In Japan and out of my depth

Not if, but when. Turns out, Monday morning probably isn't the best 'when' if one desires excited crowds rather than slightly awkward silence surrounded by stuffed toys

Not if, but when. Turns out, Monday morning probably isn’t the best ‘when’ if one desires excited crowds rather than slightly awkward silence surrounded by stuffed toys

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.

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2 thoughts on “In Japan and out of my depth

  1. Agreed – great reading especially I have been through most of this myself. The ward office is indeed quite terrifying at first. On the trains just to confuse you even more, the subway network is in fact two separate networks criss-crossing each other. Most of the lines are Eidan but four are Toei and the tickets are not interchangeable. If you need to switch from one to the other you need to go through the ticket barrier and buy a new ticket for the other network. In the fact the overground is also more complicated as in addition to the JR lines there are numerous other private lines running out of Tokyo from the main stations. Good luck!

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