Friday, July 29, 2011

Quick Update From Work

I've started teaching already. Fortunately, the school I'm teaching at has a much nicer computer than the one at the Board of Education. Here, I can use the internet without fear of sudden freezes or shutdowns. It's glorious. I just wanted to say that things are going well here. I'm very happy with my new lodgings and the people I've met are wonderful. My one regret is that there are so few of them... lack of companions has led to many lonely nights in the village.

While I'm able to foray into the larger cities on occassion, it is a real drain on my wallet. Gas, parking, and entertainment don't come cheap in Japan. Someone once told me, 'there is nothing in Japan that you can do for free,' and I can see the grains of truth in that statement. I did manage to track down a couple of shrines and temples, but beyond walking along the side of the road looking for stone stairs hidden behind overgrown branches, everything else costs money.

That's not to say I have nothing to do. I have television, video games, work, exercise, sightseeing. I can entertain myself. I'm looking forward to telling you all (I assume more than one person is reading this) about my experiences in more detail. Driving, eating, working, etc. The words build up in me like an active volcano full of proper nouns and unkempt adjectives!

Talk to you again soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Concerning Sparse Updates

It's been about a ten days since my last entry. Seems like this blog is off to a bad start, but don't be fooled! Right now, I am using a computer that is as likely to shut down as it is to load my search bar query. I'm at the mercy of outdated country technology, the equivalent of a tractor with a computer monitor attached to it with a roll of duct tape. Fortunately, I have been informed that the local internet provider will be hooking me up as of the fifth of August. If you can hold your pitchforks and torches until then, I promise I'll get this blog up and running again. All I need is a little time and a little patience.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

[Redacted] Village

Well, it’s been quite a while since I had the opportunity to update this blog, hasn’t it? My plan was so perfect in its simplicity that I neglected to realize a single mistake could lead to disaster. Much as the common man never thinks to light a candle in the daytime, I foolishly believed the internet was as common as sunlight. Now I am blind, save those few moments when shadows appear on the edge of my vision.

I won’t have internet in my apartment for a month. There, I’ve said it. It is one of the many downsides of moving to the country. I suppose complaining won’t make it happen any faster. If you’re reading this anytime between July 12th and August 12th, that means I must have been fortunate enough to find an internet cafĂ©. Or perhaps I was able to persuade one of the schools I work for to let me access their internet.

That aside, let’s talk dirt. I have moved from the relative comfort of [redacted], Oregon to [redacted], Fukushima. It is a very, very, very small town of less than 7,000 people. I live in a small, six-room apartment complex in the middle of nowhere. Within walking distance are four convinience stores, two gas stations, one noodle shop, and a post office. For everything else, I must drive at least ten minutes.

I paint quite a picture, don’t I? Perhaps I make it sound more dreary than it actually is. The landscape is wonderful. I am surrounded by pure green mountains and forests filled with tall, skinny trees. An aikido dojo is about fifteen minutes by foot. There are temples scattered about the countryside and a pattern of antique, classically-Japanese houses. There is even a house here old enough to retain a straw roof!

It’s country life, to be sure. A far cry from even the modest civilization of [redacted], Oregon. I’ll be perfectly frank. When I decided to come out here, I didn’t expect anything quite so… podunk. But I’ll survive. If given a new situation, I will adapt as best I can and make it my own. I am teaching at six schools (four elementary schools and two junior high schools). My first day isn’t until the 21st of July; I’ll be acting as a judge for an English Speech Contest.

I’ve sacrificed my summer vacation for a good cause; with any luck I can befriend my students before I have to teach a single lesson. If that sounds like some sort of evil scheme, you are absolutely right. To endear myself to these kids will make my job that much easier. The easier my job is, the more time I have to make other people’s lives easier. After all, that’s why I’m here. To help people.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


As I'm writing this, I am sitting in a Starbucks at Narita Aiport, the predominant airport in Japan. Much like my laptop, I am searching for a place to recharge. For lack of permanent housing, I have caught quick cat-naps where I could: buses, trains, sofas, etc. While living between shelters, my most comfortable bed was a thin mat on the floor. But I digress...

Here I am! The wonderous land of the rising sun. I'm trying to kill three hours until I can check into my hotel for orientation. Besides trying to stay awake with the burden of jetlag telling me it should be evening instead of afternoon, I keep having these reoccurring epiphanies: "Oh my! I'm in Japan!" As if it were some sudden, just-this-moment event instead of something I've been planning for months.

Being removed from everything familiar has the taste of nostalgia, since I've been here before. The difference is that this time I have cast off the anchor of security previously provided by [Redacted] University and [Redacted] University. Back then, if there was a problem, I knew who to call for help. This time I am on my own, an intrepid pioneer with a somewhat underwhelming understanding of the Japanese language and a desire to enter into a committed relationship with gainful employment. She is an enticing beauty.

Soon after this, I should have a place to call my own. Until then, I will be attending job orientations and surviving off containers of toothpaste and shampoo so miniscule in size that I will likely need to buy a microscope at the next convenience store I see.