It’s the end of September and I’m reaching the milestone of 2 months in Japan.
Every year, around this time, I get the strongest urge to write. I guess it’s the colder nights that make me want to cosy up and type away my next article or blog post. It would seem that even moving across the world doesn’t stop that feeling.
Image from Giphy
Despite being mega-busy with my schools and then travelling at the weekend, I’ve felt this insatiable writing-itch that I just needed to scratch and so, after spending the day shut up from Typhoon Trami, I thought it would be the perfect chance to look back on my time in Japan so far and remind myself of the progress I’ve made.
Image from Instagram
My first memory from August 2018 came at 1am, spending my last night in my hometown with friends before I left for London a couple of hours later.
Leaving home at 3am and saying goodbye to my best friends, who had stayed up to see me go, and my little cats, who were oblivious to what was about to happen, was insanely tough.
Even though I knew I was going, actually walking out the door and leaving them behind, took so much willpower. Next was a mega drive down to London with my sister and mum. The drive was weird, I was enjoying every minute with them, while also knowing that we’d soon be saying goodbye.
We had breakfast in Wetherspoons (oh god I miss Wetherspoons) and the reality seemed to hit us all at once, making us all look like idiots crying into our toast. I got into my hotel room early and after the hardest goodbye of my life so far, watching my two role models walk away, I knew that my solo journey had begun.
After a rollercoaster experience in Hounslow a few days before my flight, I was feeling pretty strange. Nevertheless, it was soon time to get into a taxi and head off to Heathrow, where I met the JETs that I’d be travelling with.
The flight itself was better than I expected- I just binged on films and got given free ice-cream.
Now I already covered my sleep-deprived, blurrily-amazing Tokyo experience and getting to my hometown in an earlier post so, after that, I had my first festival in Japan!
I also missed my best friend’s 21st birthday on 12th August and so had to send my love across the sea.
When it came to work, I had over a full week visiting the different nurseries and elementary schools that I’d be teaching at and I was made to feel welcome in every single one.
Safe to say, the nights were spent eating, watching Netflix and catching Z’s.
Next up was Kumamoto Orientation, where I got to see the city and meet up with the other JETs in my area.
I also had my first night out in Japan, which was hilarious.
On the way back from the city, hungover, we visited Mt Aso and got a look at some amazing views on the way.
After orientation, work kicked in and I got to start lessons, which I enjoyed a LOT more than I expected to. It was around this point that inaka life started to creep in, literally, as I had multiple run-ins with outside invaders.
A couple of weeks in, I began to get more familiar with my town. I found that my office at the Board of Education office has a weekly bread van and I even found one of the coolest cafes I’ve visited to date.
I went on my first solo trip in Japan and ended up stumbling into the next prefecture, Miyazaki.The views on the drive were amazing and I found myself in Saito at an ancient burial mound site. I even visited the on-site archaeology museum and found a sculpture from the ice age that looked like Sid the Sloth… (Ice Age based on true events).
At the end of the month I tackled Misato’s 3,333 steps with friends. This trip confirmed 2 things;
1. I am Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill
2. 3,333 steps is a LOT more than you think it is.
My legs were shaking when I got down and I was feeling exhausted, sweaty and dirty, but also pretty epic. It had sort of reminded me to think of how far I’d come. I mean at this point I was driving, eating veggie, teaching and travelling around Japan on my own.
The leap of faith to come to Japan was probably one of the best decisions I could make. It’s had it difficulties and I know that there are a lot more on the way PLUS I have no clue about what comes next, but to be honest, I think that’s the part that I’m enjoying the most.
Image from Instagram/Poets
All other images from Jess Langshaw