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…like molasses

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I’m at Hot One Breath again. Yep, no internet at home yet. What in the world is taking so long, you might be wondering (I know I am). Well after the fiasco and long time it took to finally get my Gaijin Card (over a month after moving into Ichihara), I was then able to apply for internet. I did so, and had to wait about 2 weeks for them to send an NTT (phone company) guy to my apartment for the “initial inspection.” This took about 10 minutes, and it just involved the guy running a guide wire from my apartment’s phone jack area to somewhere else in the building. Then another week, and they call me and tell me they’re ready to make an appointment for the actual installation. But of course, the soonest they can do this is a week after that call. I am scheduled to have internet installed on Thursday morning, FINALLY. It will be exactly 2 months since I moved out of the US and it’s about time. I miss having the internet at home. For Japan supposedly being so technologically advanced and efficient, it’s amazing how simple things like this can take forever. Yes, a lot of things here are advanced, but you would be amazed at how much stuff is weighted down in this country because of meaningless paperwork and plain old bureaucracy.

Once this works, you will see me online Thursday night I hope. I am also planning on installing Skype sometime very soon, so I think I will be able to actually call people from my computer. Who wants to get called? It’s apparently super cheap.

By the way, even though the Wii comes out here about 2 weeks later than in the US, I am reserved at the Goi Laox to buy one. I’m number 7 on the list at the Goi store. Wii Sports will be the first game I play!

A Grande Discovery

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After a half weekend, I finally had a really good day off. What’s that? A half weekend? Oh allow me to explain. Every now and again apparently, AEON schools have a fun little event they call “Sunday Open.” This means that they open up on the normally closed Sunday, so that they can interview prospective students, teach some special classes, and so on. I was the lucky teacher chosen to work this Sunday Open, so I thus lost half of my weekend. I was paid for it, and it was only 5 hours of work, but I do have to say that I might have rather just slept all that afternoon rather than waking up and going to work on my usual day off.

But that’s all behind me now. Today, you see, I ventured to the nearby station called Soga. The last time I came here was sometime at the end of September when I was still trying to find a cell phone. I had heard that Blanchard got an au phone without his actual Gaijin Card, so I figured I could maybe try the same thing. I had gone to the nearby Goi au shop to check and they had (apparently wrongfully) told me that it would be impossible to get a phone without the magic card. Anyways, I knew Soga was a fairly large junction station, so I had assumed there would be big department stores and other cell-phone-carrying shops in the area. After walking around the station and not finding anything, I walked further away in hopes of finding something. After about 45 minutes of walking, I was in Chiba, the next big city up. Ah well. A wasted morning, and a ton of walking. After that fiasco, I figured that Soga was a bust and there was nothing there except pachinko parlors.

I recently found out from one of my students that there is a major shopping mall in Soga, apparently a short (and free) bus ride away from the station. Score. I checked out the mall, called Ario, and it is pretty nice. Everything looked brand new actually. Most of the stores are clothing, so there wasn’t too much for me to actually buy, but there was also a huge Ito Yokado department store inside that was kind of cool to walk around. After Ario, I hopped onto the free shuttle to the next place, called Festival Walk, which was equally if not more impressive. An oasis of picante sauceFestival Walk had a huge arcade, Sega Arena, a movie theatre, and a really nice internet cafe. The net cafe seemed way nicer than others I have seen, with a bigger cubicle, better recliner, and nicer computer/LCD TV monitor. And not only were there free soft drinks, but there is free smoothies and soft serve ice cream. Pretty good deal, and this place also looks brand new. On top of all that, there is also free darts and billiards, making this place a good candidate for an all-nighter. I think I might try it sometime soon. This Friday is a holiday, so maybe then.

And the best discovery of the day was a place called Poca Tacos. At long last, MEXICAN FOOD! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the place. In case you didn’t know, Mexican food in Japan is about as rare as any food can be here, so it was a welcome sight. I ate a bunch of food there, and it was really good. I had nachos, a small burrito, and a bunch of chili cheese tacos. Sounds weird, but they were pretty good. This place is only about a 10 minute train ride from Goi, which means I’ll be likely visiting Soga a lot more from now on. Please see the picture on the right to see the discovery of the weekend. And yes, the napkin does say “Taco Time.” Viva Soga.

Hot One Breath…

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…is the name of the internet cafe I’m in right now. I was walking around Goi station, near where I live, and saw this huge sign with “HOT ONE BREATH” on it. This being Japan, I assumed it was some kind of sketch establishment, but instead its a small or medium sized internet cafe that is actually one of the cleanest I’ve been in here. So far so good. It also seems to be fairly cheap, so I’ll likely be coming here more until I finally get internet in my apartment.

Speaking of, life has been very good for the most part since coming to Japan. Work, except for the long hours of usually 12 or 1PM until 9PM every day Tuesday to Saturday, is actually pretty fun. One thing has kept things from being perfect, though, and that is a little magic item called the Foreign Alien Registration Card (外国人登録証明書), or Gaijin Card for short. Surprisingly, when registering for the thing the second day after moving into my apartment, I was told that it would take 3 or 4 weeks for them to process it. I’m pretty sure it didn’t take that long to get a Gaijin Card in the past. Anyway, since that is pretty much the main ID for a foreigner living here, not having it has been a bit difficult. First off, I wasn’t able to get a cell phone through DoCoMo, which was a pain in the butt because I was really planning on getting one from them, because I think they have the sweetest phone models. I was at least able to get one with au, and to be honest, I’ve been really happy with it, so no harm no foul. By the way, this is the phone I ended up getting: the Sony Ericsson W43S.

I am also unable to get internet at my apartment until I get my Gaijin Card. I suppose it makes sense, since they want to make sure that I’m a legal resident and everything, but what a pain in the butt. Even after I get my card next week and finish the application, it will take around a month for them to get internet service, since apparently no one in my building already has DSL or fiber internet. So I will likely not have a regular internet connection at my apartment until like mid November. My predecessor at AEON, who lived in my apartment before me, was able to steal wireless from someone until a few months ago, but it disappeared and he didn’t bother to apply for net since he was leaving anyway. Ah well. Internet cafes are not bad, I suppose, but going from my addiction of sitting on the internet for at least a few hours a day to having it only maybe once a week, is a big change. Luckily, my cell phone is helping me cope a bit, since I can do e-mail on it, view some webpages, and read Gmail. Gotta love Japanese technology.

Yesterday and today were my days off, and I am happy to say that I accomplished very little. I was at least able to do some shopping, including buying a nice Japanese-style (by that I mean for use on the floor) chair thing, which is exactly what I was looking for. And it only cost 1500 yen (about $13)! Shopping has to be done either before work or on my days off, since getting off at 9 or 9:30 everyday means that everywhere except for convenience stores and restaurants are closed. The other day, though, I went to the Ito-Yokado department store on my lunch break and bought Pokemon Diamond. I do have to say, it was well worth it. Definitely an awesome game. Uh…and no I am not a nerd. OK fine, shut up.

I don’t know what else I should update you all on right now. To be honest, my life has been pretty boring, since I don’t really do anything exciting. Right now, my usual routine consists of waking up around 11, watching some TV and being lazy in my apartment, then going to work from 12:45ish until 9 or 9:30ish. Work consists of planning lessons, which is pretty easy, since most materials are already made and in the Staff Room, meaning I just flip through the text book for that class, grab a folder of materials, write down some notes, and I’m good to go. I teach on average 4 or 5 lessons a day, each 50 minutes long. Saturdays are about 7 or 8 lessons, but half of them are repeats of classes I’ve already taught that week so it’s super easy. Then I teach the classes. The rest of the day I am sitting in my office/classroom, playing on my phone or doing other random goofing off. My staff is real chill, which is good because I have to hang out with them in the school all day. The school itself is half a floor of a building, with a lobby and reception area, 2 or 3 staff rooms, and about 5 classrooms. Small but efficient. After work every day, I usually grab some dinner at one of the nearby restaurants, then go home to either play DS, watch TV, or both. I sleep around 1AM every day, and then repeat this schedule. Every now and then I’ll vary it up by going to Chiba to hang out with Blanchard, but so far not very exciting.

I went to Tokyo Game Show 2 weekends ago, but I am too lazy to write up anything about it. It was sweet, but really crowded and hot. Lots of nerdy otaku guys taking pictures of booth girls. Very different atmosphere from E3. But either way, it was sweet. Played Metal Gear on PSP, saw Devil May Cry 4, Bleach on Wii, and many other random sweet games. The new Dragonball game on PS2 actually looks amazing, with pretty much any character EVER available to play, all the way from the original Dragonball up to GT. Movie characters also. We also saw Morgan Webb from G4 in the lobby/food area of TGS, and talked to her briefly. I don’t know exactly when the Wii comes out, but I really really want to buy one. I am still very confident that it is going to beat the PS3, if not based on price alone. XBox 360 is already pretty much out of the race, which I think it just hilarious.

I am going to get out of Hot One Breath now, and probably get some ramen for dinner, since aside from Family Restaurants, Goi pretty much only has ramen shops and sketch hostess and “snack” bars. It was embarrassing applying for internet, because they did a lookup of my address and there were all these sketch bars on the list, and I was like “yeah, that’s my neighborhood alright.” The live-action Detective Conan drama special is on tonight at 9, so I will probably be lame and sit at home for 3 hours watching TV.

I’m sorry I forgot our anniversary

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Haha, another inside AEON joke.

Anyways, I started work this week and also moved into my apartment. No internet at home yet, which explains my lack of internet presence that you are all probably freaked out about (by you all, I mean just me). Work so far has been good, but busy. I wrote a blog entry last night on my laptop, which I will try to upload soon. It will be correctly dated, so when its posted it will show up beneath this post. I’m sitting in a Manboo internet cafe right now, which is sweet because you get your own little cubicle to use the net, watch tv, and even play PS2. I also finally got a cell phone (au), so if you want my number or e-mail address, let me know and I’ll send it your way. Hope everyone’s doing good.

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