Tokyo Orientation (belated)

Wow. Shit has been nonstop in the week that I’ve been in Japan. Let’s try to catch you up, dear reader, starting with my few days in Tokyo for the JET Program orientation-rama.

Day one, July 28
We disembark from the plane. I’m exhausted as hell and haven’t slept much on the 13 hour trip over. I unpack my suit into my closet, meet the two roomies, Adam and Brett. The view from our room is bestowed with this awesomeness:

I take a quick shower, appreciate the high-tech toilet and head down to the Keio Plaza lobby where I coagulate into a larger group of people. One girl has spent some time living in Tokyo and we go out to dinner at one of her favorite digs: a Kaiten Zushi restaurant in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. The city is amazing. The sushi is the best ive ever had, and it’s rolling around on conveyor belts, see below.


Plates are color-coded by price. I ate a ton of sushi and escaped at under $12. I am happy, but exhausted. We go back to the hotel and I crash like the Hindenburg. But not before we stop for my first ever trip to a Combini (as in Combinience Store)

Day two, July 29

I wake up early at around 7 to don my snazzy suit and grab some breakfast before seminars start for the day. For breakfast at the hotel, they serve terrible scrambled eggs that seem to have gone through a fine-toothed comb, really awesome Japanese-style omlette-cubes, steamed veggies, American breakfast meats, etc. etc. basically everything they try to imitate in American style comes out like crap, including the coffee, but /especially/ those eggs. Blech.

Attend a daysworth of JET-related seminars. Lots of welcome speeches and I get to meet the other people coming to Fukuoka from my group. Nice! 

That night, I go out with most of the people from my prefectures, led by the ALT Wenson who came up to Tokyo to meet us. He takes us to a Karaoke joint in Shibuya.

Karaoke is every bit as absurd and hilarious as it should be. We start the evening right with a RickRoll. 

We take the subway back to Keio and I sleep more.

4:30 AM, day three, July 30:

I manage to wake up early (though not as early as I hoped). Hop in the shower and hit the street. I wander down into the subway where I find my way to Tsukiji. Above ground again, I find myself in the world’s biggest wholesale fish & seafood market. It’s glorious. I wander around there, get hit by a bike, and manage to snap a few pictures:

When 6:30 rolls around, it’s almost time to head back to the hotel, so I settle myself at a sushi counter and order the special. What followed was debatably the best, most fresh sushi in the universe. For breakfast. It was the beginning of a good day: 

Back at the hotel, it’s another day of seminars, some of them actually quite useful.

Day four: July 31

In the morning I meet up with my prefecture group again, and this time instead of getting drunk, we go to the airport. It’s time to fly to Fukuoka! That goes smoothly and after we pick up our luggage, we all split up, greeting our respective supervisors with awkward “Hajimemashite”s

My supervisor is very, very nice, though her English isn’t what you might expect from an English teacher. On the car ride away from the city, she hands me a sheet of paper with my new address and a skeletal simplified version of the speech I had emailed her, introducing myself to the teachers. It’s about 5 sentences and she asks me to read it aloud. Correct more than a couple type-o’s in the English phonetic spelling, but it seems simple enough. A couple days should be enough time to get it up to par.

She and the other teacher who picked me up, take me out to lunch at a Chinese restaurant in my new home: a small town called Amagi. Not knowing that they have already eaten, I order lunch. They proceed to order iced coffees only. They sip their drinks and watch me eat. We struggle to communicate. It’s one of the most awkward meals, ever. My supervisor worries the whole time. She is afraid that she may have come into contact with the adjacent car when she opened her door. She frets about it the entire time.

After we settle the bill, they drive me to the high school to meet the vice principal (Kyoto-sensei). He speaks impeccable English and seems very supportive. My supervisor asks me if I have the sheet of paper she gaves me. 

Oh no. She is gesturing for me to read the speech. I decide to dive in and yell the first line to get everyone’s attention, trying to be super energetic and happy

“OHAYO GOZAIMASU! HAJIMEMASHITE!!” [good morning! I’m pleased to meet you!]

everyone laughs because it’s 3PM.

I continue, garbling every single word. I am confident that nobody understood a syllable, but they all applauded anyway. My supervisor invites me to sit at my desk for a few minutes and then ushers me to load my luggage into the car. We drive to my apartment.

The apartment is spacious and pretty nice, but it’s full of lots of stuff and smells like cat. I am slowly realizing that I am not the first ALT at Asakura HS or in this flat. A handyman switches on the electricity and gas. We discover that I have no working landline and my supervisor leaves. She says that Roman will come by at around 5 to take me out to dinner with the other ALTs who are still in town (but leaving soon).

At 7, I am starting to think theyre not showing up, or that perhaps I missed them whilest showering, but finally there’s a ring of my bell at 8:00. Roman is short, yet lanky, has blindingly white teeth and a voice not unlike Michael Jackson. He’s really nice and asks me how everything’s going. Soon we meet up with the other ALT’s, Ben and Carol. We all go out to A Japanese restaurant which is delish. Theyre all so nice and I’m really sad that theyre all leaving. We go back to the apartment and I’m alone. I go to bed. 

And that’s just the beginning. Wait till I get to the last few days! hoo boy.


yatpay said...

If you still have it, I'd love to see your entire introduction speech. I want to see if I can understand it :D