Archive for Status Update

And a few days in…

PIKACHU AIRPLANE

So I know you can’t see it well, but that right there is a yellow Pokemon airplane. And we flew in the Gundam plane! (or, at least, I think so. there was some debate over this, as we could not see the ACTUAL plane from where we were sitting).

I’ve been here for a few days now, and I must say the people are extremely nice. Sometimes a little TOO nice…But to be honest, I already miss the city. I desperately want to get back there, and I don’t know when that will happen. I’ll do my best to job hunt while I am here, and if all else fails, I can either renew another year or enter language school!

I’ll take pictures once the car is fixed and I can actually get to a place to buy a charger for my camera’s batteries….

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First Impressions of Taiki-Cho…

Tokyo Orientation lasted 3 days, and on the last day I was hit hard with jetlag. It really sucked, because I was supposed to go out and do something for one last “hoo-rah” in Tokyo.

In order to get to Taiki-cho (located about 40 minutes to 1 hour south of Obihiro, Hokkaido) from Chitose Airport (about 1 hour south of Sapporo), I had to get in a car with my supervisor and drive for 4 hours along the coastline. If I wasn’t so zoned out due to jetlag, I would have taken some pictures because it is GORGEOUS here. The Tokachi Plains remind me of Pennsylvania quite a bit, what with farms and cows and such, but drive an hour south and it’s nothing but fishing villages.

The first thing I had to do when I arrived was greet everyone at the office. I only remember two people’s names…this is a problem. And then I had to go out to the welcome dinner, which was yakiniku. I forgot how much Japanese people can eat, because they ordered SO MUCH food, it was ridiculous. I tapped out after about an hour. Immediately after that, I was driven to the nearest 7-11 and bought breakfast, then was taken to my apartment for the first time.

It’s big. It might be too big. And I so need to buy new towels and air out the blankets because they smell musty. And buy new detergent, because the stuff Aaron (my predecessor) left irritates my nose…I might just buy some Clorox from FBC and go from there…

Today I see the government officials (including the mayor) and my teaching coworkers. At some point I will hand out the omiyage, though they really don’t seem to care about it…Will update tonight with pictures and, hopefully, a better idea as to what is going on!

Planning For Hokkaido: Not So Different From Pittsburgh?

So my placement is Taiki-cho, Hokkaido. I just found out that they have already scheduled my welcome party and several meet-and-greets. I’m not sure whether I should be terrified or thrilled at this behavior…It seems like such a warm gesture and yet it’s being done now?

A warm welcome...in the fireplace?

I was doing research on Obihiro, and it seems that it is basically like Pittsburgh, only smaller. It has lots of rivers, the winter temperatures are about the same, and the snow is the equivalent of Feburary’s “snow-pocalypse.” Taiki specifically has under 7,000 people. The University of Pittsburgh’s 2010 graduating class had well over 7,000…This is going to take some getting used to. On top of all that, my predecessor has told me that my fashion is going to be quite loud there, and draw attention to my already non-Japanese-ness. I bought some work-type clothing, but it will be very difficult for me to wear slacks and button-down shirts everyday…I don’t know if I can pull it off but I will ask if I can wear jeans on Friday, just for my sanity.

The airport is close by, and my one friend has told me that it should not be so terribly expensive to fly down to Kansai every few weeks, same as with Tokyo. I have people to stay with in each area, which cuts down on expenses tremendously. On top of that, it seems a rogue kohai (後輩=underclassman) will be joining me after his semester abroad for a little exploring. I’m really looking forward to this, especially since traveling with someone else makes me view things in a new light. I always settle down far too quickly in new places (case and point: Italy. I was done exploring within a few hours). Plus, as I will be the only foreigner within at least 50 kilometers, perhaps more, it will be a welcome respite from the constant use of Japanese. We’re starting to make plans now, but unfortunately University of Pittsburgh starts the spring term far too early, so he’ll have to book a more expensive ticket…

What I want to do when I get over there:

1) I will enter the lottery for Miyavi’s birthday concert tickets. If I win, I am soooo going since I am missing his American tour.

2) Get my butt to Kansai for a long weekend and hang out with my friends, old and new.

3) Karaoke with Coral. Hmmm….this should be number one….(I miss you <3)

4) Find a bass teacher ASAP. This is, of course, provided that the airline DOESN’T BREAK MY BASS. You never know with them….

5) Mystery meeting. I’m going to see if I can pull this one off, if I can details will follow.

My attempts at teaching...

Who knows….Maybe I can pull off this teacher/visual kei/social butterfly-thing after all…

Hisashiburi ya nen…

Well, it has been nearly 4 months since I last posted. Sorry about that, but life went to hell faster than I could keep dibs on. But after struggling through an insane thesis, research problems that would boggle your mind, and an insane restaurant gig, I’m back! With results!

Last time I posted, I explained the JET interview for CIR. My results were: I got into JET, but as an ALT for Taiki-cho in Hokkaido.

Where?

Taiki-cho is about an hour south of Obihiro on the eastern part of Hokkaido. It is known for….dairy farming. Yep, my neighbors will be cows and volcanoes (though I truly don’t mind either). The apartment is brand new, sitting on the riverfront, and the car…well, the car is used but in good shape. I’m also extremely close to an airport that will get me down to Kansai or Tokyo every-so-often.

I’ll primarily be teaching middle schoolers, however I also have one day a week where I teach elementary classes AND conduct my own adult English classes. On my own. Without help from another teacher. INTIMIDATING!

Since I am about 3.5 hours from Sapporo, I’ll be looking for a bass and piano teacher in the Tokachi sub-prefecture and bandmates out in Sapporo. If I can find a band, then I will be spending long weekends in Sapporo and teaching on weekdays. This will be all on top of finding a steady job, mind you!

All in all I am grateful for this opportunity, and though I am crazy-far-out-there, I think this will be an overall great experience. Plus, in all the downtime, BASS PRACTICE TIIIIME!

Oh, and my latest outfit creation (because I’m sure you all know and care about how I dress):

New Ero Loli?

New Ero Loli look?

On top of that, if you are curious what else I did in the last few months, check out this page on La Carmina:

http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/2010/06/tekkoshocon-anime-convention-in-pittsburgh-jasmine-you-cosplay-versailles-mana-lolita-fashion-show/

Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing the latest single by Suicide Ali (Stitch Doll), so stay tuned! ❤

Where I am, What I’ve Done, and Where I am Going

HERO and I, 2009

The Visual Kei Band HERO and Myself

This is meant to summarize what I have done thus far to achieve my dream, what my status is as of right now, and how I plan to go about accomplishing it.

Right now, I am in my final semester of university. I am writing a thesis on lesbians and transgenders in Japanese society, specifically on media exposure and linguistic complications they encounter. Because of this rather time-consuming process, I do not have as much time to practice my piano and bass as I would like. Currently, I have one piano teacher and two bass teachers. Because I have to pay each of them monthly, I work three jobs. It pays the bills, at least the vast majority. As a direct result, not only is practice time reduced but so is my social life…At any rate, that is where I am right now: attempting to graduate with an ounce of sanity.

What I have done to reach my goal thus far…Well, I have gone to Japan multiple times, and my Japanese has improved dramatically from when I first started to use it three years ago. During my time in Japan, I went to innumerable concerts and met a variety of Japanese people that helped guide me towards this music-related decision. I met bands (HERO, Nega, A&D, The Kiddie, Vivid, etc), spoke to the fans, and gained a wider understanding of Japanese music as a whole. To be a musician in Japan is to work yourself to the brink. I began to question my dedication to the dream, but I realized that once I graduate, I will have time to practice and improve. Thus, I stuck by my guns. I found teachers to help me once I returned to America, and set things into motion.

Where I am going is a mystery. I am trying to get back to Japan, find a job of some kind that will help me to pay the bills. I realize that a proper, full-time job will impose on the band dream, but the way I figure, without money there will be no dream. Visual Kei is by no means a cheap genre to enter. There will be weekends available for practice, and until the band gets a solid start, it will be plenty to establish a fanbase and create a few singles. What people don’t realize about Visual Kei musicians is that a great many of them are forced to keep their part-time jobs as they tour. Another idea  have been playing around with includes going to Japan for a year or two and then attempting to enter a Japanese music academy. That way my Japanese will improve in addition to my music ability. Plus, I will be surrounded by people with a similar mindset, enabling me to negotiate my way through the difficult Japanese music underground.

The real question is: What do I need? I need confidence. I know I am not an awesome bass player, but I also know that if someone were to give me a chance, I will work with everything I am to make it work. I also need support, something that has been lacking somewhat. Time is also required, but I feel that will come once I graduate. I don’t have a job lined up for post-graduation yet, so I daresay there will be plenty of time soon enough…

And that is where I am, what I have done, where I am going and what I need. It’s a lengthy process, yes? I’ll post an update to my pursuits every month, just to keep people informed…

Chocobo sitting on a Cactuar's head...Such a balancing act!