Tag Archives: narita

In the beginning

After a long sum­mer of anx­ious wait­ing, I’ve final­ly arrived in Tokyo and am glad to be able to begin this blog! I arrived yes­ter­day evening after a long flight from LHR via Istan­bul. I flew with one of my friends from Cam­bridge and we man­aged to pass the time by talk­ing about all the awe­some things we were going to do in Tokyo! (Karaoke, karaoke, karaoke…) My friend had sev­er­al “unfor­tu­nate inci­dents” through­out but I won’t embar­rass her and will let you read about it in her own blog! She doesn’t eat fish (and by exten­sion, most types of sushi) but I think I will try to fix that by the end of the course… I’m not a fan of Turk­ish Air­ways — both of our flights were delayed by about an hour each, most of the films were not in Eng­lish, and I was only able to eat the food in the inter­est of not starv­ing. (If I ever rec­om­mend Turk­ish Air­ways to you, it means I secret­ly hate you.)

We were met at Nari­ta Air­port in Tokyo by this young Japan­ese woman hold­ing a sign with our names on. In hind­sight, this would have been an amaz­ing pho­to oppor­tu­ni­ty but I think I just too over­whelmed to remem­ber to take one. She helped us pur­chase tick­ets for the Nari­ta Express to Shin­juku and even sat with us in Star­bucks for a while. We found out she just works at the air­port and didn’t know any­thing about our course — she was extreme­ly sur­prised to hear that I couldn’t speak Japan­ese at all! Con­verse­ly her Eng­lish was amaz­ing and appar­ent­ly she had only been study­ing it for three years. She man­aged to have a con­ver­sa­tion about nail pol­ish and shoes with my friend and so I guess some things are just uni­ver­sal!

When we got to Shin­juku sta­tion, we met a woman from Nihon Uni­ver­si­ty and she took a cab with us to our accom­mo­da­tion in Shi­mo­tokai­do. She gave us a brief tour and explained how to use the var­i­ous gadgets/machines that we were giv­en. Most impor­tant­ly, she explained the air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem with­out which I’d prob­a­bly melt. There is a par­tic­u­lar­ly com­pli­cat­ed garbage col­lec­tion sys­tem — we have to sep­a­rate our stuff into burn­able, unburn­able, and recy­clable objects and each type is col­lect­ed on a dif­fer­ent day each week. The ‘col­lec­tion point’ out­side our house is the same for all of them and so it will prob­a­bly be very easy to get mixed up! We are stay­ing in ensuite rooms (with an indi­vid­ual kitchen in each), and so this is much nicer than any room I stayed in/saw at Cam­bridge (or at home, for that mat­ter). I will prob­a­bly take full pho­tos of the room in a lat­er post.

We were giv­en a quick tour of the area around our accom­mo­da­tion and we were left to our own devices. Even though the train sta­tion is only 10 min­utes away, we man­aged to get lost on our way back and only found our way home by try­ing sev­er­al ran­dom routes. (My friend is in fact a Geog­ra­phy grad­u­ate, but claims they didn’t teach any­thing about actu­al nav­i­ga­tion!) We ate in a near­by restaurant/cafe, which was prob­a­bly strange­ly serv­ing food close Chi­nese cui­sine rather than Japan­ese, but I was glad to final­ly have a prop­er meal. It only cost 650 yen (~5 GBP) for sev­er­al dish­es and so was rel­a­tive­ly good val­ue for mon­ey.

I’ve just realised it will take me a ridicu­lous­ly long amount of time if I keep writ­ing in this much detail, so I’m going to start skim­ming! When we got home we met anoth­er girl on our course who had just arrived. We also met some Ger­man stu­dents who were liv­ing above us and who had been there a bit longer. One of them had been there since Jan­u­ary and so he offered to give us all (anoth­er) quick tour. He point­ed out var­i­ous ‘essen­tials’ such as where to find cheap food and drink, and where to run to if you ever ‘get attacked or raped’ [his words!].

We got back home and met some more stu­dents. We drank tea in the room of one of the guys from Cam­bridge, and briefly intro­duced our­selves. Most of us seem have to been to Japan before, but again, can hard­ly speak a word of Japan­ese… There are 15 of us on the course in total, and 6 of us from Cam­bridge (dom­i­nat­ing force!). We are going to be split up into class­es accord­ing to Japan­ese lev­el, but it seems most of us will be in the begin­ners class! One of the Cam­bridge guys had lived in Japan for a year and so we will prob­a­bly be turn­ing to him for on-the-spot trans­la­tions (until he gets annoyed!).

Today we walked around Asakusa and Ueno, and I man­aged to see the Sen­so­ji tem­ple once again. This time it had less con­struc­tion around it and so was cer­tain­ly a more pleas­ant sight! When we were in the mar­ket, I caught this Japan­ese girl unabashed­ly star­ing at us with her mouth open whilst we were talk­ing. I say ‘caught’, but she didn’t actu­al­ly stop when I looked at her and gave her a sar­cas­tic smile. She came up to us and asked about where we were from, and what we were doing in Tokyo. She had ridicu­lous amounts of enthu­si­asm when talk­ing and seemed to be impressed at every word we were say­ing! We were an extreme­ly diverse group (in terms of race) and so it was prob­a­bly a strange sight for her to see. Her boyfriend beck­oned her to leave us alone, and we gave her a bow on depart­ing.

We rent­ed cycle-boats and row­ing boats and went on the small lake in Ueno. This was prob­a­bly the first time I tried row­ing, and I def­i­nite­ly lacked the grace and skill that I usu­al­ly see asso­ci­at­ed with boat­ies in Cam­bridge. We bumped into a few oth­er boats sev­er­al times but luck­i­ly ‘sor­ry’ is one of the few words I know in Japan­ese! We walked around Tokyo Uni­ver­si­ty after­wards because one of the girls had attend­ed a short course there, and the archi­tec­ture remind­ed me of a tra­di­tion­al Roman town (noth­ing like oth­er build­ings in Tokyo!). My cam­era ran out of bat­ter­ies half-way through today and so I didn’t man­age to get as many pho­tos as I want­ed. No-one else brought a cam­era and so they prob­a­bly couldn’t have had a worse ‘des­ig­nat­ed pho­tog­ra­ph­er’… It’s about 9PM now and I have a quick moment to rest in my room, but I think we will prob­a­bly go out again soon. I promise to post pic­tures when I can! Stay tuned for the next post.