I’ve decided to just post a quick recap of today. The plan was as following:
- 9:00 – 12:00 - Japanese class
- 12:00-13:00 – During lunch break go to a western union branch and get my salary.
- 13:00-14:30 – Kanji class
- 15:00 – Go to the apartment and wait for the internet guy and Futon delivery.
- Since I will have by then Internet and a Futon, it’s all I need to sleep at the apartment.
It didn’t really go on as planned. I started by asking the Japanese sensei to leave the class 20 minutes early. She agreed. I think she kinda likes me. I got out, and then after 3 minutes came back to get my jacket. I got out again and got just in time for the subway. It’s a 10 minute ride and the station is right next to the branch so I figured it would work. Too bad there was some Japanese guy there taking forever to process his request. In the mean time he started chatting with me saying things about the Palestinians and asking me if it is true that 6 million jews died in WWII. Oh and then he said I had a cute face and pet my beard. Er, I think this should be treated as normal. My beard is an attraction here.
When it was finally my turn the receptionist girl (28 years old, the previous guy asked) started giving me sad faces. That’s because my Alien Registration is only on paper and not on a card. I don’t even want to begin to explain what that means. After giving her my own share of sad faces getting her to make some calls she got confirmation to give me the money. By then it was 12:50, forget about Kanji class. Luckily this class has 3 groups so I’ll just go to another one on Saturday.
I decided to go back to the dorm, eat something (was starving as always) and then if I have time I can pack most of my things and move them to the apartment before the internet guy comes. I ate some onigiri and these Japanese mini fried shishlick thingies and rushed to the dorm. On the way I saw some dude from singapore which I remembered that he offered to help me carry stuff to the apartment so I decided to use that offer. He seemed very happy to help..Ironically I didn’t have much contact with him during my stay except when I met him at first when arriving to the airport. There he also kept offering to carry my stuff.
By the time I finished packing my stuff it was already 14:55. The internet guy was supposed to arrive between 15:00 and 17:00. at 15:05 he was already at my door (Oh yeah this isn’t Israel) and I was still on my way to the apartment. They called me and I told them to wait. When I got I let the guy in and after about 5 minutes he declared “Owarimas!” (Finished. Yeah definitely not Israel). My 100Mb internet FTTX VDSL modem was up and running. Too bad the modem is quite far from the bedroom but I’ll need a router anyway. After he left I realized I need a password to connect to the internet and I don’t have one. I used Isaac (Singapore friend)’s cellphone to call the provider and they told me I need to wait until Thursday for an envelope with my details. I checked the mailbox hatch on my door and there was nothing. I asked if there is any way to rush this or get the password another way – No .
Isaac took off and I stayed waiting for the Futon with no internet. At first I was wondering around corners of the house looking for open wireless but then gave up. Then I started doing Karate in corners of the house. Then I just laid down on the Tatami and waited. Then I sent Inna and SMS and then he came . I opened the Futon and set the mattress and the covers and everything.
Then I got bored again. I thought maybe I would just shower and then go back to sleep at the dorm with internet. I checked the shower..no hot water.. hmm…I think then I wondered a bit more in the apartment and then I decided to go say hello to the landlord and also ask him about the hot water. I had an instinct to where his apartment is..while searching for his an apartment I realized that at the ground floor there is a place with mailboxes. I looked for my room number and there it was, a mailbox with my name in Katakana on it. I opened it up and inside was an envelope with my internet user id and password.
After logging in I went back to search for the landlord and found him. A really nice man! Big relief. I asked about the hot water..turns out I need gas for it (??)..Now I undersand why the real estate guy was so surprised when I told him to only order the gas for the 21st. I thought it’s just for cooking..something I don’t really ..you know. So I have no hot water. I didn’t wanna go back to the dorm now that I have internet…I almost took a cold shower when a Itamar in a quick skype conversation suggested I go to a public bath house. (Damn Itamar and his great life changing suggestions! Remember Consciousness Studies 2 years ago?) Anyway, I googled a bit and found one not far. Actually the dorm was on the way to it but I wanted to do it anyway.
I went to eat some Ramen and then proceded to the bath house. There was a nice old lady at the entrance and it cost 450 yen. It had a hot tub with a massage..and that was a quite relaxing end to this day. Whew! After the bath I went to take some more stuff out of the dorm and now I’m here. Just downloaded 6 gigs in 1 hour. I think I can go to sleep now.
Here are some random pics. Mostly food. Byeee!
Have you ever had so many things going on in your life at once, that you have gradually started to lose your sense of subjectiveness? Like you’re flying on auto pilot?
I actually recently wrote a paper for tau about the concept of Flow. A mental state in which you are so focused on one creative activity (usually artistic) that you lose self-awareness and feel immense pleasure. But what I’m experiencing is not flow. It’s losing sense awareness from dealing with _too many_ “thought processes” at once. Maybe I would call it “Dissolving”.
Not only am I starting a whole new life, with a new job, and new apartment and a new school, I’m also doing it in a place which is totally new and so full of new experiences that you are constantly distracted. And on top of that, only half of me is here. The other half is with Inna (Yozi). So there’s not much of me to begin with.
Don’t be confused, this is not “busyness”. I’m not busy. I have time for everything. It’s more of an overflow of mental thoughts and experiences. The solution to this problem should be as followed:
1. Focus on every task like it’s the only one. Forget about the rest. Relax and Focus. Your long term memory remembers anything, no need to bother your short term memory.
2. In order to achieve 1, either do sports or go to an onsen.
Karate used to be the perfect cure for this, but alas I haven’t started training at the dojo yet? I’m not sure why..but I need my karate cloths shipped to me. Will handle that soon. Onsen I did in Nikko, it recharged me for about a week. In a desperate attempt to find more focus energy I started running in the nearby park…but then my legs started to hurt, I must be doing it wrong and with the wrong shoes. Other than that I’ve been able to sometimes shut down my auto pilot while laying in my bad and writing letters to Yozi and reading the news in Israel. But sometimes it’s just the opposite and before falling asleep I am like under an attack by 1,092,000 thoughts! (if you get the reference).
But not to worry, soon hopefully things will start falling into place and I will precipitate back into reality. In the mean time I will provide some quick highlights of..stuff:
- It started as a trip of me and a Japanese real estate agent on bicycle around Shinjuku, it carried on as an endless trip of bureaucracy (even the word itself is long and ugly!) and me handing out a stash of yens and now I have the keys to my new apartment. Which I already love. I must thank my auto pilot, somehow it found an apartment at a great location in a good price and arranged it quickly, while even doing some manipulation to avoid a big insurance fee. And I don’t even want to get into the problems a foreigner has when renting an apartment for 1 year..and for a couple…anyway here it is!
- One of the workers at the real estate agency is fat. And he is also a huge fan of Tzahi Noi. And he watched Eskimo Limon 50 times. During one of the nights when I was off auto pilot and influenced by the gift giving spirit of Japan I e-mailed my father asking to get Noi-san’s autograph dedicated to the big Japanese guy. I secretly got his name and fax number and got to make one guy very happy:
- I actually spoke on the phone with Jeff Hawkings, my own “Tzahi Noy” ..pretty much the reason I went to study neurobiology. And I actually might be working with him on a texas holdem bot. And I’m actually handling work pretty well. And this is all the amazing work of my auto pilot. I don’t feel like I’ve actually done any of this.
- Somehow my auto pilot (with the help of my Singapour friend who stalks Craig’s list tokyo) also got me another job at a real Japanese company, recording stuff in hebrew for a langauge teaching website and translating stuff from Hebrew to English. First session went well and I will get money to my bank account next month. shit!
- I’m attending a shamisen club but will play the shamisen songs on my sanshin.
- I can read and write Hiragana. And most of Katakana. starting to practice Kanji.
- I may be attending a baseball game between Waseda and Keyo university. Check out their cheerleading team
And that’s just strange:
- Going to see Vampire Weekend on the 29th. Then visit my Okinawa friends in Kamakura.
- I bought a Futon.
- Inna should be coming on the 26th. I bought her presents. This topic is still too fresh to be discussed
The best course I’m taking is a course called “Sociology of Japanese Culture and Society” http://sakurai.jp/ . It’s basically great because the teacher is hilarious. And he also shares one of my outlooks on life. The best kind of life is a mixture of fast paced capitalistic urban life and slow paced life in nature. It can be done! The way he does it is pretty crazy. He lives in the wild country side 3 hours away from Tokyo and regularly goes to Tokyo to work and party. Maybe possible with Japan’s transportation..and when you don’t work too much..in Israel? I doubt it. So for now the best is the opposite, live in the urban and occasionally escape to nature. Ok I’m babbling now. TTYL
Sorry I’ve been lacking updates lately.
I’ve had a few busy days, a few zombie days and my mind is occupied with too many things.
But in general everything is OK. Tomorrow I’m going to see some apartments in the Waseda area.
Will update more soon!
So, today I met with Eyal Weinstock – an old army friend who is in Tokyo for 3 months on a scolarship+hosting family doing biology research for the Tokyo Institute of technology. He applied for it through the technion although anyone can apply. He pays for the flight but the hosting is free and he gets 60,000 yen a month. Not half bad!
Eyal is all busy touring Tokyo and the surroundings every day in his last remaining month. He uses this site: http://metropolis.co.jp/ to check out what’s happening and that’s where he told me he saw about the Tokyo Game Show, which he never heard of. But I have, It’s a pretty big event in the gaming industry. The first 2 days are for industry people and have important announcements. The next 2 days are open to the public. I don’t think my position in Tacticsoft qualifies me as a game industry member but anyway the business days already have passed and I was lucky enough to find about the public days 1 day before they started! I actually saw about it before I came to Japan but with all of the holy orientations I forgot to check about it.
So anyway, today was a pretty full and exhausting visiting TGS but it was fun! I came back and immediately fell asleep for an hour but now I woke up and I am posting the results. Here are the highlights:
- Dance Evolution - Wow! the kinect really works! mm maybe I will get an
- Playstation Move – too little, too late. but we saw a demo of a cool looking game by Sony Japan featuring a man running away from the Yakuza - using an office chair. The English name is Kung Fu Rider – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kung_Fu_Rider
- We were to lazy to wait in line for all of the cool games (40 minutes at least, says the man with the sign at the beginning of the line). But we played one cool game for Xbox360: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BattleBlock_Theater
- Cosplay! wow..so many. (Cosplay is a term which means dressing up like anime/manga/video game characters). There was some kind of competition today.
- There was a Square-Enix merchandise shop which you had to wait in line just to get into, then quickly browse through the items and mark on paper which you want to get. I got a stuffed Mogu and a Cactuar glass – for those who understand what that means.
Well that’s it! I really wanted to share the pics this time so I facebooked them
Till next time!
For the past couple of days I’ve been mostly busy with 3 things:
- Orientation after orientation
- Helping Inna with flight arrangements
- Sleeping at random hours
The first orientation was yesterday and it was about 8 hours of introductions, rules, presentations and some social games. I don’t know what you heard about the college social life, but these were the games that _we_ played:
- Every table got a number according to a drawing they did on the blackboard. every game had a number of representatives (not me nah-ah) from each table go up and play.
- First game, word confusion! 6 representative got a note with a japanese word. they were all part of an announced category like “Fruits” or “Sports”. Then, the game manager said “Three..Two..One” and every one had to say their word loudly at the same time. Then repeat that again Then each table would write down the words they heard and if they got all 6 they get a point.
- Second game, gesture confusion! each representative got a note with a name of a game like “tennis” and “baseball” but only one got “table tennis”. then they all had to act it out at the same time and each table would guess who got “table tennis”.
- Third game, cream puff confusion! 8 representatives got cream puffs (פחזניות) but an unknown number got puffs filled with mustard instead of whipped cream. They all ate them together and each table would guess how many people got mustard cream puffs.
- In the end, all the points were added and the tables who were in a draw sent representatives to play Junken (Rock,Paper,Scissors) against each other until there was a clear winner.
- The winning table all got some kind of hello kitty bags and book holders with waseda logos.
We also got a tour of the university and overall it is very impressive. Huge libraries, free pool and gym, impressive new SILS building, discount club and overall a great atmosphere. We had to fill out all kinds of forms meticulously and there are still tons of arrangements which have to be done. Alien registration card, city ward registration, bank account, cell phone, and more and more.. There are also a ton of social events, tours and drinking parties. I tried to write down some of them so I might go. Also there are thousands of clubs across the university. Some that I heard about which interest me:
- Uninhabited island club – visit uninhabited islands across Japan.
- Stray cat club – look for stray cats around the campus and feed them.
- Sanshin club – I heard it exists..good thing I brought it.
- Various music bands..I will have to buy a guitar soon!
Today we had an academic orientation. I need to make my schedule. It will have 6 hours of Japanese lessons (lowest level) and 8-10 hours of SILS lectures which I plan to take in Biology, Creative Writing, and maybe I’ll find something in Zen Buddhism. I also have my official waseda student card and mailbox: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the other part of things, I’ve started making arrangements for an apartment and Inna’s visa, and Inna is on the verge of closing a flight ticker and has notified her boss about leaving. This could actually be happening! This trip will only fully start when she arrives.
I hope everyone is doing well. I think I will take little night stroll in the streets of Shinjuku. Here are some pics!
It means I’m home,
I just remembered what I love about Tokyo. Even though it’s one of the most powerful cities in the world, it still feels cosy. It’s not loud, because there is not much traffic in the street (viva la trains). There is not much street noise either except the occasional happy sounding chatter of Japanese boys and girls, and the store clerks’ calmness makes you feel like you are in some kind of a vacation resort.
I currently am staying at the heart of things. Nishi Waseda area near Shinjuku. An apartment here must cost a fortune. But it still feels like a small and cheerful neighborhood. Seems most of the residents here are students.
When I got off the airplane I thought I will take the train to the dormitory myself. Back when I filled out the application form I was requested to fill out my arriving flight. Since I didn’t have one yet, I made one up. To be exact I chose a random one from expedia.com. After collecting my backpack I headed outside when I saw a bunch of students standing with a “WASEDA UNIVERSITY” sign. I walked to them and said “I’m going to waseda university!”. They were very much excited. The looked up my name in their lists and sure enough I was listed there with my false flight details which was falsely due to arrive 4 hours after my actual flight.
But that didn’t matter. Actually, what I think is going on is that there are several student groups in waseda which aim to help international students and they are competing with each other over students. I was picked up by “WIC” – Waseda International Club”. The fellas from WIC escorted me and another dude from Singapore all the way from the airport to the dorms. They had people waiting at Shinjuku station. The sanshin I was carrying was big attraction. Even my backpack was a bit of an attraction. They also noted the fact that (surprisingly) I don’t sweat as much as they do.
At the dorm all I had to say was my room number I was directed to a small locker at the lobby with my room number on it which contained my slippers for walking inside the building. I was told this building is the newest addition to the international dormitories. I still have no idea how actually big is Waseda university. I went through a small instruction about my room from one of the students working there, showered and went to sleep. And that’s mostly what I’ve been doing since.
Today I woke up pretty late so I took a small walk around the block to see where the university is and get a sense of my location in Tokyo. I am between Waseda and Takadanobaba stations. North of Shinjuku, south from Ikebukro. Tomorrow there are orientation meetings at Waseda and also the dormitory. My next task would be to start looking about apartments.
Here are some pics!
“חיבוק שלא נגמר. ואז ברגע, הוא נגמר”.
It is unbelievable how a relationship can change a person. It not only changes one’s personality, priorities and views of the world. It changes your consciousness in the deepest level, It affects your logic. You are no longer a single process of a conscious experience , you are composed of multiple factors. Your relationship partner has its own being in your consciousness. You cannot control it. You need it in order to exist because it is a part of what makes you, you.
I now realize that I have two relationships that define me. One is with a country, the other is with a person. I am writing this post from the world’s biggest airplane – the Airbus A380-800. It is taking me to one of the world’s biggest metropolitan centers – Tokyo, Japan.
Japan is a long time relationship for me. You can say that ever since my youth, I grew into patterns that originate from this country. It was not always intended, but somehow it happened, even though I lived a pretty normal life in Tel Aviv. Japan gives me this sort of comfortable feeling that things are at their place.
So naturally, without even thinking about it for a second, when I realized I have the opportunity of spending 1 year in Tokyo as a student exchange, I flowed through it without even imagining that there is any other possibility.
This all started to change 6 months ago when Inna (Yozi) came into my life. Inna is now a part of me in every aspect .Thinking that I am so many miles away from her brings me a sort of pain that I am unfamiliar with.In the last couple of months or so, I’ve been trying to find a hole in the system. A way to have these 2 relationships at the same time. To this day I have no idea if this was the right decision, but I’m still hopeful it will work out.
Practically speaking, what I’ve tried to do was bring Inna to Japan with me for this year. I have made arrangements for her to acquire a visa through Japanese calligraphy studying, and hooked her up with graphic design jobs she can do from there. Unfortunately, I was not able to have her totally ready for the trip until the time I had to go, so I had to leave without her. It feels a bit like cheating and it sucks.
Objectively speaking, there shouldn’t be any bad side to this plan. Japan is an amazing country, calligraphy studying is a life building experience, living in tokyo for 1 year is a life changing adventure. But subjectively, these are all my ideas imposed on Inna. The only way for this to work is if she feels they can be her ideas as well. If you’ve seen the movie inception you’ll know what I’m talking about. In the mean time, my journey here feels incomplete without her… But hopefully everything will be ok soon.
Apart from all this I’ve been having a quite good experience flying with Lufthansa airlines. I managed to sleep through most of the flight to Frankfurt and I will soon go to sleep in this flight to Toyko. Apart from the occasional holocaust experience of german officers shouting to get in line, the service has been very good and the plane is very high-tech. Also, one of the ways I measure the quality of an airline, is by how much time I need to sit in my chair with the food tray I finished until the flight tenets come and pick up the garbage. The times here a pretty good (max 5 minutes I think).
I’m not sure where I’ll be when I will get online in order to post this so I’ll probably add a quick update before posting and then post another post later on.
QUICK UPDATE: I am in my dormitory room! 2nd day! will post again soon.
As the nearby church bell rings for 14:00 o’clock, I conclude my journey in Paris. Me & Ayelet just came back from our final goodbye meal. This whole week while were walking through the Metro lines, we kept on passing by these adds on the wall advertising a place called “Leon” having some Mulle dishes in all kinds of styles. The style on the add was Mulles in Escargo (snail) sauce with cheese. We decided to head over there for our final “corruption” meal. And It was corruption indeed. I had the advertised Escargo meal and Ayelet had the classic Marianerre style. We had beer,fries and green beans along with it. Then when I finished my meal I was notified I can get another one for free. That had to go with another bear. I came back semi drunk and tired and sat down by Arielle’s (hoster) piano for about an hour of playing. Thus the trip is concluded and we leave in about 2 hours for the airport.
In the mean time I would like to tell you about my experience at a wonderfull place called “Au Lapin Agile” - Or “The speedy rabbit“. I went there 2 nights ago with Eyal following a recommendation. I think I can declare it as the best night I had in Paris.
Right after we payed our fee of 17 euro (Student discount instead of 30) which comprised of an entry fee and 1 free drink, the “Movie” began. First, the stylish doorman told us to wait in place because a song wasbeing played. Infront of us were stairs leading to a red curtain. We waited until the song ended and when people started to clap the doorman pulled us over to come quickly. He waited while the guitar player does a few ending strums and then pulled the curtain and pushed us inside. He pointed to where we should sit and we rushed in. We looked around and saw a bunch of tables and stools with some people having drinks, but there were all “ח” shaped, because in the center, about a meter from us, stood an old french lady with a guitar. She said something in french declaring the next song and started playing. Her voice was quite angellic and it was all very magical. One of the “Chansons” she played was especially good musically IMHO. Was called something like “Danse sur moi” or something like that. A few minutes later we were served our drinks which I think were some kind of prune liqueur with little dried prunes inside. After the lady sang her last song, an announcer popped out of the curtain from the outside and announced her retreat. Then a new guy popped in and another guy sat at the piano. Suddenly he started singing this a kind of happy chanson opera/singalong style, and suddenly everyone started to join in and sing along and clap. I felt like in a movie. He later on sang some more chansons being very emotional about it, getting all red and shit, singing high and loud notes. And the end of his show we were introduced to the “Appluase” piano theme. When at artists finishes his gig there is this piano theme which you need to clap along. It’s very cool.
Yada Yada Yada, we found ourselves being almost the last ones left in the place, singing along with this really cool guitar playing french dude. He liked to force audience participation. As in, he would sing something and then point at you to say/sing something. We tracked how some songs worked with the french people and then tried to do the same. We were actually quite good at it. The easy ones were where he said something like “Ooyuiyuiyuiyui” and we had to said “oolalalalala”. But we also mimicked some of the french sentences. The highlight for me was when one song had this climax part, where he would strum the guitar fast and then stop. I noticed that every time after he did it some woman shouted “Alooui!”. Then at one time he did this part again and then stopped and pointed the guitar at me. Immidiately I shouted “Alooui!” and he was very pleased.
All in all it was great fun and I ended up buying their whole 4 CD “Au Lapin Agile” collection for 30 euro. So you can listen to what I’m talking about when I come back.
That’s it! Bon Voyage for me. (No pics, I already packed)