Hello everyone, my name is Geo, and welcome to my blog! I’m an American writer and engineer who has recently moved to Japan, so I will be using my Travel Blog “Adventures of Geo” to bring you updates and snapshots of what that life looks like, from grand adventures to simple pleasures and discoveries.
Until this past summer, I worked as an aerospace engineer on rocket engine and spacecraft development, but when the company that employed me went underwater, I decided to take a leap of 10,000 miles to the other side of the globe to learn new skills and have new experiences. I’m living in the Tokyo area and attending a Japanese language school in Shinjuku. There is no big endgame other than I want to develop a useful fluency in a foreign language like so many of my other friends, and in turn, expand my world to be a little bit larger. Follow along with me over the coming weeks and months and we’ll all see how this experiment turns out!
I arrived in Japan a little over two weeks ago, flying from LAX to Narita on a shiny new 787. It’s a different sensation traveling somewhere for a quick leisure trip versus actually immigrating, it’s equal parts excitement and dreadful inevitability, where you reflect on the choices you made, and wonder about where they will bring you and if they were the correct ones.
Getting through immigration was fairly straightforward, and helped to calm my anxieties a bit. I was separated from the herd of tourists and returning natives, and ushered into a small room with what looked like 5 Chinese students. Our paperwork was processed by uninterested looking immigration officers, and we were issued our “Zairyu Cards”, formal identification for all foreign residents living in Japan. From the airport, I had to get on three different trains and drag my 69lb suitcase up the long street to my new home, a small apartment at a sharehouse in Koganei, a city about 10 miles west of downtown Tokyo.
My apartment is 11 square meters (about 100 square feet) of space to call well and truly my own. I have a tatami mat floor, a small fridge, small balcony, and small bathroom. Relatively high class living compared to some other rooms in this sharehouse which hold only enough space for a bed, and little else. The entire set-up costs 85,000 yen/month. Utilities such as internet and electricity, are included.
The residents here are all 20 or 30-somethings, about half Japanese, and half foreigners from all over, including a handful of Americans. It’s sort of like a private dormitory with shared laundry room, kitchen area, and recreational spaces.
Koganei as a city is kind of like any other outskirt neighborhood of a larger city. It’s not quite a suburb, but it’s not a high rise business district either. It’s mostly residential buildings with scattered restaurants, businesses, and convenience stores interspersed throughout. To be honest it’s rather quiet and comfortable, and I’ll be showing a lot more of the locales in future posts.
It’s a 15-20 minute walk down the main avenue to the train station that takes me into the city, resulting in about a 1 hour total commute from door to door, apartment to school. One thing that struck me the most after getting settled was generally how quiet Japan feels. People on the street don’t speak much (in general), the cars don’t make much noise (in general) and the entire world seems a bit more tame than the wild visions of living among millions of other people in one of the larger cities in the world.
My classmates, like me, are foreigners from all over. A lot from other Asian countries such as China and Taiwan and Indonesia, but also a remarkably high proportion of Swedes and Italians. Far more than North Americans like me, that’s for sure. Many are people fresh out of high school or university and 10 years my junior, but I still have enough energy to keep up for the occasional social gathering, such as the GoGoNihon welcome party hosted in Ikebukuro shortly after I arrived.
I’ll profile more people and places periodically as this blog continues. If there are any particular places you think I should visit, or any specific info you would like on an aspect of what life over here is like, please leave a comment and let me know what’s on your mind! I look forward to sharing my experiences with you in the year to come.