This destination has no photos. Upload the first!
Written by Jeshika on 18 Nov, 2003
At the hotel:
Yokoso! This is how the hotel staff and the JET staff have made us feel since we arrived in Tokyo. I am still amazed by the Japanese efficiency. When we arrived at the hotel around 8.30, there were 4 bellhops,…Read More
At the hotel:
Yokoso! This is how the hotel staff and the JET staff have made us feel since we arrived in Tokyo. I am still amazed by the Japanese efficiency. When we arrived at the hotel around 8.30, there were 4 bellhops, complete with top hats and tux outfits, there to unload our baggage onto big carts. We were then whisked into the hotel by more tux-clad Japanese, where we were pointed to big escalators. These took us to the 4th floor, where more bowing tux-clad Japanese hotel workers pointed the way to a big ballroom. There, JET people gave us our all-important name tags, 15 more pounds of information pertaining to JET and teaching (the Americans got 20 pounds, as the US Interior Department sent over these really cool books on US history, economy, geography and a map to give to the Americans), and then we received our keys. What they did was put our room numbers on the back of the name tags, so all they had to do was read the number and give us a key. There were 4 people doing this. So the hotel staff checked a busload of JETs in, and gave us our baggage, in approximately 10 minutes. I’m not sure, but I think they’ve done this before.
Truthfully, I’m hoping that since we fly to our prefecture, I will be allowed to check two bags and carry on a bag plus my laptop, because I had the intelligence to bring a backpack for "anything I might need it for", and it is already half full of JET literature. All of it necessary, too. So then I can check my one suitcase (the other one is already being shipped for me, I was only allowed to bring one suitcase due to space constrictions) and my carry-on bag, and carry a backpack and a laptop case. If not, I may try to squeeze my laptop case into my suitcase or into the backpack and use it as a carry-on. I will find out more about that later at our Orientation meeting.
There are 1,531 new JETs at this conference. So imagine 1,531 people around my age all clad in business attire riding the escalator between two floors, where orientation sessions are being held. It’s a little overwhelming. We had a big formal welcoming ceremony, where a representative from the Ministry of Public informed us that every Japanese person speaks "standard broken English" and that "if we like North Korea, just say so because we’re all JETs and can do that". I have attended workshops on lesson planning, traveling in Japan, and pop culture. The Japanese are really into David Beckham (football player for Manchester United, in England) and Britney Spears (ew). They are also into gadgets, especially ones that are electronic.
Now that it is Day #2, and 6.20 in the morning—believe it or not, there are JETs wandering around already and speaking to one another in amazingly pleasant, soothing tones for the early time—I have even more to look forward to. The ALTs (that’s me) get to watch a team-teaching demonstration this morning, and then this afternoon it’s more workshops put on by CLAIR—stuff like driving in Japan, life for female JETs, life for rural JETs, etc.—and our prefecture meeting. Tonight we get a Prefecture night out, so I am going out with fellow Oitans. There are about 15-20 of us. I still think I have the coolest placement, though.
This hotel is awesome! There are two towers—main and south—and the main tower has 47 floors. I went up and got pictures of Tokyo from the day and also at night using my digital camera. When I have time, I will upload them to my online photo album. Our room—they separated us by prefecture, so I am with two Oitain—is on the 24th floor, and also has a great view.
Tokyo isn’t a huge shock to me, like everyone thought it would be. I think it’s because I’ve been exposed to cars being on the "wrong side of the road" in England before, and the cars here are a cross between European style and American style. That is, they’re square like European cars but big like American cars. Or that’s here in Tokyo, anyway. Tokyo is slightly bigger than Missoula or Billings—I tell people here that the tallest building in Montana is a whopping 27 stories (the I tower in Billings) and not everyone believes me. 47 stories is pretty high, though. The buildings in Tokyo aren’t really tall, and I think that’s because of earthquake safety. However, if Tokyo were to have a major earthquake, I can’t picture the devastation. You know how we make a big deal about a double-decker bridge in Oakland or anywhere else? Well, here, the expressways are stacked 4 high in some places. I counted that at one point. Our expressway was the highest up from the airport, and for the most part some through the city were only 2, 3, tall. But then I found at one point there were 3 expressways all crisscrossing underneath us. We were pretty high off the ground, too. The lights are all pretty, and it seems that everyone has a neon sign on their business. I am in Shinjuku, a business district, and it’s quite safe here really. However, I saw business men in suit and tie walking at 11.00 at night. That was a bit unsettling, as the businessmen have long hours here. The Japanese are diligent workers, but they also have differing work hours. I’d guess that perhaps it’s because of trade with the Western world. It’s a 15 hour time difference between Montana and Japan, to give you an idea of where I am. So, as I write this now, it’s 3.30 pm in Montana.
I am very excited about being here, and I join 1,530 other people eager and open to the challenges that JET will provide. However, at this time, I am going to go eat breakfast. The meals have definitely been better than Harlaxton’s, and the corn flakes are real. However, the Japanese like to eat lettuce salad for breakfast. You can have lettuce and corn with your salad, and there is ranch dressing or special Japanese dressing. It wasn’t too bad. We also had bacon and eggs, ham, fruit (I think fruit is a huge thing here in spite of the cost), corn flakes, and some other Japanese stuff. The buffet tables span across the entire ball room, and there are usually 4 at a time. They put out quite a spread. We had a banquet last night, complete with all kinds of food and drinks. We did our Kampai (the official cheers, you don’t eat or drink until then) and then ate. It was a lot of fun.
I hope this finds you all in good health, and I look forward to hearing from you. It hasn’t been too hot or humid here thus far, but I saw a weather report and it’s supposed to be around 31 degrees Celsius in Kyushu. It’s been around 21-25 here. So if the humidity is as high as the temperature in Kyushu, I think we’re in for a real treat when we step off the plane in Oita prefecture.