Monday, August 6, 2007

Tokyo Orientation - Day 2

After an "interesting" breakfast (steamed vegetables?) at the hotel, it was pretty much just introductions and presentations until lunch. We met the other people going to our prefecture, and sat through a fairly long, formal opening ceremony for the orientation. Apparently this was practice for many various long Japanese ceremonies/meetings. ^^;;

We then had lunch on the 43rd floor of the hotel, where we were treated to a great view of Tokyo:

After that, it was onto still more presentations! There was a keynote speaker as well as a panel presentation from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

The keynote speaker (or one of the panel presenters?) had an amusing anecdote about English education in Japan. He talked about how one teacher brought some students to America. While there, one student's appendix ruptured and they had to take him to the hospital for emergency service. When the doctor asked the student how he was feeling, the student immediately replied: "I'm fine. And how are you?" :P The speaker's point, of course, was that he hoped we would at the very least teach students to answer the question "how are you?" honestly instead of by rote.

Anyway, the MEXT speakers were actually all pretty entertaining, but it was still hard to just sit in a darkened room, listening for hours. After that there was an AJET information fair and various AJET presentations about different aspects of living in Japan.

I went to the sessions on financial management and cooking, but skipped the third session to take a nap.

There was a JET welcome reception for dinner, but neither C nor I were particularly hungry, so we just nibbled on fruit and desserts.

After that, there was a Shinjuku tour for Toronto JETs organized by the Japan Visitors Association. Unfortunately it pretty much just a sanitized version (no sex toy shop!) of the tour of Kabuki-cho we got from RT the night before, but they did take us to Yodobashi Camera, a huge electronics store, so at least C was able to buy a power bar which would accept 3-prong plugs.

We ended the tour at another (but different) izakaya where we had nomi-hodai and tabe-hodai--all-you-can-drink and all-you-can-eat for 2 hours. Of course it wasn't really worth it for me (I sipped some beer and had lots of water), but I was there for the company anyway, so it was okay.

Then it was back to the hotel to prepare for the next day. Before going to bed we went down to the hospitality centre to iron our clothes for the following day. I ended up ironing a lot of clothes because I couldn't decide what I wanted to wear, but oh well.