April 3, 2006

Day 1 - bewilderment

Well, here I am, and here is my blog about being here. First, a few disclaimers - this blog comprises the ramblings of someone who's never been to Japan before, and as such will probably not be of interest to anyone who knows the country already or who is of course Japanese; also, I have to keep it relatively clean as the family will be reading it ;) . Click image thumbnails for a larger picture.

After a long, long, loooooooong and largely sleepless flight I arrived in Nagoya airport, about 9am Japan time. Just one thing to say really - Nagoya airport is nice. It's all new and clean and not even very busy. Granted, I'm informed that the terminal I arrived at was only built in February, but still.

Naturally, the first thing I did was take photos of the ultra-futuristic lavvy -
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I was picked up and driven an hour to Okazaki by the venerable Suzuki-san. Didn't speak much as I was too busy marvelling at the neatness of the highways, as well as trying to read billboards and so forth.

Arrived at the school to be informed apologetically that my apartment was still being cleaned, so went to the computer lab for a while. This presented the first challenge of my stay in the form of the Japanese computer. Though the keyboard looks the same as western ones, only with more shift keys and the like, I found it difficult to get the symbols and punctuation marks I was after; not to mention that Windows was entirely in Japanese. Hey ho, onward and upward I thought.

My apartment was still not ready so decided to try and acquire some lunch. I went to a local kissaten (cafe/coffee shop thing) run by three slightly mad women who spoke no English, and a gnarled old dude who very obviously smoked too much. I somehow managed to order curry rice & beer (and sat down to watch some baseball (the Yokohama somethings vs. the somethings from somewhere else) and read (well, kind of) a nice big compendium of Shonen Jump, the manga comic.

It was during this visit that I discovered that, when one enters a shop, the propieters and any employees who see you will scream (often in unison) "IRASSHIMASEEEE!!!" ("welcome") at one, and "ARIGATOU GOZAIMASHTAAAAAAAA!!!" ("thank you very much") when one leaves. This will definitely be something to get used to.

I then decided to go walkabout to get an idea of my surroundings, and took a few photos -

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- the main school building

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- just down the road from the main school building. Note the sakura

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- for some reason, I love how the "Sorry for any inconvenience" notices in this country feature a little workman bowing at you

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- I have no idea what this is but thought it was kinda creepy

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- there are vending machines outside pretty much every shop - slight overkill perhaps? I hope this one has nothing to do with the crap singer of a similar name

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- again, no idea I'm afraid but this little fella was stuck to most every telegraph pole I walked past. Best guess, it says "please don't knock over telegraph poles".

Anyway, my apartment finally became available and I moved in amidst a plethora of "gomen nasai"s ("sorry")

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- rather swish, no? Can't really see them but I have a fridge/freezer, a totally cool front-opening toaster thing, a rice cooker I have no idea how to use, a very nice bathroom and a little space by the front door where you HAVE to take your shoes off

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- oh, and a balcony

Thus ensconced, I decided to do a bit of light shopping, and took myself to the local computer store PC Depot to buy a network cable (they have a theme song that plays over the in-store speakers in between special offer announcements - "Welcome to! Pee-Shee Depot! Yeah yeah yeah!" - I must go there more often) and then on to the Mini Stop convenience store that my balcony overlooks (see above). They sell all of life's little neccessities - bizarrely named snack foods -

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- the always-welcome Pocky (now available, bewilderingly enough, in a "Men's" edition) -
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- and delightful soft drinks such as Pocari Sweat (which, interestingly enough, doesn't taste too dissimilar to sweat) -

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I was also pleased to note that their magazine rack ran the full gamut from manga, numerous titles aimed at teen girls, and an FHM-esque men's rag bewilderingly titled "Men's Egg" up to porn and hentai.

Anyway, I'm incredibly tired, and I've forgotten most of the incredibly witty stuff I came up with during the day, so I'm going to go watch more TV (which is fantastic here, BTW) then go to bed. Oyasumi nasai...

8 comments:

tom April 03, 2006 6:52 PM  

WAHEY, Japan!!! OK, I'm a little bit excited for you!

Glad you made it there OK! Is that toilet plugged in??

Your apartment looks well nice, balcony good. I am totally jealous of your tasting of Pocari Sweat!

Can't wait to hear more about Japan! Take care.

Jazza April 03, 2006 6:56 PM  

Cool. am looking forward to future posts :)

Dave,  April 03, 2006 7:12 PM  

The fella on the construction sign looks like he's trembling. And he has a green cross on his safety hat suggesting he's a medic perhaps? Good luck to you if you injure yourself!!

Also. Japan. How cool?? : )

Simon,  April 03, 2006 10:09 PM  

UNO BESSU WASHUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Christ, Japan is crazy.

mark,  April 04, 2006 6:07 AM  

Hey dude.

Once again, sorry I couldn't make it down to oxford to see you off.

Glad you made it there okay, sounds like you're enjoying yourself already.

Shall be watching your blog.

Take care dude.

lingui,  April 04, 2006 8:41 AM  

Hiya, really interesting perspectives - enjoying your views on Japan - keep me posted! M

Phil April 04, 2006 8:32 PM  

Congratulations. All that waiting and hastle but you are finaly there.
I must admit I think you should get the toilet instructions translated before trying to use any of the other buttons.

Looking forward to more posts.

kate (andy b's bird),  April 05, 2006 5:38 PM  

Moshi-moshi!

I became addicted to both poccy sticks and porcari sweat. Also fanta grape which you don't seem to be able to get in the UK. BTW avoid hot coffee in cans from the machines, its an offence to the senses as is milk tea (iced tea with milk in, eeeewy!)

Kate San.

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