Monday, 28 July 2008

PostHeaderIcon I left Scotland one year ago

It appears I lost interest in updating my blog after being fairly productive with it. If there is a large gap in posts then it usually means I'm pretty content and have nothing to complain about or... I'm really miserable and don't want to complain too much. I'm pleased to say that I have been in a fairly good mood recently and was off work for a few days. It was probably my second longest period off work to date actually despite me only taking about 3 days holiday thanks to a public holiday and some half days on Friday. I used all my saved up hours from my English class too so I still have about 18 days of holiday next year even after my 3 weeks trip home. Old Craigy boy played a blinder with his holiday days.

However, I was feeling pretty unwell for the first half of July. I can honestly say that I've been more ill and injured in Japan than in the rest of my life combined. It was a strange one this time around though. I had a dodgy stomach for a few days which was replaced by being lethargic as hell. I spent most of that time sitting under my air conditioner and watching films. I then went deaf in one ear for a few days before that disappeared last week just as I was considering a hospital visit. I like to think that my dislike of Japanese hospital visits forced my body to fix itself.

must have finished work on July 17th and spent most of that weekend hanging out with my friend Andrew. That consisted of playing video games and going to a festival in a small town called Akaoka. There was a famous painter from the town called Ekin and his interesting and disturbing paintings were on candle lit display around the streets:

An Ekin painting: Death, blood, samurai, katanas and general weirdness.

He was sent into exile due to his said part in some political plot. His feelings of injustice are said to be represented in these paintings. That's a bird stealing a baby by the way. It's one of the tamer paintings.

His characters always have these creepy eyes. This guy was just sitting there whilst a samurai butchered everyone else in the room. I like his work.

I do enjoy the atmosphere of the Japanese summer festivals despite getting a bit bored of them after a few hours. I like the ones in the small towns because there is an element of community that I have (sadly) never experienced in Britain. I think lots of the younger people come home for them too and hang out with their family and all their old friends. I went two nights in a row and met some other JETs on the second evening. My friend Sarah from England is leaving this year so I went to say goodbye to her. It sounds a bit harsh but I'm not that bothered about a lot of the people leaving this year apart from two or three. I liked and got on with a lot of the leaving but some lived just too far away to form anything more than good acquaintances. A lot of the people nearer me had already settled in here so I didn't see them as much either.

I think there should be some new people arriving in the area next week or the week after. I'm the only person in the east coast that isn't leaving or won't be on holiday when they arrive. I signed up to this 'big brother/sister' thing that was made to help them settle in and that. It is a lot to take in when you arrive and a lot of people here are placed out in the countryside. So hopefully I can be of some help in the first week or two if they have any problems. I never really expected to be hanging out with the other foreigners as much but it's just something that happens. There are very few young Japanese people and it can be hard to communicate even if both parties are good at the language. Sometimes you just need to have fun with people with the same language and a similar culture. Plus, you're still interacting with people from around the world.

I went to another festival last Tuesday with my other English friend, David. This time it was a Shinto shrine festival and it had some performance acts with fighting dragons and all that. It was hosted by one of my eikaiwa students who also teaches/taught Japanese to some JETs. She is really kind as well as being fluent in English. We were both welcomed into her home for dinner and that was a nice, friendly experience. Also, she really helped me out last week when I had to go for an interview to get a Japanese driving license. That's a bit of a pain in itself but I'm lucky I don't need to sit a test like the Americans. Although my sympathy is somewhat diluted when I realise their driving test at home consists of driving around the neighbourhood. Baring in mind that the rest of us had to pay a fortune to drive about streets with broken glass in Pollockshaws (crappy area in Glasgow). Anyway, I need to go back in 2 weeks which means I won't be able to drive for a week as my international license expires in a few days. After that bought us lunch and we visited a paper museum which was a lot more interesting than it sounds. Most of my 'holiday' was actually doing boring paperwork stuff like that. I had to pay about £600 so I can drive my car next year as well. The woman that helped me with that was nice too and it was a lot easier than I expected. So yeah... bit of a boring week off but there you go.

I left home a year ago today actually. It doesn't seem that long ago when I think of the day I left Scotland but when I think of arriving in Japan then it does seem pretty long ago. I'm not actually that desperate to go home on my holiday just yet. I still feel like I need to go home for a mental and physical break but I'm glad I decided to stay here for a second year as well. I'm even getting used to the heat and humidity. Always a bonus.


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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.