So I'm here (Japan Related)

Well, I made it to Tokyo after leaving Boston Saturday. We’re (all of the JETs, maybe 1200 of us) staying in a massive hotel in Shinjuku, and although we didn’t get here until around 9, a group of us decided to head down a couple of stops to Harajuku for some food. Almost everything was closed, but we found a small place down some stairs and I accidentally ordered liver (oops). It wasn’t too bad though, and the vegetables were good, so it worked out. Afterwards, since it wasn’t too far away, we decided to walk because we wanted to see a bit of the city and it wasn’t too far from the hotel. We ended up getting a bit lost, but not too lost. Just enough to have a nice little tour of a bit of a few districts. We saw girls in cosplay (and one goth) hanging out by the closed entrance to Meiji Shrine around midnight, which is apparently fairly common.

There are already a lot of differences I’m noticing from anywhere I’ve ever been before. For one thing, the streets are so clean. There are cigarette butts, but virtually no other trash. And there are vending machines every couple blocks, which was just what we needed after walking for awhile through the heat and humidity, even at midnight. Another big difference was that cops at construction sites were actually directing traffic (unlike in Boston), and not just the cars. They helpfully pointed out small wires that we should avoid tripping over, pointing us in the proper direction with a wave and a “kudasai.”

I guess I always thought of Tokyo as a massive crush of people during the day and at least a semi-constant stream even late at night. But as we walked our way back to the hotel, the streets were virtually deserted. It was actually kind of beautiful-- such a nice night and no one really around as we admired the architecture and various shops.

I also had the privilege (along with a guy with whom I’m rooming) of heading out early to get some dress shoes before our first meeting because we had both accidentally sent them ahead in our checked baggage. The hotel worker we asked wasn’t sure we’d be able to get something so early, but he directed us to a 24-hour store several blocks away that had 3 floors of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff, ranging from the very nice dress shoes we found for $30 (2,999 yen) to pieces of luggage to porn mags (both regular and manga) to pillows in the shape of breasts (complete with nipples). Lots of stuff that we didn’t have any time to go through. The clerk who sold us the shoes was so happy when my companion put his 1 yen in the “take a yen, leave a yen” basket, and thanked him very enthusiastically. He didn’t seem to care when I had done it, but I think it’s because I speak very little Japanese. I think the store was called Hippo something, but my katakana is terrible (although my hiragana is good-- go figure).

On the way over we were handed cardboard and plastic fans with advertising on them, that were very much needed at the time. Leave it to the Japanese to innovate a way to get people to want their advertising, and not just because there’s something written on a stupid (albeit perhaps cute) stuffed dog or something. Everything around here is making me feel really happy. I initially didn’t think that I’d like living in Tokyo, but now I’m pretty sure I could get used to it.

Anyway, I’d ask what I should do here (and you can still let me know, as I plan on taking a trip back), but since I won’t have any real time before leaving, I’ll ask if there’s anything I should do in Aomori. I don’t have a car yet, but I hope to get one in the next month or so. Anyone had any experience with northern Japan? Should I definitely go to Hokkaido? I’m just excited to be here and am just trying to take in everything around me. Now if only there were some faster way to do kanji than just rote memorization, everything would be perfect.

oh, mods, would someone mind adding “(Japan Related)” to the title so someone might have some context? Thanks!

Context? Bah!
Think you’ll enjoy you stay there?

Enjoy it? I’m sitting here at 5AM drinking Kirin (special Tanrei brew, whatever that is) and eating omochi filled with anko… I’d say I’m having a good time. I’m not even that jetlagged-- mainly because I was up all night packing the day before I left. I’m tired, but I figured I should get Tokyo in while I could. I’m actually contracted for a year, although they often rehire. The program limit is 5 years, so who knows? Even though I have only a vague idea of what to expect from rural Japan (the town I’ll be in has 16,000 people), I’m just so incredibly excited to be here. Oh, and I was told how incredibly expensive Japan is, but people sure as hell weren’t talking about rural Japan. My monthly rent is roughly $115, which is quite the change from Boston. I might actually be able to save some money for once in my life.

Oh, in case you were wondering, mochi is pounded rice made into a sort of paste that gets baked (maybe? can anyone correct me on the process?) into a soft, almost bread-like state. Anko is red bean paste, which sounds really gross if you haven’t tried it, but it’s been sweetened and is a common dessert-type filler.

BTW, do guests not have editing privileges, or am I just missing the button?

Well that’s cool. Has anything happened yet that has completely thrown you for a loop?

Yeah, the 2 guys who approached me (separately, about 2 blocks from each other) and offered to get me sex from Japanese girls. Just because I look like a gaijin (gaigokujin :slight_smile: ) doesn’t mean that I think that’s even close to a good idea. I know drugs are really cracked down on here, but I guess I figured I’d be offered those before sex. Live and learn.

The vending machines are really cool. On top of having the cigarette machines that went out in the states in the late 80s/early 90s (not that I smoke), I’ve been told they sell beer in some of them. I haven’t quite figured out if you’re allowed to drink on the street, but I’ve been avoiding it so far. Oh, and we were told that drinking and driving laws, which are absolutely ZERO tolerance (which is just a bit silly, IMO-- I understand not wanting to take any risk, but couldn’t there be a .01 or .02 % allowance for NyQuil [which may not be legal here, but you know what I mean] or something like that?), apply not only to cars, but to bicycles!! Yes, you can be thrown in jail for drunkenly weaving your bike down the street. I’m going to try my best not to get deported, but when I hear things like this I worry just a bit about getting caught by something I haven’t heard of and would completely not expect.

When do the Sharks get there, and what’s gonna happen then?

hm, shark versus crocodile. who gets the jetpack?

JET = Japan Exchange and Teaching

Aaaah, stop it! You’re making me miss Japan already. Well I’ve never been there for any period of time over two months, but after I graduate next May I will most likely be following the JET path, although whether I teach or be a cultural liasion is still undecided.

So, sightseeing in Aomori huh? I’m going to focus on that because you’ll have plenty of people to help you around Tokyo. To be honest, I dont know much about Aomori, but I know of these two sites. I’ve never been but they look interesting.

The Last Resting Place of Christ.

Mount Fear - The Japanese Hellmouth

Also, if you have any Japanese questions, I’d be more than happy to lend a hand. 是非日本について質問を答えてあげるぞ。  I’m not fluent but I’m getting close ^^

So yeah, good luck, have a great time, and watch out for Japanese women! (Just playing on that last part).

It’s impolite to WALK and drink at the same time. Have you noticed that with every vending machine there is also a trash or recycling deposit right next to it or even connected to the machine. You are to get your drink from the machine, drink it there and then move on when done. That’s why they offer such small sizes. You can drink some and take it with you but it is considered rude to walk and drink (and eat for that matter) at the same time.

ETA: I just realized you might have been referring to alcohol and not drinking in general. Opps. I cannot remember seeing alcohol in street vending machines but our hotel did have beer and wine vending machines.

You’ll start to notice more litter in some areas that others. This tends to be on streets that teenagers take to and from school. Yeah, kids are shitty every where.

I thought it was pretty far away for a pre-season game