I’m back with another dosage of that I’ve affectionately labelled “My Tokyo Lunch Box Life.”

I do hope you haven’t lost interest in these types of posts! I’d love to share more about what I do and get up to regularly here in Tokyo besides the obvious book worming and survival part time working.

Being able to spend another year in Japan always makes me feel blessed to be able to live in this larger than life city and I’m super keen to start writing a series of Japan life hacks. Hopefully I can impart some wisdom from my time here so far.

Before getting into the common “How do I find a Japanese Apartment?” or “How do I get a Part-Time Job?” type of topics, let’s rewind and start at square one. For those who are interested in moving to Japan in the near future, here are some answers to a few burning questions and things to consider before making that move to Japan.

How much Japanese do I need to know before coming to Japan?

Before I came to Japan, I had some experience learning Japanese prior but my fluency and practice had been lost to many years of not touching the language since 1st year university. Even with general tourist Japanese, using the language for semi-local living was another challenge especially when you are living on your own. A simple task of visiting the grocery store and being asked a bunch of questions that they didn’t teach you in the textbook is just one way textbook Japanese doesn’t help real-life Japanese situations.

In general, I would say if you fall into this category:

1. plan to stay in Japan for the long run (or at least a commitment of 2 years for your apartment contract)

2. want to live on your own or local share house

3. want to find a part time job (or full time) in Japan

Level of Japanese: N3 to N2

If you fall into this category:

1. plan to stay in Japan for a short time (under 1 year)

2. want to live in an international friendly shared house, dormitory or home stay

3. have access to good Japanese learning support assistance at school or university etc

4. don’t want to work in Japan (unless you want to get an English teaching job)

Level of Japanese: Beginner to N4


How much should I save to live in Japan?

Now this is a tricky one as like with every other country, living in the capitol will have a much higher cost of living than the rural areas or in other cities. Since I live in Tokyo (the capitol and probably hands down the most expensive of all cities) it would be only fitting to give estimations on expenses you might face when living here and this can probably give you a gauge of what expenses would be like if you were planning to settle in another city in comparison.

As this estimation won’t include expenses on being specifically an international student factored in such as textbooks and tuition fees, this information should be helpful for those who are planning to take that step and move to Japan based on other reasons other than studying.

From the guidance we were given by our university, they estimate that the “minimum” living expenses for Tokyo for one year is around 1,700,000 yen (roughly $17,000). This total includes rent, food and living expenses, health insurance and medical fees as well as a category called “others” which I believe is the occasion going out money etc.

Now, if we were to break this down into months, that would be roughly $1416.65 per month if we could make everything dollar to dollar and to be honest, that is a good outlook for someone who is a moderate spender.

The problem I found was that because Tokyo has so many cool things to buy, eat, see and do all year long, it was hard to keep faithful to this figure even on my best behaviour!

Also, a large chunk of this amount is rent which they estimated as being 800,000 yen ($8,000) a year which would be roughly $666.67 a month. This amount could be higher or lower depending on what type of place you end up living in. On the flip side, I had a co-worker who used to live in Yamaguchi who was only paying around $200 per month for a entire house! Say what?! Though the nearest entertainment was an hour drive away…

The university also didn’t factor in one important expense – transportation! They factored this as being a student expense but let’s be real for one sec, transportation money is necessary in everyday life and Tokyo’s train system doesn’t even offer a high school or university student option when buying tickets (there is a separate discount fee system called a 定期券 teikiken which I will explain in a future blog post). With Tokyo’s maze of different Metro lines owned by different companies, traveling within Tokyo and its outer suburbs will cost you a few especially if you rely on this for getting to and from work on a daily basis.


To get a ハンコ (hanko) or not?  

A ハンコ (hanko) is a small seal that has your name written on the tip used in situations were signature is required. Although there are some places (though very few from my experience) where signature is ok as a sign of authorisation, the hanko seal has been used for centuries in Japan and is still the dominant “signature” for authorisation.

I have met soooooo many people who refused to get a seal based on the logic that they will never ever be using it while in Japan or outside the country and so, why waste money. The problem is that many necessities such as phone, internet companies and banks will ask for your hanko seal as a standard requirement. A local phone number is a minimum requirement on many forms and without a phone number, you can’t get an internet plan or a local bank account. Some other places you might also need to provide a phone number is at some karaoke places or hotels – even cheap stay ones like manga kissatens (manga cafes). Heck, if you are a super big foodie and want to take advantage of the exclusive only-in-Japan-need-to-book-3-months-in-advance dining experiences, you will find that many of these places will need a phone number based in Japan and not all places will accept calls made on your behalf from your hotel. If you don’t have a phone because you didn’t want a hanko seal, you could be missing out on some interesting experiences.

But of course this is up for subjectivity. If you are only staying for less than a year, living in an all inclusive dorm and can plan for these little details, than a seal is not needed.

But if you want a hanko seal, it will cost around $15 and can be made anywhere were the shop says ハンコ outside. Also after your time in Japan, it makes a great souvenir!

Hopefully that was helpful!

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll try to answer them or create a more detailed post about it.

Until Next Time!



  • Rina - I would love to visit Japan one day! How cool is it that you’re moving there! I hope to live in another city at some point in my life too.. If only I could encouraged my hubby to be just as adventurous =P

    xoxo Rina

  • nat - i recently went on a holiday to Japan and I absolutely loved it, to the point where I thought I could live here
    so reading this post was super interesting!!
    thanks for sharing

All Natural  |  Vegan  |  Organic  |  Non-GMO

Approximately a month ago I was sent a 28 day trial of Matcha Machine to review and share my experience.  But before I dive in to the good stuff, you’re probably thinking what exactly is Matcha Machine?  Well, it’s actually not a machine at all, but rather a two step program that aims to detox the body, increase energy levels and help you look and feel great.

How it works:

Matcha Machine relies on the natural benefits of green tea (matcha and sencha) but presents it in a powdered form, which means your body to absorbs the extra goodness it otherwise wouldn’t get by drinking loose leaf green tea.

Matcha and sencha powder contain very high levels of chlorophyll to aid in detoxification and 137x more antioxidants to help support your body’s natural repair systems.  On top of this there are no harmful additives – so your body absorbs only the good, natural stuff.

Sencha, matcha..aren’t they both the same thing?

Well…Yes and no. Both are made from green tea leaves, but the process in which they are grown and harvested differs.  This causes each to have it’s own unique benefits.

Matcha is grown in the shade and harvested by grounding the leaf only – the veins and stems are removed. As a result, Matcha has more caffeine and L-theanine (a natural relaxant) which generates a steady release of energy throughout the day so you get all the benefits of a caffeine hit without the “caffeine crash”.  That’s why it’s recommended to drink the matcha powder in the morning for all day energy and an increased metabolism.

Sencha is grown in the sun and harvested by grounding the whole leaf including the stems and veins.  The extra sunlight means more Catechins (antioxidants) can be found in the leaf.  With it’s abundance of antioxidants, it is recommended to take this powder in the late afternoon to detox and cleanse the impurities of the day away.


The Verdict


Ease of use

Matcha Machine is super easy to use.  All you need to do is mix half a teaspoon of powder with a couple of drops of water to form a paste.  When this is done, add the remaining water and stir. You can drink the tea hot or cold.

NB:  If you’re really lazy, you can simply pour the power in without mixing into a paste first, but it does not dissolve as well.

Health benefits

So how did Matcha Machine perform according the health benefits it claims?  Actually, pretty good.  I was genuinely surprised by how noticeable the benefits were:

Claimed Benefit 01 – Detoxes and cleanses the body:

I noticed a significant difference in how drinking Matcha Machine helped to detox and cleanse my body.  Albeit, the way I was able to tell the cleanse was working was through rather embarrassing means, but being the open person that I am, I’ll share it with you.

Before starting the Matcha Machine trial, I was experiencing a UTI. It wasn’t too severe, but it was getting worse by the day, so I had been frantically trying to flush it out with water and not succeeding. It was getting to a stage where I considered seeing a doctor, and around this time I had also decided to start my Matcha Machine trial. Upon drinking Matcha Machine, I instantly noticed an improvement in the condition and by the second day it was completely gone – I KID YOU NOT!  I was genuinely surprised, so I did some research and found out that green tea helps with bladder inflammation and considering its high levels in chlorophyll, I believe it’s increased ability to cleanse my body significantly helped to flush away my UTI.

Claimed Benefit 02 – Increase energy levels:

I noticed a significant increase in my energy levels from day one. Usually when I finish work, I’m completely drained, especially mentally.  I remember thinking to myself on the day I started the cleanse, “why do I have so much energy today?” Thinking through the possible reasons, the only thing I had changed on that day was that I started drinking Matcha Machine.

Claimed benefit 03 – Increase metabolism and aiding weight loss:

This was the only benefit I didn’t notice an improvement in during my 28 day trial.  Generally, I believe there is no quick fix to weight loss, so if you’re looking at Matcha Machine to be just that; a weight loss solution, you will be disappointed.  If, however, you are looking to include Matcha Machine as part of your weekly workout and healthy eating regime, then Matcha Machine’s health benefits will definitely help you in achieving your goal.

How well did it fit in with my lifestyle?

In honest truth, not very well at first.  I know that drinking something twice a day is not a very big ask, but for a person like me it CAN be.

In the mornings I’m usually rushing to work and I’m usually so absorbed in what I’m doing at work or in meetings, that I forget to take it in the mornings and in the afternoons.  It really took a conscious effort for me to remember, but after getting in the habit, it did become easier.

I would find Matcha Machine a lot easier to take daily if there was only one powdered packet that combined the goodness of both Matcha and Sencha.

The taste

One of the only things I disagree with in Matcha Machine’s advertising is that it describes the drink as delicious. Now I enjoy green tea and matcha flavour and I’m an avid green tea drinker in general, but I found the powder to be quite bitter – as expected of raw matcha/sencha.

For me personally it’s not the most delicious thing to drink.  Considering the benefits though, it’s worth the couple seconds of bitterness.

So what are you waiting for?  Start drinking!

You can find and order Matcha Machine here »

  • Rina - First of all, that heart shaped cup of yours is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! Where is it from? My hubby loves matcha. For some reason I’m not super keen on the taste. I’ve only tried one Matcha smoothie that I’ve ever liked but other I find it tastes really grassy.

    Rina Samantha

Hello 2017!

Ah I’m so happy to ring in a new year and of course the phrase “New year. New you” offers the opportunity to reflect and motivate yourself to be an even better version than your previous self.

Though writing this, I have caught the flu bug from work and had a case of mild food poisoning in the morning… a great start to my new year’s spirit right?

Moving on, here’s to a new look book to kick off my first post for the year.

Here, I’m focusing on some jewellery pieces I picked up recently and pieces I forgot at home in Sydney that I haven’t worn out and creating some go-to coordinate outfits for each.


Rosy Gold

I’m really enjoying rose gold tones and thought it would be nice to pair it with something casual to make it look sports lux with these cute overalls and fitted cropped top… and this oversized nude toned coat because it is cold AF here!


From the mastermind of Vanessa Hong’s blog, The Haute Pursuit, these cuff from THPSHOP are chunky but will never weigh you down. This is my first purchase from a fashion blogger turned fashion entrepreneur venture and I really like the sleek and unique design of their jewellery range.  Though I don’t really have many sharp chic clothes, this all black pairing works well I feel.

Harness Play

Remember how body harnesses were like “a thing” back circa 2013? They made a few cameos last year during the Louis Vuitton Fall runway and have taunted my need to find one which was a fine play of trying to look daringly fashionably interesting and tasteful.

Though I’ve seen some pieces while online hunting, quality and good design were always key and I found that the ones from designer Elif Domanic were great because they were designed within mind to be wearable for daily situations as well.

Until Next Time!



  • FDChief - Of all these I think I like the black-and-white combination best. Gorgeously feminine but sharp, chic, and elegantly spare; a very marquise of looks. Tho I have to say – you accessorize each outfit perfectly…ReplyCancel

For an oasis of good food, coffee and vibes you’ve come to the right place.  Located in Pyrmont, Social Brew cafe brings a stylish cafe spot accompanied by great service.

Setting and Atmosphere


Social Brew’s dark interior really stands out amongst the burst of greenery from the trees that frame the verandah to the bright red chairs that line the street front.  With an open air feel, you’ll be able to enjoy the summer breeze through the large windows at the front of the cafe, or if you prefer, pull up a picnic rug – provided by the cafe of course – and enjoy brunch outside on the grass.

If sitting inside is your vibe, industrial decor awaits with low hanging vintage light bulbs, posies of wild flowers and even a vintage bicycle.



Breakfast goers and brunch fanatics, you should definitely include Social Brew on your list, the dining experience was really pleasant.

Overall the food at Social Brew was tasty and well presented.

The Brew Brekkie Deluxe Board was a great choice for brunch and we happily smashed into smooth avocado, creamy buratta cheese, tomatoes, prosciutto and mushrooms a la grecque in Social Brew’s delectable Brew Brekkie Deluxe Board, served with a soft boiled zatar egg to add some well deserved spice. A great dish for sharing; pick, choose, mix and match flavours as you like.

The only miss on this dish for me was the mushrooms a la grecque which tasted a bit too much like it was just mixed with pasta sauce – mushrooms are so aromatic and flavoursome when cooked and it would have been a great opportunity to really get some some special flavours in those mushrooms, particularly with that gorgeous Buratta cheese served on top!

Next on the menu was the Apple Cider Eggs Benedict, which I was really excited to try.  Overall, a good Eggs Benedict, but I was really looking forward to tasting the apple cider flavours.

To lighten the palette the muesli of burnt fig works a treat.  The poached pear, nectarines and peaches were delicious.  Thirsty? Wash it all down with some freshly squeezed juices!

The Brew Brekkie Deluxe Board: Buratta Cheese, smooth avocado, organic truss baby tomatoes, prosciutto, mushrooms a la grecque and soft boiled zatar egg served with olive and rosemary sourdough | $20

Apple cider Egg Benedict with wilted spinach and choice of crispy bacon or black forest ham on brioche | $16

Muesli of burnt fig, cinnamon & almond, natural yoghurt, and seasonal fruit | $11



Very friendly and helpful staff, food was a little slow (only a tiny bit!) but it was a very busy morning so it’s to be expected – we’re not all superheroes!

Pricing and Value for Money


Overall, I think the value for money is quite good.  I was happy with the price with 2 out of 3 of my meals.  I found the breakfast board a little pricey for $20.

The Details

Where: 224 Harris St, Pyrmont NSW 2009

Contact: (02) 9571 8792

Opening Hours:

Mon – Sun: 7am – 4pm

Please note:  This was an invited event  I attended with ningjaeats.


What’s better than cakes and colour to kick off your Saturday morning? Cakes by Cliff and wearing colour to support a good cause! In October, I had the pleasure of attending Loud Shirt Day in support of deaf and hearing impaired children across Australia.

Held in the iconic Sydney Tower, the morning kicked off with drinks, delicious treats and was topped off with a one of a kind cake demonstration from cake master Clifford Luu.


Just one look at Clifford’s Instagram page, and it’s easy to see that his creations ooze talent.   Filled with geometric shapes, patterns and an elegant flair, Cakes by Cliff offers a sensory experience for your eyes and your mouth!

Being diagnosed with a hearing impairment at birth, Loud Shirt Day is especially close to Cliff’s heart and because of this we were able to witness a VIP step-by-step demonstration on how he makes his awesome cakes.

Lucky for you, I’m here to share with you some of those secrets!


1. Cliff’s secret icing is….DUN DUN DUUUUUN~ buttercream.  Yep it’s just buttercream.


2. After cutting the cake bases into 3 even sized layers using a cake slicer, Cliff stacked the layers on top of one another, separating them with a layer of buttercream between each (you will want to make sure your cake is stacked on a turntable).  After, generously spread a layer of buttercream roughly around the cake.


3. Using a cake smoother at a 90 degree angle, gently turn the turntable and scrape off the excess buttercream icing.  This will ensure all gaps are filled and that the icing is spread across the surface evenly


4. Cover up any areas where cake is still visible by piping another layer of buttercream and smoothing down with the cake smoother.


5. To get the watercolour look, Cliff pre-prepared 3 different servings of buttercream icing – blue, pink and yellow.  He then dashed splotches of each colour around the cake and used the cake smoother to slowly smoothed out the splotches, blending the colours all together.


6. When the cake’s icing is completely smooth, heat up some chocolate and pipe along the edge of the cake so that it drips off the edge.  TIP: pool the chocolate a little bit away from the direct edge of the cake, so you get a nicer dripping effect.


7. To recreate the abstract decorations that often adorn Cliff’s cakes, add food colouring to gelatine plastic and let it harden for a couple of minutes.  While the gelatine is still malleable,  sculpt it into abstract shapes to use to decorate your cake.  Don’t forget to also add some fresh fruit and edible flowers as decoration!

The final product?  Well, I’m so glad you asked!


Seeing Cliff demonstrate his talent showed just how important role models like Cliff and organisations like The Shepherd Centre are in shaping the perception hearing impaired children have of themselves and their opportunities. Cliff’s creativity and achievements is testament to these children that hearing loss is no barrier to success.


Top: WEGO | Jacket: Vintage (Korea) | Skirt: Forever21 | Clutch: Korea

Besides from my current folk style obsession, I am also enjoying the casual varsity look that seems to be coming back into style again. It’s such a winter friendly style since you can layer different textures and patterns together to pull off something preppy.

I am also loving the whole collar necklace trend and then I saw this shirt while shopping at WEGO with an attached collar faux necklace AND it was on sale for $8! The best of both worlds and such a steeeeeal~

On another note, I’m heading back to Sydney next week after my one year absence for a short visit! So excited to be reunited with my other half Talyssa and everyone, as well as going from cold to hot as I plan to visit the beach as much as possible.

Until next time!