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Welcome to my blog!



If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place my friend.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years before becoming a mom of 2 beautiful girls and i love sharing about Beauty, fashion and everything about Japan because i'm currently based in Kyoto!
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10 Things I've learned after moving to Japan


Can't believe it's already my 2nd Japanniversary and 2nd Marriage anniversary as well! How time just flew by just like that and i wasn't exactly counting the days either because being a mom is busy enough that everything else becomes secondary. I particularly remember the month (May) i moved to Japan because it was like one of the biggest life changing and scariest decision i've made and coincidentally it concides with Aoi Matsuri; one of Kyoto's biggest & oldest festivals but unfortunately this year's procession has been cancelled due to COVID-19, so is Gion Matsuri by the way.

2 years of living away from home, does make me homesick on some days but according to my Malaysian mama friends in Japan, it gets better after the 3rd year (more like boh bian, immune liao lol). I told myself that i would make an effort to go back and visit my parents at least twice a year but that has been proven fianicially challenging (Japan to KL tickets are way more expensive than flying to Japan from KL, apa kebodohan ini?*) So going back at least once a year is our current arrangement and then this year we are slapped in the face with an outbreak so no one knows when we are able to fly again now.

*translation: what stupidity is this 

I know I've stopped updating my monthly life in Japan after the 1st year as i was tired and feeling burnt out and am thinking to pick up where i left off until i realised that it will be like reading a book with 12 chapters missing LOL. Such a sudden jump. If i bought a book with such missing pages i would definitely rage and demand a refund of my precious invest time following the series haha, macam Game of Thrones finale guys. So i "might" backtrack abit to connect the dots but no promises because my memory is seriously failing me quite badly (it's more than a severe case of mom brain). 
There are days i find it hard to even construct a single sentence (writing or speaking), and i do hope it's nothing serious except a brain having a ERROR404 moment. 

This year has been a tough start for everyone, we are struggling in our own ways (emotionally, physically, financially, etc) and most of us are stuck at home while our frontliners and essential workers are keeping things in check. So for those of you at home and bored out of your wits, here is something to keep you entertained lol. Over the past year since i've moved to Japan, I've been getting constant messages from eager Japan lovers, asking what is it like living here; the place of their dreams.

Sorry to be outright and to burst your unicorn dream bubbles, unfortunately i was once just like you all, an eager doe eyed and oblivious Japan lover myself before i moved here until i realised how much i had things better back at home (that's usually the case, ain't it lol). After trying so hard to understand their way of life and systems, while being a rational person at the same time; i've concluded Japan is not exactly for everyone.

Some might beg to differ and to each their own, It's not about being unable to see the glass half empty or half full because whichever way you look at it, nothing changes the fact that my experiences in Japan are as a local, not a tourist.

I'm not here to fight either because i'm just sharing based on my own personal experiences; if you had it good so far then let me clap for you or else bugger off, don't come raining on my parade ya :)
The internet is already filled with many entries of people singing high praises about Japan, so if you think this is just another one to feed your expectations about this country then you are sorely mistaken. Posting this entry alone carries a huge risk on my name but then again i pride myself on being an honest writer, what's the point if i only write sugar coated words just to please everyone. Might as well just start copy and pasting press releases to save myself the trouble from using so much brain


1. Mental Health Care is non existent 

For those of you who have been following me for years would know at some point i suffered from a  series of mental illnesses which i've openly shared about and till this day i'm actually still struggling with it. This was before post partum depression by the way and most mothers with history of major depression often develop PPD after giving birth, and i wasn't spared of it.
Those with any form of depression know it's not easy to function on a normal basis, we have high and low days, more often the latter and it isn't by choice either. Often we are just told to pop a pill and get on with life like normal, i've been on high dosages of medication from 2012-2016 and stopped when i was pregnant with my first baby. Fastforward today after a year of deliverying my 2nd child, these inner demons which i thought i have kept locked up in a chest started emerging again resulting me to seek professional help. And as expected, it has definitely something to do with their overall mentality here. I've often heard of how this is considered a taboo subject in Japan even till today while the rest of the world has became more accepting towards it but never did i expect someone certified to also brush the matter off like a fly on a wall.

I asked to be arrange for a session to meet with a shrink, but was denied every single time and just offered medication to numb my thoughts, this has been going on for a couple of months last year and i wasn't exactly happy with it. Why do these people (including the danna) think that depression can be easily cured with medication? I tried to educate the danna on this topic but he as a person who had an overall happy go lucky life, never once had to suffer couldn't understand why people are depressed and what's it like to be trap in your own mind. So he assumed it's like every other sickness, a cough or flu that could be treated with a course of antibiotics. I grew tired explaining that i decided to shut him out completely, he tried to be "helpful" but his ignorance was too much to bear because every word that came out of his mouth was pretty much inconsiderate & hurtful.

My psychiatrist only kept asking me the same thing every week, "how's the medication dosage?"
"And you should feel better because of the meds right?", "maybe can stop soon?"

And when i started breaking down, he told me to go back to Malaysia and seek treatment there instead when i already told him i'm living in Japan now that's why i'm here not in KL.
Wasted 3 months+ of eating that quack's medication with weekly visits and going nowhere so i decided to just stop seeing him altogether because they aren't allowing me to see a proper psycologist as based on the psychiatrist's "observation" he dismissed my condition as not serious enough to need one. Wow. So i need to self harm myself to be eligible to visit one is it?

I can definitely understand why people here would rather jump in front of train tracks right now.
There is NO HELP available.

Desperate cries are fallen to deaf ears, we are more than helpless at this rate that people only see one way out. When we say we are tired, we really mean it. Tired of this endless loop that haunts us every waking moment.

To Japanese people, "nah, it in your head or maybe you ARE crazy, but we shall not speak of it".

As you can see i've taken things into my own hands and started my own "therapy" session which was gardening to keep my mind off the dark thoughts, not sure how long this is going to work but it works long enough, not everyone is strong enough go through the storm on their own and i hope they find whatever bit of strength they have left just to hold on a little longer.
Back in Malaysia though the waiting list is long for goverment hospitals, at least i still could get proper treatment but over here i have no where else to go.

Those supposedly "mother support system" offered by the local goverment office where they just send one of their staffs with fake smiles to check on you, conduct interviews to rate your condition and that's about it. Not sure how in any way is it helpful especially when they keep saying things like come join our group talk where there are people like yourself making it sound like those NA meetings. Not sure if these people actually understand what it means to provide proper help and support to struggling patients instead of exposing their vulnerability just like that in front of a room full of strangers.


2. Hospital visits are a nightmare

Pray hard you don't have to visit a hospital while living here. Not sure if it's their policy or something, but somehow the doctors i've visited in Japan so far (various hospitals for various reasons) would usually just send you on your way with the wait and see attitude or outright reject you on the spot even if it's an emergency (because Japan), paying customers or not, you don't have a say.


Yes, undeniably medical care in Japan is affordable IF you have a Japan national health insurance card, without it you are a total goner. Even a single flu visitation would easily cost you RM500. I remember my most expensive hospital visit in Japan without any insurance was RM20,000+.

I've had my fair share of experiences starting from the day Mariko was pronounced deceased and i wasn't allowed to even see or hug her before they shipped her off for autopsy WITHOUT my consent and presenting me with an insane bill after. That was a horrible experience and i'm still bitter about it till this very day.

If you have a flu, you'll definitely be probed up the nose with a long scaper (similar like how COVID-19 tests are done), it's painful enough to make you choke and cry, all because you have a runny nose. Yipee. And you'll be sent home with a heck tons of medication enough to start a drug mule business.

When lil penguin was younger, she was quite sickly. Frequent hospital visits were made and often in vain because they'll say there is nothing they can do to help a suffering baby. We were sent home to just observe her condition and there was once she contracted a certain influenza from hoikuen which made it difficult for her to breathe, eat and drink. Even after going through x-rays to check her lungs as she was coughing non stop and having high fever for more than a week, the doctor just sent us home without any form of relieve which was too much for any parent to bear. I insisted that she was to be hospitalized and hook up to something to help her breathe at least, but was turned away until her condition worsen overnight resulting her to be hospitalized for a week+. Really wanted to tell the doctor handling her case "I TOLD YOU SO!", why am i the one telling you how to do your job especially when there are so many hospital rooms available during that time and was definitely nothing to do with man power shortage either.

And i noticed doctors here don't really know how to answer questions, most of the time as a patient, i'm left feeling more puzzled compared to when i first walked into the consultation room.
I remember asking the paediatrician why Japan's BCG has 18 marks when i only had 1 mark (i got it in Malaysia right after birth), she just answered more holes makes the absorption more effective(?) not sure what kind of answer is that especially when the vaccination dosage should be somewhat standard globally regardless of what needle size it's being administered in. Can anyone fill me in on this? Lol, i would seriously love to know why.

Recently i had a minor surgery and currently in recovery, i was told to go back the next day for a follow up, such procedures will usually send a tissue sample to the lab to test for any abnormalities and i wanted to know when i could have the results. The doctor in charge handling my case got annoyed for me asking and blantly said everything is okay (but didn't answer my question about lab results) and signal for us to go out. So i told the danna why it's important to know such things and he asked again on my behalf stating that we are paying customers so we have the right to know (it's not covered by our insurance by the way), that made the doctor even more angrier as he rudely dismissed us. Like how hard can it be to just answer your patients politely? Why the need to hide?
Not my first encounter with a rude doctor too, i realised (based on observation) most of the male doctors tend to be huge d*cks, probably to compensate for their small pathetic member.

Japanese themselves don't ask questions. Asking is blasphemous. Literally dishonor on you, dishonor on your ancestors, family and cow. Lol if you get the reference then we can be friends ;)

After so many visits and unanswered questions, i finally understood why Japanese people don't really stay to ask questions because their whole life is based on listening to authority just like sheeps, just go in, get diagnosed and walk out even when you have no idea what's going on, and doctor is always right. So don't worry :')

It's honestly TERRIFYING.

I can only think of one doctor i like who was very caring and gentle, she runs a small clinic that specializes in ear, nose and throat. Speaks a little English but definetely tries her best to answer whatever questions i had especially on medication (as i was breastfeeding at the time). Seriously rare moment like i struck a gold mine or something lol.

Oh and another thing to take note is the opening hours and days of hospitals and clinics in Japan, don't be surprised if they are closed on a weekends or any other day of the week like a restaurant/ shop. If your kid falls sick or injured themselves on a Friday night, do pray very hard it's nothing serious because the paed is only opened from Monday to Friday and IF you have no choice but to go to the general hospital emergency ward, don't be surprised if they turn you away because there isn't a paed on duty to take on your case. We have experience jumping from one hospital to another in the middle of the night begging them to take our daughter in, such a nightmare. I finally understand now why they say Japan's children mortality rate is pretty low especially if they are below the age of 9 (you can see posters of it at your local ward office).


3. Banks are ridiculous

Glory to online transfers or ATM transfers that doesn't charge a single cent in Malaysia (we get 4 free withdrawals a month with Maybank yo). In Japan online transaction is almost impossible and ATM transfers cost you almost rm30+ per transaction. So, if you have to make multiple transfers in a day, good luck having to pay a ridiclous additional sum.
Also don't be surprised with the ATM withdrawal & banking-in fees. Yes, you read that correctly.
Even adding money to your bank account COSTS money lol, i found out about this unexpectedly when i decided to add in some cash to my account at night and it turns out ATMs throughout Japan have a specific set of charges depending on working hours and days exactly like a human staff. I honestly thought the invention of such machines were to reduce the unnecessary manpower and divert customer flow in banks (so it's cheaper than hiring more staffs) by making it easily accessible to everyone but unfortunately that's not the case here. You want to use the machines, you gotta pay for the machines.

There are "some" banks who try to sell their packages to customers, getting them to open an account with them and one of their main selling point is "free withdrawals & adding cash".  I was honestly speechless because they would rather have people line up and crowd the banks just to save on service fees. Very outdated system indeed.

Online transfer is not a thing here yet because of the ageing population however i think this is just an excuse because Japan being Japan, stubborn as they are; definitely slow to embrace changes.
I kid you not even my 30+ year old danna-san has NEVER done an online transfer before (only through over counter banks & ATMs) until i insisted this was NECESSARY, especially when i needed to open a bank account in Japan because wtf? I'm not going to walk to the bank when i can do it at home man.  
Not many banks offer it but thanks to some friend's recommendation, i went for Shinsei Bank and it's also because they have an English support available (foreigner friendly) though i'm not exactly happy with the quality of their cards because it gets damaged so easily just being in the wallet with other cards (another wtf moment), i never had this issue like ever with my other bank cards except Shinsei's, had it changed like twice over the span of less than 2 months. Well, can't have everything in life so gotta give and take here. At least they provide 4 free online transfers monthly thanks to the package i took, even that has a limit and over 4 transactions, i will be made to pay additional service fees.

I've tried once to apply for another bank before Shinsei, they first made you as a customer go through a tough interview session on WHY you want to open a bank account, etc and though i've mentioned that i have limited keigo knowledge as i'm not a local, so please try to use simplified Japanese, the staff still went ahead with the difficult Japanese and she wasn't satisified with the answers i gave nor was the danna allowed to be present to help out. So she rejected my application just like that on the spot.

It's funny, because i remember banks are always looking for new customers to put their money with them, apparently some banks here are super picky with them, not to mention the rude service too. Yes i may be a gaijin but a customer is a customer, that's no excuse to act like an ass. Let's just say after that experience i boycotted that specific bank, even the danna was shocked with the rude service.

 And if you are looking to make international remittances (fancy word for transfer lah), you'll be interrogated like a criminal by the bank, no kidding. Even if it's sending money to your direct family or your own foreign account (with proof), you'll need to like declare tons of stuff just to make sure you aren't some money laundering drug lord or something, a real hassle and the remmittance fee costs alot too. That's why most people opt to use 3rd parties like western union or Transferwise, they obviously still do charge a fee for their services but it's lesser compared to Japan banks.

In this area, customer is definitely not king here, the bank is lol.

4. The Real Japan

Think I've stressed enough of how I hated their passive aggressiveness, indirectness and shoganai* attitude. There's a line between the Que Sera Sera phrase and pure laziness, theirs is definitely the latter.
Yes there are nice people, but keep in mind NOT everyone is nice just like the rest of the world, so do stop overglorfying them. Period.

*can't be helped/ changed so deal with it

If you have an important issue that needs assistance or clarification, often the answer is indirect-" not my problem (obviously said in a polite Japanese manner) please deal on your own".
This my friend, is called the "shoganai" attitude and just because this word has been ingrained into part of their culture, locals often misused it to cover up their laziness.

Instead of trying, they would rather just give up on the spot and say it can't be helped, for selected circumstances yes i can accept it and move on but not like when i need to inquire important documents from the local ward office and they can't even redirect me to anyone useful on the matter. If i know every single department staff that worked there, i wouldn't have asked, really.

Yes, they might be helpful in giving tourists directions just so they can find an excuse to flaunt their secret english skills, but i can't say the same for other things and i feel sad for the locals here themselves including the poor frustrated danna who's constantly running back and forth with imcomplete documents because some of these people are too lazy to do their jobs properly and won't clean up their own mess. Instead, customer is at fault.

People would argue and say, gosh but Japanese people are known to be so hard working, so how can they be lazy?

Anyone can stay in the office for long hours, getting work done efficiently is another matter.
Time and time again i've been proven right, various companies i've hired and worked with can't deliver what they promise, it's often work gets delayed for months or even get ghosted (VERY professional indeed) on an ongoing projects. Really wtf.
I personally experience first hand of a web designing project that got delayed almost 2 years now because the first company engaged promised all sorts of things and the person in charge of the project ran away with the files so the client had to hire someone else to do it based on the previous company's recommendation and that was 1.5 years ago and till today this new web designer has yet to deliver the end result. Baffling, all my years working with web designers i've never seen one that expects such a long period of time to complete when most projects takes easily 3 months or lesser because time is money to everyone, the longer it takes the more it's going to cost.

They are a talk big and do nothing kinda society, so don't be surprised if you sit in meetings discussing the same topic every week for the next couple of years but nothing gets done. Mine has been pending 2 years that I just gave up on hoping it will come true lol. Not a very effecient bunch, you'll probably see me repeating this line over again and again.
Staying here definitely gave me a whole new perspective compared to when i was a just a tourist, i finally understood why my Japanese friends in Malaysia gladly chose to give up their own home country and set up somewhere else with their family.

Discrimination is part of their culture so don't be surprised if you are subjected to such treatment. It's not you, it's just them.

The mentality and ways here can be suffocating as there is so much of social stigma & discrimination going around and everyone is expected to wear a perfect facade from the minute the wake up and even go to bed with it, society tries very hard to supress any kind of "abnormality" and takes pride in maintaining their ideal standards, if you can fake your way through this life, then you definitely deserve a medal for your acting skills (if it doesn't eat you and your conscience inside first).

If you are different in any way, you'll be immediately hammered down forcefully like a crooked nail that eventually bends and breaks but it doesn't stop there; you'll still be  hammered in until your broken pieces are one with the plank (-society's level of acceptance).

And last but not least, the people pleaser attitude. It's all about agreeing to everything just to please others just so you can fit in because of everyone in your group disses someone, you are expected to join in or else you'll end up being dissed as well behind your back of course. Mom gatherings at playgrounds are often filled with gossip time about others, etc; i mean, i thought it was a korean drama kind of scene but i didn't expect that to happen here. Like why is everyone here so free to do that instead of working on improving their own sad lives?  Such a competitive and manipulative bunch. Best to just mind your own business and try your best to not get involved with such people.

I'm honestly worried for my child one day because she'll be bullied for being a "hafu" (half Japanese), there's been quite a number of cases of hafu children suiciding due to excessive bullying and teachers not doing anything about it because of their "shoganai attitude". I honestly hate it when an adult says "children be children or boys be boys", it's our responsibilty as adults to educate them not let them get away with murder. I remember when my nephew tried to push his younger brother down the stair at our home and the mom didn't bat an eyelid and said it was normal kids playing, that's Japanese style parenting for you. Somebody could have broken his neck and die lady.

Oh, and regarding the indirectness here are are a few examples for you:

Person 1: Do you feel cold?

What person 1 means is that he or she is colds BUT they are asking you first waiting for you to AGREE with them lol

Person 2 : (guest in a plane tells the stewardess) It's cold isn't it?

What person 2 means, he or she probably wants a blanket, hot drink, is sick, etc and expects the stewardess to read the guest's mind instead of saying what he or she wants. 

Person 3: Do you want to eat xxx?
Person 4: No why?
Person 3: Nothing

What person 3 wants is to actually eat xxx but is waiting for person 4 to initiate that they should eat it together. 

After reading all these scenarious, if it doesn't make you go WTF and brain pain + flip table i honestly don't know what else would lol. This is what i deal with on a daily basis ya. I often have a huge arguement with the danna over this because according to him, i'm not "considerate" enough to think of what he wants a.k.a read his mind. I'm a direct person, if i want something i'll be specific about it and why beat around the damn bush and for goodness sake no human on earth can read minds unless you are charles xavier (Prof X) or Jean Grey! Really Cilaka.

It's also important to know Japanese language itself relies heavily on nuances. You gotta master reading in between the lines or can just take the easy way out by playing the gaijin card, sometimes it's better to pretend to be oblivious (in Bahasa Malaysia we say " buat bodoh") to save your own ass πŸ˜‚ now that's one of the rare benefits that i can reap from. But it doesn't always work with my case because of my face, it seems that i blend very well with the locals (we all asians look the same lah).
If you are a Japanese and still oblivious to the nuances then you'll have a harder time with everyone bitching behind your back for being  "rude" even though it wasn't intentional, you were just dense. Not such a merciful bunch eh.


5. It's generally expensive

The most asked question i get in my inbox for the past 2 years.


"Is it expensive living in Japan?"
As a Malaysian i won't lie, it is expensive for me, the amount we spent monthly here i could probably live in a nice condo suite near KLCC with an infinty pool.

Especially if you are living in the main city, everything adds up unless you diligently bring your water and homecooked meals along. There are heavily discounted meals after 7pm which you can buy and heat up for lunch next day (I usually do that because I don't have time to cook with penguin stuck to me during the day).  If you are living in suburbs (rent is usually cheaper there as well) then your local grocery store would offer more cheaper variety of groceries compared to those in the city. One of my favourite things to do when it was still safe to travel around was visiting suburb supermarkets lol, weird hobby i know but it's for market research and anything to save on household groceries for the week. The price difference is HUGE and the variety is more and arguably fresher too!


They probably expect people in the city to either be generally richer or to just live on ramen cup noodles and 100 yen onigiri daily.  I'm speaking from a middle class earning family here, not rich enough to travel every month let alone dine at expensive luxurious eateries and brag about it online everyday lol.  Remember the currency YEN is X4 for me as a Malaysian and i still mostly earn in MYR instead of YEN due to my freelance projects back in my home country.

Even if you are earning in YEN, you won't get much savings after paying your house rent, bills, tax, food, transportation & misc. I've heard from friends working in Tokyo that they are mostly living with their salary on a month to month basis, so you can imagine though the salary offered maybe triple from what you earn back home but living expenses is the main killer.

Back home for those in Selangor would know that water is "almost" free because it's subsidized by the local government, never in my life i had to pay water bills because i don't usually use more than the subsidized amount but in Japan you have to pay for everything so unless you have sufficient enough of cash to start up here, i personally don't think it's ideal to just jump ship without any proper plannings. Most foreigners living in Japan often already have their working visa and accomodations provided by their companies when they first move over, so that is a great safety cushion for them while they start planning on what to do next for the year after. If you haven't secure a job and decided to just move over because YOLO, may the odds be in your favour. When i was young i thought this was doable but after ageing, this kind of plan sounds like jumping out of a plane without a parachute and with hopes you land on your feet without turning into pile of meat mush. Being totally honest here.

Aside from expensive water bills (that's why we don't fill the bathtub in that often), there's also gas (for stove and heater), eletricity, phone and internet, transportation costs you'll need to factor in.
Because it's a country with 4 seasons, we definitely need to use the heater (air conditioner & hot water) everyday throughout the long winter days and sometimes all the way till spring too because it's just too cold, so you can imagine the gas bill monthly unless you don't mind layering and bearing the cold just to save on gas, our tactic during this period is to only use and camp in one room so we don't have to on multiple heaters. If you want to bath in freezing cold water during winter, be my guest, sleeping in a freezing room sounds like a better option lol. Want to be kiamsap* Malaysian during this situation also it's impossible.

*save money/ scrooge

Public transport isn't cheap, one bus ride easily cost almost RM10 ONE WAY lol. Every time of go down to Osaka it costs me RM50+ to and fro and imagine if i had to work there commuting everyday from Kyoto. Total ouchie. RM50 i can fill my car petrol full tank (okay lah about 90% full) and use it for a week before next refill. 
There are monthly local train passes you can get but not much difference and if you are lucky the company you work for "might" provide monthly transportation allowance/ subsidy.

And if you plan on getting a TV, be careful because NHK will slap you with a mandatory monthy bill though you did not subscribe to their channel, this is because you installed a TV satellite dish on your roof therefore you need to pay for them, totally f*cked up thanks to their broadcasting law (1950) which gives NHK right to charge all households this additional fee on top of the cost from your initial subscribed TV channel plan. Extra RM100+ gone just gone like that every month (RM1000+ a year), free money for NHK. You'll probably see this mentioned by expats on Youtube and how they avoid paying the bill when a NHK representive come knocking on their door. It's illegal not to pay and you might get in trouble with the law, so better be safe than sorry and just pay up.

If you have a hobby, for me it's sewing; those materials alone here costs a bomb so it's hard to keep a hobby going if you are trying to save money. That's why you don't see me churning out new costumes any time soon.

And POSTAGE.
Back home we use to complain that pos malaysia is insane for increasing their poslaju rates but bro, that's like 300 yen (RM8-10) to send a 1-2kg parcel. For Japan post's local delivery they go by box sizes so regardless of it's weight as long its within the sizing guide they'll charge you accordingly to their box rates. The cheapest is size 60 which isn't a very big box either (total dimension of length, width & height together musn't exceed 60cm) costs 800 yen that's like RM30+ and if your box measurement exceeds by an EXTRA 0.1CM, you'll be immediately charge the rate of the larger box :')

So go back and apologize to your abang and akak poslaju now πŸ˜‚

6. Marketing On Point

Japan is good in marketing, cashing in on their country's name & reputation, thanks to award worthy goods like the built in auto bidet toilet seats (but mind you we still have more squatters here compared to seats) and good kitchen knives then all of a sudden everything else is worshipped too.

People always get the notion that if an item is made in Japan, that means it 100% good/ effective. But failed to realise that it's the same everywhere, there are good and bad products and if everything is so good in Japan we wouldn't have Japanese people leaving bad reviews on products :)

Japan hasn't always been a completely honest country (which country is anyway?), I used to think wow they don't have fakes (counterfeit goods) here but if you look close enough there are plenty being sold openly lol. Some might argue and say it's inspired, bro a fake is a fake. Copy paste is a fake and that's called stealing copyright.

Yes, Japanese production companies are quick to respond to customer demands but there is always a matter of whether it has passed the actual approval of consumer safety standards because we all know that takes time to obtain, no such thing as immediate approval lol.
There was this anti virus tag being openly sold in drug stores after the sudden spike of covid19, and we all know an average consumer is lazy to read the ingredients at the back, as long the front design screams "PICK ME!!" then they are sold. One of the ingredients of this anti virus tag is actually harmful to the respiratory system, we all wondered how that got approved by the drug/ health safety ministry. A mystery. Backdoor money? Probably.

So just because there is the word "MADE IN JAPAN" doesn't mean it's all good.

There are SOME good ones but definitely not ALL.
Don't be a lemming just because an Influencer say it's good, do your own research first :)

Also this deserves a mention : LIMITED EDITION EVERYTHING

This is how Japan works lol, if they could slap the word limited edition on a human i'm pretty sure they would. While living 5000km across the ocean all i could do is drool over these merchandises, after living here, it's a constant battle of wanting to buy and saving money lol. No Shit.
I'm not the type that would splurge money on luxury items and usually try to spend within my means because what's the point buying something that gets you into a debt right?

I know this is how companies milk money out of loyal consumers, stuff like Uniqlo x Pokemon/ KAWS and people would actually line up for days just to get their hands on it even if it's in the midst of a pandemic. Hardcore sial.

Even food and make up isn't spared from this madness, if you like that particular flavour of snack then you better grab like a box full of it because the minute it's gone means it's gone. Hardly ever their limited edition items reappear regardless of popularity. It's touch and go life ya'll.

Love that lipstick shade and it's limited edition, trust me sis you won't find it in stock next month once they release their new seasonal range. Often bigger make up brands get their limited edition collection wiped out during the first 24hrs of launching so people like me who can't be bothered to camp wouldn't have a chance of obtaining it unless i want to cave in to a**hole scalpers on Yahoo auction or other sale apps. Yes, Japan has TONS of scalpers and it's their full time job, i don't mind watching these kind of people burn tbh, don't understand simple word "no reselling".


7. Local traveling is more expensive than going overseas

Legit problem and a no brainer here. For those who can travel around locally frequently without their gaijin privilege travel passes (JR pass, etc) then you know these are dead ass rich people. Fullstop.
Normal people can't afford that lol, every single time when my itchy ass wants to make a weekend trip to a neighbouring prefecture (this was before COVID-19), after calculating the potential expenses, we'll be like drop that plan and wait for a sale or something like our impromptu Miyakojima, Okinawa trip last year.

Even a trip to Hawaii is way more cheaper than going to Hokkaido. Yes, i've calculated the cost before and already checked the flight prices before the outbreak. The only thing stopping us is my Malaysian passport unfortunately lol, need to apply for additional travel visa.

When you consider driving, you'll need to factor in petrol and highway toll costs which isn't cheap unless you are spliting the cost among 4-6 people then it's somewhat "reasonable" but if you are a small family of 2 adults and 1 child like us, then that's not going to save much lol.

Heck this is why you'll see alot of Japanese themselves going to Malaysia and Thailand because it's so much more cheaper and they at least get to experience a change of atmosphere and culture unlike traveling interstate in Japan where they are (let's be honest), more or less the same lol.
Different scenery, still same language and similar menu just using local ingredients, that's about it.
The only place i can think off with super different kind of food from the whole of Japan is only Okinawa and that's because they aren't attached to the main island πŸ˜‚ You can read about my Okinawa travel post here if you are interested to learn about their food culture.


8. Wasteful Nature & walking garbage

Non stop physical member cards when there is already phone apps available like how China does it with their WECHAT app, tons of plastic bags (even when you purchase a single pen), unnecessary individual packaging (literally a packaging in a packaging), throwing out tons and tons of sealed unsold food (especially in Kobini, won't name and shame but i've seen it and it made my blood boil).
When you first move to Japan, every store you shop at will try to get you to sign up for their membership because point = cash and it's free membership so why not right? Not long after you realised you have a tall stack of member cards sitting at home waiting to be sorted and imagine bringing all of it out because you aren't sure when you'll be swinging by the shop again. Now i couldn't care less about collecting points unless it's grocery or baby related because that one we buy every almost week lol. 

Just recently some places started charging for plastic bags in effort to reduce the usage of it, it's a good start but Japanese are so used to being provided free plastic bags without even asking so it will definitely take a decade before they managed to be a plastic bag free community. I often have to remind the danna please take a recycle bag along but being a typical Japanese he'll say it's okay the store will provide it πŸ˜‘ It's so common to see these plastic bags flying around the streets too.


Don't get me started with their individual packagings inside of of an already packaged goods. Not surprised that one day even each piece of potato chip will get its own package inside a bag of chips. 
If it's a souvenier goods then i get it because those stuff are usually shared among friends and family, but im talking about common stuff we eat bought of the grocery store rack like the recent packet of oatmeal cookies i bought, i was expecting it to be like a normal cookie lined up in a tray but instead what greeted me was each cookie was individually wrapped inside on the tray so if i wanted to eat 5 pcs of cookie i'll have to rip and throw 5 pcs of extra plastic packaging. Wow. Not sure if these people have heard of reaseable clips or rubber bands so your open bag of whatever food doesn't go stale. 

Some might say Japan's recycle system is very good so it's not a problem, you are however forgetting plastic is still plastic, how it's made and discarded requires tons of energy. And we have to pay to get our rubbish discarded every week as well, it ain't free okay. Each ward have their own designated garbage bags which we have to buy just to fill in our trash (see? buying plastic to get rid of plastic, the irony), we can't use any kind of trash bags unlike back in Malaysia as long it fits in whatever bag available at home, it will still get collected by the garbage truck. If you do that here, the guys here would pick up everyone else's but yours and all your neighbours will end up judging you lol.

It's also a huge misconception when the world assumes Japanese people are all law abiding, clean citizens hence their country is trash free and also why you can't find public bins around. It's honestly the total opposite, I think even Singapore has cleaner streets compared to the main cities of Japan. If you are talking about countryside areas then yes, it's clean but definitely not their cities. I find it really disgusting when I see YouTubers or whatever Influencers roll/lick the streets of Tokyo for example because God knows it's been vomited or peed all over the night before by drunk salarymen. Gross.

I find myself having to pick up bottle and can trash littered around when there is a freaking recycle drink bin like less than 10cm away from where it was thrown and even food packets dropped right infront of my house, like wtf? Maybe an accident but at least pick up the damn squished bento packet like a civil human being rather than leave it there in front of someone's house.

The one that gets to me the most are cigarette butts, the drains of Japan are often clogged with them, you can see them being fished out at least once a week, any longer it may clog the sewage system. Smoking is very common in Japan so you can imagine the amount of butts thrown around on a daily basis. Outsiders would think Japanese smokers would abide the law and smoke in designated smoking spots where they can also discard their used buds but NOPE. You'll see them walking and puffing at the same time when it's supposedly illegal and could get fined when caught in action but the fine is so low that who cares if one gets caught lol. Seriously 1000yen fine? What's that?
We even have these idiot smokers leaving their ciggie butts in my garden just because there is soil there, makes me want to set them on fire, like you think this is your grandfather land is it? Suka hati throw your used butts on my compound.

I used to think "ahh it's because of the tourists that usually litters around", honestly the locals aren't any better at it especially now since we don't have any tourists wandering our streets due to COVID-19 lol. Since we are on the COVID-19 topic, most people are using disposable mask on a daily basis and it's no surprise to see them being littered ALL OVER the streets like it's the new plastic trash of the century. So if you complain your own country is so dirty, remember Japan is not any better because humans are all the same. Selfish beings that don't deserve earth.


9. Gambling & "adult services" is a norm

Gambling parlors and "special *ahem* clubs" are more common than public toilets, i kid you not.
In EVERY area you go to there is at least 2-3 large pachinko/ slot machine parlors, though gambling is considered illegal by law in Japan, there is a backdoor solution to it. As long cash outs are not done within the premises then it's considered legal, tadaaaaa! So smart of Japan! That's sarcasm by the way for people who can't read sarcasm lol.

These parlors are filled to the brim with people of all ages, mostly old ones waiting out the rest of their days due to boredom, it's considered like the adult's acrcade because it reeks of smoke and people who haven't bathed in days, to play is pretty cheap most of them start as low with 5-10 yen coins and to cash out your loot, you'll receive an "official certificate"  which you have to go to a secret location (not so secret by the way lol because it's literally a wall with a slot next to the parlor) pass the cert and they'll hand you the money.

I first heard about it from a friend because i was curious of how these parlors are able to operate when gambling is illegal in the first place and being a frequent visitor of kawaramachi, there is a big branch there; that's where i witness cash outs being (not so) discreetly done lol.

Did you know UFO catchers/ game centers are generally children friendly version of a gambling hub? Instead of winning cash, you win toys, candies and soft toys lol. Families would flock game centers every weekend trying their luck on these machines and i don't deny that it's fun and can be addictive (see gambling alert here, red flag!). I'm not saying it's bad, but everything in moderation people, anything over is an unhealthy addiction. Also sometimes it makes us feel like a winner mom/ dad when we managed to catch the toy our kid wants with 1 try, i'm sure parents living in Japan gets me on this πŸ˜‚

I can't say the same for adult gambling though because i've seen families breaking up over the loss of their family savings. That is a big NO-NO for me. 

Japan isn't ashamed to hide their "adult services", you'll often see promoters holding signboards in crowded parts of the city with lewd pictures on it promoting adult services and no one bats an eyelid towards it. I personally find it disturbing because this teaches children from a very young age that sexualizing a female body in an open manner is considered "acceptable" in Japan. It's not, fullstop.

Echi DVD anyone?

Then you get these recruitment trucks blasting out attractive songs on a loop in broad daylight, i innocently thought it was an ice cream truck or something because the song was really catchy and had the word "Vanilla" in it. And it gets stuck in your head like it or not.
The danna caught me subconciously humming the tune one day and asked whether i knew what that promotion song was about. Obviously i didn't at first and he explained it's actually an ESCORT service recruitment truck. FCK.... was the first word that came out of my mouth lol. 
Now i know why the mom we saw giving a sharp "shhhhh" to her child the minute he sang after the same truck at the traffic light. That seriously explains alot.

I used to be an escort myself but we definitely didn't get recruited with colorful trucks and catchy music, it was definitely more discreet because after all kids aren't supposed to get involve or even know about it.  

It's DISTRUBING AF.

Another thing i learned from the danna was clubs, pubs whatever night establisments in Japan have specific services. No such thing as all in 1.
How he knows though he is too chicken to visit one? His friend is a mama-san lol, met her once and i think she's cool. 

If it's a drinking only club, then you won't get more than just drinking with girls, if it's a club that sells "extra" services then you will get extra services. And the pay is seriously good.  
I once joked with the danna offering to do escort services again if he couldn't find a job next time lol, he said "why not?" It's x10 times more than what i used to earn per night back in KLπŸ˜‚

Prostitution is also illegal in Japan but that doesn't stop them from running their business with a cover up because there is always a loophole just like gambling :) 

I remember how scared the danna was of the bouncers which are usually positioned in front of the club/ pub along with the escorts trying to lure potential customers in. Lol. Please they aren't even buff lah bro, so skinny i can easily break their legs πŸ˜‚ even my bouncer friends have more meat and muscle on them. 

10. Inconvenience is Part of their Life

For a country that supposedly got "everything figured" out because heck they even invented individual banana casing (in Daiso) so you don't get squished banana for lunch, there are a few major things that i need to point out because it is a HUGE life inconvenience in general, not only me but to everyone as well.

Not everyone owns a computer or uses a smart phone, im not talking about older gen here but those below the age of 40. My sister in law is a perfect example of a person born in the mid 80s not using a smart phone so we can't send her photos or LINE msgs, we usually have to print out the photos hard copy and deliver it to her and to contact her it's either SMS or Phone email (old style, not gmail kind ya) because she doesn't pick up phone calls lol. I swear i have not sent SMS-es since 2011 because that's when smart phones were introduced globally but in Japan SMS is still a thing and it costs money per msg yo. It's funny because the world views Japan like it's TRON planet or something, way ahead of everyone else when it comes to technology but their people are way behind in adapting. And flip phones still exists in Japan lol.

Fax machines, video tapes are also still a thing here by the way. I thought those things died out during late 90s until i moved to Japan and it's like revisiting my entire childhood all over again. 

Paperwork
Japan uses ALOT of paper, most countries would have went digital by now but in Japan you have to fill in tons and tons of paperwork if there is a need to apply for something and the Japanese themselves aren't too fond of this system too because it's a hassle and often they have to fill in multiple copies of the same thing in those tiny form boxes. Don't think scan and email is part of their dictionary.
I remember when we first signed up for our internet subscription and filling in the forms alone took an hour+. Like wtf? We are just signing up for internet not buying a house, why is there so much of paperwork?
If you want to skip the paperwork, you gotta hire a middle man to do it and that costs alot of money as well leaving locals no choice but to put up with their outdated system.

Hanko not signatures

Hanko stamps, foreigners often think this is pretty cool because you get to carry around a stamp with your own name on it. Until you think of it, Japan doesn't really acknowledge signatures, that's what hankos are for. And so happened you need to apply for something official at the bank and forgot to bring your stamp, looks like you have to come back again just to stamp it. Hankos are super important to the locals because every official document under their name is sealed with that particular hanko, not signature and if it goes missing you are going to have a hell of a time. Might as well include in wax seals and dove messengers as well since we are still stuck in that era lol.

However i still fail to see how is a hanko more secured than signatures, because from my knowledge there are existing security systems to detect signature authenticity while the hanko is just a stamp which anyone can make an identical one at any random hanko store and even in 100 yen DAISO. UNLESS there is some sort of unique chip code embedded into each individual stamp that can't be seen with the naked eye (most unlikely) then okay lah but so far i asked and it's a nope. Just a good ol' round rubber stamp with your family name on it and there's probably thousands of other Japanese with the same surname as well. Anyone can steal your hanko and pass off as you :')

For foreigners, there are some exceptions where they'll make you use your thumb print instead of accepting your signature. Like how hard is it to just accept modern signatures?
There's something about having your thumb prints on documents, it makes you feel like a criminal or something because i remember a couple of years ago to release my late daughter's remains they required me to use a hanko for the document and being a foreigner obviously i don't have one and they made me use my thumb print because signature is deemed "not official".
After awhile i just roll my eyes whenever they ask for my thumb print because it isn't something i can change, but i still find it rude that they think my signature is a fake. 😀 seriously how dare you!
It's the same signature used for all my important documents and you dare say that to me just because it's not a hanko stamp.

Oh and the danna just told me that some banks don't accept hanko's that comes with built in ink though that is more convenient to carry around, at first i thought it was the type of ink used that caused it to be rejected but turns out the reason behind it is even more sillier.

A manual hanko requires a seperate red ink pad and when one stamps there are bound to be some imperfections of the stamping and if they were to stamp on multiple pages the ink also gets lighter as it goes along; while hanko with a built in ink provides a perfect and consistent print. Because of that, in the eyes of bankers it's deemed unacceptable (too prefect for a human so must reject lol). At this rate you'll be screaming in your head, just use signatures already lah!!


Cash over card/app society. It still is.

Most places would probably rely on apps now for contactless payment but Japan, they do have them but not every establishment accepts them unless their main customer flow are foreigners.
Japan has tons of stores running for decades/ centuries and the owners themselves aren't too keen on having their ways updated as they consider it a "hassle" hence they rather keep it cash only.
In main city areas it's easier to pay by card but mind you only bigger establisments have multiple payment options available, so to be safe carry more cash. In Kyoto we always find ourselves digging deep into our wallets for loose change just to pay because we don't carry much cash around to begin with (the danna is more of a card person).

Mind you that this even applies to hospitals, we have encountered a few times where we had to pay for the treatment upfront in CASH, and that's a large sum (like 400,000 yen) too because they don't accept cards.


Food Delivery is not a thing and that includes McDonalds as well.

It took an outbreak for Japan to finally realise how important takeaways and delivery services are lol.
Even so they have started offering takeaways, but delivery options are considered scarce so you'll have to call ahead and pick it up yourself (not exactly convenient but we don't have much of a choice here).
Yes, there is UberEats available but it seems Uber Japan sales team isn't doing much to sign up more merchants other than usual chain restaurants. And it depends on areas you live in as well, UberEats coverage is considered small so they don't deliver to most suburb areas.
The 2 whole years i stayed here there wasn't any direct McDonald's delivery available unless via UberEats until recently like last week i received a flyer in my mail finally offering direct McD delivery lol.

For every supposed convenience found in Japan there's probably twice the inconveience that lies elsewhere and we just have to suck it in because there is no escaping from it. It's literally 1 step forward and 2-10 step backwards kind of situation lol.


Bonus: traffic light and narrow houses

Lost count how many bruises obtained on a daily basis just going around the house, and I'm not even big built (medium size, 5"5) it's like their house are made for leprechauns or something. In videos their houses always look somewhat spacious the you realised an average Japanese isn't actually that tall and camera lenses obviously lie (wide angle) + white walls gives off the illusion as well #cheatmyfeelings
Having a hard time cooking in my kitchen as well because there is BARELY ANY SPACE for my ingredients on the counter like how does one prepare without risking of dropping their chopping board over. I had so many encounters of my board and knife falling to the ground nearly stabbing my own feet. Wtf.

And i'm not very familiar with traffic laws in Japan and the danna forgot most of it as well (he hasn't driven for the past 10 years) everytime when the pedestrian crossing light turns green and we are walking across like normal, there are ALWAYS cars swinging in uncontrollably nearly hitting us when they should be stopping no? If it was in Malaysia i would have shouted "You blind ah??" but here we can only give them the stink eye 😀

In Japan they call it blue (ao) by the way, not green (midori) but the color IS green. Makes me feel like i'm the only colorblind person here for saying it's green when everyone else says it's blue. 

These are just the few highlighted and i'm sure there are plenty more but i think this entry has dragged on long enough lol think it's nearly over 10k words.
This list might sound "petty" to some of you or i just like to whine and complain alot instead of accepting the cultural differences but i need to clarify this again that it's not a complaining post. I'm just highlighting parts of my life in Japan often unspoken of and people need to know about it especially if they do have plans to move to Japan someday.

It isn't all just about beautiful breathtaking travel sights anymore, you gotta take in both the good and the ugly side of Japan as well.

We all know when in rome do what romans do but try doing that everyday for the next couple of years/ decades instead of only for a week. Things that you once knew and deemed normal your entire life is now non existant and you have to relearn everything from a scratch again. That's alot to process my friend.


So if you are lonely, angry, frustrated, confused or sad while living here instead of the constant euphoria you were expecting; it's normal to have all these emotions, you are far from your family and friends. There are happy days but we should also acknowledge the bad and mediocre days as well, those are REAL & VALID.
If someone brushes you off saying you should be grateful to be living in Japan just because it's the land of THEIR dreams, please pass them a slap on my behalf. Those people are a bunch of delusional nutheads and i've encountered my fair share of them.

Back home i at least don't have to worry about my roof and windows being blown off by yearly typhoons and potentionally being buried alive by unexpected earthquakes :)
Being real here ✌

Life in Japan is far from perfect but it's the same elsewhere in the world, we all struggle to adapt in a new place. We try to call it home but can never truly feel like home.


I love Japan for her vast and beautiful untamed nature, changing of seasons, the rich ancestral culture that spreads throughout the land, crazy variety of vending machines and many more but sorry to say that there are some things i can't and won't be able to completely accept (maybe in time, but we'll see). The saying goes, you can love a country but not its people lol and i finally understood what it meant. If given a chance i would rather remain a frequent visitor to Japan than staying here full time, just to keep that "anticipation feeling" alive & burning.

So here's to another year of learning ahead, cheers!



Disclaimer: This article is about me sharing my experiences and expressing my honest opinions & not looking for a debate, in case you forgot that it's already mentioned above at the beginning. There are genuine nice people (i've met a handful) but like everywhere else rotton apples often make up a larger percentage. 


Yours Truly,

10 comments:

  1. This is such a good read! Thank you for the detailed (and non-sugar coated lol) information on what you've experience so far living in Japan. I knew one or two things partially, but now it's made much clearer to me. Great job ♡ I hope you'll be able to settle down and feel more at home as the years go on :)

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  2. This was so insightful! Thank you for this! I already knew some of these things (which made me reconsidered moving to Japan ahaha) but I didn't know there was more �� Honestly I feel like everyone who wants to move to Japan should read this and tbh I like how you said people shouldn't over-glorify Japan (bc ppl do that alot) and rmb that no country is perfect

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  3. Wow. Thank you much for sharing. For as long as I can remember Japan is one of the places I wanted to visit and sometimes would think it will be nice to live in Japan. I know for a fact that living in a place is completely different over just visiting for couple of days and so. But ALL your experiences and thoughts makes sense if an individual would feel that Japan is the coolest country and find out that a person needs to deal with unnecessary things with their dailys. It totally changed my view on how things affects people and situations to places you think got everything going on “techy” and cool. Did not know that there are other things that matters than Japan being a trendy country. I appreciate you being REAL here. Thank YOU much! Blessings ♥️

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  4. Your comments about Japan truly change my view, very insightful and makes me reconsider when I have dream before of staying in Japan one day.

    I thought of imagine myself of staying in Japan one day, but ever since I heard of the culture there it stops me from condidering making any action to continue that dream. Your thoughts and comments give gives impact and insight which makes it unique and could not find it in anywhere else, if I do not follow your IG account, it's greatful to see you care for the details and explains in hearts to make sure people understand it truly, I'm greatful there are people like you who serve true opinions for other people so that there would have lesser misunderstanding and clear peoples mind when making any related decisions

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  5. omg!! This basically summarised my living experiences in japan! I strongly agreed on first one.... when i had major depression and constantly suffered major panic attack, I actually seek for help but all of them either just prescribed me pills or "it's all in your head, you're going to be alright I'll increase the dosage of medicine".... sigh, even tho I've moved back to malaysia.... some of the experiences does haunt me till these days... regardless, I still had awesome time in Japan!

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  6. Thank you for your story sharing. Now, Japan is definitely not a great place to live, especially foreigners. I never been to Japan although itbis in my bucket list.

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  7. Now I understand why Japanese govt could not control Covid-19 situation as they are somewhat still stuck in the 90s mentality. Reading your post made me realised Malaysia is not a bad place after all. Besides our u-turn govt and extremely hot and temperamental weather. I'm glad I stayed in Malaysia.

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  8. Thank you for sharing. I've been living in Japan for 6 years(Kyoto for 2 years) and most of what you said is true. Although the part about Japanese being indirect, I think it's because you live in Kyoto you feel it even more(even Japanese from other prefectures are kind of scared about how Kyoto people sometimes say something but mean the opposite). A famous example is when you visit someone's house, it's getting late and they ask you "γŠθŒΆγ„γ‚‹?”, that means you've overstayed your visit and should get out straight away xD you can read more here -> https://matome.naver.jp/odai/2147434364894758501

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    Replies
    1. Although I'd like to add that everything gets better after a few years :) For me personally, it was like being in love/in a relationship - after falling in love, you begin to notice all the bad points but after a while, because of love(??), you start to accept the bad points along with the good points..
      Of course, not everyone would go through the same process but for some, it usually gets better

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  9. A friend of your Japanese friend.6/2/20, 6:43 AM

    I totally get what you are saying. I am a Japanese living in the United States for 23 years now, and I felt the same way when I used to live there. I like going back to Japan for a couple of weeks every year, but that's about it. I really don't wish to live there ever again.

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