Monday, August 21, 2006

Observations thus far

So yeah, I've been here for a couple weeks now and am settling in nicely. I'm finally done with all the training they're going to put me through (for now) and it's time to get down to work. At the 3rd and final orientation I went to last week I got my own personal training session at one point since I'm the only new guy out of 70ish in my prefecture that's doing my job (as opposed to the English teaching one). It was weird having it be me and the 3 people on the other side of the table, but it was pretty relaxed and it meant that they had time to focus more on the things that I'd get some use out of.

Speaking of which, this past Saturday I got to work a double shift since the Argentinian diplomat to Japan came through to have a look around and I was supposed to interpret (thank God he brought his own interpreter so I didn't really have to do much), and there was a hula event in the evening I had to help out with. Pictures are on the way - as soon as I find a way to get around the cord that's probably sitting in the 'rents basement as I type this.

Then Sunday I got to go out and see some of the sights - I got up to Matsushima, which is a town about 20 minutes from here on the other side of the bay that boasts to have one of the three best views in Japan. There was a special event going on that only happens every 33 years, but I'll give you more on that once I actually get the pictures uploaded.


For now, I'm just going to rant about some stuff that I've noticed since arriving here. First thing: mold. It's everywhere. I never really had a problem with it in Chiba, but now I live pretty much on the beach and the humidity is horrendous. For the duration of the afore-mentioned 3-day training session last week I left my windows open so the place wouldn't get all stuffy. Big mistake - I come back and there are green spots on the floor! Apparently humidity has that affect on tatami mats... who knew. My neighbor got it worse than I did though as atleast half his floor was a nice slimy, sludgy green. Don't worry though, it comes right up with a good vacuuming, although with 3 tatami rooms it does take a little time.

Oh, and I know I mentioned it before, but the bugs are abundant and frickin huge! It's like they were exposed to gamma radiation or something - I keep waiting for Mothra to fly over head. At least this time around I haven't run across any cockroaches. I guess that's one of the (few) advantages to living on the 5th floor: you know, besides working on my buns of steel on the way up and down the stairs and not having to worry about crazed girls stealing my boxers (no dryers in Japan, so laundry is hung outside) or other equally weird things.

Regional differences

So what's different from Tokyo/Chiba? Well I still haven't really been to Sendai yet, but walking around I have noticed a couple things. I've picked up on a couple dialectical differences that mostly show up with older people, but it's usually minimal when they're talking to me since I have enough trouble trying to figure out what they're going on about even without it. My bosses both have pretty thick accents though - I'm gonna have fun with that one I can tell.

So in general, three main things stand out:

1) People aren't in as much of a hurry and things certainly aren't as hectic. You don't see people frantically running about trying to look busy as much as I did down there. I hear that in the city a lot of times you'll get people doing this fakish run-like thing that's still the same speed as walking around the office just to give the illusion of appearing busy at all times, but no one cares about that here - at least not in my office. I am at least comforted in the fact that people do indeed drive well above the posted speed limits around here, so I should fit right in there. Then again, the fastest posted limit I've seen has been 50kph on local roads.

2) Things are also more spread out, so parking and traffic aren't really that much of a hassle in my daily life. I actually have a free parking space, which in the city can cost you. You have to have documented proof of an assigned parking space in order to register a car in Japan by the way, if you didn't know. Oh and speaking of space, I've been to a sit down ramen place up here, which is unheard of in the greater Tokyo area. Up until now I'd only seen places with bar stools in some little hole in the wall restaurant, but up here they actually have tables and stuff. Woo. Now on the topic of food...

3) There are more fat people up here! Again something you don't run into as much in the city in general, but still surprising. Talking to my boss the other day it seemed like he and the people he was chatting up were of the opinion that someone needs to give all those Harajuku girls down in Tokyo some onigiri or some rice cakes or something, cause they're too skinny. I myself don't have much objection to this, as long as they don't reach average American proportions. Seriously though, I've seen some girls in Tokyo that were skinny enough that you could see their rib cages 'n stuff. Bleah.

As for other random thoughts, my phone absolutely rocks! It has all the standard stuff: internet, a camera with better resolution than my digital, a high-res display, tv, mp3, gps and all that, but this new thing that I'm simply revelling in is this IR port thing that's all the rage now. When you meet someone new you just line up your phones and go to the right option and it transmits all your info instead of you having to punch it all in the old and boring way. Sweet! I also love having a picture come up every time someone calls since I'm so horrible with names.

Oh and lastly, one interesting thing about the trains - even if the train is stopped you have to push a button in order for the doors to open. They do this in order to save the AC (or heat in the winter I'm guessing). There's an 'open' button on the outside and both an 'open' and a 'close' button on the inside. Go figure.

Well that's it for now. Hopefully I'll have the picture thing sorted sometime this week, because my camera's full and I can't take any more pictures without erasing some stuff. Tataa!

No comments: