The clearing haze…

Little by little, I’ve been getting information of what it is I’ll actually be doing in Niigata. This handy bit of information came in the form of a letter from the Prefectural Board of Education a couple of days ago:

You will be living in Kamo. Your base school, which you will visit approximately 3 times per week is Kamo Junior High School. Once a week you will visit your regular school, Wakamiya. You will also have one shot schools, Osaki and Tagami, that you will visit once a week on alternating weeks. Your working days are 8:10 until 4:55 Monday to Thursdays and from 8:10 until 11:10 on Fridays.

  • Monday: One shot
  • Tuesday: Regular
  • Wednesday: Base
  • Thursday: Base
  • Friday: Base

And this even more informative email from my predecessor cleared up a lot of living details:

Hello Kristi,

Well, first, I want to congratulate you on your acceptance to the JET Programme. You will have an unbelievable time here, in the quaint little city of Kamo. Let me introduce myself. My name is Geraldine and I come from South Africa. I have lived and worked in Kamo for the past 2 years and have enjoyed my time immensely. The people are friendly and you will have everything you need (such as bank, grocery store, post office) within walking distance or a hop on the local train. Your apartment is about a 2 minute walk to the station, which is great if you want to visit other places or friends. The beautiful Kamoyama Park is just down the road from your apartment, and is especially lovely in summer, spring and fall. Kamo offers an abundance in nature and a camera is a definite must. I am going to give you some basic information and some of it, you may already know but please bear with me.

Life in Kamo
Kamo is relatively small with a population size of about 30,000 people. Kamo has a nice, quaint feel about but if you are in the mood to paint the town red, then the bigger cities of Niigata and Nagaoka is just 40 minutes away on the train if you feel like a night out on the town. People are very friendly and helpful and they love it when ALT’s participate in community events. Kamo has a international association which offers many events and it is always good fun to join in every once and a while. I have met many wonderful people there, not only foreigners but also Japanese people that want to improve their English. Kamo also have many festivals such as the Kamo river festival on August 14th which culminates in a big firework show. It was a lot of fun!

Your job
You will work at junior high school only, with Kamo JHS as your base school. You will go to Wakamiya, Osaki in Sanjo city which is 2 train stops away and Tagami (also 2 train stops away) from Kamo. At the moment, I visit 5 schools and visit Tagami only once a month but that might change for you…I don’t know. Students are friendly especially at Wakamiya and Tagami but overall they are shy but it gets better when they get to know you. For your introduction lessons (you’ll have many of these), make sure to bring lots of material about your home country (flag, map, pics, stickers and anything that you can think of). You have to go to the Chuetsu BOE once a month for the monthly meetings where you and other ALT’s will meet with Mr Shimizu and exchange lesson plans etc. There are loads of lesson plans that im leaving either at the apartment or at the base school.

Your apartment
You will be residing at Fragrance 202…I love that name! Anyways the apartment is spacious enough for me and it gets a lot of light which is good especially in the winter. You have a 6 mat tatami room with a verandah, a little kitchen, a living room with the best piece of furniture known to mankind….a kotatsu table with a heated carpet which is just perfect for the cold winter in Niigata. You also have a western toilet, don’t know if you will be upset about that. Im leaving you basic things like towels, bedding, sheets, kitchenware behind so don’t worry about that. It gets quite cold in the winter and though you have a heater and obviously a air conditioner, bring lots of layers for winter. Oh yeah, you also have a parking spot, which is free. I didn’t have the need for a car but if you can get one, so much the better.

On a final note, everyone has a different experience in Japan and im sure yours will be wonderful, remember that a smile goes a long way and just have fun teaching. If you have any more questions or concerns about things that seems unclear please feel free to contact me via e-mail or call me.

Warm Regards,

All in all, it sounds like a good setup. Now all I’ve got to do is get there. :) Less than two weeks to go.