I’m sitting on my bed eating “ebisen,” this super tasty, super artificial shrimp cracker/chip thing. Yum.
Let me see… work. I’ve never actually worked in a “western office” environment, but I know this: the Japanese office environment is WAY different. I get there at 8:40am, 5 minutes before I’m suppose to be there. Other people are either already there, and look like they’ve been there for a while; or dwindle in – it depends ENTIRELY on the department. However, even if it seems that some employees come a bit later, they all do overtime. I’ve even done overtime every day so far… anywhere from 45 minutes to 75 minutes.
My coworkers are nice, they can manage to say nothing except good-morning and good-bye. Except, good-bye is more like “Please excuse me for leaving” if there’s someone (anyone) in the office when they leave. Osakani shitsurei shimasu. Yes, the office is quiet. Then there’s the chimes. At certain times of the day, begin-work, lunch-start, lunch-end, end-work, etc, a chime will play. This chime is different depending on the department, I believe. The best is the company song. The Sanyo-song. It’s a small melody with a gentle blend of instruments of the classical theme. It plays at lunch time, when the lights are dimmed. Or is that the exercise song? The factory workers have an exercise song, telling them to do there daily exercises – apparently this is taken very seriously, and is entertaining to watch. Of course, that’s the thing about Japan: everything is very serious.
Mmmm.. these ebisen sure are delicious. They’re like cheetos or something equally artificial; they dissolve in your mouth.
The food here is good. I like Japanese food. The food at the company cafeteria is better than the food at the dormitory cafeteria, because there’s lots more choice. The prices are very cheap compared to an average meal at a restaurant in Japan. Japan’s very expensive. Japan wa totemo takai desu ne. On the weekend, we went to Nagoya (I’m so glad some of the other interns here have already done this stuff, I’d be lost without them – literally). Going to Nagoya wasn’t too bad. We got to ride these sexy bikes (single gear, drooping handle bars, bell, and basket included) to the train station. That was a nice ride, actually. I really enjoyed that, and it wasn’t long at all – 10 minutes? At the train station, we pay 720 yen to go to Nagoya, and the ride lasts somewhere around 35 minutes, if I remember. Then we get on a subway for 3 stops (just a few minutes), and that costs another 200 yen. So, a round trip to Nagoya on the (slow) train is about $20 CDN, to put it in perspective. That’s not including lunch or anything like that. The typical (cheap) lunch is about 800yen, almost $10 CDN again.
The bike I used that day when going to Nagoya was one I borrowed from Sanyo. We can sign out bikes, but they have to be back the same day… not good if you want to go out overnight. So, after everyone else had bought a bike, and scoped out the best deal, I got myself my very own Japanese style bike. I call it Japanese style, because you just don’t see people riding bikes like this in Canada… or, if you do, you just feel sorry for them. Here, however, it’s totally different. These are actually perfect for where we are. The area is very flat, so the single gear is not a problem at all. The chain is fully guarded so you won’t get grease on your clothes (many people use these bikes to ride to work or school or even “out for a night in town”). The basket at the front is extremely useful! There’s the bell, which also has it’s purpose. They each have a battery-less light, that when engaged make it a little more difficult to pedal due to the fact that you’re now pedaling to power the light, as well. They are all self-locking and include a form of kickstand. These bikes are PERFECT for this lifestyle. The bike I got was the cheapest we found: 5700 yen. That’s maybe $80 CDN. Not bad, not bad.