Okay, I’ve been bad about updating this blog.  I still don’t have internet at home and realistically, probably won’t for another month or so.  While I’ve already done everything I need to do for the upcoming classes, I don’t want to be all blatantly blogging at work.  But, it turned out that the students, and most of the teachers, aren’t here today.  I’m not exactly sure why, but the term hadn’t really started yet (even though the students had been at school half-time for the past 2 weeks or so).  Tomorrow (the 25th) is the Opening Ceremony (始業式), marking the beginning of the new term.  I have to give a speech introducing myself to the school.

Anyway, this post is about my first couple of weeks in Dazaifu.  Well, technically I live in a nearby suburb, but the school is in Dazaifu.  (Plus, where I live doesn’t alliterate with Detroit, lol).

So, the first few days at school, since it was summer vacation there were hardly any teachers there.  It went by fast though, as much time was spent on trying to straighten out my paperwork.  I couldn’t get a cell phone because I didn’t have a bank account, and I couldn’t get a bank account because I didn’t have my actual Foreigner Card, only a Proof of Registration.  Argh! >_<

The first two nights in Dazaifu, I did a homestay with a Japanese teacher (I mean, Japanese is the subject she teaches.  Well, she is Japanese, but ^_^;). She’s really nice.  And she cooked really delicious food!  She invited me to her tai chi class.  I was able to do it, albeit a bit funky because of the limited motion in my right ankle, but it was fun.  I’m used to walking a lot, so it didn’t hurt in my legs too much, but my arms were sore the next morning.

My predecessor showed me around town on the weekend.  To be honest, I wasn’t paying as much attention to where I was as to not falling off the bike.  But it did come in useful later, as at least things looked familiar when I went out on my own.  We went all over the place.  My predecessor helped me register at Tsutaya Discas (a DVD & CD rental place) and at an internet cafe since I initially couldn’t log on at school (though I’d prefer not to go there too much as it seems to be used by uber-online-gamers and people…enjoying themselves a little too much, lol).  She also showed me a store that sold “Western size” clothes, a diner called “Son House” that serves American and “Mexican” food, a hundred yen shop, the train stations, etc. Oh yeah, she showed me around the various “recycle shops,” basically second-hand stores.  I got a small chest of drawers and a microwave.

At school, there really wasn’t much for me to do when I wasn’t seeing to paperwork because, like other Fukuoka Prefecture JETs, I was in “semi-quarantine” due to concerns over swine flue.  For a little over one week, I couldn’t leave the staff room.  I worked on my self-introduction lesson and speech, but that didn’t take all that long.  Once I could get online from my laptop, well, even though I didn’t want to be doing too much serious online stuff, I did spend time sending emails and reading news.  I’ve been told that at this school the staff doesn’t mind what the ALT does during summer vacation.  Indeed, there were no more than 10 teachers here on any given day, and the week of Obon there were like 2 people here besides myself and the other ALT.

Once out of quarantine, I got to walk around the school.  Since the school has an art curriculum, students’ works are displayed all over.  These kids are talented!  I also got to help two girls practice for a speech contest.  Not sure how that went at the moment.

When my Foreigner Card came, my supervisor and I went to get a cell phone and bank account set up for me.  Ironically, at the bank I had to put a phone number down! We used the school’s.  The application for the cell phone also required a phone number, so again, I used the school’s.  In the States this would never fly, but they actually scanned my passport and Foreigner Card at the cell phone place!  I don’t know if they scan Japanese people’s IDs.  They probably do, otherwise I don’t think they’d have a special scanner set up for the random gaijin that might waltz in.

I tried tonkotsu ramen, which Fukuoka is famous for.  It’s ramen made with pork bones.  The broth is super greasy though, so you don’t drink it all.  It’s pretty delicious.

Well, that’s pretty much it.  This past weekend I drew myself a map from the various atlases my predecessor had left and found my way back to the Tsutaya and the Western size clothing store.  I really didn’t bring much business wear, so I’m glad that store is nearby (about a 30 minute bike ride from the apartment).  The sizes are really, really weird though.  The “3L” shirts were huge for me, but I couldn’t get the “5L” pants past my hips!  I also went to the home goods store to get a nice, big, fluffy pillow, and some soil to start a compost bin.  I hope no one throws it out thinking that it’s trash!  I’m actually surprised they don’t compost as a policy here, what with all the separate-your-trash-into-10-kinds business.

Here are some pictures from around my apartment:

The welcome sign my predecessor made.  The poster came in an Arena 37 I picked up. And yes, I brought my Sephiroth action figure with me.

The welcome sign my predecessor made. The poster came in an Arena 37 I picked up. And yes, I brought my Sephiroth action figure with me. Because nothing can inspire quite like the plastic representation of a psychopath.

What I see from my balcony. And a special bear.

What I see from my balcony. And a special bear.

Well, tomorrow is Opening Ceremony, so I should practice my speech!