Japan · Life in Japan

January Highlights: Hiroshima, Creepy Scarecrows, and Big Decisions

January is almost over and I have just passed the 6 month mark of living in Japan. January ended up flying by, but for the most part it has been quite fun. I spent two different occasions in the city (Hiroshima City, that is), and ate way too much good food while there. Here are some of those highlights of this past month.

Hiroshima City:

As I mentioned, I found myself travelling into Hiroshima City twice this month. The first time was to show an old school friend (who was visiting from South Korea where she teaches) around the city. Of course no trip to the city is complete without going to see the A-bomb Dome. However, we were in for a surprise when we saw the whole dome covered in scaffolding.

Turns out that every three years the city does a soundness survey on the dome to check its condition. This time round the survey is lasting for 4 months, and will be back to normal from April.

The paper cranes that hang in the Children’s Memorial displays in the Peace Park.
The Peace Park Memorial was surrounded by New Year’s decorations.
The shrine inside the Hiroshima castle was quite busy as it happened to be the ‘coming-of-age’ day where those turning 20 this year officially become ‘adults’ and go to the shrine to be blessed.
The shrine still had their New Year stalls up where you could go and buy a lucky charm.
I ended up buying a lucky charm. According to the label, this one is for ‘wealth, money, and love’.

So the other time I was in the city was for the ALT mid-year seminar. This conference bought all the ALT’s of Hiroshima together under one roof for three days. Which was awesome. 🙂

It was great spending time with people I haven’t seen since September, and I got the chance to eat some really good food. Such as the most delicious French bread I have ever come across…

The perfect thing to eat for breakfast before a full day of lectures
…and let’s not forget the cappuccino.

Creepy Scarecrows:

Okay, so I had to mention this. On Monday I go to the one island school, which includes taking a boat to get to and from the island. At the end of the day I have to wait around 30 minutes for the boat to arrive at the harbour. So in the meantime, I sit inside the little harbour house waiting area.

This past week, for some unknown reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to set up a bunch of scarecrows in the waiting area. They seem to be protecting a box of mandarins, which you can help yourself to, but I don’t dare go near them because they honestly freak me out.

Just me and the scarecrows… alone… where no one can hear me scream (o.o)

And finally, Big Decisions:

The one little irk I have with JET is that not even 6 months into your contract you receive the papers for recontracting/not recontracting. This year the BOE needed the signed papers back by the middle of January. I kind of understand why they do it so early as then they can work out how many new ALT’s they will need for 2015/2016.

However, you receive the papers in the middle of winter, when it is bleak, cold, and most likely you find yourself not in the most genki-ness of places. It is quite an important decision to make, deciding whether or not to stay another year. I admit I was a bit annoyed that I had to make a decision for something that will only come into effect in 6 months time. I knew deep down that staying only one year on the programme is definitely not enough for me, but to be honest, at the point in time when I had to sign the papers, I wasn’t so sure. I suppose it didn’t help that I had just returned from being with my family for Christmas, and obviously I was home-sick.

However, in the end, after having long talks to my family and friends, I gained a new, fresh, perspective and confidently signed on the solid line to stay for another year (which I am happy about).

Evil grinning cats like my signature…

I suppose come August this year I will have to change my blog’s name to ‘A(nother) Year in Japan’. 😉

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4 thoughts on “January Highlights: Hiroshima, Creepy Scarecrows, and Big Decisions

  1. How much do you need to have saved up, tuition, and how much japanese do you need to know, AND how do you go about applying? 🙂 i’d like to do the jet program.

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    1. Heya, that’s awesome to hear! I am glad that you are interested in the programme 🙂

      Okay, so to get all the info you need about the JET Programme, head on over to the official website:
      http://www.jetprogramme.org/ and click on ‘Aspiring JET’s’.

      In order to be considered for the programme, you need to have a university degree (in anything), be proficient in English (doesn’t necessarily have to be your first language), and have a passion for teaching and/or Japan.

      Applications open around September each year, and the forms need to be returned to your local Japanese embassy/consulate by a specific date in November. The application forms are usually available for download off your Japanese embassy’s website.

      You do not need to know Japanese (I didn’t when I was accepted), but obviously having some grasp of the language would help in settling in better when first arriving in Japan.

      If you are accepted onto the programme, your contracting Board of Education will pay for your flight over to Japan. You will only need to bring enough money to get you through your first month here – until you get your first pay cheque. It is hard to say how much you should bring as every ALT’s situation is different… but the JET Programme’s website does give a general amount of about 200,000 Yen. In my situation, I needed at least 200,000 Yen as I needed to pay for opening up a cell phone and internet account, utilities, as well as for business trips for orientation (I was reimbursed later).

      So yes, I hope that helps. If you have any more questions please feel free to e-mail me at travelsideoflife (at) gmail (dot) com and I can provide you with more detailed information about applying and other such things 🙂

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