I arrived in Japan at Narita International Airport on August 20, 2003. Eager to start my "Japan experience", I stumbled out of the plane into the August Tokyo humidity around 6 o'clock local time with my fellow Canadian Jets after spending over 10 hours on a very packed plane. Considering how I was suffering from dehydration, possibly permanently kinked legs and an utter lack of rest, I think I made to the hotel on powered solely by adrenaline.
The bits and pieces I remember of Narita Airport are a bit hazy. After clearing immigration, I went down to get my luggage. Despite my willing there to be no problems, I didn't have a total success. One of my checked luggage pieces had been in cat fight with a luggage sorting machine and was minus one zipper. I found out later that the blow had actually nearly taken a button off my suit. Clearing customs and sending one of my suitcases to my placement in Kawajiri was effortless. Our group of Canadian JETs were shepherded through this and onto the bus to the Keio Plaza by JET staff.
Post-arrival orientation at the Keio Plaze is gaijin central. It more or less insulates you from Japan so despite being smack dab in the middle of foreign culture you can carry on as you would normally do. Albeit, with a bunch of people you would normally consider "foreigners." Being in Group C meant our orientation was only a single day after our arrival date on and we departed for our placements the day after. While this meant we had less time to adjust and explore Tokyo, it also means less time stuck sitting in seminars all day long! Frankly, the seminars were vaguely interesting, but, having read the manuals I'd been sent backwards and forwards they didn't contain much new information for me.
The most interesting presentation was from a MEXT official who is helping shape the future of English language instruction in Japan. He was quite critical of the previous practice of trying to teach and judge English ability through grammar and spelling rather than the ability to communicate effectively in English. I spent a lot of time tutoring ESL students at the University of Victoria in Canada and I never met a student that had anything nice to say about from the former approach. In fact, for most it crippled their interest in learning English. Okay, enough ranting...
So, what did I do in my free time in Tokyo? I explored the area around the hotel, of course! On the first night and after getting settled in my room, I headed out powered by curiosity and hunger with the other Canadians for a bowl of ramen. We all came back to my hotel shortly afterwards and collapsed for the night. The second night, I was still dead tired, but, I headed out with the Canadian group and walked around the area some more. There wasn't much time or inclination among us to actually go anywhere other than wandering.
So, early on the second full day of Japan I was off to my placement. More on that later!
Next: Japan Placement
Submitted by mbystedt on Sat, 04/23/2011 - 21:37