It's now in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, just past midnight actually, and it's the first night that we've had to keep our balcony door open because it's too hot in the apartment. It wasn't unbearably hot today, just in the 70s, but the sun is baking the building I guess so it's definitely too hot to sleep. We have an air conditioner! YESSSSSS. FINALLY!!! I've missed having an air conditioner the past few years in Canada. We haven't turned it on or anything, the night air will suffice for the next month or so I think. I guess this part of Japan has oppressive heat and humidity in the summer months...awesome. June is, what I hear, the rainy season, so that's not going to be fun walking/biking in to and from work/the train station/the grocery store. It's really peaceful up here on the fourth floor looking out over our little town at night. I can barely hear the cars on the highway over by the mountains, it's nice.
The past few days Al and I have been staying in Saijo with Bret and Angelina at their place. They live a good two or three hours driving away and about an hour and a half by train so our train tickets were ¥5,800 (like $60) per person each way. Expensive trip but we had so much fun and met a lot of new people. I met a Japanese girl, Remi, who lives in a town close to Saijo called Niihama, Derry from Ireland, TJ and Dave from Florida, a few other Canadians, a dude from New Jersey...and a few more than I don't remember names or where they're from. There is a beautiful wide, shallow river running through the town and people go and set up tents and picnic stuff on the bank and just hang out all day and night. I'm really glad we spent the money and went.
Japan Facts of the day:
Health insurance is amazing here. The taxes are very low and yet they have universal health care...someone told me they can provide such good care to the people because the country has little or no national debt whatsoever. Amazing. When we went to sign up for our Gaijin Cards (next topic) we also signed up for our health insurance cards and Al asked when our insurance will go into effect. The response? "As soon as you landed in Japan!" As soon as a foreigner lands in America with or without a visa he's screwed health insurance wise. Makes me feel very lucky to be living here.
Gaijin...definition is "outside person". It's what the Japanese call us white folk. I guess they can use it for all foreigners but from what I know/read/heard it's generally just the westerners they use it for. There is also a thing called the "gaijin smash". Urban Dictionary defines it best: Gaijin Smash: 1. A technique used by foreigners, or gaijin, in Japan in order to impose their will on the Japanese 2. To art of getting away with douchebaggery in Japan and being an ignorant obnoxious foreigner by simply pulling a gaijin smash on their Japanese asses. Example: "I was supposed to give up my priority seat on the train to that old bag but I totally gaijin smashed her ass and acted like I didn't know what the fuck she was bitching at me about". (Thank you Urban Dictionary for being such a help) As of right now I really don't know what's going on most of the time so I look all confused all the time, but it is a pretty effective technique of getting things done. I've seen it in action.
Beds: So I guess Al and I are pretty lucky to even have one in our apartment. Most, or all of the rest maybe, of the teachers don't even have one. Generally the Japanese people sleep on the floor. Imagine that "mattress" on a futon. The have that thing on the floor...that's it. Since we took Andrew and Christa's old apartment we have their bed that I guess they had to fight to get in the first place. I guess the modern Japenese people have beds but most of them sleep on the floor. Sounds wickedly uncomfortable.
Highways: So the highway (or interstate-like thing) here you have to pay to drive on. It's always depending on how far you drive as to how much it is...kind of like one giant toll road all over the country. So if one needs to get somewhere in a hurry instead of taking the normal route through town you're going to be paying for it. I think to take it to the next town it's like 6 bucks or something. It's not very crowded ;)
That's all I have for today...BTW I miss my cat. I'm dying without him.