. Friday, January 19, 2018 .


While searching up new hairstyles on Youtube, I came across a couple videos of girls giving themselves a cut called a Deathhawk. It's basically a mohawk, but a lot wider. I've never shaved my head in any capacity before, but I really wanted to change up my style.

So, I decided I would do it! 


I asked my friend Iona to come with me for support, and I headed out to Shin Okubo, a Koreatown in Japan.

I picked Koreatown because I had been in the area the past few days, and discovered a tiny hair salon down one of the streets. When I asked how much it would cost to shave my sides, the hairdresser replied that it costs 1000 yen ($10). Needless to say, I booked an appointment for the next day.

In the video, I give a shout-out to my Mom, who lives in fear of my crazy hair adventures. Before I shaved it, I hinted that I was doing something wild with my hair, and she was not excited. Thankfully, she ended up liking the shaved look in the end!

Towards the end of the video, I head to an arcade with Iona. Iona introduced me to my new favorite arcade game: Taiko. I encourage everyone to visit an arcade in Japan if you have time!

I hope you enjoy this vlog! 



. Tuesday, January 16, 2018 .
I was nominated by a few fellow bloggers for the Sunshine Blogger Award! The Sunshine Blogger award is a way for bloggers to support other bloggers, especially those who produce uplifting and positive content! In this post, you'll learn a little more about me and my blog!


Thank you so much, Lena from lenadeexo.com and Natalie Maria from http://nouw.com/nataliemariia for nominating me, and for two other blogger friends from Facebook! I couldn't find their blogs to tag them, unfortunately.


The Rules of The Sunshine Blogger Award:


  1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

My Questions from Lena:

1. What inspired you to create a blog?


I started blogging as part of a New Years resolution. I wanted to crack down on my language learning and have a productive year, so I made a blog! I decided that I wanted to try blogging on my own and see how far it would take me. I used to have a joint blog with a friend back in 2012-2015, but we eventually called it quits and the blog was left to collect dust. Sincerely Alice was originally supposed to be like a diary of sorts to help me keep track of my language learning, but I love producing article type content so I've made it a mesh of both.

2. Any tips for any bloggers out there who may need some inspiration?


Write content that you would want to read. Never, ever create something that you personally wouldn't enjoy. With that in mind, look around you for inspiration. You may think your life is boring, but for someone else that could be their dream life! Find whats unique about you and show the world.

3.  What gets your day off to a good start?


Breakfast. If I eat a good meal, I'm bound to have a good day. Skipping breakfast leads me to be super cranky all day, and my performance in class suffers!


4. Favorite quote/mantra you tell yourself to keep pushing?


I usually don't say mantras to myself unless I'm in a super bad place emotionally. The last time I can remember having a mantra was when I got violently sick after eating something at my university. I got up in the middle of the night shivering, knowing I had to throw up. It was the first time I ever vomited without my Mom, so I didn't have anyone to rub my back and give me the reassurance I needed. I kept saying 'You're okay. You got this. You're fine.' a bunch of times, which helped significantly. I still threw up, but that was pretty inevitable.

5. What are you passionate about besides your wonderful blog?

I love learning languages and learning about my friends' cultures! My good friend Amanda is from China so I'm really interested in learning Chinese these days. Learning about other cultures and languages is so fun, it really expands my worldview and helps me feel connected to my friends!

6. What do you do when you need to clear your mind?


I listen to ASMR. If you don't know what ASMR is, it's essentially sounds that produce a response in your brain that makes you feel relaxed. Think of rain sounds and how they can be super calming, it's exactly like that. Usually, when I have a lot on my mind, I listen to ASMR and lay down. Most of the time I end up falling asleep, which effectively gets negative thoughts out of my head.

7. Fave food/drink that puts you in a good mood?


Pumpkin and/or sweet potato flavored sweets. I love sweets in general, but these really take the cake! Japan has the best selection of sweets I've ever encountered! I wish it was fall all the time because that's when pumpkin flavored items get featured everywhere. September to November was heaven for me.

8. Top 4 places to travel?


I haven't traveled the world much yet, so this list is limited to Japan and America: 

Japan:

- Hakone
- Nikko (Check out my Nikko posts here!)
- Iwate Prefecture (come here if you want to experience the pinnacle of Japanese countryside living)
- Jozankei Resort (read about my experience here!)

America:

- New York (of course)
- Disney World
- Las Vegas
- Puerto Rico

9. What are you most excited for in 2018?

I can't pick just one! 2018 seems so promising, I'm so excited to just live my life and explore being myself in my truest form. 2018 is a year of self-care, self-love and trusting relationships. I'm excited to be here this year! I'm excited to be healthy and happy, and as blessed as I am.

10. Any persons inspire you that you’d love to meet?


The people that inspire me most tend to be the people around me, aka my closest friends! Once I leave Japan, I'm sure I'll be saying 'I wish I could meet up with xx'. I'm dreading that feeling right now, so I'm trying to live every day to the fullest and enjoy the wonderful company I have!

11. Fave place to visit at home?

When I was in high school, my friend Charis and I used to frequent Koreatown in NYC. It was the first time my Mom let me go out by 'myself' to the city, so it really symbolizes my adulthood and freedom. To this day Koreatown fills me with so many happy memories, I love going there with friends and just hanging out. I even got my first tattoo in Koreatown!

My Questions for the Nominees!


1. What's the goal of your blog?

2. Who's your target audience?

3. What do you hope for in 2018?

4. Favorite places to travel?

5. Biggest obstacle you want to overcome this year?

6. What was your happiest memory of 2017?

7. Which blog post that you've written do you love the most?

8. What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

9. Share a fun fact about yourself!

10. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

11. How has being a blogger changed your life?


I nominate...




Hope you enjoy reading everyone's wonderful blog, and once again thank you to Lena and Natalie for their nominations!

. Wednesday, January 10, 2018 .

Content warning: This post discusses sexual assault and death.



Netflix recently released it's newest series, The End of the F***ing World. This series follows the familiar pattern of recent 'edgy' content from Netflix that portray a mentally unwell lead character who 'changes' through the power of love.


. Monday, January 8, 2018 .

What is Seijin Shiki? (成人式)




Seijin Shiki aka Coming of Age Ceremony is a Japanese national holiday that takes place on January 8th, in which all people who are turned 20 years old within the past year are invited to an official welcoming ceremony. This day marks your official transition to adulthood and signifies that you're an adult in the eyes of Japanese society. 

If you're living in Japan, you will receive an invitation in the mail that invites you to the ceremony held at your districts chosen location. I live in Shinjuku at the moment so I was directed to go to the Keio Plaza Hotel at 1pm. 

My original plan was to rent a kimono for the day, attend the ceremony, and then return it right after. However, once I did some more research as to what goes on during the ceremony, I wasn't interested in attending. 

Regardless, if you're thinking about attending but not sure, I hope this can clear up some possible questions!

What happens during a typical Seijin Shiki?



Upon checking in, you mingle around and look for old friends to catch up with, take some group photos, and then take your place inside the lecture hall. Once seated, speeches from the mayor and other public figures, possibly even other new adults, will be held. Sometimes there are musical or theatre performances. There might be videos shown or presentations given. After those have commenced, most people take more photos and either return home or go out drinking with friends. 

I'm a foreigner, should I attend Seijin Shiki?


There's no correct answer to this, but my answer is no. This ceremony is a place where you meet up with your old friends from back in grade school and all become adults together. If you're a foreigner who attended primary school or high school in Japan, I think this ceremony definitely could be fun and of value, to you, and for that situation I recommend attending. 

Personally, I did not attend because I don't have childhood experience in Japan and no one to meet up with at the ceremony so it wasn't worth it for me to attend.  I'm not interested in hearing speeches and the kimono rental is a bit pricey, so I decided to not attend and save my money. 

How much is Kimono rental for Seijin Shiki?



This depends entirely on where you go and who you are. When I spoke to a kimono rental service in Shin-Okubo, I was told kimono rental costs for Coming of Age ceremonies average at about $200 to $500. 

This entirely depends on what kimono you get and where you shop. This comes with everything you need for a day in a kimono, which includes but isn't limited to: a fuzzy shawl, slippers, socks, a matching bag, hairstyle and decoration, and the kimono accessories. Since this price tag was a bit hefty for me, I asked for some alternatives and was recommended a furisode. A furisode is a type of kimono that is worn for Seijin Shiki, and it usually comes in bright colors.

Furisode tends to be less expensive, so if I chose to rent that one for the day it would only put me out about $60. 

Is it worth it?


Like I mentioned before, it really depends on your situation. If you know a significant amount of people attending and don't mind the itinerary, I would say go for it! 
If you don't know anyone else attending and the ceremony activities sound like a bore, I would say it's safe to skip this one. I know a few people who skip the ceremony but get dressed up and go out with their friends to celebrate their adulthood, so that's also an option if you still want to celebrate in some way.

I hope this post helped you learn a bit more about Coming of Age Day!

. Saturday, January 6, 2018 .

If you're interested in learning Japanese, but not sure where to start, this is the guide for you! 


I've decided to start a series that can give you the building blocks to starting out in Japanese! In this post, I'll be breaking up the basics of starting to learn how to read and write Japanese. This is absolutely imperative and should be the first thing you attempt when beginning your Japanese learning journey.

The first step is to gather practice materials. 


You will need:


- A pen or pencil. I recommend a pencil because you'll make a lot of mistakes when you're learning how to write.

- A designated Japanese notebook. Not only will it help you document your progress, but you can physically see your improvement with writing. I highly recommend you use a notebook to learn and NOT your computer. Manually writing will help you remember the kana better.


Optional:


- A printable Hiragana/ Katakana chart. You can download my FREE Hiragana and Katakana printables by clicking the boxes below!! Blue is Katakana, Pink is Hiragana!





The second step is to start learning the alphabet(s). 


Japanese has 3 main alphabets, with an additional romanized form of the alphabet. Romaji is how we would spell Japanese words in Roman letters, however, I strongly advise against using romaji in any capacity.  Romaji it doesn't help you understand the meaning of what you're writing. For example, the word 'ame' can mean rain, but it can also mean candy. Without some form of Kanji to help you, you cannot distinguish the meaning of this word using just Romaji.  

A good example of how quickly you should lose romaji starts with the popular Japanese textbook: Genki. Genki 1 uses Romaji for the first chapter of the textbook however by the second chapter all romaji is erased and replaced with Hiragana. In this same fashion, I highly advise that romaji be the first thing that you drop during your Japanese language learning studies. 

Learning the Kana (Hiragana and Katakana) is going to be the most important first step you take in learning Japanese. 

You may be asking: What do Hiragana and Katakana look like? 

This is a good place to whip out your Hiragana and Katakana charts! 

Hiragana (ひらがな) is used to write words that are of Japanese origin. 

Examples of Hiragana:


                 きもの       もり        みず          たてもの        しあわせ                でんわ             みせ

Katakana (カタカナ) is used to write loan words, which are words derived from other languages and input into Japanese.

Examples of Katakana: 


                  コーヒー            ノート          パン            ソファ ファッション             ジュース

From looking at these words, we can see some aesthetic differences that help us distinguish them. Hiragana tends to be more rounded, while Katakana has sharper lines.

When writing the different Kana, there is a general stroke order you should obey. It may seem difficult to understand at first, but as you write this stroke order will start to feel natural. Stroke order goes by the universal rule of, start from the top and work your way down to the bottom. Then, move from left to right.

Here is a diagram that breaks it down visually!


Hiragana 'A'

Katakana 'A'


If you're wondering how to read the kana, each character represents a sound, usually one where a consonant is followed by a vowel. Let's break down some of the words you saw previously! Words are basically 'built' this way!

きもの --> kimono --> (ki)(mo)(no)

コーヒー --> kouhii --> (ko)(this line signifies the extension of the same sound. This is exclusive to Katakana)(hi)(extend the i sound from hi)


You may be wondering: How should I study Kana?


There are a few tried and true methods of learning Kana. 

Written Repetition


This worked for me but can be monotonous for some. Essentially, this method involves copying a list of Hiragana various times on paper until you've mastered writing, effectively engraining the kana in your memory as well. This is a popular method used to teach children Kana. Children are given a kana writing notebook, which has boxes in which they can freely practice their writing. This kind of paper is called げんこうようし. 

SRS (Flashcard) Based Learning


This is a common approach taken by people who learn Japanese later in life. Flashcards can be reviewed at any time, and using a program such as Memrise or Anki, you can space out when you see certain cards, to maximize long-term retention. The only issue with this method is that this doesn't teach you how to write the kana by hand!

The Heisig Method


The Heisig Method is created by the James Heisig, the writer of the series Remembering the Kana/ Remembering the Kanji. It's a very well known method, in which the reader creates a story around the Kanji that helps with memorization. Some stories can be simple, while some can be fun and elaborate. For example, one can say the letter の looks like an eye looking at the side, essentially staring at nothing. This kind of story association is a unique way to learn and doesn't work for everyone, but there are some who swear by this method!

You may be thinking: How long does it take to learn the Kana?


I would say it would take a solid month for a medium speed learner to completely master both Hiragana and Katakana! However, this is a very flexible estimate. I know people who've taken a month to learn Hiragana alone, or learned both Kana in a week. It's all about how fast you learn and how much time you put into it. 

Don't try to rush through kana because you're afraid you'll seem too slow, take your time and study hard! Kana is the foundation of your Japanese, so everything from here on out is more practice!

I hope you enjoyed this first part of my Guide to Learning Japanese series! I'll be making more of these in the future, so please comment some things you'd like to see in the next installment! You can find all Japanese language related posts in the 'Japanese Learning' Category of my blog.