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Published: December 17th 2005
This me, my parents and my boyfriend Jason at the terminal in SF. Notice the precision of the picture that carefully includes the tv with the destination in the background and all 4 of us perfectly centered. ever heard the term Japanese Tourist? The land of wonderful photographers!
FINALLY!!! I have started my blog like I promised!!! Now instead of me writing the same thing 100 times or sending out a mass email (because I know everyone loves those impersonal things), I have this blog where I can update everyone on what is going on in Japan. I have been here officially for a month. It seems like forever and yet not so long at the same time. I start teaching this week. All of August the students are on break, yet I still have to go to school and sit there...doing nothing. I have also had many orientations on living in Japan (ie how to avoid cockroaches and tatami bugs) and I got to connect with many of th 130 JETs in Hiroshima Ken. There have also been some interesting differences in food, traditions, and getting lost here and there. It has been a physical and mental roller coaster the past month. In general I am FINALLY settling in and really enjoying my time. It is starting to feel a little like home. So, I will do a brief recap of what has happened.
July 30, 100+ JETs left SF for Tokyo to join the other
Berkeley takes on Japan
Jason, me and Jeff. Watch out Japan, here we come....
1,000 new JETs that would be coming in from all over the world. We said our good byes to the loved ones and off we went.
Sunday afternoon we arrived in Tokyo. All of us were in our semi-warm clothes that were suitable for SF. The moment we stepped off the plane i felt like someone threw bucket of water on me (okay thats exaggerating, a little). The humidity was unbearable when we got off the airplane. I felt like I was on the east coast. After a long customs line, Jason almost losing his ipod and glasses, a LONG line of current JETs navigating us through the airport, we got on the buses headed to the Keio Plaza. That night a group of us decided to hit up the town. We only had 3 days in Tokyo and we wanted to make the best of it. We went into the metro station and wanted to go to the Shibuya district. All of us took one look at the map in Kanji and were just dumbfounded. It felt like a "Welcome to Japan...oh yeah and we speak a completely different language, remember?" I will never forget how it
34,000,000 people....a lot of people for a considerably small city
felt at that moment. Thank God a guy with us named Chris spoke Japanese and had been to Japan numerous times. Otherwise, we were screwed.
My favorite comment of the night as hundreds of Japanese people crossed the street "Hey look all Asians, must be a Berkeley Econ Class." Yes, I am crude and I am sorry.
The JET program shows me how small this world is really getting. Someday it will be the 7 degrees of separation from Casey :-). and the people I was hanging out with that night:
Chris: Our lifeline to Japan
Stirling: From San Diego who I met on the plane. Turns out his friend from high school is my boyfriend Jason's new roommate. Small world....
Jonathan: A Berkeley grad who lived in South America for 2 years before coming to Japan, who went on his birth rite trip to Israel with Jason, and knows Meredith through Red Bull
Jason: Berkeley dude, who I met through a mutual friend
Meredith: Again more weird contacts. Was friends with friend Justin from SLO and studied with Hannah in Cambridge.
Jeff: Berkeley dude who I met through Jason, and got placed in Hiroshima Ken
So we went out, got food, went to a Gaijin bar, and headed home. While checking my email I found out some very interesting news...MY SISTER IS ENGAGED!!! Guess I will be coming home sooner than expected for the wedding. FYI, Gaijin means foreigner and that is what we call ourselves.
As well as having fun we had to go to numerous orienations. This was round 2 of incoming JETs. There were 1,000 of us from 44 different countries. There are 6,000 JETs total in Japan. It is a pretty big program.
I went to a food workshop and learned that I could be served raw horse meat, this thing called natto which is fermented soy beans (it smells like vomit i kid you not!!!), fried whale, pickled plub (I let Jeff try that one, it was not pretty), live shrimp that is killed on the table and eaten raw...the list is endless. Slowly but surely I am trying new things. Okonomiyaki is a local dish and it is FABULOUS. I am going to learn how to make it and make it for all you guys when I come home. My favoritie is Katin
Night out in Shibuya
Sushi-conveyor belt sushi...hhmmmm good :-).
Everynight included going out. A japanese bar/pub is called an Izukaya. They serve lots of beer and small portions of beer food. We went to one as the Hiroshima Ken. The Japanese are also fond of one price and all you can drink. So, for 3 hours we could drink as much as we want (plus food) for 28 bucks. I thinkI got my fair share of birru (beer). They also have these things called Enkais which are drinking parties. Whoever thought drinking was such a big part of japanese culture? Not I!!! The night was topped off with a great Japanese pasttime....KARAOKE!!! It was all about Bon Jovi....there are no other questions.
The next day I decided to skip out on the orientations. Now, I know that was not the best thing, but quoted from the Hiroshima Prefectural Advisor Justin when asked how important the orientations were, "Do what makes you feel most comfortable." Touring Tokyo seemed like a GREAT idea. I snuck away with Jonathan, Revital and Anna to a huge (my first of a cazillion) shrines in Tokyo, to a huge park, and of course to Kaiten sushi. That was
I don't want to see their electric bill
waaaay much more fun that going to Orientations all day. That night we went to dinner, then karaoking, and then to a very very random bar in the Ramballi (spelled wrong) distric which is where all strip clubs/drag queens hang out. It was a crazy night. So this concludes Tokyo. I wish I had more time to explore Tokyo because it is an AWESOME city. I do not know if I will make it back. It is pretty far from Hiroshima...we will see what the next year brings.
So Tokyo was a blast. The true test was when we all split up to our prefectures, then even further to our respective cities, towns, villages, inaka (inaka is japanese for countryside). Tokyo was easy, peace of cake! The moment we all stepped off that plane in Hiroshima and saw all our supervisors waiting for us....it was a little different to say the least.
I arrived at Kabe Senior High School to a huge welcome sign. EVERYTHING said Cathleen. Guess they did not get the memo i go by Casey. My name is actually pronounced "Keishi Rari" in Katakana. My supervisor Yumi and Sensei Nishida picked me up.
Enkai with Hiroshima Ken
Lots of beer and lots of food
It was the hottest day of my life. I moved into my aparment which is huge (I think, but compared to Pi Phi anything is big) and well located next to school, a department store, the bus stop and a 15 minute walk from the train station. This is the first time I have lived alone and the most space I have ever had YIKES.
Kabe in a nutshell
Location: North of Hiroshima City.
Gaijin: Was 3, now down to 2
Italian Restaurants: 1
Kaiten Sushi: 1
Everyone has been soooo incredibly nice. My supervisor is sooo essential to me because she translates everything for me. Without her I would be soooo lost and more confused than I already am. As I said, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions the past month. I have excited to be in a new country, exploring a new culture, and trying new things. Frustrated because I can't speak the language and get around by myself when I am used to being independent. Lonely: You try living in in a country where you can't speak to anyone and did not know how to
Pete and I singing our hearts out!
use the phone or anyone else's numbers! Confused: I hate not being able to read Kanji...i mean, everyone should be able to read the 5,000 characters, right? :-). And basically every other emotion at one point or another.
This is the beginning of my blog. When I have time tomorrow I will post more. Look forward to Atomic Bomb Memorial, Island hopping in Miyajima and Etajima, hitchikingin Japan, friends and the cool people I have met....it is going to be a crazy year!!!
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