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Tokyo Epilogue

Friday, July 29, 2005
Tokyo orientation is over now, I'm writing this from my desk at the Osakikamijima Board of Education, but I need to work my way back to the present - so much has happened!

Tokyo

I had a great time in Tokyo, after a weird first night. The plane arrived after a two hour delay and a 13 and a half hour flight, 4 in the afternoon Tokyo time, 3 in the morning Ben time. Hundreds of current JETs were all around the airport, helping us along the way, showing us where to go and what to do. Everywhere there would be huge groups of people with JET stickers on their luggage. As they passed, someone in the New York group would ask where they were from. On the customs line anlone, we met people from New Zealand, South Africa, Houston, and Vancouver.

A two hour bus ride from Narita to the Shinjuku area of Tokyo later, we got to our hotel. After putting our stuff down, I met up with some people from my flight to go out to dinner. It was the 23rd hour of my day, and I was running on a mixture of fear, adrenaline, and black tea (three cups).

I don't remember much, we got Udon noodles, I ordered by pointing at a picture and handing an excessively large bill to the cashier. I took a couple pictures and then headed back to the hotel.



It was a weird feeling, being in a new city, not speaking the language (it makes a huge difference, you can't really get around Tokyo with just English - in my three days there, I don't think I heard more than a few words of English from the Japanese.) I walked back to the hotel feeling a little weird, a little lost, kind of lonely.

The next day was the beginning of orientation, and suffice it to say that orientation was long, formal, and pretty boring. There were some good things, and I met some nice people, but by and large, the workshops and seminars were pretty useless. The two best times I had were times when I went out into Tokyo with people I had met, looking for things to see, things to eat, things to do. I found a cemetary in the middle of of Tokyo, I was yelled at by a crazy woman on a bycicle, and I ate curry that I ordered from a vending machine.


This intersection had so many streets coming into it that the streetlights are actually mounted on a giant metal ring - there are 9 of them.


A Yakitori barbeque stand in a tiny smoky alley in Shinjuku.


Pachinko parlors and trains in the center of Shinjuku.





One last thing: It probably didn't get much coverage in the states, but while we were in Tokyo, Typhoon #7 was quickly approaching Japan. The news coverage featured the requisite reporters shouting over high winds, and footage of waves crashing, but at the last minute, Typhoon #7 turned away from Tokyo and moved north, crossing somewhere just south of Hokkaido. In Tokyo we had a couple rainy days with a little wind. My first two days in Tokyo were rainy and hazy, but nonetheless, the view from my 16th floor hotel room was not bad. Of course, pictures were taken:



The last morning, however - we were set to leave at 9 am, when my roommate opened the curtains at 6:30, he sort of gasped and told me to come to the window. Typhoon #7 had passed by, clearing almost all of the haze and humidity out of the air, changing the view pretty significantly.



I hopped in the elevator and went straight to the 47th floor, where I found a conference room that had been left open.





Seriously. How crazy is that?

Tokyo Orientation

Monday, July 25, 2005
I'm here in Tokyo, it feels like there are a million new JETs. I'm using a borrowed Japanese laptop, so I don't have time to write a real account of the craziness here. So far so good, my first meal was a bowl of Udon noodles in broth.

When you walk out into the street, sure it looks cool, but every sign seems to be blinking "you're illiterate, you're illiterate, you're illiterate."

I'm off to lunch.