10 de Julho, Dia de Portugal

10 de Julho foi dia de Portugal. Campeões da Europa contra as más línguas, contra as descrenças, contra os media, contra tudo, e contra todos.

4 da manhã de segunda-feira aqui no Japão, levantei-me, vesti a minha camisola da selecção, e cá vamos nós apoiar.

E no fim, lágrimas. Lágrimas de alegria incapazes de se conter nos olhos como nunca pensei derramar. 12 anos depois foi feita justiça. Pena não ter havido um pouco mais de humildade por parte dos franceses, mas não importa. Ficou demonstrado que o espírito de sacrifício, a coragem, a humildade e a vontade de vencer tombam qualquer gigante, seja ele do tamanho que for.

E no meio disto tudo lembrei-me de uma coisa: sou Português.

Tem sido uma aventura enorme a todos os níveis, com coisas boas e más, neste país do sol nascente, mas houve sempre uma coisa a chatear-me a cabeça: a minha identidade. Lembro-me de escrever algures há uns tempos que não me encontrava nem nos japoneses nem nos portugueses, por isso se calhar devia ser extraterrestre. Pois bem, as lágrimas de ontem vieram relembrar-me que sou Português.

É certo que palavras são muito bonitas e o que se quer ver é coisas feitas, e o nosso país precisa de muitas. Ontem os nossos heróis mostraram que se podem fazer. É só Querer. É uma grande lição para os franceses, mas é também uma grande lição para o povo português. Se quisermos vamos longe.

Esta coisa da identidade é tramada, principalmente quando falamos de dois países diferentes, e tão diferentes, e tão distantes. Continuo a achar, e é algo que ninguém me pode negar, que o Japão tem muito de bom e muitas coisas com as quais Portugal devia e deve aprender, talvez mais do que as que o Japão devia aprender com Portugal. No entanto quanto mais tempo passo aqui em Tóquio (que muitos dizem não passar de uma fachada do verdadeiro Japão, opinião com a qual concordo), mais superficial me parece ser esta cidade. Vive do imediato. Das novidades. Não há um pensamento a longo prazo, ou aliás, há, mas só quem tem coragem o tem. As grandes corporações, as grandes empresas mandam na vida das pessoas. É preciso fazer um sacrifício e pedir quase de joelhos para ter meia dúzia de dias de férias mesmo que se passem meses ou anos a fazer horas extra cujo salário é fixo e não muda nem que se passe noites na empresa a trabalhar. É como se a vida privada de cada um não passasse de um luxo a que só quem tem uma carreira profissional de sucesso pode ter direito.

No início esta coisa de ser estrangeiro e de ser tratado de outra forma chateava-me muito, por isso só queria ser igual aos outros japoneses e "misturar-me na multidão". Hoje vejo nessa atitude um enorme labirinto sem saída, saída essa que nem os japoneses sabem onde fica. E assim continuaria a virar à direita, e à esquerda, a ir a direito a um beco sem saída, a voltar para trás, num labirinto onde os senhores poderosos controlam a posição das paredes.

Pois bem, à boa moda portuguesa, se não fizer sentido contornar as paredes, desenrasca-se e salta-se por cima. E é essa a minha atitude desde há algum tempo. E veio ser extremamente reforçada por esta afirmação na Europa e por esta afirmação em cada um de nós. A minha vida vai levar outra volta. Recuso-me a ter a minha vida controlada pelos patrões dos fatos chiques e dos sapatos à Aladin que só se guiam pela corrente do rio que estiver mais perto. No entanto, isto não significa voltar atrás e/ou refutar a tudo o que aprendi e continuo a aprender aqui. Vou usar isso tudo como arma e vou mostrar aquilo que sou capaz - como Eles nos mostraram - sem olhar a críticas alheias e focando-me no meu objectivo.

Acho que queria dizer mais qualquer coisa, o que é que era já... Ah!

Obrigado.



Tokyo’s Incredible Underground Flood Defence Systems

For those who, like me, are amazed at how a city like Tokyo is able to stand where it is, and surviving to many natural disasters, here is one great video that might interest you! Enjoy!



Guest Post: WARNING! The 9 Most Common Tourist Traps in Tokyo!

Today I bring to you a Guest Post by an avid reader of my blog, Claire, from Traveltio!

She's a world traveler, having been to 3 continents, 16 countries, and 38 cities!

She writes about her experiences and adventures in her blog at http://traveltio.com/about-me/, so if you are an avid traveler as well, I recommend you to read her enthusiastic articles!

This time, she offered to write a post about Tokyo! More particularly, the most common traps a tourist can face in this giant city!

Please enjoy!

~~~~~


You’ve been to North and South America, wandered your way through Europe and even managed to hop on a few ships around the Caribbean, but there’s just one destination you’ve been dying to visit: Tokyo.

The food, the culture and the bustle of the city have called your name for years, and the pull has been strong, even if you don’t speak the language. But you’ve finally done it — you’ve booked a flight, downloaded a great app to help you get around despite the language barrier, and even learned all the things you shouldn’t do as a visitor in Japan. 

But while you’re dying to get out there and experience all the country has to offer, you don’t want your whole trip to center around the tourist zones. You want to see the sights, but also experience life like a local and maybe even save some money along the way.

And I have good news for you: I’ve put together a list of the nine biggest tourist traps in Tokyo to help you do just that.

1.     Exchanging money at the airport (or other major transportation hubs)

It may seem like the easiest option to just exchange some money as soon as you arrive in Japan, but doing so at airports and major train stations can cost you a lot of money without you realizing it. These areas often have ridiculously high exchange rates and fees, and they often deal with people who don’t know any better.

Do some research into good places in the city to exchange some money (not people on the street who will offer to do it for you), and change some out before you leave your home country so you already have some money on hand when you arrive.

2.     Visiting a cat cafe

It may be tempting to visit a cat cafe while you’re in Tokyo — where else can you play with cats while sipping a coffee or beer? — but these places are big tourist traps. They often overcharge for whatever drinks and snacks they offer, and they aren’t always the cleanest spots either.

Many of the cafe owners also don’t take great care of their cats (too many animals kept in cages and in a small place), so while the novelty of it may interest you, it’s typically better to not support them.

3.     Staying on the ground floor

Aside from being one of the largest cities in the world population-wise, Tokyo is also a pretty expensive place (as most cities are). Real estate in the city can be pretty pricey, with businesses getting sucked into paying more for prime locations, like on street level.

For this reason, a lot of these establishments charge more money for their goods and services (they have to in order to cover their costs), so try venturing upstairs, and you’ll likely find places with slightly lower prices.

4.     Venturing out in Roppongi

It’s been one of the main nightlife centers in the city for years, but venturing out in Roppongi takes some preparation and know-how. You can certainly find a number of great bars and clubs in the area, but if you aren’t careful, you can wind up somewhere you don’t want to be.

The area isn’t all bad — in fact it’s a great center for office, entertainment shopping and dining real estate. But there have been numerous tales of spiked drinks, stolen money and less-than-ideal situations.

5.     Taking a taxi

Public transportation in any new city can be a bit overwhelming, especially in one as busy as Tokyo. But if you rely on taxis to get you everywhere you need to go, you may be unpleasantly surprised at how expensive they can be.

Public transport is the fastest and easiest way to get around the city, just be sure to avoid the morning rush hour times (7:30-9 a.m.) if possible. You can even buy a prepaid transport card that works for the trains, subways and buses. 

6.     Only trying out the Michelin-starred restaurants

Japan may be home to a surprisingly large number of Michelin-starred fine dining options (or maybe that part isn’t so surprising), but if you only head to those spots, you’ll be spending a pretty penny on food every day. That’s not to say you should check out one or two, but don’t discount the street food you can find in Tokyo!

I’ve heard all the same stories about street food experiences gone wrong (and even lived a few of them, unfortunately), but the street food in Tokyo is some of the best around. When in doubt, ask a local — they’ll be more than happy to point out their favorite stops for ramen and yakitori.

7.     Paying international roaming fees

Most people travelling outside their home country don’t realize there’s another way to use their phones without being tethered to wifi or paying exorbitant roaming charges. But take it from someone who’s been all over the world and back — there’s a much simpler, and cheaper, way to go.

All you have to do is install a local SIM card when you arrive in your destination, and you can share those vacation photos, call your friends and search for the best sushi restaurant on the go without stressing over how much each text or GB of data is costing you. Just unlock your phone, buy a local SIM at a convenience store, and you’re all set!

8.     Spending money and time at Tokyo Tower

While the landmark was modeled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris and can be an okay viewing point to see the city from, it’s turned into quite the tourist trap since the 1980s. You’ll wind up spending more money than necessary for a less than stellar view.

Instead, head to the Mori Tower and its 52nd floor observation deck, the Tokyo City View. You’ll get an open-air, 360-degree view of the city, and on a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji off in the distance and still get Tokyo Tower in your photos.

9.     Shopping in Asakusa

Asakusa is a popular tourist spot for anyone visiting Tokyo, mostly due to the Asakusa Kannon Temple (also called Senso-ji). While the temple is beautiful and definitely worth a visit, lingering in the area to eat and shop can be a mistake.

Shopping in this district is notoriously pricey, and you’ll be better off finding souvenirs for family and friends at smaller, mom-and-pop stores dotted along alleys and quiet streets. Plus, you’ll be supporting smaller local business too!


Now that you’ve done some research and read up on what to experience and what to avoid while you’re in the Land of the Rising Sun, all that’s left is to pack a bag and get out there! Embrace the culture and don’t be afraid to try new things — and don’t forget to take a million picture while you’re there!

Win a Round-Trip Ticket to Japan with Wasabi!

Yup, that's right, you read well!


Wasabi is a new and innovative Japanese language service launched by Dan LCC., a company situated in Nagasaki which provides online Japanese learning!

Wasabi goes with the motto "Spice Up Your Studies", and has the goal of connecting the Japanese elderly who are eager to be with others with Japanese learners who are eager to study with native speakers.


Facing an ever growing aging population and with people leaving the countryside to live in the city, Wasabi allows the elderly people who live away from the lights to become more active, fighting their isolation, and at the same times, it allows foreign people to have the unique chance to practice their Japanese with them through Skype, at a reasonable price.


Please watch the video below to have a few more details!



Honestly, I think it is an excellent idea, and with very good prospects of success.

You can participate as well!

And there is more!

As this is a new service which launched recently, Dan LCC. is making a Japanese Speech Contest available to all, either you have a membership at Wasabi or not!

With absolutely no entrance fee, you can show your Japanese ability to the world filming yourself in a 4-6 minute video, and have a chance of winning a round-trip ticket to Japan! How great is that?


Don't let this great opportunity escape!

More info:

How to: Learn Japanese Fast

Yes, I know how much in a rush you are. I was as well!

But I have good news. It's simple to learn Japanese fast.

I must warn you that it is not instant, and it will mostly depend on your effort, but if you put that effort on the right direction, then you are going to save a lot of time.

I'm not a Japanese language master or some kind of expert in communicating in this language, but my study of it has allowed me to, among other things:

- Have Japanese friends and speak 100% in Japanese;
- Watch anime and drama without subtitles;
- Study in a Japanese College;
- Play in a Japanese orchestra;
- Work in a Japanese company;
- Be involved in a variety of situations where Japanese was needed;
- Reply by accident in Japanese when spoken to in English or Portuguese;

While not being a pro at all, this has its own value, so I thought I might share my experience with you.

Here's how I did it:

If you're a follower of my blog, you should have an idea that I'm Portuguese and that I also studied in Japan. To be precise, I started my study of the Japanese language in Portugal, in a short beginner course with a Japanese teacher that took place in my university. This is an important point. With a Japanese teacher. Because Japanese teachers not only know the language by instinct, they can always share the culture with you and teach you a lot of things foreigners can't.

During the course itself, which was 30 hours long, I was able to completely memorize hiragana, katakana, understand the basic aspects of grammar and have a glimpse at a few kanji.

I quickly decided I wanted to continue, so I enrolled in another course, also with a Japanese teacher. This time, it was a private course, which I attended for about two years. It may seem too long, and well, it is. But I had class only once a week and it was really at my own pace which also has its advantages though. I was in a quite tough time in my university course so I couldn't use as much time as I wanted in the Japanese course.

At this point, I had the grammar more or less consolidated and I was able to have an easy conversation.

The point here is conversation. You need to talk. Make Japanese friends, be it in your country, in Japan, or online. If you study the grammar and don't talk, it is not and will never be enough. Or rather, you might even learn more by talking that by looking at books. You get vocabulary naturally, you force yourself to speak in Japanese to face some kind of situation, and that makes it the best study.

And another point. If you like anime or Japanese drama, watch it as much as you can and get used to the accent. It's vital. First things first, you need to learn how to speak simple words in a simple way, and make sure what you want to say is understood by who you are talking to. So nothing better than getting the accent right and memorizing a few lines.

Returning to the Japanese friends topic, before going to japan, I already had a few Japanese friends. It's good not only to practice your Japanese, but also to learn about Japan and you can even hang out with them should you go to Japan.

In my case, as I didn't have Japanese people in my surroundings, I decided to search for friends online. There are various websites where you can do it, some better than others, so it's up to you to choose.

And here comes the most important part. If you are learning Japanese, you should be interested in going to Japan, I guess. If you can, just go. Japan is, by far, the best place to learn Japanese. If you can't go as soon as you'd wish, make preparations. Study in advance. Buy a dictionary, a grammar book. Download an app. Search the internet. Don't wait for things to happen. Be it for a short or for a long period of time, you can make the most of that time.

When in Japan, speak with Japanese people. Many foreigners tend to hang out among foreigners, which is their choice, but won't help their Japanese at all. Why not enroll in a Japanese school and stay with a Japanes host family? It's a great experience, I can guarantee that to you ;-)

This is my method. Of course there are others. If you were looking for an "instant-noodle" Japanese learning recipe, too bad. It doesn't exist. However, if you start studying today, you'll be one day closer to achieving your goal ;-)

Any questions, comments, etc., just send me an email or leave a comment below!


Anime: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女, Toki o Kakeru Shōjo, lit. The Girl you controls time) is a 2006 Japanese-animated science fiction romance film directed by Hosoda Mamoru (細田 守) and written by Okudera Satoko (奥寺 佐渡子).



The film shares the basic premise of a young girl, Konno Makoto, who gains the power of time travel, fact that she learns from her aunt Yoshiyama Kazuko. Makoto begins using the time-leaps frivolously to fix problems, but things don't do so smooth as she predicts...

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was released on July 15, 2006 and won numerous awards, including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.


I'm going to have to write a personal note on this one.

Recently I've been longing for summer, for the big clouds, the cicadas, the heat, that time of the year when you feel you can do a lot of things.

After asking for advice on an "anime where you can feel summer", I was suggested to watch this one. (As a personal suggestion, you can watch Summer Wars as well.) And after watching it, it instantly became one of my favorite anime works ever.



First of all, the animation and design quality is great, and the concept of the anime is fantastic.

It made me think about time, about the things that are precious for me, and how I must cherish the time I spend (and the time I don't spend) with them.

Just go ahead and watch it. It's a very nice, fun, and unique work of art.