So day 2 has been almost as tiring as yesterday, although I feel like I’m already starting to get a sense of the neighbourhood. After a moderately restful sleep last night, jet lag took its toll this morning and I woke bright and early 5:30am, just in time to watch the sunrise. Orientation today didn’t start until 1:30pm, so I had lots of time to myself. I put on some music and set to work unpacking all my luggage, which took about 2 hours total. I’m actually incredibly happy with the room. It has lots of space and a fantastic view, with windows that open onto a rooftop view.
The front desk didn’t open until 10am, so I was resigned to go without wifi until then, but as luck would have it, I spotted a wifi connection paper lying in the lounge as I was walking to the bathroom. So naturally I had to immediately FaceTime my parents and let them know I was still alive.
After checking in with friends, family, and the rest of cyberspace, I decided to explore the neighbourhood a little by going for a morning jog. Exercise has been long-needed, and it helped me adjust to my surroundings. The streets are pleasant and pedestrian traffic is quite mild in this area of the city. Although I did get a little turned around for a while, I found my way back fairly easily.
You can tell already that my map of the neighbourhood has had some use. My residence is Waseda Hoshien, right there in the middle.
After showering, I decided that since I still had about 2.5 hours before I had to be at the orientation, I would to go search out an Apple store in order to purchase a new iPod.
(Before I continue with this part of the story, I’d just like to mention that the reason I was so eager to have a new iPod – the touch, specifically – is because before leaving for Japan I had my phone deactivated for the duration of my absence and decided to leave it dormant in my room. What I completely forgot was that my phone would still be useful to me in any location with wifi. This is something I realized only once I was on board my flight to Tokyo. So not only will this iPod replace my phone for the time being, but it will also replace my current iPod, which is nearing the end of its life.)
Anyways, after some time on Google Maps, I figured the approximate location of the closest apple store, and took some reference notes to bring along.
It would have been lovely to have a print-out of the map I was looking at, but the printer room in the building was closed at the time. So I headed out and made my way to a nearby subway station. A 170 yen ticket got me to the correct area in two stops, and I stepped out onto an alarmingly busy district of high-end shops and restaurants. Stores like Armani and many other Japanese equivalents intimated me a little too much to walk in and ask for directions, so I wandered up and down the streets for about half an hour before getting a little worried. As I was gazing at a public map, a kind passerby attempted to help me in dis-jointed english. He sent me into a department store, and from there I was directed towards another shopping area. At this point I was running out of time, so I decided to cut my loses and head home to regroup. Although I still consider this a valuable experience, I felt a little defeated as I walked back along the now-familiar street to my residence.
The irony of the situation is that the apple store is actually in a department store connected to the subway station I had gotten off at. The entrance is underground, so I was literally on top of it the entire time. Oh well. I plan on heading back there tomorrow with, hopefully, more successful results.
The orientation was pretty standard, and only lasted about 30 minutes, so on my way home I decided to stop at a local grocery store to pick up some things. It seems like most food is a little cheaper than back home – depending on brand and quality of course – but not by much. I think my biggest issue was the fact that EVERYTHING was in Japanese. So I was relying mostly on familiarity and images on the packaging. I can tell that being a vegetarian here is going to be a little tricky. Fruits and Veggies are pretty easy to identify, but some of the sauces and noodle packages can be quite ambiguous. I’ll definitely have to be cautious, and learn to be prepared to find meat lurking in all sorts of unexpected places. Like this afternoon when I bit into an unassuming rice cake to find it filled with fish eggs. Surprise!
But hey, check out these hilarious personal tissues I found at the store, which caught my eye mainly because of the english. I can’t figure out if it’s a joke about blowing your nose/flatulence or just a poorly translated haiku.
I also stopped by a small electronics store run by two adorable Japanese ladies who spoke absolutely no english, (because naturally I also forgot the cord to connect my camera to my computer back in Canada). After a little bit of searching I found the cord I was looking for, tucked way back in a dusty corner. So I now have the pictures to go with my words for this little narrative.
Anyways, I’ll be calling it in early tonight. The University doesn’t have anything planned for us until Tuesday, so I might try to plan a little excursion or two over the weekend. Until then, sayonara!