I haven't really gotten an chance to do anything fun out here yet except for in-processing on base! Part of that in-processing included getting my license to drive in Japan. The license is not the same as the Japanese Nationals use, but a military form to authorize me to drive under the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA) the US has with Japan. We had to take a test, but it was so easy since it was open note and you could help each other! ALL of the signs are different (and in Japanese), and you drive on the left side of the road. Driving here should definitely be interesting! I think I should be able to go car shopping tomorrow afternoon.
One of the more interesting briefings today was from the vice commander of the installation. He talked a lot about the mission of the base (we have two F-16 squadrons, one is deployed right now). Misawa really is a strategic location since it is is nearby China, Russia, and the Koreas. I know a lot of people back home always ask "why do we have so many troops overseas, just bring them home." It's not really that simple though. Anyone who knows me knows I love Texas BBQ and at Rudy's BBQ they have a sign that says thanks to the troops for "defending our freedom and protecting our interests." Sometimes the overseas mission is protecting economic interests. The Colonel was talking about how approximately 1/3 of the US economy is tied to the Pacific region, and if there were a war here it would plunge the US into a worse depression than we just saw. So the US keeps a presence here to make sure that doesn't happen. Pretty cool stuff.
Enough patriotic military babble. The other big thing I have going on right now is my housing situation. I put down a deposit today for a house and will go and get the contract drawn up tomorrow afternoon. I picked out a little 3 bedroom 2 bath house with a 1 car garage and a little fenced in front yard. The rent is 150,000 yen which works out to be about $1875 a month! I'll definitely be posting pics as soon as I seal the deal on it!
Tomorrow, as part of my in-processing, we are going on a tour of Misawa and visiting some local attractions. I will definitely be taking pics and will write all about it! Then on Friday we're taking a tour down to Hachinohe which is the closest big city. Should be pretty cool!