Since I arrived, Zach has been my taxi driver. While it's nice to have him doing the driving, it's not very practical and I've been wanting to do a practice run to learn how to get from our house to the naval base by train. (I do plan to get a driver's license while I'm here for emergencies, but since they drive on the other side of the road, I don't have a great desire to be driving everywhere by car.) Zach had yesterday off, so we decided to take the train to this nearby mall called Vinawalk in the town of Ebina, and afterward we took another train from Ebina to a station near the base. I know things will get easier the more times I do it, but it really takes a lot of concentration and paying close attention to your surroundings here to not get overwhelmed by the train stations. Some of the ticket vending machines are in English, but many are not. And unlike U.S. metro systems like BART in San Francisco and the Metro in D.C., the ones here are run by several different companies.
Our local train station is just a three-minute walk from our house, and the stop is called Sobudaishita. On your way to the stop, you have to walk by a pig farm, which can sometimes be quite smelly, and yesterday it was. We live in a very residential neighborhood, and it's so strange to see a pig farm plunked right in the middle of it. Space is very limited here, and they use every inch. We also live quite close to several rice fields and small gardens.
Everything went fine on our train trip and I was thankful for all of Zach's help. My next challenge is to the do the same trip by myself. And since there is a Starbucks at Vinawalk AND a Hello Kitty store, I'm sure it won't be too hard to convince myself I can do it!