A day-to-day, true to life drama of a Jamaican male, living and working in Japan.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 12 - March 31, 2008

Day 12

Ok so my IC (Independent contractor - that shows us around) came for me at the hotel and let me signed up for my Gygin card (Alien registration card - that all foreigners need to anything) at the city office. I had to take a photo for it.

I remembered back at the hotel in Narita where I had to be dodging police because I forget my passport in the hotel room :)

He also brought me to open a posal account, in Japan there is bank account and there is postal account that you can get money through. He also made me post my letter to get my cell phone from soft bank. I also went to look at the car I was supposed to be getting (very tiny) but the tinyer it is...the cheaper it is to maintain in Japan.

Another Assistant Language teacher (ALT) in the area called me and said we could hook up with some more language teachers in the evening. so we hooked up and I met about 8 other language teachers, 2 of which were females. They were all cool people and the guys are game heads like myself :) Luckily again, one of them live on the same apartment complex as I do (bwoy mi a tell yuh God good). so we all chatted and ate and had fun. The guy who is on the same apartment complex as I am said he doesnt know the schools he will be at either and he also starts working on Friday so I am not feeling so bad again :) I also remembered from our training that I should not wear COLOGNE to school or anything too strong or you can get complained about... the guy that was leading that session said in 4 years...he got 4 complaints about strong colgne and 1 about bad smelling ?????? WHAT!!!!!! The guys also told me that they used Jamaica as an example about BAD timing (do you see that we have a reputation around the world) They have it in books that when Japan say 8:00 they mean 7:45 but in Jamaica 8:00 means 9:00 and thereafter. They said the same thing for Jamaica and Latin America.

After the eating some Japanese people called over one of the ALTs and we were chatting...And being the only black man in town they asked where I am from...When he heard Jamaica he said "aaaaaaah Jamaica....movie movie .....cool Runnings" "Cool runnings good movie".

Any way Im moving into my apartment today without internet so i dont know when i will be able to update this for now. Ohh and the person is possibl on their way now while im still writing this blog and I dont even have a bath yet but anyway no need to rush as they wont care and wont smell any colgne :) just kidding mi gone go baid now....

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Day 11 - March 30, 2008

Day 11

So I thought today was going to be a quiet day when I would stay in and rest. Well it was for a while until I got a call from the front office of the hotel saying that I have lunch at 12. So I asked, "what is the cost?" They told me 8000 yen so I quickly said, "No lunch no lunch"and hope they understood. Shortly after this, the real estate man who was at the place that I would be getting the apartment from, came up and said lunch time lunch time. I however didnt recognise him and thought he worked at the hotel and wanted me to pay for lunch so I again said "no lunch no lunch". He then had a slight dissappointed look on his face then he said "I pay for lunch". This was when I recognised him so in my head i was like, "OOhhh now I get it". So I asked him for 5 minutes to get ready.

He then told me that the owner of the hotel I am staying in, is his cousin...so they both took me to have lunch in a restaurant place where the three of us sat on the floor. My feet were cramping the heck out of me and I had to be there smiling and nodding. The food was some sort of vegetable pizza with some noodles looking thing which was extremely hot and I saw the men slurping it away with the chop sticks. The real estate guy was saying to me "Eat eat". Now this thing was extremely Hott and I was like using the chopsticks and trying to do what they were and when mi seh di ting hot and did a bun mi up but mi haffi gwaan like everything was ok and there shaking mi head away.

The real estate guy then left me with his cousin, the hotel owner and said he will come back to take me for dinner at 6:00 pm. So the hotel owner guy took me to a plaza where he was buying some stuff. I eventually bought a glove, 2 alarm clocks and an extention cord which all came up to about 3000 yen. He then dropped me back at the hotel.

Now remember the real estate guy said he would come for me at 6:00 pm for dinner. This man came knocking at my room door at exactly 5:40 pm telling me "dinner dinner". Mi seh bwoyy dem man yah serious. So I asked him for 2 minutes to get ready. He then took me to this small bar looking place where some older men were eating and drinking away. When I say older men I mean di man introduced mi to the men there and one of them was like 88, the other 83 and another 60. I am pretty sure that none of them were younger than 55. There were about 6 of them in all and a lady that supposedly was the owner of the little place. Now all these old men were wealthy guys. One of them owned a gas station line, another was some head of some big place while another was some important government official. So this was like some sort of hang out spot of a set of rich old guys.

They shared out some vegetable looking thing for me and said "Eat eat" and all of them were there steering at me while i was like a scared dog looking into their eyes with the chop sticks in my hand. I then tasted the vegetable looking thing and it was like biting into a scotch bonnet pepper and each time i chewed, it became hotter and my facial expression I think showed that it was extermely hot and they all were there laughing away... then the bar tender looking lady then dropped a tall cup of beer on the table as well as some vegetable fritters looking thing. And i was like "Lord helpppp!!!" they then dropped some light rum on the table as well. I then saw the 88 year old guy with some tiny eel looking fish and he put one in my plate and mi seh to mi self "Mi nuh like how dem fish yah look at all innuh." suh mi jus eventually lock mi eye and bite it. It was a bit raw but I ate it...I then was trying to ask then what it was and pointed at it again, and without my concent they put another 1 into my plate. So I just stopped trying to ask questions afterward. Then they passed another little cup to me with another set of vegetable looking thing with strips of meat in it. One of them then said "whale meat yes whale meat". I was trying to stall from eating it but they were all there just looking on. So guess what?? Yes I had some whale and it wasnt too bad actually...tasted like beef :)

So I started wondering how come these Japenese live so long and they drink and smoke like crazy. Research shows that Japanese have the longest life expectancy than any other set of races as the men live on average to 78 and the women 82 there about. And to my dismay the study says the reason is their DIET. The whale, the raw fish etc etc.
So any way the bar lady said in Japanese that she is very happy to see me and now I can call her mother. And actually she is the same age as my mother. She was a very nice actually I was told that the people in my town are amongst the nicest in Japan. The men eventually started to touch my hair and basically was saying that they never felt anything like it.

The gas station owner eventually started to gesticulate and talk to me while the apartment man was trying to translate in English. He was saying that he has a daughter who is 27 and very pretty. I really dont know why he was telling me honestly, but any way... He then gave the lady (my new mother) some money. I see him took out atleast 30,000 yen to give to her because he was paying for everyone's food. OOh and they gave me this cartoon like saving pan thing and all of them dropped some money in there :) I think it came up to like 1000 yen but I am still thankful.

After this the men took me out again and rain was falling outside. These men had me walking up and down and around in the cold weather rain for about 10 minutes then they took me to a karioke place where they gave me more snacks and some whisky stuff to drink. Luckily...all this alcohol that they were giving me was very light. I again started to wonder..How is it that they have a zero tolerance alcohol thing going on but EVERYONE drinks all the time...then I remembered from the training that they said they will drink but definitely will have a taxi to take them home afterward. They made me sing a kareoke song, I choose "I am all out of love" from air supply, because I didnt see any other I knew...Plus most of the words I am saying I am pretty sure they have no clue about. But they were still clapping and cheering me on. I noticed that each time a kareke song ended there was some reggae music in the background playing, I heard some Mavado and Elephant man songs... When the guy around the bar table heard I was Jamaican he started to but his 2 fingers in the air and was like " bap bap"... this was so funny...

They eventually took me out of that place and I saw 2 taxis outside waiting on us. they made the taxi take me back to the hotel which was like right around the road, not even a 30 seconds drive actually. So I got in back at about 10:30 pm.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day 10 - March 29, 2008

Day 10

Had to meet with 2 independent Contractors (ICs). These are people who help us to find apartments, get car, get Alien Regestration card and just help you out around for a little while and hopefully after that you will get adjusted. If not then you are on your own. The first IC brought me from the hotel in Okayama city to the town where I would be staying known as Niimi. She drove an Hyrid vehicle which you can use to make telephone calls from the dash board screen. I have never seen anything like this before. Mi feel like one likkle country man weh gone a town.

This IC dropped me to another hotel, which is now in Niimi (third hotel in 3 days) then I waited for another IC to come and pick me up. This man talk English but not too well at all, so some times I dont have a clue what him saying...all mi duh is nod and seh yes is true. He brought me to a real estate place to look about my apartment. This real estate place looked like a little toy store, because it had all kinda toys and fluffy animals sticked up on the wall..I am so sorry I never took a picture of it. I am sure I will eventually though.

The choices of apartments were as follows:

1) which cost 30,000 yen (US 300) per month that wasnt furnished

2) which cost 45,000 yen (do the math) per month that was partially furnished with Washing machine, microwave, TV, AC, stove :), table and 2 little chairs.

Of course I took the 45,000 one, cause mi naah buy nutten more. Did I mention that Japan is extremely expensive??? A soda in Jamaica probably cost $JA 50, in Japan it cost like 150 yen which is bout $Us 1.50 which is about $JA 106. AND it is half the size of the one in Jamaica literally. so just imagine the cost of anything in jamaica, double the price but half the size of the content...How mi ago manage? Mi nuh know.
Any way I viewed 2 apartments that cost 45,000 yen. One with an internet port, the other without. You already know which one I chose. The initial cost of moving into an apartment in Japan is crazy. You have to pay the following:

1st month rent = 45,000 yen
Parking space = 3000 yen
Down payment = 135,000 yen
Agent fee = 50, 400 yen
Insurance = 7,000 yen
Whopping total = 240,400 yen

Luckily I asked for a loan from my company... Ohh by the way, If I was to live in Tokyo, Yokohoma, Osaka or one of the major city places....The final payment would be about double that for a smaller place. And Parking alone would be about 40,000 yen I was told.
I am to be in this hotel about 2 more days I was told. The IC said I should just wait for someone to call me. By the way work start on Friday April 4, 2008, and

1) I dont know how many schools I wil be teaching at.
2) I dont know where the schools are that I will be teaching at.
3) I dont have my car yet to drive to the schools.
4) I dont have my alien registraion yet (suh police can still stop mi if mi nuh hav mi passport pon mi)

Luckily I met this former Assistant Language Teacher (who has got a contract with the Japanese Government now) that said the first couple a months are crazy but it will eventually sort itself out afterward. He said that He really enjoyed the job and It was "Stress free" 29.5 working hours per week with the balance being preparation, clubs and eating lunch which would add up to 40 hours.

I had lunch with the other IC and again it dawned on me "I am the only black man in town". This town has approximately 20,000 people but Iwas told that it is very big. So already I am a super star!!! I was also told that people kinda already knew I was coming so everybody know who I am...even if them looking at me weird. While having lunch at the mall I saw some kids looking at me in total shock and disbelief. I also saw another set standing and steering at me with their mouths wide open. then they came toward me and chukkled, went away then came back again. But guess what? It feels like FUN!!! Cause I don't business wedda dem waah look pon mi or not. Mi jus look back pon dem and nod my head and move on. However I know absolutely no one in the area and the IC gone bout him business after him drop mi back at the hotel and seh mi mus wait until someone call mi.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day 9 - March 28, 2008

Day 9

Did final presentation which started at 8 am so I didnt even eat breakfast... and pleaaase do not laugh at the clip that is at the bottom of this posting...which was a very short remake of my introduction... As I went up to do my warm up exercise to begin the class, I said, "Hey its genki Dave"... I saw one of the evaluators holding his head down crying with laughter and shaking his head as if to say in Jamaican terms (aaah bwoy)lol... As well as a few chukkles in the room. Oh Genky means happy and/or energetic. Our job wants us to be genky constantly...In rain or shine, in sickness or in health till death do us part. I think our presentation went pretty well though ...Thanks Peter.

Left our first hotel and went to take the train in Tokyo to go to Okayama. It took about 4 hours by the bullet train (travels top speed at 200mph) to get to our destination. This trip by bus or car would be 10 hours or more. some one met us at the train station and carried us off to another hotel in Okayama. I got a room where the vent of the AC had to be kept open by a sock.

I see where my blog space running out very fast... I have already used up 44% in only 9 days. So I may have to start smalling up my pics as well as limit the videos..so this video maybe my last one for now unless is something really important or very exciting.

Day 8 - March 27, 2008

Day 8

Went training 9-5 again. I did a dub poem to open the first sesion. It was entitled "Into Japan" , unfortunately I didnt remember to record it. We did several games that the kids we are supposedly going to teach like to play. We are going to do a final presentation in groups of 2 tomorrow based on the type school you were assigned whether elementary / Jr High or high. I hope it goes well.

Did a little test based on what we learnt through out the week..Yes a test. We are actually being evaluated for the duration of the training.

Had to ship off my luggage to the location where I was going in Okayam which cost me approx 5600 yen or US $56 that I had no clue about before going to Japan. Went jogging in the evening then went to practise lesson presentation for tomorrow.
Ok I know I really grinning off mi teet in the picture above but jus work wid it. We have to be grinning like crazy for our jobs so I am practicing from now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Day 7 - March 26, 2008

Day 7

Had training from 9am - 5:30pm which was mostly about games we could play with the Japanese kids at elementary and Junior high school. Its really mostly about games. so I quit my job in Jamaica, pretty much getting double my salary to act like mi nuh have nuh sense.....Hey but I like it :) Ate Japanese lunch which was similar to what they would give us in the schools and bwoyyyy mi belly. Oh and sometimes part of your job is to actually eat with the kids....hmmm Im scared already about this part.

Did some jogging and now I am in pain, and I feel so bad because when I jog with the other guys they were practically leaving me behind...bwoy mi get so unfit. But mi ago work pon it. Got some of my clothes washed finally and i had to pay about 500 yen. Oh and if you dont see me post for a while, its because I leave the hotel on Friday March 28 which would be Day 9. Unnu pray fi mi.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Day 6 - March 25, 2008

Day 6

Had an intense training exercise starting from 9am and ending 6pm. Got into a group with eight (8) of us. It was an even group, in that it had 4 males and 4 females...and at the same time 4 whites and 4 blacks.

We were given an activity to write on a paper some info about the person sitting to the right of us including: their name, drawing their face, and drawing their favourite animal in about 2 minutes.. It was very funny. You dont want to see what the girl beside me drew for my face.. I told her that a dog was my favourite animal and she drew something looking like a cat. Let that be your guide.

We were also told to create a country name, with a national flag along with an animal that represents the country as well as a motto for that country.

Our country was JEBU because the persons in the group were from Jamaica, England, Bahamas and the USA. The animal was a Tipig a cross between a tiger and a pig... because they are both fierce animals and plus 2 persons like the tiger while another like to eat pork (something to that effect). The motto was out of many one people (yeaahhh) moving forward... A combination of Jamaica and Bahamas motto.

We had two main presenters afterward plus an activity.

One presentation focused on safety in Japan

We were warned to always walk with our passport before we get our alien registration card because the police can stop you randomly and if u have no ID...they can take you in for questioning.

Also they warned that there is a zero tolerance approach against drinking and driving and if your friend was driving you home and police stops him and he is drunk while you are not...You are still in trouble. Also if you have a friend that was involved in drugs but you never knew, and your number is in his phone ...then every single person in that phone in problems.

The other presentation focused on the first day at work as well as your first lesson to teach

They told us how we should introduce ourselves to the people in English and that we should speak very slowly. They said we should always keep a smile on our faces no matter what and always jump around like wi nuh have nuh sense and make the kids happy. they also said DO NOT touch the kids on their heads because they thinks it belittles them ??? and also not to point on them with our index fingers but should point with our full hand wide open??? We are not to wipe our nose in public using a hand Kirchief but we should use tissue instead????

We cannot in any way wear the same shoe that we wore outside...into the school building so we must always have an inside shoes and an outside shoes... and if you are caugt wearing ur inside shoes outside or viceversa...you are in big trouble with the school authorities. Our hands should not in any way be in our pockets when teaching as it is a sign of disrespect and also being 10 minutes early for work is considered late. Yes quite a different society and may take a while to get adjust to. OOh and when on the trains...answering your cell phone and talking is very offensive...

They also encouraged us to rap with the staff teachers and join clubs at the schools..however once you have joined a club..then you are in it until you leave the country and if you are asked to clean up something...they will be expecting you to do it all the time...you only need to do it once and thats it. They have clubs like basket ball clubs, baseball, football etc etc But at these club meetings that keep everyday for example the baseball...they maybe there for 3 houys practising their swing, without a ball in sight and thats the club meeting everyday. And for basket ball its warming up for hours and no hoop shooting. I have never heard anything similar to this in my entire life. Also the lawn tennis club, there is no tennis court but they may go on the asfalt and get a ball, bat it away... run back for it when its gone...get it and bat it again FOR HOURS, no one on the recieving end.

Anyway our groups also did a skit about what not to do in Japan or what may seem offensive in a restaurant or in a public place etc...That too was so much fun.

After this I did some jogging around the hotel with 2 guys from the USA then went to the train station and had dinner.

Day 5 - March 24, 2008

Day 5

Didn't really have any training today but a cell phone company came to do a presentation and a couple of the Assistant Language Teachers signed up including myself. The name off the Company is softbank which used to be Vodafone.
Before we can get a cell phone we have to get an alien registration card (gaijin card). As a mater of fact all forigners who come to Japan and wish to stay for more than 90 days need to get one.

All of us Language teachers also did our medical check ups to see if we are all ok. Some one told me that every one who visits Japan gets sick around January/February every year because that is the time when it gets crazy cold. I am so not looking forward to this. We also heard that if you are in a train and a female cries out "Chikan" and points at a man...He can be in biiig trouble. Its almost like rape she is saying. Japan is a very humble and conservative society even though "some of them" act very weird to foreigner whether you are black or white they dont care...as long as you are not Japanese some of them act strange to us.

Went to the train station in Narita with a couple of the Jamaicans and some other persons from the USA, England and Ireland.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 4 - March 23, 2008

Day 4
First day of training. It started at 9am and ended at about 5 pm. Met in groups with all the persons going to my branch (Hiroshima). In training they told us about all the expenses associated with owning a car. As well as the apartment system in Japan, where your neighbours may watch how you organise your GARBAGE. Because the garbage truck picks up different types of garbage different days of the week.

Had some Chinese food at the hotel but it tasted a little different from what I am used to. It had squid.

Went to the mall to have some Mcdonalds with 2 caucasian guys from the US. I was told that most Japanese just see everone else as "foreigners" and the least thing you do will offend them.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Day 3 - March 22, 2008

Day 3
Rushed to have breakfast at about 9:45am and the stop serving at 10am :) but I got there. Went to the airport to change some money but got lost briefly. The bus stop for hotel is at terminal 16 so i was following the numbers and on reaching 15 i buck up pon a dead end wid some Japanese police man looking on mi funny.. Mi jus turn back.

Suh I went into the airport and asked one of the lady's where is #16 and she said i had to take an elevator down steers. then i found it :)

The Jamaican contingent also arrived so I feel much much better now. they were mostly from Kingston about 15 of them in all so thats a whole lot of company + 1 female from Trinidad and Tobago. This is my last day of rest and I didnt even rest sooo....

Friday, March 21, 2008

Day 2 - March 21, 2008

Day 2

Pretty much a quiet day.

Had breakfast in the morning and I made sure to stay clear of the weird looking food. Also guess what? I was the only black person in the restaurant, possibly even within a 500 mile radius.

The people weren't really paying me much mind though.I however sat by myself because I felt too weird.
The Japanese waiters and waitresses were very polite though.
I evenually went back to my hotel room and slept a little then my mom and sis called me again and hooked me up with Renee.

I then went to a drink machine and purchased coffee as well as some weird Japanese grape fruit drink.I forgot to mention from Day 1 that my landing in Tokyo was just horrible; at one point I felt like the plane was tilting too much to the right when it was about to land. Needless to say my heart sank. I will not forget that landing...Felt as if I want a long break from planes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day 1 - March 20, 2008 - First Day in Japan


Got to Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan at about 1:45 pm on Thursday, March 20, 2008. This was after I left Atlanta on Wednesday March 19, 2008 at approximaely 10:30 am. The line was sooo long, like the lines at cashplus when they could take on people to invest.
I could count the amount of black people in the airport; I think I counted about 7 in all out of about say a good 500 or 600 people. They had that look on their faces like "What are black people doing here?" I could be wrong though.

After getting through baggage and one of the customs guys saw a DVD in my luggage and asking me if it was porn, I waited about 2 to 3 hours for some one to identify me from the company that employed me.
I bought a phone card for 1000 yen (US$10) and called my mom and sis to let them know I am ok. That call would last only 3 minutes.

Went to the Narita view hotel where I was supposed to pay for 1 night but the hotel has it that I should be paying for 2 nights...That is still being sorted out.

Had some weird looking food in the evening but it wasnt bad... It was an all you can eat restaurant and it cost 2000 yen ($US 20). My mom and sis called me in my hotel room and we spoke for a while.