Well readers, I've made it to Japan! The flight was uneventful, save for one or two very turbulent spots, and I watched two movies and an episode of NCIS, haha. The flight headed west, over Canada, into the Arctic Circle, and over Russia. The Arctic Circle was AMAZING. I got to see all the floating ice chunks! I've always wanted to see the ice in the Arctic Circle. It was beautiful.

Japan looked so beautiful flying over it. At one point I saw a large river coming in from the ocean with about five fishing nets set up. Interesting to see. I easily worked my way through the airport to the train station and had a quiet and uneventful train ride. The landscape to Tokyo was positively breathtaking. There were so many little villages and farms. It was honestly the beautiful thing I've ever seen while traveling, and I'd only seen 30 minutes of it. The city of Tokyo is so many things to describe. It's very clean for so many people, and I've seen very little trash cans. The city is constantly busy and full of people without feeling rushed. I have no idea how that can be, but everyone takes their time.

The area just outside of Tokyo I'm staying at with Stuart is just the opposite. Still exceptionally clean, but barely a person in site. I have never felt more comfortable but more foreign. It is so easy to become acclimated, I feel, but I don't understand any of the language, so I'm very awkward. I just try to keep remembering to bow (thanks, Heather! ha!).

Stuart and I haven't done too much so far. I gave Stuart his Christmas present (a wonderful pair of mocassin slippers), which he absolutely loves. He says they're so nice, he's too afraid of wearing them outside in case they got dirty, but he hasn't taken them off while we're inside. He also gave me my Christmas present - a brand new iPod nano!!! Now I can listen to music in the subway! When I got in, we immediately went to find dinner at a little local noodle bar. Super tasty but I felt so awkward because everyone else who came in were by themselves, ate and drank the scalding hot food faster than I've ever seen, and finished every last bite. These were some very large portions of food, and I have no idea how they managed to finish all of it. I burnt my mouth so much while attempting to imitate how they ate. I felt so rude leaving so much food left in my bowl. I refused to leave until most everyone else had. haha. Stuart tried to persuade me that I shouldn't feel so embarrassed, but I really was! This "culture of shame" works far too easily for my easily guilty conscience.

I immediately fell asleep when we got back, which was like 7:45, and I slept all the way until 9am! I am still very tired even now, but Stuart is doing a very good job at forcing me awake. This morning we got coffee at Stuart's favorite cafe. It was very good coffee! On our way back to the apartment, Stuart took me down some side streets to show me the little shops and the small local shrine. We saw a little tea store with beautiful tea pots. Stuart bought me one! :) We also went grocery shopping, which was a little interesting, since a lot of the food was very foreign to me. Also, Stuart only has a hot plate for cooking so our cooking options are very limited. After I broke his computer and then finally figured out how to fix it again, we went out to see some of the real city. It's like a giant version of Times Square...it's just a bunch of large shops with bright lights everywhere. It's not even that specialized, just enormous stores full of everything you could think of buying.

We ate dinner at a bar Doma-Doma in Izakaya (spelling?). Super cheap but very tasty. I ordered raw horse meat, which is not super tasty. It's very stringy. The sauces they put on the side made it taste alright, though. I ordered what I think was a dragon fruit soda. I thought it would be alcoholic, but it really was just club soda. They gave me a whole half of a dragon fruit with a juicer so I could put my own juice into the club soda. It was actually really good. Not sweet at all, but it was refreshing.

Stuart made me get us home then, so I know how to get back tomorrow. Stuart's working tomorrow and I plan to do some exploring on my own. I managed to get within a block of the apartment before I had no idea which way to go, but I think I'll be ok for tomorrow. I still am not sure what I'll be up to then, but I at least know how to take the subway back and walk back to the apartment! That's all that matters!

Now to look up some of these places I want to see and not go to bed for a while! I MUST get used to the time zone difference!

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