It’s been a few days now and I finally feel up to the task of writing up a check in with everybody. The jet lag did not get me as bad as I expected but I have been running around and trying to figure everything out so writing a post went to the bottom of my to do list.
While the flight from Seattle to Japan was very long and somewhat bumpy I didn’t mind it too much. I bought one of those dorky neck pillows at the airport and managed to read two books on Japanese culture. The best part was getting to sit towards the back of the plane where it was rather empty. So empty in fact that I had the whole middle to myself. The seats to my left and right were unoccupied so I had a whole giant bench to stretch out on. It allowed me to get somewhat decent sleep.
When we finally arrived at the Air Force base we went through a quick customs and loaded onto a bus to take us to Yokosuka. This is where I found out that we were actually two hours away from base. For some reason I expected Yokoda to be near my destination. So my trip ended up being a bit longer than I expected.
The bright side was that I got to see a bit of Japan by bus. Right away everything stood out as completely different than the U.S. The cars stand out, all of them are small. Everybody seems to drive small models I have never heard about that look like a cross between a Nissan Cube and a Fiat Pop.
Japans countryside, just the little bit I got to see so far is beautiful. There are trees and hills everywhere and all the foliage is currently in a yellow, red, brown fall color. The houses, buildings, and overall layout of the towns really stand out as different from what I am used to in California. There seems to be no coordinated city planning or layout and the roads we took snaked around without any set grid pattern I could identify. All of the buildings are styles that you don’t see in the U.S. Much smaller and built in a Japanese manner. Unfortunately I didn’t think about using my phones camera so I stashed it in my bag way out of reach so no pictures of the trip.
Yokosuka Naval Base is a really interesting place. Completely different than any base I have been stationed at in the past. It’s a small, self contained American city positioned on what looks like a peninsula jutting into the bay. Everything an American living around here needs can be found on base. Starbucks, grocery store, furniture stores, house supply stores, cellphone store, and a bunch of American food court restaurants.
I got to my command pretty late on a Friday so all of the important people were gone for the weekend. That meant no security brief for me, therefore no going off base. So I spent my first weekend in Japan exploring the base on foot, hitting the gym, picking up uniform pieces I was missing, and getting myself a Japanese cellphone(actually Korean). I’m not complaining because even the base is a bit much to take in at first.
Now I’m back to work but in my case work will consist of several weeks of checking in. I have to secure housing, get all my paperwork set up, meet the rest of my chain of command, and sit through a few week long briefs on local customs and culture. Stretching the check in process even further is the fact that I got here during the holidays so most of the people I need to deal with are on leave or will be going on leave. I have a feeling I wont be fully working until sometimes next year.
So far Japan is an awesome place and my new command seems excellent. I am looking forward to being settled in and getting to work. Not to mention once I do get settled in I can start writing again. I feel a bit overwhelmed with this transition to fully focus my mind on any writing project so the most I am doing in that department is noting ideas into my cellphone.
Of course not everything is perfect. The big downside, a really big downside actually, is the fact that my amazing wife is not here with me. She will be joining me next month. A month is not long in the scope of military life but it sucks. I hate being away from here for a night let alone a whole month. Luckily we live in the 21st century and we have Skype. It makes life so much easier to have the ability to videochat with your loved ones thousands of miles away.
I think that in the next few months I will keep updating here about my stay in Japan. Mostly because I want to have a record of my observations for myself to look back on in the future and because I want to share my experiences with my friends back home. So expect a lot more Japan posts.