If you have ever wondered what it might be like to spend a bit of time in Japan, watch Lost in Translation. The portrayal of alienation is accurate whether you are a Japan rookie or an old hand. It never gets any less weird to be a foreigner here. The only exception to this statement, might be if you are foreign but visibly pass for Japanese. Those who deny the weirdness, are either lying, or are probably outcasts from their own culture. Again, this may sound bold, but I feel I have enough experience of this place, over many years, to make it.
For this trip, I have been here for nearly three weeks, and the place still confounds me as it did when I first arrived as a nervous undergraduate, undertaking my year abroad here several years ago. This time, I was responsible for my very own rookie, so being the control freak that I am, I did all of the scheduling booking and, theoretically at least, the budgeting. This was all based on the assumption that, similar to the last time I was here, wifi networks remained unprotected, and I would have at least some use of my iPhone. However thanks to Virgin Australia, the phone idea was a washout, and, it would appear, Japanese people have started protecting their wifi networks, meaning that despite being able to pick up several signals everywhere you go, they all have passwords. Contact, therefore, being restricted to hotel lobbies and the occasional friends’ house, meant a lot of getting lost and missing out on seeing people due to difficult logistics. Mapping is an essential function in Japan, due to a crazy address system which does not follow any form of logic I have ever come across.