Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Made it through the 13-hour flight, made it (jetlagged) through the 3-day Tokyo orientation (JET put us in quite the swanky hotel, I might add), made it north to Akita prefecture, made it through a self-introduction to the Yokote board of education, and I am making it through the ridiculous heat and humidity. So far so good!
(View from my hotel room on the 26th floor of the Keio Plaza Hotel, Shinjuku (the sky wasn't really that bright, camera exposure was just playing tricks; it was actually quite dark. The city does go on and on as far as the horizon, though)
Oh...and Akita is absolutely beautiful...
(...and these photos don't even do the landscape justice).
The first few days in Tokyo were a bit of a blur and, more than I expected, it was a relief to arrive in Akita and find a serene, rural area full of mountains, rice paddies, and trees. LOTS of trees. Our prefectural mascot is even a tree. His name is Sugichi (exact English spelling unknown to me). I got a picture taken with him along with my fellow Yokote ALTs after being lovingly bombarded/welcomed by them all, along with my supervisor, at the Akita airport. Which really was the best possible greeting I could have imagined - a happy tree and some friendly people.
The pace of life here is much more relaxed, even though Yokote is one of the more "urban" centres in Akita. It feels more like a large town, spread out over lots of space and interspersed with rice fields. I now have a bike, and one of my favourite things to do is cruise around the streets of Yokote at night, when the temperature`s actually cool enough to move outside. It`s so dark here at night (probably because of energy saving efforts?), and it`s so quiet it feels like I`m the only person around. It`s a good time to sort out my way around my neighbourhood, though I have gotten slightly lost when trying to find my way back to my apartment in the dark. That`s always fun. As is remembering that the cars are on the LEFT side of the narrow roads, not the right. Sometimes I find cool things too; the other day it was a horde of straw boats that people built for the Yokote festival this coming week.
The next month or so will be busy - getting our cars, getting sorted for the internet, meeting staff at our schools, planning self-introduction lessons, and trying to attend as many summer festivals as possible. Gotta fit in some more Japanese studying too.