Turns out that this is my 10th trip to Japan. But it is the first one where I am on my own. In my previous trips, I had a local sales office there to give me advice, a cell phone, and the final backup of being able to pay my way out of any trouble and just expense it back to the company. This back up sure helped on a previous trip when I was in a taxi trying to get to the Shinjuku Hilton - the taxi driver didn't understand the way I pronounced Hilton, so wasn't sure where to take me. Japanese doesn't have an 'l' sound, and generally has each consonant followed by a vowel, so they changed the pronunciation of the name to suit their language. I called a coworker up and he pronounced it for me - 'He roo tan'.
I had to take the Shinkansen, or Bullet Train, to get to Okazaki. It is interesting to feel the air pressure changes which the train creates. When we go through a tunnel, you can feel the side walls of the train move in and out (and it make some creaking noises which don't sound that healthy). In longer tunnels, your ears pop from the pressure changes. And it is a bit of a surprise when another train passes in the other direction - the air wave the other train causes crashes into your train making you feel like your train bounced off of something.
The train did pass reasonably close to Fujisan (Mt. Fuji), but unfortunately I did not get a good view because of the clouds. One of these days I would like to climb to the top of Fuji. It is believed to be special to see the sunrise from the top of Fuji.
I am in the town. First impressions is that this is a smaller town than I expected. Maybe similar in size to Redwood City, but without all of the other towns around. I haven't been here long, so we shall see.
I am in the dorms here. I guess they were unable to locate a homestay for me on the short notice I gave. Maybe I can move into one later? If not, the dorm will also be fine. There are some 40 students here. Seems to be a large contingent from Taiwan. Also supposed to be many Americans, but I have only met one so far. A few Europeans and 1 Korean (turns out he lives near where I lived in Korea). Interesting (and beneficial) - Japanese is commonly spoken here. Seems that not everyone speaks English (surprisingly, even many of the Europeans), so we often have to use our Japanese to communicate with each other.
I have made a faux pas already. Seems that even though both Koreans and Japanese have similar attitudes towards shoes (take them off when you enter the building), they act differently after that. In Korea, we took our shoes off and would walk around in our socks. In Japan, you change shoes at the door for slippers. One of my first task after getting settled in here was to buy a pair of slippers. It was a challenge to find some that fit my feet, which are large by Japanese standards. Below is a picture of my new slippers...
My dorm room is quite small. About 3 tatami in size. A tatami is a straw floor mat that is about 3' by 6' (so the word is used both as a description of size, as I did here, and as a description of a flooring material). My room has a cot in it (with my futon rolled out on it), a small closet, a small shelf, and a desk. Picture of my room is below.
And below is the view from my window. Nothing special. If you've been to Tokyo, you notice that everything is not as crowded together here as in Tokyo. If you haven't, then you will probably think that everything is more crowded together here than you are used to, and that the buildings look like they are small. Trust me, the buildings are all small. Actually, this is why they use futons. Each morning, the roll up their futons and put them in some storage area, so they free up the living space. At bed time, the futons come back out. Because I am westernized, they gave me a cot, so putting away the futons wouldn't do me much good. The futons are normally placed right on a tatami floor.
More picture to come in later episodes. The weather hasn't been that great, so I haven't really wanted to get out and explore.Back to Menu - Next Post