I need an iron and ironing board! :(

Yesterday was cool. Very cool. But I’ll get back to that. Gotta maintain the chronological-ness of everything, you see.

Mostly, last week at work was reading. Lots of reading. So, it wasn’t exactly very fun, but there wasn’t any pressure, either, so that was nice. I got many things over the last week. Tuesday, we went to the bank and the Anpachi town office, where I got my “Alien registration card” and a bank account! Sweet! While we were at the bank, I asked my advisor where a good place to buy a tv was. You see, by this time, I was the only one at the dormitory without a tv, it seemed. And two of the other interns got tvs leant to them from co-workers. My advisor told me I could use a tv he had in his office that he didn’t use. Cool! But, I don’t get it… do Japanese keep all this extra stuff around just to give it to people? I hope he really didn’t use it. Anyways, I got a nice, small SANYO tv in my room now. My advisor even bought a cable after he left work that same day, and delivered it himself to my dormitory room! I was, to say the least, shocked. And my room was a mess…. =/

My supervisor was kind enough to help me out with getting a cell phone and wireless internet. The phone people don’t speak a drop of English, it seems… and the plans and everything are extremely complicated. I spent SO MUCH TIME asking about phones and plans, and waiting for a translation, etc. The phone I wanted was apparently popular and I would have to wait at least a week before they would get it at that location, and I hadn’t actually ordered it yet. (We have a cell phone shop, among other things, in one of the company cafeterias). There was a long time spent talking about the wireless internet, as well. Would it work from the dormitory? o_O After testing it with cell phones, the signal seemed OK, so I had decided I would go for that particular card. (It is a wireless card, and the service area is very good as long as you stay within civilization – so I could use it on the trains, and pretty much anywhere in Japan that I may go… just no the “country”). It is also endless access at 64kbits/sec. Not bad.

Yesterday, Friday, eventually came rolling around. It seemed to take a while. I was suppose to accompany my supervisor and another coworker to Nagoya for a demonstration by a professor (who is a research partner of Sanyo) at Nagoya Institute of Technology. Sanyo gives the school money (a LOT) and the professor does research for Sanyo and provides results exclusively to Sanyo. Typical stuff, I suppose. We were suppose to leave at 10am – my supervisor would be driving. Cool. I was looking forward to it. However, I wanted to order my phone before the long weekend came. I asked my supervisor if he could help me do it before we left. “Sure, no problem.” Awesome. We went to the shop at 9:15am; no good, they’re closed. We ask a person at the travel shop next to it when they open. 10:00am. Okay, the plan was slowly changing. My supervisor said it would be good to request the phone today so as I wouldn’t have to wait so long for it. I, of course, agreed (very passively). So, he said we could postpone leaving a bit and work out the cell phone documents. We returned to the cell phone shop at 10:15am. There was a woman employee there, but she was also waiting for someone else to come with the keys. She appologized many times, took my supervisor’s office phone number, and said she would call when the other person arrives and opens shop (late). *sigh*

At this point, I felt bad; because I wanted a cell phone my supervisor was changing his plans for the day. Initially, he asked me if I had been to Nagoya castle. He was very surprised when I said I had. Then after talking with my advisor (the boss of our department) he asked me if I had been to Nagoya tv tower. Nope. Okay, he said he would take me to Nagoya tv tower before going for the demonstration. Cool. But, I got the impression that wasn’t going to happen now.

A while later, we returned to the shop after receiving a call from the woman. As it turns out, they had the exact phone I wanted, for some reason! Even the same colour! She said she would put it aside for me. COOL! We explained our situation and when we may be back from Nagoya, and we could come back after to finish business. Off to Nagoya! We were no longer driving, now we were taking the Shinkansen! Sweet! I always wanted to ride the bullet train, but couldn’t justify the cost. Well, if the company’s paying for it, it’s all good, as far as I’m concerned. The Shinkansen is the fastest train in the world. I think someone told me it travels at upwards of 300km/hr. Holy crap! And yes, it certainly is fast, but it doesn’t seem THAT fast. All times previous that I have been to Nagoya, we took the regular train. This train has lots of stops, and travels anything but straight. It takes about 50 minutes, if I remember, correctly. The Shinkansen, however, travels in a straight line, and from Hashima to Nagoya is only one stop – 10 minutes. About 13 for boarding and stuff. Jesus! Only twice the price! Heh

At Nagoya station, we took the “sky-shuttle” (a fancy named elevator) up to Nagoya towers to eat lunch. Supervisor: “Is Italian okay?” Um… sure! Anything is okay! The restaurant we ate at seemed really fancy. We had an awesome view of Nagoya (we were, in a “tower,” after all). It was a little odd being served Italian food by Japanese, but the food was good. We got two types of bread, one of which was black, apparently dyed with squid ink. Interesting. Tasted good, though. The cheapest dish was 1500yen. Mine was 1700.

After lunch, take the subway to the Nagoya Institute of Technology. After a bit of walking, we arrived in professor Tasaka’s “waiting room.” We have to wait about half an hour. Then we are led into another room. We sit down in really nice chairs. His secretary serves us Japanese tea. Earlier, my supervisor had told me that he gets nervous talking with professor Tasaka – I now knew why. This was an extremely formal procedure. I was nervous. The professor comes in and sits down, also with a cup of tea. No one touched their tea until the professor did. A little talking and a lot of silence later, we were shown a series of demonstrations (which the professor was kind enough to give us an overview of earlier). Some were quite interesting (to me). I particularly liked playing with the haptic device. =) Back into the office to talk to the professor again (more tea). That being all wrapped up, we took the subway back to Nagoya station and hopped on the Shinkansen again.

Back at the Solar Ark, nobody was at the office. It was 5:30 or something, but it was “fureai” day, so everyone leaves (mostly) on time. I felt bad. It ended up taking FOREVER to fill out the appropriate documents and such for the cell phone and the wireless card. It was funny, all I had to do was say “arigatoo,” and the cell-phone woman was amazed. Yes, my Japanese really is that impressive. (Not). =) I wouldn’t be able to get the wireless until next week, and I wanted the year-long plan because it worked out to be cheaper. However, with the wireless year-long plan, you had to pay it ALL at ONCE. O_O That’s a lot of cash at one time. The only way I’ll be able to do it is because Sanyo’s reimbursed half of my flight costs… and it’s almost all of that. =( Me and my supervisor ended up leaving the shop at about 7pm, so we were there for a long time. But the girl was really attractive, so that helped. ^_^

After I ate dinner at the dormitory, I performed the ritual of openning a new electronic device. This is a very sacred ritual, for me. I spent the rest of the night playing with my new cell phone, half of it trying to change the language from Japanese to English.

Yesterday marked so many firsts for me, in Japan. First time I got a cell phone. First time I ate Italian in Japan. First time I ate with a fork in Japan! First time I rode the Shinkansen. First time I got to try this really cool haptic device. Yesterday was cool. ^_^

For the curious….

My new cell phone: (nothing in Canada even comes close)

  • Model: J-SH53 (J-phone is the carrier, and the phone is made by Sharp)
  • Various features:
    • 1.0 Megapixel digital camera (this is big for a phone)
    • SD Flash Memory Card slot (up to 128MB)
    • QVGA screen (320×240 high colour)
    • Tons of things (many I don’t know how to use yet): scheduler, mp3 player, java enabled, web access, I can even get the weather report whenever I want.
  • Cost: ~11000yen (I got the most expensive J-Phone model… but for what you get, that’s nothing! This thing is practically a PDA!)

My cell phone plan: ~ 3800yen / month for 50 minutes (prime) talk-time + email services, etc. Must sign for a full year for this plan.

My wireless Internet access:PCMCIA card for laptop: 0yen when signing for year Plan is for a year, and includes unlimited access at 64kbits/second. Unfortunately, I have to pay the full year’s cost right away. That’s about 53000yen. =(

If you want to do any conversions between yen and dollar, look up “currency convertor” on the net. I got tired of doing rough calculations. =)

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