Friday, June 03, 2005

Week #3 in Japan

How time flies... and yet not. On the one hand, I can’t believe it’s already been 3 weeks since I landed in Tokyo, and on the other hand I can’t believe it’s been only 3 weeks since my arrival. I guess it’s probably because soooo much has happened between arriving, training, traveling to Utsunomiya, meeting everybody, getting into the whole teaching thing... It’s been a rough 3 weeks I guess. I’m glad to have finally settled down a bit now... I have somewhat of a routine going:

Wake up – about 2.5 hours before I have to be at work, which changes 3 times during the week. Tuesday to Thursday is 1-9, Friday is 12-9, Saturday is 11-8. Clean up a bit (keeping things tidy is very important in such a small place) and get ready for work. Have Breakfast, which usually consists of cereal and fruit if anyone’s wondering. About an hour, hour and a half before I have to get to work I bike on down to the International Center to make use of their wonderful free Internet Access. It’s only a 2 minute bike ride but I still can’t wait to get online at my place... putt around the Net there for a bit, answer email, check the news (Belinda Stronach crossed the floor and is now a liberal and thus saved the government from collapse??? I knew there was a reason I didn’t like her!) Head in to work, (3 minute bike ride) at least 15 minutes early but usually more than that as per Japanese expectations… which really hasn’t changed much for me since I’ve ALWAYS been relatively early for work. Teach and prepare lessons and do what I can to help the staff around the office until 9PM (8 on Saturday) Head out around 9:15 if everything is settled. Hop on ol’ Trinity (the bike) and go down to the Wall Street Café for a quick peak in at my emails and such, no more than 15 minutes or a half hour on the outside... when I have to pay for my surfing, I’m efficient! Bike on home and usually get in around 10 or so. The dinner part is flexible, I’ll start cooking for myself once I get to the great big huge supermarket and pick up some stuff on Sunday but in the meantime it’s usually bento from Daily Yamazaki.... not bad food. Bed around 11-12.

That’s usually the plan anyway... assuming I don’t veer off from the Wall Street and go make my typical gaijin appearance at a local bar for a beer. The people are quite friendly, and I can usually order up something pretty good to eat, and I certainly know how to order beer (Biru hitotsu onegaishimasu) so I guess I can no longer say I’m not a beer drinker... that and Vwokka Tonicu are the only things I know how to order... and the beer’s cheaper... lol

This week’s highlights:
-Purchased myself a floor chair... relatively comfortable, much better than sitting on the floor with cushions like I’d done all week.
-Doubled up my futon with an extra one that was in my closet... I no longer feel the hard floor digging into my hips... works out rather well, comfy, still able to fold it and put it into the closet when I need to.
-First successful garbage night!!! Trust me this is quite a feat here in Japan. I had a Talking Point lesson which totally freaked me out. Talking Point is an Advanced level class meant to prepare students for the next levels and introduce flowing discussions and how to support your arguments and such. Well the subject matter was the trash collection system in Japan, which is quite special. First off, they separate their garbage into burneable and non-burneable. I’m assuming they have a landfill for one and just burn the other... perfectly logical. Then the recycling thing comes in and there are set procedures and steps on what to do with what. AND everything (garbage included) must go out on the curb in see-through bags. Why you ask? Well because if you didn’t separate things properly, the garbage guy will not pick it up... totally at his discretion. So I was quite pleased this morning when I came outside and saw that my bags had been picked up... but someone else’s had been left there. I must admit though that I did not attempt the recycling thing yet... my excuse being that 2 glass bottles and 3 cans are hardly worth the use of 2 plastic bags... right?
-An AEON related highlight here… you can now add marketing to my list of tasks at the school… not bad eh? Not even a month with the company and I’ve already moved on to the lofty position, albeit part-time, of advertising technician. This is of course a big title to say that I helped out today and folded and stamped and stapled flyers. I don’t mind in the least and in fact suggested I lend a hand with it since I remember the trainers mentioning it would be appreciated. Kind of a good relaxing-in-a-mindless-sort-of-way job, much better than trying to look busy since I’d already planned my lessons up until Saturday and had started to look at next week’s schedule.

This comment on advertising demands a segway I believe. For a country so poor is resources as Japan (thinking mainly of paper here) the amount of paper advertising being doled out is flabbergasting. It seems that everywhere you turn someone’s trying to push a flyer, an advertising postcard or a pack of tissues with advertising on them. It’s absolutely amazing. I’ve even come back from shopping to find a flyer in my bicycle’s basket... completely in Japanese so of absolutely no use to me whatsoever. It’s too bad since most of the stuff ends up getting trashed anyways... and I’ve found they don’t recycle paper anywhere near the level we do back home…. Anywho... just my thoughts on the subject.

Plans for the weekend include:
-Cleaning up some more, getting a little more organized, and getting some food in the fridge, go exploring in the 2 parks that I live like RIGHT next to… depending on the weather of course.
-Sunday, I’ve been invited out to a temple tour which I will definitely go to… assuming I don’t do anything stupid Saturday night since we depart from City Hall at 10AM… Should be fun, I’ll get some great pictures anyways.

So that’s about that... in closing... here’s some shots over the last week... there will be more pics in the future once I get settled in and get some kind of social life going... give me a week ;-)

Here's a shot of the front gate of a huge park Scott (in the pic) found on one of his walks...

This is the main gateway in the Park... very nice setting.

Roofless Gazebo thing

Nice Koi Pond...

Normal sized trees!!!

After our walk we quickly hoped in to a liquor store where I was proud to see Canadian product stocked prominently... Ice Wine from the Niagara region...

The sky started doing some interesting things...

FIRST MAIL!!! Actually for Matt, asking to send the Internet modem back in... had it translated by my friend Yoshi at the office... he's been a lifesaver...

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