The year abroad adventures of a Scottish otaku in the North of Japan

Monthly Archives: August 2013

I’m currently writing up a week’s worth of stuff for my first major Japan post but, as an interim, here’s a few piccies of my fantabuluos new room 🙂


The bedroom (my roommate still isn’t here,so I can only show you my bit):


The toilet – how nifty is the whole toilet/sink thing?


The bathroom:


The kitchen (not looking forward to cooking with only one hotplate):


The hallway – yes, I had to lug my suitcase up all those stairs….


….and a few things that make it all worth it!

As you might be able to tell – I had a bit of a stressful landing in Tokyo. My only excuse for my grumpy attitude in this post is the lack of sleep/jetlag (^^)


What can I say? It was 6.30 in the morning after a long and sleepless flight and this official is asking me if I speak Japanese. At my answer (a little) I get a rapid quick fire Japanese speech (or at least it seemed like it) –  I also had to wait while he sorted out my Gaijin Card (Foreign Residency Card). All this while worrying about trying to catch my 7.45 Akita flight – which leads nicely on to……

Connecting Flights

Anyone else tried to get a connecting flight at Haneda with less than an hour to get there? It’s a nightmare…By this point, I’d found a German guy (Sebastian) who’d been on my plane and was also going to Akita, and we were both racing for this flight. With Haneda airport, you have to get a bus to the Domestic Terminal, re-check in your baggage, find the check in desk (if you haven’t already checked in), race through security and then run for a flight that has 30 mins until take off. I swear they picked the furthest away gate for me, just for the craic! We did make it there on time (and I even had time to find a water fountain), and found Elena and Keirsten (both UCLan – University of Central Lancashire to you folks) who both ended up on the same flight.

The inevitable illness

As I mentioned earlier, eating Japanese food can, at first, do nasty things to your stomach. Unfortunately it decided to wait until I was on my final flight to take effect. Let’s just say I was very ill – I’m only just recovering over 24hrs later….

On the other side, despite the stressful arrival, I’m in friggin Japan! That more than make up for all the rubbish on the journey! It’s killer humid here and the cicadas make one hell of a racket, but it’s Japan. End of.

Also making up for Haneda being a stressful airport was this sitting on the runway by my gate:

Once I can get a LAN cable for the internet, I’ll be able to update more frequently, but for now またね!

This is it! Got no sleep last night, left the house at 02.30, joined the 3.46 club on bbc radio 2 and now I have an hour to wait for my gate number (it’s 04.20….I so don’t want to be awake now). I’ll keep you posted – if I don’t fall asleep at Frankfurt…

Days to go: 5 DAYS!
It’s the Final Countdown (da-na-na-na, da-na-na-na-na)! That song will now be stuck in your head for at least 10 minutes, readers – yes that applies to both of you! Hopefully my blog will get a little more interesting from here on out, as I won’t just be waffling about packing…
So before I go, here’s a nice list of things to do before you go:
1. Tidy/Hoover your room
I know this sounds like common sense/nagging but seriously, do you want to come back to a tip in a year’s time? It also means that if your parents decide to rent out/loan your room to relatives while you’re away, you needn’t worry about them standing on/breaking important items that may live in the floor/floordrobe.
2. Go out for dinner/a coffee with your parents/friends
Remember: you’re going away for a whole year – this is the perfect time to catch up with people, or one last ‘setting the world right’ session face-to-face before you have to do it over Skype. That’s just not the same!
3. Let the bank know you’re going abroad
This is a must! You don’t want to be running out of money in a foreign country, only to find your card has been blocked – banks will think it has been stolen. Best thing is to go into your local branch and just let them know where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone – it only takes 5 minutes, so don’t put it off!
4. Check your case
Don’t let last minute packing catch you out. Double check the weight of your luggage, double check your list of packed items, make sure the last-minute items are ready to go, check all the liquids in your hand luggage are easy to access and the right size. All common sense, but still….just check!
5. Try to get along with your sister/brother/hell-child of a sibling
As in the previous point, this is the last time you’re going to see your family for a while – don’t leave things on a bad note. Put aside those grudges and enjoy your last little while at home. It’s inevitable that stress/excitements/panic will be causing tension in the house, but don’t let this amazing experience abroad ruin your standing relationship with your family.
I’m speaking from experience here: I had a huge argument with my mum last week after everything came to a head, and that got everything out in the open before I left. Similarly, don’t spend all your time, before you leave, packing and sorting out year abroad things – play with your little brother or sister, help your mum make dinner, offer to babysit. Just spend time with everyone as much as you can.
Any other suggestions? Leave a comment below 🙂

Days to go: 11 DAYS!
I think I’ve found a suitable haiku that describes things rather well:

Traveller’s heart
never settled long in one place
like a portable fire.

Matsu Bashou


Days to go: 14 DAYS

Wow, I never knew I was so impatient! I think I must’ve packed my suitcase about 4 times, written about a dozen lists of things I need to do before I go and even checked out what the films will be on my flight (looking forward to Iron Man 3, btw)…

My most recent way of stemming the impatience was to create a “homesickness book” (an idea I picked up from which basically contains photos of family, pets and other oddities, little notes from my family, favourite lyrics, even pictures of my room (mess and all). Hopefully I won’t need it, but I’m hoping that if I do end up homesick, I can simply look at it and be cured of all ailments…maybe I can patent it and sell it internationally!

I’ve also been thinking about foods I might miss while I’m in Japan, and failing miserably I might add. All I’ve come up with are some mini bars of Dairy Milk and packets of Refreshers. I don’t think customs will take it lightly if I try to smuggle in a haggis….try explaining what one of those is to anyone not from Scotland (and believe me, I’ve tried – in Japanese). Bearing in mind haggis is still banned in the USA, I don’t think my chances are high.

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