The Trail turns eastward: the blog is reborn!

Oh HI there strangers,

Trina here! Pleased to announce that the Trail is officially live and kicking once more, but this time will have a distinctly oriental flavour…

Hoping to stave off sleep for at least another hour or so (take THAT jet lag), I have decided to get down to typing up my first impressions of the country which has twinkled alluringly in my mind’s eye for a very long time now.

I touched down in Tokyo’s Narita airport at 8.40 a.m. this morning and was greeted by a platoon of company staff in high-vis who shepherded me and my fellow teachers onto our respective trains with stunning (albeit not unexpected) efficiency. My arrival to Japan also featured a bombardment of signs and symbols of which I am currently able to decipher about 2%, and a star turn on the part of the weather, which decided to throw us the back-end of a typhoon as we landed.

Since said rather bumpy landing, I have done the following:

  • gained access to my apartment after a squelchy walk through the driving rain and a 10-minute struggle with a door key that I would otherwise have mistaken for a bottle opener
  • Committed the ultimate Japanese faux-pas of walking into said apartment WITH MY SQUELCHY WET SHOES ON (I was swiftly but gently admonished by the company rep who came to check me in)
  • discovered that the shower/wet room has a clothes-drying air-con setting (GENIUS)
  • discovered that the toilet cistern doubles up as a hand basin (GENIUSER)
  • located the nearest shop, where I had my first hilariously broken conversation in Japanese (I asked if there was meat in a packet of noodle, said ‘yes’ to everything the shop lady asked in a panic of non-comprehension and thanked her six times at the end, having reached the limits of my severely limited vocabulary)
  • spent around two hours (not an exaggeration) programming the telly and wifi, which mainly entailed holding the manual up to the screen to see which Japanese symbols matched up to a series of increasingly complex drop-down menus. Felt like a particularly lengthy code-cracking challenge in the Crystal Maze.
  • Took a shower, and stepped out to realise that the bag containing my towel isn’t being delivered until tomorrow. Good one.

I am currently tucked into my new futon-bed-thing, having dried off using a spare sheet I found in a cupboard. Bloody knackered, but so happy to be doing my clumsy introductory bow to Japan at long last. Despite the typhoon conditions and impenetrability of the written language that surrounds me, I feel an instinctive affection for the place I will be calling home for the next three months. People are certainly as reserved as I expected, with little eye contact made on the public transport and a distance between strangers that is palpable but not uncomfortable. For me, there is also considerable warmth in the head-bobbing politeness of the airport and shop staff I have thus far encountered, a cordial smile awarded to me at every transaction despite my pronounced lack of language and grace. Bodes very well indeed.

Tomorrow will be taken up by getting admin done at city hall and doing a bit more exploring of Koshigaya, with campus tours and orientation later in the week, in time for the beginning of the new semester on Monday. Can’t  wait to get stuck in.

Just now, however, the urge to face-plant my laptop and give way to much snoring is strong. More updates on their way soon!

Think I’m giving in. Around. About. N—

Zzzzzz x x x x x

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