☆ anime/manga,  ☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life,  ☆ photos

Living Tall in Japan, part 3

Part 1
Part 2

Where was I?

(Pictures from 7 years ago in the trains. Do they look any different?)

I only ended up working for NOVA for about 8 months. But before I left, a lot of things changed.

NOVA was my first full-time job after graduating college. I thought at first that that was why I hated it so much. Going from school to working can be a real shock. But looking back now, I know that it wasn’t the working that I was hating. What I hated was the work. Does that make sense?

What I mean is that I’ve never wanted to teach english. If it was art, I think I might enjoy it, but I have no interest in teaching other people how to understand English. For me, it’s always been a fluid thing, a way of expressing myself, not a rigid speech with a set of rules. Those of my friends who are interested in it, and I have a lot of them in Japan, are really lucky. They’re found that job that suits them, and seem to be really happy.

But me? It was just. so. uninteresting. I was bored to tears, literally sometimes. I also had no friends to speak of, except for Eda. Eda and I had met on livejournal years before, and it was her going to work for NOVA in Japan that inspired me to. I hadn’t even known that it was possible before I’d heard what she was doing! But…

Eda lived far away from me. I was placed a 15 minute walk away from a tiny train station. There was nothing to do, nobody to talk to except for my new roommates, and to get to work I had to walk and take trains, neither of which I was used to. All to get to a really, really boring job.

(Takashimaya, a huge shopping center next to Shinjuku station. Nowhere near me, btw.)

The first month was alright, as I got used to the “newness” of Japan.

But when the second month rolled around, things got pretty difficult.

(The area I lived in)

I was used to living with other people, near school, where I could always find someone to talk to. But instead, I was stuck with two roommates whom I didn’t know, out far away from everything.

One roommate’s name was Rachel. She was actually really sweet. A bit short and with dark hair, she had one of those “girl next door” faces, I think. We got along pretty amiably, but she preferred to spend her off time clubbing- something I have zero interest in. (I can’t dance, don’t really drink, HATE smoke and drugs, don’t like loud music, and wasn’t interested in making out with anyone. Clubs are like the opposite of my comfort zone, lol.) So, I don’t think either of us considered ourselves as close, but we got along well.

The other roommate, though.

She was a big, big problem.

The thing is– nothing against people in their 60s, I will be there one day!– but she was a married woman in her 60s from Australia. Nova was filled with young 20-somethings fresh out of college just looking to party and have an international experience. At least in the entry-level positions. But this married lady, who had a very foul mouth and LOVED to smoke, just did NOT get along with me.

I couldn’t and still can’t imagine why she ever even came to Japan, especially without her husband (he was still back in Australia taking care of the house that they owned). They were fairly well-off. They were apparently in love. So why leave your husband temporarily and come halfway across the planet alone to teach English?

Who knows. But thankfully NOVA apartments were non-smoking and she couldn’t smoke inside. Not that it stopped her from standing in the balcony door and smoking. If I wasn’t home to ask her to stop, she did it all of the time, and I often returned to a home that reeked of stale smoke. So, my polite (I hope) requests started getting more and more short. We got angry at each other all of the time. Me for her smoking “in” the house, and her for me complaining. I even called the NOVA housing department to get some help, and they apparently phoned her asking her to stop, since the apartments really are non-smoking (for the comfort of all).

That never stopped her. So I was out of options, and starting to look into finding new accommodations. In the meanwhile, she found something else to latch on to (to complain about). Something that crossed the line for me, and turned into a big shouting match.


But let’s get back to life. A lot happened between when I first arrived and when it got to that point. I’ll get to the climax when it comes. v( ̄∇ ̄)

I really considered calling it quits and running home (or back to America). I thought about it over and over. I had a tense situation at home, a job that I hated and would literally spend time between classes crying in the bathroom because I was so bored and feeling stuck, and was far away from my only friend. It was hell. I cried a lot tat home, too, and got sick a lot. I spent a lot of time online, chatting with friends, paint-chatting, and role-playing. I made friends that way whom later turned into good IRL friends. I also discovered that I could download my favorite tv shows from America the same day they came out (via bit torrent– does anyone remember Mininova?).

So, I ended up trying to lose myself in whatever diversions I could find. I hang out with Eda, and our new friend Erin, who had just moved to Tokyo from the countryside, whenever I could.

Then one day, Eda asked for my help. She worked on Sundays, so could I get tickets to a musical for her when they went on sale? She wrote all of the instructions for me, since the ticket machines at the convenience stores are all in Japanese, and I went there, nervous as hell, to stand in line for tickets.

When the day came, I trekked to the convenience store near my work and found the ticket machine. There was one girl already waiting there, even though the sale didn’t start for half an hour. No biggie, I figured. But 10 came and went, and this girl, although she was pushing buttons like crazy, just kept on trying. 11 came and went, and she was still pushing buttons. I was starting to get kind of annoyed. I just wanted to get my tickets and go, after all!

I had nothing else to do, so I started watching over her shoulder.

Oh. She was searching for the same musical I was supposed to get tickets for! But kept striking out. Every time she would search, the screen would return to the front. I didn’t know what the problem was, but later on I came to learn that ticket machines in Japan don’t have very much capacity, so when people from all over the country are trying to access at once, instead of putting them into a queue and letting them access the ticket window in the order that they applied, the machine just errors them out with a “too busy, try again later” sign. Most of the time, when this happens and you keep hitting send over and over again, you keep getting the same screen until they are sold out. It’s pretty much russian roulette/luck of the draw. Whomever happens to hit “send” in the fraction of the right microsecond will get in. I got really into musicals later on down the line, and in years of trying every few months for tickets, I only got through a handful of times.

I wasn’t sure what was happening, though, at the time, and just waited, more and more annoyed, until the girl finally walked away with nothing. Nothing for an hour and a half of trying! Poor thing. As it was, I didn’t really understand what I was doing, but Eda had given me two access numbers and the second one worked immediately. I got two tickets to that, and tried the other (same number the girl had tried) a few times, with no luck.

Oh well. I figured that seeing one of two musicals was better than none at all! Right?

That’s how we ended up with tickets to see Musical the Prince of Tennis side: Yamabuki. I was a huge fan of Prince of Tennis (which I ended up working on later, as you all know!), but I’d never seen any of the (many) musicals.

(More pictures of Shinjuku from the past:)

This musical was in January, and the other one was at the end of December. It was the prequel to the musical that I’d gotten tickets to, and although I didn’t know it yet, apparently it was THE musical to go see for Prince of Tennis fans. The first cast was “graduating” (ie, moving on to other projects), so this would be the last time they were on stage.

I couldn’t have known it beforehand, but going to line up for tickets for the “graduation” musical was what changed my entire life. What happened there made me enjoy my life for the first time since I had moved to Japan.

What happened there? Stay tuned for the next part to find out! ┌(・∀・)┘チャッチャッ

(The place that changed my life..)

Want to know what happened? Then, comment please! \(^o^)/

(487 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.

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