My journey started on the 29th of February, 2020. A leap day, whohoo, could anyone imagine a more symbolic starting date for my journey into this new part of my life. Fresh out of graduation, now off to face the real world. Bring it on!
Well, KLM did bring it on, because apparently having booked two suitcases à 23 kg it is unacceptable if you bring a suitcase à 25 kg and a backpack à 14 kg. Hence thirty minuntes of grumpy backpack-squishing repacking frenzy later, we have one suitcase à exactly (and I am very proud of this) 23 kg, and, lo and behold, a backpack of 16 kg, which still go on the same plane as before, but who cares about physics, anyways. They did make up for the fantastic friendliless during this whole procedure (*sarcasm off*) by serving the worst food (not just airplane food, the worst, period.) I have had since I can remember, topping it all off with some marvellous ice-cream as the only snack option. Ok, that last one is on me, I know most people would actually love ice cream as a snack. Well I don’t. BUT, and here is the bit that actually matters, flying into Osaka all my troubles were forgotten, because I got to see this:
Well, so here I was in Osaka, in fact, the only new resident arriving from abroad, everybody else on the plane was either Japanese or already registered in Japan. Why? This brings my to the next big topic… coronavirus. I will keep it short. The only thing I was worried about before setting off was that my flight might get cancelled, or that I get send to quarantine due to a minor detected fever or something. Neither happened. Like currently in Europe, coronavirus is a big topic in the news in Japan, and as expected many people (but by far not all) wear face masks. In Hokkaido the schools have been closed temporarily, but not in Kyoto. Here only some very big events are cancelled, and some museums are closed, that’s about it.
So now the first challenge was to bring myself and my 47 kg luggage (did I forget to mention my 8 kg carry on luggage? I have yet to learn how to travel lean…) from Osaka to Kyoto. Easy-peasy in Japan, where the 電車 connects just about everything. So on I hop on the fancy train, which I was later told is the express train taken exclusively by tourists (because it is so expensive). Well, at least it was fast, and it had Hello Kitty on the outside, so really, I cannot be blamed. Because the apartment rental agency was closed on the day that I arrived I spend the first night I spent at a hotel in downtown. The next day Mayu-san and Frederick-san were my two guardian angels, who helped me (understatement of the year, I would have been 100% lost) get all the official stuff done. So now I am a registered resident of Japan, whoope! Here are some first impressions.
Now you may be wondering what the トイレットペーパー (toilet paper) is doing here in the last picture. Well, enter the Shirakawa laboratory… They have given me a very warm welcome, even with a welcome Sushi party! Everybody is incredibly helpful, and this solves the mystery of the toilet paper welcome present. In fact, due to coronavirus panic buying, toilet paper is currently sold out in most shops, so they opened a collection for me!
So the virus clearly being a bad thing to happen in general (and feeling very sorry for those who are directly affected), actually it also brings some advantages for me right now: Kyoto tourist attractions, which at this time of the year typically burst with (Chinese) tourists, are deserted (which ironically should make them rather safe from coronavirus). Thus I can enjoy attractions like the bamboo walk close to Arashiyama temple, and actually hear the sound of the wind rustling in the trees. Impressions can be found in the photo gallery.
Alright, this is it for now, but I will try to keep updating this travel journal semi-regularly. All the best!