Ohayo Nippon!

8 Jul

Until now, I understood the term “jet lag” to mean “feeling crappy after a long flight”. When I stepped out into a blisteringly sunny afternoon on the outskirts of Tokyo, I suddenly got where the “lag” part comes in: the sun was shining and my body thought it was one o’clock in the morning. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t do it justice; it’s more like psychophysiological dissonance. I realize this isn’t exactly news to many of you but it seemed like one hell of a revelation to my drooly, sleep-deprived mind.

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If you’re thinking this terminal looks strangely bare, it’s because I took this shot roughly two seconds before Shinagawa’s entire population showed up. They know there’s no need to arrive as early as I did (i.e. two minutes before the train was due) because the trains are THAT on-time.

The process of jumping from airport customs to express train to bullet train passed in such a blur that I didn’t even have time to be confused. The brutal efficiency of the Japanese transit system made it easy, despite the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I matched the symbols on my ticket to the maps in the terminals and figured out where to go next, with usually just a minute or two before the exact train car I needed just Apparated right in front of me. It’s a good thing I’m a genius or I’d have been sleeping on a terminal bench. The shinkansen waits for no drowsy, dumbfounded foreigner!

I had neither the time nor the fortitude to explore any of my surroundings; it was more like “OH WOW THAT’S NEAT, NOW I HAVE TO BE SOMEPLACE ELSE”. Then, though my shambling brain dismissed it out of hand as a feverish apparition, I saw an conspicuously orange head bob along through the bustling crowd. It shifted into focus, and suddenly I was no longer alone in a foreign land. My grinning host had appeared!

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KURISU!

Our reunion was joyous and attracted many perturbed stares in the crowded station, but we weren’t there for long. Stopping only to ease my severe dehydration, we motored immediately to Chris’s apartment building several blocks away. It’s a swanky-ass place if he does say so himself, combining Western amenities with Japanese efficiency over an unexpectedly huge amount of square footage:

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The view is wonderful but it’s about twelve thousand degrees Kelvin on that balcony. Take in the sights at your own peril.

This was all well and good, and it felt wonderful to settle in and wash the Air Canada out of my hair, but it was when I discovered this little beauty right here that everything changed. Everything:

I’m serious. With every moment that passes in this country I’m appreciating more and more how utterly backwards we are. Technologically, anyway. We do all right with our social security and gender relations, I guess. But COME ON. Let’s get this Western bidet movement underway, shall we? Join me in the crusade to prioritize fancy robot toilets! YOUR BUTT WILL THANK YOU!

Things I’ve Learned So Far

  • Jet lag sucks.
  • Bidets absolutely do not suck.
  • The Japanese transit system makes OC Transpo look like a fleet of Flintstone cars. Driven by monkeys.
  • Keeping an eye out for the little details is key. Everything’s different, from the way the stove and light switches work to the actual layouts of the rooms and the placement of furniture. When I notice these things, it really brings the reality of living in a wholly alien culture to the forefront.
  • Penis cookies are delicious:

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