Monday, July 27, 2009
Ok, here we go, first few days in Japan- The flight over was relatively painless, 11 hrs or so from LA to Tokyo, 16 or 17 hrs of travel altogether. The flight made slightly enjoyable by the electronic backgammon game available. The humidity and heat was all that it was cracked up to be- just that, hot and humid, sweaty and uncomfortable. Immigration and customs was far less invasive than I had anticipated. Upon arrival the guidance to our rooms and such was made idiot-proof by the sponsoring organizations and ministries. Helpful yes, a tad unnecessary. I took the elevator, or as some of my new British colleagues say 'lift' (haha, I do love good British idioms) up to my room to discover that my roommate was none other than Eric, haha, a good discovery. We hit the town the first night in search of adapters for our computers, 680 yen a piece, followed by dinner at a nice ラーメン shop, (ramen). Had a great bowl of ramen and a beer for 1200 yen. A couple other Colorado JETs ran into us there and joined us. The next morning we went for a walk around the hotel just to get a feel for Tokyo business on a Monday morning at 8am. I walked outside to hear a very loud and bizarre sound all around, only to come to the realization that it was all the cicadas making tons of noise- we don't have those back in Colorado...so the sound was quite foreign to me. The day followed with workshop after workshop for orientation, much as today will, and they were incredibly boring and un-enlightening. I hope todays presentations will be more useful and insightful. After the long boring day of workshops we split up into our prefectural groups and went out. Our Niigata group went to an observatory overlooking the whole city, quite the sight. (pictures to come). After that we strolled around town looking for a bar, found a nice small place and enjoyed some drinks, I spent 1200 yen on two drinks, roughly equivalent to what I'd spend back in the states. We all went back to the hotel at different points, I walked back alone, cause I'm like that, and found myself approached by many an older Japanese women, each one with the same speech, 'ha-lo, masagee?' You'll be able to decipher what this meant as well as I was, haha; naturally I declined as politely as possible and continued on my way. And that is pretty much where its all at. No big impressions or surprises yet, though we've had very limited time to explore and are spending most the time around other foreigners, so none of us will get immersed into real Japanese culture until we reach our prefectural towns, which is tomorrow-Wed afternoon or evening.