The truth about living in Japan

Beyond the picturesque mountainscapes and vibrant red Tori gates lies a world of concrete skyscrapers and fashion victims.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Thunder and sun

The weather here is truely strange. It was raining when I woke up, it continued raining all morning, then I poked my head out the window and saw bright sunlight, so I walked around to the door to go outside and it was raining again.

Then came a strong crazy wind and a whole lot of thunder, and then BAM sunny again. The weather forecast on my phone jumped from 70% chance of rain, and an unbrella icon, to 0% chance of rain and a big bright orange sun icon in the space of a minute.

I guess low pressure cells move damn fast across this country.

Friday, April 22, 2005

New Nephew, New Harddrive

First up, the less important news. My once trusty laptop died gloriously and I had to hunt far and wide to find a computer service centre in Osaka that is willing and able to fix computers bought in other countries. Even though it's a Toshiba (Japanese brand) I was told by shops that they couldn't fix a computer brand not sold in their shops. Didn't make any sense, but I did find a repair shop, so a big SO to for fixing my computer and doing it in English.

That said, the important news is that my sister had a baby boy by C-section, which made me an instant Auntie at about 7am yesterday, my time.

I'm very far away and I really want to see Heidi as a new mother and meet my tiny nephew, the newest family family in 27 years. I can imagine the rest of my family all gathered around gafawing at how adorable he is and how minute his fingers are. I wonder if anyone knitted him some booties.

His name's Xavier ("zay-vi-a" in Australian-English) and he was sleeping on Heidi's lap when she called me yesterday and left a message on my mobile phone. She sounded so excited, I can't imagine how she feels with her own child. I havemn't had a chance to talk to her, when I called her she was probably asleep after her big operation.

Something that struck me as interesting is, she underwent the C-section with just an epidural (sp?) which meant she was conscious throughout the operation. Makes sense to me, but I hadn't ever thought of that before.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Actually, nothing to do with Japan

I have to keep myself entertained and I find this photo very entertaining.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Something online about ECC

ECC is the Eikawa (English Language School) I work for in Japan. They're a really big chain of schools, especially here in the Kansai region.

However, before I moved to Japan I did a lot of extensive research online to find out the juice about the prospective companies I could work for. I found an online debate regarding NOVA and plenty of info on AEON and GEOS, but nothing at all about ECC. I took the general silence as a good thing, apparently no one had anything to complain about and they DO offer 7 weeks holiday a year and only 29.5 hours a week.

Well anyway, from what I can tell as far as the big 4 go, ECC is really the best company. But it's going down hill. This year they handed out random pay increases, which ranged from nothing to basically nothing, but there were so many good teachers completely overlooked and plenty of average and very new teachers who were rewarded for doing very little. It was offensive, in fact it seems that all the good teachers I have spoken to received less than the teachers I know who drink beer before their shifts and are screwing the students.

On top of that, they failed to meet teacher's requests regarding the classes they want to teach and have forced every teacher to take kids classes on board, even those with medical reasons against teaching kids who will push and pull and punch and turn the classroom into a sumo playground.

Don't get me wrong, I love teaching kids so I requested heaps of classes, so how did they reward me? By squeezing every last drop of blood out of my body and taking away my preparation time before my first class, so they could squish in more classes and really work me right down to the last nanosecond of my schedule. I complained. I told them it was going to adversely affect my willingness to take on the responsibility of a high number of kids classes next year, so I think that made them take note since I'm of a very rare breed of teachers, they said they'd change it next year, well next year will be too late because I'm not staying that long.

I've been here a year and a half, and I just can't keep up the energy it takes to teach 15 different classes filled with insane kids high on sugar and suffering undiagnosed ADD.

So there you go, anyone searching for something about ECC online, I hope this helps. Maybe I'm the first to have a rant, but I seriously suspect I won't be the last.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The recovery.

After 4 days in bed, without leaving the house, I woke up yesterday feeling well enough to climb on my bicycle and peddle to work.

What a surprise! All of a sudden the cherry blossoms and magnolia flowers have sprung, they are so beautiful. It's a pity they only last about 2 weeks.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

I'm seasonally defective

At this exact time last year I developed acute bronchitis which had me bed-bound for a week. Oh I remember well how that one came on. Jeremy was living in Showacho at the time in a tiny, one-room gaijin apartment. I woke up in his dingy hole choking on the dryness of my throat and started to feel a little off-colour.

I had to get back to my house in the nether regions of North-East Kyoto, a long trek to say the least, by the time I got off the train I could barely walk I was so weak. After the longest, short walk of my lifetime I managed to crawl in to bed and spent the next week barely able to move because I couldn't breath.

A year later and where did I spend today? In my bed, all day, coughing and feeling weak and sick. I'm not sure it's the same thing, but it seems likely as the population around me seems to suffering from cedar fever. Coming from Australia I have limited exposure to cedars, so I think my lungs are full of foreign things I just can't cope with. I'm not as bad as last year, thank god, but since my immune system really had to battle hard then just to keep me alive, I probably have a few anitbodies floating around that are keeping me atleast sane.

I want to enjoy Spring, is that too much to ask?