• 26 . 03 . 04
  • My arrival in Japan, March 2004.

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The Guides who were due to meet the new recruits at the airport were late, which led me to believe that perhaps the Japanese weren’t as punctual as is commonly held. I should have known better – they eventually strolled up to us around 45 minutes late and were Australian and Irish, two nationalities not particularly noted for their timekeeping.

My new home town of Gifu is almost exactly in the centre of Honshu, the main Japanese island. The journey from KIX Airport was about 280Km, and took a little under 2 hours, including multiple changes and a delay because we got to a platform 45 seconds late. The trains really seem to be that reliable. I’m sure this might become a problem in the future given the “known issue” with my timekeeping. Last year the Shinkansen (bullet train) was reportedly 2 minutes late over the entire year! It really does move like a bullet, although its peculiar front face mean I can’t shake my initial impression that it looks like a duck billed platypus.

I think I’ve been quite lucky with my apartment. It’s in a quiet part of town and isn’t huge, but bigger than I was expecting, and I’m told bigger than others. Behind the apartment block on two sides is Mt Kinka, atop which stands a famous Japanese castle, which is a suitably impressive view from my bedroom each morning.

I’m living with two other guys, a Brit called Jack, and Clay, a Canadian. He leaves on Wednesday, which is a shame because he seems to have led a rich and varied life, and has lots of interesting stories to tell. On the plus side, when he goes I get to have a bigger room, a balcony and an even nicer view. Clay’s being replaced by an Australian 5 days later, so Jack will have two new housemates to contend with. For the time being, there’s not much to do. Work orientation is on Monday, so until then it’ll just be exploring and relaxing.

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