Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Thursday, September 30, 2004

First full day and more first impressions

The group I flew over with are all now training in different regions, so today I was with just one other person from the trip over.

I had no problems getting the train from the hotel to two stops away. Mainly because I'd asked last night about what sort of ticket, etc! I had more problems trying to decipher the map of where to go to once I got off the train and wandered around in big confused circles for ages. Well, I was looking for something that wasn't labelled which was supposedly next to a shop that didn't exist. Great!

Half the morning was spent going over paperwork, etc, and then observing a couple of classes in different schools which meant finding our way (two of us) on the trains as we got tireder and tireder and started getting on wrong trains, etc. Several times.

My faith is restored in the reputation of Japanese people, thankfully. Whenever we stood somewhere looking confused (several times after our mistakes) people would come straight over to us and were absolutely lovely and really really helpful and kind. I even passed my nervousness of asking people for help in the end as I got so desparate. Well, I was worried they wouldn't understand me, or that I wouldn't understand them! And extreme tiredness does funny things to you anyway.

The trains are confusing. That's all i can say. SOME of the stations have writing in Romanji (Latin script) but many don't so even guess work is out! I'm not used to having to get around when I can't at least read where I'm trying to get to! When I get my timetable on Saturday, I'm going to write down the Kanji (symbols) for the station names and carry it around with me I think for the first week or so, and that way I'm increasing the odds of NOT getting lost. Apparantly most stations don't have timetables you can take away either! I think though that there's a reasonable chance I'll be teaching in one of the schools we visited today or where we're doing our training, as they're all in the 'area'. The area includes schools that could be up to an hours train ride away. If so, this'll make life easier. I expect to have between three and five different schools anyway.

The trains themselves are SO wide! And very clean, and the ticket machines, after you've bought a ticket, have a little animated character that bows to you.

The train station platforms have non smoking HOURS. Odd.

Apparantly it's true that the trains are so reliable that if one is at all late, making you late for work, you get given a note to give your employer to prove that's why you weren't on time. Of course, waiting for the note makes you even later........ And getting home at night seems to mean either setting back at around 11pm or spending the night in a club/internet cafe/karaoke joint until the first train starts next day. I will have to try karaoke in Japan soon. I mean naturally I've done it far too many times in the UK anyway. And when I say I can't sing, I'm not being modest. I really really cannot sing. After a few drinks though, and with a couple of others it always starts seeming like such a good idea. As it's practically the third religion in Japan it would be far too rude to not indulge though. I DO hope the Japanese don't have particularly sensitive ears. For their sakes!

The second class we observed was a kiddie class and they were SO cute, except they spent most of the lesson hiding under a table and watching the teacher jumping and running around. and they screamed. Gah! We get training in young kids tomorrow though. Going on the training I've had so far, I'm expecting this to be good. We'll see!!

I bumped into one of the guys from my course today and it's always lovely to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar face. He's really experienced from previous teaching here and has been out since mid August. Really useful to know he's about and hopefully we'll meet up at the weekend for drinks.

This morning I watched a load of builders from my hotel window all lined up in rows for ages. At one point they were all exercising together. Manual workers here all look like Bob the Builder. Anyone in Brighton for Jackie's leaving party, think of Adrian dressed up and you get the absolute idea. Am trying sooo hard to not giggle at that thought! Shortness makes people SO cute too! I of course, at a smidge under 5'5" am no giant, but here -- well, for the first time in my life I don't feel like a short arse!

Saw the cutest little granny today whilst queuing for cheese and blackcurrant jam bagels (we were hungry and didn't have a lot of time and there was nothing to point to, so we saw and grabbed them. They were nice.) Anyway, granny must have been about four foot or something. Bless!

Like all hotels, this one has to do and not to do bumpf in a file and it's hidden behind all the porno leaflets! I found some lovely gems including being told to not smoke while walking.
There are also earthquake instructions. As someone from a non-earthquake country this is fascinating the hell out of me and I'm looking forward to experiencing my first earthquake (just to say that I HAVE experienced it) - and hopefully it will be a little one. Apparantly we're due for a large one though, but then again, apparantly Fuji is due to erupt too.... Anyway, you can generally only feel earthquakes if you're lying down. If you can feel it whilst standing, you should get very worried. So our director of studies (d.o.s) told us today anyway.

I have two bins in my room that are labelled. My d.o.s. said one is probably for burnable waste and the other non burnable. As there are no little animated pictures on them though, I don't know which is which. There are animated characters on everything here, and the mind the doors closing sign on the trains is a cat being squashed.

There's music in all lobbies, some train platforms and on road crossings.

I'd forgotten, but yesterday at the airport we took luggage trolleys down an escalator (in England you're not allowed to do that) which was quite scary as it was weighed a ton!

The okay to cross man on the walk / don't walk sign is orange. I like the little green man better. This just feels wrong.

It's been raining most of the day really, really heavily. I want a refund. The weather was meant to have been nice here. Still, it's a relief for the Tokyo-ites I'll bet as it's been really hot and sticky here this summer.

I can't get my head around it getting dark so early.

I had the telly on last night and there was police drama or similar. The music over the most dramatic action sequences was tinkley music. Why???

Oh and this morning I did have my noodle thing from the 100 yen shops. I still have no idea what was in it, but it was nice!

From the BBC's website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3699516.stm - it's a boyfriend pillow, it's available only in Japan, and no, I won't be buying a load to send over to people!

Hasta pronto.


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