Thursday, August 04, 2005

Post-arrival in Japan

I haven`t posted on here for ages, so thought I would share with you all what`s going on with me here in hot and humid Japan.

Well I got to Heathrow with plenty of time to spare on Sat 30th. Managed to get through the huge check-in queue ok (they let me on with 27kg, so thank you Virgin Atlantic and Richard Branson!). I had only got 22kg at first, but they made me check in my (admittedly quite heavy) suit carrier. But anyway... Also managed to send on a couple of suitcases with a forwarding company.
breezed through security and passport control without any problems. It was hard saying goodbye to Mum, Dad and Matthew, but it`s not forever and I`ll look forward to their visits during the course of my time here.

Left LHR late (don`t know why), but all the JETs were seated in economy class. I was in the middle 4 seats, and was lucky enough to have an empty seat beside me. The other side of me and there was Jack, an Oxford English graduate (but I can`t remember what prefecture - somewhere on Kyushu I think, maybe Fukuoka or Kagoshima). Flight was about 11 hours, and I managed to get a couple of hours sleep. Watched Madagascar, Valiant and some Little Britain to while away the time.
Arrived just before 9am (local time), so the night sort of passed us by. Then got transferred to the Keio Plaza Hotel in the Shinjuku district of central Tokyo. A very nice, swanky hotel but some of the decor was stuck in the 70s. Still, we weren't complaining! Explored Shinjuku for a bit of the afternoon (having lunch at a ramen bar), and then went out with 5 others for some sushi in the evening. It was a great place with huge bits of sushi, but you wouldn't know it was there. It's on the 4th floor of the building opposite the entrance to the Yodobashi camera store in Shinjuku. Finished up the night in the Skybar on top of the Keio Plaza with a drink overlooking the fantastic view of Tokyo by night.

Next day (Monday) was full of meetings, workshops by AJET, speeches by various bigwigs and a welcome reception in the evening. We then headed out as a prefecture (NAGANO!!!!!) to a bar called Heaven & Hell. We were obviously seated in hell (for our sins!), drank pitchers and chatted away. The singing urinal which pretended to take your photo provided some entertainment. Karaoke was next on the agenda. Having been put under immense peer pressure by the Kiwis ;) , we went to one of the many Big Echo chains in Shinjuku and did 2/3 hours of karaoke with all you can drink. A great night, with many people showing their talents under the effects of alcohol, and didn`t get to bed till after 3am. I'll be posting photos on my fotopic website as soon as I get organised with my internet connection at home.

Tuesday, and more workshops and the Nagano prefectural meeting. The morning was pretty much a blur as I had a stinking hangover, and this showed itself during the lesson that was being deomnstrated to us when I was asked a question as to what I would do if I had sharp claws. If you want to know what I said then ask!
British embassy night in the evening, which was made better with the appearance of the embassy taiko drumming team. Great bunch of guys. Went to bed earlyish that night as had a fairly early start the next morning.

Set off to Nagano-ken on Wednesday morning, stopping for lunch at a service station with a fantastic view over Lake Suwa. Was met at Matsumoto by the head of languages at my school who does english and french so I was able to converse in both languages. We made lots of small talk, and he took me to my apartment before taking me to meet the principal and vice-principal. The first teacher also teaches vinification (the wine making process) to the students as the school used to be an agricultural school and has its own vineyard. They also have their own bottles of wine! I will hopefully try and get one before I leave!
Met my caretaker (Tad Yanagisawa) who's my main point of contact at the school and he sorted some things out at my apartment (gas, water, telephone). He also took me out for a meal with his family that evening, which was really nice. Got to bed quite late as I was doing my unpacking and trying to make my place look reasonable.
Got given the day off today which was quite nice (didn:t have to take leave), so I have been shopping and now need to go and do my laundry, ironing and give the apartment a spring clean.

Will try and keep this updated as much as I can, but it will depend if I can get an internet connection at my apartment.
Until the next time...