Student Diary – Day One. James Duffy’s account of day one.

June 26, 2016

Day 1 (As written and experienced by James Duffy)

Inevitably, I arrived safe, sound and sleepy on the runway of Osaka airport. The first thing that

grabbed my attention was the predominance of English words appearing on signs all around my

vehicle. Was it a conspiracy all along? Was Japan just one huge lie conjured up by Donald Trump

and his fellow reptilians?! But soon all notions of that faded with the large cultural differences I

began to observe as I exited my winged prison.

To start with, it was busy. Very busy. So busy that me and my fellow classmates had to queue in a

line with, by my estimation, well over a thousand people in it. All to get our passports thoroughly

checked and our fingerprints taken. After this long procedure, my classmates and I were allowed to

explore the facilities of this foreign port of flight-enabled dungeons. Nothing in this stood out to me

as particularly surprising with the notable exception of the incredible, wait for it…vending machines.

Yes, the vending machines of the land of the rising sun are certainly incredible to see with their

astounding variety of dubiously labelled beverages. “Nectar”, “Fire” and “Sweat” were ones that

personally stood out to me. I promptly purchased precisely none of these drinks deciding to save

my money for something better if I happened to come across it.

After waiting for our senseis to get their act together, we moved to a train station with the express

purpose of purposely catching the express to Kyoto Station. It was during our wait for this train

however that I began to notice just how humid the air was and consequently, how sweaty I was.

The very thought of a cold shower showered me with warm and fuzzy feelings which really just led

to me feeling even stickier.

At long last we boarded our hour long train ride and I decided to catch up on a few of those elusive

z’s I missed on my flight. And so I did but I managed to wake up in time to snap up a few shots of

the passing city and its many wonders. My arrival at Kyoto Station was followed by a surprisingly

short walk to Matsubaya Ryokan, the facility that I would be living and sleeping in for the next few

days. But living would have to wait as we were forced to drop our bags and exit the building with

just enough time for a quick rinse in the shower and a change of clothes. Two things for which I

was extremely grateful for. We went deeper into the city to familiarise ourselves with our

surroundings and have a quick bite of lunch from a 7-11, or as it would be called if it were a

Japanese invention; a shichijuichi.

Continuing on our culinary escapade which had began in a convenience store, we visited a local

market. The Queen Victoria Market can eat its dainty little heart out because this market was

absolutely massive and packed to the brim with everything a person could ever not want and more!

All this walking had made me thoroughly exhausted by this point and the offer to return to the

ryokan was tempting, but I had every intention to press on and see all that the market had to offer.

After a large amount of thorough investigation, we decided to move on to our third meal of the day.

A smorgasbord of Japanese restaurants stretched along just underneath Kyoto Station. It was a

win-win situation since every restaurant looked equally appetising! I joined a group of fellow

students for dinner. I ordered a tray of sashimi and a Coca Cola which fully satiated my appetite

and I payed for my meal in full.

After leaving that quaint establishment, I wondered the corridors of this culinary wonderland a little

while longer before we were beckoned back home to the Ryokan for the night. I laid out my

traditional Japanese futon, donned my traditional Japanese yukata and made all other necessary

preparations for sleep’s sweet embrace. However fate would seem to have other designs for me as

I was called upon to dress back into my old clothes and come downstairs because someone at the

front desk had misplaced my passport and failed to make any copies of it. I was forced to run

around as his errand boy for a while trying to relocate it (which eventually of course I did) before I

could finally settle down for the night wondering what was to come.