Showing posts with label Living in Hamamatsu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Living in Hamamatsu. Show all posts

Friday, March 11, 2016

3 Things to Know About Hamamatsu

The Act Tower in Hamamatsu and Mt. Fuji in Shizuoka
photo credit:

Here's a recent email I got from someone who's coming to work in Japan:

Hello Faye!

I'll be coming to Japan this April. I've been hired by Interac and I will be assigned in Hamamatsu. I was glad to find your blog. It was really helpful. 

I just like to know what other things should I know about Hamamatsu? I haven't heard of this city before so any information would really help. 



I'll post my response to her email just in case other people are curious about Hamamatsu City. It's not as popular as Tokyo and Osaka so I understand the slight apprehension.

I could list a lot of things about Hamamatsu but I think here's the top 3 things you should now:

1. Hamamatsu is a windy city. 

Being windy is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Hamamatsu. Because of the wind, winters feel a lot more colder than the actual temperature. There are also days when the wind feels and sounds too much. On my first year in Hamamatsu, I had trouble sleeping on windy nights. The wind literally howls. I was also afraid that my rooftop would be stripped by the wind. Eventually, I learned to sleep in the midst of the disturbing winds.

On some windy days, cycling and walking would be a challenge. I was almost afraid that the wind can carry me. Just be prepared for the winds is what I'm saying.

2. Hamamatsu has a considerable population of Brazilians and Asians. 

When you arrive in Hamamatsu, you'd notice immediately the Brazilian and Asian population. They're always around the station so it's easy to see them. As of 2015, there are more than 25,000 foreigners in Hamamatsu. Half of them are Brazilians. More than a quarter are Koreans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Indonesians and Peruvians. There are many factories in Hamamatsu that employ foreigners. Hence, the foreign population. As for the presence of the Brazilians, they're mostly of nikkei descent. This means they were children or grandchildren of Japanese people who intermarried in Brazil.

Because of the foreign population, Japanese residents are used to seeing gaijins. Foreigners are not as rare as when I stayed in Iwate, Kochi or Okayama. For a foreigner, it's actually comforting to know that there are other foreigners in the area.

3. Hamamatsu is in a good, accessible location.  

Hamamatsu is bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the south and the Akiha mountains in the north. It is blessed with nature. For someone who loves the outdoors like me, it's a great place to live. It is also a great starting point when travelling domestically. It's halfway through the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka. It's near Nagano for skiing and Izu for swimming. It's also accessible from Nagoya Airport and there are three bullet train lines that pass by Hamamatsu. If you're planning to travel around Japan, Hamamatsu is a great place to be in.

Other things to note that may or may not be helpful:

  • Hamamatsu is known for the gyoza, unagi, tangerine and green tea. 
  • It's also a musical city. Concerts happen all-year round. 
  • A number of companies are headquartered in Hamamatsu like Roland, Photonics, Yamaha and Suzuki, Because of this, there are plenty of company English-teaching jobs
  • It has a direct bus service going to Nagoya Airport. 
  • There's a big festival that happens during the Golden Week. It's worth participating in. 
If ever you've been assigned in this city, don't be scared, It's a safe and a well-populated city. It may not be as exciting as the big cities but it's not inaka. You'll enjoy it here. I hope. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Unagi Pie Factory in Hamamatsu


Unagi is the Japanese word for eel. You know the long fish that doesn't look like a usual fish. 
Hamamatsu is apparently popular for its unagi dish and unagi pie.Yeah, you heard it right. Unagi pie. Eel pie. 

I was puzzled the first time I heard about unagi pie. To have a pie made of eel doesn't very appealing to me but it seems intriguing. 

In reality, unagi pie is just a usual cookie-like snack coated with unagi powder.  It doesn't taste fishy.It doesn't taste like an eel. It's sweet and cookiesh. 

You can find how unagi pie is done in the Unagi Pie Factory Hamamatsu. It's located in the west of Hamamatsu, off the busy central area.

Here's the complete address: 748-51 Okubu-cho, Nishi-ku, Hamamatsu-shi, Shizuoka, 432-8006. 

It's not an accessible place by public transportation. You can take a taxi from Maisaka Train Station. 

So what can you see in the factory? 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Go Karting in Hamamatsu

Ready to Go Kart!

To celebrate my 30th birthday, my friends and I went go-karting last Sunday. 
There are three go-kart areas in Shizuoka. The nearest from Hamamatsu is the Quick Hamana Circuit. 

How to Get There 

We originally planned to take the bus but a friend thankfully drove us there. 
By bus, take the ones going to Isami. You can find them from terminal No. 2 at Hamamatsu Bus Station. Ittakes about 30-45 minutes. Get off at Ohitomi or Sahama nishi stop. Fares are around 400-500 Yen.


Upon arrival, a Japanese staff explained the plans we might avail: 

2500 Yen for 5 Laps (plus 300 for the face mask)
2000 for additional 5 laps
3800 for 8 laps with free face mask
2000 for 2-seater karts, 3 laps

All of us got the first plan- 2500 Yen for 5 Laps. 

After choosing, the staff handed us go-karting agreements that we should sign. 

Quick Hamana has no English staff but it has an English version of go karting agreement. It has the rules and reminders first-timers might need. 

Once the forms were filled up and payment has been made, we were briefly oriented on how to use the go kart. Instructions were given in Japanese. My friend helped us understand what the staff is saying. For those who has zero Japanese and no Japanese friend, they have an English translated version on paper. 

After instructions were given, we waited for about 15 minutes. The place was a bit crowded. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Unlimited Pizza at Grazie Gardens

Craving for some pizza? Satisfy your cravings with Grazie's unlimited pizza.

Okay, that sounds like a sales pitch. But really, I love Grazie so much it's a sin not to share it.

Grazie is an Italian restaurant chain. I think they have three branches in Hamamatsu- one near where I live, one near where I work and I don't know where the other one is.

The one near my apartment is where I frequently go. It's along Nakatajima Road,  south of Hamamatsu Station. It's about 20 minutes from the station by bus or car. You can take Bus No. 4 to get there.

Grazie has the usual offerings of an Italian place- pasta, pizza, salad, dessert and wine. What makes them unique is their wide variety of pizza. They have the usual kinds and some rare ones. They have curry pizza which I highly recommend you try. They have dessert pizza which resembles a crepe. They have Japanese flavored pizza. Take note that the pizza are all thin crusts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mutsugiku: Famous Gyoza Restaurant in Hamamatsu

gyoza restaurant after the chaos
Hamamatsu currently holds Japan's "Gyoza Capital," title. It has the most number of gyoza consumed in 2014 retaking the top position from Utsonomiya,Tochigi. Households in Hamamatsu spend 4,000 to 5,000 Yen for gyoza annually. 

Hence, gyoza is one of the "must-try's" food in Hamamatsu. It's not hard to find a gyoza restaurant but one of the most popular gyoza place is _____________. It's located a few minutes walk on the South Side of Hamamatsu Station. It's behind Royal Host Family Restaurant.

When I say it's popular, it's really popular. A queue in front of the restaurant is a common sight. In fact, my friend discovered this place because of the constant queue. She doesn't really care about gyoza and I don't really care about gyoza so we don't really search for gyoza hidden gyoza places. This place was just very noticeable and intriguing because of the queues that we decided to give it a try.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Strawberry Picking in Hamamatsu

Strawberry greenhouse in Hamamatsu
 Who likes strawberries?

I do! I do! I do!

And you probably do too. 

I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't like strawberries.

Luckily, Hamamatsu has a number of strawberry-picking places. You can't pick strawberries all over Japan. Some people have to join tours and travel for hours before they can pick fruits. So, I'm really lucky to be in Hamamatsu.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Princess Festival in Hamamatsu

If you have nothing to do tomorrow, if it doesn't rain and if you live near Hamamatsu, I'm inviting you to see the Princess Festival in Hosoe-cho, Kiga, Hamamatsu,

Kiga is about an hour away from Hamamatsu Station by train or bus.

All the information about the Princess Festival are here:

The Princess Road Procession

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fitness Centers in Hamamatsu

photo credit:
Thinking of getting in shape after the winter binge eating?

You can always go out and start jogging around the numerous parks or along the rivers. But it's still chilly. Or, you can go to the nearest fitness gym and start sweating out the added weight. 

If you live in Hamamatsu, below are some fitness centers I can recommend. Their monthly fees are almost the same, about 8,000 to 9,000 Yen. If you'll be using their facilities in off hours, they'd give you 1,000-2,000 Yen discount a month. All of them opens from around 10:00 am to 11:00 pm. Bring you Residence Card and Bank Book if you decide to join these fitness centers.

Just a tip, these fitness centers have regular membership promotions. They would sometimes have 0 Yen Membership for the first month. If you also know another person who would like to go to the gym, you can sign-up together and get a few discount in your monthly fees.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Heavenly Hot Spring in Hamamatsu: YU Fukei Shiori Onsen

outdoor onsen at Yu Fukei Shiori, Hamamatsu
photo credit:

I've been living in Hamamatsu for more than 2 years and I can't believe I missed this really nice onsen near the station. It's about 3.4 km from Hamamatsu Station. The onsen's name is Yu Fukei Shiori.

I've been seeing this onsen since last year when I started cycling regularly everywhere. I didn't try going because I thought it was one ordinary onsen. Then, my aunt who lives in Tokyo gave me a surprise visit last weekend. After dinner, she wanted to go to an onsen. I didn't want to go all the way to Kanzanji or Bentenjima cause it's already late. I remembered this onsen near the station and told her we could try going there. 

I had an idea what bus to take but I didn't know the bus stop. We took Bus 51 and we just told the driver to drop us off at Shiori onsen. I forgot to look at the bus stop so until now I don't know what stop. I'll have to go there again to find out. (And have a nice bath too!) Bus 50 and 8 also pass by the same stop. 

Shiori's entrance is a 5-10 minute walk from the main road. It's quite a hike because the driver drop us off the stop before the onsen. We should have gotten off at the next stop, just above the hill leading to the onsen. A car would be the ideal form of transportation. I don't have a car so we just hiked and walked and breathed hard. 

After all the side stories, let's check what Shiori onsen has to offer:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What To Do When You Lost Your Bus Pass or Train Card?

Nice Pass (Hamamatsu's Bus Pass)
New Year, New Bus Card for Me!
I don't know if my bus card was stolen or if I just unknowingly dropped it. 
Last Friday on my way home, I lost my 2-year bus pass. I don't know really know what happened. I swiped it upon entering the bus. I took a nice nap on the bus then when I woke up, I can't find my bus pass. I searched my pockets, delved into my bags, hunted around my seat but my green bus pass was nowhere to be found. I kept looking and looking until the bus arrived at the station. I was the only passenger left, still madly scrambling for my pass. The driver took pity on me and helped me search around the bus. He just then told me to get off and go to the Lost and Found department of the station.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Repost: 12 Crazy Things You Can Buy From Don Quijote

Butt Pillows at Don Quijote
photo credit:
From tight man costumes to butt and breast pillows, from Nose Up that lifts noses to Black Man underwears that lifts penises. These are only a few crazy things you can find at Don Quijote.

For those unfamiliar with Don Quijote, here's what Wikipedia has to say:

"Don Quijote is a discount chain store througout Japan. It carries a wide range of products, from basic groceries to electronics to colothing. This store is well known in Japan and is often referred to as Donki. Distinctly, Don Quijote keep very late hours for Japanese retailing (up to 3 or 5 am or even 24 hours) and it packs its goods from ceiling to floor in a distinct merchandising strategy encouraging customer to "discover treasure" and possibly return to the store to find a remembered item."


Friday, November 7, 2014

Small Europe in Japan: Nukumori no Mori, Hamamatsu

Nukumori no Mori, Hamamatsu
Tucked away in the quiet town of Waji, Hamamatsu are the small lovely shops of Nukumori no Mori. Nukumori no Mori means Forest of Warmth. 

I've been hearing about Nukumori no Mori from a few people but I haven't got the chance to see it until last Monday. Monday was a holiday, one of my friends was celebrating her 30th birthday and another friend wanted to test her driving skills, so off we go to Nukumori. The fine weather was a perfect backdrop for the fairytale-like structures which we're about to see. 

From Hamamatsu Station, it took 30 minutes by car to get to the place. There's free parking across the gentle slope leading to Nukumori. The entrance can easily be missed because there are no clear signs. On peak days, just follow the throngs of people. They're probably headed there. (That's what we did!)

From the road, we walked for about 5 minutes before we saw the small cluster of buildings. They look like they came out of the pages of a storybook. However, Nukumori no Mori is no forest. The whole area is not even that big. There are only 2 shops on the left- a leather purses shop and a sweet shop. On the right is a big house-like structure. It has a restaurant on the basement. On the ground floor are assorted items- figurines, pottery, jewelry, candles and some interesting trinkets. There's some handmade bags and dresses on the second floor.

Across the yard is a small cafe. Aside from coffee, they have cakes and bread. Only my friends bought some cakes and they said it tastes good. (When does a cake taste bad?) The yard itself is peppered with small tables and chairs which are great for a light snack.

It took us half an hour to sightsee, take some pictures and buy the cakes. The place was that small.

So should I recommend it? Only if you're heading in that direction or only if you have another place to visit within the area. Maybe if you're on your way to an onsen in Kanzanji. In our case, we headed further north to Kiga to eat lunch in an Italian place there. We only took this trip because we have the convenience of a car. Otherwise, I would say, it's not that worth it.

If you still want to visit, here`s Nukumori no Mori's website.
It has a guide map for those wanting to visit.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Coffee and Comfy: Garage Bakery and Cafe

photo credit:
Tired of crowded Starbucks? Try this new cafe in Hamamatsu- Garage Bakery and Cafe.

Far from what its name means, Garage Bakery and Cafe is a cozy place to hang out. It's spacious with several tables outdoors and stuffed couches indoors. The general feel is vintagey but the design is eclectic, interestingly.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Where to Eat in Hamamatsu

If you check my About page, I mentioned how Hamamatsu is an international place even though it's a small city. It's common to find Brazilians, Filipinos, Indians, Europeans and Americans. I think it's partly because of this diversity that it's easy to find international cuisine in Hamamatsu. This is considering that Hamamatsu is not a big city.

Here are some food places to check out when in Hamamatsu. All of them offer delicious and affordable food.

1. The Naan Center

This is the first place I often consider when I want to dine out. They serve Indian food (obviously). You can choose how hot and spicy you want your curry to be. If you order their set meals, you also get unlimited naan or rice. I've never asked for a second serving though because the first serving is already filling. I also appreciate how friendly the Indian lady who owns the place. I love their cheese Naan and Keema curry. The best time to go is lunch time. Dinner is just too busy.

Cheapest Set Meal:   700 Yen (includes salad and choice of drinks)

Location: It's in Nakajima-cho, near my place. Since most people don't know where I live, I suggest you check their FB page . You can take bus No. 1 from Hamamatsu Station. It's across a noticeable convenience store.

2. A Ri San

This is a Chinese restaurant. Food is good and so far, they're the cheapest Chinese place I know downtown. Recommended food is their blocked tofu with some sauce. I also like the rice with eggplant. Service depends on who is on duty. The place is not really great but it's okay. It's a favorite hang out place of office workers so the place tends to be full most of the time.

Cheapest Dish: 400 Yen (Some vegetable dish, good for 2-3 people)

Location: It's about 15 minutes walk from Hamamatsu Station. Walk to the direction of the big Japan Post Office. It's along the road where JoyJoyJoy Karaoke is also located. A Ri San is on the basement of a red building on the corner. You can take Bus 41 or 51 although I highly recommend walking.

3. La Macheria

I looooove this Italian place. Food is great, place is homey and the service is efficient. When you order a pizza or pasta, you can have unlimited access to their salad bar and drink bar. Their salad bar offers a wide range of choices so it's totally worth it.

Cheapest Food: 1300 Yen on lunch time (This is a kind of pasta but you can have access to the salad and drink bars)

Location: It's hard to describe where this place is. Phew! It's also near my place. It's along the road parallel to the Naan Center. The problem is I don't see any buses passing by this place. I suggest asking the staff at Hamamatsu Bus Terminal for directions. Sorry. I'll check it again and update this post.

4. Bamiyan

This is another Chinese restaurant but the place looks so much better than A Ri San. It's airconditioned with comfortable seats like a regular family restaurant but it's far from Hamamatsu Station. Some food are spicier than in A Ri San but they're still okay, I think. Recommended food are their vegetable dishes.

Cheapest Food: 500 Yen (Some vegetable dishes without rice yet).

Location:  It's along Nakatajima-kaido. You can take Bus No. 4. It's on the left side if you're coming from Hamamatsu Station. It's hard to miss cause you can see other restaurants around it too. Parking spaces are available.

5. Servitu

Servitu is a Brazilian restaurant just around Hamamatsu Station. For only over 1000 Yen, you can already eat various Brazilian dishes buffet style. They also offer different desserts so it's totally worth the money. This is the first place I dined in when I came to Hamamatsu two years ago. I was so happy getting a break from Japanese food and have something more tasteful. They also have an international store. This review on Trip Advisor of Servitu may help.

Location: It's on south side of Hamamatsu Station, near H and M. It's past the bicycle parking place. They have a big sign so it's easy to find.

I'll write some more places on another day. I'm sure these five places will fill you for now.

Send some Japanese food to your loved one: 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Late-Night Cyling and Shopping in Hamamatsu

I planned to cycle the outskirts of Hamamatsu this summer. But the heat was very discouraging so I've done my cycling at night. Cycling at night is awesome! Few cars, less people and refreshing breeze. The only problem is there's no place to really go at night. The only places I've visited during my night cycling trips are late-night stores.

Here are some places I've visited Hamamatsu when dreamland was still far away:

1. Seiyu

Seiyu is a 24-hour supermarket. It has more items than your average kombini or convenience store. The goods are cheaper too even compared to other supermarkets in the area. From Hamamatsu Station, the nearest Seiyu is only about 15 minutes for a cyclist of normal speed. If you're still up for an intense late night cycling, go up to Hamakita for a bigger Seiyu store. They have clothes, shoes , bags and household & office items.

How to Get There: Follow the JR train line from Hamamatsu Station going to Toyohashi. Cycle on the side opposite of Entetsu so you don't have to cross the streets. It's behind the building with a YAMAHA logo but it's not the Yamaha Office. Use Google maps if you're still lost.

For Seiyu Hamakita, follow the red train going to Nishikajima. It's near Pleha Walk, the mall near Hamakita Station. You can't miss it cause it's really big. I'm telling you now that it's really far.  It took me more than an hour to get there and I regret going that far at night in that area. It's pretty dark along the way and I'm one of those people who are afraid of the dark. I don't recommend cycling at Seiyu Hamakita at night.

2. Don Quijote

Instead of going all the way to Seiyu Hamakita, there's a nearer department store from Hamamatsu Station called Don Quijote. It's along the same road as the nearer Seiyu but on the opposite side. Cycling there from Hamamatsu Station takes about 30 minutes or more depending on your speed. The whole first floor is a big supermarket with some clothes, shoes and bags too. The second is a department store with more clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics, household items, appliances, etc. Don Quijote is only open until 2 am.

How to Get There: Again, just follow the JR train going to Toyohashi. You'll ride past Seiyu, Cats' Cafe and Mc Donalds. You can't miss it cause its building is quite big. It has a blue top with a huge parking lot. It's across from a car office.

3. Mc Donalds and Denny's

There were some days when I got tired looking at items at Seiyu and Don Quijote. As an alternative, I'd cycle to 24-hour food shops and grab a dessert or some snack. For late night food cravings, there are Mc Donalds and Denny's.

How to Get There: Mc Donalds is along the same road as Seiyu and Don Quijote. It's between these two stores. I like this particular Mc Donalds place because it's bigger and more quiet than the one in the station.

Denny's is on the opposite side. It's quite hard to give the direction in writing except to say don't follow any train line. Cycle along the road going to AEON Irino. That's the simplest direction I can give. Again, use Google maps for clearer direction.

I wish I've cycled to more exciting places but I'm too weak for the summer heat. Summer's almost over so maybe I can take up day cycling again. Problem is, vacation's almost over too so I don't know when I'll ever get to cycle to nicer places. Anyhow, at least I've got some place to go even at night. I might even have memorized the prices of their goods there.

 How about you, where do you go for a late-night bike ride or walking trip?

Monday, August 4, 2014

How Not to Have a BBQ Party in Japan

I thank God for giving me patience and understanding last Saturday.

A friend (Friend A) invited me to join a BBQ party along a river. There would be food and we can swim in the river. I've no reason to say no. I didn't ask any details thinking that everything is settled. After all, I was just a guest. 

The BBQ plan was vague. I was just instructed to go to a friend's house (Friend B) the night before the BBQ.  Her place is nearer the river. I did what was I told and that's when the "need-for-patience-and-understanding" situations begun.

Chaos the Night Before: Do not go to a BBQ Party without knowing what you're supposed to do

It was 10 pm when I arrived at Friend B's place. I was informed that we still have to shop for ingredients to make chicken sandwiches. We also have to cook rice. I don't mind making chicken sandwiches but considering the time and all the shopping, boiling and spreading, we're bound to sleep late.

Adding to my annoyance is that Friend A decided to finish the movie she's watching when I arrived. Then while shopping for food, she spent some time looking at shoes, spent more time hesitating to use plastics to put the rice in because it wasn't presentable. I put my foot down and told her, if we'll use heavy containers, she'll be the one carrying them. I don't like to carry heavy stuff if there's a way to avoid it.

We made it back at Friend B's place past 11 pm. Friend A has no sense of urgency and talked with someone on the phone. She was convincing him to join us tomorrow which she had been doing on the way back. In my head, if that person doesn't want to come, let him be. Because I really want to sleep by that time, I took control and started what need to be done while masking my irritation.

Good thing that Friend B is a jolly person so it was easy to just let things go. In the end, we slept at almost 2 am. And we have to wake up at 6. Phew!

Chaos in the Morning: Do not go to a BBQ without knowing where you're supposed to go

We woke up at 6 am, cooked the rice and prepared ourselves. Friend B and I ignored Friend A's complaints of how tired and sleepy she was. We're supposed to leave at 8 am.

Guess what? We didn't leave at 8 am. We left at 9:30 because there were two other people joining us who woke up late. I can't blame them though. They worked late the night before.

Not only we left later than the planned time but it turned out that nobody knows how to go to the actual place. Thankfully, I've been assigned in that area two years ago so I'm familiar with the transportation system. (I know I'm sounding like the superhero of this story. But this is my story and the others can tell their own if they want to be superheroes too).

We arrived at river at 11 am. In a way, I'm glad we didn't arrive earlier cause the other people  that we're supposed to meet there were also late.

Chaos at Lunch until Goodbye!: Do not go to a BBQ party without expecting boo-boos

Let me start this part by saying that the place was a disappointment. Not because it wasn't nice but because there were better rivers which are nearer. Most of us spent more than 1000 Yen for transportation one-way just to get to the place. The river was also a 15-minute walk from where we're stationed. But because we've come this far, I decided to just make the most out of it.

At this point, I shouldn't have been surprised by further delays but I am. We ate lunch at past 2 pm because the others did not bring any cooked food. If they were planning all along to cook, we should have come earlier is all I'm saying.

It was past 3 pm when we finally swam in the river. It was past 5 when everyone decided to head out but we still have to change clothes and pack things. With everyone helping, we're packed in no time except that Friend A and another lady took their own sweet time changing clothes and putting on make-up. I'm just dying to go home and I can't be patient any longer. I decided I had enough, stood up and prodded everyone to move. And that's how we've finally, finally started our way home.

Along the way, they were discussing how to get to their Japanese class at 7 pm. My thoughts were: "You should have thought about that!" In the end, they just saw the fireworks at Nishikajima. They wanted me to join but I think I had enough of chaos.

How I Could Have Avoided the BBQ CHAOS

Next time I'm going to a BBQ, I'll make sure I know the details. I'll ask where we're actually going, what we're actually doing and who are we going with. 

Had I known where we're headed, I would have suggested a nearer place.

Had I known that we're supposed to make sandwiches and cook rice, I would have gone to Friend B's place earlier. Had I known the other people planned to cook all the lunch food, I would have eaten a lot at breakfast.

Had I known that I'm going with people with no sense of time, I wouldn't have gone at all or I would have braced myself for chaos.

I'm very time-conscious even in parties. I want to have slept well before a trip, eat lunch on time, have enough time for swimming and be home early enough to rest.

I don't want to sound racist against my own race but usually, when I go out with Filipinos, I almost always get annoyed by the delays, tardiness and disorganization.

There's Always a Bright Side, Look at It!

Even if the people were disorganized and have no sense of time, they were friendly and warm. It was my first time to meet most of them in that BBQ party but they made me feel welcome and included. It felt great too to communicate again in my native language.

Also, I think that most of the people there were just exercising patience and understanding for the delays that a few have caused. They're making the most of the situation just like any how most Filipinos are. They may not have said it but I can sense it in their sighs and smiles. I know this because I also sighed and smiled the same way they did. I'm not alone with these feelings, after all. Thank God, for that!

How about you, what do you do when you're annoyed with how things go?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Send Money to the Philippines through GCASH

What is GCASH? 

GCASH is Globe's remittance service. You can send and receive money in and out of the Philippines. In Japan, GCASH is in partnership with Family Mart.

Why I use GCASH to send money? 

The rates are the most affordable (at least in Japan). You can send up to 100,000 JPY for only 1,350 JPY or 1,500 for Bank Transfer. These rates are lower than Western Union, JP Bank Transfers and SBI Remit.

Here's  their remittance fees:

Up to 10,000 Yen:  440 JPY
10,001- 30,000 Yen:  700JPY for money outlets and 800JPY for Bank Transfer
30,001-max amount: 1350 for money outlets and 1500 for Bank Transfer

Also, it's very convenient. You can do your transactions online at the comforts of your home. GCASH has SMS service that will notify the recipient.

GCASH also has an updated currency exchange rate so you'll know exactly how much you're sending in pesos.

For the recipients, they can receive the money in a few minutes through different banks in the country, Globe Centers in the malls and Villarica & Tambunting Pawnshops. GCASH boasts of having 18,000 outlets nationwide.

Personally, I haven't encountered any problem with GCASH's services so I'm highly recommending it.  

A. How to Open a GCASH account:

1. Register  your personal information on GCASH's website.

2. Wait for the passcode GCASH will send you through mail. You can even schedule the date and time of the delivery. 

3. Once you receive your passcode, login to GCASH website for verification. 

B. How to Send Your Remittance

1. Deposit the amount you want to send through Family Ports located at Family Mart Convenience Stores

2. Log-in to your GCASH account.

3. Find the REMITTANCE tab on the left side. 

4. Enter the recipient's information (name, address, telephone number, amount you want to send) Your account on GCASH saves the recipient's information. The next time you send money to the same person, there's no need to enter his personal information again. 

5. Click send and wait for confirmation in your email.

And that's how you send money the GCASH way!

What Remittance Service do you use? What do you like about it?

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Golden Week and Hamamatsu Festival

The best thing about May in Japan is the Golden Week. It's a week of consecutive holidays (April 29, May 3,5 and 6) which means no work. For the hardworking Japanese, this week is indeed golden.

In Hamamatsu, this is also the time of the Kite Festival and the local Festival. Hamamatsu Matsuri is a 3-day long event filled with revelry of the entire city. Morning festivities are concentrated in Nakatajima Sand Dunes where gigantic kites battle for victory. Late afternoon to late night celebrations shift to the city center and various chos or towns. The whole 3 days is just filled with happy chaos.

Hamamatsu Kite Festival
photo credit:

(For my last year's experience of the festival, click here)

So, if you're around the area and no definite plans yet, drop by and join the party at Hamamatsu Festival!

(For more information of the Hamamatsu Festival, click here)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Camping at Akiha

It was Marine Day last July 15th so there were no classes and work. My friends, Helen and Joel,  and I made the most of it by camping for 2 days at Akiha Campsite.

mountains and river along the road

Akiha is in the northern part of Hamamatsu in the Tenryu-Haruno area. It's way up in the mountain but can be accessed by public transportation. The place is surrounded by lush green mountains which I think would be lovely in autumn.

From Shin-Hamamatsu Station, Joel and I took the red train going to Nishikajima. Helen joined us at the Sukenobo Station. We got off at the Nishikajima Station which is the last station so it's impossible to miss it. Then, we boarded a bus going to Akiha just outside of Nishikajima Station. Make sure to ask the driver if it's going to Akiha campsite because there were several buses there. After more than 40 minutes, the bus dropped us off directly at the campsite.

The campsite is a large rocky area with the Keta River meandering on the side. Tents can be rented along with barbecue grills, fishing gears and small kayaking boats. There were also basic accommodations for families with small kids Toilets and wash areas are available.

the campsite in the early morning

Joel crossing the other side

(More on Places in Japan, here.)

We dipped in the water to ease the heat of the noonday sun. Some people were fishing and sitting on the edge of river. There were a bunch of kids swimming on the safer part of the river. The river's current is quite fast so actual swimming is not really recommended.

Keta River on a cloudy afternoon

After an hour or two, we hiked to the nearest shrine. It was a few minutes away from the bus stop. There was a more famous shrine- the Akiha shrine, up in the mountains but it would take us two hours of walking to get there. If you got a car, Helen highly recommended to drop by and visit.

Then, the campsite owner offered to take us to the public bath and onsen just a few minutes away from the site. The fee was really cheap- 100 Yen. It seemed to be a relatively new bathhouse but small with only 5 shower stalls. We had to wait for Joel because he said there were lots of kids in the male's bath. The water temperature was perfect though. The bath is only open until 5 pm.

Along the way, the owner also showed us the largest tengu in Japan. It was given 20 years ago after a tengu festival in Kyoto. It was impressive.

In the late afternoon, we had  a barbecue. I suggest you bring your own coals if you can. The coals in the site took more than an hour to heat up. The owner had to help us ignite and heat it.

Barbecue with friends

(More on Hamamatsu here)

It wasn't really quiet during the night as I have expected. Birds were humming and tweeting in a non-disturbing way. A few passing cars was a welcome sound since we were the only ones who camped for the night. The night sky was clear and perfect for star gazing.

The following day, the owner took the effort to bring us breakfast and drive us to the bus stop. He was overwhelmingly kind.

This was my first time to camp in Hamamatsu and I'm glad that I went out there and see another side of this place.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fireworks Festival in Hamamatsu

Hamamatsu welcomes summer with big blasts of fireworks. For the past three consecutive Saturdays, Bentenjima hosted more than an hour long of fireworks display. This is part of several Fireworks Festival in Japan. Last Saturday was the last for this year in Bentenjima. I almost missed that but thanks to a friend who invited me to tag along, I was able to witness one of the biggest Firework Festivals in Hamamatsu.

It really is a big festival considering the long snaking lines to trains bound for Bentenjima. In fact, the JR trains scheduled special trips on that day to accommodate the crowd. Traffic was unusually heavy. 

(For more of Bentenjima, click here)

My friends and I decided to meet at 530 pm even though the fireworks will start at 730. Based on their experience last year, if we leave past 6 pm, we won't be able to find a space and transportation will be horrible. 

True enough, it took us a while to ride a train and more time to find a patch of land spacious enough to sit on. 
Families and groups of young people brought mats and had picnics while waiting for the fireworks. 

At exactly 730 pm the fireworks display started with a loud bang. A flash of red then yellow lit the skies. The scene was like alien invasions in the movies. From that moment on, we were bombarded with a spectacle of lights for more than an hour. 

There were the usual colorful fireworks.

Then there were fireworks of various shapes- hearts, squares and smileys. 

photo credit:

There were also fireworks that made me think of moving atoms. Once they exploded the remaining lights moved in a specific angle before finally dissolving into the air. 

photo credit:

My favorite was the fireworks that looked like gold dust falling from the skies. 

Because it was more than an hour long, there was a point in the show where we just wanted it to be over. 
We wanted to go home but we didn't want to miss the finale. 

photo credit:

We're glad we stayed until the final hoorah. For the finale, a continuous explosion of lights lasted for four minutes. It was a mosaic of vivid colors in the sky. The sky was so bright that the street lights turned off. 

The downside of staying was the crowd of people waiting for the trains. Even though the station was just across Bentenjima, it took us more than an hour to ride the train because there were just so much people. 

Nonetheless, it was quite an experience especially for a first-timer like me. 

I think there are Fireworks Festivals in other places. 

Click here for the Fireworks Schedule around Hamamatsu

PS: The fireworks pictures are not from the festival but they are similar.  I didn't bring a decent camera cause I wasn't really planning to go.  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...