Chiggers, Parsnip, and Plane Rides…Oh my.

How could it be that only a few days before heading to Japan I was lucky enough to walk through a patch of wild parsnip and be attacked by chiggers? I think this is Iowa’s way of saying: “Don’t forget me!”

Needless to say, my non-stop 13 hour flight from Chicago O’Hare to Narita was an itchy one.  I was fortunate enough to be seated next to a fellow Shimane JET from Northfield, Minnesota.  We won’t be teaching in the same city, but as we are in the same prefecture, we won’t be too far away if we decide to visit each other during our time in Japan.  His Japanese language skills are far more advanced than mine, so he helped me with some practice dialogue during the flight.

Upon arriving in Japan we were met by a delicious wave of 100% humidity and a stream of former JETs in pink shirts.  The JET volunteers guided us through immigration and customs and onto a bus headed for the Keio Plaza Hotel in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo.  It is purported to be “the ritziest” area of Tokyo, but my sleepy eyes only saw neon and skyscrapers.

An evening in Shijuku with some fellow JETs from the US and Australia was well spent in a tiny second-floor Japanese restaurant.  We enjoyed Sapporo beer (a far cry from the delicious micro-brews of the Midwest), sashimi (tuna, salmon, and yellowtail), goyoza, and some thinly-sliced beef seared on each side and served with a cream sauce (I cannot remember what it was called…). I cannot believe I get to eat this delicious food for the next year!

An early morning followed, as we our clocks are 14 hours ahead here in Tokyo, and our jet lag was severe. Breakfast at the hotel was grand, although it featured many more Western continental breakfast dishes than I had hoped for.

Tokyo Orientation begins this morning, and we leave for our designated cities on Wednesday.  I think I’m the only person in this building not wearing a full black suit and high heels…

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