18 Jun 2019
Hello, I hope everyone’s had a good start of the week so far.
My start’s been so so in terms of the things I want to get done in a day. But it’s still only Tuesday so I have enough faith in myself that I will do better work the rest of the week. Yesterday was after all the birthday of one of my best friends and I wouldn’t have missed I for the world, so not too much regrets about my infectivity.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I am to introduce myself and this blog to the world in a good pace and a good way to start is probably to tell the story of why I ended up where I am right now. Something that almost always comes up in conversations with other foreigners here, especially when meeting new people, is the question “Why are you in Japan?”. I’ve been asked that so many times, by so many people. I think it’s a valid question though, because what brings us here is often also what brings us together in one way or another. Sometimes it’s our great love for this fantastic country (as in my case) and sometimes it is more because of completely other reasons, sometimes just by chance.
To me, Japan was a childhood dream for over 15 years before I came here, since I was 10 to be more precise. Before that I didn’t know much specifically about Japan nor did I have any kind of relationship to this country. However, I grew up in a home where Asian culture always were very present. I had a father who loved watching old samurai and kung-fu movies (when I was 5 my dream was to become a Shaolin monk and live in the mountains with a shaved head and break bricks and meditate everyday), an interested that I picked up very early as well. Then I had a mother who was very into both yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and who studied Chinese medicine for a long time. Feeling closer to the Asian culture and mindset about many things therefore happened very natural. Wester cultures and traditions never appealed too much to me. I was the kid who went looking for “holes in the sky” during my breaks in elementary school, meaning a place where I felt the energy flow was high and I could just sit down and recharge – and yes that made me a weirdo.
One day, when I was 10 years young, my little brother, Simon, came to me with a comic that he really wanted me to read. It was the first volume of Dragon Ball, which was also the very first manga to be translated into Swedish back in 2002. I had a look at it and thought it seemed ridiculous. I was really not interested but my brother insisted and because I love him so much, I just couldn’t refuse and make him disappointed. So I read. It was indeed not my cup of tea. But Simon kept insisting that I should read only the next volume as well. Again, I couldn’t refuse that lovely and cute little face looking at me with excitement in his eyes. So I read the second volume as well. I still didn’t like it very much. Or so I thought because after that I decided to give the third book a chance too and since then I have been hooked. I couldn’t put them down. I went to buy the volumes my brother didn’t already have, and I impatiently waited for the ones that was yet to be published. By now I think I’ve read the entire Dragon ball series closer to 15 times. I still love it just as much and I still cry in the same places. When other manga series also started to be translated, I read them too. I devoured everything I could get my hands on and became absolutely mesmerized by these incredible stories, adventures, worlds and characters that reached all the way into my heart and touched in a way nothing else had before. I felt like I finally had found my thing, what I truly loved. I was always a fan of reading, especially fantasy, but manga took everything a step further. I felt like understood these worlds, like I could connect with them. Even my first love was a manga character. His name was (still is I guess) Dark Mousy and he was a master thief of the most exclusive art objects in Japan, a 17-year-old boy with big black wings. I was in love with him for years. I couldn’t have been more uninterested in real-life boys (in terms of love, most of my best friends were boys at this time). Until when I was maybe 14 or so and realised that I at least part time needed to live in the real world. So at some point I suppose I learned to be attracted to real people as well. Dark will always be special to me though.
First book in the series. Have you read it?
The pictures above are from the early time in the serie.
And here he is. My Dark angel with the purple hair. Tell me he aint gorgeous?!
Not hard to see why he was my big crush for so long.
For the longest time I wanted to make a tattoo out ouf this very picture. I think I still do.. One day maybe!
That’s how it all started. With my interest in manga. My passion grew and threw them I learned about Japanese history and modern society, I learned about culture and people, I learned about places, cities and landscapes and so on and on. And when that wasn’t enough anymore, I started doing my own research. I have a bunch of books back home in Sweden about Japanese war history, samurais and ninjas, I have books about the Japanese society, about Japanese food and more than any other type of books I so much Japanese poetry. Every night before bed I would read new poems and I would collect all my favourites in a special notebook, I even started writing my own.
One of my favourite Japanese books
Through all this my interest kept growing and I wanted to know more about this seemingly magical country. I google a lot, I looked up Japanese recipes, learned to love sushi and started watching anime. The Studio Ghibli movies were and still are my favourites. I’ve watched most of them many times. People told me how this was just a phase, how I would grow out of love with manga and Japan. I knew they were all wrong, and I was right. I never grew out it. I eventually found this fantastic bookstore (there’s only three of them in Sweden) called ‘The Science Fiction Bookstore’. They import manga in English from the UK and US and even directly from Japan and thus their selection is a lot bigger than other bookstores in Sweden. That’s where I spent all my money as a teenager. Literally All of them. Never regretted a single krona that I spent on manga or anime.
From there it went on. My dream about Japan became more solid and I knew I had to go. I knew it would be a place for me. Only during my second year of university did I get the chance to go. I basically took some ungranted time off from school and when for almost three weeks together with my mother in April 2016. We landed in Japan and katshiiing, I was home. Easy as that. We travelled around in Kansai and Kanto with Shinkansen and saw places and people. Japan turned out to be all that I had imagined and dreamt about and more.
Me in Hakone, April 2016
My first Made Cafe experience in Akihabara, 2016.
My poor mother deserves a medal for joining me!
Trying Sake for the first time, in a restaurant near Ochanomizu, 2016.
Never ever had I felt so much disappointment and even despair as when we had to go back to Sweden again. Nothing in me wanted to leave, I wanted to stay so bad. But leave I had to. So I went back to Sweden but 100% determent to return again. And a year and a half later I did. In the beginning of 2017, I was accepted as an exchange student to Tokyo University and I had never been more excited in my life. In the beginning of September that year I filled to big suitcases and finally moved to Japan and began a journey that would change my life forever. Tokyo University was actually only my second choice of Universities in Japan, initially I wanted to go to Kyoto University. But today I feel fairly certain that I ended up in Tokyo for a reason. This city, this country, has given me more than I could ever have imagined. Friends of the sort I’ve never had before, a new family, it gave me back to myself. Everything I knew of love and friendship and family, myself and the world was reprogrammed. I grew into myself. I learned what I wanted, to prioritize myself and my own needs first, to truly take care of my own heart and more than anything I learned what it means to live. I learned what real happiness is.
I finished my exchange year in what felt like the blink of an eye and I was NOT ready to leave this place. So I decided to enrol in a language school and study Japanese. So I did that for 6 months and now I’m looking for a job. So here I still am, in the city of my dreams, living the most exciting and sometimes also very challenging life. I wouldn’t change it for anything though. I am so grateful every day. That I took a chance and came here. That I took another chance and came back again. That I took yet another chance and came back a third time. I am so grateful. Right now, life is pretty tough in many ways, but it is my life, I own it and I live it and sometimes I remember to be proud of myself. Cause I was brave enough to leave my comfort zone for something more, something bigger. And all of this is pretty damn cool to be honest. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
My message to you who reads this is simple.
Be brave and take chances. Things might not happen the way you imagine them, sometimes they become even better!
13 Jun 2019
Hello, welcome to my second blog post!
Thanks for stopping by again.
I came back to my precious Tokyo on Wednesday evening last week after a whole month in Europe spent with my family in Sweden and travelling around and attending a most outstanding wedding in Scotland. It was absolutely great but coming home is always the best thing and Tokyo is home to me.
Usually it's pretty easy for me to adjust to this time zone, more so than when I'm going in the other direction but this time it took me a whole week! Yesterday night was the first that I didn't wake up between 2 and 5 AM and couldn't fall sleep again until a couple of hours later in the morning. So finally I feel more or less acclimatised.
I've been thinking a lot about, not only what I want to write here but also about how I want to write it. What to share and what not to share. How to make it both interesting and personal without giving neither too much nor too little of myself. There's a fine balance between I think but I guess I have to figure that out little by little. What is important to me is that whatever I write and choose to share here, I want it to be real. Social media often portrays people’s lives as prefect, and it sometimes gives a fake image of the reality that is hard to live up to or feel a connection to. I don't want that. I want the people who come here to read my blog to be able to relate. To recognise themselves maybe. I do think that I live the most exciting life ever, probably much more than many others, and I wouldn't change this for anything, but it is by no means perfect. I struggle with life and everyday problems just like everyone else and I want to share those things too.
But today will be about gratitude. I feel like I've been living on a cloud since I got back. Coming back to Tokyo this time equals a new chapter in my life and it started with me being picked up at the airport by a friend of mine. He said that since this is a new start for me it shouldn't start with a long bus ride to the city late in the evening. So instead I was transported directly to my front door in a beautiful white Tesla and once home I was greeted by a happy boyfriend who was wearing the biggest and most beautiful smile I've ever seen. The largest bouquet of flowers I have ever received was waiting for me at the table along with a beautiful little birthday gift. A wallet sustainably made from banana leaves, very organic. Such a thoughtful gift, he knows me so well by now! It's made in Micronesia which I think made it even more special. And then I don't know if he felt like he needed to compensate for the fact the wallet was so small and thin because his other gift to me was huge! The man got me a new washing machine! And if you knew how much I've been complaining about the old one you would understand what a big deal this was and how absolutely satisfied I am. I love washing now! The machine is pretty (the old one was terribly ugly!) and it smells so good once the laundry is done. I love it! Tack Älskling!
As if that wasn't enough, he took me to dinner the next evening. I knew we were going to Daikanyama but I had no more specific information than that. Once we got there I understood why it was kept a secret. A friend of ours, Mei, a super sweet girl that lives in David's old share house, is a chef there! She had recently switched workplace and I was so happily surprised both with her delightful presence and the fantastic food! Her specialty is dessert so by the end of the dinner we had the most amazing cake! I was full until afternoon the next day.
If you're in Tokyo I strongly recommend you to go there, the place is called Kashiyama Daikanyama.
Not only Mei-chan, the entire staff was amazing!
But she's of course the most special.
On Friday my best friend came over. We hadn't seen each other in over a month and hearing her cheerful and happy greeting screams as she opened the door to the apartment and how she then threw herself at me, giving me a ton of hugs and kisses was and always in the most wonderful thing ever! When your friend literally jumps in excitement when seeing you, you know she's special. That would have been enough. I would have been so happy just having her there but first she threw a big present in my arms and put a bottle of champagne my hand. There was only one thing to do after that - Let the celebration begin!
There was a lot of talking and catching up obviously, some fun cooking, good drinks, more hugs a lot of laughing and pictures taken. Couldn't have spent my Friday in a better way!
She's my superstar! And a Beauty!
And she got me this very wanted mixer! Finally I can make smoothies again!
And then there was Saturday. And after those previous fantastic days, the best was yet to come. I knew that there would be a little birthday celebration for me that day as well, but I hadn't organized anything. I Just knew that some people were going to come over some time in the evening. What I didn't know was that when David took me out for that ramen lunch I had been craving for weeks, he left the door open and when we got back I was jumped at again, balloons were thrown, people sang and hugged me. The people who could make it early in the afternoon threw me a surprise party and the rest joined later. I got a taste of what it is like to be surprised of on your birthday last year here in Japan by the same friends, but I've never experienced anything like this. I can't even describe how grateful I am and how proud I am over all those amazing people. They all gave me the most joyful and fantastic evening and night that didn't end until 7 AM the next morning. You know it's successful when literally everyone is dancing in your kitchen and then continue throughout the night. THANK YOU EVERYONE! If everybody had friends like I do this world would be at peace.
And Vindu, a little extra thanks for dressing me and making me ready for the night!
The organisers of my surprise party (+ Anri and David)
With my princessses
Not the most flattering angle, but oh well!
Let's take a picture of us in the mirror!
Zaki and Daiki
Viktor, Vindu & David
Some yakitori, anyone?
Fiodar, Vik & Zaki
I'm a lucky girl!
More mirror pictures!
Me and Her
Anri & Katya - Spread the love ladies!
My frenchie and favourite dance partner - Maxou
Vndu and Ryosuke, heh
Ladies selfie time!
The bride and groom to be (in August)!
Party people in the mood!
Unwrapping my gift from mama Mason
She's a lot stronger than she looks ...
Vindu and I with Naomi-san
Spreading some more love with Vik and Fiodar
Last picture taken before going out, no one can expect it to be fully sharp
I am so overwhelmed by all of it. So happy and I can't express in words all the wonderful things I'm feeling! I just had to share it.
Again, gratest thanks to everyone who made this night so special. I will remember it always!
All my love
5 Jun 2019
Hello and most welcome to my new blog!
Some of you know me in real life, family, friends, etc, while others might know me from my old blog (which hasn't been active in a long time) and some of you are probably about to get to know me for the first time. Whoever you are I am happy that you found your way here.
My name is Hanna Gaita. I am Swedish, and as of yesterday actually, 27 years old. Japan is my childhood dream and I have been living in Tokyo since September 2017. You can read a somewhat more specific introduction about me under the heading "About Me" above. Take a peek there if you're curios.
This is a blog about me. About my, in my opinion, very exciting life in Japan, about all the travelling I do, within and outside of the country, about my thoughts on life in general and so on. But hopefully, it will also be a place where I share stories that I write - the short story kind. I have a passion for writing and would like to develop and improve in that area, and by doing so start pursuing my dream about becoming a real novelist. I think it's a very intimate thing to let others read what I write, scary even, but to become a good writer I know I have to be brave enough to share my stories and learn how to deal with both critique and praise. This will be a challenge, but I am very excited to try.
This will be a tool for me to daily keep up a writing flow.
Since this blog is new, it’s still under some development, but since I’m technologically handicapped more often than not, it might take some time for me to figure things out.. But I will do my best!
Obviously, English is not my first language, and even though I feel like I sometimes express myself better in English than in Swedish, in certain context, that is not always the case. So I will definitely struggle from time to time and there will probably be a lot of misspellings here and there, but please bear with me.
I hope you want to join me on this journey.
So, thanks for stopping by, see you again!
P.S. I would be most grateful if you could take a few seconds of your time and hit the blue “Like” button in the side bar up to the right if you're on the computer and just below if you're reading from your phone. Thanks a lot! D.S.