This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

Arrival in Japan: Spring Term 2012

At last I’m in Japan.

It’s taken me a few days to pull through the fog and disorientation of screaming west through multiple time zones, but finally, I’m starting to find my equilibrium. It feels good to be in my little, humble Japanese apartment with time to regroup after the action of the last few days. On Monday, the A-Team (aka my parents) enthusiastically and heroically braved the middle-of-the-night wake-up (2:30am) to drive me to Denver International Airport so I could be there by 4:30, two hours before my departure at 6:30.

The Troopers at DIA.

After a three-hour layover in Los Angeles, I boarded the plane that would transport me to Tokyo – 11 1/2 hours of jetting across the Pacific Ocean. The plane was not full and I had the luxury of an empty seat next to me. I watched movies, ate, read, tried unsuccessfully to sleep and listened to my Japanese audio lesson. I still did not know much Japanese when I landed. In time…

After claiming my luggage and going through customs, I located the Westgate desk at the airport. As I expected, the staff there were very welcoming. Several other teachers were gathered there, including a few who were on my flight, although we didn’t meet on the plane. I was also glad to meet the woman who interviewed me and with whom I’ve been in contact via email for the last several months. I’ll get to see more of her and the other teachers and staff at our orientation tomorrow.

First impressions:

  • Taking the train from the airport, I was not struck by anything too extraordinary. In fact, the surroundings were reminiscent of the eastern U.S. in spring – green, fresh and overcast from recent rain – it reminded me of parts of New York I’ve been to outside of the city.
  • My apartment is in a compact neighborhood with a train station nearby. I have yet to explore all of it, but what I’ve seen so far is neat and orderly – a kind of micro-burb with small, brick two-story homes and apartment buildings set close together. Some have tiny yards and gardens adjacent.
  • I can’t help but make comparisons to China. In fact, on my first night here I kept thinking I was in China. But the differences are becoming more apparent: People do not stare. It’s cleaner. The traffic (at least in my area) is not that chaotic or congested. People drive on the left side of the road which will take some getting used to.
  • Lots of rain! I’ve only been here three days, but it has been cloudy and rainy the whole time.

The day after our arrival, Yukari, another Westgate staff person, took four of us to get our paperwork taken care of. We had to apply for an Alien Registration Card, health insurance and a bank account. It took most of the morning but was a good way to get a feel for the area and provided a chance to get to know some of the other teachers.


There are a few things I still need to figure out: Most importantly, I need to find a place to run. Colm, one of the returning teachers told me there’s a river with a path nearby that would be good for running, so hopefully I’ll find that soon.

Our schedule has allowed for a couple free days before our orientation which has been helpful in getting adjusted to our surroundings. Things are off to a good start and I’m excited about meeting my students next week!


12 responses to “Arrival in Japan: Spring Term 2012

  1. Chris Bass May 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Robyn, I enjoyed reading your blog, almost as much as I enjoyed Grandma’s report on your arrival in Japan during lunch today. We love you and are enjoying your adventures.

    • Robyn May 7, 2012 at 4:14 am

      Thanks Chris! She had some good questions and was really interested in the details, especially about sleeping on a futon on the floor!

  2. Jannele Mastin May 4, 2012 at 9:10 am

    So glad you made it without much of a hitch. It’ll be fun to see how your experience takes shape and what discoveries await you! Have fun, Rob! Have some good sushi! (Maya’s jealous. She’s learning how to make sushi.)
    love, Roo and clan

    • Robyn May 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      The packaged sushi is exactly like what is sold in stores in the U.S. I wondered if it would be the same. Looking forward to trying it in restaurants soon!

  3. Aunt Carylon Edwards May 4, 2012 at 8:55 am

    So glad you are there. What an incredible journey you are on once again. You are in our thoughts pretty girl! Living vicariously through you – love ya – Aunt Carylon.

  4. Chapin Thomas May 4, 2012 at 3:40 am

    Enjoyed your post and look forward to hearing the adventure unfold. Enjoy.

    tom (snake hips)

  5. Uncle Dan May 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks for the update, almost feels like I’m there (I said almost)………………….

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