Friday, September 4, 2009

Big in Japan, turning Japanese etc

Hello all,

Today I join All Your Stars Are Out as it transmutates from a crafty, radio showy, cakey, pretty thingsy blog of one person to a travelly, Japanesey, weird thingsy, musicky (and crafty, cakey, pretty thingsy) blog of two.

Mirabel and I moved to Sendai, Japan about one month ago, and we've only recently got the ol' internet hooked up in our apartment. This was very exciting, as we had very limited exposure to the outside world throughout August and we can finally check out the news (and I can catch up on Achewood).

And so but I guess initially some backstory is in order. So let's start at the very beginning, and get a terrible rash of cliches out of the way at the same time. Two birds, one stone.

Arriving in Tokyo on August second, the pair of us were shepherded in a very orderly fashion straight from Nanakita Airport, via a brief exposure to the sweltering humidity of the mid-summer air, to the air conditioned, five-star, slightly sterile bubble that is the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku.

We spent three days getting a crash course in this whole teaching lark, and collecting mountains of "helpful" (as in, "man, I had something that explained this! Now which of these twelve folders is it in?") hand-outs and booklets, clutching the foreign security blanket of 1000 other JET participants in the same situation. You could venture out into the real Tokyo in the evenings but the safety of Western food and English-speaking hotel staff were but a hop, skip and jump away if it all became too much.

So, we strolled around Shinjuku on the first night, and visited the New Zealand embassy the next. The embassy put on a nice spread of battered fish and mussels wrapped in bacon for us, and their garden was really stunning. Apparently the building is on the former site of the Japanese presidential family grounds, which would explain the impressive landscaping.

After the embassy, we took the subway back to the hotel, on the way walking through the famous Shibuya intersection -- the one in Lost in Translation with the video billboards and the loads of people.

It was pretty impressive. I dare say more impressive than our hurriedly taken snapshots would suggest.

The next night was karaoke with the some of the other JET particpants placed in and near Sendai, and our first introduction to the Japanese art of nomihodai, or all you can drink. M and I rocked the mic right to Captain and Tenille and Bruce Springsteen, and then it was back to the Keio Plaza in time to hit the hotel bar to recreate another Lost in Translation moment: drinking a Suntory whiskey and pretending to be Bill Murray.

"For relaxing times, make it Suntory time".

It was kind of worth it for the movie reference, but the freaking thing set me back nearly 2000 yen, the equivalent of around $NZ30. Sigh. Some things just have to be done, I guess? Mirabel had a juice.

No comments: