Today I went through orientation, where an administrator and a teacher explained to me the basics of how this course is going to go. I must say, it’s going to be a nice challenge for me, as they expect a lot out of all their students. In addition, everything will be in Japanese from day 1, without the Romanized words that many American Japanese courses use. So basically, the morning will have 3 hours of one-on-one language training through both computer programs, active listening and speaking, and other methods. The afternoon I will be going through cultural seminars at an adjacent “cultural school”. This is interspaced with various day trips, cultural exploration trips, and tours, as well as independent travel. I know that this will be an awesome experience, and if any of you all have a chance to do something like this, you should definitely give it a shot. Anyways, some pictures.
The Main Building
The building where I’ll be having the Language classes. It turns out that this building used to be a large rice pot factory. The entire surrounding area used to be factories, and is slowly being renovated into high-tech buildings.
Part of a garden of the house where I’ll be having culture seminars (I couldn’t get a good picture). It used to be the family home of the dude that gave money to start the Yamasa Institute.
Since Orientation ended early today, I went to the nearby town of Gamagori. It’s right next to the ocean, and just a 10 minute train ride away. Most of the pictures will be on Panoramio (Link Below), so the ones here are only a small sampling. The town is fairly small, but there is a forested island that is connected to the mainland by a walking bridge. It’s a really nice place, and seems to be some type of traditional Japanese shrine. Pictures below. The cool sea breeze and the smell of the ocean were in full force here. Unfortunately, all the electronic viewers are limited to the sense of vision, and won’t be able to feel or smell any of this trip. Overall, it was a nice side trip. I look forward to doing more of these whenever possible. Pictures below (More on Panoramio).
As a side note, after 2 minutes on a train out of Okazaki, there was an abundance of green space and farmlands, among other natural sights that you can’t find in a city. Pretty cool that where I’m at has both a medium-sized city feel (300,000 pop.) and the relaxed country atmosphere.
There are a few very interesting aspects of life here that I was surprised about. First of all, I have yet to see a towel dispenser or a general garbage disposal. This is because before throwing anything away, you must separate it into different bins: food, burnable, plastic, paper, bottles, PET bottles, etc. It’s fairly confusing, but people here are very serious about this.
Also, the weather is very interesting. It’s very very humid and very very hot. It was 95 the day before I got here, and it’s been around 90 the past few days. There’s also supposed to be a typhoon sometime in the next month. Last time I was in a typhoon was on top of a mountain in Hong Kong 3 years ago. Good times.
A lot of Roads have no Sidewalks, but at least the drivers are polite.
Finally, I’ve been looking around for interesting vending machines. I walked past one today that sold lotion. It wasn’t in bottles, you just put your hand under the dispenser after you paid. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera at the time, but if I find it again, I will take a picture.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!
I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.