At the end of my first full day in Japan, I fell asleep soon after receiving my baggage from the airport delivery service (takkyubin). I didn’t even have the energy to rescue my computer from its spongy confines in the middle of my dark green suitcase.
That’s right, I said computer. What I mean by that is, computer tower, actually. I mentioned it before, but I had just bought a new computer, so I took the tower, surrounded it with memory foam, and sealed it inside one of my two huge suitcases. Free shipping! (At the time, you were allowed to bring two checked luggages on the plane, but now it’s usually just one for international flights) I had stuffed my keyboard, a mouse, and the speakers into the other suitcase around a few pairs of clothes, but the monitor I’d left behind. Flatscreen monitors were still new, so the logistics of flying an actual, huge monitor were… yeah. Not happening.
The objective of day 2 (first full day in Japan) had been to get all registered up in the city office. Mission accomplished. I was now a resident alien, with paperwork to prove it! (I just love saying that I’m an alien!!!)
On the morning of Day 3 (second full day in Japan), my mission was to find a computer monitor so that I could turn the darn thing on. I needed my internet!
I hadn’t yet had time to pick up more food, so it was cereal for me today. I’d have to pick up more on the way home, if I was able. I thought that, maybe, if I was lucky enough, I might be able to find an electronics store in Shinjuku (I needn’t have gone so far– it took over an hour to reach it from where I was, but I didn’t know any better, and had no internet to look this stuff up in as of the moment). Before I set out, I lay my map on the kitchen table and circled the places that I needed to go.
Take the Nanbu line from Kuji to Noborito, then switch to the Odakyu line and get off at Shinjuku. I could do that. Probably. Maybe. I folded my English-language train map so that I could see my three stations and all of the ones in-between, and that in hand, I set out for the day.
The aforementioned train map. Well, a more recent and smaller version, but this is basically what it looked like.
I got to Noborito alright, and followed the signs to transfer to the Odakyu line. Then, somehow, eventually, I safely made it to Shinjuku! YAY! HOWEVER.
I actually failed to notice something here. Something that I was not even aware of, and would really, really hurt me two days later when I headed out for me orientation at Nova. Any idea what it was? I’m not telling, not just yet!
So, this day, I ended up in Shinjuku safely. It was my first experience with a large train station on my own, and it was not easy. On my station, there was one exit. You got on and off there. There was only one line that served that station. But, if you look at the map above, at Shinjuku station (it’s a big blue box of a station on the upper left of the circle), you might notice that a crapton of lines all go to this station.
So, this was my third day in Japan, and I ended up getting lost. Nobody had been there to tell me, and I had zero experience with trains coming to Japan (someone should write up a primer for clueless Americans. Maybe I should!), so it didn’t even occur to me that not only are there different platforms within the station that serve different lines, but some lines are separate, and have exclusive exits (some lines share exits), and ALSO that if you exit the platform that you’re on by taking the stairs, you’d better as hell know what exit you want to go to FIRST.
So, say, that I wanted to go to the South Exit of Shinjuku station. There may be three or four sets of stairs along the train boarding plaform. If you go up the ones bound for the Central exit, you cannot just walk around and get to the South exit. It’s not that simple. No. You MUST MUST MUST make sure that you get off on the staircase bound for the South exit, and then from there you can choose to get off at the South Exit (or the New South Exit– NOT THE SAME THING, the Southeast exit. There is no Southwest exit. Well, not right now at least). I didn’t know this, and as I’d read that Kinokuniya bookstore (I wanted manga and that bookstore was the only one that I knew of, since it had branches in the US) was near the South Exit, I aimed to get off at the South exit. I took the wrong staircase.
So, I got lost for an hour, not knowing where I was. I wandered around in the dreary afternoon, wanting to cry, until I FINALLY found the South exit. Then, it turns out that the bookstore was across the highway from this (there is New South exit that lets right off into the plaza that houses the bookstore now, but there wasn’t at the time). I didn’t know this, and so more wandering, more wandering, and as afternoon waned and I was getting desperately hungry, I randomly and completely accidentally wandered into an electronics store.
BINGO!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could have cried! A shop employee asked if he could help me (I assume), but I couldn’t tell him what I wanted, and so I just shrugged. I wandered the aisles, until I found the computer monitor section. I found one that I could afford (though I wasn’t completely sure that I was reading the price right), and then I had to figure out what to do.
How the heck do you buy something that needs to be retrieved by staff when you can’t speak the language?! You point. You get confused, and I had no idea why it was such a big deal, or why they gave me such a hard time, but when I walked out of there a few hundred bucks shorter and one monitor riches, I felt like I could walk on air. <3
AND THEN something magical happened. Right there, next to the elevator as I waited to go down in it, monitor in hand, I spied something written in English: Kinokuniya: 6th floor.
I could have died! I found them both!!!! Monitor, check, Kinokuniya and manga extraordinaire, CHECK!!!!!! Kinokunya, as it turned out, was in a separate building, but connected by a skywalk on the 6th floor (also from the 2nd floor, but I didn’t know that then), and I took it. Then to my shock, I walked right into an entire floor full of English-language books!!!
Heaveeeeeennnnnnnnn. I didn’t need any, as I’d just come from America, but you can bet that this became a frequent haunt for me. <3
And then, on the first floor… the manga. To my squealy fangirl delight, there was a Boy’s Love section! (Boy’s Love was, and usually is, written in English, but of course the manga text was all in Japanese) Ohhhhhh was I a happy fangirl, even just browsing the covers. <3<3<3
There were even several collected editions of pervy Prince of Tennis yaoi doujinshi, titled Tennis Lovers, and of course I bought them all. I was surprised to find that there were no normal, thin doujinshi like what I was used to buying at anime conventions and on eBay. I’d never even heard of a doujinshi convention, and I thought that they were just sold in stores.
The funny thing is that, when I took them up to the register to buy them, I wasn’t embarrassed at all to be handing over a stack of books that was obviously quite filthy. Nope. I was, however, shy because the cashier tried talking to me and I had no idea what in the world she was saying. She seemed to talk a lot, and then look at me for some kind of answer, and I could only smile and stand there awkwardly.
Hi, I obviously cannot read these books and will get no benefit from the story. I just like looking at pretty boys get it on.
I had no idea how much the total was without looking at the register, either.
Oh man, Jamie, you need to learn Japanese. At least learn to count.
Getting back was no more easier than getting there, and I yet again failed to notice something critical. But who cared? I now had doujinshi and a working computer! That was all that matters!!!!
The next day, I braved the trains again, and finally found my way to the mecca of all anime stores: Animate. Oh, and if you think that finding a few collected doujinshis was great, that was nothing compared to what I ended up taking home on day four!
Which I will relate tomorrow! 😀 See you all soon, minna-san!