I’m ecstatic to begin recording my adventures in Nara, Japan over the course of this year on the JET Program as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher)! Although I officially embark on my journey on July 31, 2015, i’ll begin by running through my preparations and sharing my anticipation and excitement prior to the actual trip.
Just this past May, I was informed of my placement which will be in Yamato-Koriyama-shi (or Koriyama), Nara-ken, a small city of about 80,000 known for its goldfish industry (how did they know my first pet in life was a black goldfish?!). Koriyama also hosts the annual National Goldfish Scooping Competition! For those of you not familiar with this typical Japanese matsuri game that children like to play, it involves a small, plastic scoop with a paper net that rips extraordinarily easily when wet. Mind you, even adults like me never ever end up successfully scooping a goldfish. Here’s a photo project that a photographer did that is quite beautiful- www.http://pinktentacle.com/2009/03/battle-of-the-natsu-yasumi-fumio-nabata/
Luckily, Koriyama is located just half an hour from Nara City proper, an hour from Osaka and Kyoto. Inevitably, this will make for a great location to take weekend trips to some of the most well-known and celebrated cultural sights in all of Japan! Not to mention, extremely convenient for those friends and loved ones who are looking to visit me 🙂 Some additional short background on the city- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamatokōriyama,_Nara.
After much Facebook stalking, I successfully located my predecessor and proceeded to bombard her with questions! I feel so lucky that my predecessor has been so helpful in outlining practically every possible thing I would want to know– from my living situation (3DK apartment- meaning three different rooms in addition to my bathroom/ kitchen area!), teaching situation (I will be reporting to the local Board of Education and will be visiting 16 schools!), and even a helpful google map of various local spots that are unique! Some examples include a traditional, Japanese sweet shop that has been open since the 1500’s, a castle that hosts a beautiful sakura festival in the spring, and an indigo dye shop where you can go and try a hand in the craft! Over the course of our correspondence, i’ve learned in a nutshell that I’m quite lucky in my placement!
There are still quite a few things I need to prepare for my year abroad in Japan- varying from my visa application to purchasing knick knacks, omiage, small gifts, for my co-workers and supervisor as a thoughtful gesture. It still hasn’t hit me yet that I am preparing for life abroad and that I will be experiencing new things, something i’ve been yearning for for a long time. At the very least it will be an incredibly eye-opening learning experience and hopefully one that will color my life with memorable experiences!