WEEK 1

Our first week in Japan! We arrived at Kansai Airport on the 6th October just after 8am. Our apartment is about an hour and a half away by bus and train, and we live near a station called Awaji. It's surrounded by an old marketplace that sells fruit and vegetables, flowers and noodles. Our apartment is on the main road outside the marketplace in a six storey block of apartments. We actually have two bedrooms, which is more than we were expecting. Seeing as we only need one bedroom, we took the sliding doors off the second room and converted it to a living area. Our bedding is quite comfortable, contrary to what we were told. Futon beds here consist of two mattresses on top of each other, and a comforter.

The first few days were a bit overwhelming. We ate lots of food from the 7-Eleven (they have cool sushi and ready-made meals), and when we did eat out, we had to point randomly at different items on the menu and hope they weren't too weird. We also discovered our local supermarket and found that food quite affordable.

We went into Namba a few times. It's one of the main parts of the city where you can find English bookshops, English record stores and lots of Starbucks coffee shops.

I felt a bit sick in the first few days. I think it was the stress of navigating around a new place and eating strange food. Apparently Japan doesn't have the same addressing system we have. We got lost a lot, and even if we could read Japanese, I'm not sure it would have helped much.

We visited Den Den Town, which is a whole town devoted to electronics. It was so big that we got a bit disoriented, so all we bought was a power adapter for the laptop, (actually really difficult to find, even though we have the some power points as China).

In the first week we also visited Umeda which is the other main part of the city. We discovered a huge ten-storey building called the Yodobashi Centre, with each of its floors devoted to either computers, digital cameras, mobile phones, music or appliances. We had lunch there and Kesh ordered a meal with heaps of different types of tofu in it, including some on paddle pop sticks. They looked like ice cream! Umeda also has huge arcades full of Skill Testers and Pachinko parlours (kind of like slot machines).

We discovered that we don't live too far from the river. If we walk about 400m behind our apartment block, we reach the water. There is a huge path that runs along the edge and extends for miles. We go there when we're feeling claustrophobic.

Our 6th and 7th days were filled with Orientation and training. We both got cool mobile phones (Kesh's has a built-in video camera!) and met some of the other new people (including one girl who lives 20 minutes from us in Australia!). My home branch is at a place called Senri Chuo. The office is in a huge open air multi-storey mall that reminds me of Robina Town Centre. We met a nice couple from Sydney who told us about an old Japanese man stopping them in the street and getting them to proof-read his Japanese to English translation dictionary. He was writing it for a local English college and wouldn't let them leave!

(Editor's note: Please keep in mind that this was 2004 and iPhones had not yet been released. A phone with a video camera was considered amazing!)

Random Observation

It is rude to blow your nose in public in Japan, however it seems to be OK to pick your nose and eat it in full view of everyone.