Monday, July 31, 2006

Went to Toyota city to see fireworks!

During my first week of training, I told all of my students to let me know of cool things to do while in Nagoya if ANYTHING ever came up, festival-wise or other. So the second week, Megumi, one of my Talking Point 1 (first part of 2, of the highest level book) students brought in a book with a ton of Summer firework shows. Some had 2,000 fireworks and were weeks away and over an hour away, some less and 3 hours away, but one caught my eye...

Toyota (Home of Toyota cars and Denso) city, about 30 minutes away, had 15,000 fireworks... Yeah I know where I was going. So between Megumi and my manager I had some directions scribbled down from a nearby train station.

During the week I made plans with Atsushi to go to HRC for lunch. We decided to meet at Nana chan (she is the big giant doll you see in pics, and they change her clothes at some interval, not sure yet) and she is now in her summer clothing, a bikini and an inflatable intertube. After we met up we headed to HRC, where we both had Hypnotiq Tea (which are damn good, and strong...) and got some potato skins (which I miss my mom making) and fajitas (like I had the first time at HRC). After lunch I wanted to head to Toyota early to get good seats, so I asked if Atushi could show me how to get there from where we were, using the directions I got earlier in the week. He felt sorry for my poor baka gaijin soul with sukoshi nihongo skills he decided to come along with me, so I could at least GET there. Yeah without him I woulda been lost as HELL, but now I could make the trip again and be just fine.

So the trip pretty much consisted of the advice he gave me, follow the girls in the yukata, they are heading to this show, which ended up being true. From Nagoya station to Toyotashi, we followed a group of people with girls in yukata and the last train was honestly the most crowded train I have been on in my life, up to THAT point... When we got off the scope of how big this event hit me. I expected 3,000 people probably, give or take 100 or so, but when I got off the train, I probably saw that many in my viewpoint from the train station! It was a long stroll from the train station to the ticket uhm, the thing that collects your tickets, because of the amount of people that were on that train. Every last one of them were exiting at this stop! We eventually made it out of the station part and into the sea of people heading towards where the show would be.

It was at this point that I saw THE most foreigners I have seen in this night alone, compared to my total time in Japan, inclding my week in Tokyo! There were people from dif parts of the world including America. Lots of foreign guys with Japanese girlfriends, but also a lot of families just in for the festivities. Atsushi and I found a seat on the sidewalk where we stayed and snapped photos for an hour or so. We then decided to try to get closer and we got a much better view of the show, but it was about to end, so I grabbed some beer, him some food, and we decided to head back to the train before the show ended. Wow was the train crowded! Him and I slipped in between people into some invisible space for JUST 2 people to stand. Once we had to change trains, it was much less crowded and the night ended with me making it home safe. Thanks to Atsushi for spending the day with me, making sure I didn't get lost or anything, I definitely would have.

Anyways on to the part you were waiting for! PICTURES! There are a LOT and my camera SUCKS for nighttime pics, but some came out well! Also look for pics of the yamanba/ganguro girls I took! I didn't know this style was all the way in Nagoya, I saw a ton of em in Tokyo though!

Fireworks in Toyotashi

Things Japan is better at over California (I can NOT represent the whole US, hell I can't represent all of California!):

Firework shows
Public Transportation
Politeness at places of business
Japanese language

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tommy had fun tonight...

I am incable of typing anything, so here... Notice my hands being occupied by a familiar bottle. (3250 yen for 2 6 packs of Corona and a screwdriver in a bottle?)

I had fun tonight! This was welcoming party for me and farewell for Rob, the guy going back to America.

Something cool happened yesterday to make me feel good

So I didn't have a last class last night and I was asked to make a poster for myself, because I am a new teacher. After this it was pretty much waiting until after 9 PM so I could go home. Well at 9PM, Miki asked if I was free, because one of her students wanted to talk to me, sure no prob!

Since she is a Japanese teacher, most of her classes are lower level, so if she needs to explain things in Japanese, she can, and her student I think was at our second level, out of 10. I talked to him about hobbies, where he likes to eat, and he asked me several questions too. The best part came at the end when he asked me and the manager if I could be his teacher. Since foreign teachers teach from lvl 3/4 up, I can't at this time. He said he will try to hurry and move up so he can be my student. This was such an awesome feeling! Didn't hurt that his nickname was Tommy...

Earlier in the day I had an older guy, just retired in March, who was the President/General Manager of a metalworks company. He had to manage the Japan, France, England, and several American factories. The guy is pretty damn rich! His classes are interesting. He comes in for 40 minutes (classes are usually 50) and we just talk. So he introduced himseld, and I did myself after. What was funny was that when I told him I was from California, he said "California is NOT America" because the people and life there is so different than other parts of the country! After hearing that we had a good laugh and I told him I can talk to him about California culture next week (Southern Cali at least, he has only been to NorCal). He commented on liking my English, that I had a strong name (Tommy is strong?) and that he looked forward to our future classes.

The other classes in the day went perfect as well. Although my last class with those 2 high school girls I mentioned before, I kind of finished early and had to go back and drill things that I should have only done once, but oh well, they were having fun AND learning! After today, there is a party for me and the outgoing teacher, until 10:30PM. Something interesting is a few students only signed up after meeting me and they tell me that they have signed up. My students are SO awesome! Well have a great weekend guys! Hope my internet survives another day...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

So my internet may be going off soon...

I sent this email out to everyone just now, but lemme paste it here...

Just sending this to everyone in case you don’t hear from me for a while you’ll know why. I am currently using up the last of the old teacher’s time with his account and I think he said the 27th is the last day…Which would be today, so just sending the warning shot.

Last bit of info about me about my plans for the near and not near future, thanks to my coworker Miki I was able to purchase tickets to the Summer Sonic 2006 concert in Osaka on August 13th, where I FINALLY get to see…


I also get to see Metallica, Deftones, Avenged Sevenfold and some other bands from around the world. She also helped me get my shinkansen tickets from Nagoya to Osaka, so I get to do my first shinkansen ride in about 2 weeks. EXCITING. I am going to be going to Tokyo from Osaka to hopefully meet up with Ken and Taka who are near/in Tokyo. That is how I am spending my week off for Obon. YAY OBON!!!

Hope all of you guys stay well during my decline to the dark ages of no internet, but I hope to get my celly (cell phone) next week once I get my ARC, then at LEAST I will have that!

Ok folks, laters!

So yeah. I found out today that some girl I had to interview my first week of work, decided to be a student at Aeon today. Made my staff happy because I made a good enough impression on her to pay to come to the school. That was kinda easy. I thought the sales part of this job (which is hardly mentioned until you get here, but whatevers, the job is still FUN and EASY) would have been harder. So yeah, one new students, my second week of work.

One student remembered I asked the class of cool places to go in Nagoya, plus any fireworks shows, and today she brought me a list of firework places around Nagoya, and one will be in Toyota city, about 30 mins away. This one happens to be pretty damn big too, 15,000 fireworks will go off, and the show is 2 hours long. I will take pics and video, but hope I can have internet to share them soon. This will be THIS Sunday night. So yeah I am being pro active about my life in Japan, and like the last post, I am getting a lot out of it, because I am putting myself out there. I love this job and country so far! Wonder if that tone will change in a few months...

You get out of Japan, what you put into Japan

Now I know it is early to be saying this, as I may still be experiencing the honeymoon stages of this life, but I am loving my job and life outside of it! I hear so many horror stories from people about Japan being this and that and they want to go home soon, or that the Japanese only like you when they know you are going back home soon, but I tend to think these people's attitude is what's driving people away or causing horrible experiences.

Last night I went out for Mexican food and drinks (DELICIOUS enchiladas, HORRIBLE pina colada...) at a place called Desperados in Sakae (this place is right down the street from my job, I could walk there in 15 mins...) with my friend Atsushi. That night I met Atsushi's old coworker Hiro, a friend of his who I can't remember his name, a guy from Torrance, Ca named Steve (a teacher from a rival eikawa school), the owner/bartender Takako (who helped teach me Japanese along with Atsushi, on how to order different drinks, bottles or glasses), and the cook/bartender/bodyguard? RUDY (Atsushi recently told me his right name!). Last night was just one of those moments where you feel like you meet some cool friends and people who all want you to become a part of your group. Everyone wants me to start going there regularly and I just may. If I were to continue this, how could I ever have a day or time of loneliness and self pity, if I have a place like Desperados to meet and talk with cool people? As long as I have the yen I guess...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Went to pick up my inkan, pics of my bike, and more

Just a lil more. Went to Nagoya city proper, to go to Takashimaya to pick up my inkan and exchange the LAST of my dollars. I am officially void of any US money now, all yen!

Well here was what I went to pick up:

So purdyful! That is my name in Katakana (foreign word written Japanese alphabet) pronounced Tomii. I need this to stamp any officialy documents, like bank stuff.

Yesterday I mentioned I bought a bike, but I came home with it too late, so I took pics this morn. So here goes!

Isn't she hot?!?!? I think so, especially the basket and the bell! That is my kasa (umbrella) in there, I think...

And to end the day, I saw my first alien ever!

Ok this thing was the size of my finger! (Well lets say about 4 inches long...) I saw it and first thought to run, but then I went back and though people may enjoy the pic, so I took it.... GROSS! I never wanna see one of these EVER again!

Anyways, here are the rest of the pics...

You can see I had Fajitas from Hard Rock Cafe in there! One thing I miss from Cali is good mexican food, and HRC's fajitas were GREAT! So when I want to pay 16 bucks for fajitas, I know where to go, plus drinks were half off at Happy Hour, so anothe reason to go.

Time for bed, im sleepin early!

Japan Idol...

Well this is a week late, but oh well. Last weekend when I walked around near the hotel, I ran intot his band playing. I thought they were amateurs, but they ended up being pretty established. Here is their site:

And here are my pics of them:

Just strollin in my hood.

So I went to take care of chores and bought my first, and hopefully only bike, in Japan (The most popular crime in Japan is stolen bikes, and it is usually drunk people thinking it is theirs).

I took some pics of my immediate neighborhood. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

My first week of work...

...Had a rocky first day, but after that I got the hang of it for the rest of the week!

Now for the details, that only Tommy knows how to break down (I wish I did a day by day after the day, many memorable moments, but I can't remember them all!)

My first day at the job I had to lug my suitcases and everything to Honbu (The place we train at in this area of Japan for Aeon), which took a lot longer than I expected because they were SUPER HEAVY! When I got there I had time to kill so I went to one of my fav fast food places to grab some breakfast and also grabbed a caramel frap from Starbucks. After the quick meal I headed back to Honbu to wait for my head teacher to pick me up.

During this waiting time I met an emergency teacher from Australia. He was a really cool guy and just sat and talked a bit. Then my trainer Andy came by and we had some casual conversations. Weird after the week of him training the hell out of my group and I. Then Yoshie came. My first impression of her was kinda funny for 2 reasons. 1. As soon as she came into the office (where it just so happened, the president of all of Aeon was there) about 5 or so minutes late and her first words to me are, "Tommy right? Sorry I am late, I am a bit hungover, drank too much last night". Uhm...AWESOME!!! Someone who is real and not all about the image Japan usually tries to keep. 2. Now I have been made fun of my whole life for being black and "talking white" or "Like a Californian", but this girl talks and sounds like I do!!! Lots of "like"s, "totally"s, "you know"s and "whatever"s. I feel like I am at home! She lived in San Diego and Los Angeles for about 3 years, where she learned English.

We head to the train so I can make it to my new office and she offers to carry my laptop case which was heavy for her, but we eventually made it to the office, where I met who I am replacing, and the other staff. Rob the guy I am replacing was a cool guy. He gave me a lot of good advice and info about where I live and the office atmosphere. I met Tomomi the Asst. manager who is super sweet and I also met Ogawa-manager who seems like he is very cool, he is always smiling and laughing (he also wears pink shirts and ties, twice this week). Finally I met the part time teacher to our office Teresa, who is from Canada. My impression of her isn't anything special, she seems to not ever talk to me unless I talk to her, and when I talk to her she is short and straight to the point. One of my other coworkers told me she noticed that and was wondering why. Well at least I wasn't the only one to notice it. That other coworker was Miki by the way. Honestly she is my fav coworker. She is SUPER sweet and very easy to talk to, plus very helpful to me with praises and suggestions for classes. She gives me info that some of her students have made about me (her students are very low level, and all the comments were positive), since they can't tell me in English. She even had to translate one of her younger students (probably 20 or 21) flirting with me. I understood a bit of that conversation, but when she translated the rest, I had to laugh. So that is my office. Ogawa-manager, Tomomi, Yoshie, Miki, and Teresa 2 days a week (WOOT ONLY 2 DAYS!!!). Seems like a fun laid back group of people, and they are all super nice!

Day 1

So my first day was pretty much just watching Rob do 4 classes that day. He is a good teacher, but he doesn't follow the structure or some of the rules we were taught to follow, plus a few other office rules. Interesting... BUT he does keep the students happy and they learn something. At the end of this night I was told to meet at the office the next day at 12PM to go get my ARC application in. Without that I can't really do much as far as setting up services in Japan (aka no internet, cable tv, cell phone, etc.). So I said I was told that right? Let me back up. I overheard the conversation in Japanese, some head nods, then I was off to go to my apt by my manager. Ok. So maybe I could have just assumed it was meant to be there at 12, BUT what if I heard them wrong.

Day 2

I show up at 12:30. My morning was kinda crappy cuz I couldn't find the Mos Burger Rob told me about (learned 2 days later it was across the street, I didn't recognize the logo), so I grabbed junk food from 7-11 to munch on. I ate said junk food on a bench in a nice park, a bench covered in ants... So all of that and I come in at 12:30pm, with some odd stares. Ok, clock in and go sit down and prepare. I see Yoshie and ask her when are we going to go do my ARC thing, and she says that I should have been in at 12 to do it. Yep, my assumption was right. So I apologize to her and the manager, and take full blame, but I think Yoshie thought back to that conversation and maybe realized "crap that wasn't in English huh?" She explained it to the manager, they had a laugh, and she took me to go to the city ward. We had 2 trains and about 20 mins of walking each way. The whole time we just talked about lives in California. She really misses it. I was supposed to watch Rob's first class that morning at 1pm for my LAST observation before 3 real classes that night. Wasn't going to be making that at all.

When we got back to the office I went to have lunch with Rob as it was his last day in the office, and I just blasted him with a bunch of Qs about training, and the apt (he is the previous occupant). We eat at my now fav place to eat C's Cafe, where I get 650 yen quesadillas, with more lettuce than cheese, but hey, the first Mexican food I can find. He pays for our lunch because he got his bonus check + ticket home check, and he said it was WAY more than what AEON said it would be, interesting... After lunch we headed back to the office for me to prepare for my lessons until my first class came. I go out to do lobby talk (talking in the lobby with students when you aren't studying) and when it was time, announce my first class. 2 students follow me into the class, and so does Rob, who I didn't know was observing, kind of a surprise, but I remained composed. My first class went well. Rob gave me a few pointers to make them better, but I think it was good for my first in school class. The next 2 classes didn't go so well, made a lot of beginner mistakes, but easily fixable. The day ended and Rob said his goodbyes and I clocked out and headed to my apt with my 50 lb box my mom mailed me! LUCKILY Yoshie was sweet enough to drive me to my apt in her car, otherwise that woulda been hecka tiring to take that thing on the train then WALK to my apt from the station (about 11 minutes). When I got home I unpacked everything and just kinda threw everything where I can see them, leaving organization for the weekend. Time for bed...

Day 3

So now I am on my own. This day I made few mistakes and my students were praising me openly to the management and staff, which was just too cool to witness and feel like you are well liked on your first day. I was always getting comments on being really nice, making the class fun, and having a really clear version of English (Yoshie says it is because I am from California, ok). I had 3 comments on the fact I smelled good (had Dolce & Gabana cologone on), which was kind of funny to hear. Got to spend my downtime talking with Miki (who sits to my immediate left) and found out she is leaving Aeon on September 1st, because she is getting married in November. Now my fav coworker is leaving, that sucks. Today went rather well, even though there are a few things I need to work on, with time, I won't make those mistakes.

Day 4 and 5

I don't think I am making anymore mistakes, and the student compliments continue. My students are always smiling and laughing during class, as I try to make it more exciting for them while they learn. Everyday I swore I found my favorite students, and the next class would replace the previous person/people. Now I don't have names for everyone yet, but let me list them out.

First is Hashiko who is one of my highest level students. She is probably in her mid 50s, very nice, and her son wants to be a diplomat. After my first class with her she said "Ok now I will enjoy coming to class, you make this REALLY interesting!" There was another girl in the class who pretty much said the same thing. After the class they both spent 45 minutes (this was the last class of the night so I was able to spare the time) just talking and asking/answering questions, both very cool. My next class with Hashiko was a private lesson, so that means there is more time for free talk. This is when she told me about her son's plans and everything and said she was going to show me some picture he painted 2 years ago that one some contest in Geneva, where he got to go and meet some diplomats because of his work of art. Next is Daiyuu. he lived in australia for a looong time and he speaks English extremely well (he really doesn't need the classes). Because of his level, he is very easy to speak to and just a lot of fun to talk to. Then there is a guy who is in a class with 2 other girls usually (both of the girls, Sachiko and I can't remember the other girls name are really cool in their own marks. Sachiko is a scientist I think, where she tests the water in Nagoya for impurities, and the other girl a high school students, always in her uniform for every class). The guy, who's name I will for sure memorize soon, just has soo much heart to learn English. He is always speaking up and trying his best. He gets mad at himself for making mistakes but spends seconds correcting it, all with a smile. He is just too cool! Then there are the Sawadas... Two of the freakin coolest people I have met. They travel to Hawaii once a year to golf. They are a married couple in their early 6os and they are in our highest level class. Words can not explain how cool they are, I look forward to our next class. Then there is Kaisuke (I think) who is 36 (I swear he was 24 - 26 when I met him) and he wants to be a Dr. in the US. He told me I HAVE to remember his name next week and he was just very cool to talk to. He asked me a lot of questions about me after his class (which had a girl in it, Megumi I think, who asked me a lot of questions before class, as we had to wait for Kaisuke who was late because he is on the swim team) and he said every class he is going to ask me a questions. Sounds like it will be fun! And finally there are the two high school girls, cant remember their names though. They are both 17 I think and just freaking cute with their manners. They are about upper beginner level and they try so hard to speak english with no mistakes. They help each other out in Japanese when one understands my English over the other, and make cute sounds/faces when they either don't understand or finally understand. They have a lot of energy so I made their lesson really fun and high energy and they immediately went to one of the Japanese staff after our class to tell them how I made the class really fun that day. I really hope I can remain as fun as people have been claiming during my whole year, I really don't want to let that energy die down for whatever reason.

That was the work week for me. My last class ended on time, and I smelled the weekend. I raced home because I wanted to do something last night. I found a website with different club events and found a place called Club JBs in Sakae. I wrote down the address and phone # and headed to Sakae via subway and train. When I exited the subway I was totally lost. It was funny though, because their site has a map that is just boxes with names in them, and even though I couldn't read the Kanji, I recognized the kanji on a building that was supposed to be next door to the club. It was. I see a bunch of people and ask them where the club was, in Japanese, and he said he didn't know in Japanese. Uhm, the club was right behind him downstairs, all we had to do was look up at the sign that said BF2. So I head down and pay my 4000 yen entrance fee (last time I pay that much for a club until paychecks start coming). Now this club has dif music every night, but last night was house. What was cool was hearing local DJs, who also produced some of the songs they played. I WISH I had a copy of the music last night. What was cool was they would play some rap, and a few rock songs, in their entirety, then there would be a house mix of the song, that not even I have heard! Kinda cool. They also played some old music, like James Brown, and KC and the Sunshine Band, to name a few. Long story short, I stayed until the DJ played the last song, at 6:15AM. I got there at 10:12PM. Regardless I had a GREAT night, spent about 40 bucks on drinks (buy 2 at a time for 1000 yen), met a guy who usually DJs there, but was just an observer that night, a girl that had a foregin boyfriend and spoke awesome English. She actually translated the convo between that DJ and I. She then intoduced me and translated some conversation between me and 5 other people, 3 girls and 2 guys. One of the guys who I ended up talking to for a bit about House and other music for a bit. It was just a damn good night, fun was had by all. I honestly think only 3 people left from the time I got there, and about 30 more people came in (I got there 2 hours before the "event" was to start and it was KIND of packed with about 50 people, which fit TIGHT on the dancefloor, so picture 30 more people in the club, bar and dancefloor...)

Got home at 6:45, went to sleep and woke up at 12:30 and did my first grocery shopping in Japan today. Bought milk and cereal, found lotion (they call it Body Milk, that is why I couldn't find any), nail clippers, and some stuff to make the stir fry I usually made back home. I was going to buy my bike and a bike lock, but I didn't have my address on me, so I am going in about 20 mins to go buy it! EXITING! Pics in the morn I swear! I also did my first laundry day this morn... Good news, that small thing my hand was near is NOT the washer, it is the dryer, and it gets the clothes dryer than I expected, I might not have to hang clothes EVERY time I wash. But honestly, I HATE my washer. The cycles are manual! I have to set it to wash, put on timer, time runs out, put it on drain, turn on knob again to fill with water again for the rinse cycle, timer goes off, throw 3 articles at a time into the "dryer". I am about to put the coloreds in (that's racist!) before I go buy my bike. I am kinda pissed though, my light in my walkway doesn't work! So whenever I get home when it is dark, I have NO light to turn on immediately. PLUS my washer slowly drains water when in use, which may be good, so I can get a new one!!!

Anyways, you are now caught up with me up to this VERY minute I am living now. Hope all is well in the US, and see ya guys laters with pics of the bike!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My first apartment

Last night when I saw it, I was dissapointed, but now I call it home...

Without further ado, my apartment!!!

See pics HERE!

Since I am in my apt I don't really have internet, but I am using what is left of the old teacher's account time, and rumor has it I have to use the apartment complex's own service for internet and it is apparently SLOW. Sigh more sigh...

Oh yeah, I hit my head everyday walking into my living room/bedroom.

Plus at night it sounds like an African safari outside with all the sounds.

And the cutest kids go to nursery school right across the street from me! Cool! They are soo fun to hear!

Monday, July 17, 2006

So I spent my first day of the weekend just walking around

Yep. Just picked a direction and walked. If I saw something interesting I would walk towards it. If it got boring, I would just turn around. I will def be getting in shape and losing weight if I keep this up. It was like walking around disneyland all day!

Here are the pics!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A summary of my week in training

So this week kicked my BUTT. After my day or two of free time, Monday began training.

Monday was a lot lot lot of note taking.

I said a lot right?

Ok now times by 6 days, 4 mock lessons, 2 with REAL students and you know my training week.

My first mock lesson SUCKED because hardly prepared! I had to go to work 3 hours later than the previous days so I screwed around talking to friends online all morning. Stopped that a bit late and started prepping my lesson after, which was overwhelming. I realized there that I had underestimated my task. When it came time for my lesson, I was overly nervous, which was soooo not me, because I was unprepared for it. So afterwards my feedback was constructive and necesary. I felt like crap before, during, and after that because I did something uncharacteristic for me and didn't prepare. The last time I swore.

Next lesson was with real students. It went pretty decent with some help in the background from my trainer. The students had fun, they felt like they learned something and I got my confidence back. I now know structure and timing , just need to hammer out bugs.

The next lessons were done with fellow trainees and trainers, and those just kept getting better and better! I definitely am getting the hang of it!

My final lesson with FOUR students went awesome!!! Yeah I had some things here and there to fix, but the students felt comfortable, they had fun, and they learned how to use some important conversational points, thanks to Tommy sensei. Hey I can get used to that...

Anyways, on to the pics. Enjoy and if you have questions email me and ask!

This is our group going out to eat dinner around the corner to celebrate the end of training.

This was my friend Neil and I eating with some random dude from Okinawa. We had an awesome broken English/Japanese conversation, but it was def all love going on!

Friday, July 14, 2006

I am still alive, just busy with training.

I have been working like made making lessons and doing them! This stuff is TOUGH! But tomorrow is the last day and I am going out to celebrate by going to the loudest place in Sakae and just goin all out. I have deserved it! I will have details once I have a decent amount of time to just sit down and type it, when my internet isn't going all buck wild!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Just found out hotel I am staying at is... the red light district. Yeah...

All I had to do was read the signs too, they are all in katakana!

Wild night, for them, not us

Gonna make this quick as I have to go get rdy for the day. But we wanted to go to a beer garden that our trainer told us about so we tried finding it and couldn't in the area he pointed to. We saw some cops standing around looking at us and asked them where it was, and they showed us it was across the street behind us.

We head to said building and try to figure out where we go. The hall had 6 elevators and they opened up at dif times to crowds of drunk, loud Japanese men and women. We were in the right place. We go upstairs and when the door opens up, the place looks like it is a mad house with tons of drunk people yelling, singing and laughing. Unfortunately it was Nisen Happyaku en (2800 yen, just under 28 bucks) for 50 minutes, as they were closing soon. We decided that wouldn't be good and found somewhere else to go eat.

We looked around the station going up and down 4 flights of TOO MANY stairs, and decided to try to find a CoCo Ichi Ban which was near our hotel. We couldn't find it immediately so I asked a bunch of drunk Japanese men we saw and they WALKED US 4 BLOCKS TO GET THERE!!! How is THAT for hospitality! I spoke to them in Japanese and they got comfy speaking to me in English. One guy went to San Diego and was telling me he liked California a lot and wants to go back, that convo was in English. Another guy told me he was from Tokyo and only visiting Nagoya for a bit. We talked about areas in Tokyo that we like and that I have been to, that convo was in Japanese. We made it to the restaraunt and ate, afterwards I went home to answer emails and sleep, like I will be doing every night.

There is the quick version of my first night after training. Training details to come later.

Monday, July 10, 2006

My first full day in Nagoya city

It was hecka eventful too!!!

Woke up in the morn and made a few phone calls to family and loved ones, and then went out and got some pancakes at McDonalds. Until I find something better, this will be done every morning as it is only 300 yen. AfterI ate, I came back to my hotel (Daiichi Fuji Hotel) and called my friends in Japan to let them know I am here and see if we can meet up eventually. Saki's phone kept ringing and ringing, Taka was drunk sleeping, and Atsushi (who I met on MySpace) was ready to pick me up at my hotel in about an hour and a half. Fine I have time.

I went to Nagoya Station, trying to figure out where the bank was so I could transfer money to yen. I looked all throughout the VERY BUSY station only to just see myself tired, and come up empty handed. I need to find that place soon with all of these US dollars on me, and my yen supply dwindling. I give up and go back to meet a Atsushi outside my hotel. Is he going to be driving the R32 Skyhline GTR, or the Integra. I hope the Skyline...

IT'S THE SKYLINE!!! I was sitting in front of my hotel waiting and recording video of life happening outside, when I hear the roar of the engine, sound of turbos and a blow off valve, and a Skyline cruising by me passing up the hotel. After a minute he comes back around and I am officially starting my first ride in a Skyline. For the whole day there was too much traffic for him to really open up, but he did do so once or twice and it THREW me back into my seat, I almost cried, it was so beautiful.

He asked me what I wanted to do and I just said give me the "New person to Nagoya tour", which started at Nagoya Castle. Now here is a bit of a disclaimer, warning, whatever. This is the Japanese summer I think, which means hot and muggy. So here in Nagoya, it is completely cloud covered and overcast, 85% degrees and feels like you are in a sauna, so any pictures you see of me, I may be very shiny, that isn't normal I swear! We drive around for about 10 minutes and get to the parking structure of the castle which is about 2 lvls underground, like a lot of things in Japan so far. We head up to the castle grounds and Atsushi and I buy our tickets, Gohyaku en I believe (500 yen, you will learn Japanese with me if you keep reading this), and they give me a pamplet in English, how cute. Atsushi gives me his personal tour of the castle grounds and the castle itself. Now this castle is interesting. It is very important in Japanese history, but unfortunately, was destroyed in the past, and rebuilt into a museum. So you look outside and see this majestic castle, then go inside and it feels like any other museum.

The inside has a lot of art, items, and information on life back in the times when this castle served it's purpose. They had a cool thing with 3 mock up guys pulling a block with wheels under it, to show you how they were able to build such a castle with minimal man power. You were even able to pull the same rope they were grabbing and pull the block and column they stood on. The power of hydraulics and a little pulley. On the top floor is an observatory deck that lets you see Nagoya from a HIGH vantage point at all 4 sides of the deck. Now remember that 85% humid overcast weather I mentioned? You took note of that? Now add HEAVY rain to that equation. When we got up there it was absolutely POURING rain down on the sometimes unprepared visitors who were outside, I couldn't stop laughing though at all of the chaos that was going on with people down there, it was great!

When we were done with inside the castle, we went out for ice cream and I got to see a cute cat with a weird short tail, like somone cut it off or something. We were about to exit when I wanted a good pic of the castle before I left, which I got, then Atsushi took a pic of me with it in the background, which you will see in the pics. Some random girl saw that and asked us if we wanted her to take a picture of the both of us, and she did, you will also see that in there. So after all of the pictures we headed out of the castle to go somewhere else. On our way out we ran into the 3 girls who are training with me this week, Laura, Elspeth (I think) and Becky. They asked me earlier if I wanted to go with them to the castle and I knew I had plans with Atsushi so I declined, but I said I may see them there, so here it was, I saw them. I told them to have fun and make sure they see everything and we all made plans to meet for dinner.

As we left the castle grounds, we saw a bunch of flags of some sort with TOO much Kanji for me to read, but Atsushi told me, it was for sumo wrestlers. Now I was told the sumo tournament started this day inmy very own backyard here in Nagoya, so that was kinda cool. Now I have watched sumo on TV before and seen a few documentaries on Americans who come here to do sumo, and they always show them rolling around in these cool vans. Now wouldn't you know, we come up to a section with about 100 people standing around with cameras, and what rolls up, 2 or 3 of those cool vans with sumo wrestlers in them!!! We stood around for about 3 minutes to watch them from afar while the crowd went wild.

We eventually made it back to the car after getting lost a little and decided to go get food. I mentioned I loved Japanese curry so Atsushi took me to CoCo Ichi Ban, a chain of curry places. This ride was about 35 mins or so, but I got to have more time in the kick ass Skyline, and he opened it up on the way there, which will always be remembered. Driving in a car in Japan, when you are used to driving on the other side of road and being a passenger on the right, is goint to take some getting used to. I keep thinking he is going to go the wrong way and hit oncomming traffic. He never did though, amazing!

We get to CoCo Ichi Ban eventually and I order Tonkatsu curry, with a regular amount of rice (there are about 8 options on rice amount) and regular heat (there is 1 - 10 scales of heat. 6 - 10 have disclaimers) and it was totemo oishii (very delicious). Afterwards we headed out and went to the Toyota Automobile Museum, which was about a 20 minute ride. This place had some VERY old Toyotas and even some other Japanese and foreign cars (now that I am in Japan, American cars are foreign). We spent a good 2 hours or so in here snapping pics and laughing at sports cars with 110 HP, and family cars with 9.7 horsepower. Look at the pics for a good idea of what went on in there.

After this we were thirsty and I was getting tired so we headed for the conbini to grab a drink. (conbini is a convenience store, which have everything and are everywhere here) Something kinda funny happened when Atsushi and I bought our drinks. The girl at the counter sold him his drink and was done, but when I bought mine, she offered me a bag to go with it. Atsushi was pretending to feel hurt because they didnt offer him a bag too. Poor Atsushi!

It was getting close to the time of dinner with the girls so we headed to Atsushi's house to drop off his car. This was cool because he had his black Integra parked outside of his house, which was next door to his dad's, a dentist, office. How convenient! We walked from his house to the subway station and he thought he should have moved his car into the garage in case his dad needed space, so I stayed at the station and he ran back to do that. When he arrived we rushed on the train so we wouldn't be late, but we got ON the train at the same time we agreed to meet the girls for dinner. We were about 6 stops from the Nagoya station stop where my hotel was near and the meeting place of said dinner plans. We got there at about 6:30, just to see the girls walking around the opposing corner, we were all late. Since Atsushi and I ate earlier, we weren't hungry and the girls decided on Pepper Lunch, which seemed like a good dinner. Atsushi and I had beer for dinner, him, 1, me 2.

During dinner it was kind of funny. The girls would have a convo with me in English and I would slow it down and mix it with what Japanese I know so Atsushi could understand and follow. Then we all just had our own seperate conversations an Atsushi made me practice my Japanese, so I could one day speak to him in ONLY Japanese, which will be great for me to achieve, I now have my first goal. After dinner was done, Atsushi and I said ou good byes and thanks and I headed to my hotel to relax, do homework for my first day of training, and write and answer some emails. Today was definitely a great day. More will follow I am sure.

Anyways, here are the pics of this day:

You can also find my other pictures of the flight day to Japan if look around.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

So I am officially in Japan now...

...and boy is it hot! I landed in Nagoya after a connection from Narita, and I just FELT the humidity!!! My trainer from Aeon met with me, and we headed to Nagoya station via train and arrived after an hour or so. It was so surreal being on the train towards my hotel for next 8 days or so. It didn't officially settle in until that moment. When I got off the train, the familiar feeling of having hundreds of Japanese people bustling about the station came back t me.

Got to my hotel and met 2 of my fellow teachers in training, one from Hawaii, the other from Wales, both cool people. I am on the 7th floor of this hotel, and it is fun just looking out the window, even though I don't have the view people would have across the hall. Only probs I have run into so far, is not having a 3 prong adapter for my laptop, because right now it is plugged in, but not grounded, which scares me. I am making a trip to Bic Camera in a bit to buy said part. I also want some breakfast!

Anyways I am hungry and ready to put up a few pics. Check them out...
My hotel suite.

Luxury bathroom

Pretty cool golf course near Narita landing