May 22, 2007

Kagawa-ken Mitoyo-shi

Well I am finding out more about my new location. Checking out maps and websites online and consulting with other JETs via an online group.

The '-ken' means prefecture and '-shi' means city. Now apparently, it's not really a city. It's more a conglomeration of several towns (according to wiki and a guy who is living there currently working for the same program.) It's considered mostly country, inaka in Japanese. The name of the island is Shikoku and is the smallest of the four main islands. (On the map, click on the city of Takamatsu, which is located just above where it says Japan real big, to zoom in and center on it, then click on Takamatsu again to zoom even closer, and then look to the western coast of Kagawa. You will see Takase, Mino, or Nio, which are towns in Mitoyo City where I will be located.) It is directly south of the main island, Honshu. Kagawa is the prefecture on the northeast side of the island facing the inland sea. From what I've read, the weather is pleasant and comparable to that of the Mediterranean. I was told it can get very hot, and it might snow twice in the winter. There are lots of natural areas and mountains will surround me on the island. You can see the city/nature ratio better on this satellite map. Just zoom in and check it out. Apparently, this prefecture is the birthplace of the founder of Japanese Buddhism, so there are quite a few religious monuments and shrines. My friend Alana who is also going on JET mentioned an 88 shrine tour that sounds interesting.

As I said, the 'city' is called Mitoyo. I was able to find the city website which of course is in Japanese. I don't know Japanese, yet. So I am unable to read it. But I managed to surf around and find some really cool pictures of the area (click the links on the page for more pics). I'll definitely be near the coast. (I mean, I know most of Japan is on the coast, but I will be right beside it.) It was just neat getting to see some of the pictures of the city. I think it will be cool to go there and see some of them for myself. One of the pages on the site actually has links to all the schools's websites with pictures. Maybe I'll take bets on which one you think I'll be in.

I'm starting to get more excited about this whole undertaking. It's going to be an adventure, that's for sure.

May 21, 2007

JETting off!

Well, I will be leaving for Japan in about 2 months. I am participating in the JET Programme. I don't know all the details yet myself as every JET experience is different depending largely on the location. Basically, I will be teaching English to Japanese students in multiple schools as an assistant.

Why, you might ask, did I decide to move halfway around the world to teach English? I'm not sure I can really answer that myself. I've known that I wanted to live abroad again after my experience in France. I thought that teaching English would give me that opportunity. I also thought that returning to France in perhaps a different region would be fun. Then the language bug bit me again and I decided it would be great to live in a new country with a different language. Then, I found that a friend was applying for this program, and so I followed suit. At first, I was just toying with the idea, but after much agonizing and contemplation, I decided that this would be a great opportunity for me.

Well, one really long application, an interview with three people, and several months of waiting later, I'm in and going. I was short-listed right off the bat and then had to wait another month to find out if I was realllllly going. Now I have a location but still no contract. (Did I mention that I was terribly impatient?) I'm hoping to hear from the contracting agency within the next couple of weeks. We will see. Until then, I must content myself with finding out more about my future home: Mitoyo City in Kagawa Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.