We have officially been in Tokyo for one month! No longer feeling like tourists and nowhere near feeling like locals. The past four weeks have been both exhilarating and exhausting as we have begun to set up our life here in Japan. To sum up our experiences, I’ll be posting a “Living Abroad Log” each month and breaking it down by things that I love, like and that I’d rather leave. My hope is it will give you a sense of what life is like for us here as Americans in Tokyo.
- The efficiency. Things work very well here and they are fast but not too fast that the quality is diminished. I haven’t been to a DMV, but I expect great things.
- No tipping, ever! And yet, the service always ranges from very good to amazing.
- Kid friendly. Restaurants have kid settings and cups. Train stations have elevators. Department stores have play areas. Family bathrooms are everywhere.
- Food. It’s all good, and you can find any cuisine you want.
- The politeness. It’s a real thing. A McDonald’s employee actually searched for a few minutes in a completely packed restaurant and then made a group of teens move from their table (they were done eating) so we could sit down to eat. Amazing.
- The trains. They are easy to navigate (thanks Google Maps) and extremely clean and quiet. However, they do get crowded at certain times and people just jam on in – same is true of elevators.
- Driving. We have a car, we’ve done it and it’s weird… but doable and definitely necessary for certain shopping trips and weekend outings.
- Kawaii. This is the Japanese word for cute. We hear it a lot due to having a blonde, two-year old in tow. Of course everyone wants to hear that their kid is cute but a couple of times people (harmless) have rubbed William’s head which is pretty strange. I just hope they’ve gone on to receive plentiful riches from the good luck they’ve acquired.
- Taxis. I’ve yet to have a driver who knew where I was going (even when going to popular hotels). Thank God for the iPhone. A tip: just show the driver the address on your phone, it will save everyone time.
- Humidity. I knew it was going to be hot when we arrived in August but it is really humid – some days we’re at 97-99%. At least body odor isn’t an issue here, silver lining.
- Costco. Imagine the day before a holiday at your local Costco then double that. My dreams of a relaxing Saturday spent perusing wide, uncrowded aisles of warehouse deals have been crushed.
- Coins. When was the last time you used a dedicated coin purse? Probably never. I’m now on the look out for one as they use $5 and $1 coins. So many coins…
- Laundry. I’ve figured it out with our tiny machines (they work best with a half of what I consider a small load back home) but it was a learning curve.
Overall, we are having an amazingly smooth transition process. My advice to anyone thinking about moving cross-country or across the world is don’t go it alone. We have worked with an awesome relocation team which has undoubtedly made this experience enjoyable and as stress free as possible.
Stay tuned for what we discover during Month 2!