Ohaiyo gozaimas

I’m sitting watching a blue baby Dory fish, exactly like the one in Finding Nemo, swimming around its tank excitedly. It darts around, an electric blue and neon yellow blur, and eyes me with suspicion. I am sat in one of the social areas of K’s House Kyoto, the hostel I have just checked in to, exhausted from my 3 and 11 hour flights from London-Helsinki-Osaka and train journey to Kyoto. Given the 8 hour time difference between England and Japan it’s no surprise I’m tired. It’s also very hot and sunny which would be lovely but I’m overdressed thanks to imbred English weather pessimism. Ii tenki desu ne? Atsui desu ne. So desu ne! I can’t wait to relax in my room, which I can’t check into until 3pm. My first bleary-eyed impressions of Japan are that it is like the Dory; bright, colourful, expensive, exotic, and beautiful. I’m sure as I get used to being here I won’t spout such hyperbolic, romanticising, orientalist Me vs. the Other guff but it is hard to ignore the different feel here, the culture shock of arrival. Japan is difficult at first because trying to adhere to new and mysterious social codes is a process of wary and sudden discovery yet obviously very important to remember in future. Katie’s first homestay family answered a few of our questions, and very kindly picked us up from Kyoto station and took us for a “Welcome lunch”. I had a nice time and appreciated it very much although I was (still am) absolutely exhausted from having had only 2 or 3 hours sleep on the flight and from the hurried rush to figure out tickets etc and running for the train. That did turn out to be a very nice and exciting train ride, although we were nervous! I’ve already tasted the deliciously sweet and ubiquitous canned iced coffee (or eisu kohii), learnt that you must not finish all of the food on your plate, that blowing your nose in public is frowned upon, that limp handshakes are favoured, that Tokyo offers cat cafes in which you may rent a cat along with your coffee, that no address is easy to find in Kyoto, and encountered my first Japanese all-singing all-dancing (almost) toilet. I have also learnt that flying Finnair is cheap because they are rubbish – they had no vegetarian food so I ended up buying an expensive pizza in Helsinki and taking it on board.

More news when I manage to get over the jet lag and drag myself out of the hostel!


Discover karaoke Japan-style
Learn how to use local transport
Avoid becoming a social recluse
Remember not to blow nose in public, and take shoes off when inside!
Do some sightseeing




One Response to “Ohaiyo gozaimas”

  1. Joanna Says:

    “Tokyo offers cat cafes in which you may rent a cat along with your coffee”

    – Paradise!

    Glad to hear you arrived safely. Very good blog entry, keep it up :op


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