Welcome to Urayasu!
Urayasu is an old fishing village located on the bay of Tokyo, just across the water from Tokyo proper. Shin-Urayasu, or new-Urayasu, was another district of the city built out of reclaimed land (utilizing landfill) and provided the space for many of the Disney cast and dancers's housing, as well as much of the land used for both Disney parks. This meant that when the 3.11 Earthquake hit liquefaction was a major problem for much of the Shin-Urayasu area, whereas my neighborhood in old-town was relatively unaffected in comparison. By the time I arrived late in 2011, most of the damages in Urayasu were unnoticeable, whereas places near Disney and throughout Shin-Urayasu were starkly and noticeably impacted.
One of the major perks about living in Urayasu as opposed to being housed with the other foreign Disney cast was that I got to be fully and truly immersed. All of my neighbors were native Japanese, my landlord was a native old gent, my nearest grocery and convenience stores were all staffed by, you guessed it, native Japanese. This left me with a sink or swim approach to learning the language, and as I'd learned in high school Spanish class, full immersion is the best way to go about it. Within two and a half years, I went from meekly squeaking out a "Hajimemashite" to ordering tickets for my Shinkansen trip to Kyoto completely in Japanese, charming taxi drivers and acquaintances and making my customers blush something fierce.
On this day, I was taken to the Disney park to get my name badge and official nonsense all hashed out.
Enjoy these behind these exclusive behind the scene photos. ;)