So I have arrived in the lovely town of Okuizumo. The name in kanji literally translates to something like "the inner departing cloud town" which sounds lovely but fairly inane. Ah, Japan.
I`m here with two other JETs- a guy from South Africa named Litha (prounounced lee-ta) and a guy from Seattle name Ian. Litha will be teaching at the two local High Schools and Ian is here with me at the Board of Education for the local elementary and middle schools. It`s such a relief to have not only someone here to share the embarrassment of being an obvious outsider and therefore curiosity; more importantly it`s essential to have someone else to speak English with. Because no one here speaks English. No one. Well, that`s a bit of an exaggeration. There`s apparently a Canadian guy who lives near Ian who is obviously quite proficient at English, but Ian and Litha and the Canadian guy live about twenty minutes away from me by car. And there are a couple people at the BOE who speak a smattering but not really enough to be a relief. Have you ever tried to sign up for trash removal or a phone plan in a language you have the proficiency of a second grader in? I think not.
That`s pretty much my only complaint so far. My co-workers are very kind. Last night we had a welcome reception where everyone drank the most fruity, delicious sake that has ever passed through these lips, and ate some interesting yet delicious food such as candied sweet potatoes and spicy shrimp. Ian`s supervisor got fairly drunk and started hiccuping and jabbering in bits of English- "local language" he kept saying.
My apartment is tiny and far away but very new and clean, complete with a washer (a prized possession in Japan) air conditioner, and television. This morning I watched a show teaching me Russian, Italian, and English in Japanese. It was quite fabulous; I can learn foreign languages and Japanese at the same time it seems. There is very little I will have to buy as my predecessor left me some awesome stuff including the all-important rice maker. The first night my supervisor, Fukuda-san, showed me how to use it. She lives about a five minute walk from my house- I met her family and everything. They are quite kind even though none of them speak a lick of English. The only two things I am really missing are a real bed (I`ve been sleeping on a mat on the floor) and internet. A bed I can live without but the internet I cannot. I`m not really supposed to be using the net at the BOE for personal things, but as I am here every day from eight in the morning to five at night I decided it can`t be helped. Anyway as soon as I get net in my apt you all will get a walking tour of the place.
As we signed up for our phones yesterday we`ll be getting them today, as well as our hanko/
判子 or personal stamp and our bank accounts. These are pretty essential things so I`m looking forward to it.