So, I finally feel like I can write the events from the past couple of days. I have done a lot of walking the past two days, and even though I am tired… I am very content.
Sunday was my first time at church in Kobe since I got to Japan. It was an international church, which was really cool because the congregation was over 50% foreigners. The praise and worship was amazing, and a total surprise in that they played songs I KNEW! I was thrilled! It felt like I had gone a month without taking a shower (gross thought) and then I was finally able to be refreshed. After church (which started at 4 pm and went until 6 pm) a group of JETs and other English teachers, about seven of us, went to a “mexican” food place, where I had my first soy bean “burger” ever. Not actually that bad. And after that I made the long journey home. It was really great having a group of people that I can actually relate to on all levels. And for the first time, I felt ‘at home’.
Traveling off the island has been one of the most stressful things ever. There are a few buses and a ferry that can take people over to the mainland of Japan. While these buses and ferry run late at night (the ferry runs 24 hours) the local bus stops at 9 pm. So Sunday night when I arrived at Higashiura bus station, I had to walk 20 minutes to get to my apartment. (NOT fun after walking around/being on my feet since 1 pm that afternoon.) But the story gets even better. Yesterday after school I made my way to Iwaya to meet Mike (the Iwaya JET). We were going to Kobe so I could get my re-entry permit (more on that and details of the day later). Long story short, got back to Iwaya after 9 BARELY and had to take a cab from Iwaya to Higashiura bus station. the fare for the local bus is about 400 yen (about $4). My cab ride cost me 2,230 yen (about $22) RIP OFF!!! And I still had to make the 20 minute walk to my apartment… after another long day of walking around Kobe. I knew they were expensive. But it was pretty ridiculous. So I learned my lesson and my new curfew to be back on the island is 8:30 pm at the latest. because the last bus runs at 9.
I was sad that yesterday had to end so poorly with having to take a taxi, because the rest of the afternoon was actually pretty fantastic. I left straight from school (12:00) to get to Iwaya to meet Mike. We got into Kobe around 3:00 and headed for the Immigration Bureau, where I paid 6,000 yen ($60) so that I can get back into the country without having to re-apply for a visa. It’s really the stupidest thing EVER… but there are two options for re-entry permits, a 3,000 yen one that only lets you back in once OR the 6,000 yen permit that will let me leave and enter the country as many times as I want to for the length of my visa, which is 3 years if I wanted to stay here that long. So I only have to leave the country 2 times in order for me to save money after that, and I will definitely be leaving more than that. Anyway, it was a pretty painless process that took about 15 minutes. (America could take lessons on efficiency from Japan in the government offices.) After that Mike and I went and got our keitais (cell phones) and we happened to find the ONLY English speaking salesperson in an AU store in Kobe. Not that we were looking for an English speaker, we actually just happened to find one and he had what we wanted there. We found bedding stuff for Mike and had dinner at a cool restaurant where you decide what you want from a vending maching and pay there and then out pops a ticket that you give to the ‘server’ who then brings out your meal. Not a word of Japanese is necessary and the food was pretty cheap! By then it was about 8pm so we got a couple of donuts from Mr. Donut and got on the Tako Ferry. (Tako means octopus in Japanese, and this ferry has a bunch of cartoon octopi painted on it.) The Akashi Bridge was a Purple color when we got on the boat and then suddenly it changed to rainbow. It was so great!! And very beautiful. Of course you know how the story ends once we got back to Iwaya… but the rest of the day had been pretty great. And I definitely got my exercise. I am SO tired today, it took me a lot longer to get ready for school than it normally does. I was almost late.
But all is well… School starts Thursday, I teach two classes on Friday, and then a weekend that I am very much looking forward to. The only other thing on my to do list is buy an airplane ticket home for Christmas… which I will do the week of September 23rd.
This afternoon will be great. I am actually looking forward to being home. I just have cleaning to do… but the sky has gotten dark, so it looks like rain. Perfect weather to do some writing or reading…
That’s all for now… kampaii