It is nearly midnight and I should go to bed, but I must right about today now or it won’t get done before local orientation.  It’s in Kofu for three days and two nights and I probably won’t have access to the internet.


Having said that, today was a wonderful, exciting, beautiful, and fun day.  I feel blessed beyond what I could have ever imagined.  I’m falling in love with this place and the people.

Posted by harp on Monday, August 8, 2005 at 4:39 pm | Edit
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Time, she's still flying! I'm quite enjoying myself still and am looking forward to starting work.

Saturday I did some housework in the morning (I figured out the washing machine!) and went to the hardware/walmart-type store to buy a phone for my VoIP line. I looked all over and bought some random things, but no luck. I decided to continue down the main street (rt. 20) in hopes of seeing something that looked like a store that sold phones. Perhaps it wasn't the brightest idea, but it actually worked.
Posted by harp on Sunday, August 7, 2005 at 5:29 pm | Edit
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Friday I spent the day cleaning up, doing laundry (which is very stiff now because we had no breeze), and other such things. There's something theraputic about washing dishes in your own sink and hanging clothes up to dry. My living room is now clean and comfortable with storage space to spare. My kitchen is decent, and my bedroom, well, I can shut the doors so nobody can see it . . .

I alos hung my futon out to air and so I could beat it. I'm not sure what this does, only that you're supposed to do it every week. Mark and I went off to the grocery store but it started to rain so I ran all the way back because my futon was still out! Naturally, it stopped raining, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I bought the fixings for a cucumber salad for the BBQ that night Haistu Saito was throwing for Chuck, who is finishing up his two years as a JET. The landlord had brought me many, many cucumbers, so this was a great excuse to get rid of them. I'm not sure if I've ever made a cucumber salad on my own before, but I put in some vinegar (or something that I'd hopped very much was vinegar), onions, sald and pepper and some sugar. It tasted great to me, whether that's how it's done or not, I was happy.

I picked up my bike, which now has a small seat, but I'll get used to it. It was only 3,000 yen (~$30) and I think he oiled up the gears since I had a smooth ride home. I stopped by the library to invite Niko to the BBQ. She was so touched and said how nice I was, though that was hardly anything compared to what she's done for me and Mark!

We had about 15 people show up for the BBQ and it was quite fun for a while. Then people started letting the drink get to their heads and I retreated to Chuck's apartment for some peaceful conversation. Due to my perfect timing, I went back downstairs to join people just in time for the cops to show up. They did warn us not to get invovled with the cops, and I dismissed this as an impossibility . . . Happily, Dennis (Haitsu Saito resident, been in Japan 7 years, former JET, speaks Japanese and English) talked to them and our only crime was making noise past 10pm. They turned off the music and actually did a fairly good job of keeping it down.

I managed to get everyone's stuff out of my apartment and my tables and chairs back into my apartment by 11pm. Mark graciously took in everyone who wanted to stay the night so I didn't have to deal with any drunks in my place. It had been fun having two tired, sober girls over, but this was too much for me. So, the college years surved me well (I can say that now?!) and I was able to get a decent amount of sleep even with the noise of homemade karioke and goodness knows what else. I'm begining to hope for when school starts and people don't have as much time to party. Sheesh! You can do that at home!

This morning (Saturday, 6th), I got a call from an English teacher at my school. I'm meeting her and my supervisor for dinner and a movie tonight and she asked if tomorrow I could help coach a student practicing for an English speech competition. I said I would, though I'm trying not to work on Sundays. I figured that I haven't been spending as much time in school during the week so it's the least I can do. Three hours seems like a long time, however . . . Maybe I'll pick up a good work ethic while I'm here!

Oh! I forgot to mention my first McDonald's experience Thursday. I heard great things about McDonald's here (pronounced something like Makudonarudosu), so I went with Chuck and Mark to find out. The fries were hot and the burger was fine, but the service was the key. After taking our order with a big smile and enthusiasm, we sat down and they brought the food to us. Then when we got up to leave they ran from behind the counter and took our trays to throw them away for us. Now that is totally different from the states.

Well, signing out for now. Tonight I'm going out again, but it's with my supervisor and another English teacher, so I'm hoping for some real Japanese experiences even if we are going to see War of the Worlds . . . Gotta love Japan!

Thanks for your emails and prayers. I am doing my best to respond to them. No, parties are not more important than you, but when it's at your own place it's quite rude to be antisocial. . .

Posted by harp on Saturday, August 6, 2005 at 2:24 am | Edit
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Well, the day everyone has been waiting for has arrived.  I am sitting in my living room (in a tank top and shorts due to the unbearable weather) with my laptop and I am CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET!!!  The next step is to set up my wireless router and callvantage phone, but first I thought I'd check in (with an american keyboard, too!).

I know I said it wasn't so hot here, but the past three days have really been quite bad.  I hear it's been 35 C (~100F) and it is so humid that my glasses fog up, and that's not because I've been in air conditioning!  Luckily, I haven't been in very formal clothes or at school for very long, so I can chill in light clothing with my fan in my face.

Let's see, I know this is unorganized, but in reverse order, this is what I've been up to.  This morning I nearly finished Harry Potter before Naito Sensei (sensei means teacher) came to pick me up for school.  I had about 3-4 chapters left, so this was a bit hard . . .  At school we set up my internet (which took about 2 hours).  I don't know why everything is so complicated here, but everything takes a while.  I was very surprised to come home, set up the computer and find myself actually connected!  I thought we'd go over school stuff and my introduction speech, but we didn't, and we won't until the 22nd, and school starts on the 24th . . .  Good thing I don't mind winging things.  I will go to school, however, and look at the materials at my desk and other things Kayla left me.  The more I can be familiar with school schedules, class seating charts, etc., the better I'll feel the first day I teach.

After leaving school Naito sensei came to my apartment and called NTT to activate the internet (24mps modem at 3,700 yen/mo I think.  It's all very complicated) and read the Japanese instructions, which went just fine.  Then we went to the bike shop (it was closed yesterday) and left my bike there so they could get a new saddle and rod.  When I finally got back to my apt I finished Harry Potter before writing this update.  I figured the timing wouldn't make a difference seein that it's 5am EST.

So, yesterday (3rd) I spent the day reading Harry Potter and practicing whistle.  I tried to take my bike to the shop, but it was closed.  Mark and I biked to the hardware store and got some random stuff, but then I went right back to Harry Potter.  In the evening Niko took Mark and I to her house and surved us dinner before going to the Japanese drum rehearsal (I've got to look up the name of it).  It was lovely chat with her at her place and I had such a great time at the rehearsal.  They let us try the drums, which was quite fun for me since I remember watching the Japanese performers at Epcot.  Being a Disney child isn't all bad!  What I don't understand is how they practice for two hours squating like that.  They must have legs of steel!  They performed for us after their break and Niko convinced me to play whistle for them.  I offered my whistle for any takers since they had let me play their drums, and one enthusiastic teen accepted the challenge (Japanese kids are very, very shy, so I was surprised and delighted that she took up my offer).  She played recorder so she was able to pick out some tunes to the delight of the group.  They were so welcoming and I only wish I could speak more Japanese.  In all these situations my Italian keeps cropping up and it's not very useful . . .  Though I suppose that it means I haven't forgotten quite as much Italian as I had thought.

Let's see, on Tuesday Shimizu sensei (my surpervisor) took me around town so I could set up a bank account (she picked up my hanko - the seal stamp that acts as a signature in Japan so you need it for all kinds of official business), and apply for tax exemption as a US 1st year JET.  That took a long time and was quite draining.  Even so Mark managed to convince me to go out with the gang from Haitsu Saito (my apartment building of 6 apts) to the Rink.  This allowed me to pay my tab from the other day which I had neglected to do . . .  Happily, he took my money cheerfully.  It was nice to see people (we met some other JETs there) but already my reputation has proceeded me and everytime the conversation turned to not-so-nice things they turned to appologize to me.  Well, not exactly appologize, but voice what they thought was going through my head (She's thinking, "oh my g** these people are evil." and "man, I know she hates me).  I'm not sure yet how to stand firm in my purity and beliefs without coming accross like a git (oops, is that a Harry Potter influence, or is it just because I live next door to an Englishman?).  I can't even blame it on what I said (which usually backfires) because I hardly said anything at all, but did plenty of smiling.  Maybe the silence was just as confusing.  I've been thinking a lot about how to show love for people, real love, and keeping that love as I learn things about them that are not so lovable.  It's so easy to say hate the sin and love the sinner, and it's actually not so impossible to do, but I don't know how to express it.  People often feel that my high standards automatically mean I judge, and maybe I do, but mostly I do not mean to.  Wow, okay, maybe I should but philosophical musings in a separate post so I don't bore those who are not interested.  However, I'd love to share them with those who are, because you have might have some wise advice!

So, on with the day - or rather, the day before.  That was Monday, and in the morning my new kitchen table and chairs arrived.  They are sugoi!  I have no idea how to spell that, but it means great, wonderful, etc.  They are very elegent and the table is exandable for when I have more guests!  I asked to keep the old ones so I'd have more places for guests and an extra table in my room to use as a desk.  I did a good deal of cleanin

In the evening I went out with Chuck and Mark for sushi on a conveyerbelt.  Yep, just grab what you want as it comes around and it's all 105 yen a plate (that's about 1USD).  It was actually pretty good, too.

I think Sunday I made a brief post, but did I mention that in the evening we went out for izakaiya (again, my Japanese spelling is even worse than my English), where I had great fun talking with the friends and gilfriends of Haitsu Saito and sucking on raw shrimp heads.  I did not care for the mountain potato, however.

That's it for now, I'll write soon!

Posted by harp on Thursday, August 4, 2005 at 10:57 am | Edit
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This post from Daley Ponderings is so cool I have to repost it here, since I know Janet's Internet time is very limited right now and she doesn't have time to check out everything she'd like:

As I was changing a diaper, I thought I heard Jonathan say "eechee", so I said, "eechee, nee, san" (which is my own personal spelling of the sounds of the Japanese for one, two, three.) Then Jonathan said, "Aunt Janet! Jump. [giggles] Eechee, san. Aunt Janet!" He was recalling the fun time he had with Janet learning Japanese on Alex's trampoline.
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 6:12 pm | Edit
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Janet had trouble with the blog, so I'm posting the conclusion to July 31 for her. By the way, I (the webmaster) apologize for the slowness of this blog; I'm addressing the issue, though that's going slowly, too. :) Anyway, from Janet:

To finish up the day yesterday, Niko took us to lunch, then a craft center. It was great! Today people left around 9am and I read out of Hebrews and listened to hymns. I learned a few whistle tunes and experienced my first earthquake! It was small, but the building shook! I have to give up internet now. I can't wait to be set up in my apartment!
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 12:47 pm | Edit
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Hi all! Sorry it's taken so long to get to a computer again. I am currently using the computer in the library, so at least I know it works. I don't believe I can check email here, but we'll see. I just wanted to post something before I get kicked off (it's Sunday and busy here). I hope Mom hasn't flipped out from my silence. I think it scared her, because I could feel your prayers for me yesterday.

So, what's been happening? I should have written down key points to mention, but I honestly didn't think I'd figure the Japanese computer out . . .

Last night was the welcome party for group A JETs. Group B should be getting in today and we will meet up with them later. Anyway, we hung out at a gaijin (foreigner) bar, which was actually fun for a while until the place got too loud and smokey. Japan is way behind the times when it comes to smoking regulations, but they sure have a complex way of dealing with waste! Anyway, I took a short walk outside )this is in the center of Kofu) and noticed a festival going on so I convinced a friend to check it out with me. It was so, so neat. There was a center stage (360) with singers and a few dancers and on the ground all around it were people dancing. They were dressed up in robe-type things and obviously knew what they were doing. However, people from the crowd would join in once they got familiar with the pattern. The music was less westernized that most Japanese music I've heard here, and so was the dance. It was very neat. We then went up to the castle and took in the view. It turns out that it's very rare for it to be clear enough to see Mt. Fuji. We could see it the day we moved in because the typhoon had just come through. Darn it! I would have taken pictures, but I figured it would be there every day . . . It's only 30 miles away!!

So, believe it or not, I decided to go out with some JETs to a karioki bar (forgive spelling, I don:t have time). We knew we'd probably have to take a taxi back because of the train schedule. Anyway, it was fun, though I think it was too big of a crowd. I didn't think I'd like it, but I had to try it (I'm in Japan after all!) I was hoping there would be a few songs that I knew, but they didn't have any country songs, which are the only popular songs I know. Too bad, I think it would have been hilarious if I sang "My give a damn's busted." Anyway, we ran to the train and we caught it, but only just in time and because they held it a little for us! By us, I mean a whole load of people. I had invited Kasia (fellow Eastman grad) to crash at my place since her ride didn't want to go out. Apparently the invitation spread and the three of us in Kai city ended up with 7 people wanting a place to stay (even though some could have gotten home). Luckily it worked out, and I had fun teaching Kasia an Irish tune (Star of the County Down) on whistle and Mark read us all (I took in two girls) a bedtime story of Harry Potter. It sure sounds nice with an English accent . . .

Well, I've been given my warnin. I have a bit more time. Yesterday during the day Niko (librarian I met) took Mark and I too a waterfall, a temple (HL, I bought a temple book and had them sign it. It is so, so beautiful! Thanks for the idea. Niko didn't know what I was talking about either!) Oops, my watch is not on library time and I have to go. Sorry! I'll come back as soon as I can!

Posted by harp on Sunday, July 31, 2005 at 5:09 am | Edit
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The mercury rose to as high as 35.6 C in Otemachi, central Tokyo. It marked 37.3 C in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture, 36.4 C in Kofu in the same prefecture, 36.3 C in Chiba, Chiba Prefecture, 35.6 C in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, and 34.9 C in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture. (Kyodo News)

According to my calculations, that makes it 97.5 F in Kofu. How was your un-airconditioned apartment?
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, July 28, 2005 at 1:57 pm | Edit
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I made it to my apartment in Ryuo.  My supervisor and another English teacher took me and another new JET (Mark, who lives in the same apartment buiding as I do) to lunch at a CHinese restaurant then we went to my apartment, then to the school and met some people (though most people are out because of the summer break) and I talked to some students playing trombone outside (the brass band was doing sectionals outside.  Brass band means wind band.).  I waved and said hi because they were looking at me and they introduced themselves.  They were excited that I'm a musician and wanted to hear me.  I hope that will make up for the fact that I don't know any pop culture.  We then came to my apt and met the water, gas, and electric men.  It was crazy!  Kayla left me her internet info at the school, which I did not realize until I was back at the apartment, so I won't be able to get set up in my place in a bit.  I would bike to school, but the bike I bought from Kayla just had the seat stolen and the bike shops were closed so we couldn't fix it and the school is quite far.  Anyway, I am using the computer of another ALT to write this.  He took Mark and I for a walk around our area, which was quite nice.  It's more city than I was expecting, but the place is so endearing - especially the people!  I didn't know what people ment by saying the Japanese were so nice, but they are so, so nice!  I'm getting excited about teaching and living here.

I don't want to take up all my friend's time, so I have to go.  I love you all and I'll try to write again soon!  I'm happy and excited and doing fine.  It certainly helps to have a neighbor going through the same thing I am and one who speaks ENglish and nearly fluet Japanese.  I feel I'm in good hands!

P.S.  I do not have time to check email.  Will do so soon I hope.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 at 1:21 pm | Edit
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Too bad this couldn't have happened a few weeks earlier, while you were still here. Once again we experienced the privilege of walking out our front door to see a space shuttle launch, then several minutes later hearing the low bass rumble. Perhaps you will hear more about this flight than you otherwise would have in Japan, since one of the crew members is Japanese.

Shuttle launches bring out the neighbors just as well as hurricanes do, and they're much more pleasant.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 4:56 pm | Edit
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Well, sad to say the lectures today were not much better than yesterday and one was much, much worse.  I'm glad to have that done with, though the prefectural meeting was very helpful.  We take a bus tomorrow morning to Yamanashi (Kofu) where our surpervisors will pick us up and take us to our places.  Tonight the Yamanashi people are going out (most prefectures did this yesterday).  I'm quite tired, but I'm going to go.  The typhoon is now just a tropical storm so I'm hoping it's not too stupid . . .

So, I guess again I won't know when I'll be able to have internet again.  Rest assured that as soon as I do, I'll post again!

Thanks for your continued prayers.

Posted by harp on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 12:34 pm | Edit
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I've added a link to Weather Underground's Tropical Weather page, so you can keep an eye on Tropical Storm Banyan, along with other Pacific and Atlantic storms.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 8:10 pm | Edit
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I just realized that I haven't set up post categories so everything so far has just been "general."  I'll try to add some and make things more organized.  Lack of organization is one of my complaints about blogs in general.

Anyway, the rest of the day went fine, though I'm very tired.  It's 7pm and I'm going to sort papers and go to bed.  Today we saw a video showing a day in the life of a JET and it was depressing.  I hope my school is different or I might drive myself crazy.  The kids looked bored to tears and the JET spoke in a monotone with unnatural rhythm and in an attempt to speak simply he dropped articles and other important aspects of English grammar!  The students watched the teachers perform a dialogue, then they all spoke it together, then the practiced it in pairs, then they performed it for the class.  This is all the same dialogue!  They didn't change it in the slightest, so all they did was memorize the particular conversation that will never be used in reality.  I don't know how I'm going to resolve my role as a teacher in this system with my philosophies of unschooling.  I pray that God makes a way for us to learn from each other!  At the very least I can come home able to say I was a teacher and able to communicate more specifically why the system isn't ideal.

Well, I survived day 1.  Tomorrow is another full day of orientation then we leave for our prefectures on Wednesday.

Posted by harp on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 1:00 pm | Edit
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It has been brought to my attention that there are some of you don't know what I'm doing here in Japan so here is a very brief summary.  I am here with the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program, which is organized by the government of Japan and has brought nearly 45,000 people from all over the world to Japan over the last 19 years to promote internationalization.  Most JETs (including me) are ALTs (Assistan Language Teachers), and in my case I am at a high school where I team teach with the JLTs (Japanese Language Teachers) sometimes following their lead and sometimes creating my own curriculum.  I am just outside Kofu, the capitol of Yamanashi-ken.  Yamanashi is the prefecture just west of Tokyo and has Mt. Fuji on it's southern border.

Why am I doing this?  I lived in Italy for 6 weeks last summer and had a great time learning a language surrounded by native speakers.  6 weeks wasn't long enough so I looked into longer programs and for various reasons I ended up with JET.  My goals are to learn a decent amount of Japanese, get teaching experience and a look into the Japanese educational system, assimilate all the stuff I learned at Eastman and UR and be free to study, practice, and learn what I want to and think about what I want to do with my life now that I'm outside of the Eastman bubble.

Please email me if you'd like my contact info or just want to say hi.  My email is under the About IrishOboe link.

I hope that provides sufficient background!
Posted by harp on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 12:59 pm | Edit
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I do not have time to do this post justice, but I'm guessing that numerous short blog posts are better than long, but infrequent ones.  Let me know if you think otherwise.

Last night I got about 7 hours of sleep, but kept waking up because my body thought it was day.  Today we've been sitting for presentations in business dress (heels, pantyhose, suit and all), but at least we're getting paid for it.  This afternoon my body told me it was time for bed, but I'm resisting the temptation to nap.  They gave us a ton more books and information that I'd like to wade through and sort before leaving for Yamanashi.  I'm writing this because I'm skipping the third time slot for breakout presentations (they were optional, so I'm not being bad) since the first two were not that helpful.  I'm also getting a break from my darn suit.

Random Observation (from now on, RO) #5: It's not as hot and everyone said it would be, but then again, I've only been here a day.

RO #6:  Did I mention that the bathroom has heated mirrors so it won't fog up?  Also, the toilets are push button and have two bidet settings.  The shampoo they provide is good.  There's hot water and green tea in the room, too!

Hm, I wish there was more to report.  After breakfast (which was fairly western style) I took a walk around the block, which was more complicated than it sounds.  Nothing happened in the presentations that is worth repeating . . .  Soon I have to go to the formal reception.  Then hopefully I'll be able to get to bed!

RO #7:  I am still a messy person.  I've been here not 24 hours and my side of the hotel room is a mess.

RO#8:  I love the internet.  I feel like I'm talking to everyone when I post here and I love hearing from you, too!

Posted by harp on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 10:56 am | Edit
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