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Around Town

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
There's been a lot of stuff going on around here, things are good and I still don't really understand what's going on around me. I just got back from one of the schools I will be teaching at, the walls of the pricipal's office are lined with photographic portraits of all the past prinicipals, the oldest is a photo from 1902.

I'm just going to put up some photos today. With any luck at all, this will be the last post from the board of ed.

A street from Takehara's "old town" - buildings and streets that are pretty much unchanged since the Edo period.

A temple, right in the middle of the city, near the old town.

Getting on the ferry to go home.

The next evening, I went down to the harbor on my bike to see the sunset.

I ran into Mori for the second time. He is my age, his father is a fisherman. When they get back from fishing, he and his friends hang out at the docks where they have built what amounts to a small skate park.

We started talking about fishing, and we went over to his boat to see what he had caught that day. He told me I should come fishing with him, but when I asked him how much it would cost, he told me it was free, so long as I taught him some English.


Monday, August 01, 2005
Before I begin, I should point out that Japan Air Lines has a positively ingenious feature on their planes: Forward looking video feed! The hour-long flight to Hiroshima was a joy.


Arrival in Hiroshima was kind of crazy. All the Hiroshima-ken JETs I had met were on the plane, everyone was going a little crazy because we were all about to meet our future bosses, see our apartments, and get a handle on exactly what it was we had in for us in the next year.

When the plane landed it was bedlam. The crowd waiting for JETs was big, maybe 60 or 70 people, maybe more. Most of them had huge signs, some made by hand with collage and markers, one for a Canadian girl was a giant construction paper Canadian flag with a huge picture of the girl's face on top of the maple leaf. I had a more demure sign, with my name printed in 3D letters, rainbow colors, and repeated eight times over four sheets of paper. Standing with the sign were Fukumasa-san, my boss, and Megan the other JET on Osakikamijima. I said my hellos, sweating it out in my suit, and we got in the car. Fukumasa-san made a stop at a store to buy me some curtains (lime green) and then we went to the ferry.

A note about some of the stuff I'm describing. In Japan, politeness is more important than almost any other trait, and so I haven't been bringing the camera along with me unless it's explicitly OK to do so. As time goes on and people get to know me, I will start bringing it, but for now there will be some pretty cool things that aren't photographed. Also, my computer isn't hooked up yet, so it's going to be a little while before I can post pictures beyond my first day on the island.


Once we got on the ferry, I asked if it was all right for me to go out front and take some pictures of my first approach to my new home. I walked out to the front of the ferry and got to work.

We rode on a ferry like this one, but not identical.

And there it is, directly ahead. My first sight of the island.

Coming into Tarumi port, which is one town over from my house. The whole time across the greenish-blue water, passing isolated and empty beaches surrounded by forest and huge protrusions of bedrock, I was thinking "wow, they've got me living in a tropical paradise." That feeling still hasn't changed.

We got to the island and what ensued was a blur of heat, meeting lots of people, driving around tiny roads in a tiny car, and being extremely impressed with the scenery all around me. Houses are new and old, some built traditionally of wide planks with tile on the roof, while others are newer. The island is shot through with dozens of canals, filled with jumping fish, beautiful egrets and herons, and dozens of small boats. When the tide goes out the canals dry up, leaving the boats teetering on their keels, stuck in the mud until the tide frees them again. I met the mayor, they took my picture, I signed some stuff, and then it was time to go to my apartment. We carried my excessively heavy stuff up to the second floor, Fukumasa-san installed my curtains, Megan and her husband Cory showed my how to operate my toilet, shower, and sink, and then i could finally take a minute to relax. Naturally the first thing I did was take pictures of my apartment.

Looking in from the front door. You can see my kitchen ahead, the toilet is to the left, the bathroom and laundry to the right.

The bathroom. The entire room on the right is the shower, and there's a little metal tub you can use if you want a bath. There's a button for reheating the bath, so it will stay hot forever.

My kitchen and dining room.

My kitchen appliances. Notice the (open) rice cooker ("deluxe model: fuzzy control" reads the text), the (closed) hot pot, two mini fridges, a combination toaster/microwave, and that box behind the sink is the hot water heater for the sink You're just going to have to believe me when I tell you that the long narrow cabinet under the hot pot is a rice dispenser. Put your 5-10 kilos of rice in the top, select how many people, push a button, dispense rice directly into your rice cooker. Yes!

Going out to the balcony to see:

Finally, the bedroom.

I went for a walk that first day, up onto the bridge close to my house. I took some pictures, breathed the air (it smells really good), and started to get used to the idea that this was where I was going to be living.

That's my house, in the middle, to the left a bit, with a clean white wall, and one small window facing the camera. That's the window by my door.

That's all for now. Not too bad, is it?