5 June 2011 § Leave a comment
One of things that makes it easier to live here is familiarity.
I went out last night for the first time in ages. It was a good time. Started off at an art show with my friend Nadine, to see some photographs that our mutual friend Laura had on display. It was a fundraising event for Tohoku earthquake relief, held at a small Mediterranean restaurant downtown. It appeared to be well attended! They had a lot to offer, between the various visual art displays, performance arts, and live painting. The theme was “Monster” and the decor and artwork all suited this.
Outside, they had live graffiti art.
Inside, among other works by other artists, my friend Laura’s beautifully creepy photographs:
In the basement, more art, including this band, “Union Trouble”:
I had seen Union Trouble play before, back in March, and had met their keyboardist on a few occasions before that. Before they went on, a couple of people did a short improv show – I had seen them perform a couple months ago with their improv group, “The Pirates of the Dotombori”. It was fun! Amidst all of this, I ran into a number of people who work for the same company as me. It was a popular place to be.
We headed on over to a cafe/restaurant/bar afterwards for a pizza slice and a calzone. I had met the owner of this place a couple months back; he’s from Kitchener, Ontario and his menu reflects that. A decent selection of pizza, wraps, calzones, desserts, milkshakes, sandwiches, and appetizers (including nachos, which I’ve found aren’t that common, and which I miss sharing with friends at the Merch). On top of all this, they even have smores on the menu. I was happy to see that.
And then on over to a small bar a couple streets over, where another teacher was meeting people for her birthday, and where I’m holding that poetry reading in a week from Tuesday (!!!!). It was a good time with some good people. It was very encouraging to hear that a random teacher who I’d never met had heard about the upcoming poetry reading through someone else, and was thinking about coming out. I think it’s gonna be a great night! The rest of last night ended with a nice walk back towards home and good conversation with my friend Stephanie.
It’s a lot of little things that happened last night that make this place feel more comfortable. Running into friends and acquaintances, seeing that band I’d seen before, or those comedians. Sometimes Osaka seems too big for my liking. I’ve said before: it’s grey, it’s concrete, it’s hard to feel close to anyone at times. Familiarity helps.
6 February 2011 § 3 Comments
If you want the jist of this long post without reading through it, skip to the end for a summary!
The plane ride was fine. It was long, but I was able to sleep a reasonable amount. I watched 127 Hours and tried to watch Due Date. I have no idea what time I arrived here as I was far too excited to bother with checking the time. Getting through customs and security was easy. I found the the luggage delivery service and left my two fifty pound bags there. I wanted something cold to drink from the vending machine, but accidentally got a hot tea. The friend that I had made by Saturday afternoon’s update was on the bus with me from the airport to Namba Station, which is maybe in central Osaka… I’m still figuring all that out. The first things I did after getting into my apartment were call home to Mum and Dad, and then buy toilet paper and food. My first meal was some sort of chicken and shrimp with some kind of veggies and rice from a convenience store just a few minutes walk away. I slept well the first night.
Saturday morning, I went to have a shower and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting any hot water. I resorted to boiling water on my one burner stove and pouring that into my bathroom sink. It was tricky. After my luggage was delivered, I went out exploring. I found the Ward Office, but it’s closed on the weekends. A McDonald’s is right across the road from there, so I ended up ordering a Teriyaki burger. It was pretty good. I ordered it to go, but then realized once I went outside that people don’t eat outside anywhere, so I wandered back to my apartment and ate here. Found some mail in my mailbox from the company I am working for. That was nice. I like receiving mail. Send me some letters!!
Wandered around for a couple hours after that, looking for a LAN cable. Got to use “Ego ga hanasemasu ka?” a lot (“Do you speak any English?”) and “Wakarimasen” (“I don’t understand”). Mostly walked in one direction only, up one street, hoping that I wouldn’t get lost (I didn’t). Eventually found a media cafe, where I now have a membership card for. Found a grocery store and bought some milk (I figured out which one it was because it had a picture of cows on it), strawberry yogurt, and cereal (some sort of whole wheat Frosted Flakes, maybe).
As I got comfortable for the rest of the evening in my apartment, sweats on, hair back, bumming around, I got a note in my door mailbox from a guy living a floor below mine saying he also just moved in and that we should go to some gathering together the next morning. I wandered down to say hi and ended up chatting for awhile. My second friend! Well, technically I had met another person just shortly before him when I ventured across the hallway to ask another tenant about this hot water situation. We found a switch on my balcony and that problem was solved. My friend downstairs showed me how to figure out the heater which has been a great delight to know how to use. It gets very cold at night, into the morning. The days are fairly mild. It feels sort of like it might in St. Catharines in April.
Today I met 6 other people who will be in my training group. We spent the whole day together wandering around. Went to a store sort of resembling a three-story Target, grabbed lunch, explored. That makes nine of us so far. I think there will be others at the training group from Kyoto and Kobe. I am the only Canadian, and I think I am the youngest of us all. There are four Americans – two of them a couple from Vermont, the other two are a couple of guys both from San Diego who had never met. Two Kiwis. Two guys from England. They are all quite personable.
Finally brave the subway today, alongside my friend from downstairs (one of the guys from England). We bought a ticket for the Japanese Railway first by accident, then couldn’t find a ticket machine for the subway, and then finally figured it all out quite successfully. We were very proud of ourselves. Now that we’ve had to do it a couple times, it is not nearly so intimidating as it was initially.
In brief: I’ve met a bunch of people, I have hot water, I have a heater, I have Internet at my apartment now, I found a supermarket, I figured out the subway.
5 February 2011 § 5 Comments
I am in Osaka. I cant figure out where the apostrophe is on this keyboard in this internet cafe. I cant figure out how to get hot water in my apartment. Ive made one friend so far who will be in my training group. I have my own washer on my own balcony, which has a nice view being on the top floor (fourth floor). The plane ride went smoothly. I slept well last night. I woke up, washed, felt quite lonely, so laid self pityingly in my bed until my luggage arrived, then went out exploring. Close to my apartment are a million convenience stores, a McDonalds, a KFC, a major subway station or two, the ward office, a ton of vending machines (nothing weird, guys. just drinks, but that includes hot drinks, soft drinks, and beer), a little place called the Baobab Cafe with a picture of a baobab on it, and like, a million other cool things.
It is still sinking in that I am in Japan. I mean, it feels kind of normal. Sometimes when I am adventuring around, I find myself grinning like an idiot because it is obviously so cool to be here. But I do miss a great many people so very much. It is relieving to have found some internet so I feel a bit more connected to back home. Thats nice. And there are people online late Friday night for me to chat with (it is 4:13PM for me here).
I will certainly post more coherent and flowing posts once I am not paying for my Internet by the hour. But for now, I am safe and I am sound.
28 January 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s hard to not get overly sentimental about going away. It will go by so fast. I’ve had friends go away to far off places for longer periods of time and those friendships have only become all the dearer for it. And anyway, absence isn’t void of presence.
One of the things I’ve asked many of my friends to do is to record themselves reading a short story or poem or other short passage of their choice for me as a sort of audio book for the flight. While I do have non-drowsy Gravol, I don’t plan on using it on the flight, and I don’t read well on airplanes (or cars, or trains, or boats, or swings, or probably roller coasters). Many of them have sent me their recordings already and I’m very excited to listen to them next week.