Friday, June 30, 2006

Some pictures

Just a few pictures to get some idea of what my new life is like.

My room. You can see that, at the moment, I have no bed. When I noticed this, I was worried I had misunderstood and would have to buy my own futon, but there was a mix-up, and I should be getting a new mattress today or tomorrow.

The room itself is pleasant, with a balcony, tatami floor, and a pretty wood ceiling that looks as if it might be made of bamboo.

Another view of the room, showing the Japanese-style doors. The left door leads to the kitchen, while the right two open on a closet. In the foreground is a "floor-chair," you might call it--more suited to the traditional Japanese custom of sitting on the floor.

You can sit on the floor because they aren't as dirty as Western floors can be, due to the well-known habit of leaving your shoes at the door, in the genkan shown here. The door at the far end of the hall leads to my room. In between is the kitchen.

The kitchen table, with the assorted foods I used to make breakfast, a healthy portion of miso soup with shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and tofu.

A couple of miscellaneous photos:

Apparently, Adachi is where Basho started his trip to the north of Japan, recorded in his most famous work, The Narrow Road to Interior. Perhaps I'll follow him some day, though more likely by bike than foot.

A nice custom—sure, it's not compressed air, but, then again, you don't have to pay for it, either. The can holding the pump says "Please feel free to use this."

I am missing my bike very much. A good ride would, I think, really help with this jet-lag. The bike path nearby really is a stroke of luck, and I look forward to riding it one of these days.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

ただ今!I'm back!

I'm having some pretty heavy-duty jet-lag this time around - nothing like when I went from Tokyo to San Francisco last year, but enough to make me weak and tired, especially at night. For that reason I haven't written much in my blog, and I'm not sure I'll get very far tonight, but I wanted to write down a few things.

Yesterday was pretty rough, with excitement alternating with abject fear. I'm glad to be back, but the prospect of being here for a year, when it comes down to it, is a lot more intimidating than expected. I'm sure once I get settled it won't seem so daunting.

My room is nice, if expensive (about $700 with utilities) and small. It has tatami (traditional reed) mats, and if you have ever been around newer tatami mats, it is quite a pleasure to come home to--the smell is a healthy, sweet smell that fills the room without being pungent. I'll have pictures of the room as soon get up the energy to resize them for the blog.

It is warm and sweaty here, and I'm not looking forward to wearing a suit and tie everyday. Shoes and pants (um, rather than shorts) are bad enough.

Well, that's about all I can muster for the moment. Hopefully an early night will translate into more energy tomorrow.

Good night...

Monday, June 19, 2006

A correction and biking news

First, I will be next to Gotanno station, but will be in an area called Koudou (wide road) in a section of Tokyo called Kitasenju (north thousand... dwelling?). I'm not sure what Gotanno refers to, but it does not seem to be an area name.

Also, I was pleased to find that I'm well placed to pursue my passion for bicycling. There is a long bike path (ie pedestrians and bicyclists only) along the Arakawa river that weaves through Saitama prefecture, just north of Tokyo; Tokyo; and Chiba, to the east of Tokyo. My future home will be about 10 minutes (walking) away from a bend in the Arakawa. I'll have to explore it on a cheap 3-speed until I can save some money, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Location revealed! 五反野っか!

Just found out where I'll be living - Tokyo! A place called Gotanno, northeast of the city. If you look at that map and can't read Japanese, Gotanno is the green arrow, and Tokyo's "center", the imperial palace, is a large green spot in the middle, at the very bottom. I won't be exactly in the center of town, but that is a good thing - close enough for easy access to the best of Tokyo (Shinjuku and Shibuya are about an hour away), but far enough away to feel homey (maybe). Plus, it is just next to the Arakawa river, which should be good for night walks after work. I'm not sure yet where I'll be teaching - that's just where I'll live.

It's good to finally know where I'll be - and I couldn't ask for much better. Now I can really start to picture myself there (though in a week and a half I'll be there already anyway).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

At long last

It's been awhile, and a lot has changed in that time. I'll officially announce (though I already did in Japanese, I now do so in English) I am leaving to teach English in Japan June 27th. I don't know yet exactly where I'll be, but it is supposed to be somewhere in Kanto, that is, the eastern part of Japan, most likely in Tokyo or nearby.

And I'll tell you something, I'm actually sort of regretting I am leaving, or at least so soon. I have been working for a publishing company, and I really enjoy it. I really enjoy working with words all day, even if they aren't my own words, even if they are about avian diseases or laser spectrometry (I'm not even sure if I spelled that right!). I've dreamed a few times about living out in the country, biking to work every day, and just sort of sitting things out while the world goes to crap around me. I almost wonder if I could do it.

And then I realize I am lucky I am being pulled out by something I set in motion earlier this year. Because I could get stuck, I could stay here, and then in 5 to ten years wonder what happened. The fire to be in Japan has cooled a little--though of course it was burning so hot it was really hurting me--and now I see it more as a step on the way, hopefully the first of many international experiences. I would have a tough time wrenching myself out of a comfortable life here two or three years down the line if I didn't have this teaching job compelling me forward only a couple of months after I got the job at the publisher.

But it is remarkable how easy it is to become a lotus-eater, to forget your greater purpose and settle for a life of ease and pleasure. I can't say I know my purpose, I don't really think I have one, but I do know I got side-tracked from a dream I'd had, and it is now time to throw myself into following that dream.

But it sure is tempting to sit and watch the fireflies.