Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Konichiwa from 東京 (Tokyo)

It is Tuesday night and I have just completed my JET orientation in Tokyo. I will be leaving tomorrow morning heading to the capital of Iwate, Morioka, by bullet train. My days here have been pretty busy. It has been pretty non-stop from 8:00 AM until 7-8:00 PM both Monday and Tuesday. The orientation had many incredible presenters and speakers offering a plethora of information, insight, and motivation. I must say that I am really looking forward to teaching. I have also met some great fellow JETs, but I am also ready to say sayonara and get out of the Tokyo. I just didn't enjoy the big city this time.

Let me fill you in on my experiences. Monday evening, the ALTs from went out for drinks in Shabuya. Understand that drinking with you co-workers (within reason) is pretty typical in Japan. Japanese do not usually have guests over to their homes, instead people meet up at restaurants and bars to socialize outside of work. And for Shabuya, If you have ever seen a movie that has anything to do with Tokyo, chances are at least a scene from it was filmed there. This is one of the busiest areas in Tokyo especially for Japanese youth and foreigners. After a drink, we went to sing karaoke also in Shabuya. Karaoke is huge in Japan, but is different than karaoke as Americans know it. When you go to a karaoke, you are given a room in what is typically a multi-level building. The rooms usually have a booth that surrounds a table and a karaoke machine hooked up to a TV. You can also order drinks at karaoke. There are many songs that are offered in English because American Pop music is also popular in Japan and the prices are reasonable, especially when a group of friends go. We sang karaoke for a few hours then headed back.

Tuesday night I ventured out on my own...nothing terrible happened, but I did have an interesting adventure. As I was getting a ticket for the train, a "helpful" man came up and assisted me in buying the ticket. I assured him that I knew what I was doing, but he still went at navigating the screen on the machine. As we finished he asked for 200 yen for his troubles. I gave him 100 and I was on my way. I was heading back to Shabuya to look around at some of the shops and I made it there with no problem. As I was walking around, I was approached by someone to buy drugs. From what I understand, this is not common. Messing with drugs of any sort is highly illegal, selling or using. It didn't concern me, it was just kinda shocking. I wonder if he was a cop....

I got stuck in a pretty crazy rain/thunderstorm as I was heading back to the train station but I decided to hold off on purchasing another umbrella (Japan is where Tyler and I bought at least 3 of our umbrellas before). I bought another ticket (this time on my own) and I boarded the train back to the hotel. I was doing so well, until the train broke down and everyone had to find another route. Remember that Shabuya is one of the busiest areas in Tokyo. There were probably thousands of people heading to other trains. It was really quite impressive to watch. I followed the crowd and ended up at another train that appeared to be going close to the hotel but I wasn't sure, so I asked someone, IN JAPANESE!! Of course I had to consult my phrase book, but I mustered up the courage and asked. That was sort of the climax of my evening. I did make it back to the hotel and I did have enough time to iron my shirt at the communal ironing station.

I am heading to Iwate first thing tomorrow morning and I'm not sure when I will be around the internet again, but I will post more soon including some pics that I've taken during my orientation.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Final Countdown

I just hit me...WE'RE MOVING TO JAPAN!!

It seems as if I haven't convinced myself yet that we'll be living in Japan for a year.

This past week has been incredibly busy for the both of us. We had our final yard sale and going away party. We packed, cleaned, and vacated our apartment with the help of my parents and little brother. We drove to Clovis with the cats to visit Tyler's side of the family. Then Tyler's parents drove us to San Antonio to drop off the cats with Tyler's brother and his wife. Tyler will be staying in San Antonio for a couple more weeks then she will be joining me in Japan just in time to celebrate our one year anniversary.

If you've been following our journey, you'll know that I am writing you on the eve of my departure. Thanks to the Holiday Inn that has free WiFi and my air conditioned Ford Focus rental car, I am able to keep you as up-to-date as possible. I have around five hours to waste before I can check in to my hotel. Tonight I will be attending a Pre-departure Orientation and reception to follow. I will breathe my last breathes in the US tonight then depart for Japan early tomorrow. I will follow the sun around the globe (literally) until it I arrive in Japan on Sunday in time for 2-3 days of orientation in Tokyo. I believe I will be in Ichinohe by Wednesday or Thursday. Many things are unclear at this point, but I will keep you as current as/when I can. I promise.

Thanks for following!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July trip to Northern NM

We went to Eagle's Nest for an old fashioned, all-American 4th of July celebration this year. I was craving the type of 4th of July you read about of see in movies. Here are some of the pics from our trip.