About Me

maker, creative, living lightly, local, craft, minimalism, and taking joy in the small things

Friday, 31 August 2007

Horses sweat, Men perspire and Women glow

Or so the saying goes. However, whoever said that was clearly not enjoying the delights of a Japanese summer! All I can say is thank God for the beach!
Basically it's hot all the time, and humid. The humidity is not unbearable - though i am having a bad hair season because of the moisture in the air. It just seems like there is no respite from the heat, except the air-conditioned shops!
From when I get up, some time between 7 and 7:30 to when I go to bed I am warm, even in the airconditioned comfort of the BOE, or hot, when I am riding my bike places. I suppose the advantage of a bike is that you make your own breeze if you ride fast enough!
The beach technically closed on or about August 18, because of the impending jelly fish season, however we were still swimming there last weekend (August 26) without problems.
This month I have gone to the BOE each day, and in the last couple of weeks, I have gone to visit schools that I will teach at over the year ahead. That's right, I work from 8:30am until midday. Tough for some I realise. Then in the afternoon it's free time, which indicates beach time, or shopping time, or something equally taxing! I recall back in Canberra I used to tease many of my friends who were public servants for doing no work... I now know what it feels like! In fact, I think I do less than most of them combined!
Next week we start school visits, but from the lesson plans it doesn't look like I have a full day for quite a while. In fact, on Monday there are no classes because the students are all preparing for the sports festival. So after the welcome assembly I will practice dancing with the students apparently! While I am enjoying being slack at the moment, I think I will get to the stage where I really want to do something productive! However, if my public servant friends have proven anything it's that the bored stage may be a fair while off! (sorry guys!)

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Rubbish Rules

Possibly the most complicated thing about living in Japan is the bureaucracy surrounding rubbish. In fact, it's so complicated that our
supervisor, Tsucky, sat down with us one
morning at the BOE and explained the
different options. There are 6 types of rubbish. Burnable (plastic bag with blue writing), general plastic (bag with black writing on it), PET recycling, can recycling, glass recycling (glass has to be separated as to colour) - these 3 have to be taken and sorted into different boxes at the rubbish station, and finally the 'general' bag (bag with orange writing on it), which basically has anything else - the examples on the poster is a pair of shoes!
Once the rubbish is sorted it has to be put in the right place on the right day. Luckily my rubbish days are all Tuesdays, so I just need to remember which Tuesday we are on. The burnable bag goes at the end of my driveway, but all the other rubbish has to be taken to the community centre called 'Sun Life'.
Confused? Try living and figuring out where to put the rubbish once you've finished cooking or something. I'm still not sure which bin the aluminium foil goes in. So my solution to that is to wash the one piece I have used and re-use it until it disintegrates, then I don't need to find the right bin to put it in.
In some places in Yamaguchi you're supposed to write your name on the bag before you leave it, but I am terrified that will mean the bag gets returned because I've done something wrong, so I leave mine unlabelled. It seems that no one labels their bags as I'm yet to see a name on a bag anywhere!

Welcome to Hagi

I think the best way to describe my aparment is that it is bigger than I expected, but smaller than anything I have seen in Oz! The apartment is 3 rooms: bedroom (with a bed, not a futon), loungeroom and kitchen - off the kitchen is the laundry area, the toilet and the shower/bath.
Possibly the coolest thing in my apartment is a shoe cupboard (pictured). Now obviously, back in Australia a shoe cupboard that houses only 9 pairs of shoes would be insufficient for me, but over here there is still room for 1 more pair. On the idea of a shoe cupboard, does anyone want to hazard a guess at how big my shoe cupboard would have to be back home???
As a special welcome to Hagi the Board of Education (BOE) had organised fireworks and a festival... joke. The summer festival started the day we arrived, so I met up with the rest of the Hagi JET community (and some JETs from the inaka round here) and had some dinner and went down to the beach to watch the fireworks. So in Australia fireworks just go for however long they go for. I know the Skyfire one has a soundtrack, but this was divided into sections, with different sponsors, and announcements over the PA all night telling us what was going on - actually only about 40 minutes total including fireworks and announcements.
I spent my first morning in Hagi unpacking, not that I brought that much stuff, given our luggage limitations, but trying to decide where to put it. In the afternoon Tsucky (my supervisor at the BOE) and Flick took us to get bank accounts, and a keitai (mobile or cell phone as it is called over here).
I also got to visit my supermarket for the first time. It's amazing - you can get anything you can desire ready-made. Of course, I'm not really sure what everything is, but one day I'll probably figure it out.
All in all, Hagi seems quite cool

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Tokyo Orientation

I got up at 4.45am which is seriously inhumane. Played my last GH song for a fair while... It had to be 'Carry On'! At the Canberra Airport Erin J and Erin H, Ange, Dan, Katie, Xav and Geoff came to see me off - literally waited for my plane to leave! Faye came and said goodbye too! It was really great to see so many people so early in the morning! Thanks for coming.
Arrived at the Keio Plaza (lonely planet classification: Top End) at 9pm, and went out for dinner with the rest of the Canberra crew and some random Americans we found. Some annoying Australian 2nd year JET came with us, and thought we were from Brisbane, or otherwise loves Brisbane, because that is all she talked about!
Monday orientation was nothing special - I may or may not have attended all the sessions. It seemed to be different people from different parts of the government telling us how important the JET program is to them. So instead I went electronics shopping with the rest of the Canberra Crew and in true Australian style grabbed drinks at a bar after the shopping, rather than attend more seminars.
We had our prefectural night out - props to Louise and Panama Rob for the fun times. We went to the top of some train station and did nomihodai and tabehodai (all you can drink and all you can eat). Louise also introduced us to some of the Tokyo sights - very effeminate J-boys trying to pick up girls at train stations to go and work in the hostess bars, using original lines like, 'you're so beautiful'!
Tuesday's sessions were equally thrilling, so jumped on the subway down to Harajuku for some wandering/shopping. I tried on shoes, and was excited to realise I am a 24 over here, so shoe shopping here we come!
Tues night was Embassy Night - Aya came to visit me at the hotel and walked with us over to the Embassy, where she pointed out her old apartment. At the Embassy it was basically do the JET program and then come and work with us! Followed by a weird dinner.
Wednesday morning I had to get up at 6am to go to Hagi. I was honestly thinking at the time, this city better be great or I will be annoyed about the early start! After dealing with the bureaucracy at the airport - you have to present your bag so an airport staff member can check that the bag you are taking is the one you checked in - we three hagi bound JETs went into the lobby and found Flick andTsucky waiting for us with a big sign to welcome us.
In Hagi in the afternoon we experienced more Japanese bureaucracy. We went and applied for our gaijin cards (alien registration) and the application took about an hour. Then we went to meet the mayor - who was supposed to have really good English, because he studied at Tokyo University, but honestly, it was dismal.
Then, I went to my apartment. Thank goodness I could sit down.

My Farewell Party

So for those of you who missed it, my farewell party was fabulous fun. We started at Binara One, and there was generally drinking and merriment from 4:30pm onwards, and then a select group mosey'ed on over to Happy's for a banquet.
Thanks to all those who came, it was great to have such an awesome celebration just before I left!

I have the internet!

Ok, so my modem finally arrived, and I am connected. However, the blogspot instructions are in kanji, so will need some help from a friend over here before i start posting pics etc.