Journal of an Assistant Language Teacher / Automatic Language Tape Recorder
(ALT) in the JET Programme living and learning in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.
More information on the JET Programme here and
July 26th - Departure Orientation
The departure orientation started around 3 pm at a hotel near the airport. I told my mom parents were invited and they came along. There was one before where they were invited as well and I didn't tell them. I didn't want to be the only 31 year old there with their parents tagging along. Actually several curious parents showed up so it would have been ok. But this was the last biggie one so I figured they could come along.
We checked in and got our room assignments and then had an informative seminar in a meeting room downstairs. You were supposed to RSVP with the total number of people coming, which I did, but apparently many did not. There were more than twice as many people there as were seats. Some people brought their grandparents and sisters and brothers. I thought that was a bit clingy, but whatever.
The went over flight details and what to expect when we get to Tokyo. People asked the dumbest questions, like what time is it there now. It's 13 hours difference from Eastern time during the summer and 14 during daylight savings time. Others asked crap like "what will my supervisor be like". What a stupid question. Then they passed out our tickets and said it was our responsibility to get to the airport tomorrow by 8am for our passports. I thought that was odd, shacking us up in a hotel right by the airport and then saying we have to find our own way. How bout renting a bus or something?
That night we had free time and I wanted to do something that involved getting to know everyone. Little did I know that would not happen nor would it have made any difference. Once we get to Tokyo we start hanging out with people from our home city and people we meet going to our new home. So me and a buddy from Atlanta went to see "Austin Powers Goldmember". We asked the concierge how much it would cost to get to the theater and he said "shud be bout $13". That's cool, so he called the taxi and some guy from Afghanistan of all places picked us up and drove us to some distant Mall I've never been to and will never go back. We get there and he says "$30". Aboooooooooo. What? Well it's $30 each way and we are here so the movie will be another $10 and then popcorn or whatever and the trip back, ouch. JIP. But the movie was funny as heck and even had a little part about Japan AND Georgia, so it was worth it in the long run. We get back and I try to stay up late so I would sleep on the plane.
July 27th - Fly Out Atlanta 10:30 am
I think we all made it on time, at least I did. They passed out our passports with the golden 3 year work visas. Then we stood in line to check in. I had locks all over my bags and they announced if we had locks all over our bags there would be an hour delay while they unlocked them and checked them. I took them off.
Then we went through security and they were vigorously checking everyone and everything. People with laptops had to turn them on and cameras had to turn them on as well. I had nothing of the sort so I flew through. Then we waited and had to recheck in at the gate. Both with the flight people and the consulate. Then they allowed us to board. I tried the old routine, oh my legs are so long can I move up to a bigger seat, which means First Class. But nope it was already full so good try.
The flight was long and boring, but it was probably the smoothest I've been on thus far. I didn't sleep much although I took a sleeping pill and didn't sleep much the night before. I've got this belief I need to be awake if the plane starts going down so I can help the pilot or something, though it would really be better to be asleep through all the screaming and wake up for about a second, at least enough time to say "Crap, oh well".
There was an onboard map that showed where we were and our speed and ETA and such. For some reason, we flew up over the great lakes and through Canada and over Alaska then down to Japan. Someone said it was because it was a shorter distance due to the curve of the earth. he said he learned that on Bill Nye the Science Guy. We chatted about how cool that show is for a while. Then we landed.
July 28th - Arrive Narita (Tokyo) 1:30 pm
We actually landed at the perfect time. Enough time to get to the hotel and relax and then eat and explore and come back and go to bed and hopefully get into the new time zone. We get shuffled off the plane and follow the crowd to get our bags and then through customs. They have really strict rules on certain things you can bring in. the only thing I had in question was 3 months supply of my blood pressure medicine, and I think 1 month is the limit. The guy asked if I had any alcohol or....and he was pointing to a sheet. I played the jet lagged gaijin card and so no nothing I have nothing to declare no alcohol nothing no. So he was flustered at my loud English and confused look and let me pass.
Then I walk around a corner and see, no kidding, no less than 100 people wearing blue shirts that say JET and they are all pointing and waving. Really 100? I doubt we need quite that many people. So I follow them and get in the Bus/Baggage line. They ask if I want to ship one of my heavy bags straight to my school and I ask if I can ship both. They say why not and I hand them both of my heavy as heck bags. I still have one small carry on with a few clothes in it for Tokyo. If you are reading this and are doing JET, do this. Pack what you need for Tokyo in one carry on bag and send the rest straight to your host institution. It's much easier than hauling a big bag all around Tokyo.
Then we are on a bus headed for Shinjuku which takes about 2 hours I think. They pass out some crap and go over some stuff and most goes in one ear and out the other since I am majorly JET lagged. Then we finally get there they drop us off at the super nice Keio Plaza. We carry our bag(s) upstairs and through a hall and into a room where we pass about 20 people. They ask us where we are from or where we are going and hand us a packet of information relevant to either our new home or where we came from. One of the packets is our room key, so I find mine and go to it and unpack a little. My roommate is already there, I met him at an Atlanta orientation, he lives in North Carolina and is going to Fukushima as well.
Then about 2 hours later we meet up with some other Atlanta folk, and hit the streets. I had been to Tokyo before so I show them around a little. We find a kaiten sushi and eat some fresh Tokyo sushi. Then we explore more and later have a beer and go back to the hotel. I fall asleep at midnight.
July 29th - Welcome Orientation in Tokyo
A complete barrage of information about everything under the sun. They give us a schedule of all these things we MUST go to. Luckily they feed us well though, big buffet style breakfasts and lunches. I think dinner was our own responsibility. I attend several stupid seminars and a few good ones. I actually want to teach one next year about getting around in Japan, like how to ride a train or a bus. I went to a seminar on Pop Culture, and Effective Team Teaching, but had no idea how to ride a bus when I got to my town. So if you are going to do JET in 2003 look for my seminar.
July 30th - Welcome Orientation in Tokyo
Really the same as the day before. More classes and seminars and yadda yadda yadda. I think we had a big party in the main room this night with free beer and food and important people speaking that no one knew.
After all that was over there was a Fukushima group meeting and we met a few 2nd years people. Then we all went out to dinner and drinks at some bar in Shinjuku. I thought they were paying for it, but apparently they weren't we had to for over $30 each. I was sure someone said they were treating us. Anyway we got to meet all the people we'd be hanging with for the next year or 3. This was Group A and a week later 20 more people would be coming in Group B.
July 31st - Welcome Orientation / Meet new supervisor and travel to Fukushima
We have to meet promptly at 9:45 am for the bus to take us to Koriyama (Corey Yah mah) to meet our new supervisor and go to our new home. This was surreal taking all this in. They made it clear DO NOT BE LATE. Of course someone was late. Partied too much. Wasn't me though so I didn't care. We walk around the town to our bus and get on and start the ride. It was between a 3 and 5 hour ride depending on who you ask. We stop every hour or so for food and potty breaks. We watch a few videos. I forget which now. One was a cool movie and the other was a dumb Welcome to Japan video. I sleep a little and help a few people with their Japanese Introductions.
Then there is road construction and we are slowed for a while. Apparently this causes problems since it delays us badly. We have to miss the last potty break so we can get to this place in time. We finally make it to some auditorium meeting place an hour late. They line us up and make sure we look alright and then we stroll into a room with 40 people sitting around the room. We are seated in a big room 2 per table. They give speeches in English and Japanese and then I hear my name being called. I stand and turn and see two people stand up. A man with gray hair and a young woman. It's my supervisor Hiraki Sensei (the woman) and the Vice Principal.
I sit with them and make idle chit chat while the other people are meeting their new supervisors and such. Then I make a formal introduction. After that we all go back to the bus and get our bags off and then go with our supervisors to our new school. I take my small bag and say bye to all my new friends for now. Then we drive for about an hour and a half and stop at my new school. It's amazing how differently I saw the school that day as opposed to how I see it now. I met the Principal and got my two heavy bags and met some other people who I forgot meeting later, since it was all too much to fast.
Then we went to my apartment. It was super hot since it was late July and there was no power on. We turned the power on and then found the gas switch and turned it on and then the water. We found the gas wasn't working so she called the Gas Company and they came right out and fixed something. So I had all my utilities and some furniture and nothing to do. Hiraki said she would come back in a few hours. I was alone in the apartment in a foreign country. You could easily freak out here, but I didn't. It was very strange and a little lonely feeling, but I knew each day would be easier and easier. It has been too. [I'm writing this in January since I haven't read the August Journal entry in a while and didn't realize it wasn't finished].
She comes back around 6 and brings her husband, who is a really cool guy
named Hiro Hiraki. He speaks little English, but it's ok. They take me out to an
Italian place in the station and then shopping at a few local stores. I didn't
know what to buy. I go back to the apartment later and unpack everything. She
tells me I can take the next day off to get used to the area and time and such.
Aug 1st - Day off due to JET lag
I wake up super early and watch a few movies. There was already a VCR and TV
and some movies. Some I want to see and others I don't. I end up watching
everything many times though. I walk around town a little to get my bearings and
then eat something at the station. I come back and sleep more and watch another
Aug 2nd Friday - New supervisor orients me around town. First I get to
work around 10am and then we go register me as an alien. Then we take that
temporary form to the keitai place (cell phone pronounced k tie). Then we go to
a big parade which was kind of cool. Then they take me to dinner at a really
nice place. But first we walk up to an unmarked door in an alley. We open it and
go inside to an unmarked elevator. Then we go up to the second floor and there
is this really cool Japanese style restaurant. Not sure what the deal is with no
markings out front, but it was good.
My keitai has all these whacked features. I can take a digital pic and email someone with it, so if you get one from me and it's not clear maybe we were at a nomikai (drinking party no me kigh ). I can check the web and play games and many other things on the phone. My keitai email address is firstname.lastname@example.org I think.
Aug 3rd Saturday - I watch a few more movies, we the same ones the
dude before me left Waterboy, The Professional, 2 X-Files episodes, and another,
then I go watch more of the festival. At the festival, two teams race down a
road for about a mile pulling a 10 foot sandal on wheels. Then different
companies have a team and they compete against other companies. The bank beat
the fire department and then the police beat the Gas company. I think they let
the police win, they were dressed in their riot gear. Which just struck me as
strange, I can't image a Japanese riot. "excuse me, we are not going to
tolerate this anymore, if that's ok". There was some guy announcing
something on the loudspeaker which could have been "now go find a foreigner
and punch him in the neck then kick him in the shins". But since I was not
injured I doubt they were yelling that.
Aug 4th Sunday - My supervisor Hiraki sensei (he da key) and her
husband Hiro san (he dough) took me to a big drum festival down the road a bit.
There were about 700 taiko drummers, mostly kids, beating on drums on a mountain
top. I have some cool pictures when I get the film developed. Then we went back
to BOM, the electronics place under the train station and checked into satellite
TV for me. They didn't carry it so we decided to go somewhere else. Before we
left I told them I would buy them sushi for their trouble. We went to a kaiten
sushi in the station (kigh ten). That's like a restaurant with a bar where the
sushi comes out on a conveyor and you are charged by the plate which is usually
less than a dollar per plate. After eating a full meal we found another place
with the satellite and it was about $150 for the dish and box plus $30 a month.
Maybe I'll do that later since I have a video rental card now. I came home and
watched Star Wars, My Dog Skip, and part of A.I. then I fell asleep.
Aug 5th Monday - Got up at 7am and rode my bike, my girls bike, to
school by 8:30. I left at 8 so it was an easy ride. Except there is a stupid
bell near the brake and when I try to squeeze the brake I hit the bell. So I
will be riding down the way and come up on some people and ring my stupid bell
by accident. I look like an idiot to begin with riding this too small girls bike
with a big Mary Poppins basket and then to make things worse I have to ring the
bell everywhere. I might as well announce "hey look at the big dumb
foreigner coming, ding ding ding".
But I get to work on time and we try to go to the bank and get an account, but I don't have the right form again so we'll have to try again tomorrow. Then I grade a student's speech for her upcoming contest. It was pretty good, and I had a hard time tying to find the best sentence for her. It's strange how you start to lose your natural English when you start thinking in Japanese. I just got back from McDonalds where the food was half as big and twice as expense. McDonald's is in a supermarket where they sell raw fish, pretty cheap too.
I just had a funny experience. First Hiraki sensei called me over to meet "Ricky Martin" I started laughing as it was clearly a joke. It was not, his name is something like rikkimarun. So I explain why it is funny and sing part of a song and we all laugh. How could no one have mentioned that before? But then I am explaining I am from Georgia and who else is from there. I explain Jimmy Carter was from there and Ricky Martin guy says "Oh yes I love G-me Ka-ta penis. Yes it is good." Hiraki sensei hits the floor laughing and I start laughing to and Ricky Martin guy repeats "penis? Penis?" So I point and then say "pee nuu toe" and he understands and says both and then starts laughing too. Good Times.
Aug 6th Tuesday - Well Hiraki sensei showed me the way to get to school and I made it with no problems, but I didn't pay attention to the way and couldn't reverse it on the way back home so I ended up going the long way and then circling around some. I ran into the Shinkansen station, which is the center of town, and ended up eating sushi yet again. I can easily afford to, but really need to explore the area and find some other shops. But I wanted something cool to drink and eat so I had a tall ebisu beer and some good sushi. The guy behind the counter spoke fluent English and that really freaked me out. He had spent five years in England doing something.
Then I rode my Mary Poppins girl bike home and found a new way to get there. Many of the streets are one way so when I get a ride with someone they have to go the long round about way. I knew there had to be a better way, and there was. I rode to school a little better this morning and had only a few bell incidents. I'm getting better. Dang it is hot at 8 am here, I am already sweating like a stuck pig. But there are drink machines every 100 feet. I am not exaggerating, every 100 feet.
More later as the day goes by, I think we are off to the bank now.
Well I actually didn't go to the bank, Hiraki sensei went for me. I bet it gets old going places with me since I am so big and clumsy compared to the little ant like Japanese. So she came back with my passbook and account number and said the ATM card would be in a week later, which is fine, I have no money in there anyway no, but I will on the 21st.
Then we went around town to run a few more errands for me. We went by NTT the Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (Nippon or Nihon is what they call Japan), then I found a shoe store that had extra large sandals for about 2400 (less than $24) since my dad gum sandals broke today. After that Hiraki sensei showed me how to ride the bus to school and to my apartment, but I only followed a little of it since she was going so fast cause it was so dang hot, but I followed enough to ride to school on rainy or snow days. I think it's only 150 yen each way (les than $1.50). Finally we went by the International Center and I found some info. They have some old English books to check out and read and a semi or Bi monthly newsletter in English. Whichever is every two months, I always get those confused. I think it is Bi-monthly.
Dang it's already 4:30. I can leave. But I'll stay a bit to look cool, plus last night the sun was directly in my face the entire time. At some point I need to explore Paseo Dori (Paseo Street) since I hear there are some cool shops near there. I think there was a Big and Tall shop near the shoe place so I will check into that later. The sandals were actually pretty phat and seemed to fit, so I'll go by there on payday or something.
Aug 7th Wednesday - My ride home was uneventful. I went straight home and chilled a bit then decided to walk to the station and return the videos and maybe get more. On the way back I really wanted to try this different sushi place near my apt. I rented Star Wars Ep I, Almost Famous, and something else I cannot remember. This morning I pumped up the tires on the bike and raised the seat. It rides a little better now, but unfortunately.......
I'm never riding the bike again. On the way to school I was cruising along trying my darndest not to ring the bell, so then the more I concentrate on NOT ringing it, the more I accidentally ring it. So I was ringing it every time I stop as usual and came towards a big intersection, I think it was Route 4, like that means anything to you. So I am slowing down, ring ring ring, and coming to a stop when like 18 or so people turn to me and wave and start ringing their bells. It was like 20 people all at once ringing and ringing and saying "herro herro". So that was humiliating. At least I know how to ride the bus, maybe I will try that tomorrow.
On a different note, I did find a different kaiten sushi (kigh ten). I'll post some pictures soon. My digital camera can make mpg movies so maybe I'll make one of the conveyor belt as well. In case no one has ever seen a conveyor, I guess. I ate so much as was so full but I only spent 1050 Yen, less than $10. Yen is like dollars with cents so 1000 is like 10.00, but a little less, so maybe 8.58, but it's easier to just say around $10.
A buddy of mine just called me from the states, but I won't mention who since his boss might bust his chops about calling. It's 9am here so I will go practice my Japanese. Today I am going to work on katakana, the 2nd of three alphabets in Japanese. English has 26 letters, Japanese has two languages with over 46 each, and then they borrow some characters from China for another 2000 characters. There are maybe 50,000 or so Chinese characters, but some government policy was set so that only 2,000 are the most popular. I have mastered hiragana the 1st of three and today I need to refresh my katakana. (he da gah nah and kah tah kah nah). Hiragana is for native Japanese words like Tsunami or Matsuri, and Katakana is for borrowed words like Makudonarudo (My last name and the restaurant - mah coo dough nah doo dough). When I type "d" for "r" that's because the R sound here is very soft like a D almost. That's why they can't pronounce our strong R as in Ryan (lion or dyin).
Ok, off to work.
Well I just got back from a grand adventure, the Geography teacher/Mountain climbing coach invited me to visit the oldest part of Fukushima city. It had old houses and gardens and it was very pretty. I took a few pictures but of course no way to upload them. Maybe I will get the disposable cameras developed to CD later today. So then we went to another place and looked at these special dolls that Fukushima is famous for. Finally we went to a local mountain probably about the height of Stone Mountain, maybe taller, but we drove to the top of it. That took about 5 hours. we also ate at a very authentic old restaurant at the first place we went and it was delicious. I had katsu don (kah tsue dawn) it was fried pork on rice, but not like American fried pork, better. On the side was a small slaw type thing, miso soup, and some pickled things and of course a too small cup of water.
Well it's 4:30 now and I could leave but I will stay a bit til it cools down. I also want to go to a scooter shop on the way home and look at used scooters. True I need the exercise, but this Mary Poppins bike really sucks. My butt starts to hurt and I can't steer. Plus I could visit people around me with a little scooter I think. I have heard a used one is only about 4-600 bucks, which I could do. I wouldn't mind a little car but that would be far more I think. I might look for big sandals on the way home as well. But I have to do laundry at some point tonight. I have the Aizu-Wakamatsu (eye zoo wah kah mah sue) language study and home stay this weekend.
I took the bus this morning. Better than the surprise ring your bell party the people probably had planned. I couldn't find the bus stop nearest my house so I walked to the main station and hopped on the number 2 which took me quite near the high school. On the way from the stop to the school I noticed two scooter shops. I could probably afford a scooter and I would feel better on one than a full blown car, although I'd really dig one of those small little British mini Coopers or whatever they are called.
So I dragged Hiraki sensei to the scooter shop to ask about the scooter and they are surprisingly affordable. I can get a used 50cc Honda for around $600 or a new one for about $1500. I might try to save up or see about a loan. A loan would be cool.
I've noticed people come near my desk and write their name on a small piece of paper everyday in the morning, then around lunch food magically appears for them. Apparently it's a delivery service, so I had Hiraki write my name and "kari raisu" or curry rice. It was only 600 yen ( <$6 ). It promptly appeared at noon, though I still don't know how it gets here. I ate it and was quite full all day. Not bad for 6 bucks. Good deal when you don't feel like leaving, like when it snows.
I came back and studied more Katakana and helped a student with her Speech Contest English paper. She wrote some good stuff, so I made little minor corrections. Then Abe sensei (the guy who took me up the mountain) showed me a book on Japan's history and one on Hiroshima. The Hiroshima book had cool drawings and pictures about how they dropped the bomb and where it hit and how much damage it did. It was both a very good documentary and a very sad story.
Then Hiraki sensei told me about my trip this weekend and gave me an envelope with like $220 bucks for expense. I added up my expenses and they are around $100 or so, so I guess they are being generous on the money. For the record I have left the money on my desk all day and no one has touched it. I love Japan.
I managed to upload a few pictures to the section aptly titled photos, but it took over 20 minutes just for those few so pictures will come slowly until I get a computer at home. But like I said earlier, when I do I can get ADSL at speeds of over 12 Mbps. That is so fast, in the states it was up to 1.5 Mbps. Yowzers. Well it's almost 4 so I will practice more katakana and then head home I reckon. the bus will drop me at the station, I'll either try to find the bus that goes by my place or just walk. I need the exercise so I'll probably walk anyway. But I need to buy another disposable camera at BOM for the home stay. OH, BOM has a point card where I get points every time I buy anything there. They are like BestBuy with video rental. If you get 30,000 you win a trip to Hawaii. I think I have 12 points now. But I might get my friends to buy stuff and put it on my point card, I just won't explain what it is to them.
Aug 9th Friday - Woke up at the usual too early time and loitered around the apartment until 9:30. Then I walked to the station and returned some videos, met a girl from Canada teacher at a Canadian English school and then headed over to the bus stop. I had to take an express bus to Aizu for the class and home stay. The bus only cost $16 each way and it was about an hour and a half trip. As I figured there were about 5 other non-Japanese waiting for the same bus. I walked over and said "let me take a wild guess, JETs going to Aizu". Of course I bet right. So we chatted and then got on the bus and were on our way. It's amazing how off first impressions can be.
We chatted the whole time on the bus. They all knew each other since they were in the second group to come to Japan, whereas I was in Group A. They were all pretty cool, and I was glad I didn't have to ride alone. We finally made it into Aizu and I saw a glimpse of the big cool samurai castle and this really cool 100 foot tall statue of a woman. I can't remember the point of the it, probably something to do with Buddhism. But I want to go back and see it and the castle and snow ski or snowboard.
Friday we had and introduction speech and then two classes. They were called Total Immersion, which means the teachers always speak in Japanese. Which is this big Japanese education belief that it's best, but I hate it. I am learning the language, therefore you cannot explain the language to me IN the language. That's a circular reference, it doesn't work. We would spend 20 minutes while the teacher tried to say " we are about to learn about greetings", and in the end I didn't learn anything more but I was frustrated.
About 5 or so class was over and we met our host family for the weekend. Mine was the Sato family, just two adults and a dog. They had a daughter who was married and lived somewhere else. they didn't speak much English and I didn't speak a whole lot of Japanese, so there were periods where we just sat and looked around. The man was very happy and smiley and the woman was older and reserved. Both very nice. I ate very well both nights, and slept in a nice American bed with a 6 inch by 8 inch thin hard packed beanbag pillow.
They had a remote control toilet. I took a picture.
Saturday we had more painful classes and then for lunch we went to a typical Japanese place and had some decent food. Then we went to a place where we painted this red bobble head cow. It's called Akabeko which literally means red cow. It's a tradition or myth or something here. After that we toured a sake factory and of course they gave out free samples. It was actually pretty decent stuff, not as strong as I remembered. So I bought a bottle for my host family and one for my supervisor. When you travel you are supposed to bring back "omiyage" (Oh me Ya gay"), it's like gifts or souvenirs from where you went. But you are supposed to really do it and it's expected.
That night Mrs. Sato took me to a strange festival in the streets. There were people dancing and an old man dressed as an old geisha and more dancing. Then we came home. Sunday was more or less uneventful. We had another class, a strange meal provided by the place and then left. My group hung around a bit and then caught a later bus back to Fukushima City. While at the station I showed them around a bit and rented three more movies, Space Cowboys, Harry Potter, and Bedazzled.
Now it's Monday morning at 9:30 and I really have nothing to do all day. It's a special time here and most people took vacation this week. There are a few people here now, but I heard tomorrow there will be no power at the school for construction or something. We'll see.
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Tuesday August 13th - Tuesday was the day the power would be off at the school but rather than take a vacation day I figured I'd wait it out and just read or something. Well it wasn't really too bad, it was slightly overcast and there was a good breeze so the teacher's room was comfortable. Plus it was only me and one other teacher about my age so we just chilled. I sat on the couch by the windows (like you know where they are) and read from a book my ex boss turned me on to. He didn't 'turn me on' per se, but he showed me the book and I've been reading on it for a while. It's called Sophie's World and it's about a 14 year old girl who is learning about the History of Philosophy. I read a few chapters and then I think I dozed off (which is actually acceptable at school), and then I felt Hiraki sensei poking my shoulder so I acted like I was awake and reading, but I think she knew.
She invited me to lunch, or so I thought. We left with her and her husband Hiro and went to the bank to get my ATM card with my name on it all in Japanese. Then I mentioned something about my shoes and all of a sudden we are at a shoe store. So I bought some size 28 cm sandals which are barely big enough, I guess I wear size 30 or so. My roommate Ken from Atlanta wears American 13+ and is moving over here in a few weeks so he is SOL as far as shoes go. Then we went to Hiraki's parents house, which was really phat. I mean they must be loaded cause this house would be big in the states. It had like 8 big rooms and in the main eating room there was an indention in the floor for your feet to go, and it was air conditioned. Hard to explain but really cool. Her father ended up giving me a small taiko drum display, which I was afraid to keep. it seemed so nice I felt bad, but he insisted. He was a cool older man, looked like he could be in the mob maybe. I doubt he was, he just looked really cool and suave.
Then I mentioned I needed a pole to go across my porch to hang laundry on because there ARE NO DRYERS IN JAPAN. And of course we ended up at a Home Depot type place. Then we walked back to her house and swapped vehicles there. I went in for a few minutes and checked email (hotmail still blocked at the school) and Hiro search a few train maps for me to take a trip to Yabuki this weekend. As I mentioned in a previous post, my friend in Yabuki invited me to a techno festival somewhere.
So we leave there and go eat at this cheapo restaurant near their place. I spent about 700 yen and was quite full. The table had a really cool feature where you press a button and the waitress comes right over. I asked for a big glass of water and that became a big scene. The chefs and waiters all had to come see who would dare ask for a large glass of waiter. The ones they give you are just bigger than a shot glass. I hate it.
So we ate and they dropped me off and we tested the bar on the porch and I gave them some sake I bought for them in Aizu. Hiro said he really loved Sake from there so I was glad. Politically I probably should have given it to the Koucho sensei (Principal) but Hiraki and Hiro do more for me. Technically they are bought Hiraki, that is the last name. She is Eriko Hiraki and he is Hiro Hiraki, but I always call her Hiraki and him Hiro. So now you know.
Then I go home and decide to chill and do nothing, and then my keitai rings. It's someone from my orientation saying they are at a bar in Fukushima city and do I want to come? Well this will definitely interrupt my busy night of sitting, but what they heck. So I walk about a mile or so to the station, in the rain, and then about a half mile through these winding streets and finally find the place. It was super small, and on the 3rd floor. The Japanese guy that owns it lived in New Orleans for a while. It had a cool vibe so I stayed and chatted with my other JET friends. It was cool hanging out with them and talking natural English for a while. Then they all decided to leave early and I walked back home. Got home around midnight and went to sleep.
Today I have a home stay later in the afternoon, through the night. My predecessor stayed with this family too and said it was really fun. They have a high school daughter learning English and she is eager to practice with me. You know that sounds fun the first 50 times then you just want to scream "say it, b-b-b-bus, say it". But of course I can't so I grin and bear it and think of how bad my Japanese is sometimes. Like when I told people they had a nice butt instead of cool shoes (ii kutsu vs. ii ketsu). See it's similar.
Yesterday was a really busy day. Today I've already typed and proof read an English Speech for a girl and I have another one planned. On a different note, a few people have mentioned they have had trouble emailing my Excite account, so I will try to start yet another free account somewhere as a back up. Once I get my computer at home I should be able to use Hotmail and upload a lot more pictures. I get paid Tuesday of next week and also have another orientation to go to. Sounds like fun.
Friday, August 16, 2002
Friday August 16th - Since Wednesday afternoon I have been staying with the Nagasawa family here in Fukushima City. They are a pretty cool and American family. They were Japanese, but the 16 year old daughter has studied English in England for several years and speaks great. She even knew some slang and idioms. She has a major crush on some dude named Aaron Carter. I think he is the little brother of Nick Carter who might be in Backstreet Boys. I had to listen to BSB and N'Sync all weekend, but she was singing along and it was ok. She really enjoys English and would make her parents speak English and she would even correct them in English.
They picked me up Wednesday afternoon about 2 and we went to the mother's parents house for an Obon Festival dinner. (Oh baaa n). That's the season to mourn for deceased relatives. They eat this funky rice ball with bean paste on it call Hagi or something (Ha geee). Not on my list of things I like. Apparently her father (the mother's father) owns a big old famous restaurant in town, cause this house was smack. It was huge and he was this cool old guy, kinda like Hiraki sensei's father. Maybe all old people are like that.
Then we went home and they had a really nice American looking house, except for the room I stayed in, which was Japanese style, but I was fine. No worries. I wasn't sure how long I was staying there but I brought enough clothes. Thursday I woke up and we spent the day back in or near Aizu, but this time we went to some crazy places.
First we went to the Salvador Dali museum. I think these were actually some originals since the tickets were expensive and there were guards in each room. But I can't imagine why originals would be in the middle of no where Japan. So then we went to this glass shop/museum more of a store I think though. Then we ate Ramen noodles on the side of the road and I took a picture of a helicopter taking off. I don't know why. I heard it taking off and I ran out and snapped a picture and then thought "why did I do that?". I guess it was just the sounds of the rotators or the main girder and then the....yea I'm retarded. Finally we went to the lake of 5 colors, although I only saw two. Deep blue and lake blue. But it was a cool lake so I didn't file a complaint. I'll have a picture soon.
Finally we came back to the house and relaxed for a bit, then we went out for sushi and rented a few movies. One was with Ben Afleck and someone else about coming back from the war and living with your parents and finding yourself. It was kinda cool, expect for all the parts about the guy in the Korean war who kept going over to Tokyo for all the easy women. Of course this was based in the late 40's, but otherwise it was an interesting story.
So then I went to sleep and woke up early to be at work this morning here now. I would have more interesting things to post if I had a computer at home which I plan to soon. Then I could add pictures and would have more time to write petty details.
Soon it's Friday at noon now, I think a buddy from Haramachi city is coming to crash at my place this weekend and then we might go to Yabuki for this outdoor concert or whatever. It's something to do and I'll get to ride the bullet train, al beit for 15 minutes down one stop. So There should be an update Monday.
Monday, August 19, 2002
The weekend trip went surprisingly well. I really didn't know what was in store but it all turned out ok, and we learned more about riding trains. My friend Brandon from North Carolina came in to stay with me Friday and we went to the station and ate sushi and then to the electronics store. I needed a small backpack for the weekend since all I had was a small pull carry on suitcase and that was getting annoying. I found one that was about $50 called Franksfreak (?) and was about to get it. I tried it on and realized I looked like Bruce McCullough from a Kids in The Hall skit where he dresses like a 15 year old boy and annoys people. Luckily I found another one that was cheaper and bigger and bought that. Then we went by the Hyaku en shop ($1 store) and I loaded up. Man this place really impresses me. How do these things only cost a buck? With the exchange rate they are about .89 . I would easily pay a few bucks for these things, but I'm not gonna argue. I can get almost everything I need there.
We walked back to the apt and chilled for a bit then went out to try to find other JETs at a bar. There are a few JET bars so went looking. we ran into BJ and Dave, two other JETs, and then we all started walking around. We ran into yet more JETs in the street and they were going to eat so we said we'd meet later at this bar called Catfish. Some guy who lived in New Orleans for a while owns it. It's small, but pretty cool. I have a few pictures to upload later. We went home around 1am and crashed. I made some late night calls to people back in the states since it was afternoon for them.
We woke up Sat morn to the sound of someone ringing the doorbell. I answered it and of course he looked at me wide eyed and mumbled something. I spoke real southern English and said "well hey there, how are you? Want to come in and Belly Dance? Maybe we could play Twister or you could drive me to the Barber Shop". He totally freaked out and politely excused himself. He was selling something so I don't care about freaking him out.
then we walked back into town to do some shopping before we went to the festival thing. I FOUND A BIG AND TALL SHOP. WOO HOO !!! I bought a 4L shirt and wore it that night. It was only $15 bucks. Plus they have dress shirts and ties and sweaters and rain coats. Oh the best thing was they had real pimp color suits, like pale green and stuff. Since I stand out anyway, why not really stand out. Maybe I'll buy some later. The prices were fair. I was so happy. Brandon bought two smaller shirts since he can find clothes anywhere. We got separated when I was getting the shirt so I asked a random salesperson "excuse me where is the other foreigner?". She pointed me directly to him. Standing out has it's perks.
Then Scott (the guy from Yabuki) called and gave us the plan. Then I called Kamery (a babe from Nihonmatsu) and told her. I wanted to ride the bullet train down to Koriyama and then a local train to Yabuki, but she sweet talked me into doing local trains to her and more locals to Yabuki. When you see a pic of her you'll understand why I caved in. It ended up saving us money since I bought a $2 ticket to Nihonmatsu and then she met us at the station and we went on to Yabuki. When we arrived we should have had to adjust out fare at a machine to about $12, but there were so many people at the station they were just having us toss the tickets into a bucket. The bullet train would have been at least $20 paid up front.
So Scott is late and then we meet up and go eat at a IHOP type place. They have little buttons on the table that you press when you want a waitress. It's much better than the states and all the waitresses are super overly nice rather than bucktooth middle school education wankers. we ate and watched some fireworks and then met up with a New Zealander and his fiancé and they drove us out into the woods somewhere far. I realized at one point if they dropped us off and drove away, we could be categorized into the "we are screwed" category. But they didn't as I am here now typing. We finally found the place and walked through the woods for about a mile. We kept thinking we would hear music since it was an outdoor festival, but we didn't. Then we got to a waterfall and realized that was muffling out the sound. As soon as we passed it we heard loud music and flashy lights and lasers (we saw the lights, we didn't hear them) coming from the woods ahead of us. It was a really cool site. Like a UFO had crashed while playing techno on the radio too loud. We got up to the site and the was a DJ tent and about 50 people dancing. It would have been cool in the states, but it was really strange being in Japan.
So we drank and listened to the music. Most people consider techno to be a record skipping, but I (and many others) really like it. We listened for a while and danced a little and then I fell asleep sometime around 2 and they stayed up. The music was still going at 8am when I woke up and at that point I really didn't want to hear it anymore. I was thinking how sad it would be to be a DJ in the 8am slot. Although there were still people dancing, it was just over for me. I drank, had fun, went to sleep, woke up hungry, and wanted to go home. So we all packed up and left and found the cars and drove to near Yabuki station and found a Denny's and luckily they actually served an American style breakfast. Nothing could have hit the spot more at that time than that. I still had the teeny water glass and the portions were all wrong, but it was bacon, eggs, sausage, toast, and a salad. Yes a salad.
When we finished some of Andy's friends (the new Zealander guy) showed up and said they really dug my accent. I never really hear myself with an accent, but I guess no one does. So I turned it on pretty think for them. "How yaw dune? I'm from Joja, yeehaw, I reckon I'll see yaw later. Aight." They really dug it. I think they were from Australia (Oz) and New Zealand (kiwi). They are called Ozzies and Kiwis from some reason.
Then we all got back on the local train $9.60 from Yabuki to Fukushima City and cruised on back. Again they didn't put the tickets in the machines they just took them from us so we could have bought a ticket for .90 and just handed it to them. But why cheat the system?
So that was the big weekend. Today I have spent most of the time typing this and surfing the web. Then I spent a while learning Japanese grammar. Since I have nothing else to do yet, I pretty much spend about 4 hours a day IN JAPAN learning Japanese. How much better could it be? (Technically, now I am getting paid to learn Japanese).
Tomorrow through Thursday I have an orientation in Fukushima city (convenient for me but not the other people) so no updates for a few days. Maybe there will be a good one Friday. If things go right I will be doing the Beer Onsen train this weekend. I'll explain that puppy later. I have pretty much decided against doing Fuji this year since I have to go by Aug 30 and I am not in shape enough to walk up hill for 10 hours straight (stone mountain kicked my butt).
Thursday, August 22, 2002
The three day orientation is over and I am back at school on Thursday afternoon. Tomorrow night there is a big Drum-n-Bass party in town that I plan to go to. If you don't know what DnB is you wouldn't like it. It's techno music.
So at the orientation thing we learned more about the area and met more people (lots of hottie chicks in my area, woo hoo), and toured the area. Then each night we went out to a different bar to continue meeting people. There's not much to report really since it was just a three day thing, just think of any business trip you've ever taken and it was like that.
So Saturday will be this Beer train thing which is intriguing me. I think it will be really cool so what the heck. I'm sure there will be a good update Monday or Tuesday. Oh Monday is the first day of school where I have to make a speech (In Japanese) in front of 2000 people (all of whom are Japanese). So hopefully I don't mix up any more words like Kutsu and Ketsu. I'll get someone to take my picture at it.
Oh Wednesday I got paid so I go to the ATM and try to take out 2 man (mahnn "200 bucks"), but I type 20 man or 2 grand, and the crazy thing spits it out. Then it won't let me redeposit it because it's not safe to have that much money at an ATM (but it just gave it to me...) so I am stuck with "2 large" walking around town. Of course nothing happened, but that really stank.
So I'm going to practice my reading and writing now. Maybe I'll update something tomorrow. I need to buy a CD player and a Hair Trimmer tonight. In case you were curious. Why did I type that. Or that.
Monday, August 26, 2002
The Drum and Bass thing Friday was only so so. There weren't many people there and the music was a little harder and faster than I prefer. So after that, my friend BJ from two stops up stayed at my place. The next morning we walked to the station, had lunch, then he left for a few hours. He returned around 2 and we caught a bus to Aizu for the Beer train.
I don't know who thought of this Beer train but it was really fun, strange but fun. We take a local train to a remote train and get off. It's dark and no one is around. About 15 minutes later we seen a train coming down the tracks. When it gets near us it turns on all it's party lights and loud music. It was two cars like Marta, but one was open with no windows.
We rode the train for about an hour. They served us beer and pizza and bento (Japanese convenience food). Then we made it to a super small crossroads type town and all got off. We walked about half a mile through this almost ghost town and came to a Hot Springs in the middle of no where. If something is No where how can it have a middle?
We paid the owners and went over to the onsen. The girls and guys had to separate, unfortunately, but that was probably best. Then we all get naked and get in this broiling hot water. Yes I said we all got naked. It was quite strange being naked with 15 other guys and two locals, but no one cared, that's what Onsens are all about I guess.
So the water was majorly hot and I could only get in for a second. Actually a few minutes. The view (not the other guys) was great. It was closed on three sides and then there was this view of the woods and the river. The air was cool and it was really nice. On the way back I had a super relaxed feeling. I see this as a hobby, or addiction maybe. I was hardcore relaxed. Some springs have special minerals that help the digestive system.
Then we rode the Beer train back and drank more and then went to a bar in the city of Wakamatsu (Wah kah mah tss). We drank for a while and then crashed at this one guy's place in the city. He had a huge house and only pays $100 a month, and he has a tight car as well. Tight as in really cool, not small. Sunday morn we caught the 90 minute and $16 bus back to Fukushima city.
When I got back we ate sushi again and then I came home. Oh wait I rented two movies first. Can't remember which now. Right as I got home my supervisor (Hiraki sensei) called and asked if she and her husband could come over and talk about their trip to Hawaii. Sure, I can rest and bathe later. She showed me all their photos from Hawaii then we went to exchange a CD player I had just bought. We ended up eating at the same sushi place again. Which is ok, I love sushi and there's a cute girl I flirt with.
On the way home I mentioned I would like to find a Thrift store and of course they drove me straight to one. It rocked, they had all sorts of crap for pocket change. A huge couch was $20 and a bike was $30. Plus they had electronics stuff and other stuff. It was great. I plan to return there often. The name of the place was "Hard Off". I explained why that was a strange name. I think it means when you are hard off or down on your luck, we will buy your stuff.
So now it's 11 am Monday. I just gave a speech in Japanese to 1040 students. An introduction speech. It was crazy, I think I did alright. I kept it short so as not to say something like "Please welcome my feet to your faces". They laugh at my name because McDonald's is so popular over here. I make a mean face when they do and they stop laughing. So now everyone knows me and I get to start teaching.
I'll try to make updates this week but it is getting really hard to use computers. They are either too slow or the sites are blocked or someone is on them. Right now people are eyeing this machine, so I am keeping it short and typing fast.
Friday during the day good ole Abe sensei took me sightseeing around the Adachi area where I go on Fridays. Some cool castles and such. Pictures will come soon. I am working on getting a cheap slow computer so I can get ADSL at home. Found a computer at work where I can access Hotmail, but still use my Yahoo account, it's faster and I can get to it from school.
Not too much going on this week. I start teaching so I will have some updates, but this Sat we are going to Iwaki for a big beach party (E wah key). I'll have some picture updates soon. I think this computer is slightly faster than the others. Or I will go to someone's house.
Updates will be tough. Many sites are blocked from school. Beer train was a BLAST! Will try to get a computer at home soon.
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
So I just had my first two classes. That was a trip. I gave a short introduction about me and where I am from and how Georgia is famous for Peaches and Coke and Jimmy Carter and MLK and other stuff. Then I made them ask questions and they were silly ones like "how old are you" or "what are your favorite sports".
The first class listened to me read about Chili Peppers from their book and then I asked them a few questions and repeated some hard words over and over again. This job is tough, I might better quit, I'm not used to this type of work.
The second class was learning this hard as HECK song from A Chorus Line. There were words I didn't even know like one line was "Peripatetic, Poetic, and Chic". Come On what is that all about?? Then it said "jauntily sauntering" Are you kidding me? But I read it for them and they repeated it. They were very lively and asked me more questions. I told them my father was the president of McDonald's and they freaked out. They already laugh at my name so this really blew their minds. I waited a good few seconds and then said I was joking.
I just returned from helping two girls with their speech contests papers. They are coming along nicely and should do well. They have trouble with "th", "b v", and of course "r l".
I found out I should be getting a cheaper couch and a cool double bed. The real expensive couch got axed which I knew it would. I hope this comes in soon.
So I did my intro and such in Japanese Monday. It was ok, there was a little incident with me having to wear too small shoes to the stage and people laughed, but laughter is ok. They also giggled at my name since McDonald's is big here. So I went home and the gas man came by to check something and I finished watching Vanilla Sky. WOOO what a crazy movie. I was so lost the whole time. I thought I'd missed about 20 minutes. We can rent English movies here, BTW.
So then I was chilling in the apaato (apartment) and Shashi called and invited me to dinner with some friends. Shashi falls into the babe category, but she is dating a guy from Peru who lives in Yokohama (Japan). So they communicate in Japanese since she speaks no Spanish and he speaks little or no English. Shashi is Australian. We meet at this really good Indian place, which I thought we were eating at, but they wanted to go to a French soup kitchen. It was good food. On the way they showed me this door that's about 3 feet tall and no signs around it. It's a restaurant. I have got to eat there, I swear the door was so small. I'll get a picture sometime.
That let up around 11 and I rode my Mary Poppins bike back home. Woke up this morning and came into work. When I got here my supervisor asked me if I wanted anything for the apaato like a dryer, since they only use washers here. I told her that would be nice, but I really need a couch that is not 6 inches off the ground. 30 minutes later a man I don't know had a couch catalog in my face. I picked a cheap one and they agreed the more expensive one would be better. The BOE called and said it would not, but if I got a cheaper one I could get a double bed as well, like an American bed. I'm starting to see how the system works here. Pretty cool. Man the JET after me is going to have a macked out apaato. Hiraki's husband Hiro emailed me on my phone and said he would give me an old kitchen table this Sunday and take me to Hard Off to get something else. I guarantee it won't be an old table, it will be something too nice, but it's rude to not take it, plus I SOOOOOO need a kitchen table.
A few minutes ago the Koucho Sensei (Vice Principal) walked by when I was studying Japanese and said I seemed to be getting off to a good start. I was pleased to hear that. We talked in English a little since he wants to learn and then I taught him "see ya" and "later". He loves that kind of talk. I won't teach him rude stuff. The funny thing is he is an old distinguished man and it's great seeing him say "Ryan Sensei...Later man". Lunchtime, time to go eat.
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
So the bathroom has a big sliding window by the urinals. So when I am there taking care of business I am looking out into the parking lot. It's on the second floor so it's not too terribly bad. Sometimes people see me and wave, so I adjust and wave back. Or worse some teachers bow, so I am standing there, taking care of business, and bowing. The real bad thing is when someone sees me and yells "Ryan Sensei what are you doing?". I usually make up something stupid like "I waiting for a bus to take me to the puppet show" then they say "what?" and I say "exactly!". They turn to their friends and giggle and say "ok bai bai".
Right now I am trying to upload a photo of this, but it has taken 19 minutes so far. I confirmed the 6 computers share a 56K line, and I think it is 14.4K upstream.Wednesday has been semi slow. I only had two classes today 6th and 7th periods (last two). The first one was a little shy but asked a few questions when I showed them some Brittany Spears and N'Sync folders I brought over from the states. I also brought Pez and Baseball cards. The girls went crazy for the folders. Then I handed each of them a lucky magical English penny (A regular penny to you and I).
I had to read some short paragraph about the weather in England and they had to pick out certain words and write them. Like they had to circle whether or not I said "Wales" or "Well" and "Temperature" or "Temper". Seems easy but many missed it. I talked slow and annunciated and tried to lose the Southern Hick accent.
The second class was more lively and asked more questions like "what is wrong with your eyes" like why do I wear glasses, and "what is your favorite food. It happens to be sushi. Then I gave them my school email address and told them to email me in English anytime. Their teacher had prepared a sheet for them to write down things when I gave my introduction. Which by the way I am sick and tired of giving my introduction and I have another 22 classes to give it. But at the bottom of the class's sheet, they had to draw my picture. Some were good, most were average, two were masterpieces. If I can find a scanner I will show you. One has in-depth shading and.....wow...it rocks. The teacher asked me to make a comment on each and sign my name. So I started writing "Great Job", "good drawing", "you are an artist", then I wrote them again and again and then I got tired so I strayed and wrote "I am so happy", "I have a dog", "Dogs say ruff ruff", "weeeeeee, I am happy". I signed my chicken scratch name on them and gave them back to the teacher. Later I saw a few students get their papers and they were so happy at my silly comments. Finally somewhere that appreciates my genius. Even if they are half my age.
Tonight I have to find some pants, I haven't been wearing any. HAHA, no I just need more slacks. Like two more pair I think. Two more total not 4. The problem(s) will be finding a cheap big and tall shop. I think I know where one is.
This weekend is the Iwaki (E wah key) beach party. I wasn't planning on drinking much, but this week has been stressful. Imagine how you were as a kid when a new teacher came in. They aren't going easy on me, but they are all pretty good kids. I'll take some video or pictures at some point. Things are looking up on the computer. I am going to get a cheap computer here and then save up and send money back for a faster one.
Minor funny thing. When I was helping one of the students with her speech contest, she was stuck on the R sound. I was practicing by going "rrrrrrrrrrr" and then " r r r r". So she was repeating me and we were doing this for a minute or so. Then I stood up and showed her a pirate because they make that sound so maybe she could relate the two. So I was doing my little pirate dance/move walking around dragging my leg saying "rrrrrrr" and she was doing it back to me, almost in a "Tim Allen Tooltime" way. Half way through the Koucho Sensei (principal) walks into the room while we are going "rrrrrrrrrrr r r r r r" and I am dragging my leg around with a hand over my eye. He asked what we were doing. She explained it and we all laughed. It was funnier then.
I taught more kids "sup" and "later". I think we are bonding. Good times.
I just had another self introduction and I thought the class would be lively since they were very outgoing before class started, but nope. They were stone cold quiet when I asked for questions. None. Zero.
So then I tried to tempt them with the Brittany Spears posters and N'Sync stuff and candy and Mardi Gras coins, but nothing. Even the two loud girls were quiet. So then I wrote a question on the board "Do you like Japanese food?". Still nothing. So then I asked part of the question and said just say the word food. "Food" just say it. Then I said fine just raise your hand if you want candy or nod your head. Nothing.
Then I threw the candy in the air and people scrambled for it. I made those people ask a question. HAHA. I tricked you. They were mad but asked questions.
The whole situation reminded me of the Saturday Night Live episode where Will Ferrell was Alex Tribeck and the guests were really slow and stupid. One guy was Sean Connery and I think David Duchoveny was Jeff Goldblum. The questions were like "Shapes", "say the word circle" and no one could do it. It was the same vibe here.
I do feel like a human tape recorder, but it's still fun. I really relate to these kids humor wise so they really like me. A few girls are flirty, which is flattering in a strange way.
Thursday and Wednesday were pretty straightforward. nothing of real interest to report. I am going to buy a computer from this guy so I can have faster access at home. Hopefully I'll get that tonight. Last night (Thursday) I did some shopping with BJ and then went back to Catfish and met some people. Meg, Brianna, Shashi, and Brad showed up. Pictures will come later. If I can get the computer and DSL at home then I will document so much about this place you could come over and fit right in.
Tonight I plan to chill for the most part. Might go to Ito Yokado and get another cheapo fold up chair for the apt and take it tomorrow. BJ wants one too. It will be cool sleeping on the beach I think, at least the ocean breeze will be nice. There may or may not be anything worth will to update Monday but I will try to anyway.
There were a few things I wanted to mention that happened Thursday, but I can't remember them. Hmmm. One guy had a baby (his wife did) and he came into work yesterday and today. Thought that was odd. In the states they take off a few days I think.
On a side note, and perhaps too graphic for this site, once you get used to the Japanese style squat toilets, they really kick butt. Let's just say things run smoother.
Sorry, so no news on the bed and couch. Hopefully soon. I am so tired of sleeping and sitting on the floor.
Oh yea, my classes were pretty cool. I did a short introduction and then I read from some book about chili peppers. That was the lesson, not my introduction. I know nothing about chili peppers. I had to read slow and annunciate and exaggerate each section. "Did YOU know the most widely grown SPICE in the world is the chili pepper? Well, it is." Then the kids read it and then we read parts and practiced in groups. It was cool. I had two classes today but they suckered me into three. I shouldn't complain, I am paid well to work two or three hours a day and then sit at my desk and learn Japanese. In Japan.
OK, if anything of interest happens in the life of Ryan I'll update this site shortly. Hopefully, I'll have a computer and ADSL later tonight and be able to redo everything.