It’s 5am as I type this and I can’t sleep. That’s probably because we all passed out at like 9pm. Why? Well Hello Leslie (HL), our third roommate, she had been traveling ALL DAY. See, she was on a different series of flights than we were and she ran into some cancellations. Oh, she lost her luggage too. HR and I spent all day walking around the city. My legs are shot, yall.
The first thing that sticks out in my mind about yesterday is the fact that the Japanese are really really nice. Like, freakishly nice. So nice, that folks leave their bikes outside without locks. So nice that they’ll tell you “thank you very much” about three times when you’re the one who ought to be thanking them.
We’ve had to do a lot of adjusting in terms of the simple cultural things you don’t really pay attention to. For instance, when me, HR, and DKLA (Dave & Khoa from LA) walked down the street together, well we like to talk. Somewhat loudly. Folks in Japan don’t really run around being boisterous and calling attention to themselves in that way. When we got on the train (which is like 4 levels underground) for the first time, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Take that SEPTA and NYC MTA! Did you know that everything was oriented to the left here? What I mean is that folks drive on the left side of the road and walk on the left side of the sidewalk. They ride the left escalator up and when they get on, everyone stands ALL the way to the left right away. Ever want to walk up the escalator and have to navigate around people all spread out? Not here. Once, I forgot where I was and stood out to the right of the escalator. HR was like “Girl! Get in line!” LOL.
I bet you already heard this, but until you’ve been here, you won’t believe how clean many of the streets are. Compared to Philly and NYC, hell… even Raleigh, the folks here keep things extremely clean. I guess that’s why the caretaker at our apartment spend like 20 minutes talking about garbage disposal procedures, complete with a colored poster he suggested we hang next to the refrigerator.
Speaking of the apartment, HR and I moved in yesterday morning. Moved in consisted of dragging our 3 suitcases a piece from our hotel to the apartment. Our caretaker is this cute little old man named Amayahi. He greeted us with a big smile then told us he could speak a little English. After which, he immediately proceeded to speak in Japanese peppered with 3 or 4 English words. LOL. We did a lot of nodding and saying “Hai/Yes”. However, we got through it and he showed us how to use the gas water heater (which we must turn on every time we want to use hot water), how to use the heating/cooling units, and of course, how to dispose of trash.
After we got settled in the apt, we met up with DKLA and walked to school. Our school buildings are about 30 minutes away by foot but we were stopping and ambling along so it took more like 45min – an hour to make the walk. The weather right now is kind of like 50’ish and sunny so the walk wasn’t bad. We stopped for lunch on the way which was an ordeal in and of itself. We couldn’t decide where we wanted to go since everywhere was a new place. Too many choices. Plus we didn’t want to have an expensive lunch. Of course most menus are in Japanese, but the folks in Tokyo are so smart, they usually put pictures of everything on the menus so that you can just point to what you want. Many places go a step further and keep replicas of the food sitting outside and it’s totally proper to just go out there and point to what you want. Our first stop led us to a restaurant that had neither pictures nor food replicas. I walked in first and asked the waiter if they spoke English there. He said no and we left. Without pictures and with no idea what they really served, we could have had a very frustrating lunch. Eventually, we ran upon a soba noodle shop that had plenty of replicas outside. While we were standing out there pointing at what we might want, a waitress came outside and guided us in, providing us with picture menus! Then she went in back and emerged with a cook who spoke perfect English. He even had a perfect American attitude – annoyed. In the end, we all got what we wanted: a hot lunch for cheap, around $5.
Finally we ended up at school. The TUJ campus isn’t really a “campus” at all. The school consists of two buildings that are about 2 city blocks away from each other. The school takes up several floors in each building. We got there, checked in, bought our books and registered our laptops for internet connections.
At the end of all that, me and HR booked it back to the apartment where HL was waiting for us. She finally got in from traveling almost 24 hours to get here. I can’t even go on about the time we had trying to find an ATM that would take her card (so we could pay our rent that evening) or how much trouble it was finding decent crap to put in our apartment, at least not in this post. Later.
Yesterday was just freakishly packed and I keep thinking of things I need to write about here but then more stuff happens and I end up exhausted. I don’t plan on writing this much every time, but I had to regurgitate on the screen right quick… at 5am. Crazy.