Another Holiday season has come and passed. I'm back in Japan now, and trying to get re-adjusted to the routine of everyday life. But that's the easiest part. After another grueling trans-global journey, I feel like giving up on the Jet Age entirely. To anyone who has had the misfortune of making such a trip, the list of complaints will be familiar- cramped quarters, bad food, long layovers, ridiculous screening procedures, various surchases, etc. This time around, the guy in front of me had his seat titled all the way back for almost the entire trip (for meals too), the two lovebirds across the aisle were all over each other like high school sophomores, and behind me was a sweet kid riding in his mother's lap, which would be fine, except that he kept kicking the back of my seat.
Like I said, familiar stuff for many. But when you live in an isolated part of the Japanese islands, it's only half the battle. My domestic connection to Fukuoka didn't land until 930- leaving only one train to Oita, which arrived at 130 in the morning. So now I'm in Oita's run-down, Soviet-era train station, after a long series of flights, and no more trains to ride. So where to go to next? The answer is easy- an internet cafe. For a reasonable sum, you get your own reclinable chair, refillable drinks, a computer with internet access, an old Playstation 2, plenty of manga comics, and some privacy- first class fare on any international flight. So I slept there until the trains started up again, took a taxi to my car, and drove directly to school- it was that time already. Fortunately, being a test day, I didn't have to do much, other than wait til I could finally go home. Man, I was glad to take a shower after all of that.
So I've been adjusting back to living up here. Went to the grocery store today, and with food, I'm trying to keep things as varied and interesting as possible, but yet simple at the same time- I'm not the best cook, and I don't have a lot of the tools that I would need anyway. One thing that bugs me though, is why don't Japanese stores carry more of the microwavable meals that are so prevalent in America- TV dinners if you want to call them that. Sure, there are plenty of individual or smaller frozen items, but none of the all-in-one entrees that you'd see in the States. Now that proably shouldn't be the everyday dining option, but it does the job in a pinch. And don't give me any mess about the Japanese having refined culinary tastes- there is ten times the amount and variety of instant ramen noodles here as compared to the USA. Recent food safety scares involving frozen food don't help, but the absence of these meals predates the scandals of the past year. So what's the deal, food companies of Japan?