Okayama Orientation- New Friends (Left), and Traditional Dancing (Right)

Last week was the Okayama Orientation- a succession of predictably dull days where we were told what we alreay knew….me and Phil made a friend on the streets of Okayama as you can see…on friday we went out for a ‘cultural visit’ to a medieval centre of traditional Japanese crafts (or something like that)…some people made ‘spinning tops’, others something equally exciting, whilst I took the rollercoaster ride that is dying a piece of white cloth purple. The day rose to new heights when we were given ‘bento’ lunches. Bento basically means lunchbox, but in Japan it seems people regard a packed lunch with fear and disgust. I can understand why…the day improved towards the end, when we were shown a traditional dance by a dancing group that have toured all over Europe…I made a short video thingy on my digital camera but I lack the technological nouse to work out how to stick it on this blog. The Orientation itself was, as I have said, fairly boring- we went over general, obvious rules regarding the ‘team teaching’ of english, ‘learnt’ about the basic things we needed to get sorted out, and joined Okayama AJET, a society type thing that organises trips on weekends. The one thing I havent decided yet is whether to get a mobile phone- they’re very expensive in Japan but also super clever- you can check train times, use the internet, receive emails- and unlike in the UK these features actually work, all the time, and dont take half an hour to connect to.I was going to go to a music festival in Okayama-ken the weekend after the Orientation, but decided to stick with my buddies and go to Shodo-Shima…

Shodo-Shima : Monkey Island!

I spend Saturday on Shodo-Shima with Reed, Carrie, Megan and Phil. Shodo-Shima is the second largest island in the Inland Sea, and home to lots of monkeys! This, and the fact that we could get a ferry to the island, were the main reasons we decided to go…the monkeys were really cool, and we went up to the highest point on the island, from where a cable car descended deep into a gorge. I’ll try and put up other cool photos as I receive them from other people

Steve Finally Feels At Home

I Fart In Your General Direction! … a monkey takes a dislike to Reed

Shodo-Shima: View from the Top

After ‘monkeying around’ for a while (ha ha ha) we got a bus back to the ferry terminal, and headed back to Okayama. On the ferry we found a canned drink called ‘Stevia’, which I was quite excited about (photo to follow). To be honest, vending machines in Japan are absolutely everywhere. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Japan has the highest number of vending machiens per capita in the world- with a massive one machine to every 23 people! I have four just outside my apartment, which gives you an idea of how prevalent they really are. I’m not criticising however- they sell everything you could possibly want- Pocari Sweat Sports Drink, Coca Cola, Water, Coffee, Tea, Beer. It does seem odd however that a country that has a legal smoking age of 20, and strictly prohibits under-age smoking, choses to sell cigarettes from machines- where anyone can buy them. Still, Japan has many inconsistencies and I’m sure this isn’t even close to the strangest.More Monkey PhotosI have loads of photos from Shodo-shima, and choosing which one’s to put online was difficult- most of the ones I’ve kept off are more landscapes, and more monkeys doing silly things, but here are a few…

Sad, Lonely Monkey- the Morrissey of Monkeys

Lazy Monkey…could it be the Steve of Monkeys?

Those Cheeky Monkeys!