Okay, that’s not true. But it’s been fun.

I got here Saturday, and that took most of the day. Then I had Sunday free, because basically everything I needed to do was closed. But I walked around, and met a Buddhist priest and his wife who showed me around the temple that they LIVE IN, which, of course, is about 200 years old as a physical building and the Buddha itself is like, 720 years old. (Again, with the things that are older than my whole country, kind of freaky.) They were very nice people, despite our basic lack of shared language, and were excited to find out I’d be one of the new assistant teachers. They gave me a pretty paper bag with some packaged sweet pastry things in it – probably, these are the Japanese equivalent of Twinkies, and when they realized they had a guest were like “SHIT, what can we give her? Oh, here, pass this off as some sort of Japanese delicacy, she’ll never know” and you know what? Japanese Twinkie or not, I don’t care. The people were awesome.

Then I went for dinner (yakitori – basically, meat on sticks, usually chicken, but we did accidentally order something that turned out to be PIG HEART. I didn’t know that while I was eating it, but it wasn’t bad. It was a little tough, but otherwise tasty.) with one of the people from training, the two ALTs that were here (one is leaving, one is staying) and two people from JET.

I might get some stuff off them, when they leave Japan later this year. It’s a couple months from now, but the guy is already thinking about unloading his kerosene heater – apparently, Imizu is damn cold in the winter, and I will need a kerosene heater. Given that the weather is not much different from Illinois in March, well, I imagine I will. My heat has been perfectly sufficient for March, but … well. We’ll see how it stands up to winter.

Then on Monday, I went with my Friendly Japanese Housewife to get my Alien Registration Card. (I’m an alien! \o/ )

This didn’t go so well, because technically, I live in Takaoka, and we went to the Shinminato town hall.

Okay, explanation: Imizu was smushed together from about five cities in 2006, so there really isn’t an Imizu town hall. My schools are in Shinminato, and I live in the random peninsula of Takaoka that extends into the center of Shinminato for reasons of zoning that I don’t understand.

Anyway, it meant things got delayed, as far as setting up a Post Office bank account, renting a car, and buying a cell phone were concerned. Because I can’t do that until I have my Gaijin card, or proof that I have been to the town hall and am waiting for my Gaijin card to be ready.

After I got my proof-of-Gaijin-registration, my FJH(TM) (coming soon to stores near you!) drove us to the Education Center where we met up with several other Japanese people and sped around town in a van to visit all my schools and meet all my fellow teachers. I, of course, know nobody’s name. (Except for the FJH.) Everybody seems to think I’m awesome, that I seem smart and that merely by hearing me pronounce “Hajimemashite” and “Doozo yoroshiku onegaishimas” that my Japanese is “excellent.” This is an intimidating development – maybe I looked like I understood anything they were saying at all while they spoke in Japanese and I tried to nod at all the crucial moments.

After going to all my schools, I was dropped off at home just in time to change clothing and head off to a Japanese lesson. One of the other ALTs – the one who’s staying – has lessons at the YMCA every week for 500Y a session. This is approximately $5 – in other words, a Good Deal. (There was one other girl there for the lesson, who spends an additional 2000Y a session on a private tutor, though she doesn’t seem to be getting that far.) At the moment, I’ve basically forgotten all of my vocabulary, so even though they’re not really working even in the katakana or hiragana, both of which I have memorized, on everything else we’re about level. Except that I usually follow my question of “ah, sumimasen, between wa nan des ka?” (excuse me, what is ‘between’?) with a request for how to write it in kanji, and they’re … not exactly there. I’m definitely going to keep going, though – but, as I get better, and study, I might end up switching the day I have lessons and trying for a more advanced class. Alternately, I might even go for a more dedicated private tutor, but I’d rather not pay 2000Y, even if it is for an hour and a half. (Maybe I’m undervaluing language lessons. Maybe they really do cost that much. I will be sad, however, if this is true.) Anyway, I know from extensive experience that the most intense, expensive teacher in the world can’t help me if I don’t study, and if I DO study hard, well… do I really need the most intense, expensive teacher? Probably not.

Language tutoring dilemmas aside, today I set up a bank account, and was going to get a cell phone. But again, all this was happening with the assistance of my FJH, and … Well. Either the woman at the cell phone store didn’t know what she was talking about, or couldn’t explain it, or FJH didn’t understand, or FJH mistranslated. Cell phone contracts are hard enough to understand in the States, where we share a common tongue – it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that any combination of the above were true, and frankly, I don’t hold it against FJH at all if she didn’t understand or simply mistranslated. I’m finding it a little intimidating to listen to the Japanese – they all talk so quickly, and they tack what might be sort of nonsense syllables on the end of their sentences sometimes – “ne,” sort of uplifted at the end, shows up inordinately frequently, and I have the feeling it might be sort of like the stereotypical Canadian “eh?” but it makes it difficult for a non-native to understand at all. So we left without signing anything, I sent off an email to the other ALT I went through training with, and tomorrow (again!) I’m going with FJH to a different store – the one the other Imizu ALT went to – and hopefully we’ll have no more problems.

Okay, the end. Except I need to buy some ginger tomorrow, I think. No, really, The End.

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