Tokyo Orientation: Day One

I arrived at breakfast just after it opened at seven in a t-shirt, athletic shorts, and flip flops. I was promptly greeted by dozens of JETs dressed to impress in their finest suits. Mind you, this was seven in the morning; two hours before the opening ceremony. I was about to turn around and walk out, until I saw a guy wearing that same attire as me. I immediately sat with him. But before I joined his table I first made my way through the buffet line. Here is a list of some of my options: broccoli, carrots, french fries, salad, tomato juice. Yes, we are are talking about breakfast. I chose to stick with eggs, toast, sausage, yogurt, fruit, and corn flakes (I know, I’m weird). Did I mention the corn flakes were in an enormous salad bowl equipped with a soup serving spoon. If you’ve never gone scooping for corn flakes in the morning, you don’t know what you’re missing.

After breakfast I attended the opening ceremony of Tokyo Orientation. I enjoyed all the speakers, and learned a lot about my role as JET. The Opening ceremony consisted of remarks from representatives of the four sponsoring organizations: Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), Ministry of International Affairs and Communications (MIC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, my favorite acronym), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). 

Once noon hit, I walked 2 minutes to the yubinkyoku (post office) to withdraw some yen from the ATM. Every post office in Japan has an ATM, which accepts any bank or debit card. This is pretty convenient, but the hours are limited. I made sure before I left the states to join a bank that doesn’t charge for any ATM fees. After much research, I settled on Charles Schwab, as they are the only bank that doesn’t charge such a fee.

With my pockets packed with yen, I made it back to the Keio Plaza in time for lunch. Then, before I knew it, it was back to some workshops. From the three workshops I attended, I learned how to effectively integrate pop culture into my english lessons, make the handbook for team teaching useful, and practiced my self introduction speech in Japanese. By then, it was time for dinner. I quickly rushed back to my hotel room to change into my suit, as there would be official Japanese Government delegates in attendance. I threaded the needle through the great JET elevator migration, and found an elevator in another part of the building that was not crowded.

Dinner was fun, as it was set up like a meet and greet with JETs in your prefecture. I witnessed probably the fanciest buffet line I have ever come across. I loaded my dish with smoked salmon, pork, noodles, and asparagus. Though, I was a little disappointed that there was no giant bowl of cornflakes. There was also a free bar and loads of servers swarming around with cocktails and appetizers.I felt pretty grateful to be at such a classy event. If this is what Japan will be like, then I love it!

After the dinner, almost everyone explored the city. I walked around Shinjuko, where the hotel is located. I was amazed how lively the streets where, and how vibrant the lights and advertising lining the buildings were. To me, this was Tokyo. Masses of people walking in every direction, restaurant workers on the sidewalk were shouting out to convince passer byes to stop and eat, kids rushing into the arcades, giant TV monitors lining the sides of buildings, and Yakuza members making deals. Okay well everything was true until that bit about the Yakuza. I soon became exhausted from all this commotion, and from the full day of workshops and speakers. By eleven, I retired to my hotel room and call it a night. Time to prepare myself for day two of Tokyo Orientation. But first, I need to put on my Sunday best… for a hotdog and french fry breakfast.

9 thoughts on “Tokyo Orientation: Day One

  1. I was a JET over a decade ago, and your write-up of the Tokyo orientation brought back memories. Will look forward to hearing more about your adventures on JET!

  2. Are you still a JET participant? I just got my acceptance letter a few days ago! Can’t wait to hear where I’m going! I’ve been to Japan before as a student, but I think it will be quite a different experience as a teacher!

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