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This morning, I’ll be leaving Tokyo on a bus for Gunma, my prefecture. I can’t wait to come back to Tokyo and have a proper introduction with plenty of time to explore! At the same time, I’m really ready to get settled into my new apartment and start getting used to things around Fujioka, so I’m also rather happy to be leaving at the present.

As I mentioned, my hotel is in the famous Shinjuku district, so that is really the only place I’ve had a chance to explore. I have bits and pieces of times to go exploring in between seminars and workshops for JET. Monday, we had our opening ceremony, and received several pounds of material, everything from guidebooks of Gunma to activity books to US history books from the US embassy (a bit odd in my opinion…) However, we had a bit of time in the afternoon to explore around a bit. I went and found the Kinokuniya in the area, which is a Japanese book store that also has a large foreign book selection. I was browsing the children’s section and found Ferdinand in Japanese under the title “Hana no Sukina Ushi”, or “The Bull who Loves Flowers”. It looks pretty easy to read, but I did see a few words I didn’t know, so I may come back when they are having their sale in a few weeks to grab it. Or I might find some good books used as well.

That evening, our prefecture met to go out to eat and to karaoke. We had a blast, and the BEST gyouza I have ever had the pleasure of eating. WOW. I meant to take a picture, but was too busy stuffing my face with it! Eating wasn’t too expensive, but karaoke certainly was… around 2300 yen, or roughly $23. Up until now I hadn’t noticed that Tokyo was more expensive than anywhere else, since most of my meals had been around 500 yen, which is cheap… but karaoke was definitely expensive! I impressed everyone with my ability to sing in Japanese (which is to say, not very well, but I tried!), and then called it a night.

Tuesday I didn’t bother with most of the seminars and just went out exploring. My roomate came with me after we had our official prefecture meetings, and I brought her to Kinokuniya since she wanted to explore. We also stopped in at the HMV, which is one of the big music stores (Tower Records also) and I found the CD I’ve been waiting for for ages! It technically releases on Wednesday, but they had a few extra copies which I snatched up!

For those interested in listening to some Japanese music, I picked up Amuro Namie’s new best album, BEST FICTION. On it, one of my favorite songs is called Baby Don’t Cry.

After that, we grabbed dinner at a Yakitori place (BBQ chicken, basically). Up until that point, all the places I had eaten at either had the machine to pick out what you want, or had a menu with pictures to point at. This one though, I couldn’t for the life of me find what to order! They finally brought out a menu with a bit of English on it. I felt bad, but we managed and had really good yakitori! I feel like going back in a month or two when I’ve had a chance to study, and order again just to prove that I can!

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is how much we rely every day on insignificant, unnoticeable standards of behavior I’ve suddenly become very aware of here. For example, back home, since we drive on the right side, we automatically stand or walk on the right side when faced with people coming toward us. The next time you’re on a sidewalk and see someone coming toward you, note which side you naturally gravitate toward. You probably don’t notice it, but here, everyone walks/stands/drives on the left. I can’t say how many times I’ve had to quickly move over to the correct side because I wasn’t even thinking and was all the sudden in everyone’s way! I find things like that really interesting!

Anyway, I’ll finally be able to post pictures as soon as I get to my apartment in Gunma, so I’ll have a lot of posting to do! It will probably trickle off a bit after that, but I’ll try to post a few times a week.