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Sunday, August 24, 2008

I see black people

I went to Morioka over the weekend and we went to a club called Faces. So I was chilling with Janine and I turned around and the DJ was black!!! I freaked. I ran over and introduced myself. Turns out that he's also a JET. He's from Akita, thew prefecture to the west of us. Then lo and behold another black guy appears. Bryan tells me he's the club owner. Way cool. I went over to say hi and he runs over and gives me a hug. Who knows when's the last time he saw a black person. I haven't seen one since my predecessor left 3 weeks ago.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Japanese Language

The Japanese language is good, bad and ugly. In and of itself it isn't a bad thing. In fact I think that universally speaking, it's a pretty easy language to learn, but I think that that knowing English may be my biggest obstacle to learning Japanese. In the Japanese language the verbs come at the end of the sentence so for instance, "I a cat have." There are no articles or singular and plurals so it would be " I cat have" but then they usually leave out the subject if it's been mentioned already or is obvious so it would be "Cat have." Lol!

Not conjugating verbs means I don't have to add to the million verb endings I already know between English, French, Spanish and Italian. They only things the do to verbs is make them negative and put them into past tense. So a verb has 4 forms: non-past affirmative, non-past negative, past affirmative, past negative. But there are also different ways of speaking, for different levels of politeness, so there a four endings in each of the forms (plain, polite, and business are all that I know of).

The adjectives also have similar "conjugations", and there are a lot of rules of what you need to do with adjectives. There are even two types of adjectives and the rule differs according to type. You can't usually tell the type right off, you just have to memorise them.

Then there are the counters. In Japanese the suffix you use for counting depends on what you are counting, so for floors you'd use one, for people another, animals another, Long thin things another, round things another, etc. Counters suck!

Something else I guess most people know about Japanese is the way the language is written, the Kanji. Apart from the Kanji there are two syllabic writing systems, the Hiragana and the Katakana. The Hiragana is used for Japanese words and to fill in any spaces that the Kanji don't cover and the Katakana is used to imitate foreign loan words. The Katakana is hilarious as hell. Most of the words come from English and those that don't generally come from Spanish or French, which I speak, yet I can never figure out Katakana words. The problem is that the Katakana only uses syllables that are represented in Japanese. The only consonant that can come next to another in Japanese is n. So any other consonant ends up getting a vowel stuck onto it which is why ice cream is "aa-su-ku-ri-mu." Then there are the letters that don't exist like v, f (although there is fu), and l (although hthe Japanese r sounds like an l anyway so really it's the r that doesn't exist). You can't get "si" or "je" in Japanese either so you get stuff like shi-ru-wa-zo-n. Alex laughed at me for not being able to figure it out. It's Silver Zone. It's the old people crossing. Yes we have an old people crossing. That should tell you something about my town's demographic.

Despite all this, my Japanese is still making some progress.Although I need to get in 25 hours thoretical study time every week to pass the exam I want to do in December. Lol! I'll get there because I am me, and languages and I have an understanding. (I hope!) Anyhow as I just said, I have a lot to cover so I need to get to some studying.

This weekend I head down to Morioka for yet another orientation. Who knows when I'll be online next. Janine and I are staying over in Morioka on Friday night to head out to Akita on Saturday for the most competitive, impressive and biggest fireworks festival in Japan, so I probably won't get back to Ichinohe until some time Sunday evening.

Small triumphs

Whoever first said it's the little things that count is one of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen. Yesterday I had two little things happen that just made me smile. First off, we continued on our school tour. We were at Ichinohe Shougakkou, which is one of my elementary schools, and the principal asked my supervisor if we spoke Japanese. He replied Alex san speaks fluently and Claire san speaks a little!!! Yay!!! Japanese fluency, here I come.

After work I went to the itty-bitty store around the corner from me. I am out of juice and don't feel like walking all the way to ICO, the plaza where JOIS, the grocery store, is. The lady in the shop is under 4 feet tall. She is so cute. She said to me "Kaminoke wa kawaii desu", which for those of you who speak less Japanese than me means "Your hair is cute." Triumph 1: the fact that I understood what the hell she was saying. Triumph 2: the cutesy little old lady around the corner thinks my hair is cute!!! I am buying everything I possibly can in her shop from now on. In fact, I'm going there this afternoon for tomatoes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympics in Japan

Yes I know the olympics is in China, but I am in Japan, which means I have the Japanese perspective on the Olympics. At home in Barbados, we get our Olympic coverage from a US or Canadian network and we always laugh about how streamlined the coverage is toward their own country's athletes. Generally coverage is of track, swimming, or gymnastics. If none of these is on, they just pick a random sport or somethign. Here in Japan, I have been seeing the stragnest sports. For the first time in my life, I have seen Olympic Soccer, Olympic Baseball, Olympic Field Hockey, Women's Archery, Judo, Freesytle Wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling. AND I discovered that Trampoline is an Olympic Sport (funnily translated into Japanese as "jumping").

SO I have all sorts of new revelations. For one, all the top women's archers are Asian. Secondly, Freestlye wrestling is cool beans. Trampoline is harder than it look. I blight a woman. After about 4 participants I wondered aloud what was so hard about trampoline. The woman promptly land on her mouth. I laughed at the way Japan got beat in baseball by Korea (the national sport here is Baseball) and then beat Canada. Japan is apparently really good in Woman's Softball. They beat Canada, but were defeated by USA. Soccer has been fun too, Japan got beat in every single one of their men's matches, even by Holland, who only managed to draw against the USA and and Nigeria. The Japan women's team is really good too. They beat everybody but the US on their way onto the semifinals. Then they had to play the US in the semifinal. They lost 4-2. Well, at least I think they should beat Germany. In the other semifinal which I watched Brazil rinse out Germany. 4-1. Funnily enough both of the losing teams scored first. Women's soccer is funny. But there are occasionally some women who are great. The funniest thing of it all is the Japanese woman with an afro! She and her hairdresser deserve a Nobel Hair Prize or something.

School- It's why we're here

Sometimes I think my town is really small, then something happens to remind me that it isn't, like when Janine comes through and goes "Blimey, you've got a mall!" at the half a shopping centre. (Smaller than Dacosta's Mall.) Yesterday we went out into the Netherworld of Ichinohe. See, I live in Central Ichinohe, where all the life of Ichinohe is (lol). The "mall" is here, the fire station, the police station is here, most of the shops are here. So we went out Okunakayama, which is like 30 minutes drive away from where we work to visit two of Alex's schools and get introduced to the Principal and staff, then we went to Ichinohe Minami, another of Alex's schools which is here in town at the edge. Then we went up to Chokkain Elementary, in the valley up the mountain I started to run up the other day. (Imagine that there is life up there.) And the village there has literally nothing to do. Except for joining the Self Defence Force which is Japan's version of an army. Apparently after World War 2, America wrote Japan a Constitution which does not allow them a standing army. Sound familiar. 50 plus years later nothing has changed. Anyhow, after Chokkai we went to Torigoe, (Tori-go-ey) which is one of my schools. It's a bit far and I am supposed to catch the bus but it'll only be like 10 minuttes.I think it's only about a 40-50 minute walk, and I think the bus is expensive although I haven't checked, but I am seriously considering hoofing it. One thing that was common throughout, the kids seem really nice (but then they always do). In case you're wondering why the kids are even at school, it appears that the Japanese hyperactive, overworking attitude starts from young and in the summer the kids go to their clubs at school.

We just got back from more school tours. We went back up to Chokkai for Dan's Junior High, then we came down to my two Ichinohe Schools. My schools are big as hell!!! They're the biggest of all the schools we've seen, but then they're the down town schools. The Ichinohe schools will be my main schools 4 days a week, every other week. I am only at Torigoe twice a month. After we went to Kozuya to Dan's 2 remaining schools, one of which is under construction. It seems nobody speaks English at Kozuya Sho-gakko- (elementary) so Dan is a bit worried. No one speaks English at Torigoe either, but I am not at all worried. My Japanese is coming along slowly. I actually understood all of what my Supervisor was saying in our introductions today!!! For some strange reason there is an English teacher at Ichinohe Elementary (normally there are only English teachers from Junior High and up) and my other school is Junior High so I only really need to worrry about Japanese twice a month anyhow.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chronicles of Farnia- The Temple, the Mayor and the Cave

Well, yesterday I started to write out my Saturday adventures but somehow I erased it all. So here goes nothing again. I went touring with Janine on Saturday. Her coworker, Fumiko drove us down to the south of the prefecture to a town whose name I have already totally forgotten. Fumiko's son, Hiroki also came with us. We had to leave my town at 7 a.m. But it paid off to be there early.

On the way down south, we passed Iwate san, which is a mountain in the centre of the prefecture of Iwate. I assume that's where the prefecturee got its name. It's funny to me that they call the mountains san, which is the respectful title you add after someone's name.

It took about 2 and a half hours to get to Chusonji Temple. There we had to trek up a mountain (seems like everything around here is up a mountain. The first house we passed was Benkeido, where Benkei lived. Benkei was like 6 ft tall, gargantuan for a Japanese. He had a master he served who was stronger than he was. Between the two of them they supposedly defeated entire armies. Benkei died when he stood in front of his master and flexed and took a bunch of arrows to protect him. His master died young. There was a little box in front of the house. You could throw in a coin and take off your shoes and go up the stps and pray. There was also a little machine fortune teller. Hiroki got an excellent fortune. When Janine did hers, the lady came back without a fortune, then she got a fortune and it wouldn't drop in the box. Then when she finally got it, it was not a good fortune. It was like the little machine lady was trying to stop her from getting it. Anyhow, when you get a bd fortune, you're supposed to tie it on a nearby line.

There was also a big hall where you could also pray and pull fortunes from a box. I pulled a fortune from one of the box ones. It was a good one. It told me that the man I am thinking of is the right one, but not to marry him this year. Lol! There were also water fountains that were supposed to purify the body as well as an incense well, the smoke from which was supposed to be healing. We passed several more temples before we got to the Golden Temple. You had to pay an 800 yen fee to get in. Apparently the temple used to be all gold, but it isn't now. It seems Iwate used to have so much gold that Tokyo went to war with them over it. Then we went to this other temple where there was a bell to ring which would rid you of guilt. There were also little bells for each of the signs of the Chinese horoscope. I am a Rooster. After that we went to a museum of sorts and saw all manner of things from the 12 century.

When we left there we went over to the Geibi Gorge (after a short lunch intermission with the saltiest ramen I have ever tasted). At the Geibi Gorge, you get in these gondola-esque boats that hold about 25 people and this guide pushes it with a stick thing while explaining what you are seeing all the way. When we were coming back we saw a guy on a nother boat in a tie. I turned to Janine, laughing, and asks who goes on these little boats in a tie. Turns out he was the mayor!

Afterwords we had icecream because Fumiko had coupons for a discount. Then she had to look for Hiroki again, who spent the large majority of his day disappearing. Then we headed out to Yugenda Cave. It was a walk through cave. It's not that impressive to me, because Barbados has one of the most well-developed and famous cave attractions in the world. The only thing that put it up on Harrison's Cave was that there were some fossils in it. That plus the amazing number of times you can nearly decapitate yourself on stalactites.

It was only 3 o clock when we finished but we decided to head back up North because we were exhausted. We stopped at the smaller Aeon Mall in Morioka so that Hiroki could play video games. There is a Gap, Sports Authority, Starbucks and Tower Records there. The Sports Authority has some of the sexiest Adidas I've ever seen. I also found some Kanji flsh cards in the Bookstore. The Bookstore by the way, claims to have an English section. It consists of one rotary kiosk, about 20 titles. Lol! But they have Tolkien and Sophia Kinsell so I am a very happy camper. I am trying to figure out who I need to off to get to move down to Morioka. Love it! Lol!

We got back to Ichinohe at about 7. I gave Fumiko a Mount Gay miniature and some guava cheese as a thank you. Both she and Janine were amazed at my house. It's great having some of the best houses on JET.

I was so fuzzed when I got back, I just ate, showered and jumped into bed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I just got word that someone clsoe to one of my best friends has died. And I can`t be there! This is one of the few reasons I hate being on the other side of the world!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My actual JOB

Okay, I talk about everything under the sun except the JOB I am actually paid for. So here goes.
I am on the JET programme. (Japan Exchange and Teaching) It:s a collaboration between CLAIR and 3 Japanese ministries and brings people from all over the world (41 countries this year) to serve in 3 roles. 1. CIR- Coordinator of International Resources, SEA- Sports Exchange Administrator and ALT- Assistant Language Teacher. I am an ALT.

School is actually on summer vacation. That doesn`t mean I don`t go to work. It just means I actually have nothing to do. I spend my time at the Board of Education (BOE) learning Japanese and reading about lesson planning. I hope to be fluent enough by the time school starts in a week and a half to introduce myself in Japanese to my kids. Finger crossed.

I have the Ichinohe schools. I think this is great for two reasons. Firstly my schools are in town so I can walk. Although the Junior High does seem to be a ways off, the Elementary is jus accross the street from the Library. I guess I can come over here every day after school if I want to. The second perk is that all my kids will be from Ichinohe, so unlike Alex and Dan I get to run into my kids on the road (running at the slowest pace ever) , in the supermarket, at the festivals, etc.

I have one other school that I go to on Mondays, ;pretty much every other week. It sounds like it`s far but I not worried. It`s not often.


When you are in a foreign country you are refered to as an alien. Here in Japan when you are from somewhere else you truly are an alien.

Japan is the most homogoneous society in the world. For those of you who don:t know that means that the people are as much alike as a people can be. Not only do they look alike, but they`re supposed to act alike and everything. So when you are not Japanese you stick out like a sore thumb. Dan, Tyler, Alex and I have been having a ball with out. I suppose Alex and I stick out more. Alex has red hair and I am black. Some people are cool about it. Kids are the most fun though. . Sometimes they just stop and their mouth drops open like `Oh my goodness! Mummy, what is that?` Some mornings when I run on Main Street everybody comes out to watch. Not sure if it`s because I am black or because I am the slowest runner in the world. Tuesday was the best. I ran past a group of high-schoolers and they tried to pretend they didn`t see. This one chick nearly broke her face when she tripped. All her friends died of laughter!!!

It`s cute now I suppose it will get annoying some day.

The world`s slowest runner

Drumroll please, and the title of the world`s slowest runner goes to... me!!!

I mean I really suck!!! Today I went up the mountain. It was of course a complete accident. I mean I live near the foot of a mountain, so it`s har d to do anything without a little incline but today I really WENT UP THE MOUNTAIN. To the part where the road actually starts to wind around and on one side all you have is trees and the next side tress in gully. Never again. I ran a new route. Actually since I have been here I haven`t run the same route twice. When I reached my office I was supposed to turn left in an effort to go to the fire station which is on the edge of town, but a silly little voice said keep straight and I did, past the back of the BOE and up the mountain. I know there should be at least two roads on the left to bring me back down, one will come out by ESSO and one by the train station, but I just couldn`t figure which road to pick so I stayed on the main and ran out of choices and ended up on the mountain. It occurred to me, looking over to my right that I would never find a road coming down through hthat gully so eventually I turned around.

I will go back out there and challenge the mountain again--- in May. Because I am not going to be ready for it before November, and nobody, not even Elvis Presley culd convince me to go up a mountain in the winter. And since Iwate winter is more forever than diamonds, I won`t risk it til May. Hold me to it peoples, Mountain in May. I may run back over that way though. The last left before the mountain is a sports centre and I would like to go over there and check it out.

Still I suppose the mountain was a good thing. I heard the town song from up there and it felt like a scene from Narnia, like the trees were singing. There was nothing up there other than a random shanty (Jah ras all over the world- lol) but people do live at the top of it. Rumour has it there`s an old lady who lives up there that comes down in the winter to live in the currently uninhabited house next door. Plus, I got in a 40 minute run, whoich would probably have taken 20 for normal people. This iis good because I didn:t run yesterday or day before and sinc e I`ll be going with Janine to Golden Temple tomorrow, running would mean being up at like 5. I have to meet here at the Library at 7 and it`s a 20 minute walk... But I plan to run every day next week because I know I will miss Friday and Saturday since I will be in Morioka and then hopefully at the Akita Fireworks festival.

Random note about fireworks. It amazes me the things you can do and not do in Japan. I don:t have my Alien Registration card yet so I can`t buy a cell phone. However, kids can go and set off fireworks every night in the pasture behind Gaijin (Foreigner) Row- the nickname for my street. Oh the irony!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rain, sweet rain

The rain has been pouring all day long, whis is excellent. It was actually pretty hot yesterday. I decided to walk through the rain to come to the librarym where I am using the internet and will shortly borrow another children`s book to practice reading since I am the most retarded Japanese reader. Then I will go over to the supermarket and by some oil. Cooking oil is my staple. None of the three of us new ALTs can figure out the grill or how to use the microwave as an oven so oil is really useful. So far I have managed to eat only one particularly weird thing. I:ll let you know what it was as soon as I find out.

On Saturday, Janine and I, another ALT from a neighbouring town will be going to the golden temple with a co-worker of hers. I have no idea where the golden temple is or any of its history, but I am excited. For one, I:ll be getting out of Ichinohe. There isnt much to do here. It doesn:t bother me yet, but it will eventually.

I signed up for a language course with the people who run this programme. I decided to take Hughar`s advice and not even bother with the beginner`s course and apply for intermediate. Dan found the beginner`s course in his house so I am looking through it. Not very thoroughly. I need to get back to my JLPT study. Plus, I want to be able to speak enough Japanese to introduce myself to my kids in Japanese. That gives em less than two weeks! Gambatte! (Good Luck!)

In case you wonder about the completely random punctuation, I can:t figure out how to get an apostrrophe on the library computer.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Service in Japan

The service in Japan is something else. When we were in the hotel we were constantly impressed. I had a sore throat and I went to the CLAIR office and asked for a lozenge but all their lozenges had medicine in them so they told me to ask the hotel staff. The lady we asked took us down to the 2nd floor to the Convienience store and picked out the lozenges for us. And then picked out chap stick for another girl.

Then when we came to Ichinohe and the gas station attendant actually went out into the road to stop traffic for my supervisor to get out. Not that there was any traffic anyhow.



That's the name of my district. It's really small. I originally thought there was only one blinking street light, but I have so far uncovered 3 on the main road. I've taken to running each morning and moreso than excerise it's become a way for me to meet the people in the neighbourhood. It's so funny how they react. Today I almost kill a teenager. Most people I meet just say "Ohayoo gozaimasu." Good morning. Sometimes people like to pretend they don't see me and look up in the sky. So this group of teenagers was walking by, pretending not to see me and this gurl is looking up in the sky and tripped over a rock. It was funny as hell. Took all my willpower not to laugh at the poor thing but her friends sisn't hold back at all.

My district is pretty small. There's a minimart on my corner which we never succed in buying anything from, because we can never find the person who works there even though the store is open! We live about 20 minutes walk from a shopping complex with a home store, stationery, flower shop, grocery store etc. It's not that far but you have to plan your shopping really well, because you've got to walk 20 minutes with it, so I never take more than I can put in my backpack. The library is on the same compound. I have so far borrowed two books, children's books in Japanese. My Japanese is coming along slowly. The library is cool, because you canalso borrow tapes and DVD's. Promise to try the DVD's and see if any have English voice or subtitles. You can also use internet there.

There's a train station to go out to Ninohe, the neighbouring city/town. I haven't gone up there yet, although the other two ALT's have. We have Obon from tomorrow. Three days off for summer. So maybe we'll go out there or out to Hachinohe, which is an even biggeer city. Next week is two-day Morioka Orientation, so we get to go back to the capital. The BOE is only sending us down the same day and bringin us back up the same night so we only have the first night to run around Morioka. Oh well. Free trip from nowhere land.

Actually I don't mind nowhere land too much. Living sooo far from the grocery store means I don't overspend on groceries and having not much distractions means I have lots of time to study Japanese. My Japanese really sucks!!!! But not for long!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


So I have finally reached Ichinohe. I got here yesterday. Takes about an hour and a half from Morioka. I am going to be down there every other weekend. Morioka is the capital of my prefecture Ichinohe. We got there by Shinkansen (bullet train) on Wednesday. I have a post to put up about that but it's on my laptop and I'm on the office computer, so I can't get it up until Monday the earliest. Last night, Alex and Dan, my two JET neighbours took me to the "mall" . There's a library over there and a grocery store, home goods, fruits, etc. I picked up some groceries and went home. Watched some Japanese tv (lol-very useful), cooked spaghetti and some horrible Osaka sausage that I am really beginning to think is made of some strange meat other than cow. I started to unpack and then I went to bed.

We left for work this morning at like 8.10 . It's only about 10 minutes walk. We have nothing to do today so I'm practicing my writing Japanese and making lesson plans. We're going to go home for lunch. Maybe I'll bring my laptop up after lunch and work from that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Out on the town

Today we had workshops specific to our teaching level. I went to a Junior High School one and it was pretty informative. Then I went to an Independent Japanese learnign workshop which was conducted by my TOA, and which I found interesting. That was followed by my prefectural meetign where I met my PA, and the Japanese PA who'll be taking the train with us. I also got my itinerary. I have to be in Morioka til Thursday. Ack! I really want to get home and relax. Well I guess I need to meet the people who pay the bills. Afeter that the final workshop I went to was Managing Expectations. Didn't teach me a whole lot I didn't alredy know but the handout may come in handy.

Tonight we had an "embassy" night. Well, actually Barbados is administered by the British Embassy because we don't have our own and normally we just got to their night and half the stuff is not applicable. So instead the Trinidadian TOA organised a night out for us with some Japanese people with Trinidadian connections and other "friends" of Trinidad.

We went to a little restaurant not too far away and I succeeded in not eating anythign that would itch me til next week. I also met lots of people. By far the most interesting was a guy who had once been a JET but who was now running an international school here in Tokyo. Super cool. I also got to meet some people who I'd seen on the facebook group. Afterwards most of the new JETs wandered off to take in Japan or shop. Stores normally open til 10. I just went back to the hotel. I am tired and I have a headache. The only reason I am blogging is because I don't know what my internet situation will be like after I leave the hotel. I can't believe, it will be over a week from when I left home until when I get to my new one!

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's a small world after all

So this guy just came up to me in the elevator and asked me if it took me 3 days to get here. I said yes, how did you know and he told me he had sat next to someone from my country (our country is on our nametag). So another guy asks how long it took him and he says from the time he got into a taxi to the time he got the hotel was 24 hours. So the other guy gets out of the lift and I ask guy 1 where he's from. He says Massachussetts and asks if I've been there. I tell him that I had when I used to live in Connecticutt. So he asks where I went and I say the Coast Guard and he says reall, my brother went there. Class of 2003. And I say I was class of 2004. It turns out his sister in law who also went to the academy was my class president!!! Small world.

Last night I told a guy I was from Barabados and he freaked out. He's from San Francisco and apparently went to UWI for year abroad.

Imagine meeting people who know people you know in Japan!!!

JET lagged

It is nearly 6 in the morning and I have been up for like 3 hours! Ugh! Yesterday I almost died of sleep deprivation. I think it may have been then boringness of the lectures as much as the 12 hour flight the day before.

The Welcoming ceremony wasn't bad. The ministry dudes were cool. And the CLAIR PC's gave some good advice. The feature speech on Culture Shock was excellent. Not just informative but fun. We had to sit by prefecture. My prefecture only had 4 new JETs for this orientation, and one dropped out! Landmass we are the biggest on this island- the main island of Japan. To show you how few my prefecture has, Hokkaido has like 50 in all. The workshops I pretty much slept through. Travelling for 4 days (and losing one) is not easy.

In the evening, there was a Reception for the new JETs. In Japan when you go to a formal reception you can't do anything with the food or drink until someone makes the speech and the toast. So all 800 of us, plus the Tokyo Orientation Assistants (TOAa) plus the Programme Coordinators (PCs), Ministry staff, CLAIR staff, etc, are packed into this room staring at this huge feast and we can't touch it. Then the Education Ministry gauy, Mr. Suzuki, makes the toast and everyone digs in. But at the same time the TOA from my prefecture wanders over and starts talking, so I didn't get to the food for a while. Then, when we finally go to eat, a girl who used to be in our prefecture who now works for CLAIR offers to introduce us to the Chairman. CLAIR is the office that runs JET. So we met him. He spoke to us through an interpreter, but I was fussy because I understood when he asked where we came from and answered him in Japanese. Yay me! When we finally got to the food all the dessert was gone but it didn't bother me, because I don't like most things people eat for dessert and there was still lots of fruit, which I love. I am soooo going to itch for weeks from all the fruits I ate. Fruit is great here. The chicken was awesome. It was in some white sauce and had berries on top. Yummy!!!

I also met a Jamaican who had been a CIR for 5 years and is now working with CLAIR. He wanted to meet the other Bajans. I couldn't find them but I did find 2 Trinis to introduce him to. The Akita TOA came over and invited us lonely Iwate JETs (all 2 of us since the CIR had wandered off) to come out with them. I told him I wasn't sure because I was tired. They shut the thing down at 8 and I went upstairs. The moment I go to my room I knew I wasn't going to be going back down at 10 to meet anyone and it was off to bed. I wokoe up at like 2 unfortunately. Oh well!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

BOEING 777 and Tokyo

So today our flight was scheduled for departure at 12.50 Chicago time. We were early and checkin was uneventful. We went into the concourse and had mexican food for lunch. Steak quesadilla!!! Yeah!

When we got to the gate, the plane was a BOEING 777!!! This is the sexiest thing ever invented by man... I had to take a picture. Of course my camera battery decided to die right then. Great timing!

The inside of the plane is even cooler. The overhead bins pull down instead of just opening. And every one has their own personal tv screen and can select movies, tv shows, etc to watch or you can track the flight onscreen in real time. Somehow in the 12 hour flight I only slept half hour. Oh, and we crossed the International Date line and lost a day. Way cool.

I love Narita Airport. Its really organised and the lines have signs to tell you how long you should expect to wait in Immigration. When we came out of Customs, as expected there were like 8 million people in bright yellow shirts marked JET, directing us, smiling and waving. It was fairly embarrasing quite frankly, especially combined with the fact that we had on large white stickers marked JET. We went outside, mailed our luggage and waited for the bus. Tokyo is deathly hot. 35 degrees today with ridiculous humidity. Our Tokyo Orientation Assistant (TOA) on the bus was Allan, a Trini. He gave us lots of info about orientation and Japan. Then he told us it was alright to sleep. And I didn't hear a word after that. Apparently they played games and stuff on the bus, but I was out cold.

Keio plaza is a way cool hotel. I have so many pics. I'll be putting them on my facebook soon. We registered, got our JET Id's and room keys and headed in. Then we went back down to change money and go out to eat. It's amazing how organised the hotel staff are. We went to Subway but it was closed despite what the sign said, so we walked the other way to Sizzler. Our waitress spoke no English and I was the only body at the table who had bothered to study Japanese. It was interesting. I even had to ask where the bathroom was for someone. I think I did it in perfect Japanese too.

After lots of bowing and thanking we went back to the hotel and bought international cards for callin home since the phone that Cable and Wireless said would roam isn't. The room is so cool, but I'll describe tomorrow- I hope. Loving Japan so far. And I am wearing a complimentary KIMONO!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

MIA defeated- at last

Today was the second leg of the trip. My cell phone had a spasm and woke us up a n hour early at 2. We left the hotel at 3.30 and got to the airport before 4 for our 7.15 flight. For some reason they put me on standby. Barely got on the flight. We watched the Spiderwick chronicles and Penelope on board. I love Penelope. I mean it is really stereotypical hollywood but I loved it.

Miami was hell. We took forever through immigration but they opened new lines and I got through. Then luggage pickup, customs, hand in luggage and security. But since I was on standby they didn't ticket me for Chicago and they sent me back to the check in. It was 1.00 and the flight was 1.15 so I schowed this crewmember and she told me to do a self service check in at a machine. Since I live in Barbados I had no idea how to use the machine. Then my passport wouldn't read. Luckily the thing they gave me in T n T had on the E ticket number and I used that. Also got to put in my AA number that I suddenly remembered.

The gate was so far. I barely made it in time. The travel agent with us was already making flight arrangements on another flight when I got there. Four JETs missed the flight and the travel agent stayed with them.

But I made it. For the first time in my life I got out of Miami at the time I was scheduled to on the plane I was supposed to be on. Turns out they had set up the plane for transcontinental travel so we got free earphoones. The movie was 21 but the audio was poor.

When we got into Chicago some fo the luggage was missing so some of us waited for the luggage and the remaining JETs and some went shopping. When the JETs came we found out how they had all missed the flight. One girl\s immigration agent decide to make oodles of small talk with her, the guy was mistaken for a criminal because he shared a name and birthday with one, another girl went to the bathroom.

The bags that were missing didn't come on that flight so the girl filed for lost luggage and the AA lady ASSURED her it would be here before we leave for Japan in the morning. Finally we came to the hotel. The others were already at the mall. And we had dinner at the Italian Steakhouse. 23 oz Porterhouse Steak. WHOOOOOO!!!

Hmmm. Tomorrow, Japan!
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