Monday, April 4, 2011

Back to Tokyo

So a few days ago, my fellow trainees and I were shipped back to Tokyo with all of our luggage and our brand new knowledge of how to teach English. The trip back from Nagoya wasn't nearly as difficult as getting there. There were no panicky thousand-people-long lines to get out of the city, so the ride was actually enjoyable. To be clear, there is NO THREAT OF DEATH in Tokyo. There is actually less radiation here than in downtown Hong Kong. Once we got back to Tokyo, we were directed to a guest house in the Futakoshinchi area, which is very close to where I was staying when I first got to Japan. We were then herded to the ECC headquarters, where we were given loads of information about more training, and edge-of-your-seat details about legal policy and protocol. Three exhilarating days later, we finally got our f*cking contracts! I've never received more training for any job in my entire life, but I am truly glad I went through it. My class schedule in Utsunomiya looks promising. It's all kids all day, which through rigorous repetition, I am fairly confident in doing now. After all, there are only so many times you can practice giving high-fives before you feel like a master champion. Insider's trick: just hold your hand in the air and let the kid come to you, that way you never miss and never accidentally hit the kid's hand too hard. I also have a higher level adult class, which should be a nice change from the song and dance routine I'll be preforming for children all day.
But here are some pictures;
Now before you start thinking "What is she doing in a men's bathroom?"... THIS WAS IN THE WOMEN'S BATHROOM. Actually. There are normal stalls on either side, and I don't understand what the urinal's purpose is in middle. For a country that is super strict on not wasting space, this bathroom seemed out of place. You know, aside from the porcelain urinal statue in the middle of the room. Maybe it's meant to taunt us about our inability to stand while we pee. It seemed to call to me;

"See what you could be using if you had a man-junk? You losers have to sit on suspicious public surfaces to go to the bathroom... suckers!"

 On our last night in Nagoya, we tried this cute little restaurant near our hotel. The place had absolutely no English, so we played a little game that we have coined "Menu Roulette." The rules are pretty simple. One person holds up the menu and another closes their eyes and points. Then they must order whatever he/she has pointed to. I was super excited to try something new, and joyfully stabbed at the page all blind and innocent. This is what I got;
McDonald's fries. You should have seen my face when this arrived. I was so disappointed by my utter failure to pick something to eat, EVEN AT RANDOM. Luckily, I'm constantly surrounded by boys, who will (as in their nature) eat anything put in front of them. So the fries didn't go to waste, but I still sulked for a while afterward.

So we arrived in Tokyo;

I've lost count as to how many times I've ridden on a train in the past month. It's almost everyday now that I take a subway/shinkansen/EL train. But I do love Tokyo. There's something odd and interesting around every corner, and you can never get bored. Yes, it's expensive, but the price is worth the experience.

This Hello Kitty furry was giving away hugs and pictures in exchange for donations to the Tsunami victims. There are tons of beggars on the street asking for money for the homeless up North. This country's solidarity is so impressive, it really puts us white people to shame.

On a less serious note, here's a picture of me trying to force feed one of my roommates a sausage;
HAHAHA! Wieners. 

And the never-ending parade of vending machines. I've gotten used to them being absolutely everywhere, to the point that a subway station looks empty without at least 5.

Flowers and miniature snowmen!

After the nuclear reactors were put into emergency shutdown mode up north, all of Tokyo was told to drastically cut back on the electricity consumption in order to avoid mandatory blackouts. So all the big screens in downtown are turned off. The big black gaping spaces are very ominous and a constant reminder of what's going on in the rest of the country. According to the news, Tokyo has actually exceeded the required cut-backs, and so there is enough power left over to restore almost all of the local train routes, which have been on limited schedules until recently. There is even enough energy for basic air-conditioning, which will become a necessity in the coming months. These people are going to rule the world, so we had better play nice with them. Luckily, I'm getting used to the new world order ahead of time :)

So after we signed our contracts with the company, we went out for a little celebration at an English pub. I'm unsure as to why exactly, but we felt the need for some Guinness;

So I'll be staying in Tokyo as a substitute teacher for the next couple days, until our housing in Utsunomiya is finalized. The process takes a little time, since it will be my permanent residence for about a year. This is the view from the balcony where I'm staying right now;
 And with that, you're almost up-to-date with my life thus far. I'll leave you with this message;

"Skoshi" or "a little bit" is what this sign is supposed to demonstrate, supposedly. But all it reminds me of is the Kids in the Hall skit "Crushing your Head" .



  1. Whoa! You work for Takeshi Kitano? Awesome!

  2. Utsunomiya! OK so you'll be on a year long 'sub-duty' of kids classes. Good luck.

  3. If by "sub duty" you mean over 200 students that I am solely responsible for, then yes. Thanks for that.