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2002-05-24 5:59 p.m.

turning japanese

Well, I'm still alive, and in Japan.

How did I get here? I don't know. But I'm out of my element in a big way. I suppose that's to be expected, though. I suppose my goal here is to make it my element as much as possible before I leave.

You know the U2 song, Where the Streets Have No Name? Yeah- that's Japan. Japan is also the Land of Individually Wrapped Everything.

The main difference between Japan and the US is that Japan just feels... cramped. It's weird how much everything is packed in.

Junko's in Japan this month visiting her family. I went down there (she lives near Okayama) this week to see her, blowing most of my cash in the process. It was fun, though. I met her family. I think her parents actually like me. More than Duchess's parents did, anyway. Duchess's parents would probably have danced a wacko jig on my grave had I died... Anyway.

I managed to get to Matsumoto okay upon arrival at the Narita airport- barely. Thanks to asking a lot of questions and the license to be an idiot issued to all Americans upon entry into Japan. Having to navigate rapid train changes in the middle of the Tokyo commuter train system at 7pm is a hell of an introduction to Japan, though. Like how at scout camp the first thing you always do upon arrival is the safety swim in the glacial runoff lake. Bad news, man. Bad news.

My Japanese is improving slowly but steadily. I think. I can carry on conversations and stuff. I can speak a little more readily. Listening to spoken Japanese is like listening to a really staticky radio program- but gradually it's becoming clearer.

And yes, everything is expensive. In America I was annoyed when it costed a 75 cents to use the washing machine. At the laundry place I went to last night, the smallest washer costs 300 yen (three bucks) to use. And there's only one of those- the rest are four and five buck washers. And the driers are a 100 yen (a dollar) for every ten minutes. Damn. You won't find anything in the ubiquitious vending machines for less than 100 yen. But... some places do have 100 yen stores (like America has dollar stores) which are a frickin life saver.

My apartment is fairly small, but not claustrophobically so. It is very Japanese.

Things I have in my apartment:

a sink
a toilet
electric lights
a gas stove top
a refridgerator (bought for me upon arrival)
a TV (with about 5 mostly uninteresting channels, also provided for me upon arrival)
an oven-like thing
a rice cooker
a futon

Things I don't have:

a bath or shower (I shower at work)
hot water
a microwave
air conditioning
a garbage disposal (apparently those are a North American quirk)
a chair
washing machine or (god forbid) a drier

But I am living there rent free, so I'm cool with that. I'm also living alone. Which I've never done before. I kind of dig it.

Umm... I'm tired. I've been zonking out at 8pm every night, getting up at 7 or 7:30 to ride my bike to work and shower. Needing so much sleep is my curse... I hope my whole professional career won't be this way.

More later, friends.

you can scratch all over but that won't stop your itching,