Scooter vs Japan

My hanko has a first name, it’s O S C A R | August 13, 2015

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I’m a real boy!
I had this 80% written post about my apartment and some of the differences between Japanese and North American homes… and something happened and it was deleted. So today, you get rambling.

Adjusting
I’ve been in Kamikawa for about a week and a half now (Japan for almost two weeks). I’m adjusting pretty well. My shitty, atrophied Japanese is starting to cone back, but I’m going to need some hard studying to get back to where I was.

I’ve also started cooking and doing some normal things too. C, my pred, is staying for at least 2 more months to help transition me, but he’s been on “vacation,” so I’ve had a bit more time to myself which I’ve been using to explore a little and learn where things are.

My cell phone is set up, my bank account is open, and most of my apartment grown up-y stuff is done, save for my internet, which I hope to know more about today.

As mentioned in the titles, I have a registered hanko, which has made me unnecessarily happy. What is this, you say? Well, a hanko is a kind of stamp used for your signature in Japan. They are hand made so that the imprint is unique (except for super cheap ones used for play and informal uses). Anyways, you register the unique imprint of your hanko (also called an inkan) and get a little certificate directing parties to the imprint file so that you can start using it for official purposes. Essentially, my first name (in katakana) is my legal name in Japan, and I can properly sign for documents as a big person.

Work
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Random Japanese office, not where I work
Although I’ve been at work for almost a week and a half now, I’m at the Board if Education office until school starts again next week. Since I really don’t have any lesson planning to do or any other official business, I’m kind of just hanging out there and doing random slightly job related things.

Last week was almost entirely comprised of road trips, tours of town, and logistical info. But for the last few days, I’ve been doing things like reading JET articles, updating a wiki on the town, and reading/studying the kids’ story Momotaro. It’s pretty funny actually how I can fill my day and look busy while being surrounded by people probably doing real work. It’s like when you take your kid to work and they’re sitting next to you doing their homework or reading Harry Potter.

Things ramp up from here though. We have another day trip, this time to the mountain resort that the town owns. On Sunday, Buttons and I (you remember Buttons, right?) head to Sapporo for the JET Prefectural Orientation, after which I come back home and start in the classroom. I was also invited to a 2 day English camp a few towns over in October.

When going over my trip to Sapporo, I was told that the BoE would arrange my hotel for me and provide the funds upfront for my train tickets and a few other expenses. This was when the first crazy Japanese business thing happened; I was handed an envelope full of money. Seriously. That’s a thing here. So I have this envelope of cash sitting in my backpack to use for my travel expenses. Man, those gunshy JETs complaining in Facebook about carrying cash would have a meltdown.

C and I also talked about what the classroom looked like and what his role has been. In Tokyo, we were learning about some major shakeups in Japanese education, and it’s really interesting to see that at work here. I’m trying to figure out how much of it is my pred not remembering things, how much is him being complacent or lazy (since as a 5 year JET, that is a thing and he’s openly admitted it), and how much of it is me being a genki, wet behind the ears teacher about to have his soul crushed.

But again, I start teaching next week after I get back, so we’ll have to see.

YouTube
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So I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been thinking about starting a YouTube channel. When I was out on Sunday, I decided to take some video of my walk around town while I talked about living on Japan and some differences with Canadian life.

But since I know nothing about film making, video production, or YouTube, it’s taking a bit longer than I thought. Not that being gone all day and randomly at night is helping.

Anyways, once that’s ready, I’ll try uploading it and I’ll make a commentary/behind the scenes post about it.

What’s next?
The Board told me that I can spend a bit of time in Sapporo and do some tourist stuff. The orientation starts too early Monday and ends too late on Tuesday for me to head in and out, so I’ll be spending about 4 days there.

In preparation, I’ve been looking up sone things to do, both normal and nerdy, and I’ve either been marking them on Google Maps or noting them on my phone. Such sites include the elusive Shingon Buddhist temple nearby and the Yellow Submarine gaming store close to the hotel I’m at.

But I’m also looking forward to seeing my crew from Tokyo (also all Canadian) and seeing hoe everyone is settling. I’ve learned that there are 3 JETs in nearby Asahikawa and knew at least one other who wasn’t a million miles away, so I’d like to get in touch with them and plan some outings. I’m also going to gaijin smash the hell out of my tattoo though and maybe switch my earrings for the trip. Get it all out while I’m out of town.

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Posted in JET, Kamikawa-cho, Living

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About author

Scooter is an ESL teacher and Japanese anthropologist. He hopes to document his thoughts of living in Japan, continued cultural studies, and to provide advice for others looking to hop the pond.

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