Standing at the top of the exit ramp overlooking the tarmac, my first thought was, "Hunh, Japan smells like a swimming pool". Which is truly ridiculous when you think about it.
We exited the plane and entered customs. The northern Japanese don't believe in air conditioning, and Americans follow suit. On top of that, the light are mostly turned off to conserve energy. It was sweltering, I think I could almost lean against the wall of humidity all around me. Of course the first thing you have to do is fill out some paperwork. It took us forever to get all our bags and I think we were the second to last people to leave the customs room. We enter this dark hallway that leads outside. There are all kinds of sergeants and airmen in uniform just hanging out at the sides of the hallway. It was so awkward, we're walking through them, not knowing who is looking for us, what to do, where to go. But luckily, one of them introduced themselves and there was a round of smiles, greetings and hand shakes. We found our sponsor and went to lunch at a local sushi joint off base.
This was pretty much the most awesome restaurant that I've ever been in. It was all decked out like a 50's diner in pastel pinks and blues. The sushi cook was in the center of a huge looped conveyor belt that ran past booths and counters. She would make the sushi and then put it on the conveyor belt and it would just past on buy and if you liked it you would pick it off the belt and eat it. The price of the sushi was indicated by the color of plate it was on. We had salmon, shrimp, and this amazing duck bacon yumminess. I also had some breaded squid tentacles. Again, no air conditioning, so we are sweating our butts off. I wish that I could have gotten pictures but my camera batteries decided to die on me.
After that we went on the tour of the base and then checked into hotel. Despite the rough white exterior of the building our hotel room is leaps and bounds nicer than any place that we've ever lived in. There is a small kitchen, a small living room with a chair and a love seat. We have the windows open and the fans running. Ian is watching Sumo wrestling as I write this. Their faces look just like the ukiyo-e prints
We got our mail box. We also looked at some cars to buy. It seems like everybody drives over here, which is a bummer. Especially since Ian works pretty far out on the other side of base. There's also phones that we are considering. But it sounds like our sponsor is confident that we'll have our new apartment in a week.
We drove around a bit off base and went to go see a Japanese grocery store. I was so amazed but the prices of produce and things that aren't typically Japanese. We saw a ten dollar melon, and it was one of those tiny french watermelons! There was so much fresh fish and squid and octopus. I'm so excited to start cooking Japanese style but I have a feeling that I'm going to be shopping at the BX and commissary for almost everything.
It's so much fun to look at the signs and try and read the characters. I was really proud that I could read the word nigiri on the sign at the sushi restaurant. I was also making the ladies at the restaurant laugh buy trying to sound out the signs. because I would say a few syllables and then it would be kanji, kanji, kanji. I think that learning to read and write was a great idea before I got here.