Mabashi Hanabi Matsuri

On the weekend of the 9th of August Byron (one of the new Maebashi ALTs) told all the other new ALTs about the big fireworks shindig that was happening there so Tricia and I got a train there early.. hit some stores and got some Purikura (ts quite a process.... and i still need to get my pics from her :p) Then we met up with everyone else at the Kensho and walked to the bridge where the fireworks were going to be set off.... We also met the group B ALTs who had just arived a few days before. There were Yukata girls EVERYWHERE (drooooooooooool) and it was much like i'd imagined a big matsuri would be. there were Takoyaki and manju stands and a generally festive atmosphere despite the sprinkling of rain.

The pics are not mine... They were taken by Michelle Englar and Byron Ahn:
Michelle and Rosie with 2 girls in their yukata (kawaii) [photo by Michelle Englar]

Fireorks...2 straight hours of them! [photo by Byron Ahn]

Matsuri Munchies [photo by Byron Ahn]

[photo by Byron Ahn]

[photo by Byron Ahn]

[photo by Byron Ahn]

The Grand Finale.. the set the bridge on fire.. well not quit but that was the effect! [photo by Byron Ahn]

After the pyro Byron, Sayoko, Brian (the other new Shibukawa ALT) and I went to Dickens English pub and proceded to do a bowls club :p drunk conversations are the win! [photo by Byron Ahn]

and this is how we looked after much drinking outside the Family Mart in the burbs near Byron's and Sayoko's apartments... Yeah Brian and I had to kip in Maebashi and train back to Shibs the next day :p [photo by Byron Ahn]


First week or so in Gunma.

After spending 3 hours on the bus on the 1st of August 2008 we arrived at the maebashi Kensho where we went throuh another official ceremony to meet our supervisors.

(pic not mine)

Tricia and I were then driven by our supervisors, Machida-san and Nomoto-san and Steve (Tricia'a predecessor) to Shibukawa. We signed our contracts and met the head of the Board of Education.

We were then taken grocery shopping before I was taken to my house. Machida-san gave me a low down on how stuff worked and hnded me the keys.
The firrst night was wierd cos i didn't have any idea wha I had and I was still a bit tired from Tokyo. I made up my bed, made sum supper and watched black books.
It was a very pleasant night.. admittedly i was in an airconditioned room but still pleasant.

The next day we got taken to Gunma Bank, the home affairs type thingy and Da Capo (yes phenie, Da Capo) to buy our cells and sign up for the payment contracts. Machida san took care of all the hard stuff which was awesome because having heard how slack some of the other new ALT's supers are, ours seems to be superhuman. Actually key to a good time on the Jet programme is a good supervisor.

that night we were treated to Japanese food at a restaurant (with a name i forget despite having been there a few times now).. we drank and talked and generally had a good time... Tricia has a pic which i hope she gives me sometime :p

I then had a free weekend which i used to explore my surroundings http://tamagazou.machinami.net/shibukawashigaichi.htm not my pics but thats what the city centre (5mins walk from home) is like.

Machida-san then took me to my new schools where i met my colleagues for the first time.. that was an interesting experience to be honest... but the tension slowly woree away and things seem pretty decent all things considered. Oh when exploring the school for the first time i had a lil 1st grader turn the corner, see me, then he turned and bolted for his life! that was funny. I also briefly met the staff at Kanashima elementary but didn't do much more than say hi.

The folowing week was my first week at school. I joined in sports activities and got to know the place and the people. Shibukawa-kita Chu Gakuen or Kita-chu for short is a fairly decent sized school ust at the edge of Shibukawa proper. The basebal and soccer teams are in the upper echelons of the local league and the Brass band is one of the best in Gunma (sounds like an orchestra to me) The staff is firm but easygoing and there seems to be a nice atmosphere at the school.


Nihon Banzai!!! Tokyo Orientation!

Firstly i apologise but i have no camera at the moment and in tokyo i didn't even have a cellphone camera so yeah no pics. but i'll take some next time i go... i intend to do Tokyo quite a bit in the first few months :)

I left SA wired to my eyeballs and brimming with excitement... It was finally happening. I was going to Japan. Having not really slept the night before wasn't really helping. but the adrenaline sorted me for a bit.

Said my fairwells to the army that gathered to see me off (thanks guys) and headed through the gates (the wrong way initially :p) Leaving sa was no biggie really get on the plane and go :p.

The long ass flight to Hong Kong didn't put me to sleep as i had hoped. instead i faded in and out of naps and watched the matrix2 a few times.

When i got into Hong Kong, it hit me.... well the heat did anyways. the short trip through the tunnel from te plane to the terminal was a bit of a jolt. it was hot and humid and only 8 in the morning. Then it was a customs hand luggage check for liquids.. which i didn't have so it wnt quickly. I then got onto what was supposed to be a very beautiful flight to Japan (i slept through half of it) I only really started noticing things on our descent into Narita. HOLY SHIT i'm about to land in JAPAN.. kinda thing.

after standing in queues and doing the whole pasport control and customs thing, all the JETs did a bit of a baggage dance... it would have been nice and simple if the american fewls didn't get to bring 2 bags... bastards.... why do they get to bring so much stuff :p

Eventually We were herded onto busses for a 1 and a half hour long hour buss ride. (For some reason everyone has made everything out to be much worse than it actually is.. or maybe i'm just enjouing it more than everyone else did when they came to japan)

We checked into the Keio Plaza Hotel... I shared a room with another Saffer, Decklan, wo turned out to be a rather EPIC guy. The rest of the saffers then met up and went to karaoke.. i said STUFF THAT and went to Akihabara :)

First impressions of the place were mixed... it didn't seem to be all that special to me till i did some digging in the side streets, Yodobashi Akiba was a winner and had plug converters and stuff for my HDD and a Hair straightner. Most of the staff spoke sukoshi eigo (a little english) so it was easy.
I then got a meal at the mc Ds which tasted just like the mc Ds back home (who would have thought) and then roamed some more till about 11pm when i took the train back to Shinjuku, and finally slept :p

The next day was an interesting talk on culture shock and some other stuff. There was a big ceremony opening the whole Tokyo Orientation thingy and then some workshops which i then skipped cos another Saffer and I decided to go to Akihabara agian.. he needed a laptop and i wanted to see more stuff. I got my first hentai manga YAY ME! but yeah other than that it was ok....my feet started to hurt.. thats why i shouldn't have bught cheap ass smart shoes. damn it was sore.

We got back in time for the big welcome reception. it was pretty awesome.. another ceremonial toast (they are big on ceremony here) and the new Gunma JETS went out with some of the current JETs... we hit an Izakaya (bar) and then went to karaoke for a bit. that was rather epic. And such a good selection of songs... i mean pennywise and NOFX guy!! that was rather epic.

I hit a konbini for anothr beer and alkie chow and head back to te hotel. I didn't sleep long when Decklan woke my ass up and drragged me to th roof.. there were a bunch of dudes sitting drinking cheap Jap whiskey talking crap, so i felt right at home.... THE VIEW WAS AMAZING!!!!!! we stayed there till sunrise and watched tokyo slowly awaken. It was a very awesome and somewhat humbling experience seing such a huge city come to life.

The next day i was a good boy and did workshops till about 3. I then went to Harajuku to get some easly removable Jewelry. I cannot describe the place really. EVEN MORE hot women wearing very littlie but after 2 days in shinjuku sexy kogals everywhere become the norm... your eyes get tired looking at all the lookers -___-. I liked harajuku there was alot to see and do (and buy if i had the money.. yes i'm going back) I first went down Omotesando for a bit.. it was as larney as it gets hey! High fashion botiques and cafes very shiny people doing what shiny people do. I then said buger that and trekked to Takeshita Dori and found what I was looking for. Imagine melville during thr mardi gras and imagine that that happened every day :P there alot of gaijin there and its very dingy and cool. lots of rockers and hippies and stuff. all doing the fashion thing perfectly... Me in my business look was kinda out of place. I found my Jewellry at a silver jewelry store owned by an israeli dude. I then found the only piercing place in Harajuku and got the details of the piercer (for when i need a new one :p) found a nice little hole in the wall store that sells Visual Kei CDs realtively cheap. right next to 2 stores owned by a Nigerian and Kenyan. Its funny how africans from wherever automatically become friends when outside of africa :p

I then took a long walk back to the eki (train station) and got back to the hotel in time to go to the embassy dinner. Yup thats right the SA embassy made a point of welcoming the new JETs. The ambassador was nice and cool to chat to as was most of the staff but there were a few things that just pissed me off. The tourism dude kinda wanted us to SELL SA to everyne which is cool and the packs he gave us will be awesome for our introductions but really. The way he did it wasn't cool.

Then the economics guy tried to get us to Join the chamber of commerce... for MONEY!!!!! i mean really trying to get jets who just got here to part with 5000 yen s a bit absurd. I was embarrased cos there were a number of non saffers with us. The food was a bit iffy too. By that stage my feet were killing me and i had had enough with the embassy so a few of us took the metro back to shinjuku where i bought a bag of ICE and put it on my feet for abit.

the rest of the night was a chill. there were drinks at the sky bar and then i just went to bed. The next day was a long ass trip to gunma.. and i wanted to not be a zombie when we met our Supervisors :p


Is this thing on?


i have decided to join the billions of bloggers because its too much effort to explain things to everyone individually.

so yeah if you wanna know what my life is like over here then watch this space.