Friday, July 17, 2015

Japan - The Exciting Arrival

Boeing 747: 11-hours flight to Osaka-Kansai
Fortunately we arrived on time at Osaka-Kansai airport and got our baggage and the train within only 30 minutes! That's actually quite extraordinary compared to other countries. This 11-hours flight was quite uncomfortable: I felt cold most of the time and had to go to the loo but never wanted to wake my sleeping neighbor.

Now I believe that Japanese people are strict and extremely polite. I feel so bad about not being able to communicate with any Japanese, because English is spoken hardly anywhere... And I couldn't even remember konnichiwa to greet... But I believe a smile and a respectful bow is always understood!

Talking about politeness and respect: quite unusual was the cab experience. Unexpectedly our four huge bags did fit in the trunk of the cab, which looked like from the 1950s, in contrast to our fancy car where hardly one bag fits. Even on the inside there were white embroideries covering the seats and the cab driver wore a suit!

My capacity for 6 months abroad.....(?!)

Another story happend to my father, when he asked a postman for directions to our rental home. The postman called someone from a house who spoke a little English, who then accompanied my father through the never ending pouring rain, had to ask another person - and finally, after finding the house, wanted to give an umbrella as a present to my father. What an unexpected act of kindness!
Even the conductor of the train Osaka-Kyoto made a low bow before he entered the wagon. And I felt him being especially friendly and do especially many bows to us western tourists.

Lucky as we are, we are staying in a nice small (and I mean it's really small and low-cealinged for my 1,80m) Japanese house with nice Japanese furniture and nice Japanese porcellain and even the futon (two kind-of-matresses, a Japanese sheet, a pillow and a single blanket) seemed to be comfortable for our siesta, which meant like 5 o'clock in the morning in our Swiss time. Even if we are living in a quiet region, everything needed is near, for example a super cool supermarket with all that Japanese stuff like dried little fish or sashimi sushi teriyaki doggy bags for an unimaginably small price compared to Switzerland (Heaven on Earth !).
Little comment: you even put you r umbrellas in some sort of one-end-closed plastic sleeve to not disturb the others by its wetness. Yes... And many times today I asked myself if they wear their face masks to not inhale or exhale things, and there are many people wearing these.

I think language really is a probleme: one moment I felt like going home now because you feel like a real stranger. You don't look Japanese, you can't talk to Japanese, you can't read any poster or announce, You feel like an illiterate person, and that's not very much a motivating feeling. But praise Google Translate! Due to this we can at least understand the microwave labels by photographing the symbols. And halleluja to all the pictograms. A former exchange student from Japan is teaching me now some important vocabulary (arigato, konnichiwa, sayounara...) to not seeming like a irrespectful tourist.

Which one's the right milk?

I'm so excited to see her again after 1,5 years! And hopefully the taifun Nangka stops bucketing down on us over here. Fortunately it's still warm if not too warm.
What I learned? Bow a lot, say arigato (thank you) a lot, buy an umbrella and a fan as soon as you can!

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