It’s your friendly neighbourhood Gaijin here! I say that with great excitement as The Avengers movie was just released this week in theatres. For those who have gone and seen it, I envy you. I reminiscence the days in which I did not have to travel at least an hour to reach a movie theatre, furthermore a place where both genders could get the 50% off discount at cinemas. In Himeji City, there is a special 50% off for women on Wednesdays, and they do need it as the movie ticket costs around 1800 yen here ($20CAD). However, the average movie ticket price as of 2017 is 1310 yen. As an added bonus, the popcorn snacks you buy at the cinema are relatively a similar price for their respective sizes (A large being 550 yen), but the proportion sizes are WAY SMALLER. Thanos what have you done to my movie cinemas and why?
Well, this week started the mark of Golden Week. Which is basically a week of vacation for the entire country of Japan (except if you work in like a grocery store because we need our food). Some services are open or on special schedules – for example, the library in my town seems to be following regular hours (kids need to study), while the gym is on a special schedule. Here’s something interesting for you – the club activities at the Junior High School are still in commission during the break. 5/10 days of the Golden Week Holidays (Normally it is 7, but because the emperor is changing it was extended this year)are club activity days, which means the teachers have to go to school for around 1-2 hours and facilitate the club activities. How are the teachers supposed to travel, if they have to come to school! I guess life isn’t perfect, but nonetheless I was hoping the teachers at my school would at least get that period of time off. I guess this is one of the benefits of being an ALT at school, plus there are probably ways they can avoid doing Bukatsu. Such as getting the students to run the practice on their own and such (This I cannot confirm).
With it being the end of April, this marks my 9th month being within Japan. Wow, time flies by quickly. Before you know it, some of my university buddies will be getting married (one is already on the way in about a month or two) and I will still be here living in Japan. I really would love to return to every family gathering that occurs or every wedding that my friend has, but unfortunately I do not possess the money nor vacation days to be constantly travelling 13 hours across the globe. Living abroad is a choice. I understand that now more than ever, but I hope that choice doesn’t make those who I love feel forgotten. 9 months ago when I was moving to Japan, the only thing I really was concerned about was preparing myself for the job which I had sought after for a long time. I had to mentally prepare for the opportunities and the downfalls Japan may have brought, but what I didn’t prepare was – my friends and family for the actuality of not having me around for quite a while. It’s easy to get caught up in your own daily events when making such a big change, but I never truly considered the effects it would have on others. It’s not like I’m trying to boast about being irreplaceable in the lives of others, however I am a part in others lives that just got up and disappeared. So I try to assure that those people who I have left are okay without me.
Currently, I don’t know how long I am willing to spend in Japan even after the JET Programme is finished. I’ve had a great time in Japan, then once this time is up who knows where the next opportunity will lie.
Having a whole week off is lovely. Some people have gone out travelling with their new fiances (congratulations by the way), friends or family. Me…. Well I’m just spending this week recuperating from all of the classes this term. Catching up on my many hours of sleep, studying Japanese reading (which is surprisingly fun, but difficult at the same time) and tidying up my crib (with the assistance of Marie Kondo). After 9 months, my apartment is starting to feel like home. Walking out of my house and observing mountains accompanied with the earthy smell of nature has become so natural to me.
This town cannot be compared to the Urban Civilization I am used to, but it definitely has enough character for me to enjoy living here for a bit longer. I still get a slight feeling of envy whenever I see my Japanese friends having unique experiences in the city (primarily Tokyo), but I don’t think I would receive the same type of relationships in the cities. Whenever I visit Osaka to go shopping, there are always so many people. Somehow I’ve become less accustomed to that living in a small Inaka town. Everyone is dressed so posh and to a certain degree it feels excessive and unnecessary to me now, but I think that’s only because I have become used to the Inaka. I can turn a good look, but only when I feel like it.
Overall, I feel that I am slowly falling in love with this small city that I live in. Nonetheless, I do not foresee myself living in this town for longer than 2 more years. As much as I love the atmosphere and the environment, I believe there will be more opportunities either back home or in the cities of Japan. There are more jobs or bigger international companies within Osaka and Tokyo, which I plan to try and apply for when I am finishing my term up with the JET Programme. Often individuals ask me why I study so much while I live in Japan. I study because I want to prepare myself for any opportunity that may arise in my future, I have a goal – to achieve N1. Sometimes opportunity knocks and if you haven’t put in the hard work, you may not have the key to open the door. I recall one of my university friends who constantly studied throughout his entire university career for crazy long periods, where is he now? Where he wants to be. So maybe I was a bit late to the party, but I want to make every day that I am in the JET Programme and in Japan – count towards my future. The JET Programme is not a waste of time or my life at all.
Have a fantastic Easter/ Golden Week everyone.