How I am living cheaply in Fukuoka, Japan

I originally put this post about living in Japan cheaply on my other blog ESLinsider. Here is the post…

How I am living cheaply in Japan

I just moved to Fukuoka, Japan about 5 days ago. I have wanted to live here for quite a long time. Finally, I made it. One of the things that kept me out of Japan was the fact that I thought it was so expensive.

I think that is what most people think, right?

Well, I think it can be, but it’s not that expensive for me as at the moment  I would say that I am paying about $7-800 a month to live here.

My rent

I am living in what is called a sharehouse. I basically share a kitchen and bathroom with 8 other people and have my own room. That costs about 30,000 Yen a month plus 12,000 for utilities which is about $380.

I saw other places in Japan that were close to that price, but without a long term visa most places won’t rent to you. Many also want you to have a Japanese friend to act as a guarantor. There can also be a lot of fees: like a cleaning fee, key money, guarantor fee, deposits, and you sign a contract for a year.

I had to pay a deposit of 30,000, but only signed a contract for 6 months.

It’s pretty wimpy construction, but it’s alright for now.

If you are interested you can find these online by searching:

(insert city name here) sharehouse

Food

Some things seem a little cheaper and others not so much. Eggs are less than $2, milk is also less than $2 a litre, vegetables vary, The only thing I noticed that was a bit more expensive that I usually eat was sweet potatoes. They were like a few dollars more expensive for a lesser quantity.

I haven’t seen much of a selection for cheese which was expected as that was the same in other places I lived in Asia.

I am estimating that my bills will be similar to before in San Fran or maybe a little less.

I have been making a lot of soups with miso or soba noodles.

Transportation

I got this great bike so my transportation is free. I paid 6,800 Yen for this bike. I have been using it quite a bit as most things I need to get to are far. It’s about 7 kilometers to jiu-jitsu and a similar amount or more to get to the center of Fukuoka (Tenjin or Hakata).

Japanese lessons

I feel pretty excited to have found some lessons that are nearly free. The city government has a volunteer program at different government buildings throughout the city. These classes are like a $1 a class or $5 a month or maybe $10 for 6 months of lessons (usually one day a week), but there are classes everyday of the week in different locations.

At this point I am trying to match up my schedule so I can take the classes near or around the same time that I do jiu-jitsu.

Jiu-jitsu lessons

They are cheaper than in the States. The cost at the place where I am planning on going to is 10,800 a month which is about $100.

How long will I stay in Fukuoka?

As of right now I am on a tourist visa. I can stay here for 3 months and then I have to leave. I will probably just take a short trip to Busan, Korea where I used to live and come back for another 3 months.

Then I will have to decide if I want to stay in Japan for longer. If I do want to stay in Japan for longer then I will probably need to change my visa status. To do that I would need a different visa. Some of the ideas I have are:

  1. Apply for a cultural visa
  2. Find a job teaching English in Japan

The cultural visa is more appealing to me as I may be able to get that by studying judo, but I have not found anywhere to do that in Fukuoka. You’d think it would be easy to do, but not so.

There are lots of places for jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka, but the “BJJ” community on Reddit doesn’t think I could since “Brazilian” jiu-jitsu and Japanese jiu-jitsu are considered a bit different. Brazilian jiu-jitsu evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu and emphasizes grappling on the ground and competition.

But I am still planning on asking my teacher about it after I have been training there a while.

As far as teaching English goes I have sort of been there and done that in China, Korea and Taiwan. Lately ESLinsider has been doing well and I have been able to live off of it. However, if something changes then I may need to get a job or perhaps a part time job that would give me a visa.

On my way to Fukuoka, Japan

I left San Francisco yesterday after living there for almost 6 years. Time flies and now I am sitting in the Taipei airport waiting for a connecting flight to Fukuoka.

My last few days was spent trying to get rid of stuff and get ready for my trip.

It always seems last minute when it comes to traveling.

So…

I will be living there for probably at least 6 months. For starters I will be on a tourist visa, but then may try to get a cultural visa for studying judo or maybe, just maybe look for a job teaching English in Japan so I could get a longer visa.

My goals are to live in Japan, learn Japanese, train judo/jiu-jitsu, work on ESLinsider and some other creative projects.

ESLinsider has been able to sustain me over the last 6 months or so. Hopefully that will keep up and then there is always WWOOF’ing if that fails.

Every time I move my stuff that makes me question how much I need it. My DJ stuff is really heavy. I brought with me 2 cases that have my turntables in them. They weigh 40 lbs each.

I’d like to do a street performing show with my turntables, but that is tricky thinking how I will move it around.

Actually that is less tricky. I have some ideas for making a cart for them, but the trickier part is where am I going to keep it? I would need to live on the ground level and be able to wheel it into my home.

In another hour or so, boarding starts.

Haven’t slept much in the last 3 days. Hopefully tonight I will.

It’s hard to change your habits and make a move. But really it is not as hard as it seems because now I am on my way. This move all started with me buying a ticket and then filling in the blanks.

It started in a state of uncertainty.

It’s more of a shoot first aim later strategy.

So I am still aiming, but I think I am off to a good start. I have a room in a share house all lined up and will be paying less for rent than I did in San Fran.

And it can’t be much worse than that.

My desire to live in Japan started way back before I taught English in Taiwan in 2004. I sort of beat around the bush and lived in China, Korea and Taiwan and now finally I am going to Japan.

It won’t be the first time there, but it will be the first time to live there.

Japan was originally my first choice for Asia, but it didn’t seem as easy to get a job there teaching English so I always went with the other countries.

Now after years of hearing that voice in my head say, “go to Japan” I am.

I couldn’t go on not doing this. I didn’t want to be an old man saying to myself, “I didn’t, I should’ve, I could’ve…”

A low impact full body workout exercise

This is a modified version of the mountain climber exercise. Basically instead of jumping with sneakers you slide with socks and this makes it more of a low impact body weight exercise.

I use a pair of socks and do it on my yoga mat. But it might also work on another kind of slippery floor.

I think to get the most out of it you should sprint at some point or go as fast as you can. Of course if it is your first time then you can go a little slower.

What I do is often a 10-20 count at a medium pace and then go as fast as I can for 10-20 seconds.

If you do that you will get your heart rate up there and be breathing hard.

Then take a break until your breath calms down.

Then do it again.

And again.

As of recent when I do this I’ll often do at least 3 sets. But before this video I did 5 or 6 sets.

There are many different ways that you could use this exercise.

Here is a suggested workout with this exercise:

  1. 10-20 seconds medium pace, 10 second sprint as fast as you can. Rest for 40 seconds.
  2. 10-20 seconds medium pace, 10 second sprint as fast as you can. Rest for 40 seconds.
  3. 10-20 seconds medium pace, 10 second sprint as fast as you can. Rest for 40 seconds.

Of course you can modify this by doing more sets or longer sprints, etc.

You can also add this to your body weight workout. It also works as a good warm up. Very quickly you can get your heart rate pumping and be out of breath if you do it fast enough.

It will work many muscles in your body including arms, shoulders, core, quads, hip abductors and glutes.

I think it’s a good all around low impact exercise that works many different muscle groups and brings some of the benefits of sprinting.

Benefits of sprinting:

1. Save time
2. Improve cardiovascular health
3. Strengthen muscles
4. Improve muscle tone
5. Reduce stress
6. Improve speed and power

The con of sprinting by running is that it is hard on your joints. So a low impact way of sprinting is by doing this exercise.

I found it to be a low impact exercise for my legs. It doesn’t irritate my knees like squats do sometimes. Like it’s not a very good leg work out exercise per se, but you’ll get some and it shouldn’t hurt your knees.

If you keep your head up you can’t get thrown

Haha, this was a funny photo from the CCSF Christmas party, 2018. I made those shirts. I made it for sensei. I remember that he said that once and I thought it was cool.

He might have been describing a specific situation, but I thought it also sounded cool figuratively.

Robert Mendoza and Sensei – If you keep your head up you can’t get thrown – CCSF judo

I made another and added it as a random gift in the party. I am happy that Robert chose it.

How I made it…

I did a drawing of sensei that I found on Facebook on a piece of poster board. Then I made a stencil and stenciled it with a fabric marker onto a T-shirt. It’s kind of low-tech and a bit wabi-sabi.

Not sure if he really liked it, but some people seemed to get a kick out of it.

I got promoted to Judo brown belt

So along with another classmate I got promoted from green belt to judo brown belt.

Sensei, myself, Stas, and Samir

This last Tuesday I got promoted to judo brown belt. Nothing feels different though. I still feel like a white belt. Sensei says that it is hard to see your own progress cause everyone else is progressing too.

Beats me.

In promotion everyone lines up and gets to do 3 free throws. You don’t fight you just let them throw you. It’s practice for falling, but it is a lot of throws.

So in about 5-10 minutes I got thrown about…

Let me think…

There were maybe 15-20 students doing throws and they each get to throw 3 times so that’s…

Getting thrown anywhere from 45-60 times in maybe 10 minutes. I sort of dreaded it at first because I remembered last time, but it’s not so bad. Some throw hard, but many don’t.

And…

Judo is hard.

Progress seems slow, but belt promotion is faster than jiu-jitsu. From what I read I think averages for judo might be close to 5 years from white belt to black.

In jiu-jitsu the average is about 10 years from white to black.

I don’t do a lot of judo. I do about 2 days a week and have done so for around three years. Though in the beginning I didn’t do much randori just technique.

I got the photo from CCSF’s judo page.

Judo vs. BJJ for self defense?

Which is better for self defense? Judo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu? I saw this question on Quora and I had to add my two cents.

The short answer is….

It depends.

There are some potential advantages and disadvantages to both and in this post I will explore them both as best as I can.

But first off know that you can’t learn any one overnight, in a couple of weeks or even a few months. I mean you can learn techniques, but how deeply will you learn them? Will they be instinctual under pressure?

Probably not.

You need time and a lot of repetition.

Judo for self-defense?

Judo could be good for self defense as it evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu. But nowadays judo is more focused on throws. In its past it was the full grappling program with newaza (ground grappling), tachi waza (standing) and leg attacks.

But the rules to judo changed because it was boring to watch ground grappling on TV. It was more fun to watch people getting thrown. Then 4 or 5 years ago they banned leg attacks so you can’t touch the legs.

So for judo it’s going to depend on the dojo. Many are going to spend most of the time doing stand up techniques.

But for self-defense you want to learn both stand up and ground grappling.

So if you choose to go the judo route and you want to learn it for self defense choose a school that spends a lot of time with newaza.

The potential problem with judo is that you won’t learn enough ground grappling.

I have only trained judo at one school, CCSF. The intermediate-advanced classes are now 100% stand up. Sensei used to teach some basic newaza in those classes, but now he says if you want to learn ground grappling to go to the beginners judo/jiu-jitsu or intermediate jiu-jitsu classes.

The throws work though even without a gi. In fact I will tell you a story below related to that. But if you are curious here is a cool video that shows judo throws being done in MMA.

BJJ for self defense?

BJJ evolved from judo, but not the modern day judo you see on TV. BJJ is primarily a ground grappling martial art. The goal in BJJ is to basically submit your opponent.

It’s good for self defense, but it has a weakness and that is that it is mostly focused on the ground. If you don’t learn how to take your opponent down then you’ll never be able to apply what you learned in ground grappling.

The potential problem with BJJ is that you won’t learn how to take someone down.

I’d say most BJJ schools will spend 90-99% of the time on the ground. For example, the first school that I learned at probably spent 95% or more of the time doing ground techniques.

The rules won’t apply on the street

Judo has a lot more rules and formality than does BJJ. BJJ is basically about submitting your partner. Judo contests are mostly about throwing your partner and getting him to land flat on his back, ippon!

But judo sparring matches start standing up which is more like a real fight. BJJ sparring usually starts on your knees. Contests start standing up, but in class you usually start on your knees or sitting which is not like a real fight.

A submission can win the contest too, but only black belts can do arm locks in competition. Lower belts can only do chokes.

Keep in mind either way the rules applied to either one don’t apply on the streets. The same goes for MMA. While in MMA you can kick and punch you can’t kick and punch everywhere or attack the groin or eyes which could be done on the street.

Also on the street someone could try to bite you too right when you are about to arm bar them. So keep that in mind.

I had an altercation once where this freaky street guy probably on drugs without shoes or a shirt came by and tried to steal my money. I was able to use what I had learned from both judo and BJJ to stop the fight and control him until the cops came by.

Here’s a video about that or you can read and watch it here.

So which is best? BJJ or judo for self-defense?

I’d say both. Learn both if you can or choose a judo dojo that has a good newaza program or a jiu-jitsu program with good takedowns or throws. Commit to a year for starters. That’s what I would do. It’s easy to quit after a month or two and like I said you won’t really learn or remember much in a month.

What about Japanese jiu-jitsu?

That might be good, but as far as I know the sparring element is missing which can be common in some other martial arts.

The first martial art I did was wing chun. It was kinda cool, but I thought it was overly mechanic and everything was staged – there was no sparring.

Sparring is important. And judo and BJJ both have live sparring.

There are a lot of martial arts that could be effective. It just depends.

“Surrender” – The Antidote To A “Bad Trip”

Here’s a new video I made. It’s based on a true story and was inspired from an intense experience with psilocybin mushrooms.


It also includes some sound samples from some of the things that I have been learning about psilocybin.

I made another video that I haven’t put together and posted yet that entails the details of this experience. This video touches on the things that saved me during what some might call a “bad trip”.

Those were words that I remembered from a video I saw with Dr. Rosalyn Watts talking about some of the psilocybin research being done.

“Surrender” is what saved me.

That helped turn a really dark moment where I “felt” like I was facing death to something very cathartic.

Here are some of the sound samples:

  • “It was pretty frightening cause I was fighting it. If you are out in the open ocean and you were to fall off your boat. You turn around and the boat’s gone and then pretty soon the water is gone and then you’re gone.
  • “Don’t fight it”
  • “Surrender. That’s the one word. Surrender.”
  • “Your ego is dissolving and it’s scary. It’s like a death.”
  • “There are no bad trips…”
  • “We are not just dumb beasts brought here to walk in one straight path our whole lives, we are here to fly.”

Those quotes are from the following videos:

I did the scratching with my turntables, the beatboxing and then put together the beats with my Mac.

I had some problems editing the video as it’s a really old Mac (2009). So there were a few things that I would have edited if I could have.

And I recently broke my video camera so also I had to make this with my phone camera which seems to be lower quality.

You may also find this video helpful if you want to avoid a “bad trip” or are having one.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SCIENCE BEHIND PSILOCYBIN and why I started experimenting with it.

If you happen to find this article by search and are looking how to avoid a bad trip or survive one and aside from letting go and surrendering I’d say the following…

  • stay away from the city
  • stay away from people/strangers
  • be in nature
  • meditate
  • walk
  • lie down
  • breath
  • draw, play music or sing even

Personally I have found drawing to make me feel better. That was at least once.

I think being somewhere where you feel safe and comfortable is good to.

The Science Behind Psilocybin [Surprising Facts]

Psilocybin mushrooms (psilocybe allenii)

I fairly recently got turned on to psilocybin mushrooms after hearing about some of the psychological benefits first by listening to the clinical psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson talk about some of the studies being done.

Since then I have learned a lot about psilocybin. Here are some of the things that I have learned.

A single dose can decrease depression and anxiety LONG term

That’s long term and not short term.

John Hopkins University has been doing studies on psilocybin with those who have end stage cancer. These people are near the end of their lives with terminal cancer.

A single high dose of psilocybin gave them what was described as a “mystical” experience and improved their outlook on life and reduced their anxiety.

In my own experience I would add that psilocybin mushrooms can be terrifying in the short term and cause paranoia and panic attacks if you try to fight it.

The key is to “let go”.

However, that’s my own experience and despite the fact that often these experiences are partly terrifying they are rather cathartic.

It would be best to do them with someone who can watch over you like in the studies.

I think that would be ideal especially with high doses. They say you are really suggestible when you are under the influence of psychedelics. So just having someone there to comfort you, give you a hug, hold your hand or just tell you that you are going to be fine would be very helpful.

The other day there was no one around and I was in a bothered state and I saw this really beautiful eucalyptus tree and I had to give it a hug! It made me feel much better^^.

A high dose of psilocybin is a sort of “death” that you will learn more about below.  And some say the secret to life is to “die before you die”.

Serotonin, psilocybin and DMT are structurally very similar

DMT is found in psychedelics like ayahuasca and in your body. LSD is derived from a fungus that grows on rye.

I remember one thing that Jordan Peterson said about a lack of serotonin. It was something about that if you had low serotonin you were going to have problems in regards to the dominance hierarchy (short clip on serotonin/dominance hierarchy).

And…

According to integrativepsychiatry.net:

“Low serotonin levels are often attributed to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, insomnia, obesity, fibromyalgia, eating disorders, chronic pain, migraines, and alcohol abuse. Negative thoughts, low self-esteem, obsessive thoughts and behaviors, PMS, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are also symptoms of low serotonin.”

Psilocybin deactivates the default mode network (where your EGO lies) and activates other areas of your brain

“In neuroscience, the default mode network is a large scale brain network of interacting brain regions known to have activity highly correlated with each other and distinct from other networks in the brain.” – wikipedia

Many people who have used psychedelics use the term “ego death”. I was trying to figure out what they exactly mean by this. After I learned about the DMN and that it may be where your sense of self (ego) lies it made total sense to me.

I can attest to the fact that a high dose of psilocybin feels like you are dying, however you are not actually, but possibly transforming.

In actuality part of your brain gets shut off and others not normally active become active. Remember some people say you only use 20% of your brain?

Well that may not be true, but it might be true most of the time because of the DMN. And if you look again at the picture above your brain on psilocybin is highly active.

Psilocybin floods your brain with blood also sometimes producing the side effect of clumsiness.

Psilocybin is less addictive and toxic than drugs like: caffeine, alcohol and marijuana

Psilocybin’s addiction potential compared to other drugs

Despite the fact that it is powerful and what it might feel like psilocybin is less toxic than caffeine in high doses.

Learn more about it on Wikipedia.

Psilocybin will probably make you appreciate nature more

I have always appreciated nature. I grew up in the country side of Northern New Hampshire and the woods was right out the door.

“Researchers from the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College discovered that, in at least a small sample of subjects, ingestion of psilocybin was correlated with both an increased feeling of being part of nature and an increased dislike of authoritarian, political views…” – Inverse

“Human intelligence is impressive, but it’s not in the same league as nature.” – Simon G. Powell, from the video below

I recommend skipping ahead to 5:50 in his video.

Psilocybin increases one’s openness

Openness to experience is a personality factor on the Big 5 scale of personality dimensions. One of the 5 measures of personality is openness to experience.

A single high dose of psilocybin can increase this over the long term.

Psilocybin increases one’s empathy

Psilocybin affects the serotonin receptors in your brain which can affect how you emotionally relate to other people.

“Psilocybin targets the 5-HT2A/1A receptors in your brain which may have potential beneficial effects in the treatment of mood disorders or psychopathy, which are characterized by deficits in social skills and in particular in the ability to feel with other people.”

In my experience it definitely makes me feel more emotional at times during the trip. This is also interesting to me as I would say that I am introverted and probably do have some social anxiety.

Psilocybin mushrooms stimulate the growth of new brain cells

That is also known as neurogenesis and they may in fact help you get over some of your fears.

“Memory, learning, and the ability to relearn that a once threatening stimuli is no longer a danger absolutely depends on the ability of the brain to alter its connections. We believe that neuroplasticity plays a critical role in psilocybin accelerating fear extinction.” – Dr. Briony Catlow

Psilocybin will probably make you more creative

I have found that drawing is pretty helpful and soothing at times when using mushrooms and I will probably find out more in the future as to how using psilocybin may provide creative benefits.

I think you are going to get some insights as well. It definitely makes you more aware and you do see things that you don’t normally see sober and I am not talking about hallucinations.

It does make you more perceptive.

Some say psychedelics are the doorway to your unconscious mind.

Microdosing has become popular too for entrepreneurs in Silicon valley. Microdosing is taking a very small dose so small that effects are not really noticed in the short term, however over the long term one can see how it has affected their performance.

Psilocybin isn’t new, in fact it has a long history of use

There are murals done in Africa that suggest that psilocybin mushrooms were used in as far back as 7-9000 BC.

They were also used by the Mayans and the Aztecs. The aztecs referred to them as teonanácatl which means “god’s flesh”.

Psilocybin was actually isolated and synthesized by Dr. Albert Hoffman. The man who discovered LSD.

Psilocybin and LSD along with other psychedelics were used in therapy throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s until becoming illegal in 1966.

Is psilocybin the solution to all of your problems?

Psilocybin is not for everyone especially those predisposed to schizophrenia.

Personally I have found it to be very beneficial so far, however there are certain side effects especially in higher doses. Every experience will be a bit different, however in my recent experience 50% of the duration or so has been challenging.

It is more of a “mystical”, challenging and learning experience.

The side effects of psilocybin mushrooms

There are a lot of scientific backed benefits to using psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics, however there are also some side effects.

In this post I will mention the side effects based on my experience.

This can depend on the dose, you (set and setting) and the specific mushroom you ingested.

Based on my experience these are the side effects which are more pronounced in higher doses.

  1. Nausea. I didn’t get this every time, but often enough. It typically starts in the beginning and can linger for an hour or more.
  2. Clumsiness.
  3. Disorientation.
  4. Aches and pains.
  5. Tremors.
  6. Paranoia.
  7. Panic and anxiety.
  8. Feels as if you are dying.
  9. Sounds and sight can become more intense and distorted.
  10. Sensitivity is increased.

Psilocybin is a disruptor at least in the higher doses. The hard part is relinquishing control and not fighting it. It’s going to disrupt your normal systems and way of thinking.

I have actually had some challenging experiences with it, however even those have been like a catharsis and therapeutic feeling.

It’s very much like a process and cyclic.

Psilocybin is not recommend for people with…

  • high blood pressure
  • a shizophrenic personality disorder

Coming soon…

Learn more about the benefits.