Saturday, February 24, 2007

This whole "not working" thing really is great!

For quite some time now, I've been saying that Japan would be a much better place to live without the whole "work" aspect. Sure enough, I was right, lol.

3 days since I finished working, and I'm feeling pretty mellowed out. It's really great not having to work this Saturday, where at this time I would be finishing up my 5th lesson of the day with 2 more still to go. So needless to say, my first few days of unemployment have been good.

On Thursday, Yoshiko and I stopped by H.I.S. Travel and booked ourselves onto a Delta Airlines flight which will take us to Atlanta where we will then transfer for Ottawa. If all goes according to plan, I will be walking on Canadian soil again at about 11PM on Wednesday April 18th. And we got a pretty good deal on the tickets, less than I paid to come out here back in 2005 and MUCH cheaper than when I went home for Golden Week last year. So that's that, another step closer to home.

In skiing news, I've booked myself into a cute little place right smack dab in the middle of the biggest ski area in Japan... Shiga Kogen. After debating whether it may be best to go to Hokkaido since the price is similar, I opted for the bigger resort rather than the better snow. From the web cams I've seen, this shouldn't be a problem. I leave on Monday March 5th, and return Wednesday the 7th. Looking forward to it!

Today, I had planned to make that bike ride out to Oya, but the wind is really whipping around out there so we opted to go by car instead. Having already explored the area quite a bit during past excursions, we headed up little Mount Tage to visit a temple that some students had suggested. This is the approach to the temple steps. Ever time I visit Oya, I am surprised at how isolated and rural the area seems, despite being within easy reach of downtown Utsunomiya.


The temple itself was pleasant, due to it's natural setting, though I must admit to being pretty templed out after almost two years here. The Oya area does have some truly OLD stuff, so it's definitely worth the trip out.


On a small shelf near the temple, some people had left these little daruma dolls. As I believe I have mentioned before, these little guys are bought when one has a goal or objective in mind. After deciding your goal, you paint in one of the eyes. The second eye is painted when your objective has been reached.


This was the view from the temple grounds. Utsunomiya is off to the right, hidden by the trees. A lovely day indeed.


In search of a view of the majestic mountains to the North of Tage-san, we ended up hiking up a trail which took us to the mountain's peak at 377 meters. The little clearing near the summit had a nice view, but we unfortunately couldn't see Nantai-san or the surrounding mountains which are quite breathtaking these days with their dusting of snow. We did manage to catch a glimpse of them through the trees from a different vantage point before making our way back down the mountain.


After stopping by the Oya Kannon for a quick look at the ongoing construction, we started looking for a Thai restaurant Yoshiko had been to before and that I'd heard about.


After circling around for a bit, we did manage to spot it. It's right near the Lawson's just as the main road splits into two should anyone be interested. The food was quite good and the chef spoke pretty decent English.

And that was about that for the trip to Oya. Tonight is my farewell party where I make the final break with good ol' AEON. It's been one heck of a run, and I will miss many of the students - not all ;-) - but I am glad to be putting the eikaiwa life behind me once and for all. For some reason, there seems to be some rumour or feeling that I may some day return to teach again... not sure where that's coming from. I will come back to Japan, to visit the Japanese side of the family, not to teach. Aside from the lack of true opportunities within the company, (obvious in the fact that even the trainers who've been with the company for a decade or longer are not hired as permanent employees but kept on 1 year contracts) I have a life waiting for me back in Canada. It's plain to see that many of the people who opt to stay in the eikaiwa system as a career have some reason for it other than the great sushi and hot springs found in Japan. Whether it be a lack of social skills, education or job prospects, they stay here and teach because it's easier than dealing with whatever they'd have to face back home. There are of course a multitude of reasons to stay in Japan and this may have sounded like a blanket statement, but if you've ever met some of the long-timers (like the jerk we nicknamed Michael Moore at the Lion's Head) I've run into, you'll understand what I mean here... lol

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