This page is mostly of interest to family who want to see where we live now.
We arrived in Japan on September 24th. We struggled from Narita airport to the Nasu area with a lot of luggage.
For the first month we will be staying at the Route Inn. Its a pretty decent hotel in an area called Nishinasuno. Its about 1/2 an hour to the factory from here and there are lots of restaurants and shops located nearby. We can walk to the nearest train station in about 20 minutes.
We had our first week off and Okado-san from the office helped us to get a rental car and look at quite a few appartments/houses. We chose a house and will move in on October 21 (while Dave is on a business trip). The photo above shows our house and rental car.
The house is quite near the factory and located in a quiet area. We have rice fields on one side of us. There are lots of rooms, but they are all very small. We also have a tatami room.
The Nasu area is a mix of modern and rural life. If your main idea of Japan is a trip to Tokyo then you will find it pretty different here. Its really very green and you don't have to go far to get to some kind of little vegetable or rice farm.
Our favourite restaurant so far is a little place not too far from our new house (walking distance I think). It has a great range of nice simple food. Our favourite so far is the soba, which you can get combined with all kinds of other dishes.
The food is good here. We are still not sure if its really cheaper or not. Its hard to compare the places here with USA because its all so new and different.
Our friend Tomomi took as to Utsunomia. This is a bigger town. We bought some Japanese language books here (English language section of bookstore with limited selection). We checked out the big city shopping and had a coffee at Starbucks.
There is a nice little shrine in Utsunomiya too.
There is also a great shop that sells mostly snakes and turtles. They have big bottles full of pickled snakes. They also have monkey head in a bottle!
We drove up into the mountains. The traffic was very heavy with people going to the hotsprings, but once we got away from that it was very quiet and beautiful. We are expecting some good walking here. We briefly looked at a couple of tracks.
Driving has been a bit of an adventure so far. There's the whole driving on the left thing to get reacquainted with. And then there is not being able to read any of the sign or knowing any of the rules. We both got international drivers licenses before we left and we won't have to get local license for a year.
We do need to get a car and haven't decided whether to get a little micro car like our rental. They are great on Japan's tiny roads, are cheap to run and are nice for the environment. But you can barely fit 4 people into them and they don't really have any luggage space. Or we could get something a bit bigger and more suitable for going away on the weekends (with guests when we have them).
Today we had to put petrol in the car for the first time. I really did try to do it without the full service that seems to be popular in Japan. But as I pulled up I saw a man _running_ over to help us. He filled our car and wiped our windows for us. He was politely baffled by me getting out of the car. I think it cost us about $15 for his help. Oh well, live and learn.
In my opinion, the most bizarre thing so far is the toilets. Sorry to put a bunch of such pictures on the site, but its really very different. Our hotel doesn't have a very sophisticated version. Some of them look a bit like Captain Kirk's chair and have lots of functions. Ours is heated and has several different nozzles that spray on your "posterior" when you activate them with the remote control. They also have an infrared sensor so the toilet knows when you are sitting on it to prevent spraying at the wrong time. Some have fans too, but sadly our hotel doesn't have one. Cassandra loves it, Dave is ammused but doesn't use it.