Monday, August 29, 2011


Today we had to attend an all day seminar for indoctrination. Most of the information was interesting, but hopefully won't apply to us while we are here.
We are still fighting some jet lag. We both woke up at 3AM and couldn't go back to sleep. Hopefully after today's rigorous schedule we will sleep through the night.

The day started with 3 hours of briefs from various people around base. NCIS talked about how safe/unsafe the base is on any given day. Legal talked about the differences between Japanese laws and American laws. Also went over what to do if you find yourself in jail. Side note: you aren't guaranteed a phone call. Multiple people talked about alcohol abuse and restrictions. Japanese culture is deeply rooted in alcohol, but Americans always tend to take it too far. One woman spoke on equal opportunity and another on managing your money while stationed overseas. Lastly an officer came and spoke to us about the places where Marines are not allowed to go. By the end even I was fidgety.

Before we broke for lunch over 40 base businesses and organizations set up booths around the room for a quick meet and greet. We got information on cable, cell phones, bank accounts, the thrift store, commisary coupons... the list goes on. I was disappointed to see the University of Phoenix representative did not show up. We did get some great information about Japanese language classes,  cooking classes, and Dustin's school.

For lunch we were on our own. The briefs were held at Club Iwakuni which seems to be a multipurpose building. It has a couple restaurants, various ballrooms and meeting rooms, and the officer's lounge. They had a soup and salad bar in one corner that had us at vegetables. It wasn't as good as Sweet Tomatoes, but it was quite tasty.

Then came the good stuff! We all loaded up into an (air conditioned!) bus and got a tour of the base. The entire perimenter is only six miles so you can imagine that didn't take too long. It was good to start putting together where the major buildings are like the post office and library.

Then we went off base to the city of Iwakuni. It was our first time being able to leave... and it was quite intimidating!

Tour Guide

Tiny Train Ticket
 This may be the most confusing lesson I have ever had. The train schedule is daunting and much of it does not have English translations. We will definitely have to practice then and I am sure will waste some yen in the process.
Train Schedule
 After the "how to buy a train ticket" lesson we walked over to the bus station. This one seems a little bit easier because the base purchased a big sign that tells you exactly what bus and how much to make it back to base. If I still can't figure it out then a taxi will take me straight to my door.

Downtown Iwakuni

Rt 188 - Lots of Shopping
Then we were released to explore on our own. We walked away from the crowd (they headed into the 100 yen store). We ended up walking all the way down this street to a large department store. Unlike with stores in the States, each level had a different store, although checkout was only at the bottom. The first level was a grocery store. Two through fiver were women's clothes, men's clothes, toys, bicycles, a tailor, homegoods, etc. I imagined it to be similar to a Walmart only nicer. The sixth floor was a 100 yen store and the biggest (and loudest) kiddie arcade I have ever seen. We stepped off the escalator to a quadruple Chuck-e-Cheese style venue. It did have Time Crisis 3 so I will be wasting plenty of yen there in the future! The last and final level had a food court with Japanese soba and other foods. It also had a McDonalds that didn't look to serve anything in which I was familiar. They wouldn't let me take pictures, but there is another one across town that will.
So hot and humid!
The day was very hot and Dustin and I went through lots of water and one disasterous attempt at trying something from the vending machines. All in all we absorbed a lot of information that slowly sweat its way out of us in the miserable heat and humidity.

Upon returning to the base we went to visit Zero at the kennels. She was very excited to see us and ran around like a crazy dog for a while. Kyoto (the walker) was with her when we pulled up and Zero almost pulled the 90 lb woman off her feet! Hopefully we can get housing soon and bring her home.

Well, it is only 7:30PM here but I am exhausted. We are trying to stay up till 9, but I doubt that will happen. Soooo sleepy...

1 comment:

  1. So happy to see you guys. I am saving up for my trip!!! What kind of houseing will you get I wonder? poor Zero, I know he wants to go home!! Love you guys