Konnichiwa everyone!

Well this is the first of many, hopefully regular posts telling you all what I’ve been up to in Nihon (Japan)…I thought it was easier this way even tho I myself have said many times how much I hate mass emails (and this is probably even worse than one of those). However it IS far less effort than individual emails, and as you all know I’m a very lazy man…

Well the ‘year’ now started several days ago in Tokyo– we had a three day orientation there, staying in the Keio Plaza Hotel (5 * magic) in Shinjoku…had some very boring orientation lectures and seminars, which I mostly skipped in order to preserve energy for gin & tonic drinking (gin and tonic is ‘jinitonniku’ in Japanese, very easy to remember!) and karaoke! The first day was spent sightseeing, followed by a trip to the Park Hyatt, aka ‘Lost in Translation’ hoteru- sadly there was no Scarlett Johanssen waiting for me in the lobby! The next day was lectures, followed by excellent sushi in what was basically a glamourised fishmongers, with a wooden bar around the general mass of raw fish. I loved it, but my friend Laura was not so impressed. In the evening we all went back to the Part Hyatt for more jinitonniku at 1700 yen- about £9- a pop….followed by Shibuya– aka ‘Lost in Translation’ busy place with three crossings and lots of neon- again no Scarlett tho! Stayed out quite late, but had to wake up early the next day for yet more ‘important’ orientation seminars.

The best night in Tokyo was the last- we went to a reception at the British Council with the UK Charge D’affairs (#2, behind Ambassador), then the Park Hyatt for what was meant to be a couple of quiet drinks before an early night (we had been warned not to go out too late on the last night as we had a really important next day in our Prefectures). Luckily (or unluckily) my mate Pete has the same alcoholic tendencies as I do, so before we knew it we were in a bar singing along to Radiohead and the Stones, and teaching the Japanese barman some French for his impending trip to Paris. After that we ended up in a karaoke place- we went into random rooms, and made lots of Nihon-jin (Japanese) amigos…in a way it was a practical test of our teaching skills– we tried to include everyone, got the more reticent Nihon-jin to sing along, and found songs that everyone knew- ‘Led Hot Chili Peppers!, Lolling Stones!, and Imagine by John Lennon (imagine the former two in Japanese accents).

We got back to the hoteru at 5am, and got two hours sleep before leaving at 7.30am….I felt like death, but luckily I had my Kurashiki friends, Meghan and Carrie, to comfort and look after me- Meghan’s from Winnipeg, Canada, and Carrie is from UK. Both were sympathetic, and looked after me as well as you guys (Simon, Millie, Tim etc) normally do when I’m a bit peaky…We spent the next night in Okayama City, the capital of the Prefecture. However I missed most of it- I fell asleep at 4pm, and slept until 6am! The JET-lag was still affecting me, and I’ve never been so tired (a bold statement for me I think)

All in all the last few days have been amazing, and so much fun! I’ve arrived at my apartment now, and met lots of nice work-colleagues, including Ono-sensei and Miyoshi-sensei who have both been really nice. Miyoshi-sensei wants to take me fishing, and Ono sensei really likes the Libertines!!! I’m meeting Carrie and Meghan soon to explore Kurashiki, and a Japanese friend, Yumiko-san, on Sunday evening, and already have many trips planned- Okayama orientation in two weeks, Kobe in a week or so with my friend Laura, a visit to Hokkaido in February to visit Pete for the famous Snow Festival and to learn to ski, and quite possibly the Philippines at Xmas. I’m also tempted to spend my B’day in Okinawa…the only downside so far (I’ll try to mention cooking and language in another post as they’re both really tough) is that I’ll only have fifteen days holiday (+ national hols). Teaching starts in a couple of weeks, but already life in Japan is looking extremely hectic and really exciting!

Keep in touch one and all,

S t e v e