After training concluded and those of us taking the Shinkansen to Nanao were given our train tickets, it became a bit of a blur. I had already been thankful for the bag my Mom had randomly found and bought for me online with the flight over but trekking around Osaka to get to Osaka station made me even more grateful.
Sorry, I tend to bounce around on topics. This bag could probably fit me inside of it and splits into two separately zippered bags. This was extremely helpful in avoiding the 50lb weight limit for the flight over. Thought it’s heavy when all zipped up together, it is very easy to maneuver and the wheels are much tougher than any other large rolling bag I’ve had before. I think the brand name is Athlon and is made in China, like many things. I, of course, had to get the one with graffiti all over it and again this made it very handy when locating my luggage at the baggage claim.
So Osaka Station: A bit of a hike from our hotel but not too bad all things considered. Thank goodness the Japanese color code everything, including subway lines. And fairly clean, too. I don’t know if I’d put it on par with London but it’s still miles better than New York or Philly. I think we had to hop a couple lines to get us to Osaka Station. Once inside, we wandered until we found a gate for Shinkansen. We made it just in time but got on the train way too far from our reserved seats! Trekking down a moving train with all that luggage was not a highlight. By the time we sat down and I popped a couple dramamine pills, I was feeling less than awesome. A fellow ALT sat next to me and though I was genuinely interested in the conversation, I couldn’t look at him while he spoke. I had to keep my eyes on the horizon lest my egg sandwich end up in his lap.
But we survived and enjoyed the scenery along the way. Pockets of towns mixed with lots of rice fields. I was starting to notice some very Studio Ghibli-esque features already. But it was April 1st and very little greenery was even thinking about appearing yet. Many of the mountains still had snow on them. One of the ALT’s was getting stoked about the prospect of snow boarding. I couldn’t stop thinking about not throwing up and how much longer till I could get off the train. Such is life.
After almost 4 hours we arrived in Nanao. I had my first squatty-potty experience at the station and failed. Boys have it too easy. We then went our separate ways. I decided to go ahead and take a taxi since my apartment was the farthest and most obscurely placed. My taxi driver was so small, I refused to let him do anymore than help me lift the luggage. I think my big bag weighed more than him. But he was very nice and used a little English when he could. He seemed a little confused about the location of the apartment but I kept my faith. After a couple turn-arounds, we found it and he didn’t charge me the full price, which was awesome.
My first real impressions of the town were thus: built up city center near the station, houses close together and many of them, did not feel like a small town, mountains to the south and bay to the north, and I love my view from my back door. I walked in to keys for the car on the counter, a fairly clean apartment (especially for a guy to have been there just several days before), and a weird feeling of being at summer camp. Anyone who’s done those week long, sleep away summer camps knows what I mean. It’s difficult to describe but it’s not like a hotel. You feel an attachment to the place but there’s the feeling that many before you have lived there and you have to take some time to make it your own. The biggest difference is I’m not staying for a week. Only furniture was some chairs, a fold down table on the wall, a sort of desk area next to 2 steps leading to an elevated bed with storage underneath, and that was it. There’s a mini kitchen in the hallway along with a egg-beater washer, a bath/shower room, and a toilet room. Small but big enough for me. Bigger than my dorm room in college.
Still playing catch up with these posts. I’m getting there. Thank goodness for these free periods at work and the ability to bring my laptop. No internet, though, don’t get excited. Next post likely to be about shopping and getting my apartment up to snuff. I hope everyone had a good Mother’s Day! I didn’t even get to skype with mine…boo.
With love – M