My first week living in Japan

17 Nov

Having arrived last Thursday evening, I have been living in Japan now for just over a week. Strange how it already feels much longer!

Japan, so far, has been everything I expected and more. Life seems very easy here. My apartment is perfectly situated a ten minute walk from one of the largest downtown areas in Osaka, there’s two grocery stores a block over and a subway station two minutes walk away. Other than initial cultural differences and issues with  language barriers, it’s quite simple to get around, eat, drink and shop. (Though this view may change in a few month’s time as culture shock sets in.)

Osaka is a lively metropolis with endless restaurants, bars, shops, combini (convenience stores), food stands, and pachinko parlours (like slot machine casinos) on each of the winding streets and small walkable side streets. It’s not a particularly attractive city or as cutting edge and sleek as Tokyo, but the charm is in wandering the city and finding all these great spots.

Shopping in Dotonbori, in Osaka.

Shopping in Dotonbori, in Osaka.

I didn’t even venture on the subway for my first five days here as so much is so close to home. People ride bicycles everywhere in the city, often on the sidewalks and through crowds. Bicycles are seen in massive lineups, unlocked as there’s so little theft, outside of most large buildings and stores. The streets are surprisingly empty for such a large city, as most take the very efficient train or subway system or bike.

The city is not nearly as expensive as some Westerners would think. Often it seems cheaper than Toronto, especially since I will be making more money here and paying less tax. I’ve eaten out in numerous restaurants and only recently spent more than 1000 yen ($13) on a meal, with taxes included and no tipping. Fantastic, ready made food is also found in convenience and grocery stores for less than 600 yen. One of Osaka’s most distinctive foods – okonomiyaki – can be had for 130 yen and last evening I had 200 yen drinks with some coworkers at the funkiest little basement bar.

The Japanese people make Canadians seem rude. They are so polite and helpful. But also can be very humourous, welcoming and talkative. And, at least in Osaka, they don’t stare at foreigners as much as some people do in other Asian countries. So it’s nice to be able to feel, sort of, like I’m blending in and exploring this neat city slightly anonymously rather than just being the “gaijin” – the foreigner.

4 Responses to “My first week living in Japan”

  1. Steven Myers November 29, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    a few weeks ago i seen a documentary about reggae music sweeping over japan and japanese kids learning english in patois schools. do you see this anywhere yet?

  2. Lindsay Lafreniere November 29, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I have not heard reggae music yet! But Osaka has recently instated a “no dancing after 1am” rule which is killing the local music scene apparently.

    • Steven Myers December 4, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

      sometimes i dance after 1am, but inside my apartment with the door locked,
      but that’s only because i haven’t learned how to hula hoop….yet.

  3. Meagan December 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I only recently realized you’d actually started this blog. Yay! It looks great. I can’t wait to be featured on it…..

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