February 13th 2014 – the day we chose to move to Tokyo. 6 months have been and gone since that early morning confirmation call. It was a surprisingly tough choice having to choose between Tokyo and Kuala Lumpar. There are more lady boys in KL for sure. Alan Partridge would be in his element. We definitely thought that Tokyo would be much tougher in almost every aspect. I think deep down we both liked that, knowing Japan would be a totally alien culture and lifestyle to anything we’ve been accustomed to previously.
Fast forward a little over 6 months. Most of our possessions had been shipped, our visas sorted, 11 hour-long Japanese lessons in the bank, accommodation arranged, some (but not much) chopstick practise. And we were on our way!
It’d been tough saying goodbye to everyone – friends and family – but it’s not forever and it’ll certainly be a great holiday for anyone who’s able to visit! Our journey from Bristol to Tokyo was pretty long but generally pain-free. I found £20 at the airport. The flight was as smooth as you’ll ever get. We managed to watch 3 films that we’d planned to see at the cinema but hadn’t gotten round to. The only hiccup in the trip was having to sit on the plane for 30 minutes at Narita airport waiting for another plane to move out of our docking bay. However, having had the last few weeks at work sitting around trying to be busy when actually I had nothing to do, I was well prepared for such tedium.
Getting through customs was easy. They didn’t check any of our bags and it made me wish I’d brought my crack pipe along! We’d bumped into a few other newbie teachers in the arrivals section whilst waiting for our baggage to finally arrive. After getting our alien cards we made our way to the school bus. Everyone we met was very friendly and outgoing. For most people new to the British School Tokyo, Japan is a new experience. A couple have been here before, which is great as they’ve been able to direct me to the seediest places straight away! And they’ve told us about lots of cool bars and random must-see places too. No doubt we’ll discover just how bizarre this city is in no time.
The journey from Narita into central Tokyo took about 90 minutes. Coming into the city was stunning. The Manhatton-esque skyline is a sight to behold. The newly built Skytree tower – the second biggest structure on Earth – is visible from miles away. I literally cannot wait to go up there! We drove straight into Shibuya, past the crossing (Google it – it’s incredible!). The school is just around the corner and we headed there for a brief welcome before heading to our apartments. By now, we’d been awake for around 25 hours and I was feeling grouchy beyond belief. Plus it’s so damn hot and humid I’m constantly sweating like Cliff Richard’s defence lawyer! Thankfully though, the welcome was short and we were taken to our new flat just a short journey up the road.
Our flat appears to be in a really affluent area. Lots of really smart-looking houses, each one different to the next. They’re small but very tidy-looking. Our flat is huge! I wish we’d shipped out more of our stuff from back home – we would’ve had we known! For now though we’ll have to make do with the luggage we brought on the plane. Our shipping is in the country but it’ll need to be approved through customs before it’s delivered to the flat.
To finish the long day, we met up with all the other teachers and went for a traditional Japanese meal. As you can imagine, I was full of dread when I saw the set menu food coming out! Bowls of sushi, bowls of fish and salad, bowls of barely cooked meats. Despite knowing my guts wouldn’t be thankful, I found some pretty tasty gems hidden in the meal. By the end of the night I was full, which was good as it meant we didn’t have to find a Dominos on the way home! I think we made a couple of friends too. All in all, a VERY long day, but a great start to the trip.