The Joys of Banking

So first of all, just a quick update on regularity. Now that I’m working full time again I’ll only be updating weekly rather than daily. But on the plus side that means there will be so much more to read about. Like how I’m failing at playing the borderlands pre-sequal (need to level more before trying to so the boss) or how due to the lack of a car I mostly walk for 5 to 10 miles on my days off to get anywhere in Fuji. (I still really like it here but there is a lot of walking to be done).

During my time off this week I decided I would try to avoid being deported and registered my presence in the city at the Ward office.  Considering how bad my Japanese is, and how everything was in Japanese it actually went reasonably smoothly.  Once again the staff were lovely and helpful, and no one said out loud that I was ruining their day so that’s a plus.

It’s genuinely very easy and mostly involved Google translate for the occasional confusing bit, although some of the English variants were really off the mark. But we got there, between me, Google and three members of staff the Japanese government now knows where I live and seems content with that situation.

I also tried to open a bank account today. Again the lady helping me tried her best, and together we got through the forms except for one tiny detail. I needed a hanko. This is an official stamp that you register with the city and use on important things. A signature was right out, so looking online I saw that it can take up to a week to get one. A week! But I have till the end of the month to open a bank account or I have to start dancing for yen in the street, and my visa doesn’t really cover that. Unless of course I use my dancing to teach English at the same time, but it’s a bit of a grey areas.

Fortunately I won’t have to test that theory just yet as I found a hanko shop nearby that could make it in an hour. Only downside is the bank closed before that and I still needed to register it. Plus side, I could still register it today and the bank is open again tomorrow so everything is still mostly on track! Yay.   

So my advise for people moving to slightly more rural cities in Japan. Get a hanko quickly. It’s a bit of a pain as you then need it for everything important, but unless you can find a very foreigner friendly bank you will have problems.

Work wise, everything is good. The students are nice and the other teachers seem to be able to cope with me too. It’s actually a lot of fun, and still rewarding to hear people using what you taught them less than an hour later. 

Also if anyone else does have the borderlands pre-sequal on steam let me know as I need people to play with.


First Day of Work

It is done! I have taught the English to people by myself. People have intentionally paid for lessons with me and I think they enjoyed it / learned some new things. 

It was really good fun and my manager seemed really positive about my work so I’m very happy about that. It’s very different from what I am used to as a work day, with very set times for everything to happen in and only ten minutes in between to check for any additional students or even new lessons if it was previously blank. So that is a little terrifying at first because it does mean I may have to plan a whole lesson in 5 minutes.

Fortunately though the formula for the lessons makes it possible, and the more I do it the more familiar with each lesson I will become and that will certainly help.

So my experience is still overwhelmingly positive, and life is great. Suck it brexit, you can’t touch me now! (He says, inviting the worst possible outcome of being summoned back to the UK when we leave the world)

A New Home

Operation moving into new home was a glorious success. After navigating a couple of train changes I arrived in Fuji around ten pm where I managed to meet a few members of the branch team who I will be working with over the next year.

As it was rather dark I could only admire how big my apartment is compared to where I had been staying in Tokyo (Which while perfectly sufficient for my needs and in a great location, was on the small side) and also compared to what people had been saying online. 

Sure it only has one room, with a kitchen, washing and laundry area sort of bolted on to the side, but it’s a good sized room with plenty of storage solutions for the things I’ve brought with me and the many future purchases that are likely to happen. I also have a book shelf again, which makes me feel happy because I’m sleeping in a home with books again. This stuff is important!

Fuji itself is just beautiful. Mountains are all around the city/ town (I’m not too sure how it’s actually classified)  and there are some rice fields and vegetable gardens just randomly located about. 

There are also a number of rivers running through here from the mountains which means there are streams running along side nearly every road. Like I said, this place is beautiful and amazing. I feel very lucky to have been placed here by the company. All hail the mysterious company.

With a bit of help from different people I now know how to use the washing machine with water, while before the best I could manage was the tumbling action plus washing powder. I also know where to go now to register myself as a dirty foreigner who has come over here and stolen someone’s job as an English teacher. Sorry, I mean expat. So I’ll be doing that on Monday in order to avoid the delights of deportation.

There is also this amazing shop called c spot that looks like a garden center from the outside, but on a whim of exploration I ventured inside and discovered that it is infact the place of all things! From beds to clothes and furniture, household goods and sporting items and even food! Best bit is it is a ten minute walk from my house. Basically my life is sorted here, you guys should all come to fuji because it’s freaking amazing.

Only real downside is there is a train track next door to my flat and when I say next door I mean this;

And that’s the distance from the back door to the track. On the flip side though I seem to sleep through the noise if there is any at night, so I’m not too worried.

So once again it’s an overwhelmingly positive review of my day. It’s almost like I’m enjoying myself. 

Training Day 2; Now With More Training

As the title suggests, this was indeed day two of my training. Still going pretty well although we actually had to give our first (supervised) lessons today. While slightly terrifying it was a good experience as a) the feedback was constructive and useful and b) it showed that even if they don’t completely understand you, just being friendly and engaging will get you a long way while c) It’s actually really really hard to completely screw it up. Like I think you would actually either need to try or have a panic attack and freeze for it to be genuinely awful as a lesson.

Out of my sample group of one (although we did listen to other lessons too) the students seem eager to learn and are friendly. Which makes sense as it is their time and money they are spending. 

The people I am training with a good too, as when we are outside of work while also being a social point we share what limited Japanese we have too and sort of learn as we go, jumping in if we can help the others out when stuck.

While still very early days I think this is the sort of work I could really get into. While the lesson books give you a focus to work around they do encourage creativity and give a reasonable amount of freedom of style around a loose formula to follow. 

Anyway, that’s me for today. Currently on a train back home before I start the same thing tomorrow. Although hopefully this time I won’t be woken up by another earthquake. 

Training Day 1

No, not a sequel to that film. That being said I would be okay with my life story being played out on screen by a rather confused looking Denzel Washington.

Today was the first day of training for my new job, and to be fair it was no where near as terrifying as being asked to teach English to a bunch of strangers could be. The lesson materials we have to work through for each class are pretty simple and very easy to use, so most of the training was based around methods of how best to interact with students and get the most out of the materials for everyone involved.

It also turns out that today was the second earthquake I’ve experienced since being here. On Tuesday I thought the building was moving a little due to strong winds. Turns out it was an earthquake and we had another today. It’s a interesting experience feeling the building move, but in a good way as you know they have been designed to do exactly that. 

The people I’m training with are a nice bunch too (although I have to say that as they might see this) and although it’s job training it’s also quite light hearted and fun where possible too. 

What I would say from day one of training (and thus clearly an expert already) is that if you are thinking about doing the teaching English thing, then as long as the company provides you with a good stock of teaching materials it really doesn’t have to be at all daunting, aside from moving country and living in a place entirely different to your own home where no one speaks your language and the food is weird and trains run on time and everyone is polite. But other than all of those terrifying things, I’d certainty say I have no regrets so far and I’m looking forwards to day two.

Unfortunately other than earthquakes and managing to not get fired before day one of actual work, I don’t really have much more to report. 

Interesting sign of the day though is a follow on from a previous sign. After spotting adverts for Lumine – the Bargain and assuming it was a singer, today on the side of the train station I found Lumine – the kitchen. Are these just interesting choices of album names, or does the word Lumine translate differently from something else? The mystery continues.

A New Day, a New Park

So as today is my last day in Tokyo as a tourist I thought I would spend it relaxing in the sunshine in a park not too far from where I am staying. Looking on the map it has a museum in it for nature and science, which would normally very much be my thing but as it’s something called Sea Day here (where people celebrate the sea being an important part of island life and being thankful that sea gods have not yet reclaimed it. Okay the last bit might be a lie.) it is unfortunately closed.

Never mind though, I thought, just more time for relaxing in the park. So off I went, stopping briefly for yet more delicious food, before finding the entrance to the park hidden away on the other side of a train station. The park itself was lovely, of not a little concretey. There were spaces set aside for trees and things to grow while the rest was either astroturf or stone. I even wandered past the first buskers I’ve seen here in the form of a trio playing double bass and accordion while one sang. They were very pleasant to listen to and was a sort of jazz folk mix. 

Then of course I went to the zoo in the park. Excuse me? Yea. There is a zoo in this park. 

Not quite on my plans but too good to pass up, especially as entry was 600 yen. So instead of being lazy I just spent the day looking at a whole bunch of animals doing animal things. There is even a little section for native Japanese animals along side the usual selection of elephants and tigers, gorillas, pandas and armadillo. With a small animal section,  bird home and vivarium this isn’t even close to being one of those small petting zoos you sometimes find in a park corner. 

Look at the little guy just chilling out 
There was also this wonderful sign, which I’m assuming means this thing will bite your fingers off if you try and poke it. But is also looks a little bit like they are saying don’t force your hand down the mouths of animals, which is also good advise I guess.

If you don’t already follow me on instagram, and would like to see some more photos of secret Park zoo!! (as I’m sure it’s not called) then just search for Jragnarr and prepare for the onslaught of fluffy things. 

While unexpected it has certainly been a great way to end my week off, now I just have to get used to waking up before midday again. Okay so I guess I haven’t avoided being lazy altogether.


The Weekly Review

So it’s the end of my first week here in Japan, which seemed like a good point to reflect on the general goings on and life so far in a different country. 

As you may have noticed I’ve only really had positive things to say about the experience so far. So in review, two thumbs up. Would do again.

Seriously though, it’s hard to find a downside to this place. Sure the room I’m staying in is as big as some people’s bathrooms back home, the streets are nearly always busy between 8:00 – 20:00 and on every other street corner on the main roads you will find someone trying to hand you a flier or sell something to you. But there is nothing bad about this. The room is completely functional for my needs and is in a great location for doing my week as a tourist before starting work. The streets are busy but for the most part people are always looking where they are going and I’ve not experienced much in the way of others pushing through crowds to get anywhere, while the people handing out fliers, well they are just doing their job. They are not pushy about it, and only briefly try to get your attention.

The streets are very clean here, not completely devoid of rubbish, but when you consider the population sizes it’s pretty impressive how little there is. The whole time here I’ve maybe seen one bit of gum on the floor and a handful of cigarette ends. You can find that and more in a square foot of Cardiff, never mind any other bigger cities in the UK. 

Cyclists are the only thing so far that I’m a bit mixed on. While it’s good that so many choose bikes over cars to get around the city, a lot of people also cycle at 100 miles per second and I’ve seen more than a few near misses between bikes and people. This includes one guy who was cycling down the wrong side of the road, but really didn’t seem to care. It could just be because everyone cycling seems really proficient at doing so, but when the place is as crowded as it is its a little scary at points. 

Next week I start my job as foreigner #6711098 teaching English in Japan, so expect this blog to be a little less adventurous and more ‘this is my work day!  This is my new home! Here is a dragon I found!’ But will otherwise still be updating as regularly as I can. 

Finally, because I promised Aaron I would after he asked for more pictures of anime girls, here is a short section on that; 

Are you happy now Aaron? Are you!?

Thank you once again to everyone who keeps reading this, I always knew I was pretty great, but it’s good to have the confirmation.

See you next week! じゃ、また!