I’ve made it finally to Japan. It seems like it took me forever to arrive here in the land of the rising sun, and that is because it actually did take that much time. I got orders to this location 14 months ago to my surprise (especially since I did not ask for them in particular) and have been preparing everything that was needed in order to arrive safely. I actually arrived a week and half ago, and it took me a while to get everything set-up including internet, housing, and transportation, but I’m surprisingly efficient. Now that the fluff is out-of-the-way let’s get started onto what I have encountered in my very short amount of time in Japan.
It has been 5 years since my last visit to Japan, and in the time I was absent it has definitely changed. when I first visited Japan regulations on military were not as stringent as they are currently (a side effect of armed forces members being unable to behave in a foreign ports). But, people never change and even during my first visit with my unit we had quite the experiences which weren’t necessarily positive either. Now it has definitively been a bit underwhelming, I was expecting a lot more of this stay and thus far it has led to nothing, but disappointment.
I suppose in retrospect that perhaps we had expected too much from such orders. We (my wife and I) were expecting a place out in town where we could indulge in Japanese culture to a deeper extent instead we were saddled into base housing with the rest of the cattle. I loved the fact that nobody could answer the question as to why my family could only get a 3br apt in Ikego instead of Yokosuka, but no one seemed to have a good response. The worst part about the housing I’m in is that it’s actually outside of base in the middle of a nowhere town called Ikego. There is a temple and a forest here which I have no explored, but essentially there is nothing in this small town aside from Japanese people and military families (what a surprise). The houses aren’t too great either, there are dead zones for cell phone services everywhere. I actually have to put my phone in a window if I want to get any form of reception. These buildings are called high-rises and honestly they suck. The walls are painted white (which can’t be changed unless permission is asked and even then have to be changed back to their original color before you leave). The floors are also white tile and get dirty extremely quickly if you’re trying to shine your boots (anyone else see a problem with this?). It’s almost as if they were trying to be as unaccommodating as possible (since I’ve heard the Japanese built these for us Americans). Especially unaccommodating since, the location is rather distant from the base.
This meant that now I have to wake up an hour earlier catch a shuttle if I don’t want to pay good money for a train or fuel for a car to arrive at my work location instead of simply being able to walk or ride a bicycle (the latter can be done from here, but it takes 40 minutes) . The shuttle and train both have their advantages/disadvantages, but on average will get you there in the same amount of time. However, the shuttle bus doesn’t work on weekends/holidays so if you have weekend duty the only available option is the train and a round trip can cost you around 4 dollars which can quickly add up when you have to ride it twice in a day (that’s 16 dollars for one weekend duty (ouch!)). I really hate living in Ikego, but it’s basically mandated by base policy despite the multiple complaints that housing receives according to the workers there. Yet, this isn’t the worst that living on base has to offer because probably the worst offender is the monopoly held by a company called Americable.
Americable has a contract with the base that basically allows it to run rampant with the services it provides. As its name states it’s a cable company, but it also functions as the only internet provider in the base housing which allows it to charge a 100 dollars for 60mb download speeds (which never function and the fastest download I’ve ever gotten was 4mb per second which lasted for about a few minutes). Now, some of you might be thinking that’s not a terrible deal whatsoever. The problem with that train of thought, however is that outside of the gate people can get download speeds of up to 1 or 2GB per second for 50 dollars! This is half the price for 2, 3, almost 4 times the same service. It is almost criminal to let such a company be the sole provide for this entire base! I have filed complaints about this, written to the Navy times, and even told higher-ups about how much this resembles corporate terrorism and nobody seems to be concerned with the members getting shafted!. It seems that no matter where you go in the military we always get stuck with the worst service providers in the world. All of these limitations mean that to do fun things in Yokosuka base you literally have to spend money out in town.
Yokosuka itself has a lot of very interesting things to do however, if it’s not the internet cafe’s, restaurants, shopping malls, arcades and even other extremely fun things to do; you can always travel on the train to the many other locations that Japan has to offer. I went to an arcade the other day and got beat up by my young friends in a match of intense table hockey. Played the Pokken game which I will have to find pictures of since in my excitement forgot to take some. Played and lost at the UFO games which I had dominated in Okinawa. I also ate some fancy Japanese Cuisine with my new friends. I’ve seen some of the coolest things out and about which is probably what made me want to come here in the first place. So where does that make me stand on the whole issue of orders to Japan?
Simple, if anyone single asked me to get orders to Japan I would totally tell them to do it. It is definitively a place for single men to come about and do what they are known for doing which is have fun. A full salary to spend is pretty much a must in this country since it seems that base is a black hole for having fun. Sure the amenities are nice since at least Americable is kind enough (read terrorist) to provide free wi-fi in most get together spots. But, for a family man like myself which have to be mindful of where their money goes it definitely limits the potential for enjoyment to a severe degree. The only thing that is keeping me sane is literally the fact that my family is here with me and that I can at least manage to survive with their help. So if you’re married with children please avoid this place because you will get the shaft without any lube.
On a side note Japanese people are really nice, I went to a store called Coop and bought a banana and the gentleman at the door gave my son a “neko magneto” literally a cat magnet sticker for the fridge, little old ladies gush over my son, and girls on the train are as mysterious as they appear in anime. I saw a meganekko today at the train who seemed a bit distraught. We made eye contact and I guess she that all that was required was a smile to cheer her up. Her eyes lit up after she got a warm smile from me (I fancy myself to be an old man so I was trying to be as gentlemanly as possible). After that we quietly rode the train to our respective stops, but before I got off the train I got a translator app and wrote to her that I liked her glasses which were cute, and she smiled even brighter (after I handed her my phone)… We waved goodbye to each other without saying a single word, but her smile seemed sincere and I truly hope that her day was made a bit special thanks to that gaijin who simply did not want to make a bad impression. Perhaps the true root of understanding lies in being kind to each other (and a simple translator app).
I hope whoever reads this understands the value of a smile, a simple gesture of kindness can brighten up the day of even those individuals which we can’t verbally understand. My day was made brighter by the idea that perhaps I cheered up some strangers day, her day was perhaps brightened by a foreigner with a kindness streak (and dashing good looks). Train girl, if we ever see each other again I’ll try to at least say one word in Japanese.
This is Dash The Bomber signing out!
I am the owner of this blog and article.