Gomenasai means I’m sorry

23 03 2012

picture borrowed from http://www.skunkworks-ost.com/index.php?p=1_36. Which, btw, is a website for a pet urine removal product. Lolz

A thousand apologies for not maintaining this blog! There is really no excuse. Even though I was internet-less my first three months of living in Japan, I should have (and could have) resumed my posts ASAP. The problem was, I was over the idea of writing a blog. Facebook is so much easier. It requires almost no mental capacity to upload pictures, add a caption, and/or update a status. In fact, you don’t even have to do those simple things because friends can tag you in pictures, posts, and locations. Its a lazy person’s paradise! As a result, those of you on Facebook have been able to keep up with my adventures in Japan, but the rest of you are probably pretty clueless about what I’ve been doing for the past seven months.

So, why now? Why have I decided to resume this blog after so long? Well, today was the last day of the school year. I have a two week long spring break–which, let me clarify, is not a break for the teachers. I still have to go to work but as there will be no students, I will have no classes to teach. Most ALTs take vacay during this time but I was supposed to have have family visit so I made no vacation plans. Unfortunately, Plan A fell through so with no Plan B in sight I have two weeks to pretend to be busy when I’m really bored senseless. In order to avoid the debilitating effects of boredom, I decided to come up with some projects: one being resuming this blog. *Insert excited/nervous face here*

Be on the look out for a new post in the very near future about my newest hobby. I bet you’re excited to find out what it is….


Long time no see

16 08 2011

Hello good people! As you know, I’ve been in Japan for just a little over two weeks. Life has been extremely hectic with orientations, meeting new people, and going to work at my new job. Compounded with all that is the fact that I haven’t yet received my Alien Registration Card. Without the card, I can’t contract a cell phone or sign up for major services–like the internet. I’m scheduled to receive it later this week and I’m praying to God that it’s not delayed (I know someone whose card was delayed two months, though I’m told this is not normal). Since I’m in my prefecture’s capital city for yet another orientation, I’ve decided to take advantage of the hotel’s free internet and upload some pics of my new locale. Even though they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m sure you’ll want to know a bit more about whats actually going on in some of them. Don’t worry. I’ll give more info at a later date but for now, enjoy!

Yes, even in Japan

Kamoto is the name of my base high school. The little bear in the corner is the prefecture's mascot, Kumamon--the kanji for Kumamoto translates to the origin of the bear. You see this guy everywhere! I cropped out my supervisor and the other JTE because I didn't get their prior permission to post pictures of them on the internet.

Yep, I'm in the country (inaka)

Kamoto H.S.

Genki times outside the 7-11

No, that's not how you spell my last name but its close enough!

Kuma Sundae at the local Haagen Dazs

Engrish. 'Nuf said.

Pack ‘Em Up, Move ‘Em Out

21 07 2011

Last Friday was my last day of work. My coworkers threw me a nice going away party that totally caught me by surprise. I thought I had avoided all that by requesting a happy hour after work and away from the office. But nooooo. They ambushed me with cake, smiles, and well wishes. As much as I didn’t want a big fuss made, I really appreciated the gesture.

Now that I’m officially unemployed, I have a lot of extra time….to pack, ugh. I’m finding unemployment to be more stressful than waking up and going to work every morning. Well, maybe not more stressful than a rush hour commute on Metro in 100 degree weather with at least one deodorant-less passenger standing too close to me, but still pretty stressful.

The question I ask myself, as do most people in the midst of a move, is how did I accumulate so much crap?! Moving across the globe is different than moving across town (duh) so needless to say, a lot of stuff is headed to the dumpster. Please direct your attention to Exhibit A.

Exhibit A: Coursework from grad school

Yet in the midst of purging, I had to re-up at the Red Dot Boutique. You might know this place as Target. I resisted buying clothes because, lets be honest, I have enough. Instead I focused on the essentials. And by essentials, I mean things I’m sure I can’t get at the local Mr. Max, which I have been told is like Japan’s version of Wal-Mart.

What’s essential? For one, I’m pretty confident I won’t be able to find hair products for curly hair…at least not my type of curly hair. Curly haired ladies (and gents), I highly recommend Shea Moisture products. My sister-in-law introduced the line to me over the Christmas holiday. I made an immediate purchase and I haven’t regretted the decision yet. Mommy, if you’re reading this, and I hope you are, this is what you will need to send me in a care package about six months from now:

What else is essential? Aveeno face wash and moisturizer, deodorant, floss, toothpaste, and soap. Before there is any confusion, yes there are personal hygeine products in Japan. It just happens that I am particularly attached to Aveeno’s Positively Radiant line as well as Dove’s nourishing care shea butter beauty bars. As for deodorant, I’ve read that deodorants in Japan are just that, no antiperspirant. Antiperspirant deodorants in Japan are probably imported, i.e. expensive. I’ve tried natural deodorants in the past. It was ok in the wintertime but when summertime hit it was time to go back to Degree. Toothpaste falls into a similar category. Japanese toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride (I’ve been told). Again, I’ve tried natural toothpaste, but I prefer Crest Pro-Health toothpaste and mouthwash. Lastly, floss is readily available but I was advised to bring floss from home because it is ridiculously overpriced.

So now that you know what’s in my bathroom cabinets, you know what you can send me for Christmas!

Thanks for the memories

14 07 2011

Yesterday evening, my co-workers hosted an awesome going away happy hour for me. Wednesdays are my telework days so I actually had to shower and dress but it was totally worth it. The Celebratory Committee (or the Celebration Station as I have quite appropriately renamed it) invited the department to Buffalo Billiards for a little after hours fun.

Graciano kept the ladies laughing

Skee ballin’ on these fools

Elizabeth sandwich

Devon’s glowing

I’ll miss you guys!!!!!!!

My two American tantousha (supervisors)

Meu coração

3 07 2011

Working out. On my list of favorite things to do, it hovers somewhere between cleaning my cat’s litter box and going to the GYN. Both are necessary but neither are fun. After wasting money on unused gym memberships, I decided to try a different approach. Two years ago, I started taking an Afro-Brazilian dance class. Not only did I get a great work out, but I also learned a lot about the culture. When the instructor feft on maternity leave, I continued riding the Brazilian wave and started taking samba classes at another studio. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you this, but samba has changed my life. No, seriously. I don’t mean to sound all space age-y, magic crystal-ish, but there is something in the rhythms that sets your soul free.  Its a pulsating energia that transcends all time, space, and language barriers.

Naturally, I want to continue dancing samba in Japan, and, surprisingly, its not as hard as one might think. Here’s a little history for ya. About  a century ago, large numbers of Japanese began to migrate to Brazil to work as farm laborers on coffee plantations. They primarily settled in Liberdade, a neighborhood in São Paulo that I had the pleasure of visiting. This trend continued for many decades and as a result, Brazil is the home to the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan. At some point, some of these Nipo-Brazilians, as they are called, or their children and grandchildren, decided to migrate back to Japan. Like any other immigrant group, they brought their culture with them.

Feeling the energia

One of the most visible signs of Brazilian culture in Japan is the Asakusa Carnival, usually held on the last Saturday in August. I say usually because the Carnival has been canceled this year, a social casualty claimed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. This year would have been the event’s 30th anniversary, and I’m sure it would have been quite a show. *sigh* Alas, while I’m saddened to miss the festivities, I’m glad I won’t have to make the 885 km (550 mi) trip from Yamaga-shi to Toyko! Besides, I think I’ve found something a little closer to home.

Supposedly, there is a Clube do Brasil de Fukuoka. Fukuoka is about two hours from Yamaga-shi and a lot easier to get to than Tokyo. Here’s the catch: a) the website is in Japanese and I have no idea what it says, and b) the latest date on the website is from 2009! Sketchy, I know. I could be laying the foundation for an epic cluster. At least the restaurant they appear to be affiliated with has a more up-to-date website. I’m hoping the restaurant will have some nights with live samba music like this spot I found in Tokyo (make sure you check out the video on their page).  Either way, it looks like this could be an adventure of gargantuan proportions so you’ll have to stay tuned to find out how it goes!

T minus 30

30 06 2011

Hi friends! Thanks for stopping by to check out the first post on my brand new blog. Since you’re here, I can safely assume that you know I’m moving to Japan to teach English. So here’s what you probably don’t know. I’m going as an ALT on the JET Program. Before I get acronym crazy, I’ll tell you that ALT means Assistant Language Teacher. I will co-teach with a JTE (Japanese Teacher of English), and I will be responsible for making lesson plans and administering and grading pretty much all of the oral competencies.  I will be living in Yamaga-shi, a small city in Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu. My time will be divided among three senior high schools–one in Yamaga-shi, where I’ll teach 3 times a week, and two schools two days a week in Nankan-machi and Tamana-shi, respectively. Sidenote: I learned that you can tell the size of a locale by the suffix. -Shi means that it is a city while -machi means that it is a little town. Neat, right?

But I digress…

I have 30 days before I make my way to land of the rising sun and I have to tell you…its making me a little crazy.

Crazy Face's last stand at Little Bit Anxious

I’ve not packed a single box or suitcase nor have I posted the furniture I intend to sell on Craigslist. To put it mildly, I’m behind schedule. I did, however, accomplish two major feats today. First, I completed some required IRS paperwork, and second, I completed my Visa application. I also made

a call to my local AAA so that I can get an international driver’s permit. That’s a same-day deal so I’ll probably wait until I’m officially unemployed and do that during the day. And oh yeah, I started this blog. So actually, I have three major accomplishments for the day. Take that anxiety! *shakes angry fist*