Today was spent doing my course, which meant more train navigation and a mixture of sitting down and playing games. Tiredness hit around three o'clock at which point my brain just gave up on me. We were joined by three more of our group today which was fun - my flight row mate, a guy from my course and another guy I hadn't met yet. Being a little group meant I got my first two 'real' meals since I've been here and a long beer.
Lunch was in either a Japanese or Korean restaurant. We weren't sure which one we'd ended up walking into! We got directed straight to the low tables at the back and quickly noticed, through cramped legs, that all the Japanese were at 'real' tables with chairs and we were the only ones suffering! Anyway, we behaved impeccably and did everything 'properly' - took our shoes off, didn't serve our own drinks, told off guy with us who put his chopsticks upright in his bowl, etc. The menu was brought over to us on a little chalk board. We recognised the price (cheap!) and that there were four items on the menu but that was it. The staff were really sweet though. None of them spoke English but they started grabbing dishes and showing us what was available. I recognised most of what was in my bowl (some kind of sashimi, egg, rice, etc), but a couple of things were a mystery. Luckily, I'm not a vegetarian so it didn't really matter. And the normal miso soup, salad, pickles, green tea....
After the course we went for a beer. Beeru is, of course, pretty much the only Japanese alcohol word we currently know, and it wasn't a saki kind of event. I'm dying to try shochu though. It's some kind of knock-your-socks off liquer. I think it's potato based but can't actually remember what I've read about it.
We then went to a packed brightly lit noodle place and I had a lovely curry, which may have been chicken. There was some kind of fillet of meat on it which was yummy anyway. Everything on the menu, and in fact most menus, have pictures, so pointing is the order of the day with us. I'm getting slightly more confident at using the odd word. My current in-use Japanese vocabulary is about five words. I DO know more, but have forgotten a lot that I learned and just don't have the confidence to use the rest just yet.
Other random observations from the day:
This is meant to be a bowing society. Nobody's bowed to me yet. I feel shunned! Did I do something wrong? (Well, apart from the ticket machine who always bows after taking my money)
Nobody had an umbrella today and yet when it was raining yesterday everyone did. It wasn't raining first thing yesterday either, so are people psychic or are weather forecasts in Japan actually accurate predictors of the weather?
Finding the name on the platform as the train pulls in is becoming a real challenge. The Romanji names are there but very small and well spaced along the platforms!
There are some really cute signs around. I love the one on the platform saying to not pick anything up from the track. It's got a little school girl drawn and a station worker picking up her hat from the track with a long stick. SOO cute!
I was on one train today where announcements were made in English, but only in the morning.
I used two squat toilets today. They're going to take some getting used to. Especially after drinking I feel. Going to the toilet should involve pulling everything down (or up), sitting on a seat and doing your business. Squat toilets involve too much thinking and careful positioning and observations!
My colleague has a talking bath. I want one!
It was really really windy today and sunny. This weather is all over the place. It's great!
The seats on front of bikes for babies are little boxes. Too cute!
There are rotating fans on trains. Heaven!
I nearly fell asleep on the train a couple of times this evening while standing up and caught my knees starting to buckle both times. Before I hit the floor luckily!
You can get mcvities digestives and oreo cookies here. I don't intend to buy either but it's nice to know they are here.
This evening I had to eat jelly and fruit with a fork.
I've started talking back to my computer when it talks to me.
For a technologically advanced country, there seems an abundance of bright yellow cables criss-crossing the sky. Not very discrete or aesthetically pleasing!