FAQ

Got the concept?

Because I people keep on asking me the same questions, I decided to type this up. I know people ask these questions to get to know me, but I’ve heard them so many times that I really, really don’t want to answer them again for the 100th or so time. =\

  1. Why did you decide to go to Japan?
    Well, the answer to this goes back to my teenage years. I was a babysitter and the kid I was babysitting was really into Pokémon cards at the time. I watched the show — I was young, everyone did after school! He brought home Japanese Pokémon cards once and I got interested. I asked if I could have one and I either bought it off him or traded one of my cards for it. From there I searched online and found out what language it was, where it came from, After finding out it was from Japan, I began looking more and more into the culture of Japan, its history and anything I could find. I listened to j-pop, watched anime, centered my school projects around culture specific things regarding Japan, etc. The rest is history.
  2. How long have you been in Japan?
    I’ve been here since April, 2011. Feel free to do the math. 🙂
  3. How did you get a job?
    I used a website called Dave’s ESL Café. They have an international job board and I searched high and low on there for jobs and submitted many applications and coverletters. Eventually I found one.
  4. Wait, so what kind of job do you have?
    I work for an eikaiwa (English conversational school). I do not work in a high school or elementary school. I work in a school that is optional. That people choose to pay an extra fee and join so they can practice or learn English. As a result, classroom sizes are small. It ranges from 1 student to 8 students. It really depends if anyone shows up. Sometimes the normal students call in sick, etc.
  5. So… do you teach kids or adults?
    Both. I teach toddlers, elementary school kids, jr high school kids, sr high school kids and adults. Of course, not all in the same class. Usually earlier in the day are the kids classes and then evening classes are adults.
  6. How late do you work?
    A typical work day begins at 1pm and I leave around 9pm. I have a 2-3 hour break in between those times, but I don’t usually return home until after my shift is over.
  7. Oh, so where do you live?
    Kyushu. http://www.google.com
  8. Why did you choose Kyushu?
    Please see Q#3.
  9. Do you need anything specific to get a job in Japan?
    I believe at the very least need a Bachelor’s degree.
  10. What do your students call you?
    “Sensei”.
  11. Do you work in a large school?
    No. I wouldn’t say the building is large. It’s on the 3rd floor of a building that houses many other shops/offices.
  12. How much do you get paid?
    Seeeecret. Sorry. It’s none of your business.
  13. Do you need to know Japanese to work at an eikaiwa?
    No, you don’t need to; but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to know some. It’ll make living in Japan easier on you.
  14. What do you do in your free time?
    I practice Kendo. Currently, as of August 4th, 2013, my level is shodan.
  15. What do your parents think about you living so far away?
    Well, I’m an adult so it’s my decision, right? Obviously my family misses me. My mother and my grandmother worry about me, and I love them for it. Most of all, they want me to be happy. They understand this was my dream and I have achieved it. They wouldn’t ever try to stand in the way of that dream. They support me and are always there for me, even time zones and worlds apart.
  16. Is it true about how people want to touch your hair or skin?
    I really haven’t had strangers ask to touch my hair. I have had friends ask, and I usually allow them. Random people don’t ask to touch my skin either, but once when I was in an onsen (hot spring) an old lady asked if she could touch my arm and shake my hand and she did so without giving me a chance to answer. Aside from that I did have a coworker ask me if they could touch the bridge of my nose because Caucasians tend to have high bridges whereas Asians typically do not.
OMG JAPAN!!

OMG JAPAN!!

People generally get pretty excited when they have an interest in Japan and they are speaking to someone who lives in Japan. I get that and I welcome the questions, but I am bombarded with these questions daily, and after a while it becomes a pain to write out my responses every time. I am asked the same questions in person to, in Japan, from not only other foreigners but also Japanese people. I have been interviewed by television channels, by papers, I have even been an extra in a movie, and in every one of those instances they ask me some of the questions provided above.

I find that when it comes to my time in Japan, I would rather talk about the things I am involved in rather than my work or my job. I know a lot of people are interested when it comes to jobs in Japan because they are curious about finding work here themselves, but I don’t really feel that I am the right person to get that sort of information from. I really got lucky on my job placement — and I got the job early on. Moreover, if you don’t have a degree in something English related or have any experience teaching English there is a good chance you will be looking for a job for a very long time. Eikaiwa has become more competitive and they want people who have a history of teaching or have some sort of degree that deals with English. I don’t have a teaching license, but my major in college was English literature and my minor was linguistics. I also took a TEFL course, which is generally not all that important since the area of study isn’t exactly regulated, but some eikaiwa schools don’t know that!

Anyways, if you want to get to know me, try more personality related questions. Work related questions bore the heck outta me.

Made ya look!

Made ya look!

In battle, if you you make your opponent flinch, you have already won.

On Saturday, April 7th, I took my first kendo ranking test–1kyu–and I passed. It was one of the most terrifying and nerve wracking things I have done in a long time. I felt so out of my element. I was putting myself far, far out of my comfort zone.

Kumamoto is known within the Kendo world as being a great place to study the practice. So many great high schools here who have won many national championships; so many individuals here who have one championships as well. Kumamoto is the very city where Miyamoto Musashi lived a good portion of his life and wrote The Book of Five Rings. The teaching here is strict and even the test, which varies from prefecture to prefecture, is a little different than other places where things are usually the same. I have been to Miyamoto Musashi’s grave and I have been to the very place he meditated and wrote his book–all here in Kumamoto City.

The day of my 1kyu test came about and I was a nervous wreck. Heck, the day before I was nervous. I understand that it may not be a good reason, but I was to be the only foreigner there at the testing–and I didn’t want to be the only foreigner. The moment I arrived on the day of the test and made my way down to the floor anyone who was able to see me on my way stopped in surprise, some even stopped whatever conversation they were having and just stared in surprise. Being the only foreigner there kind of puts a lot of pressure on you. People want to see how you do and are curious of how you do it. I was nervous. Very nervous. I wanted to do well, and I made many mistakes, but I passed.

The first part of the test had something called kirikaeshi which we had to perform twice, after that was something called uchikomi where the other person opens up specific hits on their body and the other is supposed to properly go for those openings and hit them. After those two things you recenter yourself and you start the shiai (match). In 1kyu it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. You just want to attempt to properly make cuts and hold your ground with good form.

If you pass that portion of the test you are allowed to move on to the second part of the test: the kihon kendo kata. In this portion of the test you are placed up against another person and perform specific kata. There are two sides to these techniques. One person is motodachi (loser) and the other is kakarite (winner). I got lucky in that sense because I ended up being motodachi. Motodachi actually started off being the hardest one out of the kata for me to learn, but in the end became the easiest. I performed my kata without any mistakes and that felt great.

The process was long. I was able to enter the budokan at 8am, things started around 9am and I sat around waiting to go on for almost three hours. I was #81 of 82 people! All in all, I finished around 2:30pm. My teacher was there watching, which made me even more nervous, but I tried. After the last part of the test was finished and while everyone was waiting for the results my teacher congratulated me on passing shodan before the results had even been posted.

After everything was said and done Kevin, Yuji and I went and got ramen and followed up with some ice cream to celebrate. It was a good day and I was very glad when it was over. My teacher is already pushing towards shodan which is in a month. I am already afraid, but if I really do intend to do shodan I will have to push myself harder and harder.

What? No DDR? WTF Konami?!

A Konami Sports Club located in Ibaraki.

I mentioned before that I have been exercising pretty frequently, which brings me to now. I never thought that going to a gym in Japan would be so significantly different from having a gym membership in America. In some aspects it’s not–it’s more like they actually enforce the rules rather than give guidelines (at least in America it felt like the rules were more like guidelines…).

So when you go to a gym to sign up for a membership you’ll want to have all your information on you. Most likely, if you’re a gaijin, you won’t have a Japanese credit card because we’re not cool enough for that. Long story short on that one is I’m pretty sure Japan feels as though foreigners can’t be trusted, though I’m not sure if the new alien registration card (which isn’t actually called an alien registration card anymore) that they are releasing in July will allow for more “rights” for foreigners because it’s pretty much the same card as a Japanese citizen. Except you’re a foreigner–and you’ll probably still be treated like an alien…

(e.g. “So in America… do you eat rice at all?”)

Anyways, signing up for a gym membership is way more time consuming than it is in America. They want a whole slew of information that in America they really don’t seem to care much about. In America I’m pretty sure I gave them my address and phone number, handed her my credit card and then went on my merry way. In Japan you give the same information but like any contract of any kind they want a part of your soul… They want your health status, if you have any illnesses, if you’ve had surgery, if you have any weaknesses… how many partners you’ve been with–okay, maybe not that bit of information.

However, in Japan they do payments a little differently from how they do it in America. I think it’s safe to say that most Japanese people have bank accounts but it’s also safe to say that most Japanese people do not have credit cards or debit cards that they can use to buy items at stores. In fact, when I signed up for my bank account the closest thing they have to a credit card was the nifty Tsuruya credit card that you can only use at Tsuruya. Most banks do not offer online banking, either. When you pay a bill it usually comes to you in the mail  and you then take it to the nearest convenience store and pay it. For the gym membership, however, I had a choice of paying it in cash every month or allowing them to take it directly out of my bank account. To do that I needed to bring my bank book (which has the same information as an American checkbook would in regards to bank number and account number) in with me and they would take my account information down so they could pull the money directly.

Afterwards it takes about 2-4 months for their system to accept your information and proceed to take the money out of your account every month. For me, by the third month it still hadn’t verified my bank information yet and I found myself having to pay in cash while being reassured that it will probably go through by the fourth month. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Other than that, it follows pretty normal Japanese rules. When you check in you get your locker number and before you can move on to the locker area you have to take off your shoes. After that point your outside shoes are not allowed on the floor. In the locker room no shoes are allowed, but once you leave you can put on your gym shoes which are shoes that are basically inside shoes… but for the gym. I’m sure there may be people who wear outside shoes in, but I was told they wanted me to use shoes that were not used outdoors. It reminded me of when I was in high school and I had “gym shoes”! Except we all wore them outside.

Depending on your plan you can have access to the pool, the studio (basically workout classes), etc. I enjoy the workout classes (specifically body combat). There are always a bunch of staff on duty and they are always wandering around to make sure people are okay. In America I don’t think the staff really batted an eye at me once. Most just stayed behind their desk and texted or… zoned out?

Konami DDR game.

Long story short: it’s a lot of fun and I kind of like being part of the gym community in Japan over America. The people and staff are really nice (even if they’re supposed to be) and I feel welcome. Now other members are slowly warming up to me and chatting with me time to time. It’s a nice feeling. 🙂

Also, despite the fact my gym is called Konami, and pretty much has the same logo as the game company, I’m a little disappointed I can’t workout and play games at the same time using their machines. 😦

Nagasaki is not just a few hazy images. I remember it as a real chunk of my life.

This past weekend some of my coworkers and I planned a trip to Nagasaki. It was a wonderful trip and I wish we could have had more time instead of just one day. There was so much we wanted to do, but just didn’t have the chance to do.

This was my first time traveling by train for an extended period of time–well, a train that wasn’t the shinkansen. We rode just an average train for about an hour and then switched onto an express line the rest of the way to Nagasaki. It’s really unfortunate. I enjoy traveling by train but the price can be a pretty penny depending on where you go. The landscapes fly by and you get to see snippets of Japanese life as they fly past your window. I caught myself wondering if some of the villages I watched from my window had changed much over the past couple of decades. How the Japanese build rice fields into their hills always amazes me no matter how many times I see it.

We arrived in Nagasaki at about 10AM in the morning and rushed to get our daily tram passes so we could be sure to get around the town. We first went to eat champon which was very tasty. Though I think I prefer just normal ramen. What is champon? Champon is a dish I assume was adapted from a Chinese dish. It has noodles inside which are nothing like those used with ramen, soba or udon. They are completely round and smaller than both ramen and udon but bigger than soba. In the dish there are a variety of things. Many different kinds of vegetables (leaks, sprigs, mushrooms) and seafood (little octopus or squid, some shellfish, etc).

Afterwards we went towards Suwa Shrine, which was lovely.  From the top you could look out over a nice chunk of Nagasaki. It allowed you to imagine what it would have looked like about a hundred years ago. The shrine was very nice and I think there was a small bird zoo nearby because we could hear the calls of peacocks.

Afterward we went to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb museum. I have never been to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum, but I have heard that it is much more “in your face” in regards to what exacltly happened before, during and after the bomb was dropped. We slowly walked into the gallery where there were pieces of buildings and other items that survived the atomic blast–well, barely. As we continued forward we reached the gallery which housed familiar items to many people that had been exposed. Melted coins and bottles, burnt and bloody pieces of clothing. There was even a large glob of melted glass with the bones of a hand encased within. A young school girl’s obento (lunch box) with the rice still in tact within from being burned so fast and quickly. There were also items you could touch, which I touched. I took one picture inside, but I couldn’t take more than that. Even though it was allowed (or perhaps even encouraged) I felt as though it was rude.

There was a wall that had the shadows of items and a person etched into it. A ladder with the shadow of a man standing next to it, almost as though time there stood still and the shadow was still looking up toward the sky unknowing about what horror was going to shortly occur. The testimonies from people who survived the blast were also horrifying. A young kid who had to cremate his mother in the backyard of his school and that whenever he went to where she was cremated and scratched a stick into the dirt he could see the face of his mother in the black ash.

Afterward we went to Peace Park, which was very nice, but still indeed looming. There was a large statue with one hand pointing up towards the bomb that fell and the other stretched out in peace. The Hypocenter was also very dreary. I feel like I learned a lot despite how depressing the entire subject is.

Afterward we went to buy some omiyage (souvenirs) for the people we work with and went hunting for some yakiniku. We found a lovely grill, albeit expensive, but we were able to eat a lot of food and we couldn’t even finish all of it! We had beef, chicken, special cuts from pigs and even whale! I know many people do not agree with eating whale, but truth be told we didn’t know it was part of the course we ordered and since it was ordered and the money already paid for we found no reason to allow it to go into the garbage–which is exactly where it would have gone. Whether I ate it or not, the outcome would have still been the same–it would have still been purchased whale.

The only journey is the journey within.

"At 11AM they brought in my means for food and hydration for the remainder of the day..."

Last week was spent in the hospital. In Japanese they call it 入院 (nyuin). Last Monday, on the 5th, I went to the hospital in Kumamoto and checked myself in. It was 10:30 am in the morning and I didn’t have surgery planned until the next day. I was unhappy and a little short-fused because instead of working I had to sit in a hospital the entire day–a hospital I could not leave after checking in; and what would I do?

I checked myself in and they brought me to the 7th floor of the hospital. At that point they took me to my room which I shared with 7 other people with their own ailments. I thought, “Great–no privacy either…” I expected to have a roommate, but I guess I never thought, in my wildest imagination, that I would be sharing a room with 7 other people. Astonishingly, every person who came to visit me was surprised as well. However, it was a big hospital, and popular. I suppose, because of that, it is to be expected.

Throughout my first day I was visited by random people who began scared out of their wits to attempt to speak to me. I’m a foreigner, remember? Their assumption is that I don’t speak a lick of Japanese, let alone understand a word of it. I may not be fluent, but I know enough to get myself through the day and survive until the next without little to no help. They had me come in early, I found out, to explain to my what the following day would entail. I was visited by three people: a nurse, the surgeons assistant and my doctor; so you could say that I was waiting to be visited by the three ghosts of Surgery and Hospitalization.

The day of my surgery they woke everyone up at 6am. They took my blood pressure and my temperature–I was in tiptop shape. My student nurse was concerned about my bowel movements as I admitted that I did not know when the last time I did #2 (she asked!). I tried to explain to her that, for me, it’s totally normal and typical, but she still asked me once every hour or so when she had to check up on me.

"When I asked why there was a tube sticking out of my hand they told me it was placed under the tendon so it wouldn't stick again..."

At 7:30am I ate before everyone else in my room because at 8 I was to stop drinking fluids or eating food. Afterward I putzed around for a few hours until 11:00am when the nurse came in with my scheduled IV (点滴 [tenteki]). My surgery was scheduled at 3:30pm, so there was plenty of time for me to contemplate my fears and lament for the events to come. My neighbor told me not to worry and insisted it didn’t hurt. She explained to me that they play music during the surgery to help relax you and that it’ll be over before I know it. I appreciated her support, but it didn’t ease my tension at all. It was hard to forget or push out the thoughts going through my head when I had the IV sticking in my hand. A constant reminder of what was to come.

3:20 rolled around and everyone came into my room to prep me. It felt like a huge ritual–so many people surrounding me and my bed as though I was going to make a break for it. They had me lay down on my bed and they wheeled me out of the room. The wait for the elevator felt like forever, and when we made it to the 3rd floor. They pushed my bed in front of a door that read 手術室 (shujutsushitsu) and I knew it was the operating room. They waved us in and I was switched to the operating table which was much more narrow than my bed–which I might add I thought was also a little narrow).

The shots were the worst part. There were many shots for the local anesthesia. It took forever for my hand to take it as well. The original 2 shots turned into 5 or so. Eventually I couldn’t feel my hand anymore and the surgery could begin. But while they were waiting, I remember feeling sick to my stomach because my hand was tingling and it felt disgusting as it was losing sensation. My doctor rubbed it and massaged the muscle to spread out the solution from the shot, which was made me feel sick. I almost thought I was going to throw up. I could feel it, but I couldn’t feel it.

After they reached the tendon they asked me to make a fist with my hand. I tried to make a fist, unknowing if I was actually doing it. I couldn’t feel my hand so I had no idea if I was succeeding in my attempt. I heard responses of happiness from behind the little curtain they put up so I couldn’t see the surgery happen. But at that moment my doctor told me he wanted me to look at my hand, to which I replied I didn’t want to (見たくない). He told me to bare with it because I had to look to verify there was movement. So yes, I saw my own tendon. It wasn’t until the following day that they took the bandages off and I was able to see my hand after the surgery. There was a black train-track-like drawing on my hand to help with the stitches and a tube. When I asked why there was a tube (管) sticking out of my hand they explained so that blood could leak. It was placed under the tendon so that it couldn’t stick itself back to the bone, causing the surgery to be pointless.

"It always feels tired and exhausted from all of the physical therapy..."

All said and done, I can move my finger again and I’m regaining movement in my ring finger as well since I couldn’t move that to the degree it normally could because the pinkie wouldn’t move. I have to go to Physical Therapy (the Japanese say “rehab”) every day to help regain more movement. I have to be careful because soon the tendon will try to stick again.

At home I must practice using my hand a lot–I was also given permission to ride my bike in my current condition because it is good for physical therapy (the squeezing for the break). The truth is, my hand is weak. I cannot squeeze as hard as my other hand and my hand constantly feels like it’s tired from all the “working out” it’s been doing. I haven’t used my tendon since late May, to be honest, and it’s only natural that it feel tired and exhausted after using it. I will say that I enjoy my physical therapy. It may hurt, but it helps loosen the muscles that tense up throughout the day. I don’t have enough hands to do what the people at physical therapy do, so it’s really helpful. I always walk away with more mobility than I walk in with–of course until the tendon gains it’s strength back it’ll be hard for that mobility to stick around.

I will never be able to curl my pinkie as much as my right hand. My first doctor who I saw when I first broke my hand really didn’t handle the situation well. He did not listen to my concerns when I stated that I felt something else was wrong with my hand, besides the broken bone. He did not refer me to another doctor and, ultimately, in the end, he did not even correctly set the bone. He buddy-taped it to my ring finger and added some hard thing to the palm of my hand to support my pinkie but he never set the bone–as a result I have a 30 degree bend in my pinkie finger which will always cause the defect you see in the above picture.

In the end I met a lot of wonderful people. The room of 7 people turned out to be a great match for me despite the fact I didn’t k now squat for Kumamoto-ben. My Japanese was very limited compared to everyone else in the room, but I understood much more than I was able to articulate. The nurses and workers were taken aback and pleased when they found out I knew enough Japanese to work with them. I also found out I seem to speak better Japanese when drugged up/really tired. Perhaps it’s because I am not second guessing what I am about to say. The food was delicious even though there was one meal I couldn’t finish out of not having the patience or skill to eat the food in front of me. I will miss Fujimoto-obaachama. I hope I have an opportunity to see her again…

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.

So it seems as though I have become ill once more. At least I am beating the record to how often I used to get sick when I lived in the dorms while attending college. I think I got sick once a month… But then again, dealing with children is bound to catch you a few colds, or in some teacher’s cases… chicken pox! Thankfully I had my share of chicken pox as a child, but I always have a nagging in the back of my head that worries, “maybe it wasn’t bad enough and I can get it again!” A few of my students have come in with what seems to be the end of chicken pox; I wonder why they don’t vaccinate for it.

Vaccinations are done differently in Japan. A lot of my students have these grid-like patterns on their upper arms from the vaccines they were given as children. These patterns end up usually turning into scars that last for the rest of their lives. I have tried to figure out what the vaccines are for, but it seems the majority of them are for TB. Apparently the way they do vaccines here are from some sort of “shot” guns. Stab and squeeze… I guess.

It kind of makes me happy I never had that happen to me. My mother, actually, was diagnosed with being positive with TB when I was a child. The doctor was so very worried because my mother was working at an old folks home and if she was contagious it could mean a pandemic. I took the test and I came up negative so everything ended up alright. But the test I had to take required there to be something (liquid) placed just under my skin. My friend says she had some sort of liquid placed under her skin as well, so maybe her scar is from TB. I just don’t remember there being that many shots for the vaccine… Either way, when I received my TB vaccine, it was just one shot. Both times.

Anyways, I’m going to call that quits for now. I’M SICK.

Broke My Left Pinky Finger

 Thursday on my way to work my bike bit the dust, and I along with it. I broke my left pinky finger and let me tell you, it hurts like a bitch. Everyone has been super nice to me thus far but I can feel some eyes on me, especially at work, in regards to how things have been as of late. Or perhaps it’s just me. I hope it’s just me. I like my job.

When I bit the dust a few people watched from a distance and kept walking. Only three people came to my aide and it was after I didn’t get up right away and took some time to compose myself because I was really just telling myself not to cry. I was reminded of the time Nick told me about the Bystander Effect because for a while I wondered if anyone was going to come over and help instead of just stare and pass me by or stare from a distance. I also want to give some benefit of the doubt that they may have assumed I couldn’t speak any Japanese.

But as you can see, my hand has swelled up to a decent size. I can’t believe how much it hurts constantly and I can’t believe the best pain reliever that the doctor will prescribe me is something in the same bracket as Ibuprofen and Naproxen. I was given 60mg pills of Loxonin. I should tell my doctor that I’ve been known to take 400-600mg of Ibuprofen. When I told my doctor that after taking the medicine I felt no difference he just told me that what he had given me was the strongest he could and that I could up my daily dosage from 3 to 4 if I wanted to. So I have. It does take off a little bit of the edge (pain) but honestly I’ve gotten better drugs in America with less pain (like my oral surgery).

All in all, my visit to the doctor for this cost me about $56USD. It included the x-ray to confirm there was a break.

Obtaining a Japanese Visa…

So Monday I sent out my paperwork so I could get my visa. It didn’t involve a lot of paperwork but at the same time with it being so close to the deadline I couldn’t help  but be worried that something would go horribly wrong. I called the Consulate General of Japan so many times I’m sure they recognize my voice now.

All I needed to send in was my Certificate of Eligibility with a photocopy of it, the application (signed) for the visa along with a passport-size picture, my passport and a self-addressed return envelope (I chose overnight). With that information they will create what I believe to be some sort of sticker which they will stick to one of the “Visa” pages in my passport.

Anyways, the way to get a Certificate of Eligibility is, I believe, through a university as a student or through other means for work. The employer/school needs to apply for the Certificate of Eligibility and then once they receive it they must send it to you. It feels like a pain in the butt because it’s so time consuming!

Other than that, you don’t have to pay the consulate any sort of fee for them to get your visa–which is super nice.

At any rate, this is how it works when you are an American citizen living in America.

 

Things I needed to send to the consulate office for my area:

  1. Certificate of Eligibility
  2. Photocopy of the Certificate of Eligibility
  3. Visa application (which had to be filled out and signed at the bottom)
  4. A passport-size photo which you would paper-clip to the visa application. It had to be recent (within the past 6 months).
  5. Your passport which must have at least one blank visa page.
  6. If you were not going to physically pick up your passport from the consulate office, you were to include within your package a prepaid envelope (they stated they preferred Fed-ex, so I used Fed-ex). Be sure to put your address in both the recipient and sender spaces provided on the return envelope you include. If you do not, and you place the consulate office as the sender, Fed-ex will bill them and they may not send your things back to you with that envelope.

If anyone has any questions, go ahead and leave me a comment. Don’t be shy, now! I can see what posts get views!

Japan’s 8.9 Earthquake 2011

I have been watching the news since early morning about the earthquake in Japan. The damage is insane. I also know someone who lives in the Miyagi prefecture about 30-40 min away from Ishinomaki City. As everyone is aware, the phone lines are either down or overwhelmed so it’s difficult to contact anyone in Japan. I am also under the impression that power may be out in the area as well, so it would be difficult for my friend to reach out to his friends and family back home in America. All we can do is hope he’s all right and he didn’t leave his town that day to go closer to the coast.

I have another friend stationed down on the tip of Honshu that extends out to Kyushu. He hasn’t updated his facebook, blog or logged online so I hope he’s okay. I heard that his city received 6 foot wave tsunamis so hopefully he was able to evacuate if he was in a danger zone. Then again, he may not have power either in his area–so I hope whatever is going on that he is fine!

Japan has it’s hands quite full at the moment. Searching for missing persons from the tsunamis up in Miyagi prefecture, handling the nuclear plants continuation of overheating and leaking radiation, picking up the pieces in the areas that they can that were affected by the earthquake and attempting to get through the debris that the tsunami caused. The death toll rises by the hour and it doesn’t make anyone feel any better about the issue. My thoughts and wishes go out to the people effected by this horrible disaster and I hope that they are safe and someplace warm.

My grandmother called me early this morning asking if I had heard about the earthquake and tsunamis, and we talked a little about the issue. Where I will be living was not anywhere near where the epicenter was located or where the tsunamis hit. The coast in Kumamoto prefecture had a warning/advisory in effect, but the people from my school informed me that everything is fine there and that the day when on with business as usual for the city.

Am I shaken up from this horrible event to the point where I will change my plans? No. I am still going to Japan. I am still moving there–however, I have realized the importance of learning about earthquake and tsunami precaution and how having a plan when things go down is important. I will definitely be getting myself an earthquake precaution kit complete with hardhat in the event something happens down where I’ll be.

Reactions

Last week I told a friend of mine that I would be moving to Japan in April. I had assumed that my friend already knew because I had been posting statuses on my Facebook, but I guess she must have missed them. Upon telling her she seemed to get a little angry with me. Accusing me of coming forward and “rubbing it in” that I am “doing something with my life” and that I’m “achieving my goals.” I never once tried to rub it in. The only reason I brought it up was because it was relevant to the conversation, and that inadvertently told her what was happening.

So from there she went on about how if I went she’d never see me again, and I told her how untrue that was. She informed me that video chatting didn’t count as “seeing” one another–but what she has failed to realize is for the past 3-4 years I haven’t seen her much, if at all. I think I can count on one hand how many times I have seen her physically. It makes me wonder how she would have reacted if I had already moved to Japan and ended up telling her once there. I am saddened that she was more angry at me than she was happy for me. I cannot help how her life ended up, and I can’t make her do what I feel she should do to become the woman she wants to be or wishes she could be.

Tomorrow I go to get my teeth whitened and I am unsure if they will do anything else while I’m there. Friday I see my oral surgeon and I’ll get to talk to him about my recent concerns. Hopefully my laptop arrives on time. That would be superb.

I’m also on the last season of LOST. Score!