Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sensoji Temple

Last Sunday I ventured out on my own to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa- it's the largest and most famous temple in Tokyo. To get there, you first walk through Nakamise- a long shopping street with vendors of all sorts selling souveniers, kimonos, food, and weird touristy items. I tried to just walk straight through telling myself I could browse on the way back. Although I did stop and buy a hot, fresh off the griddle, rice cake basted in soy sauce for 50 cents. It was awesome.

Upon entering through the main gate, there is a whole grounds area with different buildings: the 5-story pagoda which is an architectural beauty, the main hall which unfortunately the outside was having work done, the Sensoji shrine, the gardens and other small shrines. It was a calming time I had to myself, and I felt holy in a good way. I was able to see the monks praying and to get some insight into the religious aspect of the Japanese culture, though they aren't too religious. All sorts of people come and stop by, wafting in the incense (the whole area smelled amazing of incense) for good luck, and washing their hands and drinking the holy water.

After observing for a few minutes, I decided to splash my hands with the holy water too, though no drinking for me haha. I got another fortune as it is the thing to do, and it was another good one. It's kind of funny how the Japanese doesn't quite translate literally word-for-word into the English version so the fortunes are kind of disjointed and you have to make sense of it. But they're more wise, proverbial ones. And on the way back I took my time as I had nowhere to be and the whole afternoon to myself, I perused the shops and vendors on Nakamise street.Check out my gallery for all the pictures as I took quite a few.

Monday, September 28, 2009


On Friday we only had one casting in the late afternoon so I made use of my day and walked over to Yebisu Garden Place, about a 20 min walk from the apartment. There's shops, cafes, and a garden area I didn't even make it to (gonna have to make a 2nd trip). But what I did see, a priority on my list, was the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. I bought tickets to see the two exhibits they have going on, for a student price (one of the only perks of going to Miami-Dade), but the experience itself was priceless. It was so refreshing to have the alone time to get in touch with my thoughts, be meditative, deliberative, and completely conscious of my surroundings.

The first exhibit had photographs by a Japanese photographer who unfortunately had just passed away in February. His were mostly landscape-type photos of New York City and Japan in the 1970s as well as some recent works from Japan. Some of them were very interesting with the effects and perspectives, giving you a new way to look at things. Others were some-what ordinary and made me think to myself about how I could produce something just as "good" if not better. It really is all in the eye of the beholder. I am adding to my Goals in Life to have a gallery of my photographs someday.

The second exhibit was more people-focused and had portraits of people from NYC, Japan, and the USSR in the 60s-70s-80s. They depicted times of disturbance and liberation. Some showed the Japanese in a new light to me- drinking and being sexy and vulgar as it was a time right after a revolution. The NYC pictures were also very in-your-face with most subjects being of the nightlife: women in vulgar poses, transvestites, homosexuals, and the poor. I'm pretty sure I saw one of Mick Jagger too though. The USSR portraits were more somber, serious, and demonstrative of the political and social unrest that was occuring at the time.

All in all, it left me in a pensive mood and further inspired me to continue using photography as my artistic outlet- as a means of documentation of my journeys as well as to show the beauty as I see it in this world. Below is a large, blown-up photo outside the museum that struck me as a moment in time captured perfectly. It's so large that you get lost in it's romantic essence and feel almost transported there among the crowd.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday's Test Shoot

So on Saturday I got asked to do a test shoot because I had the hair length they were looking for. I was totally down to do it and excited for more pictures, though I really had no idea what to expect or what the concept was. I show up to meet the photographer at the train station and from our combined languages I get some idea of the shoot- going for a "bat" look? Only when we arrive at the studio do I see some pictures and realize he meant "bird" hahah. Crow or owl inspired. The team was all very young, artsy, and talented. The girl who did my make-up is only 22!! It was a very artistic collaboration that I was glad to be a part of- can't wait to get this pics this week... in the mean time here's some I snapped myself after the shoot. Obviously they look a little scary without the dramatic lighting effects etc. but I assure you they are going to be some kick ass pictures!This would be so cool for Halloween!

Peek-a-Boo Test

Pictures from the Peek-a-Boo hair salon test shoot are back! Wonder which ones will end up in my book... here's a few to sample. Check out my gallery for more.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hey homegirl!

This as well is at Shibuya 109. All the girls working in the various boutiques are decked out in the wardrobe from the store and they all look so good- it's quite an effective technique to get you to want to buy the stuff. This particular style I loved because it was one of the few different shops that wasn't all about the cutesy pearls, black, pink, white, ruffled, tweed, stockings, and furry jackets. After so long I was over it. This shop had more of a street style, tom-boy feel with jeans that are actually made to sit below the hips with cute boy briefs showing on top (see human mannequins above). The bright, shiny, puffy jackets and sweaters aren't too baggy so you can still see their cute girlish figure. I love it- thug style catered to girls so it actually looks cute. Oh and don't forget the fresh kicks!


I went shopping at Shibuya 109 the other night and it was intense. 8 floors of shopping with mini boutiques on each floor... pretty much the central hub where all the cute, stylish Japanese get their trendy outfits (after about 4 floors, it starts to look the same). Among the many different characters I saw out shopping that night, this one stopped me dead in my tracks and I had to capture this. What caught my eye before anything else was her cell phone that is completely bejeweled even the 3-D Hello Kitty bulging off the top of it. Unfortunately you can't get the full effect as it's obscured by her long nails that are manicured and painted with design and jewels as well. And of course the Barbie tee just completes the look since this is clearly the look she is emulating- a sort of Paris Hilton. What a doll.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Western meets girlie?

This girl looked too cute out in Daikayama (where the roomies and I went shopping last week) I had to snap a pic paparazzi style. I'm getting more comfortable asking to take people's pictures but this was a spur-of-the-moment one. I hope she didn't get too creeped out. She just looks so adorable in her boots and hat, but putting a girlish flair to it with the frilly pink skirt, pink undershirt, and pins on the denim vest! She totally pulls this off.

Chelsea candy!

I was at the Luna hair job last week when one of the cute make-up artists was asking if I had tried the Chelsea candy. I hadn't heard of it and was asking about it and they were laughing because it's like my name. I asked Aki (our source of all knowledge and things Japanese) the next day in the car and he knew it very well and told me about the commercials they have for it. I got so excited and asked if he could point it out to me when we stop at a store but we forgot. Then on Tuesday, Tessa had a job with Luna again and came back from it with something for me. I thought maybe it was a picture or something from my shoot and she pulls this bag out of her purse and said the girls ran across to the store and got it for her to give me! I was not only amazed at the candy and how funny it was- it's even spelled the same way!- but also at the sheer thoughtfulness of the gift! I don't know too many make-up artists or people I've worked with that would care about such a thing back in the States. This is why the Japanese are such amazing people. Now if only I could get on that commercial advertising my own candy...there are 3 flavors- "yogurt", "tea", and "butter"... one tastes just like a Werther's

Madeleine goes Japanese?

I had to stop this woman walking in front of me as I was walking behind her noticing how adorable the red beret on her head looked with her bob. She turned around and ended up being so adorably chic! She's bringing the French influence to Tokyo and I love it- complete with white ribbed tights. While she could probably pass for a 15 year old, she looks happy and that's commendable as this is definitely not a typical outfit I've seen here worn among her peers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kabuki time

This past weekend for us was "Silver Week"- a long holiday weekend where we had holidays Mon-Weds (though I still was working Mon and Weds)... but Tuesday, my day "off", I decided to go out on my own for a bit as I needed some alone time. I ended up deciding to try to see a Kabuki show at the old famous theatre in Ginza. Upon arrival, close to the 4:00 show, it was madness with all the people going in for that show. I had to wait in line for the next act (the shows run all day long, but you can go to separate acts) which the box office opened at 5:45 for the 6:10 show. So I waited in line, and luckily had my Japanese Phrases for Dummies book to help me get a better grasp of Japanese. While waiting, I notice I'm one of the few foreigners and probably since it's holiday, a lot of people are out and about. People of all ages are going to the shows, some older ones dressed up in nice clothes or even traditional kimono types, and some dressed regular in street clothes. I had a cotton Japanese-esque summer dress on with flip-flops so I felt adequate enough.
Close to opening time, they informed us the show was sold out and there would only be standing room. I decided why not I was already waiting... so the first show I stood for an hour and 20 mins or so with my purchased head set to understand it in English. The first one was about this group of Samurais dressed like priests who wanted to pass through a forbidden check point and how the coax the guards into letting them pass... while I was in the very back top section, I could still see quite well as the theatre is not that large and I have good eyesight. The main characters wear the white make-up all over their face, with special traditional hairstyles for wigs and big elaborate costumes. They speak Japanese in a weird, kind of slow way that emphasizes the syllables like "ooooooh eeeeeeeeyyy" etc etc. When that act was over, more people left so I bought a ticket for the 2nd one and was able to sit as it was the last show of the day. I thoroughly enjoyed this one a bit more as it was a love story and had more comic relief. It's a very famous one about this girl who rings the bell in the town that there's a fire and sacrifices her life to do so just to open the gates and save her lover's life. Oh, and the main female character is played by a man since only men are allowed to perform, and most of them are older- near their 70s. All in all, I spent a total of around 25 bucks for this experience and it was totally worth it- I feel like I got such insight into their culture and it was quite an enjoyable solo experience. There's not much else I can say to try to convey it as it's just one of those things you need to experience (and photography in the theatre isn't allowed). This is also, Aki informed me, the last year they will have the Kabuki theatre open for shows as I think they are going to rebuild it, so it made it even that much more special.

Test shoot

Monday we had a test shoot with Peek-a-boo hair salon: me, Olivia, Lora, and Tessa. It was long and tiring, but we did a bunch of looks and changes and it was crazy fun with these wigs! Some of it was kinda a bit much but we'll see how the pics turn out. In the meantime, a preview:

towards the end it got crazy- tights on our arms?

My magenta wig and pink lips- showgirl ready!

My Sunday Excursion

After waking up at 4:30 Saturday for Tsukiji fish market, Sunday I woke up at 6:30 to meet up with the Leons again and join them for a nice long walk/excursion. We walked from their apartment with Bella the Labradoodle to Hie Jinja shrine which was very peaceful and I got an excellent fortune from the fortune machine. Then we continued on to the Diet Building (like our capital building), then through a park to see the koi pond and feed them. Bella loves watching them eat, and tried to even get in haha!

Finally we arrived at the Imperial Palace where the Emperor lives. You can only stay outside the main gates unless it's his birthday (December) or New Years (January). But it was still quite a site. Checked those off my list!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Pictures can now be seen for your viewing pleasure on My Gallery site and will continue to be updated regularly so enjoy! I put up all the ones from my trip so far! More to come soon :)

link: http://gallery.me.com/che1sea

Tokyo Trends...

I have been taking in all the fashions here and loving it so much I'm snapping away every chance I get at someone's outfit since everyone here is so trendy! In addition to my posts about modeling and other Tokyo adventures, I will be adding an additional fashion update with people I've photographed out and about on the street- a la Sartorialist. Here's one for you today:

She is a very friendly, older woman who I passed on my way back to the apartment outside a convenience store. She was thoroughly enjoying her soft serve cone by her bike when I interrupted her asking if I could take her picture (although the image of her eating the ice cream was quite enjoyable, I don't like feeling too intrusive). She understood English and was surprised that I would want to take her picture. She started giggling and complimented me on my casual jean shorts and t-shirt outfit. She's one of the more brightly dressed people I've seen. Here, everyone is always making sure appearances are kept in order and looking good all the time. No one dresses like a slob in sweats and flip flops. America could learn a thing or two. Although it often puts me to shame sometimes when I want those comfy days and don't care about looking cute. They ALWAYS look so darn cute here!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

As fresh as it gets...

I woke up at 4:30 am on a Saturday morning. To go to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. And it was totally, completely, 100% worth it. I went with Jorge, LeAnne, and their son Alexander (who was a trooper for getting up early too). It was quite an experience- I definitely got an eye full. It's the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and has one of the largest wholesale markets of any kind. It handles 2000 metric tons of seafood per day with 400 types of seafood! And best believe it- I saw tons of things I didn't even know what they were!
playing hit the dumb tourists?

When we got there it was somewhere around 5:20 when the tuna auctions begin. So we made our way back to the auction- thank god I went with people who have been before because it is a madhouse trying to get through. There are tons of workers and employees whizzing around on carts bringing in shipments off docks, and the WILL hit you if you are in the way. It's not catered to tourists at all. It was kind of hard to be so alert and have your wits about you for 5 in the morning but somehow I was quite awake. The tuna auction was neat- the tuna is flash frozen and I never realized how HUGE they are. In person it's just unreal. They go for thousands of dollars!
I love me some fish! Guy in the back is cutting into yellowfin tuna head- massive!

Then after the auction we made our way around the fish market area browsing up and down the small aisles. Thankfully I didn't get any gross fish blood or water spilled on me. It was as close as you can get to the freshest fish possible. Many of them were still alive. It was so neat to take it all in- and in fact did not gross me out really. It wasn't too smelly either. Though some of the blood and fish heads were a bit much for my morning dose.

We made our way through the wholesale market which had all kinds of other foods and items, and little hole in the wall places to eat sushi- at 6 am!! There was a long line for the famous one, and other restaurants around too.
$40 Shiitake mushrooms- mmm yummy!!

Not going to lie- I was hungry and probably could have had some sushi had the group wanted it. Though we opted for Starbuck's instead. Much more my style for breakfast. I was back at my apartment in Hiroo a little after 8 and had the whole day ahead of me! (though a nap definitely took place)
beautiful Indian temple of some kind on the way to Starbuck's

It was so neat to see the whole process up close and how its done- now I know how it got to my table next time I go out for sushi!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Luna Hair Salon Job

Sample photos from the Luna hair job are above. The styling was awesome- very victorian, french, antique. With amazing fake nails crafted so beautifully and intricately. The makeup and hair were also executed so precisely and perfectly. I loved it, lots of fun- first night shoot. Went from 6pm to past 11:30... didn't get home till after midnight oyyy. But it was worth it the people were great and the pictures came out neat, kind of doll-like.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Booking jobs!

Up first: tomorrow night I'm doing a photo shoot for Luna hair salon. And from what I saw of Tessa's pictures, who shot with them last week, it's going to be awesome! I can't wait I'm going to get some great pictures out of it for my book (and get paid too).

Batter up: next wednesday I booked a job with QVC (I guess they have it in Japan too?) to be modeling some stuff on tv for the day- some kind of lingerie... bra and little shorts I think. Japanese tv is in for a treat!

That's all for now... more soon!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All stretched out

So there's a dance school across the street from our apartment and Hiromi, the woman in charge of the agency, called this evening and told me there's a 7:30 power yoga class there we could go to for free if we wanted. I went myself since Tessa had just gotten back from a long day doing a show and Olivia was fast asleep.

There were only 5 others in attendance, and I was the only English-speaking American. There was another "white guy" there but he spoke Japanese well and I couldn't tell if he spoke English. When I got there I was waiting in a tiny cramped space before entering the studio with the others as the dance class was still finishing up. I had been eyeing the two guys there speaking Japanese- the one white guy and the other Japanese guy who had quite the muscular build. I am always a little taken aback, yet impressed, to see men do yoga or pilates.

Upon entering the studio after the little girls in their tights and leotards exited, I was handed a yoga mat by the attractive, muscular Japanese man. I took a place and sat on my mat stretching and waiting for the class to begin. One Japanese woman at the piano from dance class looked at me and asked something to which I responded unsure of myself, "oh uh Hiromi said I could come? Hiromi said it's ok?" Then one of the Japanese women in the class said something to her in Japanese and then turned to me and asked in Japanese if I was a model and I nodded and she explained to the woman I live in the apartment across the street. I guess this is an understood system as we get to come for free to the classes, though I'm not sure what they cost in general but it's quite small.

After that was cleared up, our instructor started putting music into the cd player- it turned out to be the Japanese man! He began our stretching at the front of the class and so began the 90 minutes of yoga that I have not done in quite some time. I was able to follow along quite easily in Japanese having done yoga before and knowing most of the basic moves, but it helped that he would say some things in English for me. Or I would just turn to my left or right to observe my neighbor. It felt great to get so stretched out and focus my energies and concentration on something so intense, because let me tell you it was intense! I definitely pushed my body and my flexibility farther than it's been in a while so I will probably be sore tomorrow.

But it's just that, I am doing yoga in Tokyo (for free!) and it's unreal! And the instructor is attractive enough to be part of my motivation to come back next week... ;) sorry no pictures for this post.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Here Comes The Bride!

Today, Sunday, I had the bridal company job again. This time I was stuck being the bride but it actually turned out not to be so bad! It was pretty hilarious. Basically, this place puts on the ceremony and reception and dinner etc so me and this Japanese guy were part of the ceremony. It was weird putting on a wedding dress and performing the ceremony at 20 years old! I even had my "dad" (who was also Japanese and came up to my shoulders) walk me down the aisle (which had tiles that illuminated when we stepped on them). There was the "here comes the bride" music and priest and everything! We put our hands on the bible, pretended to put on rings, he pretended to kiss my cheek, we pretended to sign papers, and we said "I Do" to the vows all in Japanese ("Hai Chikaimasu"). I had to try to keep from laughing as we walked down together as being married and the Japanese couples there watching the mock ceremony threw rose petals on us while taking pictures. Then we did the "fashion show" for the reception dinner with the other girls and guys, had our lunch break where they serve us a lovely petite 4 course lunch, and went shopping. I made my 1st (and certainly not last) purchases in Kawagoe. Ugh the shopping here is awesome it's dangerous. Then went back for round 2. So I got married today. Twice. In Japanese. How many people can say that?!! hahaha!

2nd Weekend in Tokyo

As my 2nd weekend in Tokyo, it was my first weekend in the other apartment with Tessa from Tennessee and Olivia the 15 year old. Friday night, Tessa and I walked to this amazing bakery by the apartment and each got 2 slices of beautiful, delicious cake. Then we all had a crazy funny photoshoot just goofing around and being very anti-model and making fun of people who think they know how to model and know everything. I think this place is too tiny we were kind of needing to get this out of our system after the weeks stresses. See below.

Saturday was kinda rainy out so I just slept in, lounged around, and then met up with this American family I know here as mom worked with Jorge a few years back in Pennsylvania. Went to their lovely apartment, which has an amazing view of Tokyo Tower, and then we all went to dinner. Had some amazing sushi with Jorge, LeAnne, and their kids Kelsey and Alexander (haha!). Upon leaving, they give the women beautiful flowers! Talk about service, and chivalry! After the monsoon passed, we were able to walk around Ginza- the very nice, expensive shopping district. It was a lovely evening and so nice to just have a slow, laid-back night to take it easy as I feel I've been going so much lately.Jorge, me, and LeAnne in Ginza

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Very Special Casting

One of our castings was particularly special and memorable. We all were walking in, books in hand, like any other casting of the day, and we sat down in this office-like area with two cubicles. One woman from a cubicle came over and proceeded with the casting as usual, taking our books one at a time and looking through. She was very friendly though and asked me where I'm from in the US and when I said New York we got to chatting a bit about the last time she went and how cold it was, etc. After looking through all our books, she spoke some Japanese to Aki and he said that she wanted to give us something before leaving. She brought over this big bin of organized folders and proceeded to give each of us a little paper doll for our respective countries (U.S., Canada, Uzbekistan) that these 80-some year old Japanese ladies had made. They are to bring peace to your country and we all gathered around to take a picture holding these cute little paper dolls so she could show the ladies who made them.

As if that wasn't a generous gesture, she then took us over to the wall where she had 4 or 5 of these framed papers with Japanese and Chinese characters written so tiny that from afar it makes up a big circle. They take thousands of years to complete and have special energies. We each took turns going up to the framed writing and placing our palms over the center of the circle to feel the energy there. The girls said they felt tingling and warmth, but on my turn I didn't feel anything. I didn't want to admit that, but I really don't think I did. So she said it's ok not everyone does, and after the other girls finished, she wanted me to try again. She had me take off my shoes, stand on this chair as she held it, so I wasn't reaching up so high and could really feel it. She said to close my eyes and concentrate as she held my hand. I then did feel a tingling sensation that brought some warmth to my palm and was relieved to know something wasn't terribly wrong with me or my energy. She said it was because I think too much about what's going on around me and others. This is true. I think I need to practice meditation more and learn to relax and not think so much.

And THEN!! She asked Aki if we had time, she wanted to pray for us! So we all sat down with our fingers interlocked forming two circles in our laps, and closed our eyes. She proceeded to chant as monks do for a couple minutes and I at first felt a tingling in my head and then down my back. After she finished we opened our eyes and I felt an energy that had gone through me. She said it was an energy that came in through our head and passed through the body and back to our country, for safety and good luck. We were all so thankful to her and felt she was extremely caring of us as foreigners and it was such a unique experience I'm grateful to have gotten a first hand dose of the Buddhist culture. On our way out, we're all feeling energized and talking about how we're feeling light as feathers and in such a good mood, etc. We even forgot it was a casting or what the job was for. It really was amazing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First modeling job in Japan

Apparently this is what bridesmaids can be seen wearing in Japanese weddings. You American readers might more commonly know it from the My Size Barbie collection.

Let's just say I felt sufficiently ridiculous. Somewhere between a 6 year old and a cheezy prom date. I didn't think too much pink was possible, but this just about does it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Action-packed weekend

So to sum up the weekend as briefly as I can:

Friday was a long day of castings again, then I went out with the roomies- Lora (Canada), Zarema (Uzbekistan), and Ana (Russia) for dinner with a group of us and then to one of the clubs the models go to in Tokyo- Club Lexington. Here the drinking/clubbing age is 20 so I am good to go! Although I don't plan on doing it much, but I just wanted to see what the nightlife scene here is like. It was pretty fun, then we went for Karaoke and boy was that awesome! We had our own private room and got food and sang the night away! Or atleast attempted to...

Saturday was an adventure day! We went to Universal Studios: Japan (minus Lora, she had a casting) and it kicked ass!! We took the Bullet train to Osaka and that was so nice! Everything there was awesome, even though all the rides/shows/videos were in Japanese and I didn't see another single other non-Japanese person there the whole time, which was kinda cool too. I felt completely submersed and I'm loving their culture. The first ride we went on was a roller coaster and it was awesome- there were speakers where you rest your head and you can change the station to play another song but I kept mine on default: Michael Jackson's Thriller. It was one of the best coasters I've been on. Japan just does everything so much better. The Spider-Man 3-D simulation ride was probably the best one. It's just ironic I've never been to the original Universal Studios in Orlando and this was my first time, being in Japan. But they had all the same things I know the other one has. There is such a love of the American culture here it's hilarious.

Sunday was my first modeling job for a bridal wear company and we had to model the gowns for couples looking at what to buy/rent for their wedding. I felt like a My Size Barbie but it was fun in a very 6 year old kind of way. Kind of like Universal Studios. I feel that way quite a bit here lately though, I think it's the culture- very cutesy and childish but fun. For more pictures of the weekend, I took tons, check out my facebook album!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Earthquake!

I'm pretty sure I can say, after confirming with my sources, that I just experienced my first earthquake ever here this morning in the apartment while writing that last post!! It was tiny and just felt like someone was moving the room kind of and then little movements after... I have to say my initial thought when I first felt it was that the neighbors next door were having quite a good time (I'll leave it at that) haha.

Lost in Translation

So yesterday (or today for those reading in the west...) I got up at 9 to give myself time to run some errands and get a few things done before we have to call and check in for castings at 11. Those of which included getting postcards, stamps, and more yen. Easier said than done. It turns out postcards, especially in the less touristy areas like where our apartment is, in Nikka Meguro, are not so easy to come by. They don't sell them along with magazines or cartoons at the convenience stores or 100 yen stores too often. Or even at the post office. It's definitely an American thing and I'm going to have to go to some touristy American place to get them.

But the stamps and cash I was able to get at the post office. Though this was my first time getting a chance to venture out on my own since being here without Aki or anyone to help. Unfortunately the woman at the counter did not speak English and the phrases I know like hello and thank you didn't get me too far here. I felt like a stupid American as she had this puzzled look on her face in trying to understand my request to get money from a debit card. Thankfully, another employee noticed our difficulty and came to my rescue as she spoke enough English to help me. She took me over to the ATM and pushed the buttons for me (they were in Japanese- the English option didn't have an exchange feature) as I swiped my card and she had me write down the amount of Yen I wanted. The transaction was a success and I then proceeded to go up to the same non-English speaking woman to purchase stamps, and I thought a postcard as well. I wrote down the selection number of the stamps displayed in a rotating box that I wanted and that was easy enough, and then tried to ask for postcards. I'm fiddling around my "Japanese Phrases for Dummies" book trying to find the section I came across the day before with phrases for exchanges and post offices but the English-speaking woman came again to my aid. I'm making hand movements to draw a postcard shape in the air and she tells me they don't sell them there but maybe at a convenience store. And after clarifying that the Hello Kitty stamps I selected are 10 yen more than needed for postcard postage to send "to United States" I said it's ok and asked if I can still use them because I liked them more than the boring ones that are cheaper. So I purchased my Hello Kitty stamps and was on my way, told them "domo arigato" and felt a bit flustered.

It can be quite frustrating trying to communicate something and you can't find the words. I'm trying to learn as much as I can but when it comes down to it, the language is pretty difficult to apply to everyday use but hopefully I'm making some progress. I got back, checked in for castings and was told we had to be picked up at 1:30 so I had time to go for my first jog since I've been here. This apartment has a river behind it with a nice path that goes around it so I jogged around it and it was a great release. I was taking in everything I was seeing- the people out walking, biking, and opening up shop. There are tons of cute boutiques, restaurants, and hair salons along the river that I wanted to stop and explore more. It's a very nice, serene, quiter area and not completely urban and busy like downtown Tokyo. Tiny side streets and curving back streets, with lots of trees and greenery.

Throughout the afternoon, on our way to our various 5 castings which took us up until 7pm, everyone got very interested in learning Japanese words and we were all grilling Aki on how to say this, what does that mean? and practicing saying it all. It was fun and it's nice that we all have an eagerness to learn how to speak it, let alone the other questions we ask him throughout the day about the culture, etc. He's basically our little personal tour guide, giving us insight to the culture etc. I don't know what we'd do without him!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 2... castings- can't keep track

The past two days have been so busy that they kind of are a blur and blend together. Today I was the only one in the apartment who had to get picked up at 10:45 for a casting the other girls had earlier last week. I had some grape yogurt for breakfast that I bought last night at the 99 yen store (aka 99 cents) and it was interesting- a little too "grape" for me, and it had very sweet chunks of grape in it too. Oh, and atleast where I went for groceries yesterday, they don't have whole wheat bread here which is a major bummer for me since I haven't had white bread since... I don't know when. But I'm adjusting.

Anyway, had the casting and was back at the apartment for like an hour before we all got picked up again at 1pm for the rest of the castings of the day. Those of which included a variety of clients, similar to yesterday- department store posters, internet advertising, clothing catalogue, one for a bridal magazine cover. At one of them, we had to remove our shoes again and also pump anti-bacterial foam in our hands before meeting the client. They are very serious about the influenza here which is good I like this germ awareness! One casting was a very "special" casting as it is usually not like this, but the particular client is very generous and since he has a small office met us and took us for coffee. All 5 of us ordered coffees and sat down while he looked through our books. We liked this casting very much it was nice haha. The bridal mag cover casting was pretty cool though too. The building it was in was a huge corporate skyscraper that is all glass windows and futuristic looking with amazing views going up and down the elevators. It's quite interesting because they like to use young girls- 20 yrs old and under- for bridal stuff. Same for lingerie. It's very smiley and cute, not elegant and mature.

I'm still learning a lot about the culture but I've already learned quite a bit in only two days of this! But alas, I did not get a chance to get sushi today! I'll leave you with a hilarious quote from Aki our driver who we mess around with and he's quite funny. Somehow we got on the subject of Paris Hilton (she is pretty popular here). He asked if he could express his opinion on her and it went something like this, which I did not expect to hear from him: "stupid fucking slutty asshole!" hahaha! I told him most people in the US feel the same way. or something like it.

Below are some interesting Japanese fashions in a window display...

Oh, and of course, Tommy Lee Jones (or Tommy Ree Jones as it's pronounced here, who is quite popular) advertising for Boss coffee...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 1... 5 Castings

^^One of the castings took us here, right by the Tokyo Tower where we stopped to snap a picture on our way out. That little thing at the bottom is meeee!

So today I woke up around 10, after getting my much-needed sleep (around 11 hours), showered and got ready in the apartment that I share currently with 3 other girls. It's a little small but not too bad. I share a room with a girl from Canada, Lora, and the other room has a Ana from Russia and Zarma from Uzbekistan. I'll put up pics of them once I snap a few. We got picked up by Aki at 2:15 and went to pick up the other girls from the other apartment- Tessa from Tennessee and
Olivia the 15 yr old from Jersey. We had 5 castings today for all different things- one for makeup demonstration, a couple for catalogue, and one for a website for a tire company haha. They were all different experiences like some were in a studio/building, one was in an apartment where we had to remove our shoes and put on slippers. Aki drove us around to all of them and in between we stopped at a convenience store for some food. They have a lot of McDonald's, Starbuck's and Subway here, but most everything else is Japanese. And even the American places have better stuff than in the states- Subway sells french fries, and Starbucks has amazing stuff: Creme Brulee lattes, Mango frappuccino, and all kinds of beautiful desserts and cakes that we don't have at home! We had a bit of time to kill before our last casting- at 8pm! So Aki dropped me, Lora, and Tessa off in Harajuku and we got to shop for a bit. We went to Kiddie Land! It was already on my to-do list. It's an amazing place that makes you feel like a 6 yr old all over again- tons of Hello Kitty, Peanuts, Disney, Legos... 4 floors of fun for everyone!
So that was pretty much my day, didn't get back to the apartment until 9ish then had to run to the store for some food... which entailed buying a lot of packaged things that I have no idea what they are since I can't read any of it but atleast they have pictures! And I had Lora with me who helped to tell me what stuff is good to get. I had this yakisoba noodle thing for dinner that you add boiling water too- pretty good. But I'm still waiting to go have some sushi! Tomorrow I hope! For more pics so far, check out my gallery: