Arriving to Japanese Toilets!

I only have 20 minutes to write this before dinner. We just had afternoon tea (mm dangos!) and we had a dinner sized lunch before then. Not to mention the breakfast I had only half an hour before lunch! There is one question in my mind currently, How on Earth are Japanese people so skinny?! They'll be rolling me onto the plane at this rate.

I am already on day 3 of my japanese adventure and even after only 3 days I could write a book about this place. My flights were fine although I was typically the smart person I am and forgot my phone. But I am surviving without it.

When I arrived at Narita Airport I was very tired and very confused. I had to fill in an immigration (emmigration?) form which I didn't really understand even though it was in English. Luckily, the nice japanese man beside me on the plane gave me a hand in ticking all the boxes that would not get me arrested!

I had a lovely chat to him about where to go and what to do in Japan. I told him I was Irish but I don't really think he had heard of Ireland before as he kept on asking me to teach him Danish...

The police man at imm-emmigration didn't really seem to believe that I was going on an exchange travelling alone. I said exchange even though it's not an exchange. But how do you explain that you entered for a travel award to share cultural differences with a society at the other end of the world with my small amount of japanese? It just doesn't work! After a while I think he just got bored and let me go! Thank god!

Anywhoo, after two long flights and thousands of kilometres I decided it was time to phone my mam and let her know I was safe and sound in this strange and wonderful country. I bought a bottle of water to get change for the public phone. Now, please bare in mind that it had been a long day and I don't have the greatest level of japanese.

I picked up the phone to dial home... it didn't ring. After a few seconds a woman came on the other end saying something to me in japanese. Panic! I kept on saying stuff like "I'm very sorry I don't understand, please speak more slowly." It took me about three redials to figure out that it wasn't actually a woman but a computer! It was the japanese equivalent to "This number is not in use, please try again." ahhhhhhh, realisation set in. I took a swig of water to calm myself. BLEH! Not water. Pocari sweat? If you have ever had it then you know that it tastes nothing like water!! Infact I think it tastes rather like Dispirin (yucky). On the bright side though I think it shocked me into being awake and suddenly I could read the japanese instructions on the payphone! Or at least the pictograms underneath them.

The drive to Suwa was looooooong and hot. But in Japan they have these really cool Pit Stops with shops and vending machines and little stalls where they serve fried things. This is where I had my first uniquely japanese experience -western toilets!

You see in Japan the "western" toilets are not really like what we have at all.... ehh, they have a bottom washing function. Now I don't know about everyone else but my toilet doesn't shoot water... there. It's really funny, you can change the temperature, the power and you can make a fake flushing sound play if you want to drown out unpleasant noises!

I have to say it wasn't at all a negative experience! And one function these toilets have is an air freshener which is inbuilt and really a good idea!

I am still only on my first day and it's the end of my third!! I have so much catching up to do. I will probably write another blog tomorrow night or the day after as I am visiting the mayor tomorrow among other things.

My host grandmother is 90 years old! She has next to no English and my japanese is very poor but we still sit and communicate! Today she taught me some origami and yesterday she showed me a japanese art book with traditional style paintings. I played my concertina for her and she even gave it a shot herself! We are both keen to learn each other's language although we may be slow. But enthusiasm's all you need to get on with a person who you can't talk to! :) 

Let me leave you with this picture of my lovely host grandmother and some wise words my host mother said today, "There are two common things in the world, songs and smiles." :) Oyasumi Nasai!