Things we’ve learned so far in orientation:

  • There are 2.3 million people living within a 3 mile radius of base.
  • 126 million people live in Japan, and 40% of them live in the Kanto plain (where we live).
  • We live in Ayase city, in Kanagawa prefecture, in the Kanto plain, on Honshu island.
  • The base, while named Atsugi, is not in Atsugi city, which is a few kilometers down the road.
  • There is a shrimp burger at McDonald’s off base that I have to try.
  • American’s are being drugged in the Roppongi district in Tokyo and wake up with thousands of dollars on their credit cards.
  • If we get into an accident, it is always our fault, no matter what happened.
  • If it’s a fender bender, we should just be able to give the other person some money, and it will be over.
  • If we hit someone who goes to the hospital, we should visit them in the hospital bearing gifts and apologizing, or risk a criminal offense charge.
  • We can go to jail for 23 days for questioning without being charged.
  • Speeding can put us in jail.
  • Camp Zama is 5 km away but takes almost 30 minutes to get there.
  • Driving 15 km will usually take you about an hour.
  • Trains! Trains! Trains!  Driving takes forever.  And all the freeways are tolls.
  • From here to Tokyo and back will cost about $70 to $80 just in tolls.
  • You can be charged with a DUI if there is anything in your system, even if it is one beer.  BAC of .03 begins criminal charges.  Jail time and $500 minimum fine.  SOFA can’t get us out of jail.
  • We get charged by our rank at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo (seriously???).
  • The base recently cut recycling because it was costing too much. 😦
  • Our water is safe to drink! The base produces their own, and we can pay $16 to test our house water if we don’t believe them.
  • Japan burns most of its trash, so we have to separate trash into burnable and non-burnable.
  • We have to use clear trash bags, yet the commissary sells black ones (that I bought!)
  • Mt. Fuji is supposed to erupt while we are here.  And the F is an H sound, so it’s Huji San (Mountain).  And we are hiking it July 31st!
  • We can’t get a post office box because James is on shore duty.
  • And we’ve started learning Japanese, but just basic phrases for now.

We’ve only had two days of orientation, and I am exhausted.  Three more days to go and then we can get ready to take our driving class next week!