Japan is expensive. It shouldn’t be but as the UK pound is currently worth about the same as a tramp’s second hand shoes i’ve found myself in a position where i’m essentially living like a student until my first pay day. I eat instant noodles, baulk at the price of beer and ask newly found friends for some cash to tie me over for two weeks. Fun, no?
The company i’m working for seems to be actively helping me in my student lifestyle. They’ve provided me with an dinky flat that feels like a halls of residence and a mobile phone that won’t allow me to make outbound calls which makes it a bit redundant as a mobile phone – it kind of takes the “phone” aspect out of the equation altogether. However it does send me an automated warning whenever there’s an earthquake which was a bit strange last week. Especially when the warning wasn’t followed by an earthquake. Which pretty much takes the “warning” aspect out of the earthquake warning equation. This is a long winded way of saying that i’ve got a really shit phone.
The flat is in a place called Sakasai just on the edge of a city called Kashiwa outside Tokyo. Sakasai hasn’t got much apart from a train station, a supermarket and a little bar where you can get drunk with an eclectic mix of business men talking shit and feeling better for it, English teachers trying to understand what’s going on and friendly couples hell bent on force feeding you sake and soju until you can’t see properly.
Sakasai also has a swimming pool and so i thought i’d attempt to keep active and bought a month’s membership. I went for the first time on Monday night and was greeted by an aqua aerobics class which is something that seems to transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries. They’re the same everywhere – slightly large middle-aged women flop around looking like they’d rather be anywhere else and being encouraged and led by a maniac who shouts and claps in time to music that’s played far too loud. Don’t worry, i didn’t join in but did some lengths instead with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones blasting through the speakers.
Last Saturday was interesting. I went out on my mountain bike (did i mention that i’d brought it with me?) and cycled all day along a river that cuts into Tokyo amongst the buildings, bridges and bustle and ended up that evening being really quite sunburnt and red. I looked constantly embarrassed and drunk. Which was unfortunate because that night i went on a blind date with a Thai girl in Tokyo in an area of town called Roppongi which is famous for its night life and African pimps. No, really. And that’s how i came to find myself in a bar eating and drinking with a cute crazy girl trying not to look embarrassed or drunk and attempting to draw attention away from my face. And then two of her friends showed up and told me that we would be drinking until 5am. I should go to Tokyo more often.
It was only a few weeks ago that i was living with my parents in British suburbia and working in soul-melting arse-numbing office job. Somehow i’m now living in a flat in Japan and spend my time teaching English, getting drunk, swimming with middle aged women and going on blind dates in Tokyo whilst sunburnt from cycling. Life changes quickly doesn’t it?