I live in Japan. It's really something.
It took me about a month to set up my internet, so although I've been here for a few weeks, this is my first post! This blog is gonna mostly be random garbage but sometimes garbage is fun to read.
Here's a recap:
I left on February 1st from GR, went to an airport in Detroit and flew for 14 hours to Chubu, Japan. My seatmate's name was Takeshi, he was cool, kinda quiet. Tolerated my rambling about how it was my first time seeing the Pacific. I watched Singin' in the Rain.
Met Jamie, a coworker, took the train to Kanayama Station, and with the help of a very kind local teen we called our housing guy on a payphone who brought us to our apartments. We gave the teen our Delta Airlines kit kats as omiyage (thank-you gifts). It was late but I unpacked in my new home.
My apartment is a small studio on the eighth floor of a building in Sakae, downtown Nagoya. It has laminate floors, a bathroom comprised of two solid pieces of a fiberglass-type material that can be hosed down, floor-to-ceiling, and a view of the interior of a non-courtyard within the complex. Like most Japanese apartments, it doesn't have insulation, so my blankets are super thick and I sleep in sweatshirts. The hot water heater speaks to you in a pleasant Japanese woman's voice when you change the heat. My stove has a tiny compartment for baking fish. My microwave's controls are more like a toaster's, with a physical bell that sounds when the timer runs out.
Recycling is crazy in Nagoya. Three separate bags just for different plastics, another for paper, another for "burnable refuse." You have to wash your recycling, so I've spent a not-insignificant amount of time scrubbing trash so it's clean enough to be thrown away. The word for trash here is gomi, which I like saying.
My bathroom flooded at one point. The whole thing. Hair and sewage everywhere. Dug around for the blockage and was stabbed by a needle someone had dropped down there years ago. Wasn't a fun day. Had to dig out part of my finger to clean the wound, then walk a few blocks to the Starbucks (the only free WiFi around here) to research if I needed a tetanus shot. Of course, this happened three days before my Japanese health insurance kicked in. Anyway, I ended up not needing anything and the wound healed in a few weeks. The bathroom drain was eventually unclogged by a kind old plumber whose ringtone was crazy 8-bit video game music.
I work at ECC Foreign Language Institute, English division, Chubu region as a Native English Teacher. ECC is super old and established, and their training program is an insane two-and-a-half weeks where you learn to a) never be late, ever, b) speak slowly and in extremely stripped-down English and c) navigate a system of roll books, lesson plans and processes written and accumulated over the course of the last decade, each with their own eccentricities. It's extremely fun, dynamic and stressful. Everyone I've met there is incredible and completely different.
The trains here are perfect. Moving on.
Making food is difficult, for weird reasons. Chiefly, I have a hard time reading kanji labels, so I end up buying things I don't understand how to make or use. I bought a packet of rice seasoning thinking it was rice. Ramen is very expensive here. In Michigan I could buy five packets of Maruchan ramen for a dollar. Here, 100 yen (roughly a dollar USD) gets you a single packet of the same exact stuff. But I'm figuring it out. I'm getting really good at making soft-boiled eggs.
Money is weird in Japan: they use coins to pay for things. They have some of the most valuable regular-circulation coins in the world, and you can slap a fat 500 yen coin on the counter at the conbini (convenience store) and pay for pretty much anything in the store with it. The 1-yen coins are aluminum and a complete waste. They float on water. I'm saving up mine to spend on Black Thunder, the incredibly cheap crunchy chocolate bars that I'm addicted to.
I bought a Japanese edition of the Pokemon Trading Card Game for Game Boy for like 300 yen and I'm working through it. There's a zillion classic game shops around here and it takes a lot of self-control not to fog up the glass.
Cars drive on the left, people walk on the left mostly but there's no real rule, so I tend to get in people's way. Double crossings are crazy mayhem but very useful. Bikes can ride on sidewalks and boy do they. The crossings all have auditory signals. There's a north/south sound and an east/west sound. Took me a week to realize it.
The city itself is alien to a westerner like me, with its winding roads, tangle of overhead power lines and massive disparity between large and small. Tiny one-way streets open into massive, unnamed avenues, the majority of buildings are 5-9 stories except for the occasional absurd skyscraper mall or flame-orange metal tower, and the parks are numerous and sprawling. Everything is different, and in every way. I'm into it.
I won't be posting many photos on here, so find my instagram for those!
Okay, that's it for now. There's a million things I haven't mentioned, a dozen stories I want to tell, and we'll get to em soon. Stay tuned!