I always have the most ridiculous adventures the first night I'm here - last time I ended up spending most of the night huddling in a corner outside the Yokohama train station because I'd forgotten to book a hotel. This time I managed to set up my stay just fine, and since it was in Tokyo I'd even communicated to the woman who runs the house (it's a bit like a private hostel) when my plane was going to get in and how long it would take me to get to the city. I forgot, however, to let her know I had gotten in and was on my way. And I hadn't yet gotten a cell phone.
Thus when I arrived at the proper train station, went out the proper exit, well... I couldn't find the apartment. This is in major part due to the fact that Japanese addresses do not work like American addresses. In fact, they mostly don't work as addresses at all unless you're both holding a computer navigation system in your hand and you're also used to the way this shit functions. Because unlike most American addresses that work off of city blocks (and roughly go up one direction and down the opposite), Japanese addresses go around a block. And the block numbers go around each other too. Oh, also, there aren't good street markers because most of that information is grafted to telephone polls or embossed on a plaque on the side of a building (no ridiculous street signs here!). So I sorta could tell from the map at the train station that I was probably heading in the right direction, and mostly even in the right set of blocks. see, Japanese addresses go: city, district, sub-district, block number, then a house number. (no street names, because it doesn't work). I'm staying Tokyo, in the Bunkyo district, in the Honkomagome sub-district. And the #s are: 5-66-10 These numbers are also in descending order -- so I'm in the 5th Honkomagome division, on the 66th block, looking for house #10.
Hilariously? There are actually 2 House #10s on this block, and I couldn't find either of them
Ok, so the great thing about my Japanese-fresh-off-the-plane adventures is that I get shown over and over again the awesmoeness of Japanese people. This time it was in the form of a woman having a quiet smoke on her front step. Someone who lives at 5-66-7 ... who willingly walked me around the entire neighborhood, then actually called my landlady person for me, to get directions to the place I was staying. Also though, just think about that - someone who lives 4 doors away had no idea how to locate an address that's supposed to be on her block. Of course that's because her block is shaped like a leaf, and the 5-66 applies to all of it, but still. This is one reason why I love Japan.
Also a reason why I wish I had a smart phone though. Sadly I'll just be navigating through life here on the skills of other people. It's ok, I actually don't mind that much, and it gives me a reason to practice my Japanese.
After all that I did get settled in, had lovely discussion with my landlady, who went to highschool in Pasadena. My room is the bare basic of a bed on the floor, and an airconditioner, which means I'm not spending a whole ton of time sitting here (which is good, i shouldn't be). So far I have walked all through the shopping streets connected with my neighborhood (it's a couple of miles all told), went to the neighborhood famous garden Rikugien (六義園) -- a place I'd actually been to visit in 2008, hit up the 100 en shop (like the dollar store, but with Japanese cheap stuff, YAY) for a laundry basket and other random things, had sushi in Ikebukuro, met a friend from school who is also here for omo-rice in Shibuya, found the awesomest little coffee shop in the neighborhood called the Charles that has a chandelier and plays jazz (and have already been back once), done a couple of chapters of research, tried the local Indian food place AND an asian fusion place where I had a salad that was so spicy I had to blow my nose.
I'm going to be eating out pretty much every day because the kitchen, while perfectly decent for one or two people, is currently hosting 5 people, and it's simply not going to work. The good part is my budget actually can deal with that, so, um, YAY. And who knows, maybe I can figure out a way to cook with the people I'm "living" with. though so far signs aren't good - I've had sorta conversation with a Taiwanese woman who is here doing a summer internship, and sorta weird conversation with the two french women who just got in today. Hopefully they were just jetlagged, and will be more interesting later.
And there you have it. Just another day in this humid, ridiculously green, wonderfully Japanese country (that now has me in it for another 17 days)
also posted to katekat on dreamwidth | you can reply here or there