I think I'm starting to get the hang of this place. I've just been for a successful jaunt into town. First I managed to get some money from an ATM. This might not sound like much, but cash machines are not nearly as commonplace here as in the UK. Furthermore, they're not open 24 hours, inexplicably. So, having found my bank, I had to navigate the kanji menus to get my cash. I got paid yesterday - always nice to see a six-figure balance.
Then for lunch I went on my first solo trip to Kappa Sushi, the cheapest conveyor belt sushi restaurant in town. A couple of women from the office took me there last week because I'd made my fondness for both sushi and thrift known. Now, Kappa Sushi is awesome. Obviously they have endlessly looping sushi for you to grab at, but for the more choosy customer they have touchscreen terminals at every table which allow you to select your dish. When you do this, a few minutes later a red button beside you starts flashing, heralding the approach of a little bullet train bearing your sushi. I think it might actually be maglev based on the way it glides along. It stops at your table, you take the food, and then press the red button to send it home again. After an initial hiccup with this protocol, I was ordering sushi with gay abandon by the end of my visit. So gay was my abandon that I'd soon racked up seven plates, but since everything (bar a few speciality items, like beer or tiramisu) is 100yen (plus 5% tax) I only spent about a fiver. And unlimited green tea is free!
When I came with the office ladies, they kept banging on about 'handbag sushi', saying I would like it; my predecessor liked it. I had no idea what they were on about, since the language barrier was considerable. I tracked down the item they were talking about - nigiri with a mysterious flat brown object on top of it - on my touchscreen and ordered it up. As the train pulled up to Finlay Central, I realised what it was: 'hanbaagu' meant 'hamburger' - it was rice with tiny little beef patties atop it, complete with a dollop of mayonnaise. Fusion cuisine at its finest.
I rounded off my trip by buying a toaster. Not a standard issue item in a Japanese house, you see, but I decided that I had to beef up my breakfasts, since now that I have a proper job my breakfast-to-lunch interval is about twice as long as it used to be, and a bowl of cereal really won't cut it. Speaking of which, people keep asking me what I have for breakfast. When I tell them cereal, they look amazed and delighted, as if all the rumours they've heard about these crazy gaijin are true. Apparently everyone here eats rice and miso soup for breakfast, which I have no objection to in principle, but just seems like a lot of hassle for the ungodly hour at which I have to rise. Maybe I need to investigate my rice cooker.
I meant to just say what I'd been up to today as a preamble to continuing the story of my arrival, but it seems I've gone on a bit. Oh well, I'll put it in another post soon.