Home > Japan, Pictures, Trips > Some Catching Up To Do

Some Catching Up To Do

What a few days it has been! I have now officially spent five days in Japan!!! Or maybe I should say I’ve only spent five days in Japan! So little time has actually passed, but so much has happened. I’ll start from what you know: My flight from Boston to Chicago was delayed, we were comped a hotel room in Chicago, and flew out from Chicago the next day. Twelve hours and twenty-four minutes later, we were at Narita Airport, Tokyo. On the plane ride over, Brian, who was my seat mate, and I listened to a music channel which American Airlines has the gall to boast has the hottest music on the planet! I recognized only one song the entire two hour play list, and that was Taylor Swift’s “Love Song.” By the way, it’s nice to be able to make “”s, because I’ve been using a Japanese computer today, and I can’t figure out how to make quotation marks on their keyboard…The key it’s on has three options, the main button, then the secondary button, which is accessed by the shift key, and then a tertiary option. I don’t know what ungodly button unlocks that mode, but I haven’t found it yet. Needless to say, everything I write on the Japanese computer uses [ ] instead of quotation marks. But anyway, back to the story. AA’s pop music channel was terrible. However, it had one song that made the entire rest of the two hours completely worth it. I have no idea what the song is called, nor whom it was made by, so the chances of me finding it online are fairly slim. I recall some of the lyrics, however. I will serenade you by text now: “I know karate…I know Jiu-jitsu…I drive like a gangsta when I’m comin’ to see you…” It repeats that a number of times, then goes to this classic verse: “You ask me if you the only one…I gotta be blunt…I say: HELL YEAH!” Accompanying this truly groundbreaking lyrical genius is a strange 80s dance beat that truly complements the song. It’s almost as if 80s dance and modern day hip hop had a threesome with some retarded monkey who got tired of typing Shakespeare on a typewriter all day, so he switched to song lyrics. Brian and I eagerly awaited this song as it came through the rotation. I’m pretty sure we were laughing so hard people were staring at us. (A good precursor to being in Japan, so I wasn’t too phased.) Edit – I found the song! It`s called Karate – by Kennedy. LOOK IT UP!

We finally arrived at Narita, and our epic flight saga is nearly over. At least, that’s what I thought. After getting off the plane we all headed to the baggage claim area, only to find out that only four people’s bags actually made it to Tokyo. Those fated four (myself included) who waited the longest in Boston now got their just desserts. Everyone else spent another 45 minutes at the baggage information center filling out paperwork to have their luggage sent to the hotel the next day, or if worst came to worst, directly to their Contracting Organization. Having sorted that out, we boarded our bus to the Keio Plaza Hotel. Two hours later, twenty very harried looking people stepped off a bus and directly into the welcome reception for the 1,000 or so JETs at the hotel. Having stressed for quite a few days beforehand that the orientation was the beginning of our employment, and so we should dress accordingly, we were all kind of worried that people would stare at us. We had been told the upper authority had cleared us to join the welcome reception in our jeans and t-shirts. I could truly feel hundreds of eyes on me as we walked into the hall. We had originally planned on all walking in together, opening the great double doors in a dramatic show of awesome, but we were separated before we could plan any further. I met all the other Oita JETs at the reception, which was great, they are a great group of people. Everyone knew about our misfortune, so just in case I had to stick out enough in my jeans and T-shirt, everyone came up and gave their condolences for our situation. I was invited out after the reception to go drinking/karaoke-ing with the rest of the Oita group. I tagged along, and was feeling pretty bad after half a beer. Apparently sleeping very little for 28 hours and then drinking alcohol does not do the body a lot of good. Even still, it was a blast. Somehow I ended up doing quite a lot of the singing (those of you with intimate knowledge of my singing abilities cringe), even the girly songs like: “I kissed a girl and I liked it” and some other pop songs I don’t remember the name of but that talk about “coming in and letting out” or something to that respect.

The rest of the orientation really was a waste of time. We were required to attend a number of workshops, but really all they lectured us on was how not to bicycle after having drunk even a sip of alcohol. It is indeed illegal here in Japan to drink and drive, and the drive part refers to anything with wheels. I’m quite certain pushing a stroller with a baby after having a beer with your friends is punishable by a few weeks in prison and public shunning for the rest of your and your baby’s life.

Let’s skip to Wednesday. We all met at 8:45 AM and left the hotel around 9:15 AM to take a bus to Haneda, the secondary airport in Tokyo. From there we took the hour and a half flight to Oita city airport, an airport surrounded by rice paddies. Indeed, Oita is one of the more rural prefectures in Japan. Oita city, the biggest city in the prefecture, has 400,000 residents. The prefecture as a whole has a little less than one million. Natalie (my fellow new Nakatsu JET) and I were then met by my supervisor, Kusano-san, as well as her two supervisors, Jun and a woman whose name I have quite predictably forgotten. We drove from Oita city to Nakatsu, and from there on went directly to a bank, where I cashed all of my traveler’s cheques. This made me feel pretty “okane mochi” (rich) for a while, until immediately after we went to the bank we stopped off at the real estate agent, where I paid 200,000+ yen for the keys to my apartment. (Rough USD translation, $2,000) From there we went to check out our apartments. My apartment is quite nice. It has two rooms, and a nice sized kitchen/dining room, as well as the most technologically advanced toilet known to man. It’s so smart I have yet to touch anything in that room with my hands, and yet have been able to not be a disgusting pig. The toilet seat opens up when I enter the room, (you have no idea how awesome that is) the toilet flushes when I sit down, and again when I stand up. It has a bidet, and a courtesy flushing noise to mask all my dirty noises. The only thing it’s missing is a microwave. However, that was just about all my apartment had. It did have lights, so that was a welcome relief. There are, though, no curtains. I have already scared quite a few innocent Japanese people walking by by waking up in the morning, going to stretch, and then realizing that I still don’t have curtains. Kusano-san has been incredibly nice to me, bringing me a laundry machine, a refrigerator, a microwave, and a gas stove. He also took me to buy a futon to sleep on. Without him, I would be sleeping on a hard wooden floor, no doubt sticking to the floor because it is so ungodly humid here, with no sheets or pillow to rest my weary head.

This post is getting quite long, so I had better cut it off here. Today (Saturday) Natalie and I are going to buy curtains, and a few other necessities. We’re going with Kate, who is another JET in Nakatsu, who has been very helpful in answering all of our silly questions. I will update later with the adventure of my first few days at school (Thursday and Friday.) No doubt they are riveting tales, not to be missed.

Hope everyone is doing OK without me! Internet is coming eventually, bear with me, it’s actually impossible to get just about anything without an alien registration card, which I won’t have until the 18th-24th, according to my receipt.

Ciao!

-edit- here are some pictures of my place!!!

More pictures at picasa!

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  1. elise
    August 11, 2009 at 9:02 am

    2000$?! is that a deposit… or like a one time fee. I’m confused…

  2. Dash
    August 12, 2009 at 4:20 am

    One time fee…half of it is the first two months rent, the rest is key money…to insure that you don`t screw over the apartment manager, basically. It`s a very Japanese system

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