Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Short Story: My Second Week in Mitake Aug 16th-20th

Well, it’s been another week. I’ve bought snow tires for roughly $70 and found out it will cost me $18 to change them out at the beginning and ending of the winter season. Talk about a deal! I believe my snow tires in America were somewhere in the $400-500 ballpark and $50 to change every season! I could definitely get used to this! They say it doesn’t snow much or ever in Mitake, but I’d rather be prepared. I’ve done the chains once before (thanks to the epic snowstorm in Portland back in 2008) and I don’t see the need to do it again. I’m finally starting to map out some travel ideas within Japan. You’d be surprised to hear that Japan has several convenient National Holidays! Thanks to the book on Japan from Nana and Jim, I’ve been marking down several pages, from the mountains to rivers to oceans to plenty of Temples! I can say that my cooking adventures are slim to none. I’ve stuck to things I really know (or at least think I know). Let’s see I’ve made curry, PB&J, cereal, fruit parfaits, and PB and crackers. Talk about adventurous! In my apartment I don’t have an oven, but my predecessor was kind enough to buy a microwave-oven during his tenure in Mitake. The only problem is that I don’t know how to read the kanjis! Once I have my handy kanji guide (thanks mom) I should be able to figure some of the oven out. I’m quite excited to start baking things, and then the kitchen will smell like a home!

I have no idea what this is, sorry. But it is right across the train tracks from Godo Station.

This is Mitake Station. It is the last stop and located "downtown"

On Wednesday (the 18th) I met other ALTs in the area. There are about 15 ALTs in the Kani region, but only 2 of us are JETs! Most people are employed through private organizations now, apparently five years ago there were 130+ JETS in the Gifu Prefecture, two years ago there were 60+ JETs, and now there are about 40 JETs. Individual schools and the Board of Educations are deciding against the JET Program and are hiring ALTs through another route (private companies). I’ve heard that the JET Program isn’t as highly regarded as it used to be, and that it could be on its decline. If the last few sentences are any indication of what’s happening throughout the country, then maybe the rumors are true!

This week we had the preparation meeting for the Kani City English Speech C0ntest. On Monday (the 23rd), I, along with 4 other ALTs, will judge 40 Junior High students on speeches that they have prepared. I’m quite excited to hear the speeches and get my first indication of English skills in this area.
Thursday (the 19th) was such a change of pace from what I’m been experiencing. Thursday morning and lunchtime were spent at Kaminogo JHS with the English teacher. We helped prepare one of her students (soon to be mine too) for the Speech Contest. I also got my first taste of team teaching as we went through a sample lesson plan. Four of us from the JHS went to a neighboring town, more of a resort area, and had tea and bread at a nice little restaurant. After returning to my work office (for 3.5 hours of just “desk work”) I was adopted by a nice couple that I met at one of my introductions to town individuals earlier in the week. They took me out for coffee and then dinner at a sushi restaurant where you order and the sushi comes on a “super-express bullet train/car” to your table (see picture). Most of you know that I’m not a big coffee or tea drinker and let me tell you today I set a new record, 2 iced coffees and 3 green teas. Talk about a lot of caffeine! The Watanabe’s are very nice and have agreed to take me “sightseeing” in Mitake and the surrounding areas and towns once a week. It is incredible how nice and welcoming the people here have been. Mrs. Watanabe also likes to cook, and guess what, she likes cooking curry, I cannot wait to cook curry with her. I have this funny feeling it won’t be out of a box!

Here is the sushi express!

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