Monday, July 30, 2007

Arrival in Japan!

So, I have arrived in Tokyo for the JET orientation. The flight (yesterday) was long and I had a middle seat so unfortunately I couldn't get up to walk around as much as I would have liked, so my legs turned to stone, but it was not so bad and after getting whisked through narita airport by all the incredibly efficient orientation volunteers, and a quick bus ride through chiba, I arrived at the beautiful keio plaza hotel, along with over 1,000 other new jets (and that's not even all of us - there's another orientation next week!). Here's the keio!

The hotel is really nice, although a little heavy on the 80's all-gold decor. No orientation activities that afternoon so I explored the shinjuku area with a fellow NYC friend, we found a great little yakitori restaurant where we sat at the same table as a japanese couple, but for privacy they let down a bamboo screen between us - it was quite cozy! We thought we might have trouble ordering with our minimal japanese and lack of pictures/plastic food outside the restaurant (for pointing purposes) but even this tiny little restaurant had an english menu. We had delicious yakitori beef and chicken with stir fried noodles and grilled rice balls. On our way back to the hotel it started raining so we took shelter in a huge mall similar to bloomingdale's. Although finding our way back out ended up being more complicated than navigating the streets outside! Back near the hotel, just outside a large office building, we saw a bunch of kids practicing breakdancing/hip-hop - they were using the reflective glass of the building as a mirror! that was quite a cool site to see, with their boomboxes blasting lauryn hill.

today has been chock full of orientation presentations on everything from team-teaching to food shopping, and tomorrow will be more of the same. I've met most of the folks who will be going to akita with me, and will hopefully get to know them better at the karaoke party we will be having tonight!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Supa Gaijin Kids Show!


i am shocked and amazed - i predict that that will not really be my teaching style, but you have to hand it to these fellows, those kids really really loved it. my favorite is the theme song.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

hello world!

so i'm moving from brooklyn, ny to japan at the end of this month, to become an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) as part of the Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme (JET). I will be in yurihonjo-shi, in akita prefecture. it's a lovely town on the sea of japan coast of the northern part of the main island. why am i doing this? i find that the best answer is "because i can". here's a map of where i'll be:

it's about a 4-hour ride from tokyo on the shinkansen (express train).

some information i have gathered:

  • i'll be teaching mainly in a junior high school, and an elementary school as well
  • it will be really cold and snowy in the winter
  • i will be arriving just in time for the kanto matsuri, a festival of lanterns (pictures to come!)
  • in addition to a hopefully intense progression of my novice japanese skills, my french may benefit as well as i will be living near and working with 2 francophones (also ALTs)
  • fun stuff near where I'll be/about akita:

mount chokai and the cedar forests

a bunch of beautiful onsen (hot spring spas) ie. this one

akita has the highest sake consumption rate in all of japan

people in akita love snow so much they have a snow fort festival

this doggy, called an akita inu, is from/named after the prefecture

yurihonjo beach

this is what kids in akita look like according to the internets. AHHHH!

that's it for now - i'll be enjoying my short and bittersweet remaining time in NYC of frantic preparations and spending time with friends and family before leaving on a jet plane on july 28th! next time i write may be from the orientation in tokyo...