Life in Japan is completely novel, but I’m the same person. I think that explains most of what I’ve experienced so far.
Currently I’m sitting in the window seat in my apartment, writing in a journal and listening to the Rolling Stones. Pretty much what you’d find me doing in New York City on a Saturday afternoon. But the room I’m in is a tatami room, a traditional Japanese style with soft floors and sliding paper doors. Here, have a picture:
Outside of my window is a small rice field, surrounded by 1-2 story houses with those cool Japanese roofs of as-yet-unknown tile. Have another photo:
Outside on the balcony I have a load of linens going in my washing machine. When it’s done I’ll hang them up on a clothesline outide, since the Japanese don’t generally use dryers. The notebook I’m writing in was purchased at a 100-yen ($1) store, where I went with two fellow JETs today. Every excursion from our building is something of a production, following confusing directions because the streets do not have names here, and we can’t really ask anyone for directions yet…. It’s an adventure, lol.
Oh. And there are bugs everywhere. Spiders building webs in every corner, enormous dragonflies hovering over every body of water, miniscule bugs crawling up the walls…. Luckily I haven’t seen much more than that yet, but I know there’s more coming. Apparently every JET in the building has seen a mukade at least once.
That’s the other difference here: my social network. While I have my own apartment, my building is occupied almost entirely by fellow JETs. We did karaoke on Friday night, after having a barbeque in someone’s apartment. Our “jutaku,” or teachers’ residence, is a built-in social club. Almost all American, save for one poor, outnumbered Irish fellow. It is a very nice safety net for now, and the people are mostly terrific. It’s like living in a college dorm, really, except we all have private apartments. That’s a snapshot of my early days here in Fukuoka. Japan is a fascinating, subtly different place, and my experience here will be shaped by its culture and by a billion small, unique aspects of my living situation. It hasn’t all been easy so far, but I’ve no clue yet how life here will unfold. Only time will tell!