When I got off the plane in Akita the first thing I thought was, "What if I get lost?" Not just in Akita city, mind, but in the airport. Of course this is a strange worry. I spent two weeks in Tokyo without getting lost. But that's my personality.
The airport is actually a nice size, and easy to navigate. So is the city. I haven't gotten lost, except for one bus ride to Wada, and even then I was able to walk back home. The truth is, I have become very comfortable in Akita.
I've forgotten almost all the shocks of arrival.
This is a short essay to remember them.
Japanese spiders are big. They are in fact very, very big. The first one I saw was living in a plant, in an egg-shaped web, as big as a mouse. Later I saw groups of them living in the trees -- like spider apartment buildings. They all disappeared with winter, which is good, but I have to wonder... where did they go? Did they get eaten by crows? When will they come back?
2. Rental CDs.
Right now there are lawsuits all over America between music companies and music fans. It's okay to buy a CD, but it's illegal to give it to a friend. It's okay to play a song on the radio, but it's illegal to play it on the internet. It's okay to download music, but it's illegal to copy it. It's a very confusing issue. Basically, the music industry of America is at war with the computer industry of America. In short, the music industry of America would never allow rental CDs. But here they are, in Japan! Amazing.
3. Energy prices.
Everything is either way cheaper or way more expensive than I ever expected. Not just energy, either. Japanese food costs about half as much as in Colorado, plus there's no tipping. Riding a bus from one city to another is cheaper than renting a CD (ha ha). A good t-shirt can cost as little as 200 yen. But energy! Heat, gas, electricity, petrols and even water cost more than in America. To illustrate: at Eneos gasoline averages about 110 yen per litre. In America it's about 2.50 per gallon. If we convert everything, American gas is only 65 yen per litre! I think I won't be buying a car soon.
Movies are my biggest passion, so I take particular notice of when, what, where and how they are released in Japan. And just about everything surprises me. First, there are the "start dates". Why are they different? (In America, theatre start dates are on Friday; in Japan they are on Saturday.) Also, why do Japanese movie posters show American start dates? There are other questions too, but the answer is always the same. "Marketing."