After landing in Narita on Friday evening, we took a リモシンバス (Limousine bus) to the Shinjuku Washington Hotel in Tokyo. The hotel rooms were extremely small, and reminded me of the inside of a small sailboat.
After meeting up with three other Yale students, we decided to venture out of the hotel and check out Shinjuku. Our first stop was 7-11.
7-11’s in Japan are awesome. The have ATMs that work with international banks and おいしいお菓子 (snacks) for days.
Once the day was over, we caught some sleep and prepared for our orientation the next day. The following morning, we had breakfast at the hotel where I tried なとう (fermented soybeans) for the first time. After lunch, we met with two of the instructors from Sun, and took the train from 新宿駅 (the Shinjuku train station) to 代々木駅 (Yoyogi), which was next to our academy.
The orientation was uneventful apart from the moment when we had to solemnly swear that for the next two months we would only speak Japanese. We all sort of nodded, without really understanding how hard that was going to be.
After the orientation, we met with our ホストファミリー (host family), and went back with them to their homes. The trip back took about an hour, which meant I would need to wake up and be ready by 7:30 every day to make it to class on time.
I am currently staying with the Tasaka household in Saitama, Japan. From the very beginning, they were extremely warm and welcoming, and their two children (Sasuke and Sasara) were amazing. After adjusting to their schedule yesterday, they brought me along to watch their children practice Aikido, which is a form of Japanese martial arts. The class, which was made up of elementary school age kids, was extremely interesting and funny to watch, with the instructor effortlessly batting and tossing misbehaving children.
I love this place. The culture, the food, the art, and the warmth of the people are what make Japan truly wonderful. I am looking forward to the months ahead!