Saturday, September 20, 2008

First week in Japan

On September 16th I finally arrived in Japan. I flew on Northwest Airlines direct from Seattle to the Tokyo-Narita Airport (10.75 hours). It was the first time I've ever been on an airplane that had a power plug under my seat (for which I was very grateful). The fare was very reasonable as well, only costing about $700 for the one-way ticket.

My plan was to take a taxi from the airport to Keio's SFC (Shonan Fujisawa Campus), however my sense of scale based on looking at maps was way off. I had completely underestimated the distances involved. I ended up taking a bus to the Fujisawa station, and then taking a taxi from there to the SFC. The bus ride lasted about 2 hours, and the taxi was another 20 minutes. It cost about 4000 yen for the bus ride and another 3000 yen for the taxi drive. I touched down at about 2pm in Japan, and finally made it to the campus around 5:30pm.

I arrived at the campus and finally met with the two people with whom I'd been communicating the most. One was a woman who worked in the school's administration office, and the other was the secretary of my research lab. After getting my luggage situated in the campus's Guest House where I would be staying until finding an apartment of my own (for $35/night), I went to the research lab that I'd be spending a lot of my time in (and am currently writing this entry now). None of the students or professors were there because of a conference, so it was just the two of us at that point.

From then we began discussing apartments, and we made several calls to go see them on Friday. We ended up seeing four apartments together on Friday, and then my professor and I looked at a fifth one. Three of them were very conveniently located, but extremely old (20+ years). One of them was pretty nice, but less convenient. They ranged from about 45,000 yen to 65,000 yen a month. Each one had different amounts of initial payments, insurance, and furniture rental costs. None of them offered a bed/futon in the rental packages, so that's another hurdle I'll have to overcome down the road.

I'm trying to find a place to live near Shonandai Station. There are many buses that go from there to the SFC, and back again. There is another station called Tsujido Station near which there was another apartment we looked at. That station also has buses that travel to and from SFC. Unfortunately it took about 40 minutes to travel to that apartment (25 of which was spent on bus), which is just too long of a commute for me (The commute to Shonandai Station takes 10-15 minutes).

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