Friday, September 29, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Life in Tsukuba
Today it is exactly a month ago that Annett and I arrived in Japan, and it is about time that I tell you what it is like here in Tsukuba. All the pictures are, however, from our trip to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
What I probably like the most here in Tsukuba, is that life is so simple. Last year I had many things to arrange and was mentally exhausted when the summer holiday finally arrived. Here in Tsukuba, however, each day is uncomplicated. On a typical weekday I get up at 7:00, shower, have breakfast, do one and a half hour of learning Japanese, work for 7 hours, buy together with Annett some food at the supermarket or go to a noodle place, and have a relaxing evening. Practically no administration, and the only thing we have to arrange is which place we are going to visit in the weekend.
We have a fantastic apartment here. In contrary to what one would expect near Tokyo, it is about three times as big as the place where we used to live in Oslo. Furthermore it has air conditioning, internet, a washing machine, a modern Japanese toilet and everything else we could wish for, and more. As the land lord explained to me, the Japanese are gadget minded people. :)
Tsukuba Science City is a planned city, officially founded in 1987, that is home to more than 60 research institutes and of course the University of Tsukuba (where I'm a guest). It is a very pleasant, rather western city where everything is within biking distance. This is nice, since we were able to rent two bikes here. Its construction is ingeniously. The biking and shopping streets are on higher grounds and connected by air bridges, eliminating the "car factor" and enhancing the inner city feeling, while still easily reachable by car. After biking around a little bit, I discovered a road over these platforms leading, through parks, all the way to the University of Tsukuba with only one traffic light. It's a very nice place to go jogging.
As of 2005, there is the very rapid Tsukuba Express that takes you within 45 minutes into Akihabara Station, almost in the center of Tokyo. It leaves from under the bus station (underground), therefore not bothering you at all. The public transport in Tokyo is really amazing. Each day, about twenty million people use this system to travel within Tokyo, and it is extremely efficient. Despite its scale, it is very easy to understand. Even for a foreigner. I wish we would a system like that in Oslo...
The Japanese People
The Japanese are the kindest and most polite people I have ever met. Since one week before we came to Japan we were still in Romania, the culture shock was even bigger. We've had people stopping their car to give us directions, just because we looked lost, and coming after us again to give us extra help. When we went out biking to the middle of nowhere, getting terribly lost when it got dark, somebody led us home by driving in her car very slowly in front of us. I will write more about that in another post. :) They are all amazingly nice, and I doubt if we ever want to leave this place...
For more pictures, see Annett's picture site.