I went to my first ever swim meet today! It was at a university about 30 minutes away, in Hachioji. Much of Hachioji is, like Fussa and Higashiakiru, newly built. It seems like much of the Tama area is actually very new. This is the type of area that has a lot of old family homes, where generations upon generations have lived. My JTE was telling me that his great grandfather grew up in his current house, and his children will likely keep the house as well. There are a number of families here that are like that, but there is also a great deal of new development. Many new homes and stores were built about 20 years ago, and many of the fields have become residential units. It’s an interesting mix – on one hand, there are many people who are moving into Tama who have never been before, but there are also many people who have been here for years.
But I digress. Every other day I’ve been in this country, I have been sweating balls and slowly melting into a gross mess. So naturally, the day that we go to an outdoor swimming pool for a swimming meet that would have spectators sitting outside for roughly six to seven hours would be the first cold and rainy day since I’ve arrived. Luckily, though I dressed for the heat up top (aka a tank top and a light, thin top), I had decided to wear my regular black jeans in an attempt to look more business-casual than casual. I was almost ok, until the wind and rain picked up in the last two hours of the meet.
It was nonetheless fun though! I’m not strictly supposed to put pictures online (and it feels weird anyways) but I did want to share just a little, so I blurred the hell out of the picture that would most likely be a problem! These are pictures of the campus we were on, and a small sliver of the pool. The competition was the San-Tama Suiei Shiai
(which I may have made up), essentially meaning that schools from the three Tamas (North, West, and South) were present. It’s hard to tell who ‘wins’ at a swimming meet like that, since there were maybe over 200 swimmers and only 8 lanes at a time. But in any case, one of the boys from Fussa High School came in second in his block – this was also the team captain, a second year student at the school.
I really like the club life in Japan – there’s an amazing thing about the level of dedication, and how much of the student’s lives are based on their clubs. I think I just really like ‘nakama’ power, which doesn’t translate well in English but is essentially a really strong spirit of teamwork and team-ness. I think that’s one aspect of Japanese schools that I wish I myself had been able to experience.
I will eventually find a high enough vantage point to take this picture!
On days when its rainy, the sky lights up a startling pink/red right as the sun sets. At another angle, it outlines the Okutama mountains.
That’s it for now, folks. I’m going to cheer on the school’s Swimming team at the inter-school competition tomorrow! Gotta meet at the station at 6:00 AM, so I gotta sleep or I’ll be late!
I wish I had more guts and was less self-conscious sometimes though - it’d make this meeting people and making friends a lot easier! Or maybe it wouldn’t, I guess I wouldn’t really know at this point! I love watching the teachers interact with their students. It’s really interesting to watch, how much the students like messing around with the teachers. I remember being one of those students, and I hope, at some point, the students will be comfortable enough around me to mess around too
This cutie gave me the most suspicious stare when I walked by, taking pictures of the Tama River. Last time I saw a stray cat, it looked vaguely sick. I hope I get to pet cats again soon!
More importantly: The cashier at the seven eleven on my corner is apparently a student at my school. In itself, this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s actually almost cute, like seeing a cute little student at the conbini at his part time job working hard. Except it’s nothing like that, and instead of it being cute, it’s horrifying because he totally knows all of my awful eating habits. He undoubtedly knows that I’ve been buying pre-made meals from the seven eleven every other day or so (often more).
Conbini food is just too conbini…
So the real question is: How am I supposed to be an authoritative figure when the students know that all I do is eat conbini food?!
My JTEs are the sweetest things.
Read more under the line about this. It ended up being kind of long, but really, for any future Fussa High School JETs, this is a wonderful placement. It really is.
In other news: I am officially the baby of the office. My main chick JTE literally said to me to think of her as my “other mom”. The next person in age is 24, which doesn’t seem that far except for the fact that she definitely has her life together in a way I can only dream I one day will. How I went from ‘fellow teacher’ to ‘baby’ I don’t even know. Is it my face? Do I perpetually look like I’m lost and need help (because it’s not untrue but wow I thought I was better at the blank emotionless stare)!
Today, I had an old man come to my door to ask if I would be interested in the newspaper. I am, though I probably can’t read too much unless I really try (aka denshi jisho literally everything). But I wouldn’t be opposed.
So when I finally opened the door, I was ready to explain that my Japanese isn’t the sharpest, but I’d definitely be in interested.
Instead, the first thing that he asked me was “Where is your mom?”
I don’t ACTUALLY look that young, right?!?!? Right?!?!?!
Received my washing machine finally! I’m super excited to be able to finally be able to clean my clothing. It was seriously getting dangerous – I had maybe one shirt left and had already taken to handwashing socks and other things (aka underwear. Yes). For future JETs: I highly recommend packing more summer clothing, and dealing with winter clothing as it comes à a good half of my clothing is dedicated to layering, which I like to do with tank tops, which means that I have a lot of clothing I can’t wear to work.
If I could do it again, I would just…probably do the same thing again and suffer. But isn’t it “do as I say not as I do”?
In any case, this is the first time I’ve had to hang dry all of my clothing! For the record: I failed. Everything is still moist. This was also the first time I tried to air out my futon! That, I guess succeeded. I had to wipe down everything on my veranda because it had all collected dust (the towel was black. Black!! /screams) and there was no way I was beating my brand new fluffy white futon over a gross, spiderweb infested, dusty handrail.
I can’t tell you how exciting it was to get my washer, I really can’t. There is nothing on my mind other than cleaning. Everything. Everything possible.
On a different note: I went for a walk while my clothes was drying and found the local drug store. I was able to pick up clean care for my contacts, but more importantly: I bought mushi-koroshi. Mushi koroshi works like rock salt, except it keeps out gross leggy bugs that want to eat you instead of ancient spirits and ghosts and things that want to kill you. It’s a powder you put around your house to keep mukade and everything awful under the sun from getting closer than you want.
I’m lucky it was just 500 yen. I will be investing a good portion of my paycheck in this every month. I can’t handle bugs, after all. If I find a mukade anywhere in or near my dwellings, I draw the line and will just start packing.
I took the bus to work for the first time today. I had, as one might expect, completely neglected to check the actual location of my stop in relation to the school I was working at and therefore spent about 7:26 to 7:50 this morning wandering around the bus stop area trying to find the school.
A rule in Japan that has been imparted (multiple times) upon me: Late is bad, on-time is late, and early is on-time. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to be in until 8:30, which meant that by the time I finally regained my bearings, I was still early.
The first picture is what I would call “日本ポイ”, or Japanese-ish. It is exactly what I would have imagined would be on my walk to school. While lost, I spent some time wandering around enjoying the atmosphere of my area. Next time, I will bring my camera along, as it seems there will be many a day where I show up an hour early to work! There are two options for me, bus wise: 7:22 and 8:09, and if I take the 8:09, I might be on-time-which-is-actually-late.
The next two are shots from the bridge over Tama River. In the opposite direction, you can see a number of mountains and homes. I’ll post more pictures next time, when the weather doesn’t make me feel like I’m forever teetering on the brink of heatstroke and I’ve gotten around to wandering more. Though my area isn’t even on the map for tourism, there’s much to see!
(Even more exciting is that I took all of these with my newly bought cell phone! :D)
This is a picture of one of the creeks (rivers?) I walk by on the way to work. Once upon a time, it was used as a main source of clean water, but these days it’s mostly visited by families taking their kids fishing and has mostly fallen out of use. This area is full of little rivers and creeks like this, and my apartment in particular is sandwiched between two big Tama area rivers: Akigawa (Aki River) and Tama River.
To the west, you can see the Okutama Mountains. On a particularly good, clear day, I’m told that if you go up to the rooftop of the swimming building, and look in the right direction, you can see Mt. Fuji from Fussa High School. On a rainy day, you can see the haze rise up to envelope the mountains. This area is truly a beautiful area.
On my walk to work, I also pass by two jinja, or Shinto Shrines. Both are small, subtler things than the one you might visit when touring Japan. There is something breathtaking, I think, about the aesthetics in this country. Though the two jinja are minor they are nonetheless impressive and a sight to behold.
There is one main downside I can think of off the top ofmy head right now. There is nothing that has ever made me feel more like I was walking down a street in a horror movie than walking home along the road with one flickering lamp light every couple blocks to get back from my train station at 8PM in Japan. I haven’t really gotten that feeling much so far, but it’s on those walks that I can begin to see why there are so many ghosts and yuurei (spirits) associated with this country.
I’m very lucky I never started reading creepypasta or I would have called this country quits a long time ago.
I have officially found the perfect location to shoot the late-to-school-bread-in-mouth-running-high-school-girl scene. I even have a gate you can jump if you really wanted to try. It’s summer right now, and the gate is all black, so it hurts to touch, but by all means, burn away your epidermis.
I had some serious thoughts last night about the concept of teaching English in Japan. If you’re curious, read on. Otherwise: TL;DR - Colonialism sucks, but teaching English today is (hopefully) for different reasons. Note that these are my thoughts and opinions, so no claims are being made outside of the fact that I claim these are my opinions.