flying by.

3 August 2011 § Leave a comment

Everything is rushing past. Here is a quick update:

Mount Fuji was breathtaking. The path to the top was not so pretty, but the view from the mountain was awe-some. They say that a wise person climbs Fuji once, but a fool climbs it twice. I agree. As someone who doesn’t exercise ever, whose only form of much physical activity is walking to and from the train station and walking up and down stairs, it was a little challenging for me. But I did it! There were moments, say around 2AM in the pitch dark holding a little flashlight for illumination, that I was wondering why I was climbing the tallest mountain in Japan, but it was so worth it.

I’ve begun to think that this is all just a dream. Nothing that happens here feels real. I’ve been several places now, met a lot of people, had a lot of lovely nights and days with lovely people, and it doesn’t feel real. In a way, it feels like there is this other reality presenting itself to me, not connected to the reality I know back in Canada, that I could get quite used to. It’s a strange feeling.

I leave in less than 48 hours for my adventure around Japan. My friend Dan and I have not quite ironed out all the details, but we’re working on it. We are going to 12 cities in the span of 14 days. We will use trains, a ferry, busses, subways, trams, and a plane (probably). We will see Japan’s largest underground cave system. The Little Prince museum. Tokyo. The peace ceremony in Hiroshima. A large sand dune. Hopefully ride a camel. See one of Japan’s three supposedly most scenic views. I am not feeling too excited yet because there is still a lot of details to work out, and packing, and cleaning. But I am looking forward to getting out of this city for a little while. It’s gonna be amazing. We are hoping to update my blog every day to let you know all the latest, but we’ll see how that pans out. I’ll post our intended plans up here before we leave, so you can follow along.

I’ve now been here for half a year. I find this hard to believe.



here are some things about the past couple days.

10 February 2011 § 2 Comments

When I went out on my balcony this morning, I realized for the first time that I can see mountains in the distance. I think they are in the east. We had a nice blue sky for the first half of the day, the bluest we’ve seen since we arrived (we = my training group). I’d make some comment about it being chilly, but then I remind myself that when I flew out of Toronto, it was around -20 Celsius. I can’t complain here.

I’ve been trying to learn a few kanji a day. It doesn’t help a lot, but it makes me feel like I understand a little bit. I will turn my focus to katakana eventually, because that’s a realistic system to learn. Today I learned to recognize the symbols for mouth, the “n” sound, and “no” (as a syllable, not like our “no”). Yesterday I learned fruit and juice. The symbol for juice, however, can also mean gravy, syrup, ink, or probably an assortment of other things. This is a fun language!

For the time being, my exploring has been put on hold. I completed my third day of training today. It is tiring. On one hand, it’s sort of nice not having to think of making lesson plans for my job. I get to exercise teaching skills, work with students, and all that, but I don’t have to lesson plan. Instead, the company/school I’m working for has every single one of their lessons already planned out in great detail. Even though we don’t have to do our own lesson planning, we do have to go through this intensive training that makes us feel like we are robots being programmed. There are specific things they want us to say. Specific gestures they want us to use. It’s a lot to remember. We are each expected to present a lesson on Saturday, exactly as though we were teaching a small class. This will determine whether or not each person makes it through to the rest of the training. It’s intimidating and they have articulated very high standards, but it will be fine.

Had okonomiyaki and takoyaki for lunch today. Wikipedia describes the former as a Japanese savoury pancake. I gather that they’re fairly popular in Osaka. Where we bought it, it was pretty much the equivalent of street meat. I have no clue what was in it, but it was really good. Takoyaki is also known as octopus balls. Ball-shaped Japanese dumplings with octopus in the middle. And other things. Anyway, they’re really good. I had them once in Toronto as well.

I haven’t actually eaten at any real restaurants yet, as I’ve been very conservative with my spending. Instead, we’ve been finding cheap deals at street vendors, or buying sushi from the supermarket in the evening after it’s been discounted (a little sketchy? maybe, but still good as far as we’re concerned). We want to go out more, but for now, while we’re just training and without a paycheck, this works for us.

I haven’t been remembering my dreams very much at all, but the first one I remembered since I’ve been in Japan was about being back in St. Catharines. Instead of being at home, at a cafe, or the Merch, though, I was at McDonald’s. Of all places to dream about being back at home! Then again, on my first day here, I went to McDonald’s for lunch. I guess there is some kind of association with the franchise and home, even if it isn’t a place I tend to frequent.

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