Golden Week in Tokyo

The first three weekdays of May in Japan are National Holidays (Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day and Children's Day), referred to as "Golden Week."  So with this time off from work I took my first trip to Tokyo.  I tried something new during this trip, I took a lot of video with my camera and edited together, figuring a lot of what I'll see will look better in motion.  So here's the final result. http://vimeo.com/11572537

Ginza

Yoyogi Park Greasers

Click here to check out all my Tokyo photos.

Tokyo was great fun, I met up with quite friends that happened to also be in town for Golden Week and made some new friends as well.  Tokyo is definitely a massive city, covering 844.4 square miles, nearly twice that of New York City which stands at 468.9.  And just like New York, there is a huge amount of diversity in the city.

I spent 3 full days in Tokyo, and that was barely enough time to scratch the surface.  Next time I visit I'm hoping to at the very least see a sumo bout and a baseball game.

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.