All right, let's set the WABAC machine to mid Summer of last year and part two of my ongoing look at all things Japan!
August 17, 2009, A fortnight in Nihon
Settling in to my new home now, and things are looking up....
My weekdays are spent waking up at 7:30 (I might start getting up a little earlier, so as not to rush/once school starts [Note: I now routinely wake up at 7:15, very doable]), eating a light breakfast, then dressing ("Summer casual" is the style right now, basically a collared shirt, short-sleeve is okay, and dress pants), and reporting to the office before 8:30. I live not more than a block down the road from the town office, and even closer to a Universe store (think typical supermarket, though a little smaller). My apartment is upstairs of a two-story complex that houses a block of seven other apartments like my own. Ruairi lives two doors down from me.
Office time is spent at my desk in an open setting where everyone has their own station abutting someone else's. We're served Japanese tea or coffee when we arrive in the morning and just after lunch. Lunch is from 12-1:00. We clock out at 4:30. So far, office work consists of surfing the net looking for pictures and such to print out and use for my self-introductions. That and finalizing official documents. I'll begin laminating the pictures for in class presentations soon. I've downloaded everything from shots off wildlife on the river, to landmarks (Golden Gate, Arco Arena, etc.), to the inside of Foster's Bighorn and a poster of Howard the Duck. I think the kids will enjoy it! Other than that, Ruairi and I keep up looking busy (he generally studies kanji, or reads news articles) and chitchat about politics, movies, and living in Japan during the interim. It's pretty undemanding right now, but the office can be lively in a very Japanese sort of way (people hustling about, announcing official business at the counter, etc.) Ruairi tells me there is an archaeological department on the third floor of our building, so I'll definitely be checking that out at some point.
Last week, my supervisor took me for a two day tour of Aomori. We climbed the heights of Hakkouda, where the Japanese military used to winter train. Corporal Goto, famous for having survived a blizzard that killed his entire unit, is erected on the mountain top. We took in Hirosaki Castle (very cool!), went to the beach, and stayed the one night at his house where he took me out for food at the local grill. Sorry no pictures, but I've been told the region we explored is even better in fall or spring, when the leaves turn and the cherry blossoms bloom, so I'll definitely be returning and taking pictures at a later date.
There's a mall about five minutes bike ride from my apartment, complete with bowling alley, movie theatre, and food court. It's two story layout reminded me of the Solano Mall back home. There's even a foreign emporium store stocked with all kinds of food from around the world, so I've been making spaghetti with Classico, and eating Pringles lately! I still have a lot of money remaining from before I left (more than 100,000 yen, which is about $1,000), and I get paid for the first time on the 21st, which is coming up. Nice!
There's still a lot I haven't seen, done, nor spoken about yet, but I'm pacing myself, and I've got plenty of time. My classes may not even begin until early next month (Sept), so I may even find it hard to fill all this time I'm left with. I'd better start studying more Japanese, I guess :/