Arrived yesterday to a very rainy Japan—as was expected, I suppose. It was so amazing just thinking that I was finally here! The plane ride was long but uneventful, and I made good use of the extended battery pack I bought for my iPod by watching videos the entire trip.
The six of us, plus two regular paying customers, all got packed into our little shuttle van and spent the next 2 hours getting from KIX airport to Kyoto. I had lots of fun reading road signs and things painted on passing vehicles—happy when I could actually decipher them, but incredulous when I realized just how much I have left to learn. As the trip went on, though, I started getting better and faster at reading them, which is a very good sign.
Even more cool was when we exited the highway and drove through the streets of Kyoto to our various destinations. It was an amazing feast for the senses—they apparently don’t do zoning in the same way we do; I saw factories next to traditional houses next to high-rise condos next to gas stations next to newer family homes next to strip malls. So many of the houses and buildings are very narrow and tiny by our US standards, but just like I experienced over 20 years ago when I first visited Italy, I was incredibly fascinated by everything I saw—wondering who lived behind that home’s window, what sort of work people did in that office, what I could buy in that shop, how the food was at that restaurant. It really thrills me when I can catch such glimpses while at the same time realizing that I’ll probably never pass that way again in my lifetime. The endless parade of human life…
We arrived at the KSU International House in a real downpour, where program coordinator Paul Churton-san awaited us with umbrellas and some preliminary welcome information (like where our shoe lockers were in the dorm’s Genkan or entrance hall). A quick trip with Kevin-san and Jeremiah-san down the road to the local Convini (a “Circle K”, no less) yielded the evening’s meal of a drink and a couple Onigiri (filled rice balls—yummy). I spent a while unpacking and getting my dorm room sorted out—though I never managed to get the air conditioning to work, gave up and opened the window. I forced myself to stay up until around 10:30 PM, but then dropped off to a pretty sound sleep until 5:00 AM, partially in thanks to Melatonin.
And so the adventure begins!