Thursday, February 25, 2010

Now what the hell did I do that for?!


For those who don't know, I left Australia on Monday, and am just now getting a chance to write this blog that I promised.

So, the flight was horrible. Being an engineer I got on the plane and was like "this is *awesome*", until I saw the first class seats, and I thought "oh these look small, damn.", without realizing they were just the first class seats. After seeing economy seats, I kinda freaked out, and was pretty much ready to stay in Japan by the end of that flight. But, even after my two hours of plane-sleep when I arrived, I pretty quickly changed my mind and was ready to hop on another plane back home.

I grew up next to a train station when I was a kid. I've taken trains with or without help (or permission) from my parents my entire life. So, I just naturally assumed that when I got to Japan, taking a train from the airport to the backpackers wouldn't be an issue. Then I realized I needed to figure out how to use the ticket machine, then I had to realize that I couldn't buy said ticket form the ticket machine, I had to try to use Japanese after promptly forgetting everything I've learnt to buy the ticket, find the platform to take the train from (of which there were about 6), figure out which train to take (because trains from the same platform go different places), transfer to the correct train in the middle of the journey and again wait for the correct train. All without any help from anyone.

Its amazing I got from the airport to backpackers at all, but I did get there. So I managed to get through the whole setting up my room thing, and went out shopping with a Japanese friend to find a power adpater for my laptop, a mobile phone, a bank account, and a warm jacket for the below zero weather here. Each one of those is (almost) an adventure in itself, so I'll start with the power adaptor.

So, my friend helped me find the power adapter for my laptop, and armed with what I wanted to buy and enough cash to buy it, I went up to the person behind the counter, put the power adapter on the table, and tried to hand the person the money. Only for the girl behind the counter to stare at me as if I was some kind of idiot. She kept pointing at this little plastic McDonalds-looking tray on the desk though and it took me about 10 seconds to realize that you have to put the money in there. After which, she took the money out of the tray, put my change in the tray, and then it was like nothing weird happened.

So having bought my power adapter, we went off to SoftBank (a mobile phone shop) to buy a mobile. But then we were told I'd need a gaijin card (kinda like an ID card for foreigners) to get a
mobile phone, even though the website said you could get a prepaid phone without one. My Japanese friend argued with the girl behind the counter for a while before the girl just walked off when a new customer came in. So we tried another shop, sat there for 2 hours talking and filling out forms until the guy behind the counter this time called his boss and we got told it couldn't happen. What made it even more disappointing was the fact that when I got back to the backpackers, a Canadian friend with no gaijin card managed to get a prepaid phone.

With this newly learned knowledge of Japanese bureaucrat culture, I decided to forgoe getting a bank account for this week. Needless to say, its probably going to be more of an adventure than a mobile phone (which I still havn't gotten).

On a bright note, Japanese clothes shopping was awesome. I found a second hand clothes shop and got a nice flannelet shirt/jacket (which is all the rage in Japan) for 1500 yen (~$20). And the shop didn't have a tray, so I could even hand the girl the money. And then she saw my seppuku shirt and was so impressed that she wanted to put a photo on their website (which she did), but don't even ask for the link.

Apart from that I went to Kyoto and Nagoya. I spent more here just getting around on the train than I did driving a car in Perth, but I'll leave that for another day.

I need to go to take a picture of a weird building. Maybe I'll write here again if I remember the address.


  1. sounds like fun times!!
    what's the address of the website? ;)

  2. Nelson, you haven't flown before!

    Ah the MacDonalds tray. Never thought they did it that way. But only the other when they give you change on a metal tray.

  3. Do you know if they play starcraft in japan yet?

  4. I didn't know you haven't flown before! If you thought your flight was bad, I was on a 24-hour flight back to the States which turned out to be 36 because I was stuck in Japan for 2 hours and Korea for another 8. And I didn't speak Korean at the time :(.