I can’t believe it’s nearly been a month since I moved to Tokyo! I moved into my own place last week, and I’m starting back at work this week as well, so it feels like I’m finally settling into life here.
Initial impressions of Japan
I’ve been to Japan many times so I wouldn’t say I experienced too much of a culture shock, but in my first week I definitely felt very out of place. At 5’6 I’m not that tall by Australian standards, but I suddenly felt huge here, since the average height is a fair bit shorter in Japan. Everyone also dresses really well so that made me feel even more self-conscious. That feeling has already mostly worn off now though.
However as soon as I open my mouth and have to speak Japanese there is definitely some amount of discomfort. I’m already a bit of a socially awkward person even when speaking in English so trying to speak a language I’m not fluent in doesn’t really help. But the more I speak the better I will get, so a little bit of discomfort is not a bad thing.
I’m a big Disneyland fan so we made sure to go within the first week or two of arriving in Japan. I had been really looking forward to checking out the new Beauty and the Beast ride. Probably due to COVID and to prevent super long lines, you had to get a standby pass for it through the Disney app and come back to line up at a designated time. We arrived about an hour after the park opened so I was a bit worried we might miss out, but luckily we managed to snag a pass for about 8pm at night.
Due to COVID, Disney currently has restrictions on the amount of tickets sold, so the wait times on all the rides were short and we got to go on nearly all of them. I went on my favourite ride, Star Tours, at least 5 times. I’m not a massive Star Wars nerd (I will admit I’ve only seen movies 1, 4, 7 - 9) but it’s a motion simulator ride and they switch out the scenes each time you ride it so it never gets boring.
Trying out airsoft
I figure a good way to make new friends is to pick up a new hobby, so every weekend I’ve been playing airsoft with a group from Meetup.com. For anyone unfamiliar, it involves shooting people with little plastic balls. Similar to paintball, but less painful and without the paint.
Unlike in a video game where you just hold down a button to aim, aiming down a pistol’s sight is actually quite hard and I sucked at it. So the first time I played involved a lot of me hiding behind things, not shooting anyone and then getting shot. The second time around I got to borrow the meetup organiser’s gun which came with a little laser dot sight and this made things infinitely easier.
I think half the fun of airsoft is customising your gun and dressing up. Some people do a full military cosplay, I’ve seen a guy wearing a business suit (not advisable, he got hit in the balls and did not look to be having a fun time afterwards), and even a badass-looking lady wearing a DEA outfit. I’m definitely hooked on airsoft now so I’m planning on buying my own gun sometime soon.
Hiking Mt Takao
I’ve been keen to get into hiking as well, so one weekend I met up with another meetup group and we “climbed” Mt Takao. The easiest path to the top is fully paved, so it was less of a climb and more of a leisurely walk to the summit (elevation 599m).
Before arriving in Japan I had been walking 5 - 10kms a day so it felt very refreshing to be able to get back into some sort of exercise. I’ve bought some hiking shoes now so I’m looking forward to tackling something harder next.
Finding an apartment
Apartment hunting is quite a slow-moving process in Japan. In Australia, real estate agents are keen to get you into an apartment ASAP, presumably so owners can get more rental money out of their apartment, but for whatever reason in Japan they like to take their sweet time to sort things out. I found an apartment that I liked within the first couple of days, and then I had to wait 2+ weeks before I found out that I had gotten the place.
I spent the last 5 years in Australia living with Ikea furniture from my uni student days so I’m keen to finally buy some nice furniture and figure out this whole interior decorating thing. The downside of buying nice furniture means that it takes forever to arrive, so I’m currently living with a very minimalist setup.
I’m also itching to buy a PS5 so I can play Horizon Forbidden West, although there’s still a PS5 shortage (which I wasn’t expecting in Japan of all places) so I’m not too sure when I’ll be able to get my hands on one.
And that wraps up my first blog post in Japan! In a way it felt like the last couple of weeks involved a lot of twiddling my thumbs waiting for the apartment hunting process to move along, but I’ve managed to pick up a new hobby or two and have met a lot of great people along the way so things are looking pretty good.