Excursion to Orlando
I flew on Halloween to Orlando to start my job and relocation for Universal Studios Japan as an Associate Producer on a part of Super Nintendo World. I met the core team working on the project in Florida and received the briefest and most in-depth of overviews of the project. After three working days in Orlando, I flew back through Los Angeles to Osaka, Japan. I was able to see my family at the airport and grab a few extra pieces of luggage to drag to Japan.
Impressions of Osaka
Waiting for me at Kansai Airport was Mario himself—Nintendo had taken over a large portion of advertising space at KIX. Knowing the Japanese airport drill well at this point, I cleared Immigration and Customs quickly and found a bus to Osaka Station. I hauled my bags across the Ume-Kita area to the address I’d been given by USJ HR and checked into my new “home” for a month. I would be living at Sunrise Residence Osaka, a building of serviced apartments that many a new USJ Hire, long-term contractor, or long-visit vendor may find themselves. It was Sunday night at this point, so I fell asleep, ready for whatever Monday morning at the office would bring.
Just five months earlier, I had visited Osaka for a day as a tourist, now I was returning to live in Kansai for at least 2.5 years. My first day at USJ was largely uneventful, I arrived at Universal City Station and received my ID card and Certificates of Eligibility (CoE) for myself and my family. Finding myself in the “Deck Office” one floor below the park entrance plaza and Universal Globe, I got to work on Super Nintendo World.
Finding a Place to Live
A few days later, Jolene arrived in Osaka for our pre-relocation trip to find housing before we would return with the whole family. A realtor provided by USJ drove us out to Kobe to look at several houses and apartments. The first three were on Rokko Island (六甲アイランド), an artificial island just off the shore from Higashinada-ku (東灘区), Kobe (神戸市).
Rokko Island felt a bit deserted and sterile compared with the rest of Japan. The two apartments we were shown in the main expat building (The Entente) felt somewhat like America, complete with American-sized and purchased appliances. After that, we went to look at a small house on Rokko Island. It was okay, but full of bizarre furniture that would stay if we rented the house.
Feeling like none of the three options were great, we were taken to the final house for that day. A dull yellow-colored two-story house with a kitchen upstairs and bedrooms downstairs (considered odd in Japan), it had a huge yard and a garage. The yard was enough to sell me. Although overgrown at the time, I could see the potential. Even better, the house was at the train station and a one-minute walk away from a Vietnamese restaurant with decent Phở. We told the real estate agent that we would like to rent the house and he started the process.
That evening, we returned to Osaka to enjoy Okonomiyaki, beer, and explore Dotonbori. It was good to know where we would be living and start to plan on moving in.
Universal Studios Japan (ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン)
We made an obligatory visit to USJ so that Jolene could see the park. Because I didn’t have any complimentary passes yet and I wasn’t sure about sneaking into the park as an employee, we actually bought two tickets at full price… though given USJ was paying my salary, plane tickets, rent, transportation for the family, etc it didn’t seem like a big deal to buy 2 tickets.