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Sapporo and Pokémon and stuff

Hello, from a hotel room overlooking the train station of a rainy Hakodate. Hakodate is the southernmost tip of northern Japan, the island of Hokkaido. On Friday I flew to Sapporo, the capital of this prefecture. This is where the Pokémon GO Fest was held last weekend: a live event organized by Niantic, the makers of Pokémon GO. I saw the announcement in the app and thought, “Hey, I can just go to this!”

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Signs and lines

“Oh yes, and I need you to do one more thing…” Mikako, my bank account, visa and tax contact, walked me through the to-do’s for renewing my visa. “You have to take pictures of your office. From the entrance to the elevator, the front door, and then of course inside. It is important that there is a nameplate on your door. It’s even more important that it not only says Toeps Media, but also 株式会社.”

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Greetings from the chaos

You know that feeling? When you want to clean out a closet, pull everything out, and then completely overwhelmed by the incredible mess you want to stuff everything back in? That’s what my life feels like right now. Everything is upside down. And everything is intertwined, like a big jumble of plugs, printer cables and mini-USB, somewhere in an Ikea box.

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From the bat cave

It has been over a month since I wrote anything here. My head is full, and even when I talk to my friends it gets in the way. Then I want to tell them everything, immediately, and then the conversation turns into one big monologue about bank accounts, tatami mats and bats, and that’s not very nice of course. Or well. Not very reciprocal. That’s why this is a good old blog; one-way traffic, information dump style. Maybe you have already seen bits and pieces on Instagram (really, that medium still keeps me somewhat sane), but here it is, neatly and with context: Toeps in Japan, the recap.

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Blossoming

In my previous blog I promised to tell you more about the trip, but I’ve been here for about three weeks, so the trip can be summarized as: I got on the plane in Korea, got off two hours later in Japan,went through all the procedures at Narita and was allowed to take the train home. There I had to quarantine for another three days, after which I was allowed to leave early after a local PCR test.

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Japan then

I like to be well prepared. And well informed. For months I’ve been following the Facebook group “Seeking entry in Japan” closely, because I can tell you, sometimes the best info has actually been on Facebook.

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Korea for the gram

I owe you an update. “How is Korea?” you keep asking me. I couldn’t answer it because that wouldn’t be fair. Korea cannot do well, and that is not because of Korea, but only because it is not Japan.

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Identification

“Do you actually still identify as a woman?” Roufaida asked me, after we talked about her podcast, which I had also contributed to. Grrrls was the initial name, but now that she had recently interviewed a non-binary person, the name really couldn’t be used anymore. Shortly before, my Instagram app asked me if I wanted to put my pronouns in my bio. “Go away, leave me alone,” I thought. But why did I think that, anyway?

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Koreantine

It was the day before Riemer and I went to Disneyland that I decided to try Korea. I had been waiting for Japan for over a year, and it didn’t look like anything was going to change in the near future. And camping in Riemer’s living room, or in hotels in Utrecht even longer didn’t seem like a good idea. So it had to be Korea.

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I went to Disneyland Paris with an Autipas (and in the middle of a pandemic)

I had been wanting to go to Disneyland Paris for months, but kept putting it off, “because Japan”. I couldn’t plan ahead, I didn’t dare take the corona risk, or Riemer had to work. But after we did not go in November, “because Japan”, and Japan and Omicron screwed me over again, I was determined: we are going. On New Year’s Eve. That way I would be rid of the Dutch fireworks misery as well.

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The Japanese secret for everything

Recently I was strolling through the book store while waiting for my train, and there I found The Secret For A Long And Happy Life. Or well … I don’t know exactly who to believe. There is the Danish “Hygge”, the Swedish “Lagom”, or “The Way” of the Chinese.

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Toeps in Takamatsu: Tour de Hard-Off

While in the Netherlands the corona virus is taking hold, everything is closed and everyone has to stay at home, it is slightly less intense in Japan. Yes, certain things have been closed for weeks. But although everyone suspects the government of lying (because of the Olympics), it actually seems to be not too bad here.

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I got scammed by a cute vintage shop in Japan

Japan is the safest country in the world. In the Starbucks you can leave your laptop on the table when you go to the toilet, whoever forgets his iPhone in the metro will almost certainly get it back that same day and in the evening I walk home without any fear. Yet I was scammed yesterday. By an extremely sweet-looking girl in a pink dress, with kawaii pins in her hair and a high-pitched voice that makes her sound like a ten-year-old, while she is probably twenty-five.

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Autism mum

I see it more and more: articles by, with or about autism mums. Mothers of children with autism. They talk about how difficult their lives are, how they had to readjust their expectations in life, how the system fails them and how they had to fight their own disappointments.

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Dutchies, or Begians in Tokyo #5 – Charlotte

The Flemish Charlotte (31) is a pastry chef and chocolatier and until recently worked at a bakery in Harajuku. She ended up in Japan two years ago because of her husband’s work.

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Dutchies in Tokyo, or Odawara #4 – Jalisha

For my appointment with Jalisha (25) I have to leave the city. About an hour and a half from Tokyo is Odawara, a place I previously only knew as a transfer station to the nearby onsen villages. (An onsen is a bathhouse filled with volcanically heated water, and because Odawara is so close to Mt. Fuji, there are plenty of onsen resorts nearby.)

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