I’ve been in Japan for a month now, so it’s about time I tell you about my neighborhood. Shichinohe is pretty much the boonies of Japan – if you get directions to it in Google Maps, it will say to take a train to the closest station, then walk 2 hours west (evidently, no roads to Shichinohe exist yet). To my Snoho’s, it is very similar to Snohomish, WA: very green, lots of farms, little nightlife.

On my second day in Shich, I decided to take a late afternoon bike ride and capture some scenic pictures. 8 pictures in and my memory card was full. Dang. Oh well, time to head back for dinner.

3 hours later, I had toured through the same streets a dozen times, but still had not found my apartment. Two times I ended up at the yakuba (the town center where I worked this summer). I would check my mental map, feel confident about the location of my apartment, and set off again on my bike. By the third time, I decided this strategy was not working. It was around 8:30pm, dark, and the yakuba looked vacant. Without much optimism, I knocked. There was some movement; a man had been sitting in a room right inside the front door, eating his dinner and watching TV. He got up and came to the door. Great, I hadn’t eaten my own dinner and now I was interrupting his. When he opened the door, I said “Konbonwa” (Good evening) and then went into a series of hand gestures to explain that I was lost on my bike (a very difficult feat, I discovered). He laughed, went back into his room, and picked up the phone. At first, I thought he was calling the police to explain that there was a crazy gaijin harassing him. A few minutes later, to my relief, one of my coworkers appeared from upstairs (thank God for Japanese work ethic). After going through the same ambiguous hand gestures, he eventually understood, grabbed a map, and showed me where I needed to go. “Arigato, arigato, arigato gozaimasu” (Thank you, thank you, thank you very much) and I was off. 5 minutes into my journey and I noticed some headlights behind me. As the car pulled up, I realized it was my co-worker. He waved to me, then went ahead and led me through every turn back to my apartment. When I made it back, he just smiled and drove off.
What I’ve learned from this experience:
1) My coworker, as well as many of the Japanese people in my town, are ridiculously nice to foreigners. It’s almost as if I automatically became a member of this huge Shichinohe family as soon as I arrived.
2) Being in Japan does not negate the fact that I have terrible directional skills.
3) My bicycle has a self-powered headlight – the rotation of the front wheel energizes it. Sweet!
4) The memory cards that come with cameras are crap.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lubzy Lubz on September 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    let me get this straight. you have directional skills like these and you were going to team up with me to fight Rage? We wouldn’t have lasted an hour. You’d try and get to the cavman lair, lose direction, end up at Cohn’s, get attacked, come back to fiji (if you could find it), i’d be like “hey b-cline, could you hand me that rope for my harpoon gun to shoot over to the Rotunda”, and you would have been like “ARRARARHHARAHGGHAHRHARHAHR” and eaten my face off. Not cool dude.


  2. Posted by Edwizzard on September 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    hahaha, this is why we made such a good team in central america… you communicate, i make sure we don’t get lost… as scary as it is that you got lost there… it’s somehow comforting to know that even halfway across the world, it’s still the same brandon blundering around japan. I think your blog is certainly living up to it’s title at this point. And hey, it only took 2 years to figure out how to get to my house… so you should be able to get halfway back to your apartment by the time you leave


  3. This makes me miss you.
    One thing to be thankful for: In Poland, the two different sides of the street can have different names, as an added level of difficulty in navigation.


  4. Posted by Etta on September 17, 2008 at 4:53 am

    I love your shout out to Snohomish. I love it more that you seem to be learning a lot and having a great time. While living aboard one the best things that I did was to take advantage of every opportunity, it makes your life rich. Enjoy!


  5. […] 13, 2010 in Uncategorized Back when I first arrived in Shichinohe, I had a pretty interesting bike ride. This weekend, I had […]


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