So guys…. IM HERE!!!!
Yep. I am officially living and working in Japan now!! These past few weeks have been so much fun; and Ive done so much! So below are extracts form my ongoing journal about my time here – enjoy!
Saturday August 30th
So, I’m here!!! I actually live in Japan now- which is so weird!
Flights here were uneventful; although I did watch a quite entertaining teen vampire movie on the first plane. My apartment is great! Much bigger than I was expecting, and lots of cupboard space!! My brother was at my apartments to meet me when I got here, and I showered, got changed and out we went for my first night in Japan! We went for food first at this chain restaurant that is all over Japan. Everything in there is 300Yen, which makes it nice and cheap; and the food is delicious! After food we met up with other Juso teachers in Es Bar (which is apparently THE place to hang out in Juso). Everyone was so lovely, one guy – Ben, was leaving and he actually gave me a little jigsaw piece that said “I love you” on it ( he was giving them to everyone). Practiced some of my Japanese while I was out as well; telling a girl that I liked her earrings! Ana walked home with me (which was completely necessary as I didn’t know the way sober, let alone drunk!) and we stopped at Family Mart (convenience store) where I picked up some Onigiri for the next day.
Ana showed me her apartment, since I had to go and collect the suitcase that my brother brought over for me. Ana lives on the roof – literally. She has her own little roof terrace, and then there is a big one that everyone can use – I can see me sitting up there sunbathing on days off (if it ever stops raining!). When I got back to mine, I attempted a quick Skype with mum and dad but my stolen internet didn’t really cover it! Then I set to unpacking my clothes. I have a really good size wardrobe so there was plenty room for everything which was good since I was definitely scared I had brought too many clothes! Then, I snuggled up in my double bed and watched The Wolverine until I fell asleep…..
In the morning, I decided that my Onigiri wasn’t really the best food for a hangover. So, I got dressed and set about trying to find my own way to family mart for some supplies. Its only just round the corner, and I found my way quite easily! I picked up some pringles and some coke zero; because I thought I should immerse myself in Japanese cuisine…. I also managed to find some really tasty apple juice in a vending machine on my way back. Then I came home and unpacked everything else-so I am now moved in!! Today, Christopher and I are going to an onsen (hot spring bath) and then theres a water park upstairs; so that should be great! Im just waiting for him to turn up as I write this.
Weird things: Opening your apartment door to have two cats stare at you; the lady downstairs very obviously has two dogs (which are sos cute)- so Im assuming you can have pets in this building!! 3D anime holograms performing in concert on the telly….
So today (Saturday), I got naked in front of a whole room full of women! The onsen was a very strange experience I must say. In Japan, at Onsen you remove all of your clothes, wash yourself thoroughly, and then sit in a large bath with a large amount of other women (or men, if you’re a man). Me and Christopher went to this huge place called Spa World; which has a whole floor of onsen for women, and for men. This time round, women were on the ‘Asian’ floor, and Men on the ‘Western’ floor. Each onsen room is themed, in Asia there was; Japanese, Egyptian, Dr.Spa, and an outdoor Japanese one. Men had roman temples and a blue lagoon on their floor. Then upstairs from the onsets is a water park which has huge slides, a lazy river, beach ball area, jacquzzis and pools. We had gone on a saturday and it was crazy busy in the water park, so we didn’t end up going on the slides this time, instead we sat in one of the hot pools for a bit and then got some drinks on the roof.
That night I met up with the girls from my training group down in Daikokoucho and we went for some karaoke fun!! Karaoke in Japan is a whole different event than anywhere else Ive been before. You get your own room with sofas, tables, and your own sound system (we even had tambourines and maracas!). Then you us these tablets to input what karaoke you want to sing. So its all just you guys. We blasted out some amazing tunes from the likes of; Spice Girls, Oasis, Alanis Morrisette, Queen, Backstreet Boys and many many more. One of the girls, Simran was falling asleep in her chair so we called it a night! A brilliant time was had by all though!!
Sunday 31st August
So today me and Christopher decided to go to Monkey Park!!! Its in Kyoto, which is where Christopher lives, but its only a train journey from Juso. It was a really hot day, so climbing up the mountain to get to the monkeys was hard works; but halfway up they had a big fan that spritzed you with water which was a godsend! I was the first to spot a monkey (a proud moment for me), basically the monkeys are all wild- they are not kept in any cages; but they are so used to humans that its completely safe to be around them. They have a lot of signs telling you the rules around the monkeys (Dont look them in the eye, Dont touch them, Dont feed them), but it is hard to follow them- the monkeys were so cute I just wanted to pick one up!! Then they have a big hut with wire mesh around it that you can go in and buy some monkey food. The monkeys climb onto the wire and stick their arm through and you have to hold your hand flat for the monkey to pick up the food! So adorable!! There was one little monkey that kept getting chased off by the bigger ones and me and Christopher felt sorry for him; so we gave him a bit extra.
The walk back down the mountain was much easier than going up! At the bottom of the mountain is a small temple; so I threw some money in and prayed to the gods before we moved on. We went for a wander round the area as it is well known for being picturesque and traditional. We walked along the river where they had rowboats that you could take out, as well as long fishing boats that they use for small trips along the river. Then we wander round the main street where all the shops were and came across a temple – so in we went! They were really beautiful gardens, and you could see the edge of the bamboo forest as well which was cool. After the temple, we grabbed an ice cream and headed back to the station. I went back to Kyoto with Christopher, and we had a chill out and watched the X factor in his apartment before going out for food.
The fun didn’t stop there!! We decided to go to the Ninja restaurant for dinner!!! This place is fantastic! The entire restaurant in underground and all decked out like little caves and tunnels. All the staff are dressed as Ninja, and when you arrive one of them jumps out to greet you and take you to your room. All the tables are inside their own individual room/ cave which is nice and private. The menu is on a ninja scroll, and some of their dishes had some fabulous names! I ordered fried mozzarella to start, then I went for the ‘Black Enchantment’ (which was tender pork with sweet and sour sauce). Christopher went for the ‘Salmon Incognito’ (which really was incognito!!) and then the ‘Samurai BBQ’ which was served on a sword which they then set on fire. Amazing. The food was all beautiful, and you even get a ninja performance. We had a ninja come and do some magic card tricks that were really great – we had a good laugh.
After ninjas we went out for some drinks; we went to the all you can drink bar first which was playing the movie Frozen (in Japanese) on a big screen; so Christopher got to see that for the first time! After that we went for a wander and found a tiny little bar that did Karaoke and managed to convince a Japanese guy to sing Frozen with us (he really got into it though!). Then it was back to Christophers for some sleep!!
Weird Things: Not necessarily ‘weird’ but I got to see real geisha for the first time today walking around Kyoto
Monday 1st September
My last day of freedom before training begins! I waited at Christophers apartment until he went out to work and got on the train with him back to mine. Then I needed to go shopping for some apartment things, so I hit up Donkihote. Donkihote is an amazing store – they sell everything! After picking up some of the things on my list, I had a bit of wander along Friendly street and I found a pet store. Over here, they have puppies and cats in little glass cages like they do for gerbils and hamsters back home. It was so cute! They were tiny! Managed to figure out my washing machine as well, and washed a few things which was good. Im still not fully moved into my apartment though- until I buy some drawers its a bit hard to organise anything! But training starts tomorrow – so I have to be a grown up now!! …..AHHH!!
Thursday 4th September
So, Ive been through three days of training so far….wow. There is a lot to remember! We have out first demo teach tomorrow; so Im spending tonight prepping for that (and writing this). Not much else has really happened! I managed to sort myself out a rail card, saves me buying tickets every time i get on a train; Ive had some really good lunch time food (takoyaki, rice bowls, and unagi – my fave!); I’ve registered as an official resident in Yodogawa; and Ive got some obligatory blisters form my ‘business shoes’.
Really hoping that I get some internet sorted out soon, because I only had a few things pre downloaded on my laptop/ipad and Im already on my second round of watching them!! Spoke with Bruce (housing guy) today though so hopefully he can sort it out for me!
Wednesday 17th September
So… a lot has happened since the last time I wrote!! My first day off was spent…. in bed. We all went out on saturday night in Namba and sunday was a horrific day. I did manage to drag myself out of bed and all the way to Kyoto though to watch X factor at Christopher’s. Then I caught the last train home ready for training again in the morning.
Training has been a lot of fun (its pretty much over now) and I do feel pretty prepared to teach any of the lessons now – just those pesky nerves that are holding me back!
Not much happens during the week – I sit on my roof a lot at night time and enjoy the view and a beer or two (at times) but thats about it.
Next weekend off was very eventful though! So, during training our two days off are sunday and tuesday; and this week – there was a national holiday on the monday which means….. THREE DAY WEEKEND!!! So, lets break it down….
Saturday night: Drinks party on my roof terrace! So most of the training gang came, as well as Christopher; and we had all agreed that we were gonna have one or two drinks on the roof -but definitely not a repeat of last weekend. 4 am and I found myself in a karaoke room with Christopher drinking my *god knows how many* cocktails…. oh well
Sunday: Had to wake up “early” to make it to this awesome festival my brother had told me about. Basically; certain areas (wards?) in Japan have their best carpenters build a shrine on wheels; then a bunch of people (from children to teenage boys) drag them through the streets, followed by the rest of the ‘villagers’ (ie, mums and old folk). They run through the streets so fast!! Last year (apparently) somebody died at the festival, so none of my training group had really wanted to come. Christopher and I ended up in the actual parade though, as we were running behind one of the shrines in this little street – then the little street turned into a main road with a stand full of people watching us run. We just went with it and hoped he weren’t offending anyone by joining in!
Then, when we went to watch the rest of the parade, we were invited to some free beers and premium standing space by some lovely girls who lived on the street the parade was happening (all the while they were yelling at everyone else to stay behind the rope!). Ahh being a foreigner in Japan…!
Saturday night: X factor
Monday: We decided to visit Fushimi-Inari today; and watch Guardians of the Galaxy. So first we went to buy our tickets to the film so we wouldn’t have to queue up later. Then, as we had some time to kill, we decided to do some purikura together!! I love doing this here! Purikura is basically a Photo Booth; but its so much more too. It makes your eyes all big and doll like; you can add make up; draw things; add stickers/ writing; etc. etc. So we had a good laugh doing that, and then set off to the shrine! It was a really cool place to visit. If you’ve ever seen ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ the film (one of my faves) she goes there in that, You see her running through the tori gates as a child (so obviously I had to recreate that moment….). Its basically a mountain pathway lined with giant tori gates – it looks amazing. We had to stop halfway up for some light refreshment (beer) as it was gruelling work! Especially since our poor legs had been running in the parade all day yesterday (!). We did eventually make it all the way to the top though – which felt pretty awesome. We also found ourselves in a cat cafe that day. It was pretty awesome – although most of the cats were asleep; and the one that was awake so super grumpy looking. Definitely more of a dog person!
Tuesday: I basically went shopping. Although I did so in Dotonbori which is a really cool area in Namba where you can find the Glico man (woman), and a whole bunch of shops! Then I cleaned my apartment (woo) and moved in some of the things I had bought.
Then training started up again!! We basically finished our training today though – we just have wrap up days now (where we sign our contracts etc) how exciting! Cant quite believe I start teaching actual lessons to real students in just a few days time!!! Eep!
Weird things: I dont know where to start…. Engrish is quickly becoming my favourite thing here in japan (see examples below). Shop Names; Starvation is a children’s clothes shop, and WOMB is just a normal clothes store – not even anything to do with pregnancy. Train stations I love how they play music when the train arrives. Dog prams/ outfits – so fucking weird.
Sunday 21st September
I had my first teaching shift yesterday! Its actually going to be my regular shift (which means I will be teaching the same classes every Saturday up until April!). I have two private lessons (one of which is Business English that I have to get extra training for), two kids classes and a Free time lesson – quite a nice mix. The school is really nice too; its brand new so the building is beautiful, and the staff are really helpful and friendly.
Last night Christopher invited me out for an all you can drink in a beer garden in Osaka, we ended up staying out til first train with just me and him doing karaoke together til 6am….standard.