Published: September 4th 2010September 4th 2010
Konnichiwa! Greetings from Japan!
So, quick update on my life.
1. I am no longer a resident of the European Union. I have cut all ties with Douai, and my visa has expired. le sigh.
2. My mother and I survived Africa. It was tough, hot, and sweaty, but we made it through alive (and no parasites this time!)
3. I spent a brief three weeks in the US, running around Pittsburgh and getting dragged to the gym twice a day in Ohio by my mother. I unpacked all my black, French clothes and packed up my shorts, bathing suits, and tank tops.
4. I moved to Japan! Now I live in Chatan on the tropical island of Okinawa with my wonderful boyfriend, Chris. And I got a job! But I have to wait several weeks for my background check to go through. In the mean time, I'm running around Chatan, hanging out at Jusco (the super-overwhelming Japanese department store with a HELLO KITTY DEPARTMENT), and trying to learn how to use Chris' Japanese appliances (I can now use the oven-microwave-tea maker(?) without burning down the house). And I'm running away to Tokyo on Tuesday to
see my fellow Douai survivor, Ellie!
We live about twenty seconds away from the sea wall, so I spend many a morning (and sometimes afternoon) walking along the wall, staring out at the East China Sea. About eight minutes away is a beach! I haven't gone sunbathing or swimming yet because I only just got a beach towel, but I wandered past the beach into what I assume was a collection of shrines and/or mini-mausoleums. In between dodging the mangy cats seeking shelter in the shade, I climbed down to the tiny, hidden beaches. The water is literally turquoise, and the sky is unbelievably blue. It's so beautiful here.
Except when there is a typhoon. Typhoon Kompasu passed through Okinawa on Tuesday. We got phone calls, twitter and facebook updates, news on the radio, etc. about this horrific typhoon that was going to absolutely destroy the island. I read up on military websites about how I should stock up on food and water, tie down everything that could ever possibly move, and fill up the bathtubs with water. We made an effort (read: we went to Family Mart and bought pizza-flavored chips, fanta, and ice cream), and
we kept an eye on Twitter as the status rose all the way to TCCOR-1-emergency (the highest level). Chris got the day off work (typhoon day is the tropical island equivalent of a snow day), and we hunkered down and were prepared to wait it out. Aaaaand, nothing really happened. Yeah, it was rainy, gray, and windy, but that was it! So disappointing!
Today, we decided to risk going out in the remnants of yet another typhoon (so lame that is got demoted from a tropical storm down to nothing) and drove up to the Churaumi Aquarium with two of Chris' coworkers. The Okinawa tourist websites claim it's the largest aquarium in Japan and the second largest in the world, though it looks like it has since been bumped down to 3rd largest in the world due to a massive aquarium in a shopping mall in Dubai. The aquarium itself turned out to be disappointingly small...they get credit for being so big based on gallons of water, not size of the building, number of exhibits, etc. The main tank was INCREDIBLE, however, full of giant manta rays and enormous whale sharks. It was beyond crowded, though, and I'm
surprised I didn't trample a tiny Japanese child. Afterwards, we ate at a Japanese buffet...turns out sweet potatoes here are purple (!) and are delicious both deep fried AND as ice cream. Who knew? Our plans to watch the dolphins were thwarted by the rain, so we ducked into the manatee building. We thought we were in the clear and decided to visit the traditional Okinawan village...turns out it was up zillions of stairs, under construction, and it started pouring. After getting lost in the parking garage, we took the loooong way home, listening to hard core rap in the pouring rain.
Well, I should get back to pretending to study Japanese and buying Hello Kitty stickers to decorate my new cell phone.
There are more photos below