(Note: This was written on October 2nd, but I was unable to post it earlier because I could not get internet access – see below.)
I arrived in Sendai two days ago. The Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Sendai was very comfortable and fast, so thers’s not much to say about that. I could eat and drink, enjoy the scenery and even had enough space for my legs (other than in German trains). As you can see in the picture, someone’s cookies are highly appreciated. 😉
At 10240 Yen (approximately 85 Euro) the trip was not cheap, but I think a similar trip in Germany might be more expensive. Sadly I was not able to take a picture of the train I used because had to deal with my luggage, but after I got off at Sendai, I saw a train of the same type on the next track. 🙂
On my way to the meeting point I already met one of the other COLABS students, and we reached the meeting point without trouble, where we (and some more exchange students) where greeted by volunteers from “Group Mori” and “@home“. Both are groups that support student exchange, but while “@home” is a student group, “Group Mori” is not. A bus was waiting to take us to the Tohoku University International House, where we received a lot more information and a welcome gift from “Group Mori”. We also prepared some forms for Alien Registration and health insurance. Finally we got our rooms.
The evening was spent looking around and buying stuff (a water kettle, food… you get the idea). One weird thing is the internet situation: The rooms have fiber line installed, but apparently it takes a while to have it set up. So I don’t know when I will have internet access – but when I get it, it will be fast. During this tour I took a photo which I think is pretty typical for Japan: A shrine entry and vending machines next to each other, both tucked in between normal houses.
Yesterday we had a lot of paperwork to do. Group Mori members picked us up a 8:00 am (some @home members joined later) and helped us with Alien Registration, health insurance getting and a bank account. After a trip to the viewing platform at the top of the “SS30” building, we were also invited for lunch. 🙂 This picture was taken on the way to the bus:
And this one is from the SS30 building, so you can get an idea how huge Sendai is. Sadly there are some artifacts in the picture because I had to take the photo through glass.
From the same spot, a Shinkansen leaving Sendai. I think it’s going to Tokyo, but I’m not sure about that. 😉
In the afternoon we went mobile phone shopping with the @home people. After a long time, I finally got a cell phone – the first I’ve ever had. The charger has to be bought seperately, which I’m going to do today because I can then pay with bonus points I got for buying the phone. Afterwards I went to get dinner with four of the @home people and another exchange student. I was quite surprised how cheaply you can eat in Japan: I paid 270 Yen (a bit more than 2 Euro) for the meal below, which included an unlimited supply of water and green tea.
The big bowl contains udon (a kind of noodles), the fuzzy stuff on the right is vegetable tempura and the small black bowl contains seasoning. Put some noodles into the small bowl and eat them, or dip the tempura into it. Quite nice. 🙂