(Originally written: August 7, 2013)
I am in Akita!
I don’t know if it’s all ANA flights, or the airports at which we were taking off/landing, or if it was just our pilot, but wow, it was rough! It felt like the pilot floored the throttle and accelerated very quickly when he was taking off, and he took off at an angle that was much steeper than what I am used to during Canadian flights. His turns also seemed to bank sharply, and unfortunately, there were a lot of turns. I slept through most of the flight itself, but the landing jolted me awake, and then the pilot slammed on the breaks (at least, it felt like he did!). We got to Akita safe and sound, but wow, I can’t say I’m looking forward to the plane ride home – haha. At least I got to see the ANA Pokémon plane at Haneda Airport!
(I also got to see an ad that had Ninomiya Kazunari, one of the members of Arashi, featured in it. Nino! On an ad! In the airport! I really am in Japan!)
When I got off the plane, my supervisor and two other city ALTs (T & C) were waiting for me with a large sign. It was a great welcome! My supervisor then drove all of us back to the city – a 45 minute drive through mountains and forests and rice fields. It was BEAUTIFUL. I cannot get over how pretty my prefecture is. It looks like it just stepped out of a Japanese tourism ad – so, so awesome.
Because it was so late (my plane didn’t land at Akita Airport until 3:15pm and we didn’t get to the city until after 4:00pm), my supervisor decided that we should not do any “setting up” chores and, instead, took me to the supermarket where I got enough food to get me through supper tonight and tomorrow’s breakfast. Then I was dropped off at my apartment and – ta-da! – first day in Akita, done.
… Easiest first day ever.
I’ve spent most of this evening cleaning and organizing, attempting to unpack my suitcases and finding places to put all of my stuff. My apartment is a fair size – it’s actually bigger than I was expecting it to be – but wow, I managed to bring a lot with me in my luggage! That being said, there is a nice amount of storage space in my apartment: I have two closets and a standing dresser in my bedroom, my “living room” has a dresser and a stand-up plastic organizer, and my kitchen has a “pantry”, another plastic organizer, and several cupboards. My counter space is small, though – it’s literally only 60cm x 60cm. Dear fellow Canadians: please do not complain about a lack of counter space again.
When I was unpacking, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. I’ve never lived on my own before and never really had to clean a house/apartment before and, without internet or a phone, I can’t just call home and ask Mom. On top of that, all of the cleaners lying around the apartment are in Japanese, and I don’t have a dictionary, and I didn’t know what was what…
I needed to clear my head, so I decided to go for a walk around my neighbourhood. At first, that didn’t help – I literally live on a mountain and thus my neighbourhood is incredibly confusing. I actually could not find my way down from my mountain to the main part of the city, so I continued to wander around aimlessly. A lot of the houses here are beautiful and I took a few pictures and videos.
Walking with all of the cicadas chirping, it made me feel like I was living in Animal Crossing. (Which reminds me, I really need to play that again soon…!) I was actually feeling pretty down about things until I passed two people in the street. The first person was getting in her car and she waved very excitedly at me, so I waved back. The second person was jogging. She bowed while jogging (an impressive feat) and said, “Konbanwa” (good evening), and when I replied “Konbanwa,” I caught her completely off guard. She gasped with surprise, laughed, and then said “Konbanwa” again, and laughed again, and kept running. Seeing these two people allowed me to look around, realize I AM IN JAPAN AND LIVING MY DREAM, and gave me the strength to come back to my apartment and continue cleaning, despite the language barrier and being completely separated from my family.
It’s close to midnight now and I’m very tired, so I’m going to bed. My supervisor is picking me up in the morning, and I’m going to make sure I pay attention this time so I can find my way out of my neighbourhood!! I’ll leave you with some pictures that I took in Tokyo this morning, pre-departure for Akita.
P.S. I bought stamps at the post office today entirely in Japanese! I was so pleased with myself. :)