Two years ago...

Translated from here, the Saturday on which I arrived 2 years ago.


I'm feeling a bit helpless right now, to be honest :( I've finally arrived, but I don't have internet and not even a telephone. The phone in my room was supposed to work, but there's no wire connecting it and I can't even find where in the wall the wire is supposed to go. My cell phone does not work in Japan (of course...) and pay-phones don't work for me either. I've tried to use a payphone to call abroad, but every number combination I try gives me line-busy tone. I'm kind of annoyed that I can't get in touch with my country in any way.

The room itself is a lot bigger than I expected (then again I was expecting nothing). The sleep/living area is about 3 by 4 meters, and there's a kitchen of around 3 by 2 meters. The bathroom is even smaller than the one at home :| Shower/bath combination, toilet, sink. All stacked up together.

The trip itself went smoothly. In Amsterdam there were clear signs as well as at Heathrow. I had to walk an annoyingly long way to the connecting flight terminal, and from there I took the bus from terminal 4 to terminal 1, which took about 10 minutes. After wandering around in the tax-free area I walked to my gate, which again took quite some time. Heathrow is quite big. The gate was full of people already and the check-in had a delay of half an hour. I must have been through 1000 metal detectors on all 3 airports I've visited, and it was only afterwards that I found out that I never took off my watch. Strangely enough the metal detector never gave a warning though. After that it was an 11-hour trial of trying to sleep and waiting. The flight information system didn't work, so I couldn't check where we were and how long it would take :|
Of course I was sitting next to some socially disturbed Japanese guy and behind an annoying English guy... Arriving at Narita was easy and the signs led me to the bus, where I was suddenly faced with a challenge to speak Japanese for the first time in my life :O. That didn't go so well. Understanding is okay, but asking how long the bus ride will take turned out to be quite a problem for a simple Dutch guy with a farmboy accent. Well, at least I made some people in the bus smile...

Some bad news was that I couldn't reach the person I was supposed to contact at Narita before the bus left. I took a chance and just took a bus to HonAtsugi, and fortunately Takako Nakazawa-san was there to pick me up. She was indeed a woman, as she pointed out to me before after I called her Mr. Takako Nakazawa in countless e-mails... bumps head against wall A mid-20s woman is quite a surprise when you're expecting a middle-aged guy. Together with her was a guy called Jason, who is doing the same job as the one I will be doing, but for the American English language instead. Me and my suitcase were then transported by taxi to the youth heim (all at the company's expense of course), where I met a German guy called Christian. Actually I already forgot his name, but they gave me a map of the office with the names of most people, and most Germans are not called Yamamoto or Onizuka. I think I can get along quite well with the 3 people I met so far. There's also some people from Korea and China, but I haven't met them yet. There's 2 Italians, but from my first impression they're keeping their distance so far. There's also going to be another Dutch guy, but that's going to be December.

Maybe I should have done some more research on the company before I came here. It sounds like a terribly stupid thing to say after coming to Japan, but I actually only found at the Japanese customs inspection that I didn't know much at all about the company I am going to work for. The customs guy asked me for which company I was going to work. I told him, in my best-possible Japanse "Assaheeeeee Kass-ay". He looked quite surprised, so I asked him why he looked surprised, and I asked him if AK was a big company. He told me AK was one of the biggest multinationals of Japan :O Apparently I don't really fit in, cause otherwise he wouldn't look that surprised. Well, anyway, Bragging Rights++ (Y)

I got milk! Just picked it up from the 7-eleven, or as they say in Japan: se-hu-N (pronounce N very strongly) eee-rE-hu-N. Every single English word is garbled by their weird syllables. Apparently that's why they have trouble pronouncing MacDonalds, which sounds more like MaKuDoNaRuDzu. If you manage to pronounce that at lightspeed it might sounds like McDonalds. Ah yes, my power converter plugs don't work for plugs that have a ground line (is that what it's called in English?) added, which includes those I use for my laptop and usb harddisks :( Still 68% left.. Tomorrow is Sunday, so I don't think I can buy new plugs soon.

If I remember correctly someone will take me to the city center of Atsugi on Monday, to make a bank-account so I can make some yennies here. The center is bigger than I thought, not really a suburb of Tokyo, but in terms of size I guess at least as big as my hometown of Groningen. There's 2 skyscrapers close to here: one is the Mitsubushi (R2007: actually it's Nissan o_0) building, but it's not too high, and the other is the AXT Tower where I will be working :) It's really quite a large building, at least for my standards. I'll see if I can take some pictures of it tomorrow, if my battery allows it.

The youth heim is not really big; it's a 5 floor apartment building. 3 sides apartments and 1 side open (like this: |_|). My room is looking towards the West. Underneath my room there's a small playground, a road and then some greenhouses. The youth heim is only 1 street away from the biggest road in Atsugi (although I'm not sure if I'm talking about the city or the municipality then). I started off well here: I got the keys from Takako, but she wasn't there yet, so Jason, Christian and I took the luggage to my room. Before coming to Japan I have seen hundreds of anime series and studied the Japanese culture extensively, so it is no surprise at all to me that Japanese people take their shoes off at the entrance of the room. Guess what I did :{
Fortunately there was no Japanese person around. I hear they would run away if they saw that.

About the weather :( I arrive at the airport: sunshine. Get in the bus: cloudy. Arrive in Atsugi: dark clouds. Have to buy stuff after getting settled in: rain... I still don't know if the tap-water is drinkable, so I just bought some water from the sebun erebun. Water, and some other foodstuffs: chips (they even got pringles), instant noodle meals, bread (slices 3 times as thick as normal) and some stuff for my room. It gets dark here around 5:30 by the way :'(
I was talking about the weather with Jason and he told me that today was just about the coldest day since he arrived: 19 degrees Celcius. Temperates above 30 degrees are quite common in summer.

My room is not clean at all. It's certainly not dirty, but quite dusty. The walls and floors don't look new, but I guess that's what's to be expected from a room that's meant for interns. I don't think I"ll try to find a different room, the current one is big enough. The bed sucks though :'( I don't really wanna clean up, so I"ll do it tomorrow. That's why I'm typing this story right now, cause I don't have much else to do without internet or a phone. I'm going to try the pay-phone around the corner later. It appears that there's a trick for dialing international phone numbers, but I'm not sure if the trick that works on youth heim phones will also work on pay-phones.

There's some nice cars around here. Very nice Skyline's (R32,33,34), RX7's, RX8's, Mitsu Evo's and a lot of other stuff. Of course they also have Porsche's and BMW's (with the steering wheel at the wrong side). And of course the Vauxhall Astras, of which I have seen 5 or 6 already so far. The traffic is kind of slow-motion compared to Holland. Normal roads are 40 kph and hi

ghways are 80. This usually means a truck driving 75 kph on the left lane, a truck on the center lane driving 78 and a bus on the right lane driving 81. And everyone obeys the speed limit (R2007: no way, that's not true!). But this could have something to do with the toll system they have here. For each highway they have a small barrier which you have to pass to enter, where the money is substracted automatically from your account. I figure they could use this perfectly to check the speed... It's scary as hell though, the barrier, because the bus approaches it with a speed of around 20kph, and the barrier really only starts to open up when the bus nearly hits it. If such a thing ever breaks someone might get beheaded.

There, I feel a lot better. Even if you read this only a couple of days or weeks after this happened, at least I wrote about it.



Two years ago. Right after writing this I went out to find a phone booth. I couldn't make an international call, so I asked people at the conbini where I could possible find one to make an international call. They told me to walk further south along the road, and I ended up getting lost and finding AXT Tower. I couldn't find my way back though, because of the stupid tunnel, which appears to not go where I want to go.

So I went to a restaurant, told them in my crappy Japanese that I was lost, and asked them to call me a taxi. Which they did. I didn't have my address. I didn't remember my address and I didn't have it with me on paper! I just asked the taxi driver if he knew where the Atsugi youth heim was and he knew! In the two years that I've been here there has never been a taxi driver after that who knew how to found the youth heim. I guess I've always been lucky.

The third year approaches. I am thinking bigger.

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