Meet the new folks!

After a weekend in Tokyo I hopped on to the Shinkansen and headed off to Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka for a week of training with Interac. I was really looking forward to meeting others who I would be working alongside. Oh, and speaking again. Because I realized shortly after arriving at training that my weekend in Tokyo was probably one of the quietest in my life. Besides facetime with my parents I am pretty sure I didn’t say much at all besides some very, very broken Japanese that was accompanied by much pointing. But hey, it’s not every day that you realize just how well you can get along in a country where you don’t really speak the language.

Training lasted for four days and kept us pretty busy from around 9 until 6 almost every evening. We had a pretty fun group though and many adventures ensued outside of training time. There were 6 of us newbies heading to Otsu city and we had a great vibe going on the whole week of training.

Capping off the training week was an awesome night out for ramen and karaoke. It was my first karaoke in Japan and man was it a total blast. Not only was I over the moon about all of the songs that they had (all of the songs that they don’t have back home) but we also had our room invaded by some very friendly and very drunk Japanese business men. Apparently this doesn’t actually happen often but we had a blast getting to know them. And it proves that you really don’t need to speak each others languages to get along in the end. Oh, and I totally wowed them with my Japanese singing skills for the like 3 songs that I know.

On the weekend we had a bit of time off before leaving since most people were heading out on Sunday morning. I was one of the lucky few that was leaving on Monday. Anyways, we had to be up really early on Saturday for a chest x-ray but after that we were free. In the afternoon, me and some of the other girls headed out to Hamamatsu castle to check out the sites. It was a really pretty day and there was even a branch or two of cherry blossoms that had bloomed early.

On Sunday everyone took off in the morning and there was a small crew of about 8 of us left. A few of us decided we wanted to check out the beach and so we hopped on the train for a bit of exploring. The stop we were directed to was actually pretty far from the beach and we had to go on a bit of a detour because of a bicycle race or something that was going on.

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We found the back eventually though and it was cool, even though it was a bit of a grey and gloomy day. We even stumbled upon this cool seafood market of some kind where they grilled fresh oysters right in front of you. That was actually a pretty cool experience and I tried my first oyster. It wasn’t too bad.

That was it for the Hamamatsu adventures though and the next day it was back on a Shinkansen towards my new home in Otsu!

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Leaving on a jet plane.

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Written early morning Saturday March 19th:

Hello from Japan everyone! After what amounted to a very, very long day I have arrived safely in Japan. I’m still not completely sure how real all of this is yet. It does feel like I’m here though! Even now the humidity is such a drastic change from dry, dry Calgary. It’s a bit of a rainy and grey day here too which I’m sure doesn’t help.

Anyways, on to the details of my arrival in Japan. I had a whirlwind day of packing up my apartment in Canada and getting my suitcases packed (thanks Mom!). I’ll probably do a longer post later on what I brought but needless to say it was a lot. Two large 50lb checked bags, a probably 25lb rolling suitcase and a laptop bag that was absolutely stuffed with way too many electronics, was what was coming with me.

My flight from Calgary left at around 7:30 in the morning so I had a very early morning. Everything went smoothly though, even though Canada decided to send me a little snow before I left. The flight to San Francisco wasn’t too bad. The seats were terrible but other than that it was okay. I played some games and the time literally flew by.

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My plane to Japan was a large 747 and it was quite nice. I had a decent window seat which made me happy. I don’t think the two guys I was sitting by liked me much when I had to go to the bathroom though. Two times on a 9ish hour flight is acceptable, I don’t know how they seemed to have bladders of steel. The movie selection was okay, watched the new Star Wars again and then the Attack on Titan live action movie. Otherwise I played some games, coloured and got not a wink of sleep.

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We landed about half an hour early in Japan which was nice. The customs line took about as long to get through. It was super easy once you made it up there though. They just look at your forms (if you are coming for work and all), make your residence card (again if you are working here), and send you on through. My bags were already off and ready by the time I had grabbed a cart and found which carousel I was looking for. They had attendants standing by to pull the bags off of the carousel and have them waiting at the sides which was nice. Customs was super quick to get through as well.

After making it out the doors I had to find my way to the baggage delivery services but there were signs everywhere. So I pushed my way down to them and was promptly handed a form I had no clue how to fill out. After nearly a days worth of travel I was not really up to trying to figure it out on my own and so I asked for help, showed them the address of the training hotel and tried to pay attention as they filled it out. After signing it all away I went up to the counter an paid, it was about 3300 for two large bags.

After sending off my big bags, which get to training a day before I do, I went off to figure out how to get into Tokyo from Narita. Before coming I had looked up several things and the cheapest way to get there. After a long day of flying I had absolutely no energy to try and figure it out, especially at the airport with so much going on. I shelled out some cash for the Skyliner Express train and called it done. This train was just below where I came out and runs every 20 minutes or so. It only makes two stops outside of the airport terminals, Nippori and Ueno. I was getting off at Ueno. The train was fast and I chatted with another girl who had just arrived to visit friends. She got off at Nippori and then, not five minutes later the train was at Ueno. I got off, figured out where to go, after asking questions a couple of times because it was fairly busy.

I managed to find my way to the line I needed and bought myself the right ticket. I even found the right platform and train that I needed to take. I did get a little lost after getting off at my station. Trying to figure out how to get on my hotel’s street. I did figure it out though and made the ten minute walk to my hotel. The check in was really easy and my room is tiny but nice.

I was tired last night and the idea of trying to communicate terrified me slightly and so supper was some gyoza and Sakura Pepsi bought from the convenience store a few doors down. The convenience store in itself was a lot, there was so much stuff for a little store. And my favorite candy is only 99 yen here, I don’t know if this is good or terrible for me.

Anyways, it’s Saturday morning now. I wanted to get this down before I forgot about it because this is going to be a crazy busy few days.

The Waiting Game

No matter who you apply with to go to Japan you will invariably spend a lot of time waiting. For JET the application process is nearly a year long. To avoid this I applied to Interac but I still managed to stick myself with a wait period just as long, the big difference is that I know I have the job whereas in JET you don’t find out for months.

Interac updates have started to roll in finally. At the start of October I received a more official offer of employment and an application for my CoE that I sent off, along with applying for a new passport. And just today I have received several emails from Interac discussing what is happening next. Besides waiting on my CoE (Which won’t be sent for until the end of December at the earliest) the next things I am waiting on are the confirmation of an arrival month and then an offer to work with a specific branch, or rather sub company. According to the email Interac is restructuring into 6 regional companies starting in the spring. I don’t think this really changes much but it does give a slight idea of where you will be going a little sooner, a general group of prefectures at least.

Seeing these emails certainly gets me excited though. Japan is creeping up pretty fast!