Before we start, a few facts about Japan and Sapporo: Japan is made up of 4 major and a couple of minor islands and is located in the northern hemisphere. This means that if it’s summer in Europe, North- and Central America, Asia and some parts of Africa it’s also summer in Japan. Shouldn’t be too surprising because Japan is Asian. Sapporo is the biggest city of the northernmost major island, Hokkaido, and it’s the fifth biggest city of Japan with roughly two million inhabitants, ten thousand of them being foreign residents. Winters are cold and snowy. Like really cold and snowy. People drive on the opposite of the right side of the street. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether that means wrong or left.
The language spoken is Japanese which is as related to Chinese just as much as English is to Greek. There are four different types of writing used: Roman letters ‘though these are few and far between and usually limited to brand names and abbreviations such as USB or CD. Then there’s Hiragana and Katakana two syllabaries each consisting of 46 characters. Hiragana looks like squiggle on paper by monkeys and is used in most cases, Katakana is less curvy and is used to write foreign words, onomatopoeia and to make things look more interesting. Reading is exactly the same but why have just one alphabet when you can have two?
And then we have Kanji. These are characters stolen from China and with them their reading. Each of them has at least one meaning and one reading. How do you find out which one to use? Well…. Context? Oh, and you should know at least 2000 to be somehow able to understand a simple newspaper or life in general. (I’ll probably write more about Kanji some time later just to procrastinate learning them.)
If you like to know more I’d gladly introduce you to Tofugu.com.It’s an absolutely amazing blog about everything that has to do with Japan. (It’s also the only blog I really read… great place to start attempting to write one, right?)
So I arrived in this formerly described place the 24th of September early afternoon after having missed my connective flight in Nagoya. Whoever thought it was possible to get through all the legal procedures of entering a country in like 5 minutes. And then there’s queuing and finding your luggage and getting to your gate and stuff. That being said the airport staff was extremely helpful and lovely. And they spoke English. Which is notable.
However I arrived and fortunately the housing agency also employs one lady capable of the English language. But they didn’t have internet. Which left me quite lost without a proper dictionary or map. I managed to find a Konbini – Convenience Store – where I bought a salad, a pre-cooked portion of rice and some disgustingly salty vegetable juice. I also found a phone box which said “International Calls” but it wouldn’t work for me. And neither did the mobile of course.
Therefore I spend the first few days almost crying about not having any connection to the rest of the world (nope, real life doesn’t count since I don’t understand it anyway) and trying to piece together my apartment. It came with a fridge, microwave, washing machine, stove, heater, water heater, desk, chair and a built-in closet and kitchen. Everything else I got mostly from a 100-Yen shop (comparable to a 1 £/€/$ shop) because until about two weeks ago it was the only place I could find for household things. We’ll see how long I’ll be able to use them, the kitchen towel is falling apart already. Finding a drying rack was probably the most difficult because laundry racks here are usually made for hanging them. Most Japanese homes seem to have a balcony with poles so no problem there but except the water pipes maybe there’s no such thing in my apartment. I finally managed to find one ‘though so yay for clean clothes. Well at least kind of because washing machines here use cold water and not much time. Really glad I don’t have small children.
In Oodori park
School started on the 1st of October and I’m in the afternoon class. Still don’t get to sleep very long usually. Until I had internet I would get to school as early as possible to steal their WiFi and find out how to get it in my apartment. Also garbage is to be put out before 8.30am and not the evening before. This leaves me with a morning to be filled with supermarkets, homework, cleaning and other fun things.
School is great. Students come from all over the world and our teachers are really good. And the staff speaks all kinds of languages and is super helpful so as long as there was no internet the number one place to go for anything I didn’t understand. We already had a couple of events: A welcome party for the new students, a trip to an aquarium and a Halloween party. The latter was probably the most fun as some students prepared a kind of real life version of an escape the room game. And of course costumes. I dressed up as The Woman In Black ‘cause why would anyone miss a chance to look like themselves in 100 years and wear goth without being a weirdo?
Except that I haven’t been up to much. Went shopping once and that’s a great thing about Sapporo: You can go to so many places barely ever going outside. The subway stations in the center (Sapporo Eki, Oodori, Susukino, Bus Center Mae and probably a few more) are linked to a crazy maze of underground shopping malls which intersect with 15+ story department stores and canopied shopping streets. I guess it makes sense considering the extreme winter.
So yeah. Not sure what to write about really, whacha wanna hear? There’s a few things I could think of that might be interesting (food, cooking, candy and did I mention food?) but other than that… ? Please let me know if there’s anything that you’d like to know about. And if you’re just bored and want to forget about my existence, great, more spare time for me.
And sorry for the totally unrelated pictures. Will bring the camera with me more often, promise.