Well I'm now in my base of operations for the next two months: Osaka. I started off in Tsukuba where the KEK centre in and travelled down this afternoon, and what have I learnt? That despite the assurances of my Australian flat mate travelling hungover is not a good thing.
Last night was our collaboration dinner in which our hosts took us all out for a traditional Japanese meal. It was excellent, we had our own small room and as much beer and food as we could eat in 2 hours for ¥5,000 (about £35). The food was delicious and much more than sushi: there was lots of tempura, meat and veg cooked on table top hot plates (each person had their own little burner upon which they could cook their food) lots of sashimi and all sorts of other odds and ends (giant Japanese radish for example). After this we had 3 hours of Kareoke which once you're drunk enough is a lot of fun (and after all that free beer we certainly were), a very sore throat and several bleeding ears (I can't sing) we moved to the other end of town to watch the England - USA game. By the time we finished it was 6am and the sun was up.
Four hours of 'sleep' later is was time to get up again to get down here. I have no idea how I managed this. I was supposed to be travelling with a fellow PhD student but he'd got up, checked out and then gone to sleep in his supervisor's room for the afternoon as of writing he's still not here and in an hour and a half they close reception so he's cutting it fine (I've heard he left at 6 - its a 5 hour journey). The journey itself was several parts: first a train from Tsukuba to Ahkibara (I nearly forgot my rucksack with my laptop in it luckily someone got it to me this was the same person who woke me up at the station as well people are lovely!) After this first train was a second to get me to the main Tokyo station (Akhibara is a suburb) then 2 hours on the bullet train to Osaka then another train and a monorail to where I'm staying (which is right on the outskirts).
I passed some amazing scenery on the journey and I have one photo to prove it, unfortunately for most of the time I was passed out with only intermittent bouts of paranoia induced wakefulness when my brain remembered that I may actually need to get off the train at some point.
One thing this journey taught me is how amazingly useful it is that most people know at least a little English without it I would have been stuffed, the second super useful thing is that most signs here have an English translation, that being said I'm certainly going to have to try and learn Japanese.
Anyway this will probably be revised soon once I'm actually feeling better (still a little hungover and very tired) also I'm getting kicked off the public PC I'm using (the wifi here is bricked).