The first of September of 2019. That was the designated date when all participants had to arrive in Tokyo. As I was planning to visit China as well, I decided to casually leave three weeks earlier, and then continue towards Japan on the 31st. After a brief transfer in Guangzhou, I headed towards the promised lands. One year in Japan. My dreams come true.
I had been to Japan before, 10 days and 2 months respectively, and I was dying to be able to go again. It seems like I always multiply the time of my previous stay by 6, so the next time come here, expect me to stay a whole 6 years! 😮 The arrival was magical. I did not know how much I missed Japan until I stepped out of the bus that had taken me from the airport to the center of Tokyo. Neon lights, warm humid air, the magical presence of both constant noise and music, coupled with the blissful calmness and peacefulness that only a serious and respectful culture like this one can offer.
Stepping into a Japanese train is an experience in itself as well. Note that there are two types of trains in Japan, rush-hour-trains and a little-less-rush-hour-trains. Both are full of people and advertisements hanging from the ceiling but are possessed by a strange, deep silence. Everyone is looking at their phones, a few are reading books, and some do nothing at all, but rare is the occasion when someone raises their voice. There is a third type of train though, which only exists in the inaka, the Japanese far-lands. On those trains, there are more ghosts than people on board.
An inaka train in Japan.
We headed to the hotel where all Vulcanusians were to stay the night (the hotel was quite nice!). My roommate was comfortably taking a nap in a yukata until my rude entrance brought him back to reality. A konbini dinner later, most of us went to sleep, as our schedule was full from sunrise on our second day. We were provided with an endless list of things that we should and should not do during our stay in Japan. Register at the town hall. Pay healthcare insurance. Write monthly reports. Do not be late for language school. Learn to “read the air”. Once we were all drowned in information, we were more than ready to meet our supervisors (as ready as one can be with jet-lag, an empty stomach, and the nervousness and excitement of realizing that we will stay 1 year in this alien country).
From here on, the experience of each Vulcanusian was very different. According to the keikaku (note: keikaku means plan), our respective supervisors (the person in charge of us at the company of our internship) was to take us to the town hall of the area where we were going to live. What was awaiting us there was a sea of procedures written in Klingon (otherwise known as Japanese). After that, I was introduced to my dorm, the place I was meant to call home for a year. Having heard that some people got dumped at the entrance of the town hall, left to battle their ways through the documents themselves, I do feel quite lucky that mine stayed with me and helped me with everything, all the way to setting up the apartment (electricity, water, etc).
Yokosuka is quite a cute town I have to say. It looks like a miniature version of a big city, has everything you could ask for, but smaller in size and with fewer people per square meter. I like it!
My room looks quite old and worn out, but is usable and comfortable. Having visited some other Vulcanusians at their dwellings in Edo, the differences were very noticable. They all had fancier rooms and usually more appliances and commodities. I win in square meters and size of my desk though. They also lack a certain charm that mine certainly does have (or at least this is what I tell myself to feel less jealous). I also had the chance to contact the previous Vulcanusian in Yokosuka, and got some essential items from him on day one: kitchen tools and bed sheets being the key here. I do not want to list bed-sheet shopping as my first independent activity in Yokosuka.
Day three was another briefing session with more information being thrust into our little distracted brains. Who can focus on those serious matters they may be talking about, knowing that Akihabara is only a few train-stops away? 🤔
From the fourth day onwards, Vulcanusians started attending language school. Keep an eye on the next episode to learn about our adventures in the famous Naganuma School!