Yesterday I said goodbye to my fellow trainees which was a sad moment because we'd all bonded during our intense week of training and because I'd be on my own until I'd established friends in Okazaki, hopefully we'll all get to together soon and visit each other regularly. I'm getting a spare futon for my apartment so they will have somewhere to sleep when they visit.
I haven't really had a chance to form an opinion on Japan yet as I really haven't had a chance to see it with all the work I've been putting in. Surface observations are these but ask me again in three months:
- Speaking Japanese and being able to read Hiragana and Katakana would be a real bonus. I got really spoilt in Nagoya with other trainers translating stuff for me. I'm now completely useless bar a few common phrases which only go so far.
- You don't realise how good the non-smoking rules are in Oz until you get to Japan. They have the most odd rule. There are designated smoking areas on the street outside where you are only allowed to smoke but its a free for all in the restaurants where you are eating. Smoking is popular here so the restaurants are full of smokers. It sucks and stinks and all your clothes and hair smell like cigarettes when you leave.
- They have hardcore recycling rules and as a result there are hardly any rubbish bins on the street therefore everytime you eat or drink something you end up hanging on to your empty container, by the end of the day I have a handbag full of crap! You then have to methodically sort it into about 4 different piles for putting out. At least they are doing their bit for the planet.
- The food is good and there is a lot of interesting and tasty stuff to choose from but after a week of Japanese food you are starting to think about steak, steamed veges, lamb roast, cereal, salad and all that stuff your body is used to. My body hasn't coped too well with the change in diet but now that I've gotten to my school I've been able to get to a supermarket and get some fresh fruit, veges etc. Today was the first day I've eaten healthily and I feel so much better for it. Hopefully, I will continue to eat better foods at home and just go out occasionally for a restaurant meal.
- The Japanese people are amazingly efficient, orderly, and polite. They are friendly and try to assist you as much as possible. Quite a few speak English in Nagoya and we've had some fun on the street late at night with brave, young guys getting the courage to say a few words. We Gaijin also get quite a few stares on the street because we are not common. In fact I've found myself staring at Westerners also because you don't expect to see them and you wonder what they are doing here.
- The train system is awesome. They even have rules for waiting and embarking which require you to stand in a certain spot before you get on. Can't wait to try the bullet train (Shinkansen)
- Some of the TV ads are hilarious, so cheesy. I love the one for Gatsby (which I think is like an aftershave) with all these guys dancing in a group like a Backstreet Boys film clip as well as one for breath mints, flavours include Breath Shower, where a lady opens her mouth and a bubble escapes from it.
- The Bidet toilets are the bomb! The Japanese are on to something here. I love the heated toilet seats and the warm spray of water to clean your bits. So civilised.
Enough for tonight. It's late and I have an earthquake to get over.
Until next time.