I got to wash my kotatsu carpet and blanket, my bed sheets, and my three piles-worth of dirty laundry. As sad as ripping down the decorations were, I was glad everything was clean again.

Honestly, if you haven’t done your New Year’s cleaning yet, now is the time to do so! As sad as pulling down Christmas decorations is, the reward of having a clean place ready for the upcoming new year is well worth it! Laziness is a no-go for 2020!

2020!

Happy New Year!

It’s now 2020, and I’m celebrating New Years in a completely different country. Do you know what that means? That means I have to celebrate the arrival of a new year in a way that I have never celebrated it before. At first, I tried to celebrate it in the way I knew how, but it didn’t work out. My plan was to go out on New Year’s Eve and spend the first day of 2020 with my friends out since my family wasn’t here to spend it with me. Unfortunately, as simple as my plans sounded, none of them went the way I wanted it to go.

I went out on New Year’s Eve, hoping to grab a good lunch and tasty street food before my dinner party, but everywhere I went, it was closed.

That ramen place across the street?

Closed.

That pasta place a station away?

Closed.

That soba place near school?

Closed.

Everything was closed.

All of the running around for a nice lunch place with my friends gave me a headache. In the end, I opted to eat at a ramen stand for lunch, just to fill my stomach. It was from that experience that I re-learned the very important rule of: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

With that exhausting experience, I scrapped my plans of going out on January 1st with my friends and decided to invite them to do what most Japanese people did instead: go to a shrine.

I didn’t know anything about this. However, with some research, I learned that most Japanese people don’t visit shrines during the New Year for religious purposes, but rather for cultural purposes. The first shrine visit is called Hatsumode. Its purpose is for people to make new wishes for the upcoming year, as well as receive their New Years fortune.

Knowing that, on New Year’s day, I went to Meiji shrine with a couple of friends. We went later in the day, so the crowd wasn’t too bad. Nonetheless, it was still crowded. There, we threw in some coins and prayed for a good luck for the upcoming year. We also got our fortunes (called okimuji) for 100 yen, but was unable to read it because it was all in Japanese, and had some street food from the stalls outside of the shrine.

Look at all those people!
It’s the year of the rat!
No idea what it said because of all the kanji, but it was pleasing to look at!

Overall, it was a very fun experience. I’m glad I chose to do that rather than what I had originally planned.

From this, I think it’s appropriate to restate (for both myself and the reader to remember) that, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Illuminations in Yokohama

As Christmas time approaches in Japan, numerous of illumination events arise. The number of illuminations in the city are no joke – they go all out for Christmas. Illuminations in Roppongi and Shibuya are amazing, but today, I’ll be showing you the illuminations in Yokohama. (It’s a picture-focused post!)

This winter break, I went to Yokohama, a city located about an hour away from Tokyo. I left for Yokohama on December 26th with a friend, eager to see their illuminations. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected, which was very nice. The lack of crowds reminded me that Christmas in Japan is more focused on couples and not on family. Everywhere I went, there were couples.

That said, the illuminations in Yokohama were absolutely stunning. With not as many people around, I was able to appreciate the lights without any obstacles. Below are some photos from my Yokohama illumination trip.

Most of the illuminations were on video (and I can’t upload them), so here are some other photos of Yokohama to make up for it!

Yokohama is a beautiful city, and I’d love to come back another time to explore what it has to offer!

Hakone – Day 2

Continuing off of my post about Hakone, I woke up the next day at 6am. I was determined to do my best to explore and experience all that Hakone had to offer, so I stayed up until 4am the night before trying to plan out the day. I didn’t want to drag my friends around in a foreign city, so I had to plan out multiple transportation routes and timetables in case we got lost.

When the alarm rang at 6am and I went downstairs, the sight I saw was absolutely beautiful. The sun came through the windows and lit up the living room in such an aesthetically pleasing way. My friend managed to snap an incredible picture of it:

Please ignore our mess on the table.

We ended up leaving the AirBnb at 7:20am to catch the bus into the city central. We had to go down the same hill we saw the boars at, so that trip itself took another 20 minutes. When we finally managed to get to the bus, we ended up waiting 40 minutes out in the cold because the bus schedules in Hakone were different thanks to the recent typhoon. As much of a struggle as it was, I look fondly back on that day because of how funny it was to see everyone panic and jump around in the cold.

Walking down the steep hill.

When we finally got onto to bus, we headed to Gora Station where we dropped off our luggage and went to Gora Park. Because we had the Hakone Free Passes, entry was free. At the park, there was this cozy cafe next to a pretty fountain that gave you a nice view of the park. Glassblowing activities were offered, but they were expensive (I think the most expensive one was ¥6,000 for a 15 minute session), so we didn’t partake in any of that. However, we did go to the cafe. My two friends got the tea set – I don’t remember how much it costed, but the set itself was cute and dainty. It was from there on that they decided they needed to visit as many tea houses as possible while they were in Japan. In contrast to their dainty, cute tea sets, my other friends got a regular toast and coffee set – a completely Western breakfast. I ended up getting just pumpkin soup because it too cold and I wanted something warm.

The tea sets that my friends got.
The fountain near the cafe.

After spending a good 2 hours there, we moved onto the next thing on the list: the Hakone Ropeway. There, we saw Mt. Fuji. The view was as clear as it could possibly get – there were no clouds in the sky and nothing blocking Mt. Fuji from being seen:

Mt. Fuji from the Hakone Ropeway Car!

Aside from Mt. Fuji, we also got to see the natural sulfur deposits and its billowing smoke. We got to eat the famous pork tonkatsu curry (¥1550) when we reached the top, as well as the famous black eggs (5 for ¥500) that is rumored to extend your life by 7 years.

Hakone’s famous black eggs!

After we finished taking all the pictures that we could possibly take, we headed to our last destination: Lake Ashi. At Lake Ashi, we took a cruise in first class (ooh, fancy, right? It costs us only an extra ¥400 since we already had our Hakone Free Pass. My friends and I talked about how this would be the only time we’d ever be able to take first class unless one of us won the lottery).

There, we got to see part of Mt. Fuji from a different perspective and the sunset. It was super cold outside, so we couldn’t bear to stay outside for too long, but it made for a nice experience.

When our last activity ended, we made our way back home to Tokyo with a Romancecar.

That said, this was a very, incredibly, condensed version of my Hakone trip. Even so, the point is that it was super fun. It felt amazing to get away from all the busy city life for once.

Look at how empty it is!

Hakone, along with Nikko, should be one of the few places people should visit when they come to Japan. Experiencing Japan in the more rural areas was the most refreshing thing I have done in a while. Despite all of the problems that I’ve faced, I would still strongly recommend visiting!

Hakone – Day 1

This weekend, my friends and I planned a trip to Hakone, Japan. At Hakone, there are hot springs, a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji, and the great wilderness. It is about 1 hour or so away from Tokyo, so I took the Romancecar to get there. I would say Hakone is one of the funnest trips I have taken by far.

The trip was spontaneous. One day at work, I was sitting in the activity room with my friend. We had no students for the period, so we talked about travelling and where we wanted to go. I brought up that we should go to Hakone with our group of friends and she didn’t hesitate to agree.

That night, we asked messaged the group chat of about 8 people to see if they were able to go. With a majority of positive responses, I planned out the trip that night and my friend booked the AirBnb.

Next thing you know it, all of us were at Shinjuku station (aside from one friend, who wasn’t able to make it) trying to buy the Hakone Free Pass – a ticket that covers the round-trip to and from Hakone, as well as most of the transportation in Hakone.

The Hakone Free Pass was about 5,700 yen. However, because we decided to take the Romancecar (a fancier train that allowed us to sit in groups of 4), we had to play a supplement fee and the total ended up being about 6,810 yen each.

We boarded the train and took off without much of a hitch. We spent the hour talking and playing games amongst ourselves. It was a good chance to get to know the friends that I wasn’t actually super close to because no one was actually on their phone unless they were taking pictures.

Everything went smoothly as planned, but I knew it wouldn’t last long. As soon as we got to Hakone, we faced the biggest problem: getting to the AirBnb.

The buses in Hakone are incredibly different from Tokyo. Because Hakone is such a small town and is located in the mountains, the buses were always super late and the bus stops were located out in the middle of nowhere. It was the strangest thing to see a bus in Japan arrive 10 minutes late. When we did get on the bus, we got off at the wrong stop and had the option of either walking to the next stop or waiting 40 minutes out in the cold for the next bus.

Walking sounded way more appealing that night, considering we could explore the town while going to our next stop instead of standing around for 40 minutes, so we chose to walk. Little did we know this would cause us to get even more lost than we were before.

We somehow ended up on the highway and had to cut through a small path through the mountain, which I’m pretty sure no one really used. It was freezing cold out and all of us had our luggage, so it made things even harder. The path was super steep, but it made for a good memory.

The end of the path after the steep descend.

After half an hour of descending down a mountain, we ended up at a bus stop (actually in the middle of nowhere). It took us to the edge of a mountain (where there were large cabins along a hiking trail) and dropped us off. From there, Google Maps told us to hike the mountain, up until top, where we’d find our AirBnb. It was about 7pm then, so it wasn’t actually that late. However, because we were so far away from the actual city center, it was almost pitch black out.

My friend took the lead since she was the one that booked the AirBnb. We ascended the mountain, talking and chattering about how cold it was and how excited we all were. I was walking towards the back, talking about how different everything was from the city until my friend who was leading turned around and hissed at everyone to be quiet.

Alarmed by her sudden change in mood, I gave her a bewildered look. She pointed to the front, where there was a boar in the distance, standing on the path we were supposed to take, with its children. Its children were scampering around, while the boar just stood cautiously, staring right at us. No one moved a muscle. Finally, one of my other friends whispered to the group about how we should take a different route.

My friend who was leading told him that there was only one route to the cabin, and that this was it. Everyone fell back into a silence as we stared at the boar in worry. One of my friends who lives in the mountains back in the States told us it was too dangerous to try to go any closer, so the best we could do is wait for it to leave or try to find a different way.

In the end, we stood around there warily for a good 5 minutes before it slowly turned and ran uphill. Because we were heading up in the same direction, we all decided to proceed quietly and carefully. We did eventually bump into the same boar again, but it didn’t stare us down like last time. It turned and took a different path, allowing us to finally let out a sigh of relief.

When we got to our cabin, there were no street lights whatsoever. The only light we had was from the moon and our phones.

My group of friends and I trying to open the door.

It took ages for us to get the door to open, but once we did, we hurried and settled in for the night. As everyone was unpacking and getting comfortable, I realized we hadn’t had dinner. It was already 8pm by then, so most places were closed. To make matters worse, the nearest convenient store for food was where the bus dropped us off. That meant that we had to go back down the mountain, risk seeing the boar again, go to 7/11, and then climb back up the mountain. It took us a while to decide on whether or not we actually wanted to go outside into the cold to get dinner, but we ended up splitting into groups to go get food. One group stayed home and one group went out. I went with the group that went out – we ended up getting 6,500 yen worth of convenient store food.

Our 7/11 Dinner

After getting back to the AirBnb, we had dinner and played games, such as Mafia, Tetris, and Smash. We all ended up sleeping at around 3am and waking up at 6am the next day, but it was all worth it.

Playing Mafia

The first day served as a great group bonding time. As scary as it was to see those boars and get lost in the mountains, it was really fun. That night that I went to bed, I sincerely hoped the next day was just as great.

—-continued in Part II

Earthquakes

Japan never stops shaking.

When people told me about the constant earthquakes in Japan, they certainly weren’t kidding. The island seems to be constantly shaking. There are so many instances of them that I can’t even count the number of earthquakes that I have sat through. As a result, I’m going to try to write about all the times I do remember sitting through an earthquake and how I gradually become indifferent to them.

  1. The first earthquake I remember experiencing in Japan was during my movie night with my friends. We had pizza and milk tea on the table, and a movie was playing in the background. My friend was rambling on about how excited she was for some upcoming movie before I felt the couch sway back and forth violently. I don’t know if it was because of the fact that it was my first earthquake experience in Japan or if it was because it was actually a strong earthquake, but I froze in shock. It lasted quite a while. All my friends and I just sat there, dumbfounded. We weren’t the brightest that day – we should’ve taken cover, but I guess we were all in too much shock to move.
  2. The second earthquake I remember experiencing was when in the middle of the night. I think it was about 3am or so, but apparently the apartment shook quite a bit because my roommate woke up. She woke me up just in time for it to end, so this experience wasn’t quite bad. I was still scared of earthquakes at this time.
  3. The third time was probably during the typhoon. The wind was slamming into my apartment, so we thought it was just the wind rocking the apartment back and forth. When we found out it was an earthquake, we were a bit more concerned. Talk about bad luck – a typhoon and an earthquake in one day? Yikes. Nonetheless, it wasn’t as strong as the first one I experienced, so I wasn’t as concerned about this one.
  4. The fourth, fifth, sixth, and probably seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth (?), were smaller experiences. For most of these earthquakes, I was in the bathroom. At first, it scared me, but eventually, by the fourth earthquake, I was tired of them. They had the most inconvenient timing. At this point, I had grown indifferent to small tremors.
  5. The eleventh (?) earthquake hit in the middle of the night. It was strong enough this time to wake up both my roommate and I. Even though I had grown accustomed to smaller tremors, the bigger ones were a bit more scary. I sat up, debating if my roommate and I should go take cover. It ended before we decided, however, so that saved us the trouble of getting out of our warm beds.
  6. The twelfth(?) incident happened earlier this week. I was sitting in my Japanese class when the AC ventilator rattled loudly. At first, I thought it was my friend kicking the AC vents, but when she looked at me in concern, I realized it was an earthquake. I hadn’t even noticed the building moving. When I looked around the classroom, it seemed like no one else noticed but a few select people. For just a split second, I thought I was going crazy, but my friend confirmed that it was an earthquake.
  7. The latest experience occurred yesterday. I was making breakfast when a slightly stronger tremor hit. It was enough for some cups to rattle on the dish rack. Despite that, I wasn’t really affected by this one and decided to continue my morning normally, as if nothing happened.

Typing all this out now makes me a bit concerned for my own behavior. My apartment isn’t exactly earthquake-friendly – we have these huge wooden beams that are hung on the ceiling. It’s quite a weird decoration choice, considering Japan is so earthquake-prone. Even so, I never took cover once. I should probably take these earthquakes more seriously and be more prepared for them because I’ll never know when a serious one will hit. That said, those were my earthquake experiences. It’s likely that I’ll run into more, so I’ll have to try my best to be more quick and cautious next time.

The wooden beam in my living room, right above my kotatsu.
The other wooden beam, above the loft, where my roommate and I sleep.

Thanksgiving!

Back in America, it’s almost Thanksgiving Day! It’s the day where we express thanks to our loved ones and express gratitude for what we currently have.

I was excited to spend Thanksgiving with my friends this year in Japan, but it seemed like I forgot that in Japan, Thanksgiving is not celebrated (due to obvious reasons). Because of this, it’s a lot harder to find decent American Thanksgiving food and arrange a gathering. As a result of this inconvenience, and for the first time in a while, I actually felt homesick. I missed my family and I missed the food that they often made around this time. The thought of not being able to celebrate such a popular holiday dampened my mood considerably.

However, I soon found out that my kind coordinator put together a program gathering. She had made plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with everyone in my exchange program. She booked an all-you-can-eat/drink styled dinner at a restaurant in Roppongi (about an hour away from school). To make things even better, the food was mostly home-cooked American style.

We had turkey, mash potatoes, brownies, and even pumpkin pie. There were unlimited drinks, so students were able to order both soft drinks and alcoholic drinks.

To help ease our homesickness, my coordinator even told us that even though we weren’t with our family this year, we’re with the CSU family. Her words lightened up my mood considerably.

I am forever grateful to my coordinator for putting together such an event. She works hard – it’s hard to rein in 24 students for an AYCE/D meal.

That aside, I feel like it’s only right to talk about the 5 things that I am thankful for this year.

  1. I am thankful for my family and friends back home.
  2. I am thankful that I got the opportunity to study aboard in Japan.
  3. I am thankful for my coordinator – she makes life so much more comfortable here in Japan.
  4. I am thankful for the new people that I’ve met in these last few months.
  5. I am thankful for struggles that I have faced thus far because it helped me grow as a person.

With that, I’m ending this short post because of the fact that it is now 3 A.M. and I have to get up tomorrow at 6 A.M. (the one thing that I am not very thankful for…)

Happy holidays!

Lights in Roppongi, near the restaurant where I celebrated Thanksgiving

The Struggle to Watch Frozen 2

Frozen 2 came out this weekend! After six long years of waiting, the popular movie franchise released a sequel, and I jumped at the opportunity to go watch it.

My friends and I purchased tickets online as soon as we could. It was quite a struggle, considering the website was only in Japanese. We all wanted to watch it in English (so we could hear Idina Menzel’s and Kristen Bell’s beautiful voices), so we tried our best to look for the the English version. My friend ended up choosing the option under “[dubbed]” because she thought that meant that it was English dubbed.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch her mistake until after she paid the $60 for the movie. I slowly asked her if she was sure that dubbed meant that it was the English version. We all paused and thought about it. If the movie was originally in English, wouldn’t dubbed mean that it was dubbed in Japanese?

After realizing our mistake, we went into a flurry of panic because:

  1. The Japanese movie had no subtitles, so it was purely in Japanese.
  2. We wanted to watch in English.
  3. The site said no refunds or changes.
  4. We REALLY wanted to watch it in English.
  5. We, broke college kids, just spent $15 each on a movie we probably couldn’t fully understand and enjoy.

After our panic, we ended up sitting around and moping for a good hour or two. My friends were ready to stay inside and just watch another movie at home, but I really wanted to see Frozen 2. I managed to somehow get them out of our warm kotatsu and dragged them all the way to Ikebukuro in the rain. Ikebukuro is about 25 minutes away, so it was quite a trip, considering it was around 50F outside and it was pouring.

When we got to the theaters, I was amazed at how big and clean it was. Completely different from America’s theaters. They had 4 floors and their food purchasing system was all automatic. You could choose your snack through a machine and pay for it there, then pick it up at the same counter. It was very convenient and fast.

Anyway, we found our way to the ticket counter, where I embarrassed myself by asking to change the tickets. After much confusion and a lot of Google Translating, we somehow got to switch to the English movie, and also change to our movie option to IMAX.

My friends were very relieved, but the tickets ended up costing $22 each instead of $15. Everyone was a bit iffy about that, but we went in to go watch it anyway.

The theater was huge. HUGE. It was so much bigger than American theaters back home. The only downside to it was that there were no luxury recliners – just regular movie seats. That aside, the resolution on the screen was amazingly crisp and the sound system was quite amazing – I expected nothing less from an IMAX system.

From there, we relaxed and we watched the movie. I won’t write about any spoilers, but what I will say is that the movie was beautiful. Despite being labelled as a children’s movie, that movie was a lot darker and deeper than I expected. The songs were amazing, and even now, I can’t stop listening to them.

If you hadn’t gone to watch Frozen 2 yet, I highly recommend watching it, especially the IMAX version! It was worth every single penny.

I Bought a Japanese Kotatsu

Before I start this blog post: yes, I know I’m only here for a year, and yes, I know Japanese winters only last for so long before it gets super hot and humid again. That said, I still bought one and I do not regret that decision.

So, for those who don’t know, kotatsus are tables with a heater attached under it. There’s a blanket wedged under the table to trap the heat in, and the table itself is usually set on a soft, plush carpet. They’re perfect for cold winter days and midday naps. I wish they were more widely sold in America, but then again, I’m from the Bay Area, so it’s not actually that cold.

Anyhow, I decided to buy a kotatsu thanks to my roommate. Our apartment gets ridiculously cold–sometimes it’s colder inside than it is outside. One cold morning, my roommate sat up from her futon and randomly asked, “Hey, do you want to buy a kotatsu?”

Like the rational person I was, I replied with, “No, we can just buy more blankets. What are we going to do with the kotatsu at the end of the year when we have to leave?”

Obviously, this rationale didn’t last very long because by the end of the week, she managed to convince me to get a kotatsu. Her reasoning was that it was cold and that we were in Japan. Since we’re in Japan, why not get the full Japanese winter experience by getting a kotatsu?

After she managed to convince me, we both went to Nitori, a store that sells affordable furniture and interior goods, to look at the kotatsus. We got distracted by the Christmas decor that was on sale (we both love Christmas), but after 2 and a half hours, we managed to pick out a kotatsu. The table with the heater was about $110. The blanket and carpet was $100. The cushions we bought for seating was around $50. In total, it was about $300 (including tax and shipping). Between my roommate and I, we paid $150 each. I think that was a very decent price for a table that can fit four.

The kotatsu arrived 4 days later in huge boxes that we could barely bring up into our apartment.

We thought it’d be a headache to set up, but it was actually super easy. It was a lot easier than IKEA furniture, so it only required one person for set up. In the end, we decided to split chores to make the process go faster. I un-boxed and set up everything and she handled the trash and lunch.

It ended up taking an hour to put everything into place, but at the end of it, our place was super cozy.

We removed the blanket because we were going to eat lunch.
The lunch my roommate put together!

All in all, buying the kotatsu was one of the best decisions I’ve made this month. As the weather get gradually colder, I’m sure this kotatsu will pay off itself. Now, the only problem is: what will I do with this at the end of the year? It’s too big to ship home and it’ll be too hard to sell in the summer…

I’ll eventually figure it out as the year progresses, but for now, I’m living my best life with this kotatsu. My money was well-spent and I’m super happy with my purchase.

There are times where happiness and comfort are worth prioritizing, and this is one of those times.