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Arrival at KIX

We're here ...and overwhelmed ...and tired.

Well, thank goodness for first class on trans-oceanic flights. Our 12 hour flight was as comfortable as it could have been. We all got some shut eye, watched some movies, ate some wicked food, and landed in one piece in Osaka. Kansai International Airport is on an artificial island in Osaka Bay. There is seriously no space to build anything here, let alone this new airport, which opened in 1994.


Upon arrival, Sean helped us find our bags, and make our way through customs. We purchased a calling card from a vending machine (honestly, anything you could possibly want to buy, you can find it in a vending machine) and telephoned our housing agent. Sean then made sure we found the bus that would take us to meet our housing agent. We said thank you and goodbye (huge thanks again, Sean!) and got on the bus, wide awake and exhausted at the same time.

Court Arriving.jpg

In Japan, vehicles drive on the left, so the entire bus trip was incredibly disorienting and frightening. We went through about six toll stations, and about 30 near-misses.

We reached our stop in Moriguchi City where we met our housing agent. We loaded our luggage into the van and off we went to our apartment. By this time it was pretty much night, and all we wanted to do was sleep. We arrived at our apartment, brought in our bags, signed our papers, and went on a tour of our neighbourhood. Needless to say, the last thing we wanted to do was wander around a strange country at night on minimal sleep, but off we went.

As it turns out we've been placed in Juso, one of Osaka's red light districts. There are plenty of love hotels (rented by the hour), strip clubs, and pachinko parlours. We were led through the narrow streets and a couple alleys, shown a nice bakery (everything 20% off after 20:00), and walked past countless vending machines and convenience stores. Yeah, we saw a crossdresser on our way home. The most obvious crossdresser ever. We also walked by a fugu restaurant with a tank of the deadly blowfish outside. Wicked cool!

gnome and fish.jpg

Anyhow, once back at the apartment, and finally alone. We realized we were actually here in Japan. Woah. And then we realized we had no toilet paper. But that would have to wait until morning...

First thing in the morning we were awake and unpacking. We were feeling pretty homesick and wondering why we were here and all that good stuff you feel when you move to the other side of the world. Well, the next thing we know someone's at our door. We look at each other: we have no idea who even knows we are here. So, Andrew opened the door to find two Japanese men in suits. One of them looked at him and asks if he spoke English. The next question was, "Do you have a religion?" They were the Japanese Jehovah Witnesses. Then we knew that the world was smaller than we thought and we're not too far from home. We got out of the apartment at a respectable hour and found an international pay phone (there are both national and international phones) to contact home. For the remainder of the day we wandered around Juso to get our bearings, and slept.

Gnome calling.jpg

We were also accompanied by this little guy. Courtney's named him Orville. Courtney had received a larger gnome for her birthday one year that she took on different trips and to different places. But, he became too old and fat to come to Japan. So he was replaced by his little, skinnier nephew. Courtney's uncle carved him for her. He has a fence that he lives on, but it became easier for us to leave the fence at home. (you can see some of his other work here http://www.garyssongbirds.ca/ ) So you will see pictures of him on our adventures as well.


Jet Lag started to kick in and we were wide awake at 05:00. It's a very strange feeling being in a foreign country and awake when no one else is. So, we unpacked some more and had something to eat and decided to leave the apartment at the respectable time of 07:00. The big goal for today was to figure out how to catch a train somewhere.

We went down to the train station and realized that the ticket machines were in Japanese (as it turns out, we just didn't know where the English button was). So, we stood by the machine trying to figure out what to do, when a little old Japanese lady (who couldn't speak English) came up to us and, with the help of another Japanese man who spoke a little English, managed to show us what to do. So, once we caught our first train we were fine.

We decided we would make our way down to ECC headquarters in Namba where we were going to do our training. That way if we got really lost we would have the rest of the week to make our way home and then get back to work. But, it wasn't too bad. The directions ECC provided were good.

Once we found HQ we wandered around Namba, which is sort of the downtown of Osaka. It is one of the major shopping areas in Osaka and a transit system hub. The other major thing we did that day was get lost many times and manage to unlose ourselves. We found this shopping arcade that we've come to call Diagon Alley (Harry Potter reference); if you can think of a cooking implement, supply, device, container, or piece of equipment, you can find it there. We also discovered the cheapest coffee you can get in Japan at Doutor (¥180 for M; most coffee runs ¥400).

Oh, and for Courtney, the devil has a name, and it's a store called Muji. Could spend a bundle there. Six floors of minimalist paradise. Everything black, white, grey, silver, and transparent. We would start to furnish our apartment with a set of storage drawers for our toiletries and a strainer for the kitchen. Many other purchases to come, though. http://www.muji.net/eng/

We made our way home with our wares, started organizing our apartment, and did some reconaissance work for the next day's birthday trip to the Osaka Aquarium.

Posted by agc_cwm 12:00 Archived in Japan

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