My arrival in Japan was not beset with the best of omens. My entrance into the country was hindered by a threatened typhoon, which meant that I had to dash to my designated prefecture as soon as possible.
For some reason a good many of the train stations do not have an alternative to steps, and it is as such that by the time I got to my destination, my mobile suitcase had broken. I had only been in the country for around 4 hours, and the wheels were literally coming off.
The day after next, I started work, and didn't seem to stop until Christmas. Setting up the internet in my new home proved to be quite an ordeal. Apparently you can only get a 2 year contract for internet services here. That the country has been in recession for nearly 3 decades no longer seems quite so mysterious.
Whilst obtaining this service I was told I had to pay certain fees, and that these were based on a whole myriad of choices, which I made largely through ignorance and willpower. Towards the end of the transaction however, they informed me that I would receive vouchers, which equated to roughly the same amount as the fees. Also, I was to receive further vouchers on account of the company's affiliated baseball team winning that day. At this point I was just wanted it done, and was on the verge of tears.
In the meantime I had observed that my apartment had a big television with a DVD player, so I thought I might take a gander towards the local DVD store. I am hardly proficient at the local language, but I have learned that 'DVD' in Japanese means 'pornography'. I admire the female form as much as the next heterosexual man (and lesbian) but it was a bit much for me.
Of more interest to me has been the gargantuan amount of Pokemon paraphernalia that surrounds commerce here. For a teetotaller it is diverting, but for someone who actively seeks the hit, it's quite overwhelming. A visit to the Pokemon Center in Tokyo over Christmas was rather costly, for both my wallet and my maturity.
I have taken advantage of the low price of whisky here, to quite some degree. In the UK a normal bottle of the more established brands would cost between 25-30 pounds. Here it's around 8-12. I have a penchant for filling empty whiskey bottles with flowers, and due to the amount of empty fortified wine containers that I now have, this is proving to be the more expensive habit.
Work (English teaching) has mostly been going OK. The receptionist at the language centre is elderly and fastidious, which does not always make for the most efficient exchanges of information. It seems it takes him as long to impart wisdom upon the Japanese students, so that is of some solace. My overriding image is of a Japanese Corporal Jones; eager to please, but ambling about the place in a panicked fashion.
I was of course Santa for a special Christmas class at the end of the year. The children had all sung the festive songs during their respective classes the couple of weeks before the 23rd, but on the day, once all together, they were so overwhelmed by the notion that other humans might exist, that my attempts at vocal music were met with silence. It was rather like the end of Scrooged, but with no one else joining in the singing.
I have also been sharing my company with the lower echelons of Kakamigahara as well though. I always manage to find local bars very quickly, despite the information given to me by my employers, and my first week in this country proved no different. My establishment of choice is called 'Ba Ba Bar' (I'm here to teach English, not talk nonsense at the Ba Ba Bar) a funky, musical little place owned by a man called Yoshi. He's very endearing, but not as reptilian as I'd like. Perhaps it's something he can work on.
His flirtatious wife once shouted at me for becoming acquainted with a female at the bar, which led to some awkwardness for a time. I persevered through with characteristic stoicism however.
I began my travels jaded, and I'm afraid I lack the vocabulary to express how I am at this stage. The soul can be rather like Rasputin when it comes to it's demise.
If I ever get enough money, it's possible that I'll settle down somewhere (alms for an old ex Leaper?). It's over 10 years since 'Lost In Translation' came out, and I feel quite old at present. With that in mind, coupled with the reality that Chinese women I barely know are declaring their alleged love for me, I'm ever more reminded of Wilde's aphorism "'Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious".
Who knows what's next? I don't, but then, there are tales of Korea and China yet to tell...