My First Two Weeks in Japan

It’s rather self-explanatory from the title, but I’ve been living in Japan now for two weeks.  And yet, this is my first blog  post.  Before departing for Japan, I decided that I was going to maintain a blog to share my experiences with friends, family, and other lurkers that happen to pass by.  Back then, I was swelling with self-confidence, thinking that I could handle anything that life threw at me.  Of course, I was expecting the first month to be the most challenging, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the roller coaster that Japan had in store for me.

Before I begin talking about my time in Japan so far, I should discuss the reason why I’m in Japan. Earlier this year, I successfully applied to the JET Programme (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) to teach English in Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher, or ALT. I was placed in Maibara-shi, Shiga-ken to teach at two public junior high schools. Well, I’m actually not in Maibara city, but in a small, rural town right outside of Maibara called Omi-nagaoka. My new home is right at the base of the tallest mountain in Shiga prefecture, Mt. Ibuki (which is pictured in my header).

The JET Programme has two main goals: improved language education in Japan, and internationalism. If you are interested in more information about JET, I advise you to check out the official page: http://www.jetprogramme.org/

When I arrived in Tokyo on August 5th, I was so exhausted from the long flight that I hardly had a chance to truly enjoy the city.  The jet-lag persisted for all three days of JET Tokyo Orientation, but I did manage to get out and explore the city a bit.  Though, I didn’t get a chance to leave Shinjuku; I’ll have to return to Tokyo someday for a proper vacation.

Until then, I can share some of the pictures I took in Tokyo during my brief stay.
Narita Airport

When we arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, all of us first had to go through Immigration and Customs. Most of the paperwork for customs was filled out during the flight, but we still had to wait a while in line. Once we finally got to baggage claim, there was a path for us to follow forged by JET volunteers in bright blue shirts pointing us in the right direction. We were loaded onto buses to immediately head for the Keio Plaza Hotel, which is where Tokyo Orientation takes place every year for new JETs.

The first photo features the hotel itself, and the second is a view of Shinjuku from the hotel. The next morning, Tokyo Orientation began. Oh my God, there are so many orientations for new JETs. There was a Pre-Departure Orientation in Miami the day before us Florida JETs flew to Japan. Then, there’s two days of Tokyo Orientation. Immediately after that, we all travel to our prefectures and meet our Contracting Organization supervisors. On Friday of that week, we in Shiga Prefecture had a “Survival Orientation” in Otsu (the capital of Shiga) to learn about living in Shiga. And next week, there’s two days of “Job Orientation” in Otsu.

Now, I’m just gonna photo-dump the rest of my pictures of Shinjuku.


^And there’s me in the teal shirt.

I’ll talk about my first week in Maibara in my next post.