Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day Zero.

The following was taken from my facebook page and written before I decided to start this blog. It's posted for narrative clarity and to fill my archive quicker.

Sorry to everybody for being so out of touch the last two days. After a night's sleep (and a day's training) my head's fresher and I can recount my first two days in Japan.

Arrived yesterday (Saturday) after an 11 hour flight from London. Flight was surprisingly unremarkable. Not as tortuous as you might think given the length and Virgin's in flight entertainment system is pretty good. I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past (Soc, you'll be happy to know I really enjoyed it) and then mostly slept.

At Narita, I watched mournfully as the baggage carousel emptied with no sign of Elizabeth (my bass). A staff member approached and after explaining my situation he told me that she was in London but they would bring her to my apartment tomorrow (today). He then assured me that it would be ok, because he was a guitarist, for a Police tribute band no less, and 'understood how scared' I must be. He then escorted me through customs while showing me pictures of his vintage guitar collection and a picture of him with Steve Lukather. Then he let me use his phone, gave me his contact details and asked that I get in touch with him so we can play music together. I am definitely going to do this.

On the train from Narita I spoke with two other new teachers who were both living in the same area and thus going in the same direction from our connecting stop, Ikebukuro. I was not going that way. I stepped off the train and met the coordinator in charge of making sure we knew where we were going, shared 5, maybe 6, words with her which were mostly 'get on this train' and 'okay' as my train arrived at that exact moment. I was told my apartment was a 20 minute walk from the train station, but decided to try it anyway. I could have gotten a taxi, but I like to take my time and I trust myself on foot.

I made the right decision. My little village is really nice. There are two (hilariously titled) Italian restaurants, several convenience stores and a really nice supermarket (Co-Op, more on this later) as well as loads of other stuff that I haven't noticed yet, I'm sure. I liked it, it already felt like home.My apartment is small but I really like it. It has a (surprisingly slick) TV and everything you'd probably expect from an apartment, just squashed together to the point where the hallway is also home to the kitchen, which merges seamlessly into the laundry room and shower room.

After an afternoon spent reading materials left in my apartment by my company, all of which might as well have been called 'how to not be a dickhead in Japan in 564534534 steps', I felt a strange combination of courage, exhaustion and blind terror. I wanted to go explore, but I also wanted to sleep and also to go home because oh my god what have I done etc. etc. Fortunately, my razors and plasters (for tattoo covering) were in my luggage (which was taken to be delivered today) and I needed both for my first day. So I ventured out to the local Co-Op to pick up some supplies. I got lost, finding it inexplicably difficult to simply reverse the directions I'd followed perfectly on the way TO the apartment, but eventually found it and managed to purchase some basics and a small bag of croissants. I returned feeling pretty good about myself. A basic social situation; tick. Done. Small, but important to the part of me that was terrified. After a shave, I sat in my apartment and watched stand-up on my laptop eating a croissant and thought 'If this is rock bottom for my time in Japan, I'm actually okay with that'. Forgive the mundane level of mundane detail, I'm just trying to make this post as close to my thought process as possible, and making something mundane out of what seems mountainous is extremely helpful. Today I successfully navigated the train and subway system to find the offices where I was being trained, ordered a cappucino (it wasn't great, if you're wondering), had lunch with colleagues and went to the co-op again on the way home. The train home was familiar, the walk home even more so, and this time I didn't stare rabbit-in-headlights style when asked if I wanted a bag for my shopping.

So sorry for the lack of contact and info, I'm still getting used to the time difference and also getting used to, you know, being here. Still haven't quite taken that in. I'll get better and communicate with you again soon, people of facebook.

Also, Japanese television is 10% anime, 20% advertisements and 60% talk shows. Irresponsibly reductive fact of the day. X

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