It didn’t really hit me that we were moving to Tokyo until we actually stepped off the plane at Narita Airport.
I’d spent my last few days in Santa Monica dealing with the logistics of our move, frantically selling our furniture on Craigslist, attempting to pack our entire lives into however many boxes could fit into 150 cubic feet, and then throwing away the rest. I’d slept maybe eight hours in three days. There was simply no time to get excited or scared or even emotionally acknowledge our move.
Even during the 11-hour flight from LAX to NRT, during which you’d think that I’d have ample opportunity to pause and reflect on the situation, I managed to keep myself distracted with movies and sleep. It really wasn’t until we stepped through the jet bridge, luggage in tow, the hot, humid air enveloping my body in instant sweat, that it finally hit me:
HOLY FUCK. We’re moving to Japan. No — scratch that — we’re in Japan. To live here.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that I’ve moved to a different country. When I moved to California, I was still jet-lagged after returning from a trip to Brazil, and I had just been hospitalized for a bad case of food poisoning. That is, I was literally nauseated and vomiting upon moving to the US, but not out of anxiety or excitement or anything like that. I was more or less healthy during this international move, so I can’t really compare the two experiences.
However, one thing that I can say was better this time around was going through immigration in Japan. No third degree interrogation over my area of work, and the best thing was, they printed out my Japanese residence card right on the spot. With holograms and everything!
After getting past immigration and customs, and actually testing out my Japanese for the first time by asking an airport employee where our luggage was, we were met with Tateno-san and Bobby-san from FromSoftware. Tateno-san is from the HR department (we had already Skyped with her several times); Bobby-san has lived in Japan for several years, but is originally from England, and was recently hired “for situations like these” (i.e. to help confused gaikokujin like us).
They helped us sort out our luggage and then we all got on a bus to Shinjuku Station, which is only one stop away from our apartment. I slept for most of the the 2-hour bus ride. I was mostly just glad to have an air-conditioned escape from the heat and humidity outside (it was 27°C at around 7pm at night, which is waaaay too much for my Canadian skin). After another train ride and about 10 minutes of walking, we finally made it to our apartment.
I was more than a bit apprehensive about this, actually. We had signed a two-year rental contract on a place we had never been to, in a city we had never been to. However, the actual apartment ended up being much better than the pictures had revealed. It’s a 2LDK (two bedrooms + living room + dining room + kitchen), bit bigger than our one-bedroom apartment back in Santa Monica.
It’s still a bit unbelievable that this apartment, this city, this country is going to be our home for at least the next year or so.