And now, a new blog segment:
NEWS FROM ABROAD!
This just in from Eric, our very own Sparkling Beatnik, now creating international incidences in Japan!
Well, I am here in Japan! Flights themselves were fine- they did lose about half of my luggage, but its okay because that’s the half I don’t need for a week or so anyways. Let’s see… on to my training adventures so far! On the way to the training center, I stopped to buy something at a refreshment kiosk. My very first purchase with Japanese yen, and I was very excited to make it! I picked out the soft drink with no English writing that I could see, in the spirit of adventure. As I walked back to the group, I began to feel a sinking feeling. My trainer was laughing at me. The can, upon closer inspection, had some English on it. Specifically a little sticker which read “Alc. 5%”. Yes, my very first purchase in Japan was a can of beer in a train station. *sigh*
After that, things improved. Got to my dorm room, which is very much ideal. I don’t have to share it, I have a kitchenette, and my room is traditional Japanese style, with a futon on straw mats. Last night I went with my training group to visit the Korakuen garden (allegedly 3rd nicest in Japan) and Okayama castle. The ticket that gets you into both places is only about 5 bucks! What a steal! Of course, I forgot my camera, so I decided to go again this morning. It was really nice- just wandered through the Garden, accidentally got caught up in a tour group (the guide demanded that I throw water on some rocks in the river. Who am I to argue?), and took pictures to my heart’s content.
I have had some interesting interactions with Japanese people, almost all of which revolved around a kind stranger trying to help the silly, confused gaijin - my goal is to complete a transaction at a store without the cashier needing to use any English to help me. There is so much to get used to, and so much to tell! Japanese people do not jaywalk, so my impatient American blood is always burning to dash across the empty streets. Bikes abound, but no fancy, tricked-out mountain bikes. Everyone has an old ten-speed with a basket on the front and various attachments (I’ve seen backseats, headlights, umbrellas, etc.). I’m developing a vending machine addiction, largely because the 100-yen coin (roughly worth a dollar) looks and feels so much like a nickel. I’m rationing the number of times I allow myself to use them every day. Cicadas are dying all around- they just drop out of the trees and die on the sidewalks. I’m tall here, but not as tall as I was expecting to be.
I suppose I was going into this with the notion that I would be some sort of mythical giant-figure. An ogre towering above the multitudes as they run, screaming, for the hills. This is not the case. There are plenty of tall Japanese people; it’s just that, on average, they are fewer and farther between than in America. I’m stealing internet from some unguarded server out there (mwahaha) but the connection is very weak, so we’ll see if this email works. So, to sum up, I’m having a lot of fun so far, and will have plenty of stories to come! I wish you all well!