Having woken up at my usual 5:30, I decided to leave the Tokyo compound and walk about for a bit in Roppongi before work, in hopes of happening upon an early opening coffee shop. Everywhere I went I was met with signs saying 'CLOSE' in large, capital letters. Japan loves English, but finds it somewhat cumbersome; their own language being elliptical in nature, the Japanese choose to extend this property to other languages as well. 'CLOSE', not 'CLOSED'. The feeling is always, 'If you'd just come a few minutes earlier, you might have caught us...' Or in this case, 'Nothing in Japan opens before 7am. Would you mind waiting just 10 or 15 minutes more..?'
Still, this sort of freetime is delightful, even if I am only wandering around watching the shop owners clean their sidewalks. Living a 15 minute walk from work as opposed to a one hour train ride makes all sorts of psychological difference. Once I get home from work in Osaka, I contemplate going out again with a certain feeling of dread. I'm sure there's a lot more I could be doing in my 3 1/2 hours of freetime besides self-reflection and recuperation (shamisen lessons and Japanese study spring instantly to mind; running would also be pleasant, since my only other option for weight control now is starvation), yet it's so hard to get out the door. It feels pathetic and mealy-mouthed to say so, but it's true. I'm hoping that the new group of personnel coming over the next few weeks will provide some incentive to be a bit more peppy. Last night I sat out on an officer's porch with a group of Tokyo colleagues, chatting and having a beer. I hope we can do the same soon in Osaka. I'd be willing to devote at least 2 1/2 hours a week of my pie chart to it.