Konnichiwa! Oh God, I’m so stereotypical. Well, hello anyway from Japan!
The flight over was much more arduous than I’m used to. Although (possibly to Beth and Craig’s envy) I slept for most of it, I also regret not being able to stay awake, brimming with energy and joy the whole time as I usually do, playing games and reading and watching fantastic movies. Our flights didn’t even have free movies, alas, but I did get a large amount of rest. And, to my relief, I also managed to make my umbrella through to Malaysia on the plane, and then checked it in as luggage for the flight to Osaka.
Arriving in Osaka was full of excitement and little triumphs. Almost everyone we’ve interacted with here has been so polite and patient and kind, despite the obvious language barrier. Even the lady at customs who searched Craig’s bags for drugs apologised for taking so long to do so! There were vending machines everywhere with amazing drinks. I successfully asked a shop assistant “Simu-cardo way arimasu ka?” and got a response in the negative. It turns out that Sim cards are not common in Japan in order to access internet. What they do instead is carry a small phone-sized device which broadcasts a wireless signal. We found our way to the railway station and (with the help of a man who literally popped out of the wall next to us when we pressed the buzzer for help, and a kind passerby who saw us struggling with our tiny, ill-prepared map) we found our way to the apartment about an hour late. We met our host, the adorable Fumi-chan (who says sake is gooooooood!) and bought some amazing food from Lawsons, the convenience stores here.
I have to admit, after the initial rush of pleasure I felt really beat down, disheartened, scared, alone and helpless. The 20+ hours I’d sunk into Japanese audiobooks, while certainly useful, has not at all prepared me for even the simplest conversations with shopping assistants. The culture shock of being in a country where communication with most people you meet is difficult if not impossible is quite challenging. But after some rest and good food, my spirits picked back up again and I didn’t mind goodnaturedly struggling along as a tourist.
We hit up some retro game stores and found some classic games for Craig’s Sega Saturn. I was amazed at first by how many games involved underwear or even nudity, but after seeing all the adult magazines and suggestive anime-girl posters I’m a little desensitised now. In one such store, there was a cardboard cutout of a skimpily dressed anime girl with a big red button on her. When I pressed it she started moaning in a way that was both hilarious and endearing.
McDonalds here is amazing. Yes, McDonalds. I know, we’re stereotypical tourists, and they didn’t have salads so I caved like a house of cards and had a burger. But holy crap, it was superb. It was the crispiest, most flavoursome burger I have ever had (modest as it was).
After stopping by Mr Donut and Lawsons for dessert and breakfast foods, we returned to the house where I went through all my 3DS StreetPasses. And holy smokes, I got like 20 in a day (18 new puzzle pieces) and 10 Resident Evil missions and 10 Fire Emblem opponents and ohmygodyes. And finally, after a long, long day, I retired in the Batloft where I sleep. It was surprisingly warm. Okay, gotta stop keep everyone waiting. Ja, mata!