getting to work

Wow. Monday seems like five years ago. So many new things! This post will cover getting to work. Eventually, there will be less to share, but right now everything is just so new and different. I want to make sure I capture it all!

Monday morning I met my boss in my lobby so we could go into work together. Since it was my first time finding the office or riding the Tokyo subway, this just seemed like a good idea. And my instincts proved right. I’m sure I would have found the building eventually, but…it might have taken a while. (Not having constant google maps access has shown me just how reliant I have been on my iPhone for the past few years!)

Tokyo Metro! “We’re not in Kansas (New York) anymore.” First of all, they are uber clean. Like, “you could lick a hand rail” clean. I’m not sure how they do it (oh, wait, Japan is a culture of respect and honor…could that be it?), but seriously, they are that clean. I’d like you to notice that lack of gum stuck to the ground and trash everywhere. Even the tracks are clean!

There are also these great maps in each subway station. Every stop is numbered and every line is colored making it pretty easy to figure out how to get where you want to go.

And then there’s the schedule. Yes, my New York friends, a subway schedule. And they are on time. All the time. It’s incredible. Unless, of course, someone decides to jump on the tracks (something they do a lot more here than they do in New York with one of the highest suicide rates in the world–a little tidbit my boss shared with me on our way into work).

There are also these super handy neighborhood maps outside most subway exits–and the exits are numbered, too, making it super easy to figure out how and where you want to exit in order to be outside as little as possible. And why would you not want to be outside? Because it is ridiculously hot and a lot of the subway stations are attached to little underground worlds (clean, nice shopping areas, etc) that are AIR CONDITIONED!
Japan is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world (coming in third behind 2. South Korea and 1. North Korea). And just in case you wanted to know just how white I feel even here in “diverse” Tokyo (as compared to the rest of the country), here is a of picture from my commute. “One of these kids is not like the others…”

The subway is also incredibly quiet…and people like it that way.

Finally, I had to get used to standing on the left and walking on the right. Walking follows driving and there are signs everywhere to ensure that people know this. 

Another interesting tidbit. As we walked down into the subway stop, I noticed that, unlike me, most women were not wearing commuter shoes (aka flip flops)…partially because I noticed that my manager looked at my feet. And then she shared with me that most women in Tokyo wear their nice shoes while commuting because they are out in public and then they change into comfy shoes once they get into the office. And just like that, I understood why so many American men here have Japanese wives. I will continue to wear my flip flops to work, thank you very much.

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