At the edge of the horizon

At the edge of the horizon
At the edge of Japan

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sayonara/Mensore! (Let's ketchup)

I arrived to teach English in July after spending a week in NYC sorting my life out there.  Throwing away all of the bits and pieces of my life I had left around awaiting my indefinite return was a strange experience in itself, but throwing out that part of my life knowing that I was embarking on a journey to a life much different from what I had previously known, made my week in NYC very surreal.  I stayed at an affordable hotel just off Union Square in an area where I had once lived while attending NYU.  My time there felt like the closure of a circle of my time in that city and when I took off towards JFK the morning of my departure, I knew I was saying goodbye to it for good.  Before my family and friends become worried about whether I'm going to become a "lifer" in Japan and never return, just realize that I know I will return to the US and I know I will not move back to NYC, no matter how much I love that city.  It is what it is.  

Sayonara NYC
It took quite a while to get to Japan, a 14 hour flight over the arctic which I spent dealing with a head cold I'd acquired just two days before boarding the AA flight to Narita.  The entire process of moving through Narita, Customs and to the Hotel was rather painless and I have to really say that the JET Program/CLAIR really do have that down excellently.  It was quite well orchestrated and that is not an easy feat.  So, even though I felt terrible while driving into Tokyo, I knew that I was heading to the Keio Plaza Hotel, a very posh building in the heart of Shinjuku.  Thank goodness for the medicine that I was given by the CLAIR office as I was over the cold by the end of the Tokyo Orientation (so overall, TO was worth it for relaxing, recuperating and getting ready for a year in Okinawa). 

Hello Tokyo suburbs
An inter-city train passing through Shinjuku
Oh McDonald's, I cannot escape thee...

Tokyo architecture 

At the Keio

On the final day of orientation, the Oki-ken group lined up in the Hana room of the hotel and along with a group heading off to Hokkaido and another to Kagoshima, we were off to Haneda airport to board our flight to Naha.  That flight was relatively painless and the whole one day orientation was another day to hang on to my life pre-Ishigaki, but I knew that my job on that island was calling me, so off I went with the other JETs heading to Miyako-jima, ,with me flying on my own to Ishigaki.  The flight from Naha is about an hour southwest and there are some beautiful images of islands and the surrounding ocean.  I couldn't help but think about the fact that this was the same ocean I'd flown over 10 years ago on my way to Vietnam.  How time flies...  The vastness of the ocean, and the beauty of the waves as they crash against the coral, is astounding.  As the plane descended towards Ishigaki city, it took us close to the coastline of the island enabling me to see how rural and green the island is in many spots.  There is a quietness to the landscape from afar, though in actuality the island is teeming with life everywhere.   

Here is my plane after landing in Ishigaki.   Let's just say, here's where the story really begins.

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