Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Monkeys on Shodoshima

Sorry I haven't updated in a few days, to be honest I've only done a few interesting things in like a week to even write about.

Sunday Al, Christa, Andrew, Bret, Angelina (two new friends) and I took a ferry to a nearby island to a town called Shodoshima to play with the wild monkeys they have on the island. The mountain they live on is pretty much THEIR mountain and they just built things around it so people could come play with them. They're so tame they just climbed all over us. I haven't exactly figured out how to put pictures on this blog yet so until then you'll have to see all the monkey pictures on Facebook! After the monkey mountain we went to a veeery nice onsen on the island. It wasn't as big but it was sitting on the side of a mountain looking over the ocean. If you can imagine, the view from the outside hot tubs was spectacular.

Monday Christa, Angelina and I went across Shikoku to the Naruto Whirlpools. It's supposed to be this huge whirlpool in the ocean and the pictures are awesome and all that. Whatever. It didn't do anything! We were pretty disappointed.

Japan fact: We have to take our shoes off everywhere. It's kind of annoying but everyone wears slippers at work. It's def comfy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Onsen Day

I'm obviously not going to be writing every single day, but I'm hoping to be doing enough interesting things to at least post a few times a week. Right now I'm all excited about everything so will probably be posting more often. Today was JOUR DEUX of work. We only work in the evenings during the week (usually 3-9 or so) because the children we teach are coming to these classes after they get out of school, so we have all morning and some afternoon to do things or get things done. Andrew and Christa have been staying with us the past few nights because they are moving and are currently kind of homeless. (Actually they live with our boss, Miyuki, like two hours away or something crazy so they just crash here) This morning we all woke up around 9 and got ready and went to a place called an Onsen. It's AMAZING. It's basically a spa but it's only hot tubs. There are big ones, small ones, deep ones, cold ones, still or bubbly ones, outside ones, ones that send shockwaves through the's great. It's apparently THE past time of the Japanese people. I know most Americans would be totally freaked by this but Onsens are a naked past time. You pay like 5 bucks, go in, get naked, shower and get clean, then go wander about the place soaking in the hot tubs of your choice. The Japanese people are ridiculously clean. Some of the older ones will sit there for like an hour scrubbing every inch of their bodies before even going near the hot tubs. Most of the Onsens are not coed. I think the nearest one to here is like two hours away. Al and Andrew go in one door and Christa and I go through another. In the sauna room there is a huge barrel of some kind of salt and you rub it all over yourself then rinse. My skin is STILL unbelievably soft right now. I plan on being a frequent visitor to the Onsens. Just a side note: the Japanese women have some huge bushes.

Just a few quick things...gas is about $5 a gallon here...usually around $1.35 a liter. Doesn't matter though, we get reimbursed for all our gas so I don't care how much it is.

Also, I had my first squatter toilet experience yesterday. Awful. I nearly peed all over myself.

<3 <3 <3

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Day!

Today was our first day of work! We went to the main office in Kanon-ji for the weekly meeting this morning and we got to meet the rest of the teachers. Everyone seems so nice but a lot of them are leaving and we're taking their places or they are waiting on new teachers to get here, so we'll have to meet brand new people here in a month or so I think. We're observing for a week so after the meeting I went with Christa to the school in Kokubunji for four classes today. One is a one-on-one conversation class with one student named Keiko; a class of like 3 year olds who know nothing and just stare at me; a class of three 6 year old boys, one of whome is very disruptive but incredibly smart and another who is so dumb it's funny; and the last class is two 10 year old girls who are so smart and very eager to learn and can have conversations with me. That's just my normal Thursday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are all at the Kokubunji school, Friday I'll be in Ota and Saturday I'll be at the school in Sakaide which I love because it's just around the block from our apartment. I really can't wait to meet the rest of the kids. Al's day went pretty good with one of his classes he has two boys one who is named Harry and the other is Potter. LOVE!

I'm definitely on Japanese time. I barely had jet lag, if at all. I really don't think I could even call it jet lag since the time difference never affected me because of the time we arrived. It's more exhaustion from the long trip because I do get tired in the eveings. I think today I'm officially over it all. It's 11pm right now and I feel normal...I'm tired after a long day but just the normal tired-after-a-long-day kind of tired.

I'm actually very, very tired right now and I know this was a pretty boring read so I'll write something more interesting later because I can't really think straight :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Made it!

Here we are, living in Japan. It's been a long few days. The journey over went relatively smoothly and we actually slept most of the trip. The first leg from Pittburgh to Chicago was like any other flight but then we had a five hour wait there which was super boring. Our flight to Seoul, South Korea left at 1am Friday night/Saturday morning whatever and thirteen hours later we landed at 5am Sunday morning. Very weird. I was probably only awake maybe four or five of those thirteen hours and slept the rest so it was a pretty short trip. I never got bored or antsy but that plane SUCKED. Seatguru liiiiiied. We were on a terribly old plane with a tiny, crappy TV with an even worse movie selection. The "From Seoul" movies were like Avatar and New Moon...ones I would actually watch...while the "To Seoul" movies were God awful things like Alvin and the Chipmunks and Whip It. After another five or so hour wait in Seoul we had our last flight to Osaka, Japan where customs and immigration were a breeze. Makes me realize how uptight and mean the Canada/US immigration officers are. Once we got to Osaka we had to take a three hour bus ride to Takamatsu. We actaully got off the bus at the wrong stop thanks to the douche bus driver (his fault, honestly) and our friends that live here, Andrew and Christa, were supposed to meet us at another bus stop. Well we finally figured things out, Andrew came and got us and we had to take a taxi to the Takamatsu train station where we finally got on a fifteen minute train ride to Sakaide, our town. Remember we have four giant suitcases, a big duffle, and three carry ons dragging along with us. We finally get to our apartment at around 8:30pm Sunday night which all in all makes it around 40 hours worth of travelling. Miserable.

Today, Andrew and Christa showed us around, took us to the grocery stores and the mall. Grocery shopping is going to be either really easy or really hard. Obviously, I don't know what the labels say which makes everything terribly difficult but it's also nice because she showed me what to buy and what not to buy and if I can't read any of the labels I pretty much just go in, get what I need and get out. I liked perusing around the grocery story at home but I probably won't be doing much of that here. The food isn't bad, just a lot of the same thing. Meat, rice, noodles and maybe some vegetables here and there. I thought moving here would be a fast track to skinniness but there is junk food everywherrreee. I don't know how these people stay so thin. There are bakeries and pastry shops all over the place. Andrew said a lot of people actually end up gaining weight. Bah. I refuse.

Al thought he was some kind of man beast and beat the jet leg already but it hit him today and he's zonked out. It's only 8 at night but I'm heading to bed. I can't wait until I feel normal!