Saturday, 26 March 2016

Touchdown in Tokyo!

Finals? Done. Work? Finished. Thesis? Defended and printed! 

As the ink dries on the final chapters of my life at Oregon State University, I am already on to my next adventure! And said adventure consists of interning in Tokyo, Japan for the next 11 weeks. Like most great journeys, mine began at the airport...

Although the classic PDX carpet has long since been removed and replaced, no trip that involves the Portland airport would be complete without a picture of the carpet!

About ten hours and 4,836 miles later, Japan final came into view.

After landing, everything felt so surreal. This was a moment that had been ten years in the making (yup, I was one of those kids that always had her nose in manga or anime) and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

Disembarking from the airplane, passing customs and grabbing my luggage from baggage claim took less than 15 minutes altogether! This was hands down the fastest that I have ever gone through an airport and I can't decide if it was luck or Japanese efficiency (my money is on the later although the first definitely helps!). This might not seem like a big deal but it was to me because from the moment I landed, I was in a race against time. You see, I had to pick up the keys to my place in Sendagaya (one of 23 wards of Tokyo - so basically Tokyo but not really) from the landlord's office, which is in a totally different area. The kicker is that the office closes at 20:00. I landed at the Narita airport at 17:00 which only left me three hours to get to the office. To get there, I went by bus (the station is pictured above). After a two hour plus ride through touch and go traffic in a ride that should have taken a little over an hour, I had to navigate the area to find the landlord's office ASAP. Otherwise, I would be homeless on my first night (I knew I wanted to explore Japan, but not like this!).

Luckily, I made it to the office with 20 minutes to spare at 19:40. I definitely felt like I could take on The Amazing Race after that! After that piece of business was taken care of, I went by taxi to my new place. This was the first time I had to hail a taxi and it was equal parts daunting and exciting. I felt like I was in a movie. When the driver pulled over and I reached for the door handle, the coolest thing happened. The door opened. By itself. Like magic. Okay, it was actually done by the science of technology: the driver has a button he presses to make the door open and close so you don't have to touch the door at all. This would have been an excellent moment to make use of the phrase "open sesame!" but I missed it.

When I finally arrived at my new home, it finally hit me that I was in Japan. And no, it wasn't because of the towering buildings or the narrow streets. Nor was it because I finally had a moment to catch my breath. It was because the first thing I was greeted by after exiting the taxi was the alluring glow of vending machines.


I had anticipated running into a lot of vending machines, but not on the level of what I have seen. Vending machines are to Tokyo like Starbucks is to Seattle...there is pretty much one on every corner (at least)! There are two vending machines alone outside where I live (see above)! I have yet to encounter the famed machines that offer bananas, hot coffee, or ramen but rest assured, I will be on the lookout these upcoming weeks!

To follow me on my fun, be sure to check me out at tranjes on Snapchat and Instagram!