This began as an email just to my mom, and then quickly switched to an email to share with everyone.
I'm not doing too much work yet, Brett (my predecessor) is showing me around and helping me get acquainted with the schools. So far, pretty much all I've done is look around.
Thursday, we got my "Gaijin" (foreigner) card, in the morning. It was a long process, but I need that card to be able to get a Keitai (cell phone). Then, began the process of setting up a bank account.
In the afternoon, we went to all of my schools and met the principals. The biggest one will have a little over a hundred students (when school starts again) and the smallest will have three. Wow!! It's so tiny. Apparently the population is shrinking in Japan and it's quite noticeable around here. Brett had two more middle schools when he started 5 years ago that have closed since. It was quite exciting to see all of the schools. One of the elementary principals even speaks quite a bit of English (his daugther married someone in Hawaii).
In the evening, we tried to set up the internet at my apartment, but we had trouble with the CD the internet provider gave us. It is an adventure. I know computers, Brett knows Japanese and the Japanese language pack on my computer wasn't installed yet, so it was in wingdings (who can read that?!?).
After I got home, I made my first meal in the Japanese microwave. What an adventure. All these buttons that I can't understand and I had to figure out how to wake it up (It goes to sleep after several hours of not being used).
Yesterday was my first time at my new desk at the high school. Brett had to take care of some visa stuff with his wife at the City Hall, so I got to connect my computer (and start this email). I didn't get to finish because I started talking with two of the teachers about where I was from and showed them some photos of the beach. They were quite excited and I was loving getting to know them.
Shortly after that, I very quickly met the mayor, who was in the middle of a meeting, but wanted to meet me anyways.
Before leaving, Minami Furano, we went back to my apartment (Brett, Aogi (his wife) and Brett's good friend) we got the internet working!! His friend finally had to call tech support because they forgot to put part of the sign-in on the form they gave us.
Brett and I spent the afternoon in Furano. Furano is the next major city north of Minamifurano.
On the way there, we laughed at the fact that the sign on the way in says "Minamifuano Town," but I live in Ikutora, so it's not a town. We though it would be like the county, but later as he explained my address, we realized that there was another thing bigger that is the county. So it's like "east county" is a part of Multnomah county, but explains the area is our best guess.
In Furano, we went to Homac which is like kmart. They had no food, it was all home stuff. I got all kinds of things: a laundry basket, cleaning products, sticky notes :), some note pads, envelopes, stickytac (we found it!), scissors, pans, tupperwear, ziploc bags. They had many more things I would love to have for my apatment, but I would rather wait until payday, when I will know that I have enough money for the next month.
After that we went to a store that had many things in it, a 100 yen store, clothing, used furniture, clothing and books. I got a few things there (they had basil, can you belive it?) and a few snacks. I would have liked to look around more, but we had to be back for the party in the evening and had one last stop.
Our last stop before leaving was a supermarket, this super market was much larger than the one in Ikutora, but we kind of had to rush so that we could be back.
I drove on the way home. I used the windshield wipers several times instead of the turn signal (they switched sides on me). On a couple of unlined streets, I forgot which side I was supposed to be on. We drove 40km- 60km the whole way home (those are normal speeds here. It felt so slow, so I looked it up that evening to see how fast we were going. 40 (town speeds) is just under 25, 50 is about 32 and 60 in the country areas (so you would expect it to be fast, right?) is 37 (so slow for "highway" speeds!!!).
Last night was an enkai (party) we went to a restaraunt. Several people spoke, I gave my jikoshokai (self introduction) and we kampai-ed (cheers). I was amazed to see how much people drank, but they were all very friendly. The English teacher and the principal at the middles school came and introduced themselves. She's close to my age and aparently he has kids that are about my age. So I was told that he was like our dad and that she was like my sister. It was super cute! They have a "movie club" that they invited me to join. We are going to get together at the principal's house (he has a giant tv) and watch a movie on Tuesday.
After the enkai, we went to the nikai (second part). We went to what I think was a Karaoke bar, but no one got up and sang anything. Basically, it was me and 7 of the older men (teachers, principals) who went. One of the teachers told me at the beginning, that he would make sure I was home by 11 (he was trying to make sure my family would approve). It was really sweet. They went on to drink even more. The 7 of them finished off one bottle of alcohol and started in on another. I had tea.
This was the first morning in which I did not wake up at 4:30am. I slept until 7!!! Maybe I no longer have jet lag. Today is my laundry day. I figured out my Japanese washer and have finished one load. I think I now have to wait until that load has dried to do another so there is space to dry it. My bathroom has a metal bar across it so that I can hang things in there to dry, but I don't have enough hangers for all my stuff, I think I will need to get a dry rack of some sort soon.
I am off to go explore the town a little (and maybe find a plastic spatula). Hope you are all having a wonderful day!