There are some things in life which are essential for a happy existence; supportive friends and family, a comfortable place to sleep, and plenty of grub to share. Included in the latter is good chocolate! You can imagine my delight when I found English chocolate in the local foreign food store. But alas! After taking my treasure home I found it did not quite resemble the same popular brand from the UK. How is it possible that the a company can package different chocolate in exactly the same packaging?!
Cocoa yumminess was the smallest of my dilemas this weekend! Getting around Kanazawa proved to be more difficult than I imagined. A group of us got on a bus we presumed was headed back into the city centre but after a little while we began to see rice fields. We were on the wrong bus! We hurriedly got off in a completely unknown area of suburban KZ and began to panic! After walking down a street we hoped would lead us back to KZ one of our party hailed a taxi and we tumbled in. It took us away in the opposite direction to where we’d been walking! And two days later we were again headed in the wrong direction in Nonoichi. But this time we were on foot and it was incredibly hot. We were trying to find an organic cafe but none of us really knew where it was. It turned out to be really far from anything. When we got there we were all exhausted and desperate to sit down somewhere air-conditioned. But the cafe was closed! But we did have some good noodles in a place nearby. Yesterday I got on the wrong bus (again) travelling back from the town hall but it wasn’t so bad because it did eventually drop me off near my house, it just took a long time! And I did see a part of Nonoichi I’d never come across before which was cool. I would like more time to explore the town but my schedule is pretty full with school visits. Expect something school-related in the not too far distant future!
I was very nervous when I left the Town Hall office this morning. I was on my way to visiting both of the schools I’ll be teaching at over the coming year. I’d completely forgotten about the sans shoes thing, but both schools were prepared with visitor slippers! At the first school I said my self-introduction in the wrong order but I still got an applause! At the second school I got it right . All the staff who spoke to me were very easy going, they seemed really approachable. I’m really looking forward to going back and starting some proper work!
After lunch it was time to go futon shopping. Shops in Japan are kinda the same as those at home, but there are lots of second-hand places which have some really good things for less. After hurriedly scouring the shelves of one such shop, I went into a department store for curtains. (There were some in my apartment already but I wasn’t a fan). I’d already took measurements and I got quite excited when I found some pinkish curtains. (I’ve also got the cutest personal seal in a pink case from the guys in the Town Hall office. Very thoughtful of them. Personal seals work the same as a signature does at home; you stamp important documents when required). After selecting the curtains and checking the price (yes affordable!) my supervisor and I tried to work out if they matched the measurements from my apartment. This task was particularly difficult as my supervisor and I have a bit of a language issue. But I’m hoping that will be remedied when I learn Japanese formally. We went beyond gestures and drew diagrams all over his notebook, which actually made things more difficult to be honest! We did manage to communicate that I can return the curtains in their original packaging if they don’t fit. Also the packaging said ‘x4′, which to me seemed to mean that there were 2 pairs of curtains in each pack. I picked up two packs of varying sizes to (hopefully) fit my windows. Of course when I put them up they were far too long and each pack ony had one pair of curtains! But they do go so well with my pink flowery futon.
This has been a day for first times! Earlier this evening I went to a tea ceremony! I went with a friend I’d made at the office. We’d been invited by another office worker whose grandmother performs tea ceremonies. We pulled up outside their house which was very traditional in its appearance. After slipping off our shoes we stepped inside the ceremony room. I was greeted by the lady of the house, who does not look her eighty years! She instructed us (in Japanese) about what to do and where to sit and stand. I copied what the other were doing since I hardly understood anything! The tea itself was very hot and difficult to drink but it tasted pleasant. Afterwards the atmospere became a bit more relaxed; the ladies were very good humoured and were surprised to learn my age. They said ‘how young she is!’ I brought a little box of biscuits as a present to say thank-you, and I was invited to call in again. I had a brilliant time even though when I got home I discovered I had a faint green tea stain on my mouth!
On my third day in Nonoichi I crashed my bike into a bush on one of the main roads. I am not a keen cyclist, in fact I am something of a bycycle-phobe so it took a lot of self-persuasion to get me on the bike at all. I’d already been warned that the brakes were a little dodgy so I really had no-one to blame but myself. I just hope that my poor bush-dodging abilities went unnoticed, especially by any of my future students!
Tomorrow I am visiting the two junior high schools I’ll be working at for the first time. I’m a little nervous as I don’t know what will be expected of me. In the afternoon I am going futon shopping. My apartment is really coming together now, I like it a lot! I like to be neat tidy and living in Japan faciliates that perfectly. One aspect of Japan I was not pepared for is the heat! My electricity bill is going to be huge after all the use my A/C unit. I hope that the weather gets a little more bearable soon, I want to explore the town properly without sweating so much!
My Japanese ability is almost non-existent so you might wonder how I’ve coped. Mainly through gestures! And mobile technology with nifty translators. Speaking of, can’t wait to get my phone tomorrow! Also if I get chance I’m going to put up pictures and do a video tour of the apartment. Hope you like!