Welcome to Japan: A Peek Inside My Stay In Tokyo

As promised, here is an update from my first 72 hours since leaving New York on Friday morning. I will add some pictures in this post to highlight some key things I am writing about but visit this page for my entire photo album from my stay here in Tokyo.

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A ‘Welcome to Japan’ sign is one of the first things you see at the airport after getting off the plane


Saturday morning, we were guided through a short tour throughout our community in Tokyo and were shown local supermarkets for our everyday needs, some places to eat/shop and how convenient it is to take the Tokyo Metro to move about the city.

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This is a view of what a typical living room looks like in our building.
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There was a nice welcome Starbucks package containing coffee, popcorn and pretzels when we first arrived into our rooms.

Prior to even considering a role that would move me half way around the world, one of the first things I did was do a little research on the availability of halal restaurants here. I found that there were specific restaurants that only served halal food but I was not prepared to see halal items on menus at your regular, local restaurants and supermarkets here. This welcomed surprise will certainly make it easier to have a more balance diet here.

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I have been more than surprised at how conveniently halal items have been available whether at the supermarket or at a restaurant.

Since we have been taking the metro during off-peak hours, it has been relatively easy to figure out our way around the various lines and where to transfer/exit. Based off of a mere two days of experience riding the metro, I think it has been a relatively easy process to figure out way around the various lines and there are probably two main things that our subway system can learn from the process here:

1) They have very clear signs indicating which train cars are ideal for you depending on your destination or transfer point and

2) There are glass walls/doors on the newer platforms that restrict passengers from accidentally falling onto the tracks while they wait for the trains to arrive. Once the train has ‘docked’ into the station, only then will the doors open allowing you to enter the train with no access to fall onto the train tracks. I can only imagine the number of lives that could be saved and injuries that could be reduced if the MTA and the Port Authority were to implement this back home.

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A nice, calm view looking out from my apartment.


As a preview/teaser for my next post, we were greeted with this welcome present on our first day of work. Something to get accustomed to in Tokyo, I suppose.



Food For Thought

Here is another edition of Tooney Tales and this time I am writing on the topic of food as it is just after lunch here and food is still on my mind.

Depending on the person you ask, they will tell you that either I am very picky when it comes to eating food (that would be from Brian) or I am not picky at all, as I am eating all the time (my immediate family). I think it depends more on what type of available as I am definitely not picky towards South Asian dishes and I have recently opened up my repertoire to include East Asian meals as well – although I still refuse to try sushi no matter what anyone says.

Those who know me, know very well that I could eat kofta, chicken tikka or biryani or any other type of South Asian meal any time of the day without hesitation and there is definitely something to be said of eating a home cooked meal as opposed to the convenience of eating our or ordering in. I’ll be first to admit I’m rather useless when it comes to preparing such foods but that’ll probably have to change soon enough if I am afforded an extended employment opportunity here.

On top of that, I don’t mind the occasional vegetable dish that is usually present at the dinner table but I tend to stay away from broccoli, eggplant and tomatoes. I did however ended up an eggplant dish last week without knowing it was in there, got totally trapped by my aunt for it. So the veggies stuff is fine but as my uncle says, no meal is complete “unless some dead animal is on the table” – my apologies to the animal-friendly people out there (except for PETA) for that admission.

Even though my unhealthy snack consumption at odd times of the day has been significantly reduced in the three weeks here, the lunches and dinners have been awesome here so far, with pretty much a new meal every day courtesy of my aunts. However, I’ve always been a sucker for anything my mom made and she’s still the best cook I know and even all this great food here can’t replace that touch of home. Hopefully my sister will learn a thing or two from her (haha, just kidding).

One last thing: I am still getting readjusted to getting milk in liters and in a bag but such is life here. The different varieties of chocolate available here (such as Mars, Aero and Smarties) that are not available in the States is an awesome upgrade and once again, Halal Popeyes just can’t be beaten.

P.S. (and completely random): I set a personal gchat record in terms of line for a one-day conversation at 1,212 lines – previous longest was at 500-something. I think you have to be a little crazy in the head to talk to me for that long in one day and hopefully therapy over time will fix your nightmares. So if you have a birthday on 12/12 – feel free to celebrate the achievement appropriately.