First day in Japan

Written on Saturday, posted on Sunday.

Right now, I’m in the room where I’ll be spending the next four months. I’ll take pictures later and upload them. This story itself will have to go up later as well, because I don’t have internet in my room. Rather, internet is in a separate computer room, kinda like a small closet. I’ll request formal access next Monday. There was a welcome party, but I only popped in for a few minutes and then promptly asked where the computer room was so that I could send out a message that I’ve arrived okay, that was most important to me right now. I’m rather glad that not everyone secures their internet that well, I was one MAC-address filter away from not being able to send that message.

The flight was rather uneventful. Yes, I look and feel like something the proverbial cat was sick on, but other than that it was just fine. And that’s great, because that means I didn’t get myself worked up over anything 😀 Not even over the fact that the two bands that secured my suitcase disappeared. One after the first flight, the other after the second. Also, the lock of my suitcase is a little damaged. I wonder if they opened it, since I left the code at 000. I wonder if I should change the code, or if that will only make it worse (maybe they’ll just tear the locks off if I do that… On the other hand, the next time that happens, it’ll be on the flight back home, so whatever.

After a tearful goodbye, I went through customs at Schiphol and bought a power converter, because Japanese wall sockets are like those in the USA. Good thing I bought that right away, because later I would find out that 1,5 hours to transfer on Narita isn’t enough to do things like, say, buying power converters and changing Euro’s for Yen…… >_>

On board the flight to Narita, me and some 79 other passengers each had three chairs for ourselves. After seeing two or three people stretch out over ‘their’ three chairs to sleep, I decided I wasn’t going to play the oddball foreigner and get left out on this luxury, so I also occupied as much of my three chairs as I could. I slept for about three hours, which was enough to get me through the day and still be tired at 10 pm Japanese time. During the flight, I had the opportunity to watch Avatar, but man that’s a boring movie. I stopped watching it halfway. I just listened some music and read Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

I really liked how there was a camera in the nose of the airplane to Narita, which showed the take-off and landing, that really helped, I feel much more comfortable when I can see where I’m going. The whole ‘what I feel corresponds to what I see, yay’, you know how it is..

On Narita, I transferred without much trouble. I did ask directions a couple of times, but I didn’t tag along with anyone, as was my plan. So, yeah… That did make me feel kinda brave. Then, at Osaka Itami, a Japan-nightmare almost came true: We were brought to the airplane by bus. And yes, that means standing in a crowded bus. Thankfully, it wasn’t as crowed as you see on those Youtube movies, because there was a second bus. Still, I had to stand, while I really prefer sitting down in buses. On the other hand, maybe I’m cured from that too, I didn’t get sick at all.

Some other things:

  • No, Japanese don’t speak a whole lot of English, but yes they’ll damn well try for you. At Osaka Itami I was helped by someone because I had to purchase a bus ticket and hand no money. And although I know places where my card should be able to be used by the ATM, seven ‘o clock at night is a time when most of those places are closed (post office, 7-eleven supermarkets). I found out that I was able to use my creditcard to make purchases, such as said bus ticket. Later, I asked the information desk for a way to contact my internship supervisor, because I didn’t have any money (well, Euro’s 8) ) and he promptly took up the phone and called him. Lastly, my internship supervisor generously offered to lend me some money for tomorrow’s groceries etc.
  • On Sunday’s, everything is apparently open here. Yay!
  • Cabdrivers and people who take care of your luggage all wear white gloves. And I don’t just mean at the fancy hotels, I mean *everywhere*.
  • Some people wear mouth caps. They have the flu or allergies and wearing the caps is a rather social gesture, making sure you don’t make others ill. (Maybe telling you it’s allergies is a social gesture as well, I don’t know.)
  • I got stared at……. Awesome! Right now it’s kind of a smug feeling, look at me the tourist, I don’t fit in and I don’t *have* to right now. That feeling will probably pass and be replaced by something a little less comfortable (like ‘stop staring at me!!’), but for now it’s all gone well.
  • Bathrooms: I already forgot to take off my shoes twice. And there’s not handsoap, gotta buy that tomorrow. Th upside: Heated toilet seats! Hell yeah! I need to figure out that lock, though. Here, it’s not the door that locks with a pin, but it’s the handle itself that locks up, so you can’t push it down when locked. Sometimes it locks up by itself, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m sure there’s a pattern, just need to figure it out.

4 Replies to “First day in Japan”

  1. 1

    Hi Diana! Your adventure started out just right! You must look like an alien amidst those small, dark-haired people. Please please please: let someone take a picture of you and all those people staring at you! If all that went ”wrong” was two bands/straps lost during the flights and not losing your suitcase, then you just got your mastersdegree on world-travelling! even in het Ned.: koop gewoon nieuwe banden en maak ze vast terwijl ze DOOR het handvat zijn gehaald, schuiven ze er ook niet zo gemakkelijk af (bedacht ik me gisteren, maar ja, was natuurlijk al te laat).
    I will read your blog from time to time and will call Sander now and then to ask if he has got enough detergent(1) and also is using it in the washingmachine (2) loaded with dirty cothes (3).

    Have fun!

    • 2

      Dank je! 🙂 Ik ben vooral blij dat ik kalm ben gebleven. Ook vandaag, zo door Kyoto lopend. Natuurlijk heel goed blijven opletten waar je langs bent gelopen, want de straatnamen zijn natuurlijk stukken moeilijker te onthouden voor een Nederlander.

  2. 3

    Hoi diana,
    Fijn dat je het naar je zin hebt. Jammer dat die rode riemen kwijt zijn. Maar de inhoud van je koffer was toch nog compleet?
    Leuk om die foto’s te kunnen bekijken.
    Zijn de andere studenten aardig?

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