I’ve finally arrived in Japan to live after spending almost 4 years away, save for some brief visits. My blogging up to now has been a way for me to keep up on Japanese current events from the outside. But now that I’m here and have easy access to TV, ads, products, marketing campaigns, convenience stores, books, etc, I’m going to have to make it about something else. I’m still kind of thinking about that.
But first, some good things about coming to Japan:
Cleanliness: I swear, I would be more comfortable sleeping on the Tokyo sidewalks than on the floor of my college dorm room. That’s how clean this place is. Perhaps I’m just surprised at the relative difference with unabashedly filthy and smelly Thailand (a trait which, btw, takes nothing away from its charm).
Awesome food: Thai food is amazing, and I miss it to death (and all the real American food that’s available in Bangkok) dearly. Still, Japanese food is fresh, delicious, and healthy. I haven’t felt this clear-headed and energized in months.
Speaking the language: My spoken Japanese is very rusty (and was never all that great to begin with), but it is still good enough to do whatever I need to in life, unlike Thailand where I had to wildly gesticulate and scream a mix of English and the few Thai phrases I knew to get anything done at all. That’s another major source of stress lifted.
Fast Internet: In Thailand I was suffering with a crappy DSL connection that was slow, required quirky proprietary software. On top of that, the authorities banned YouTube out of the blue 2 weeks ago because of a video defaming the king. The connection I’m using now is a smoooooth hikari fiber line that lets me get the new Sopranos in less than 2 hours.
Japanese bookstores: I love Japan’s weekly magazines and manga, and Japan is, obviously, Japanese literature heaven. When I get some time I need to head over to my local library.
Lame things about being in Japan:
Bad TV: Even though I couldn’t understand it, I knew I hated Thai TV, in particular the comedy shows, that constantly feature slide-whistle punchlines, wah-wah-wah sappy jokes, and Munsters-style fast forward action. Ick. Japan’s TV shows have a bit fewer of the vaudeville trappings, but watching crap like Kazuko Hosoki still leaves me feeling like my IQ is being sucked into the TV. The TV news analysis shows are usually really lame too.
Expensive! I need to move closer to Tokyo fast because now just going there costs about 2000 yen. Going out to lunch is easily 3000. How does anyone manage to save money?
Cold! It’s been like winter since I came here, which has jarred me after coming from Thailand. It’s going from one extreme to the other: In Thailand I had only spotty A/C in the middle of intense, constant heat, and here there is no central heating when it’s cold.
Japanese culture: For some reason I feel forced into things a lot of the time. I realize I can’t come to this country and act exactly as I did in Thailand or Japan, but this isn’t North Korea and I’m not Private Jenkins.
All in all, I’m excited to be here and start my married life (filed the papers on Monday) and get back in the game with my career after almost a year of translating at home in a situation my wife calls “house arrest.” I’m not sure what I’ll be blogging about from now on, but expect more translations and my occasional thoughts and pictures.