Slice of Life: Rain & Signature Stamps

The rainy season has officially begun according to Japan’s weather agency. June is typically considered the rainy season here in Japan, but so far so good in Takayama – the 7 day forecast is calling for rain on Sunday only, with a few cloudy days. It did rain this evening though. Hopefully tomorrow will stay dry for us. We are hoping to go for a bike ride in the morning to finally check out the morning markets in town. They go from about 6am until 12 noon so we should be able to get there in time if the rain holds out 😉 and we’re also hoping that this weekend we can check out the “Hida no Sato” or Hida Folk Village which is only about 3km (that’s 1.86 miles for all you US readers) and features over 30 traditional farm houses and historical buildings that were moved to this area and look pretty interesting to me. Joe got a peek at some of them a couple weeks ago with one of our couch surfers. Luckily now that we are official resident aliens and have the Gaijin cards to prove it, we don’t have to pay the entrance fee of 800 yen… about $10. Free is always good… especially the week before payday! 🙂 We’ve been riding our bikes quite a lot this week. Today we rode for about 9km!

A few days ago we opened a Japanese bank account. It was a boring process and relatively long. (I fell asleep while waiting for them to do the paperwork). We had to fill out some paperwork and then instead of a signature, we had to use a special stamp with Joe’s name in Katakana – his official seal. The stamp can range in price of about $5 to $100 or even more depending on the wood and finish and if you get a special little box for it, etc. These are considered official signatures here… strange but interesting. There were about 10 people working at the bank and extremely comfortable chairs for people waiting, and the bank closes at 3pm daily. How crazy is that…??! This was Wednesday afternoon. This morning our new bank card had already arrived in the mail. Speaking of the mail, let me just get this out now:
I LOVE the post office in Japan. It’s everything that the US Post Office is not. It’s quick and efficient, friendly, courteous, trustworthy, and clean. And when they tried to deliver a package that was too big fot the mailbox, not only did they actually leave a card stating this, but the card was legible and made sense. And it was in Japanese!! Turns out the Japanese Post Office had been government run previously but it was not very good, so now it is a private company and it’s amazing! AND they deliver 7 days a week. The USPS needs to wise up and take a lesson! OK, I’m done with that.

Today I had my 2nd day of teaching Nensho classes at my kindy – Kindergarten here has 3 years… Nensho (~3 yr olds), Nenchu (~4 yr olds), and Nencho (~5 yr olds). Normally I do 3 classes of 30 minutes each each day, but Nensho are super young so the classes are just 20 minutes (15 for the first few weeks!) and there is almost always 1 kid crying and 1 who is falling out of his or her chair. But they are very nice and ‘kawaii’ or cute (like most things in Japan!). Well, today was also a sort of open house for prospective students/parents and I was unaware of this until I had finished my 4 classes in a row and was very warm and carrying all my big flash cards with me and the office woman spotted me in the hall. She called my name and waved me toward the auditorium where she pulled me inside and handed me a microphone. I was very shocked to find myself in the front of the auditorium; staring back at me were around 40 parents and their kids waiting for me to say something. I guess they were telling them that the kids will be starting to learn a 2nd language at the age of 3 but who knows… I just said hello and told them my name and where I was from… I still have no idea if there was something else they wanted, but they let me go after a few minutes. Maybe next time they will let me know ahead of time so I can sound a little more prepared! It’s bad enough to be put in front of a crowd and handed a microphone, but it’s multiplied when you don’t speak the language and have no idea what’s being said except your name and the Japanese words for ‘english teacher’.