Arrival, For Real This Time
The four or so hour bus ride was broken up by a rest stop or two. On one of these stops I got the first taste of restaurants that use vending machines instead of cashiers.
Food places at most rest stops, and some regular restaurants even, instead of telling the person at the counter what you want and giving them money, you must select a meal and purchase a ticket from a nearby vending machine. You then give the ticket to the person at the counter who makes your food. The workers never have to handle order-taking or money.
There are also plenty of non-food places like this, such as some barbershops and I dunno, other places. Once you’re here long enough you see that you can buy a hella lot of things from vending machines, even more so than I expected. There’s the train tickets (including shinkansen), cigarettes, beer, beverages, food, haircuts, fresh vegetables/fruits, batteries, parking spots, etc.
Anyway, we arrived at the prefecture, where we had a ceremony (remember those?) and spent far too much time meeting our suprervisors. After all the ceremonies were over, we all hopped in our supervisors’ cars and went to our respective placements.
Once we got to my apartment, it was all sorta… wow, this is where I’m living for the next few years. My initial impressions of the place weren’t all that great, but it has since grown on me, and by now it’s quite alright. Except that I still want a dryer, especially now that winter is coming. Burrr.
I got all set up, I met the two renewers, and I was good to go.
As my biological clock was still all wacky, I went to bed quite early that night then woke up at around 4:30 or so the next morning. Yikes. I had nothing else to do, so I hopped on the bike I had inherited and went out to explore my nook of the city. Unfortunately I was quickly put back in my place as I got mightily lost annoyingly easily. After nearly two hours of not really knowing where I was, I happened to come across… my supervisor!
He was walking to work at the awful hour of around 6:30 a.m. He was about as surprised to see me as I was to see him, but we talked for a bit and he showed me that the apartment was really only a very short distance away. He then asked if I had eaten breakfast yet, to which I replied that I hadn’t.
To my surprise he whipped out his cell phone and dialed up one of the other ALTs in the apartment and asked her to take me to breakfast. Hur?
I really didn’t expect him to do that and waker her up. Furthermore, I found out later that she was hung over and probably cursing our supervisor. After all that we ended up riding to Denny’s because I thought they’d have good breakfast foods. Unfortunately I was wrong.
While KFC and McDonald’s are pretty much more or less like their American counterparts, Denny’s in Japan has ran very, very far away from its American roots. If you look at a Japanese Denny’s menu you will be quite disppointed to find that the only hint of something akin to the original version of Denny’s are some tiny half-assed pancakes hidden in the menu. Everything else is your standard Japanese restaurant fare. Denny’s here is highly disappointing, especially so because I really want some freakin’ waffles, even more so now.