After 11 months in Japan, I’ve realized some very different traditions/ daily habits, I’ve acquired.
Everyday I wake up and fold my blankets and put them in a pile, and then I fold my three different “mattresses/pads” and put them into the closet. When I’m ready to go to bed, I simply get out my mattress/futon, line all 3 of them up, throw on the blankets and I’m ready to go. If you haven’t figured out, this is my American life in reverse. In America, you get up and make your bed, and then it’s ready for the next night. Not so in Japan, you pack away your bed for 15 hours and then you make it all up. Sounds crazy right? I’m all for new culture experiences, but I realized that I really missed having a bed. The fact that my body was 5 inches from the floor, eek. Yes, after 10 months, I really missed sleeping in a bed. So what did I do? I went to our local Home Depot (it’s called Cainz) and I bought a twin bed/mattress frame. For 9800 yen, or roughly $120, I got a brand new bed delivered to my apartment. I didn’t realize how seeing a bed would make my apartment feeling homier and much more like someone was actually living in my apartment. So after 2 weeks with my new bed, I’m loving it. Not having to fold up my bed and get it ready at night, such an amazing feeling!
Since we are on the subject of cultural differences…What else do I miss? Where to start. American toilet paper (1-ply is typical here in Japan), trashcans everywhere (try to find a garbage can on the street, nearly impossible), hand soap in the restrooms (this still grosses me out), towels in the restrooms (I bring my own hand towel everywhere I go), toilet paper at public restrooms (I bring my own TP too), western toilets (oh squatty potties), American sunscreen, nail polish. When it comes to material goods: Target, Walmart (yeah, never thought I’d say that), Starbucks on every corner, Wingers (restaurant in Moscow, ID), Taco Del Mar, Big Town Hero (sandwiches), cheese, whole wheat bread, Mexican food, Diet Coke (Coke Zero is not the same).
It’s funny how you can adapt to a different culture so easy. Now that I know the routine, life is definitely easier than 8 months ago. However, I still don’t get the lack of garbage cans…and I don’t think I ever will.
The good news is that in 2.5 weeks I will be living the American Dream! I’m looking forward to my trip home, as it will be my first time back in Oregon since last July!
What else have I been up to?
Well, I’m the Regional Prefectural Adivsor (RPA for short) in my region. It’s a pretty cool title and it gives me the opportunity to plan meetings for all JETs in my prefecture, I’m also there if anyone needs help, kind of like a counselor. For this, I’ve had to make a welcome book detailing cool places to go and where to shop. It’s been fun getting to know my area better, and I’ve realized that there are so many places I haven’t been! I’ve also had to make a welcome to the region video. Now, writing a welcome guide is one thing, filming a video is not something I know how to do. We just finished the video last week and the first time I watched it, a fellow ALT had to give me some tissues because I was crying so hard. The video is in the style of “I’m on a Boat”. A very catchy song that was popular a few years ago, perhaps you heard it. If not, go to youtube and search “I’m on a Boat” by the lonely boys and t-pain. I’ll give you a hint. My song is “I’m on a Train”. Yes, it is epic. While filming the video last weekend, we drove past a political party van “headquarter” that opposes foreigners in Japan. Needless enough, we drove back and filmed in front of these buses and vans, perhaps not the smartest thing.
This is a picture of a city near me that is famous for swords and cutlery.
I also had pizza twice this week. A personal record in Japan! I miss the luxury of having pizza whenever I want.
While shooting the video, we had to stop into a famous sweets shop in the town of Mino. If this name sounds familiar it’s the town famous for it’s paper and paper lanterns.
I also got a haircut. The weather is getting HOT! Last week it was 95 and with humidity it was 102 or so. I’ve been doing my best at staying cool, after work I’ve been spending time at the mall because it’s free air conditioning. This is a plan I will continue until it cools off.
This past weekend I took the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). It’s standardized test that over half a million people take each year. There are 5 levels, (1 being the highest). I opted for Level 4, which wasn’t terrible, but because the test was so short, it didn’t leave you a lot of opportunities to get questions wrong. There were only 105 questions. Way too short. It’s comprised of reading kanji, grammar, information searches, and listening. I will find out in September whether I passed or not. I’m crossing my fingers that I did. They offer the test in July and December, so I plan on either taking the same level or one level tougher in December!
School Lunch: “black bread”, honey and margarine for the bread, fish, tomato soup (bacon…), milk, veggie salad, apple jelly, and milk.
School Lunch: warning: this might have been the weirdest school lunch ever. There was rice, a donut, sea-vegetable salad (GROSS), green tea, and milk. There was some sort of soup, but as usual, it contained pork.
School Lunch. Flavored rice (not terrible), edamame, fish, some type of black seaweed and veggies (I like this one), watermelon (such a rare treat, one watermelon is about $10-$20…, green tea, and milk.
Driving in Japan. Here is a typical light. What do you think it means? If you guess correctly, I’ll send you a postcard!
Japanese drivers = not the best