I have no real idea what time it is.
It may be 8:00PM Japan time, but when I try to figure out what time it would be okay to call my parents back home, my clock gets all fuzzy. I think it's about 5AM there? But I have no real idea.
I have been in Japan for a total of two days now. Each day so far, around 2:00, when I am away from the computer and unable to write things down, I have great ideas for how I am going to approach this first blog - different approaches, ideas, stories to tell, already in just two days. Should I focus on the things that have been frustrating? Should I talk about the way Ted Tsutsumi, one of my bosses, limps everywhere he goes but still takes the stairs instead of the elevator? Should I discuss how weird it is to be thrown into teaching still jet lagged and feeling a bit ill? Should I discuss my night in Narita at all, or should I leave that for another time?
There are a lot of things I could cover. And a lot I don't have time for right now. See, it's 8PM, and I'm already sleepy. At about 4PM, I was having trouble writing my name. I had to fill out the same form three times: the first, my writing was neat enough for the Japanese man to decipher. The second, I put the wrong address down for my home address in the states. The third was thankfully done closely enough to right that they let me go on.
Forms. I think that's what most of my life for the past 48 hours has consisted of. Forms forms forms. There are forms for the bank, forms for alien registration, forms for customs, forms for getting my stamp, forms for taxes, forms for getting my rebates. Forms that I don't even know the purpose of but had to fill out anyway.
One interesting thing in Japan might just be their proclivity for signs, forms, and warnings. On the highway, there are mile markers (or kilometer markers, as the case is here) like you would find in the US...only between these mile markers are denotations of decreasing 10 point decimals. For example, between mile markers 7 and 8, you would see 7.9, 7.8, 7.7, every few yards. A bit unnecessary, if you ask me.
And then there's the stamp. Apparently, for official documents, a signature is not enough. Instead, each person (or most people, I guess), carry around a small stamp, as in an ink stamp. This stamp has the lettering for their name on it, and after a signature or in lieu of one, they put the stamp in red ink. I, too, now have a stamp, with the katama (Japanese script for foreign words) for "Anderson" on it. It's a cute little wooden piece, and I received a complementary case from the lady at the stamp shop with a little red ink pad in it.
However, as awesomely cool as it may be to have a stamp with the katama for my name on it...this process doesn't make much sense to me. What if someone steals my stamp? Or, more likely, what's to differentiate people with the same last name?
As one of my fellow Americans told me today, eventually you just stop asking why. And to some extent, I already have. I'm not asking why in the world they think that paper sticking to and covering the windows is somehow better at blocking daylight than a curtain (it's not). I'm not asking why they sort the trash into color coded bags. I'm not asking why their tubs wouldn't fit a 10 year old, much less a 5'8" 24 year old American. I'm not asking why they repeat times and dates, but don't tell me why I need to know them.
What I am asking is: Where the heck is my office?
PS: Blog post taking from a tshirt I found in the local department store. And no, the "b" is not a typo.