Summer Update: What I’ve Been Up To & Why It’s Been Quiet


Things have been rather quiet here on the ONK Blog so far this summer and it hasn’t been without good reason. As most of you who have watched my videos in the past few months know the house that I was living in started quite literally falling apart. There were massive leaks, bug infestations and the ceiling starting collapsing.

In an attempt to resolve these issues we contacted the housing agency so that we could get a scheduled time for a maintenance crew to take a look at the house. This process alone, simply scheduling a date for them to come, took over 2 weeks. The reason was because the landlady didn’t want anyone working on the house other than her approved construction company. To boot the only way to arrange to have this approved company to our house was to first get in touch with the landlady who has no cell phone or landline. This meant that all requests and contact made to her had to be via Japan Post. . . . . snail mail. When the 2 weeks had finally passed we had a scheduled appointment for someone to take a look at the house. They came in and within about 10 minutes determined that there was a problem that needed immediate attention. This was then followed by 9 straight hours of construction work on the house.

When the construction crews finally left we were told that it could not be determined whether or not the house was safe to live in at this time and we wouldn’t know for at least another 2 weeks during which time the construction crews would be working 9 hour days removing rubble that had been falling from the ceiling for however many years. Of course I was not going to accept thing as an answer and informed the housing agency that they needed to find us a new place to live by the end of the weekend.

The weekend for me was horrible. Concrete dust that had filled my house made it difficult for me to breathe. I had a headache that lasted for days and I had begun to develop a cough. . . . only over 3 days. I had also not been sleeping because the house was so infested with bugs that we were literally waking up in the middle of the night because they were crawling on us of falling from the ceiling onto our begs. When at last Monday rolled around we had gone to the housing agency, this time with photographs and videos, to demand a new apartment. We also informed them that we would not be paying for repairs and/or cleaning fees as the house was currently being torn apart by a construction company. When the people at the housing agency saw the pictures they were disgusted. We had shown them piles of bugs that were gathering at parts of our house, the lines of them along the ceiling and of course the huge chunks of our roof that were now gone. Immediately they looked into our options which unfortunately was only one. That same day we went to look at the apartment and decided that we would be signing the paperwork.

We had to spend another week in our decaying house while preparations were made in the next one but it was a good opportunity to get everything in order so that we could prepare for the move. We did our best to gather all of our things, throw out what had become ruined because of the house (which was much more than we anticipated it would be) and then were on our way. We finally got our keys on Friday. The only problem was when we received our keys we were told that some of the things in the house (stove, air conditioners and fridge) might not be working properly. This would not have been a problem if we were told this prior to moving in but the housing agency kept this information from us until after we signed the contract.

Over the course of the next 4 days we slowly moved into our new apartment. It was a long and hard process to do on our own but we simply couldn’t afford to hire a moving company so we had to make due with what we had. Everything worked out well enough and finally we had everything moved in. Then we learned, the same day we moved all the cold items from the fridge, that it was not working. We called the housing agency and informed them that the fridge was not working and that we needed to have it repaired/replaced and we were swiftly told that if we needed it replaced we would have to replace it ourselves because the fridge, as well as all other items in the house, was not “part” of the house and therefore was not the responsibility of the owner. Of course this is not something that I was expecting. We were already having to pay out a number of bills because of a move that was out of our control and now we were going to have to purchase our own appliances. This was not good for our checkbook.

Pissed off and out of options I started looking for a fridge that we could purchase with our modest budget. We looked for something used but they were either too expensive or not what we were looking for. Then finally we decided that our only option was to go and buy something new. We went to every appliance store on the island and finally settled on a little fridge that was perfect for us and only about ¥20,000 which we could swing with our budget. The only catch is that it would take one week for it to be delivered.

The next week was one of the hardest I have ever had. Summer in Okinawa is bad enough but when you’re trying to survive without anything more than a cooler to keep food and drinks cold it is a huge challenge. We were eating mostly takeout and prepackaged foods which were making us both feel horrible because our diet usually consists of nothing but fresh foods. We were trying to get vegetables but because of the heat and humidity they would spoil in about a days time sitting on the counter in the kitchen. It was brutal. Then finally the fridge came. It was amazing! I was so happy that it arrived and I would not have to eat any more preserved pre packed junk. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . then it didn’t work. It wasn’t getting cold at all. In fact it was hotter in the fridge than it was in the house. It took us a few days to get the issue resolved because at the time there was a major typhoon coming through Okinawa. Nevertheless I marched over to the store and informed them that it was broken and it needed to be replaced. They were happy to replace it. . . . . but unfortunately there were no more in stock. I could either wait another 2 weeks to have one sent down from mainland or I could pick another fridge. The thought of living for another 2 weeks without a fridge made it feel like I was going to puke so I decided to go with the second option. . . . pick another fridge. The only downside to this option is that I would ultimately have to pay another ¥10,000 that I didn’t really have but it seemed totally work making financial sacrifices later.

It took another 6 days to get the new fridge delivered and to my delight it worked just fine. I cold finally start getting my life back together! At that point I had to start focusing quite a bit on the foods that we were eating and the money that we were spending. Our usual food budget runs us at about ¥1000 per day but that had gone up to about ¥3000 a day without a fridge. On top of that I was sick for about a week because my body was literally detoxing from all of the nonsense that I had been eating for the last 2 weeks. It was horrible.

Thrown in a typhoon, tropical storm and some other little hiccups and you’ve got yourself all caught up with where I am right about now. As you might imagine I didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend making videos or writing blog posts which is why there hadn’t been much up on the ONK side of the house.

So where are we going from here? I’ve got a new channel called YenniePincher that focuses on cooking videos. That posts new videos every Tuesday and Thursday. I also have an all new channel called Kitty Does Japan which is posting daily vlogs and other videos to come in the future as well. I will continue writing here but it might be a week or so before things get back into full swing as I learn how to juggle everything that I am doing right now.

Stay tuned and of course thank you for your support!

Lipton Japan: This ain’t your grandma’s tea!


This Ain't Your Grandma's Tea: Peach Tea

Tea is to Japan what apple pie is to the United States. There are few places around the country where you won’t find tea and even fewer people who don’t consume it at least twice a day. However, the tea here in Japan is not often like the tea that Americans, like myself, are familiar with. They tend to not be as sweet and lack the elaborate flavorings that you might find from a company like Arizona or Sobe. Of course there are always companies trying to boost sales with new and interesting teas that stand out about the rest. This is where Lipton Japan comes into the picture.

This Ain't Your Grandma's Tea: Shikwasa

Lipton, a tea company that most Americans are probably familiar with, has a decent size presence here in Japan despite focusing only on tea (unlike Coke, Kirin and other brands which also have juices, alcoholic beverages and more). They sell a variety of tea offerings here in Japan including three main types of containers to include cans, PET (plastic) bottles and cartons.

This Ain't Your Grandma's Tea: Orange Marmalade

In my household the favorite type of Lipton tea are the ones that come in a carton. They can be purchased for around ¥100 at local grocery or convenience stores and come in a variety of flavors. Like other companies in Japan it is not uncommon to find Lipton playing with different flavors and themes to include the most recent which is known as “Tea’s Travel” where they sample flavors from around the world.

This Ain't Your Grandma's Tea: American Tea Lemonade

This creative theme took consumers on a journey through places like Turkey with their “Turkey Apricot Tea” and London with their “Orange Marmalade Tea”. They even went to the good ole’ USA with “American Tea Lemonade”. Each tea is unique and features a distinct taste that is different from the next. Unfortunately all are only available for a limited time.

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OFF ISLAND TRAVEL: Taking The Bus (from Narita Airport)


Once you have successfully left Okinawa and arrived wherever you are going, in my case Narita Airport, it’s time to make your way to your final destination. There are a variety of options to get from the airport to your final destination but two of the most popular are via train or by bus. In this post we are going to talk about taking a bus from Narita Airport. 

Finding the bus once arriving at Narita Airport is very simple. After collecting your luggage you will see a variety of signs which lead you to various destinations throughout the airport including the bus ticket counter. Following these signs, and the people, will bring you to the arrival terminal where you will find  various small shops and ticket counters for both trains and buses labeled in English as well as Japanese.

Taking The Bus: Ticket - Tokyo, Japan

When approaching the ticket counter you will see display boards behind the attendants showing destinations and departure times. Like elsewhere in Tokyo the signs will rotate through Japanese and English for your convenience. It may take a moment so being patient is key to ensure you get the destination you are looking for.

Helpful Hint: Researching what bus companies carryout routes to your specific destination prior to your trip is important. This can easily be done through a Google search or through the airport’s website. It is also important to note that buses do not continue to run throughout the evening and some flights may come in at a time making you unable to take a bus to your destination. 

Purchasing a ticket from the attendants is relatively easy. In my experience they have always had at least enough English language ability to assist even non-Japanese speakers or had someone available to assist at an arm’s reach. You will inform them where you want to go and how many are in your party. Once you have paid you will be given a ticket which again, as I mentioned before, has English and Japanese making it easy to comprehend. The ticket will inform you of the bus stop number, departure time and destination. The attendant will also clearly mark all of the important details and direct you to the exit nearest your bus stop.

Taking The Bus: Stop Number 11 - Tokyo, Japan

Once you have reached your bus stop you can take a breath because the biggest hurtle has been cleared. Now you simply have to wait for and board the appropriate bus. Although this might seem intimidating it’s actually quite easy thanks to the help of the bus staff. They will not only check your tickets and answer your questions but they will also check your baggage and give you ticket stubs so that you can collect it once reaching your destination.

At this point your baggage is checked, loaded, you’re on the bus and you’re riding alone excited to get to your final destination. The next stop is wherever you are going. Once arriving there simply get off the bus and show the driver or attendant at the destination your luggage ticket stub. You will be handed your luggage and you’re on your way!

Taking the bus is a great way to get to your destination without having to tackle the train system with your luggage (or even little kiddles). However, it is important to understand that not all buses run to all destinations at all times. For example the bus to the Tokyo Disney Resort ends service out of Narita Airport at 5PM on weekdays making the train the only option for those with flights coming in after that time. Researching these specific details can be done ahead of time so that confusion can be prevented.

Have you ever taken the bus out of an airport in Japan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!