Saturday, October 23, 2004

Greetings everybody.

As you have noticed this is my first e-mail in quite some time. It seems that even in a strange new land there is ample opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the humdrum of everyday life. I have been working fairly hard lately sometimes six and seven days per week. This does not leave much time for relaxation activities or just doing nothing. I have been attending my Japanese class once a week and have been attending my language exchange twice a week, this effectively takes up three half days. The rest of my time is spent working and sleeping.

Work has been quite good lately as they have introduced a new lesson management plan system. This means that rather than trying to come up with our own ideas and target language to teach it is all predetermined for us. Initially I was concerned that this would become rather boring rather quickly however it allows greater flexibility in tailoring the class to the students needs.

My boss is still very anxious for me to apply for promotion and has hinted that I should apply within the next six weeks. I am firmly in two minds about this so-called promotion. The extra pay is only about $130 per month and the extra work is considerable. It would of course be more challenging and provide some variation on my working day however as I have previously said I have no ambition in a career in teaching English in Japan. I think I’ll develop a wait-and-see attitude.

On the social front things have been fairly quiet. I went to a festival in a place called Tokorozawa which is basically in the middle of nowhere as far as I can tell. It is actually near Tokyo but certainly didn’t feel like Tokyo. The Japanese have festivals on a regular basis. Each small town has a festival at various times in the year of course summer is the most popular time however there many other festivals, for example the winter festival in Hokkaido. I struggled to figure out exactly what the festival is about, however, involves rather large ‘chariots’ with people playing strange musical instruments. There is also a person on the front of the chariot who wears a mask and dances about like dad after four Heineken’s.

I have also been honing my skills on karaoke. Off course honing my skills is a slight hyperbole (use your dictionary). I am surprised that karaoke is not more popular in New Zealand. Especially the way the Japanese do it. It is very cheap if you go late at night, and often they will include as much as you can drink throughout the time that you use the karaoke room.

As you may have seen on news lately Japan has been ravaged by typhoons. Most of the damage has been away from Tokyo. The closest a typhoon has come to affecting me is that it took me about an hour and a half to get home one night after work rather than the usual 20 minutes. This is because apparently the trains had difficulty running when the weather conditions are extreme. It was somewhat surprising as to me the weather did not seem to be too far outside a typical rainstorm. It is possible that the station master was being overly cautious and believing too much of what had been presented to him by the news media.

Along the natural disaster front there have been huge number of earthquakes since I have been in Japan. Today alone there have been four. Since I’ve been Japan I would estimate that I have felt approximately 16 earthquakes. I’m not sure if this is outside the usual number and I do have some fear that there may be something building. Of course logic would say that lots of small earthquakes show that the pressure is being released to prevent a large earthquake however the constant shaking becomes rather concerning after a time.

There seems to be lots of News back home which I have been receiving with great interest. Thank you so much for this information including impending births, break-ups and marriages. With some relief I can say that I have no similar news from Japan!

My work at the junior high school has been continuing and I’m there three days this month. The work seems to be tapering off from the end of October until approximately January of next year.

I anticipate that within the next two months or so I will begin some more extensive sightseeing around Tokyo including some of the more cultural areas. However I had a little difficulty with my financial situation which is now back on track. I hope to go to places such as Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Koyto and Hiroshima.

Sorry this email has been rather boring but there is only so much excitement a man can take! Please send me your news from home, it makes a pleasant diversion for the work – sleep regime that I am facing!! Even if I do get a little homesick after reading them!

Also sorry about the spelling/word selection in this email, I am still trying to use the speech recognition software but am rapidly thinking it is some kind of cruel joke!

OK Gotta Run.