The culture shock hasn’t set in yet and I hope it never does. I really like it here, even if I can't communicate very well.
I’m already getting used to things being so cute it almost hurts, like eating a lot of store-bought cake icing that’s too sweet. I’m also getting used to having to guess what signs and labels might mean and to just hope that I’m not using some strange Japanese product that gives you cancer or something.
The village that we now call home, Miyada, is really more a town than a village. It’s absolutely beautiful—surrounded by lush green mountains and full of gardens. There are rice paddies and lots of little shops. We get fresh-baked loaves of bread at the local bakery for about $3, or 300 yen. The food will take a little getting used too. Zack wasn’t joking about the severe lack of cheese around. The closest we can find is overly processed cheese product. I don’t think being a vegan in this country is very feasible, either. Fish is a mainstay in the diet and westernization has made this once practically vegetarian society a bunch of meat eaters. I am really going to have to watch out for myself. I'll eat fish but I will not eat meat again, at least not on purpose. I ate a noodle bowl with bits of pork in it yesterday that I thought was veggie-only. I picked out the meat and Zack ate it. The broth might have been miso but it might have been pork-based so I didn’t drink it. I guess that’s still vegetarian-ish? I know now that if all else fails, just order miso soup and rice.
We walked around a nearby city yesterday called Inashi, where we visited the craziest store I’ve ever seen. It’s called Apita and it’s kind of like a Japanese Wal-Mart. It’s this big department store with everything you can think of: clothes, food, makeup, electronics—only cuter and weirder and Japanese. The clothes here are ridiculous sometimes, even for my taste. I’m going to take pictures of the best Engrish shirts I find. Using random English words is common in clothing and marketing design in Japan, even if the words are completely unrelated to each other. I'm going to be laughing a lot while I'm here.
I’ll post pictures of our aparto probably tomorrow when I figure out how to use Zack’s memory card reader. It’s so nice to be in the same place as him again. It feels kind of like we were never apart, except that he can speak a little Japanese and is now kind of used to living in another country.
Lessons I’ve learned from being in Japan for only two days:
*speaking and reading Japanese is very important, especially if you don’t want to accidentally eat an animal friend.
*having blue eyes mean you’re just begging to be stared at.
*there are lots of friendly people wherever you go in the world.
*English words look really cool on t-shirts, regardless of how much or little sense they make when put together.
*Japanese fashion is almost cute in many cases, but it’s a little too random for my taste.
*also, Japanese shoes are hideous as a rule.
*most labels and signs have helpful (and often very strange) pictures and snippits of English to help you get by.
*smiling a lot and laughing at yourself really lowers your embarrassment level when you have no idea what people are saying to you.
Zack had to go back to work this morning so I’m spending the day at home, unpacking and trying to learn a little Japanese before I go out in public again. I am so happy to be alive right now!