Looking the part

30 Aug

Today I visited Okishio Junior High School. “Life. Heart. People.” is the motto. The school is a bit far out, and took a good half hour by bus. Along the way the city limits suddenly just stop and you’re in rice farming country. A number of small mountains completely blanketed in trees are all around the school. It’s really something else.

I’d arrived pretty early (early morning traffic doesn’t seem to be bad at all in Himeji) and the doors were locked. Since the term hasn’t started yet I wasn’t entirely sure if it’d even be open. There were, however, some kids practicing baseball in the nearby field. I didn’t want to bother them since I wasn’t sure if they were even students, and I realized an unfamiliar foreigner meandering about might look a little sketchy. I walked up and down the street to see if there were any business I could break bills at, considering bus fare (which require exact change), but all I came across was a couple run down looking auto shops. There weren’t even vending machines.

Some cars started pulling back into the school, so I just decided to follow one of the men inside, which again probably seemed a little sketchy. But I introduced myself and people seemed to know what I was there for. I spent most of the time in the teacher’s lounge, though I did get to see my locker as well as the school foyer, where we change shoes.

For the most part I spoke to Takeuchi-sensei, who arrived a little later. I also spoke a lot to Miura-sensei, who is the special needs teacher. It sounds like I will probably help with that class on my downtime. I also met Taninaka-sensei, the principal (kouchou-sensei), as well as the vice principal (kyoutou-sensei)… whose name I have a bit of difficulty remembering. I also spoke to a few other teachers, and the woman in charge of security. I really need to do a better job at remembering peoples’ names. Umeda-sensei was also around but too busy to drop in. This fellow remains a mystery for now, as he (I believe a he) is new this year.

Incidentally, considering the exact change for the bus I mentioned above, it turns out buses have machines that break bills, which makes a lot of sense. The ride in general is pretty expensive though, roughly ¥1,000 a day to go both ways. The school will reimburse me for it, I’m told, but it’s still kind of a pain. Even if I should get a bus pass, I will be refilling it constantly. I really never used the bus in Phoenix so I don’t know if the cost is comparable. Of course in America everyone just drives. Giving a conservative estimate of $50 for the bus, just to go to work and back, there’s no way I’d spend that much on gas for the same trip. ‘Course I suppose I could just bike there. That’d be a fun hour…

All in all though it was a nice experience. I think it will be a fun school to work at. It’s pretty small, so hopefully not too overwhelming. Furthermore, Jacklyn, who is a neighbor of mine, has worked at that school before and can probably give good advice.

Later in the day I made a trip to try and pick up a cell phone, which was futile since I still don’t have my bank card. John was able to get an iPhone from SoftBank, but I’m still wanting to go with Docomo. Not having a cell phone isn’t a huge deal, but I do miss the many conveniences of it. Probably ought to blame Cheston for getting me onto those.

So in lieu of that, I decided to get some supplies to help make me more teacher-ly. I got some indoor slippers, which were cheap and a touch too small but they’re comfy nonetheless. I also stopped into another shop and picked up a business bag, or a man purse if you will. I was able to communicate with the attendant well enough to request something kinda manly. I also got a holder for business cards (meishi), since I’ve received a few so far and I think sticking them in your wallet is kind of rude. They were a little pricy; I probably spent about ¥8,500 total, but they’re good quality and should last long. I could even keep using them after I’m done with the program.

What’s more, as a curious side note, the attendant’s name at the bag/luggage store was Okishio-san, same as my school (same kanji even). On top of that, he has a son who did a home-stay in Phoenix when he was in high school, since I’d mentioned the Phoenix Sister Cities program. Perhaps it was even the Youth Ambassador program, although Okishio-san didn’t seem to recognize the term. Still, I thought the whole thing was pretty cool. Kinda felt like fate.

Tomorrow I think we’re getting our re-entry visas and bus passes. I also need to start writing the speech I’ll have to give to the school on my first day. Should be pretty interesting.


One Response to “Looking the part”

  1. Chi-Hang Lau September 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    AH HA! Glad to hear you finally got your man purse!
    With all the public transport you will be using, the man purse is an essential!
    I never head over to Asia without mine, and quite apologize not mentioning this to you before you left, since you probably could of gotten a better price for it back here,….
    I actually have two man purses, depending on how much stuff I anticipate on having to carry along the way for the day. Sadly, you can’t get the level of convince and safety with a backpack.

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