My first two weeks in Japan

My first week in Japan was spent entirely in Hamamatsu completing my training, which was a mix of being taught how to teach English and going over paperwork and procedure. But when not in training, us trainees (mostly Americans, but there were also people from Canada, New Zealand, England, and Scotland) were left to our devices in Hamamatsu.

A house and apartment building in Hamamatsu

Hamamatsu is a nice, medium sized city.  Probably what's most interesting/surprising is its Brazilian population.

Brazilian sign

Now, Japan as a whole has a pretty decent Brazilian community, but Hamamatsu itself has a fairly large one (It's by far their largest ex-pat group.  The same also goes for Fuji City, apparently there are close to 2,000 Brazilian that live in the city, while there are barely even 50 Americans.).  I ate at a great Brazilian restaurant a couple of times called Servitu.  It's probably the last time I'll be able to get some decent rice and black beans.

At night we had a great time exploring and singing Karaoke.

After my week of training was up.  It was off to Fuji City.

The Shinkansen

I've been kept extremely busy my first week in Fuji. Getting registered with the local government office, obtaining an insurance card, getting a cell phone, figuring out how to do laundry in a tiny washing machine, figuring out how to line dry my clothes, setting up a bank account, meeting the board of education, writing a lesson plan for my first day of classes, and riding my new bike all over the place.

So now, I'm all settled and ready to start work.  I'm going to be working at 2 elementary schools and 1 junior high school, spending the vast majority of my time at the junior high.  A member of the board of education and the teacher that I'll be working under both stressed to me that the junior high has a lot of problem children.  So that will makes things more interesting come Tuesday.

Making my way to Japan

So it's time for a more in depth update.  Let's start from the beginning. My year in Japan started off interesting before I even got there.  Roughly 45 minutes after my flight took off from Miami towards Chicago, the captain announced that we were turning around and heading back to Miami due to a medical emergency with one of the passengers.  I later found out that the emergency was that some guy's appendix burst.

Not surprisingly, us turning around back to Miami caused me to miss my connecting flight from Chicago to Tokyo, which was just great since there were no similar flights that I knew of leaving that day.  After we unloaded the poor appendix man, we headed off again to Chicago, roughly 3 hours after our scheduled departure.  Somehow, an airline miracle happened, while I was in the air, American Airlines staff had placed me on a flight to Tokyo that hadn't left yet because it had been delayed 4 hours.  So, by the time I landed I had a new ticket and was ready to go, as if nothing had happened. I felt like I had won the lottery.

The rest of the trip went flawlessly.  I arrived in Tokyo wonderfully, had no problems with customs and all of my luggage arrived safe and sound.  From there I headed to Tokyo Station where I caught the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Hamamatsu, where I began my training.

Tokyo form Shinkansen

Unfortunately, this is all I've seen of Tokyo (well, this and the inside of the airport and train station).  I've been really busy with training and getting setup to live, but I plan on giving it a proper visit as soon as I possibly can.

More on how busy I've been in my next blog post.

And now I've moved in!

I got into Fuji City about 3 days ago and I've been running around ever since.  Getting bed and kitchen items, registering with the city office, signing up for national health insurance (required by law to have), paid the utility deposit, and more! Right now I'm finally getting around to unpacking, after that I'll do a proper post about what I've been up to.  But until then, here's a photo of my front door and the view from my back door.

My front door

The view from my back door

I have arrived!

Welcome to Japan Sign I have arrived safe and sound! I'm going to be training for the next few days (until the end of the week I believe) in a city called Hamamatsu.  After which I'll be making the move into my apartment in Fuji.

So, because of the training I'm going to be a bit too busy to fully update the blog, so it'll have to wait until next week.

Until then.

Welcome and hello

Hello! Welcome to my blog.  The idea here is to have a place for my family and friends to see what I'm up to on the other side of the planet. For anyone that doesn't know me, my name is Jonathan Kramer, I was born and raised in Miami, Florida and in 2009 I graduated from Florida State University with a B.S. in Information Technology.  During the long, defeating process of searching for a job after graduating, I applied for an English teaching job in Japan with a company called Interac on a whim.  One thing led to another, and come April I'll be an Assistant Language Teacher to elementary and junior high school students in Fuji City, Japan for a year.

Fuji City's location in Japan

I don't really know a whole lot about Fuji City, but this is what I do know.

- It's located at the base of Mt. Fuji. - Has a population of roughly 250,000, almost 100,000 more than Tallahassee, Florida. - A two and a half hour train ride to Tokyo. - Primarily a paper manufacturing and Tangerine farming town.

A view of Fuji City

So, to wrap things up, here are answers to some questions I get all the time about this move.

Why are you doing this? Why not?  I love traveling and for some reason I really want to visit Japan.

Do you speak Japanese? Nope

How are you going to teach than? Well, I'm an assistant to an actual fully-fledged English teacher who will be fluent in both languages.

Have you ever been there before? I had a 3 hour layover in Tokyo-Narita on my way to Thailand, does that count?

Do you know anyone else living in Japan or doing the same thing you are? No, not really.

Are you excited? Of course!

If have any questions for me, you can send an e-mail to