On driving in Japan:
So this pretty much sums up the excitement of recent driving adventures 🙂 We have taken some evenings to drive around, explore, try new foods (Steak and Hamburg-very tasty and an homage to Lindsey Hamburg!!), sight see, etc. So aside from trying to drive on opposite sides of the road/car…we can’t actually read any signs. This ones means stop…
Now, this is a typical stop light and street sign.
If you are interested in looking at all the various road signs…there are MANY then follow this link
We have managed thus far to navigate fairly easy despite being illiterate. And many thanks goes out to the lovely google maps for being most helpful finding our way around. However, the one thing google maps doesn’t seem to indicate…is what is and isn’t a sidewalk…and if it allows vehicles (which come on, they usually don’t). The first time we mistook a sidewalk for a road was when we were driving past Kozoji station. We followed directions indicating to go straight, then turn left. We reached a dead end, and turned left. It wasn’t until I got to the end of the “road” when I realized we were on a sidewalk. Luckily the honda fit fits in between posts.
Tonight, we hit sidewalk #2…at least I think it was a sidewalk. Again, google maps said to go straight (oh and did I mention trying to avoid large ditches on the sides of the road…usually on streets that are “2-way traffic” but really only one car fits at a time…so narrow that I have to push the automatic button to close the side mirrors…ya. Just saying.
So maps tells us to go straight, and turn left ahead. It was dark, pitch black actually and I see a bunch of flashing, moving, circling lights up ahead. Apparently the road ends, and you can only go left or right. Directions say to go left…so I do. Other cars ALL go right. As I am driving down, I realize there are no more road paint (many roads have words painted on them) and there is an older couple walking down it. To the left is the river…to the right is the ditch? Not sure, but both sides were pitch black and deep drop offs. I stop…Paul, is this a sidewalk? In the end, I reversed it all the way back (go me, I kept it straight), and went the other way. We of course made it where we were going…but seriously. I need to learn Japanese (Kanji, katakana, and hiragana. Look it up). So, I have become fluent already in sidewalk driving. If you want a lesson, let me know.
Now, the first day of school!
Kids weren’t supposed to arrive until 8 and for the first day only they came straight to the room. Glad I was there early because several showed up at 7:45! BY 8:45 all kids were here. I met most of the parents, only those whose children came in on the bus (which actually pick up students from the local train stations! So the kids come from allll over!) I didn’t meet. I have a very talkative group. Teachers know that usually the first day is quiet. The kids are excited, but nervous and maybe sleepy. Nope, not here. They were vibrant and wide awake.
I received some cute gifts from a couple students-you probably already saw the skull bracelet. It was cute. I promised her I would wear my other skull jewelry so she would know that I really did like it. When she saw me today, I could tell she was eager to find out. I showed her my bracelet and earrings, and she grinned big time and hugged me hard. It was precious!
My day was relatively short. Because we are a small K-12 school (350 kids), we have crazy schedules. The kids were with me for only 15 minutes before we had the welcome assembly in the commons. Following that they went to music. From there, they split into Japanese classes. Then, we went to lunch/recess. I finally had them with me at 1:15, but on Wednesdays it’s early dismissal, so they left at 2:00. We hardly got anything done, but had a great day.
Today was day 2, and they came in just as eager, but followed directions and listened better. That was nice. I was sleeeepy today. Today I had them until 1145-they had lunch, then Japanese again. After Japanese, I had them until dismissal at 3:25. Dismissal is strange! No bell, no announcements. Just watch the clock. Some parents start hanging out by the door, and when we are ready, and it’s close enough to 3:25, I send them off with their parents. Then one group goes out my back door to car riders, and the other group out the front door towards buses. It’s strange, but it works.
Tomorrow they have art, lunch, then PE back to back. Will I ever get used to this? This is just the week 1 schedule. Next week is a week 2 schedule. It alternates all year.
Overall it’s been great having the kids. I have been so excited to move here, and learn, and experience the food and culture…but I came to teach. And finally, that’s here.
The kids are fairly quirky, and come from all over. I know many of you have been waiting to hear about my class makeup, so here goes.
About 4 from USA, 2 Korean, 1 Dutch, 1 South African, 1 British/Japanese, 1 Korean/Japanese, 5 Japanese. They come with so much knowledge, and fascination with everything. This will certainly be an exciting year!
For those following my FB posts, you might have noticed me posting about yoga. This is only my second time ever doing it, and it’s led by our new secondary art teacher. She does a nice job, I feel relaxed in there with everyone. There are only about 7 of us who go, and everyone else has a bit of experience. I am proud that I am able to go, and somewhat keep up. I try what I can, and when I can’t, I watch and stretch. It’s super hot in the area we do it, but there are lovely views of the mountains. And it does help me relax. If nothing else, right now, that is nice. I took a nice walk around the neighborhood the other night. I really enjoy looking at the houses. It’s so peaceful here. Quiet, and peaceful. It’s strange though, some of the houses. It’s a mix…mostly traditional Japanese houses, with private driveways with gates and lovely gardens. Then, peppered every so often, is a pastel colored, victorian modeled house. Complete with pointy tower windows and scalloped siding. I mean, really? Strange.
Last weekend was great exploring Nagoya castle and seeing traditional Obon dancing. I am looking forward to visiting another castle soon, one that is older and un-touched. Less touristy.
I made my first Asian dish…an attempt at Pad Thai. I successfully located fish sauce and soy sauce (you wouldn’t believe the amount of sauces they have!), got everything for it…I thought. Apparently, what I thought might have been tamarind paste…was in fact some extremely hot sauce paste. SO it looked right, but it was missing that other taste. Still ok though. I was just excited to have found the right sauces!
That’s pretty much it for now. Late night, long hours prepping…and trying to fit in some me-time to balance it all out. I usually am only work work work-so let’s hope for some relaxing through yoga and walks…and maybe a bike ride. I am getting the courage up to try it out!
K + P
ps-Paul is doing pretty good. Trying to figure out his schedule too…they keep changing secondary. We have figured out a bit of a system…he goes home after school’s out and picks me up about 615. That works for now!
Pss-Please view the pictures below for more tales from Japan. See foods, sightseeing, and a hostess dog named Chester.
Ok, it’s messing up. More pictures later! Look for second post!