First full day in Hikone: Orientation. My roommate and I woke up around 6 AM this morning and spent the next couple of hours until breakfast meandering around the limited confines of the area surrounding the JCMU buildings. We looked out to the lake and admired the not-so-distant castle, Hikone-jo, and then wandered the beach and the local overgrown Zen garden.
After an interesting breakfast combination of donuts and bananas, we had our orientation to JCMU. The orientation mostly covered academic and residential procedures and guidelines, but we also found out about several upcoming activities with Japanese students that we can participate in. One of the most interesting aspects of the orientation was the system of Japanese garbage disposal that I had heard was quite complicated. Thankfully it seems rather straightforward now that I’ve heard it explained. For a short version, there are four main categories: burnables, hard plastics, soft plastics, and other. Burnables includes things like paper and food products – think mostly organic items. Hard plastics are generally things like water bottles and other plastic containers. Soft plastics include the label on your water bottle, the cap, and other types of plastics wrapping. Other covers things like aluminum and odd objects that belong to more than one of these categories and can’t be broken down, etc.
After lunch at the local diner Coco’s, we received our bikes and helmets and started our tour of Hikone. We biked in a large circle around the major points of interest: the castle, pharmacy, mall, several restaurants, etc. before we ended up at the Cainz Mall. The Cainz Mall is probably best described as a Wal-Mart, meaning they sell everything from groceries to clothing to general home and garden supplies. There were around ten of us to begin with, I believe so it took a rather large amount of time for us to buy everything we needed. Several hours later we ended up riding our bikes back in a downpour that was surprisingly not as uncomfortable as I would have expected.
Once we got back to our dormitory we unpacked our groceries and headed out for dinner at a local ramen shop. I can’t recall the name of what I ordered, but it was absolutely delicious and, considering the portion size and it costs less than 700 yen, I will surely go back to the restaurant sometime soon. The rest of the night I have spent studying for our placement test tomorrow morning and I’ll be sure to write about how it goes. Wish me good luck!