On Thursday (Nov 4) Simon took me for breakfast, showed me the office, took me for lunch and then to the 100 Yen shop for some essentials for the apartment. Therefore not a busy first day at work, but I met with the group professor, Kunio Awaga, and got sorted out with my desk. Everyone new person I met from the group reacted the same way; very gratious and happy to meet me, but no chat afterwards. I think it will take time, as English is not very strong with many of the students in the group.
There are a lot of old customs in Japan that the people abide by, such as taking your shoes off before entering a room, bowing instead of shaking hands, and refering to people by their last name to be polite. However they are not as strict as they used to be, and in the more international environment of a university there can often be confusion as to whose customs are used. Most of the people I met introducted themselves with their first name, and stuck out their hand for me to shake. However they all refer to each other by their last name and bow to each other. Remembering all the first and last names of a group of 30 Japanese people might be difficult...suggestions on a postcard. Also, I have been ill ever since the weekend in London, and now have a nose that is running like a faucet, which is not the best in a society where blowing your nose and sneezing in public is rather frowned upon. I would like to show restraint Japan, I really would.
For lunch you can either go to the canteen where it has been mostly a point and take affair but rather good, or go to a nearby shop and get a ready meal. There is usually some sort of unknown meat and unknown sauce on a bed of rice with some goodies like pickled ginger on the side. So far everything has been relatively tasty, or at least edible. I feel my luck will run out eventually though. My accomodation is only just over 5 minutes walk however, so there are safe routes.