Saturday, September 25, 2004

It was a good week :)

This past Tuesday, I went and took both the written and the driving test to get a Japanese Drivers License. I passed on my first try, which I've heard is somewhat rare for us gaijin (foreigners). In fact, my group of five test takers included one other American (a fellow JET named Matt), two Brazilians, and one Chinese woman. All of them were on at least their second attempt and two were on their 4th attempt.

The written test, which was 10 true/false questions, was in English and, despite some dodgy grammar, was easy. It's the driving test that gives everyone a tough time. For me, it was remembering to drive on the left side of the street, and I kept turning on the wipers instead of the turn signal, cuz they're reversed on Japanese cars. There are two tough sections, a crank turn which consists of 2 90-degree turns in quick sucession and an S-curve turn that is pretty tight. An American driving test is point-based, so if you fail to look in your mirror once or don't stop right on the line, then you just get points off but can still pass. Here, it's an all-or-nothing test and completely at the whim of the test giver. But I passed, as did Matt and one of the Brazilians. So after a picture and an eye test I paid about $50 and emerged after a total of 3 hours with a Japanese license. Woo-hoo!

This allowed me to finally get my scooter (gentsuki). I had to pay about $600 total after we added in a helmet (which is the biggest they had for my huge melon), a lock, insurance and tax. So now I am a scootering fool. Running over to the grocery store now takes only five minutes and getting to school is a breeze. I can even drive over to the nearest big city (Izumo) in about 15 minutes. I used to have to take a bus that only ran every 30 minutes and cost $5 each way. So the scooter is a godsend. I'm not getting anywhere in a huge hurry, since the posted speed limit for scooters of my engine size (50cc) is 30kmh, but it's way faster and easier than my jitenshya (bike). Ironically, the basket on the front of the scooter is about the same size as the one on my bike so I can't really haul that much more stuff or groceries around, but other than that it's way better.

It's finally turned cooler here, so I'll have to get some gloves for riding the scooter. But it's a welcome respite from all the humidity and heat. Maybe my next electricity bill won't be so high since I can run my air con less now.

The other awesome thing that happened this week was that Wednesday night, my supervisor and another Japanese co-worker (Tagano-san) came over to my aparto after work and helped me install my new modem and get set up on the internet. So I'm typing this from my laptop at home and it feels great. I hope to update regularly now. And if all goes well I should be getting a digital camera next month after payday. I have my eye on the Casio Z40. So I should be able to add pics to the site. Sweet!

Anyway, tons more to post about - school and life in general - but I'll save those topics for my next few posts. Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Tuesday, September 20th

That is the day my internet access is activated and I can re-join the information superhighway from the relative comfort of my own little aparto.

I got the modem in the mail and I contacted my ISP and I should be good to go on the 20th. Of course all the instructions and manuals are in Japanese, so I'm not guaranteeing that I'll be able to install everything by myself, but I'm hoping the ultra user-friendly MAC laptop I have will help me out and everything will go smoothly.

My life has turned around 180 degrees and I'm now super-busy every week day and even some weekends with school activities. Yesterday I got to school at 8am, taught 4 classes, helped students prepare for an English speech contest after school and then went to night time Kendo practice. I staggered home on my jitenshya (bike) at 9pm and fell asleep without eating dinner.

I hope to get my scooter today, which will be so cool. I go for my Japanese license next week, but my supervisor will be on holiday, so he's letting me buy it today. Woo-Hoo!

Hope all is well where you are.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Still no access at home :(

Hello All,

Thank you to everyone who has been reading my posts.

I haven't been able to update in a while, so I'm sorry. Basically I'm now situated at my base school - Taisha Jr. High - where I hang out in the teacher's room everyday until I have classes. They only have one internet computer in the teacher's room that about 20 teachers share, so my access is limited for now.

I finally got my supervisor to arrange for me to get internet access at home - I should receive the modem, etc this week and hopefully be up and running from my little apartment by next weekend. Then I should be able to update this site regularly.

Still trying to get a scooter, which will be my next larger purchase, so a digital camera will have to wait until at least the middle of October.

Despite typhoon conditions and a double earthquake, I'm doing fine and settling in OK. I'm craving some good Mexican food and a night out at the movies, but other than some small distractions, I'm making the most of my time here and enjoying everyday.

Hope all is well where you are.