018

Mar. 25th, 2014 07:55 pm
I’m going to call that a good day. I forgot to get a pillow, but half the time I don’t sleep with a pillow anyway. I did, however, get a lovely futon mat (it is so soft and fuzzy oh my god) in pink, a beautiful down futon… blanket, whatever those are called (it’s exactly like a duvet) in this gorgeous light pink even though you don’t see it, and a pink tartan cover for it. :3 In addition I also got shower slippers, house slippers, 26 hangers, and a towel. :P And I just noticed that yes, actually, everything is pink. (Yes including the shower slippers and hangers, though in varying shades.) LOL Thank god for some kind shop-staff though, but I find that if you tell them your Japanese is a little shaky and you try your best, they’re very willing to help. I don’t like looking like a fool, but really, this is the way you get better! The two ladies working with me were very kind. And if I don’t understand something that I think might be important, I just tell them so and we usually work something out. XD “Gomen nasai, wakarimasen” (I’m sorry, I don’t understand) has become a common phrase of mine for the moment. :P Sometimes charades is required.

I went out on the trains and found out that there is a major transfer station called Amagasaki (which also has a big mall, I didn’t notice until the way back) that I get off/on at in order to go to and from school. From it, Nishinomiya is only two stops. I went to Nishinomiya, but I did not have a map to the school (even though I have the address), and I couldn’t see it on the local map at the station so I didn’t try to get any further because I was really scared of getting lost. XD Tomorrow I will just take a taxi to the school from that station (since I have the address on the back of the campus map in kanji), and ask for a more detailed access map once I get there to get back. n_n I have to say, that this coming-to-Japan thing and not having any kind of phone or internet access really, really makes you rely on yourself, your interpersonal skills, your own intuition and bravery, and trusting in yourself also. This morning was kind of like… Okay! Let’s go to the station and find out how to get to school! I have no idea if there even is a Nishinomiya station but I’m going to say so! LOL (There is.) Oh yeah! And I also got an ICOCA (which I JUST realized is a clever play on words, it’s pronounced ee-koh-kah, and in Japanese, ikkou ka (same pronunciation) is an informal way to say “let’s go?” or it could also be an abbreviation of ikkou-card, which would just mean “go-card”; either way very clever). An ICOCA is the Osaka version of a Suica, which is a fund-loadable pass-card for using transit and can be used as a payment card at some locations for a huge variety of things. (Like today at lunch, the restaurant I went to took ICOCA as a form of payment.) It’s not something you want to lose because they are nameless and you literally just tap it and go. :P You can load them with up to $100 at a time. (I would never put that much, especially since I don't yet have a pass case.) So anyway, I got one of those, loaded it up and off I went, to Amagasaki and then Nishinomiya and then from there straight to Osaka. I knew I could probably get what I needed just at the station malls, and I did see some gorgeous Givenchy bedding I wanted, but I am not about to pay $500 for a bedding set ($120 was enough lol, yay sales). I probably could have gotten everything I needed, but once I had the essentials, the bags were heavy and bulky and I decided to call it a day. Tomorrow I have school stuff pretty well all day, so I’m going to have a relaxing evening and take a shower and do my hair and set up my room some more and have a good night’s rest now that I have the proper bedding for it. Holy Jesus my arms hurt though, especially after that expedition. XD One day I will stop carrying heavy things back to my dorm. (I opted not to taxi because 1) walking is free, 2) good exercise and 3) I’m trying to cement the way back to the dorm in my head so I could do it blind. lol)

SPEAKING OF! For some reason this reminded me, I’m not sure why. Takarazuka station has an AWESOME market at it called Station Marché (駅マルシェー). It has fresh fruit and vegetables, cooking supplies, AN EPIC DELI AND CHEESE COUNTER with really good cheeses and crackers for not exorbitant prices I am so impressed, its own café inside, bakery, literally whatever you could want. THE CHERRY TOMATOES. ;O; So cute and ripe and small and CHEAP oh god I need six packages. Really though, I wanted to take so many pictures. I was like; THANK THE LORD there is a legitimate supermarket (a small but very convenient supermarket) right at my home station. I am going to go grocery shop… I don’t know, sometime soon. XD Maybe on the way home from school tomorrow. What I should do tonight is make a list of questions for SOMEONE to answer, like… How do I get a Japanese bank account? The residence procedures say I need to register my residence with the police station within 14 days of landing. How do I do this? How do I get a Japanese phone? How do I apply for a scholarship? How do I pay my rent and utilities? How do I get back to the station (lol)? I think I’ll do that after I shower. But oh god I am so happy I have proper bedding. Hallelujah.

I had a shower and I feel amazing. Oh god that was so needed. AND MY NEW TOWEL IS EPIC. It is soooooo soft and absorbent! Having my ham, cheese, and lettuce sandwich for dinner now accompanied by tea. :P It gives me great happiness that Japanese sandwiches do not have crusts. XD Crust has never been something I’ve particularly minded, but it is better without. My meals have been good today. I had an egg/ham/veg sandwich and a chicken mayo onigiri for breakfast with tea, then when I got to Nishinomiya I had a single-serve bottle of jasmine tea, then after my shopping at Tokyu Hands (yes Tokyu, that is not a typo) and before I bought my bedding at Isetan, I went and had a great set meal with egg drop soup, some kind of grilled root vegetable with a spicy sauce I don’t know it was delicious lol, spicy shrimp in a sauce with sprouts and pea shoots, rice, and a set of five different Chinese-style steamed dumplings with different meat and vegetable fillings, accompanied by hot tea and water. Japanese-style, so you know, there was just a little bit of everything, and beautifully presented. It was so good. I didn’t finish all the rice or soup though. :P Leela might have been proud of me; I called over the waiter and ordered some water. XD (She was teaching me to order my own drinks back in Tokyo. In Japan, I get really, really shy. LOL I KNOW.) I picked what I did off the menu because it was the only thing that I could read in entirety (as in, say fluently also) and I felt like doing that instead of pointing. XD; It also looked really good though and just about the right amount of food, and I was right. Plus, the whole thing was just under $20! Wins all around. (Generally you do not tip in Japan, and taxes are included in most listed prices, either that or both are listed, with and without.)

I JUST REMEMBERED there was a giant purple cat pillow at the Daimaru in Osaka Station City… Depending on how much it was I might have to get that as my pillow. >_> Please don't be over ¥5,000 Murasaki Neko-chan*, because that is the most I am willing to pay. LOL I guess we’ll see soon!


* Murasaki = purple
Neko = cat
Chan = suffix used to denote something small, cute, or younger than you

017

Mar. 25th, 2014 03:52 pm
My body is super super sore from carting around 100-pound bags for six hours plus a 30-pound backpack. Trying to do that on the train in Tokyo at 8 am was a real treat, too. lol But thank god it’s done! And I actually made it to my dorm! XD But holy Nihongo batman, pure immersion from the second I left Tokyo. There is much less English, even at main stations, down here than there is up there. (And there’s a lot less than most people who have never been here think there is to begin with.) I thought that someone from the school might be here to greet me when I arrived at the dorm? Nope. The landlady—a sweet, old Japanese woman who knew absolutely zero English—showed me the dorm, my room (which happens to be on the third floor), bathrooms, etc… Explained all the rules. I think I understood well enough. She asked me how long I was going to be a student, then asked further if it was going to be four years, to which I replied yes, four years. (はい、四年間です.) At that point she offered me one of the rice cookers for personal use. lol At this moment I am finding that I can passably understand a fair amount, but speaking anything is still a real challenge.

Which actually reminds me, I want to document here some of the kindness of the Japanese people that I found while I was in the midst of difficult travels yesterday. Leaving Leela’s place, once you get to the entrance to the station there is a long set of stairs down to the Tokyo Metro that goes from Hounanchou to Nakanosakaue, which is where I transferred onto the main Marunouchi line to Tokyo station proper. Well, I stood off to the side by the stairs for a moment preparing myself to lug these heavy bags down the steps. A Japanese businessman stopped abruptly as he must have anticipated my predicament and said in English with a heavy accent; “May I help you?” (I was impressed by his very proper sentence.) When I accepted and thanked him, I don’t think he was expecting how heavy it was, but he motored down the stairs with it (I think he really was in a hurry to catch the train) and stopped for a brief second at the bottom. I thanked him and bowed, and he rushed off to the train that was leaving in just a few moments. That was nice. When I got on the train, it was 8:30 am, and of course Tokyo, on a Monday, bound towards ‘downtown’… It was pretty trying with as much luggage as I had, but I was surprised to find most people seemed sympathetic to my endeavor. I tried my best to be the least bothersome as I could and keep my bags in as small and least inconvenient a space as possible. XD; Well, I finally got to Tokyo and got on the Shinkansen (bullet train) bound for Shin-Osaka. In order to get a good spot in line for the non-reserved cars, I (yet again, I did not eat at all until 4:30 pm yesterday) missed out on buying a bento at the station. But I did get a good seat, one of those ones by the door that had space in front of me for my luggage. But, being one person with two huge bags and a backpack, I didn't know where to put the other bag. A nice older lady came to sit beside me, and asked if it was okay to do so. I was like, oh god yes of course, but… I asked her “where would be okay to put this baggage?” and she kindly told me “right here is alright, see, I have space for my legs. It’s alright!” Once again, she had my sincere gratitude. lol There was literally nowhere else to put such large bags. Luckily for me, she stayed on until the end of the line just like me, and when we were getting off, she turned to smile and tell me good luck. :3

Once in Shin-Osaka, I had to figure out where to go next. The guy at the Shinkansen ticket gate in Tokyo had told me I would have to go to Osaka and transfer again. I really didn’t want to do that, actually. And since travel in Japan is based on distance, I knew if I could find a simpler way to get to Takarazuka, I could do so. (Plus there are fare adjustment gates also, just in case.) So I was following the signs and found the Takarazuka line, and was like; well! That probably goes where I want to go (Takarazuka station)! After some careful listening and analyzing, I boarded the local train bound for Shin-Sanda. The Japanese people on this train looked at me really strangely, because I’m a foreigner with travel bags and this is a local train through the ‘burbs. XD Well, I finally got to Takarazuka station, figured out how to get to the taxis since I was already a few minutes later than I said I would be arriving at the dorm. ¥650 taxi trip and the very jovial taxi driver (who I had a fun and up-beat though short conversation with) had me at the dormitory. Then, I met the landlady and she showed me around, gave me my key, the pass-code for the main door, etc. My dorm, by the way, is REALLY OLD. Like, damn. lol And… And. All the toilets are Japanese-style. If you do not know what a Japanese-style toilet is? Please go look this up. This is probably the single largest adjustment for me for a daily-living thing. The first order of business was I took out most of my clothing, and stored it. There’s actually a lot of storage in my room and for Japan, I would even call it relatively large. At 4:00, I decided to finally try and make my way through this very windy, hilly, residential area back toward the station/main thoroughfare to find food. I ended up at a Lawson (which is a popular convenience store) at the foot of the station (I saw on the receipt it’s actually called 宝塚駅前LAWSON; “Lawson in front of Takarazuka Station” lol). I bought a 2L bottle of water, a 2L bottle of green tea, 2 sandwiches, a tonkatsu bento, and a chicken-mayo onigiri. When I had left the dorm, I made sure I could enter the door code properly, then as I was travelling down towards the station I made sure to take strong visual markers of where my turns were. For example; the house that looks such-and-such with the three cherry trees in front, the turn with the fire hydrants and that local map, etc. Happily, I made it home without an issue thanks to that, though the up-hill all the way back with the bags made me really glad I took a cab with my luggage lol. I was sweating and a bit winded when I got back home. (When I say steep, I mean think of San Francisco for some of this. And this is my walk home every day. Calf muscles for the win?) I downed a bunch of the water and the bento, saved the rest for breakfast this morning, and settled in. My dorm is not outfitted with any kind of bedding, but it does in fact have a western-style twin-sized bed with a (thin) mattress. I tried really hard to sleep, too, because I was exhausted, but that didn’t work out so well either. I have a brutal chill that I just can’t shake, and I would shower to get rid of it, but I lack a towel. In hindsight that actually would have been a great thing to bring. :P I am wearing two thick sweaters, my regular sleeping t shirt, and a cardigan, but somehow I am still freezing. I threw my jacket over me for a blanket and rolled up some dresses for a pillow, but today (in addition to finding out how to get to my school, which I have to do tomorrow for actual school purposes) I am definitely going to go shop for some home-things. Towel, house-slippers (which I am on loan right now from downstairs but the landlady asked me to please buy some myself XD), and bedding are the top of the list. Though, the cold thing… For someone who slept with the window open and not even under a blanket in Calgary in the winter, that’s really weird.

By the time anyone reads this, it will have been long past when I typed it, because I’m not sure when I’ll have internet before next week (and it’s only Tuesday). I know my parents are probably worried because they haven’t heard in a few days and I can’t update anything, but I have literally no way to contact them except letter mail right now. :C lol So… sorry guys! I’m okay though.

The area I live in is a pain in the ass for aforementioned reasons, but it is also beautiful. There are a lot of gorgeous proper Japanese residences here, both western-style in the façade and traditional. There are also a lot of plants, gardens, and birds, immaculately manicured lawns and shrubbery. But fuck it I am not wearing heels to walk to school, not directly from here. LOL On top of being hilly it’s also rocky and gravelly. The streets in this area reminded me a bit of Europe in that the taxis—of which there are many sifting around—and other vehicles have to stop and/or swerve to make room for each other and the pedestrians. There are no designated walkways; everyone just shares the road, until you get to the station/the other side of the station, which is less strictly residential and not on the hill. As I sit here looking out my window and tiny balcony (essentially for clothes-drying purposes), there is also this one rather large, lush, greenery-adorned mountain directly to my right. There are little houses all through the dips in these mountains; they’re smaller mountains, yes, nothing like the Canadian rockies but mountains nonetheless!

Oh god I can’t even move/lift my arms without there being incredible pain. XD The trek here was a muscly one. I am glad that I do not have to move those bags again for a couple of years lol. It’s hard for me to believe that if I actually end up staying here (as in this dorm) for two years (which is of course the plan) that will be the longest I’ve stayed living in one place for eight years. I’ve moved once or more every year for eight goddamn years. In 2013, I lived in three different places: two apartments and a stopover at my parents’ place. Effectively I have moved my entire life in two suitcases, a backpack, and sent myself one box of shoes and a small box of random articles.

Well, I’m still exhausted, but I really didn’t sleep much and I was freezing. XD So let’s hope that tonight I have a proper shower and procure some bedding and get some rest, because tomorrow we meet our buddy system partners. :) And I’d like to be a little better rested and looking a little more decent for that. lol

Well, time to get organized and go! Wish me luck!

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lisawilliamson

January 2015

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