First time in Japan

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April 29th 2009
Published: April 30th 2009
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Breakwater ViewBreakwater ViewBreakwater View

Coming into the harbor.
Finally made it to Sasebo, Japan. This place is such a culture shock and difference from anything I've ever experienced. It's beauty, racism and efficient work all rolled into one. I guess I'll take the good with the bad though.

I heard so many mixed reviews of Japan, but most seemed to agree that they didn't like Sasebo. So, I tried to go in with as much of an open mind as I could muster. We pulled in on a Monday morning, getting to the pilot pick up point at about 8am. For anyone who doesn't know, I'm supposed to go up to the bridge to make sure the guys put up the flags at the right time. Honestly, I'm not needed by any stretch of the imagination, but it's really neat to watch the dance that makes up a port transit.

Anyway... the morning was somewhat chilly, very windy and the coffee hot. Can anyone in the Navy do anything without coffee? I think not. The Japanese pilot came on board to assist in transiting the harbor, he was sooooo cute! Of course I have heard that the Japanese are very
Me and SalMe and SalMe and Sal

Look at that smile!
small, this older gentleman was no exception. It made me want to pinch his cheeks. Of course, that might have been some sort of international incident, so I managed to restrain myself. He was bowing all over himself though, guess the recession has hit their job quite a bit as well.

I took a quick shot with one of my guys, OSSN Salagubang. He's the baby of my crew, though can be vastly more mature than his older peers sometimes. He's so quiet though... cool to get a photo with him. I need to get one of all the guys.

On the way into the inner harbor, we passed quite a few fishing boats, loads of Japanese small boys and something I never expected to see... Indian ships! Who knew India has such a strong Naval presence? Apparently it's enough that they're doing a joint exercise with Japan. I saw one of their supply ships, a couple of small boys and one larger ship that looked similar to an amphibious ship. When I finally got out in town, there were Indian guys everywhere! Unfortunately, they gave me a "knowing" look, one not so
BYRD bowBYRD bowBYRD bow

Try saying that 3 times fast... hehe
great thing about some parts of India... American women are all very immoral you know. Ugh!!! As if! Anyway, I said something to one of them in Tamil and the guy about took me out he was so happy.

So Sasebo reminds me of my hometown of Knoxville, TN. There are some businesses and high rises, but it's really just a small city with a little bit of shopping and lots of beautiful outdoorsy spots. Though I bought 2 books on Japan, this city is never mentioned. You'd think that booksellers would realize that the military kids will buy books like that upon any new port visit. One item to note here in the area is that they're famous for their ceramic pottery. I haven't been to any of the factories but that's one of the major Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) trips for sailors to go on.

So far I've been to the Ginza (or Arcade), the shopping mall type area and a few side streets. I'll have to make a separate entry on my first night out in Sasebo. That was fun, funny and a little hard to remember... too
Japanese warshipJapanese warshipJapanese warship

Strikingly familiar and similar to ours...
much sake (even though it was only like 4 glasses throughout the evening). I went to a rotary sushi place, reminded me a lot of a Waffle House, don't know how else to explain it. Also, there was a lovely tempura place that I'd like to go back to. Maybe they'll let me take their picture, it's the cutest little place. Brittany and I went there and had miso, tempura and rice. It was less than $9 and was the best tempura I've ever had (of course). They put ground up radishes and ground ginger on a plate to add to the tempura sauce. I always wondered why that gravy stuff tasted so bland in the States!

I haven't really found a trip for this weekend yet, though Nagasaki is about 2 hours away. It makes me think of my Papa and the beautiful yet disturbing photos he has from WWII post bomb drop. I'd like to be able to take some photos down there. Some people have told me that it's a very depressing area to go to, but I like to think of it as an area of hope and rebirth. Guess that's the
Misty morningMisty morningMisty morning

The terrain here was varied. From limestone formation to terraced hillsides to mountains.
hippie coming out in me again. I just don't want to go anywhere by myself, though I really don't want to commit my weekend to hanging out with my boss either. It's a fine line I walk.

On a bright and hopeful note, I'm totally loving my job. It takes some long hours at times but other times (like today), I'm off by noon and enjoying liberty in the new area. It's been very rewarding though, I feel like I'm finally doing a good job again and not second guessing myself. My last boss really did a number to my working self esteem, can't believe I let that happen. Well, job satisfaction for me is on the rise, thank goodness! It makes being away from Jeremy that much easier to handle. If I had anything close to the last workplace, I would resign yesterday. 😊

I have a handful of guys that work for me and they're pretty awesome too. A couple of them drive me nuts sometimes but then there are the other couple that make me want to get out of bed and get to work the next day. Peaks and
Fishing VillageFishing VillageFishing Village

Or so it looked to me
valleys... can't appreciate the high points without the low ones, I'll take it.

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