First week in Japan!

* WARNING TEXT HEAVY *

Oh my god, where to start? It has been one of the busiest weeks of my life. 7 days ago I was in Wellington, seeing my old workmates and some close friends and now I sit in my new house in a different time zone. It’s so bizarre to even think about the past week, so I’ll try to break it down.

Left Wellington around 7.30 on the 2nd of August. Was a little touch and go for a bit because a lovely storm happened to be passing through that night. My parents’ flight back to Nelson was actually cancelled. There was about an hour where it looked like we weren’t leaving Wellington but miraculously we were able to fly out pretty much on time and with little turbulence. Made it to the hotel at about 9 and was exhausted. Had a shower, watched a movie and went to bed around 11.30. Woke up around 5am to pack up my things and get back to Auckland airport. Customs was actually not too bad. I boarded the flight at around 8am Sunday and was soon up in the air. 10 ish hours later touched down in Tokyo at Narita airport, local time 4.10pm. Customs took a long time just because the Kiwi JETs had arrived just after a bunch of Canadian JETs, got through after 5.40pm.

Bus Ride To Shinjiku Keio Plaza
     
That’s when the heat hit… instant sweat everywhere. I thought inside the airport was bad but oh god outside the airport was so much worse. After waiting a little bit we were on the bus to Keio Plaza in Shinjuku. We left around 6.30 and arrived just after 8pm. The bus ride there was air conditioned so I stopped melting for a short while. Saw Tokyo Disneyland but not much else.

The view from my room

The view from my room

After I got in and settled into my room, I met up with two other Kiwi JETs and explored around Shinjuku. Got some adapters for my laptop and 3DS, got far too many blisters. Tip for future JETs comfortable shoes, all day everyday. Dont care if you look funny in a skirt or shorts and sneakers. You will regret wearing fancy shoes.

The view at night

The view at night

Unfortunately, I had a rather disrupting roommate from America. Strongly advise new JETs to be considerate to their roommates and not stay up until 3am typing, laughing, watching YouTube and eating. You will not leave Keio Plaza with friends if you do. Also don’t do this every night you are at Keio and then refuse to be quiet and let your other roommates sleep. Everyone is jet lagged. Some less than others, some more.

Being considerate here is a good way to start your life in Japan as you will have to be considerate of cultural differences on a daily basis.

Monday – Day one was really good. Pretty much full of workshops that were separated by 15 minute breaks and lunch. Out of the whole day there were only two workshops that I didn’t really need to be there for. The Japanese language workshop for me was very unnecessary. It was supposed to be for intermediate and above but they were explaining the difference between Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji which is basic Japanese. I heard even the basic Japanese workshop was redundant. This year every time there was a session or workshop they gave you a little card to write your name on, it had the name of the session printed on it. They only gave them out on the way into the room and on the way out at the end you had to hand them in to the attendants. This happened in every single session. Attendance was non-negotiable this year. So no matter what everyone says, you need to go to every session. That night I didn’t go out, because I was tired. I had a shower, used the internet a bit and tried to watch some TV.

Main stage at Keio Plaza

Main stage at Keio Plaza

Tuesday – Almost identical to Monday. Same attendance cards. The workshops in the afternoon were a bit so so. The morning ones were good. That night after meeting with the Hyogo Prefectural Advisors and learning how we were getting to Hyogo the next day a small group of the Kiwi JETs went to the New Zealand Embassy in Shibuya. We took the train from Shinjuku station and went to Shibuya.

NZ Embassy in Shibuya

NZ Embassy in Shibuya

From Shibuya station it is about a 30min walk, possibly longer, trying to get across all the crossings. Had some nice nibbles there and talked to a few people before heading back to the main area of Shibuya for some shopping. Found a Disney shop and because my feet were killing me we headed back around 10pm. Stinking hot that night but I managed to catch a train successfully twice!

WEDNESDAY.
LET’S GO TO TOYOOKA!! Time line go go go!!

My lunch on the train

My lunch on the train


• 7.00 am wake up, pack everything up
• 7.30 am Breakfast
• 8.15 am Meet Hyogo JETs
• 9 am Board Bus to Tokyo Station
• 9.45 am Arrive to Tokyo Station
• 10.20 am Shinkansen (bullet train) departs
• 12.53 pm Arrive at Shin Osaka Station
• 1 pm Leave Osaka by Bus, Heading to Yashiro (where the Board of Education for Hyogo Prefecture is)
• 2.30 pm Arrive in Yashiro, met with a person from the Toyooka Board of Education and other ALTs going to Toyooka City. Leave with them and drive to Toyooka (good chance to go to the bathroom here, otherwise its around 2 and a half hours driving to Toyooka)
• 4 pm Stop in Asago for early dinner
• 5 pm Arrive at Hidaka Branch of Government and met new supervisor
• 5-5.30 pm Supervisor took us grocery shopping (IF YOU MOVE TO KEHI BUY A LOT OF FOOD HERE. It’s 5 km to the local convenience store and small grocery shop. It is a long walk in the heat and you probably won’t have time to go until the first weekend you are here.)
• 5.30 pm Said goodbye to the two new Hidaka ALTs and left with the Takeno ALT
• 5.45 pm Arrive at Toyooka Government Branch and separate from Takeno ALT, left with two representatives from the Toyooka Board of Education
• 6.15 pm Arrive in Kehi, met new Landlady and Kyoto sensei from the local JHS. Shown how to use the hot water, gas stove top and washing machine
• 6.45 pm Everyone leaves and I am left to myself in the house
 
On the way to Osaka on a Shinkansen

On the way to Osaka on a Shinkansen

And that was my Wednesday. Thursday was interesting. I woke up at about 5am and felt horrible; over the next two hours I was sick twice and was really dizzy. I think it was a result of the heat and possibly not drinking or eating enough. (Japanese people eat SO much, almost twice as much as I do, it’s really surprising). I got picked up outside my house at 7.45am and then was off to the Toyooka Board of Education again where I met up with the three new ALTs from the day before. We had a ceremony at 9am to receive our office papers of appointment in both English and Japanese.

Dinner in Asago, tempura udon

Dinner in Asago, tempura udon

They are pretty cool, I have to say. Then we received our hanko or personal stamp. Around 11 am a Japanese Teacher of English (JTE), N. Sensei, from my JHS can and picked me up. We went to the local council branch in Kinosaki and registered my address. Then we were off to the school. I was shown to my desk and sat and ate my lunch.

There are a lot of old teaching books and folders of activities for each level at the junior high and a surprisingly newish laptop for me to use. Then I went to a 2 hour teacher meeting near my house but honestly didn’t understand much of what was going on but the other teachers seemed really friendly and tried to talk to me in basic Japanese. I was allowed to go home early at around 3pm which was nice as it was horribly hot.

The Grandmother was right! Look at those clouds!

The Grandmother was right! Look at those clouds!

At about 4.30 I went on a little walk down to the beach and around Kehi. At the beach I saw a hornet and was slightly terrified at how huge they are. I was going to go to Kinosaki to get groceries but a little Japanese Grandmother told me to go home because it was going to rain heavily and she was right. As I got home it started to rain.

The next morning, Friday, I arrived for my first day at school. Because I hadn’t been to get groceries I had no lunch, so three teachers took me to Kinosaki to an all you can eat type buffet lunch that was only about $12 NZD. They were so nice and were very patient with me. In the morning I had gone with the other JTE, T. Sensei, to set up a bank account.

Kehi River

Kehi River

After sitting at my desk reading books all day, my Kyoto Sensei finally clicked that I didn’t have a cell phone and that with typhoon 11 coming this weekend I should probably have one. So T. Sensei had to take me into the city to get one. It took a long time. We got to AU at around 3.30pm and left with my new working S5 at around 5.30pm. Poor T. Sensei had to sit with me and wait for so long. I felt really bad.

That night I got picked up my predecessor and a couple of her friends then went to one of the Teachers house from the Elementary School(ES) that I will visit. She has a lovely house close to the Junior High Sschool (JHS) and speaks amazing English. Probably the best I’ve heard so far, apart from other foreigners. We had lots of different types of meat and vege. It was so good and I got to try Tajima beef. Very tender. I also had raw squid which I actually enjoyed despite not enjoying most sashimi. Around midnight I walked home. This was quite … interesting. There aren’t many streetlights here but it seems like a safe, quiet neighbourhood. It also was raining and even with my rain coat (soooooo glad I managed to pack this) I got quite wet. It was only a 15 minute walk.

Kehi River again

Kehi River again

Yesterday I decided early in the morning, I needed to go grocery shopping. Couldn’t put it off any more. So when the rain stopped around 2.30pm, it was too heavy to go earlier, I walked to Kinosaki. I don’t think I will be walking to Kinosaki much. It’s a long way. Biking will be the best option. By the time I got there I was hot and my feet were sore and I still had to find food. Couldn’t buy meat or anything because in the heat I was worried it would spoil by the time I got home. Found some store and got some supplies. Had Lawson’s chicken for a snack and oh god that was good. Mmmmm. Then the long walk home with my heavy groceries. Sigh. I got home around 6. It was a long day. I settled down for the storm.

Today however, at lunchtime it’s only raining but the wind is picking up. The typhoon is moving slower than originally thought. It might get worse tonight but I’m not sure.

Ahhhh that was a long lot of typing (forgive the spelling and grammar mistakes, it;s hot and I’m tired). Been working on it for a day or two. Until next time!

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