I should start by talking about the flight over here, but I don't want to, so I'm going to talk about being here. I may jump back to the flight at the end, for those who are interested.
So, Tokyo is awesome. Everyone seems nice and has been more than willing to deal with my paltry speaking abilities. I mean, so far the rumors I'd heard about "everyone speaks English here" are exaggerated at best. Randomly, someone does speak a little bit of English, but the vast majority either don't or don't want to. Either way, we can usually find a way to communicate.
Ugh, I can't think of a way to type this without sounding dumb so I have to talk about the airplanes first. The first airplane ride was good enough. The plane was roughly the size of a shoe box and I didn't see how it didn't just get batted out of the sky by any errant gust of wind, but we made it to Dallas ok. I'm assuming the trips are short in those because if they were longer, the sky gods would notice and down they'd go.
The monster airplane that went from Dallas to Narita was totally different. I'm pretty sure that it doesn't use fuel. I think it eats the smaller planes. In any event, that ride was miserable. It wasn't too bumpy or anything, but being stuck in the least comfortable chair I've ever sat in and watching the first half of about 6 movies only to have an error come up and cancel them sucks. I took a lot of Dramamine, but I feared that I would be drowsy when I landed, so I stopped taking them after a while. As it turned out, my sense of time was very far off and I should have taken more because I just ended up being awake for the last six hours of the flight.
We landed in Narita at 3:17 on Wednesday afternoon. I spent my first half hour in Japan getting cut in front of repeatedly at the currency exchange bank, because I would let like six inches go by without moving. Learned how to operate lines in Japan though. I then got to try to use a phone to tell Nao I was in Tokyo. If I haven't said so before, Nao is my awesome super-cool friend who lives in Tokyo and volunteered to help me get around. After successfully calling Nao and talking with her voicemail, I sent to the handy-dandy luggage courier place and had my luggage sent. Soon after that, Nao paged me on the intercom and showed me how to buy a ticket for the train.
The train ride was incredible. That was when it started to sink in where I was and what I was doing. Up until the train, I had went from a room to a room to a room, never seeing outside or anything truly different. The first thing I noticed from watching scenery blow by on the train was that Japanese waste no space at all. If there's a big gap between buildings or roads, they plant rice. If there's a smaller gap, they put in a parking lot or go ahead and build more apartments. Also, people drive crazy here. I've seen markings on lanes or whatever, but they seem more like recommendations and less like steadfast rules. Our taxi ride was scarier than either of our plane rides.
When we arrived at the dorm, I met too many people with too many names for me to remember. The apartment managers seem really awesome. They are an older couple who both seem very strong in their convictions. The man laughs a lot. I like him and I'm frustrated that I can't remember their names. I'm so bad at names. In any event, they showed me and Nao to my room, where we decided we would go get dinner before I settled in.
We took off walking towards nothing in particular, which is totally awesome that you can do here. We wanted to eat and didn't know where anything was, but if you walk for a block or two in any direction, you'll find something you want. The first place we came to, Nao said was awesome, but they had a refrigerator put in an awkward position where even Nao had to turn sideways to get through, so I didn't stand a chance. I would have been incredibly embarrassed, if the lady who ran the place wasn't already so. She followed us around with many "gomen nasai" and bows until my embarrassment faded. I'll be honest though, it was a little bit frustrating losing out on a new experience because of my size.
From the tiny place, we went around the corner and found a ramen restaurant what's name eludes me. I should take notes while I'm out so I can remember names. This place was awesome. Let me just say, for those of you who are unaware of the difference between American style ramen and Japanese style ramen, Japanese ramen is almost like a work of art: they have a bed of noodles and broth, but then there are layers of various vegetables and meats or dumplings in a giant bowl. It's a very pretty meal. I didn't do terribly poorly with the chopsticks, but I definitely mangled a few of my dumplings into being relegated into the spoon which is normally only used on broth. The cheater spoon. I got broth all over my shirt, but I apparently eat like some sort of brain-starved invalid in any language.
After we left the restaurant, we made a very uneventful trip to the convenience store and I got some awful unsweet green tea. For future reference, if the bottle is dark green, don't buy it. I left Nao at the subway station and walked the rest of the way back to my dorm, where I met my new roomate, Scott. He seems like a nice guy, so far. He comes from Georgia, has a girlfriend who has a kid back at home, and has studied abroad in like five other countries. I let him use my google voice account to call his girlfriend.
I am sure I'm missing stuff, but I'll likely be writing a lot in this thing, so I'm sure it'll come out sooner or later.