Today I made my first steps out of Koenji, only to discover that there are in fact TWO train systems with two separate maps, one underground and one overground. That clears that mystery up. I was going to register my address at the local government office in Nakano, one stop along. Thankfully the journey was reasonably painless, since I had painstakingly copied out all the station names beforehand. However,
The government office and related procedure was the single most terrifying experience of my trip so far. I resorted to English very quickly indeed, but unfortunately their command of the language was about as good as my Japanese, albeit with a few more specific words. In the end, hand signals and very slow native language speaking sufficed, as it tends to in such situations. After a good half an hour of sheer, knee-shaking terror, I was rewarded for recognising my “yonhyakunanajyurokubango” in amongst all the other “gohyakunanajyugobango”s and “yonhyakunanajyuichibango”s with a copy of my address in genuine Japanese handwriting, written on my Resident Card.
What appeared to be a small local park between Tokyo Station and the British Embassy turned out to be the Imperial Palace and Gardens and an hour and a half’s walk. Thankfully the guard on the gate was helpful enough to let me know that the system had changed recently, and my presence wasn’t necessary if I had already registered at the local office. At least I got some exercise, I suppose.
Another milestone was reached in food terms. No, not my embarrassing display at MacuDonarudo, but my purchase of some actual vegetables and meat, for genuine actual cooking (without an oven, using only a single hob — stir fry has been well suggested), and hopefully yet another step towards survival. Also helpful is Japanese TV. There’s a languages channel, so while Taka-san can practice his “È stato molto bello”, I can whip out my best “とてもよかったです.” Plus, there’s something almost morbid about watching a Japanese dressed as a Frenchman speaking Italian to a German TV presenter, who replies in Japanese.