Don’t Say Oh Well

Yeah, I step outta my little country
I traveled seasons, took a longboat
And now I find myself in a small town
It’s so remote, I couldn’t trawl
So I kissed my mommy, I wanna sweet cheeks
And I told my dad I’m real glad that we’re friends
Said to my brother I’ll surely miss him
I’m coming back just don’t know when
Waited enough to find the truth
The pain, again then say oh well
Don’t say oh well
Departing Australia for foreign shores has been the most difficult thing I have every brought myself to do, and to those I am leaving behind, know you will be in my mind and in my heart, always
-ダニエル

Sayonara Australia!!

Alas the moment of my departure is imminent, the road up to this point has certainly been long and arduous. I certainly wouldn’t be in this position if not for the support of my family and friends that helped me every step of the way.

My flight leaving Melbourne departs this evening at 6:30pm this evening, Sydney bound with a connection to Tokyo’s Kansai International Airport in which I will be arriving at 6:05am on Wednesday 30th May!

Honestly the last month has quite literally been the best of my entire life, never have I felt so loved and appreciated by those around me, which has made the decision to leave all that more difficult. I have been showered with gifts and good times by my friends, co-workers and especially my family, and have been thrown no less than four going away parties in the last week.

I would go so far to say I have lived more in these past few weeks than in the many months before, having being caught up in the daily grind these past few years. From the bottom of my heart I have been as truly happy and content with life, since I found out I was accepted into the 2012 JET Program and was heading to Kobe.

The packing up of everything I have ever owned and deciding what exactly makes the cut to be packed away to come along with me (made all the more-so difficult by the fact I have always been a compulsive hoarder) has been enduring process. Having been through the emotional roller-coaster that comes with leaving ones home that have ranged from joy to guilt to regret to contentment, one feeling that is prominent as ever, is that of being terminally Australian.

However reassuringly, unlike my grandparents that first came to these shores over half a century ago (a journey of which they have reminded me several times upon each of our meetings these past weeks) I leave knowing, that a home to be warmly welcomed back to will always be awaiting me in Melbourne, with my family and friends being little more than a Skype session away.

I would like to share a couple of the photos of the people and times that have made these last few weeks special.

So how long have I been waiting to do the cheesiest thing possible and play Big Jet Plane by Angus & Julia Stone upon my departure to Japan. About a year and a half or so, it pretty much clicked the first time I ever heard it that this was destined to be my JET song. If anything its an awesome replacement for the only other JET applicable departure song Leaving On A JET Plane.

Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー) Opens Today!!

Tokyo Skytree today opened to the public for the first time after 4 years in the making after it began construction in July 2008 ! Towering over Tokyo at 634-meters the tower is officially the worlds tallest almost doubling the Eiffel Tower in Paris (standing 324m) and just beating the Canton Tower in China, which is only 600 meters.

Taking almost 43 months to complete at a cost of 40 billion yen (503.7 million dollars) the primary purpose of Skytree is broadcasting radio waves which had previously been via  Tokyo Tower but tall buildings constructed over the past few decades had begun to interrupt the signal as it simply wasnt tall enough for a meccha large city like Tokyo.

Since 1958, Tokyo Tower standing at 333m has been the iconic figure of Tokyo’s skyline and a symbol of Japan’s capital, however today marked the end of its dominance with Tokyo Skytree sanding 90 percent higher than Tokyo Tower.

Tallest broadcast tower in the world

Currently the world’s tallest structure is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which stands 828 meters. However it is in a different class as it not a tower but a skyscraper so Tokyo Skytree currently takes the cake for worlds tallest broadcast tower as you can see above!

Of course the Japanese never let a chance pass them by to create a mascot for well…… pretty much everything! Tokyo Skytree’s anthropomorphic lil character is  Sorakara-chan, which can be literally translated to means “From the sky-chan.”

Ans she even comes with her own little back story:

Sorakara-chan (ソラカラ) is a girl with a star-shaped head hailing from the “Pointy Star” from which she scanned the universe using her favorite telescope. She apparently saw the 634 meter Sky Tree brightly piercing through the clouds, which enable her to find and visit Tokyo. Her clothes are imprinted with a design based on the framework of the Sky Tree itself.

Now the 634 meter height of the building is no coincidence, it actually comes with a great deal of significance. Not only to take the building over the mark to name it worlds tallest tower, but in Japanese these three figures together 6-3-4 can be pronounced Mu-sa-shi which is the name of the former province of what is now Tokyo. It is also an homage to legendary swordsman and ronin Musashi Miyamoto who was the author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪の書).

Admission Fee

Admission to the first observation deck, at 350 meters above ground is 2,000円 for adults. An additional 1,000円 is charged for visitors to head up to the second, observation deck, which is 450 meters above ground level, totalling 3,000円.

Despite the high ticket prices, more than a million people made reservations as of May 7. Along side this the place is fully booked for the next two months so unfortunately I wont be able to visit when I head down to Tokyo next week, on the bright side this can be the motivation for a trip to visit it in a couple months.

^_____^

Tokyo Skytower grows pictured in October 2009, April 2010, August 2010, December 2010 and May 2012

Mameshiba!

Mameshiba (豆しば) are Japanese bean-dog characters that tell unsettling and often unwelcome trivia in a series of animated shorts. When I came across them

The premise being in each short a character is about to eat a bean when suddenly it introduces itself and delivers a random piece of trivia that ruins the appetite of the person, some notable ones being:

Did you know that a kangaroo’s pouch is sooooo stinky?

Did you know, in France the Japanese word for dandelion means ‘peeing your pants’?

The name mameshiba is an intentional pun in Japanese: mame means “bean”, and shiba refers to the dog breed shiba inu. The term mame shiba can also refer to either a toy shiba inu or a puppy of the breed, essentially meaning “little shiba inu,” Finally, mameshiba sounds like mamechishiki, which means “trivia.”

Like most uber-cute Japanese fads they come with a plethora of merchandise which I certainly cant wait to get my hands on ^_^

Learn All The Things!

So just an update as so so very much has happened in the last few days.
As many of you may know I am very technologically inclined and as a result I have tracked down every little detail about my placement and what to expect before I would have found out anything bar the cities name if I hadn’t taken the initiative.
I did this by posting in the ITIL and official forums, tracking down the Kobe-shi CIRs and extensively networking on Facebook. For any new JETs heading over who are desperate for details regarding their placements, CLAIR tends to be very slack in releasing details (my situation is case and point) however i guarantee you there will be a plenty of current JETs that will be more than willing to help you to the best of their ability if you put yourself out there.
So on Tuesday I finally discovered the identity of my predecessor (by Facebook lurking until I came across him) I have been chatting with him since and he has been extremely kind as to reply with insight into the 3 pages or so of questions I sent him. Alas at last the plethora of queries I have had in the back of my head for the past few weeks have been answered. Turns out he did break contract early to work for private ALT dispatch company, so effectively I have him solely to thank for my amazing placement and early departure!
Schools
Regarding my teaching schedule and placement, seems that I am fortunate enough not to have my schools spread to widely or far from my apartment. I will be based at one large JHS on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, whilst my Tuesdays and Thursdays shall be spent visiting 2 nearby ES’s.
All 3 school are less than 5km away from my apartment so once I get settled in I might consider purchasing a mamachari and biking it (even if just from the station) as I think this would be a great opportunity to get some exercise and explore my local area on the way to and from school 🙂
Apartment
Although I am inheriting my predecessors schools, he is remaining in Kobe so I shall be moving into the apartment of an ALT who vacated a month ago, as a result I will be of those unlucky JETs that moves into an empty apartment bar the four F’s supplied by the Kobe BOE which are:
-Futon
-Fridge
-Fone
-Fan
Also since I only intend on bringing 100,000円 with me as the AUD-JPN exchange rate is less than amazing at the moment, my new home might be a bit on the spartan side of things for the first 2 months! At the end of the day when it comes down to spending my yennies on beer or furnishings obviously the apartment can wait 😛
After joining the Kobe FB group I have met a heap of super cool Kobe JET’s who will be my future neighbours in the apartments around me as I was told the which room i would be getting from one of the CIR’s. One such kind soul sent me some pictures of her apartment to give me some idea of what I’m getting into (as all the apartments are carbon copies) only that mine will be on the bare side of things. It’s only a 1DK so its not particularly huge but the fact that its located in Gakuentoshi, Kobe (debatably the best placement you could ever hope for as a JET) more than makes up for it. Anyhow here are a couple of them.
Basically I have just been blown away by the kindness and hospitality I have received from the JET community thus far and I haven’t even arrived yet!
I have high hopes for the next couple years, I stressed over placements so much prior to finding out I was headed to Kobe but something tells me I’m going to fit in just fine ^______^

須藤元気 Genki Sudo WORLD ORDER

Genki Sudo World Order

The Japanese Salaryman (サラリーマン) invokes the thoughts of a man so dedicated to his company that he compromises every other aspect of his life, enduring an arduous commute and a plethora of unpaid overtime on a daily basis.

What could be more hilarious than half a dozen Salarymen dancing in a crazy/robotic/synchronized/slow motion fashion in very public places, all whilst maintaining perfectly emotionless apathetic expression!!!
Well many things but that is exactly what Genki Sudo World Order bring to the table and I still feel that their videos are particularly unique and notable.
The group is led by Genki Sudo a retired Japanese martial arts champion turned robotic salaryman electronic dancing machine, check out some of their videos below.

A Little About Kobe-shi

So I thought i might go a little into the details of the city where I shall be living for the next couple years…….

Kobe is the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and Japan’s fifth largest city. And although Kobe-shi is right on the other end of the country from Tokyo, there are many other notable cities right around the corner (figuratively) that I cant wait to explore!!! Notably including Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Himeji and Okayama!

So if you have ever heard of Kobe before (the city, not the dude who annoyingly comes up every single time I try to google Kobe) it would probably be due to the acclaimed Kobe beef that is raised according to strict tradition in Hyogo. The meat is generally considered to be a delicacy, renowned for its flavour, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture. I suspect I shall be noming an awful lot of it in the coming months and It looks something like this .

The other thing Kobe is famous in the international community for is the Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck Kobe in January 1995, killing more than 6,400 people and destroying much of the city. In the years since, Kobe has risen from the ashes with few signs of the destruction in its past.

Kobe has served Japan as one of Japan’s most important port town for centuries due to the calm waters of the Seto Inland Sea and was one of the first ports to begin accepting foreign traders in 1868 following Japan’s 200 years of isolation during the Edo period. Here is the official Kobe-shi Flag.

JET placed in Kobe generally live in 3 suburban locations: Gakuen Toshi, Hanayama, and Port Island.  Luckily it seems that I will be placed in Gakuen Toshi (学園都市), which is located in the western ward Nishi-ku (西区) of Kobe. It’s a university district which lies on the Seishin-Yamate Subway line, and is only 25 minutes on the train  away from Sannomiya (三宮) (the centre of Kobe).

Apparently JET’s placed in this area live in the same building complexes in either 1DK or 2DK rooms, and one of the best parts of being placed in Kobe is that the BOE pays for half your rent and I am told to expect between ¥30,000~38,000/month (Subsidized from between \50,000~70,000) with no key or deposit money required, sweet huh!

I will be based at a JHC (as most Kobe JET’s are) which is only about 5km from my apartment, another added bonus being that the BOE also pays for my transportation expenses to and from work!!!

Equally famous is Kobe’s wonderful nightlife, crammed into a small, navigable, and rather intimate quarter of neon lights, cozy bars, lively pubs, and sophisticated nightclubs. I have been told that there is a place near Sannomiya Station called The Hub which is the general JET favourite meeting place on a Friday night to plan the evenings misadventures. As you can see its a city that’s certainly on the pretty side of things ^_____^