The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 30 May 2006


Ooo exciting times! In two months time, I'll be somewhere in Ishikawa Prefecture. Where is that?, was my first question. To tell you the truth, I wasn't too excited initially. It looked very inaka (i.e. rural). I wanna get out of Perth to somewhere more exciting, not a place that could potentially be smaller than Perth (although Rob pointed out that you can't get more isolated than Perth!). I was pretty apprehensive about my destination on the day I found out (the consulate told me that they don't have an exact placement for me yet) so I went to my Jap class that evening last week in a sorta subdued mood. I was even wondering if this is really what I want. Apparently about 70% of JET placements are in inaka sorta areas so I shouldn't have been surprised by my placement but I guess I was really hopeful. Plus my main concern about inaka placements is that we won't have internet access and Rob will either be miserable staying with me or he would just come over for short holidays (in which case I would be miserable).

Anyway, after having a chat to Akai-san (our Jap tutor), I was quite encouraged. Akai-san confirmed that although Ishikawa is quite inaka it's not so bad - a few hours away from Tokyo and Osaka on the train. Plus you can get internet anywhere in Japan and minimum connection is ADSL (Akai-san then started bragging about Japan's superior technology). Ah, we had nothing to worry about then! Ishikawa prefecture is on the western (Sea of Japan) side of Japan. The big cities like Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka etc are all on the eastern (Pacific) part of Japan, so that was the first downer. The up side is that we can learn skiing in the nearby mountains in winter and the beach is not too inaccessible for the warm summer months. The capital city of the prefecture, Kanasawa, has a population of half a million and that was the second downer but I pointed out to Rob that the population actually living in the Perth is definitely not the 2 million which includes the population in all the suburbs surrounding Perth in >30km radius. Akai-san said that Kanasawa is definitely bigger than Perth.

The more I thought about it, the less iffy I felt about my prefecture placement. Living away from the big cities means that rent is not so costly, and the cost of living would generally be cheaper. Sure, there would be hard-to-get comforts that would even be harder-to-get without the big city conveniences but hopefully we would at least get good access to fresh produce. In addition, the whole "japanese experience" would be better away from the westernised cities.

Besides, why should I even be complaining? As I mentioned previously, I am so blessed to have gotten into the JET program considering I have no proficiency or expertise in the language, history or culture. I have to say though, I am still quite apprehensive about the fact that food is pretty pricey in Japan - I've been spoilt with the variety of food and fresh produce here in Perth and I wonder how I'll cope with that aspect of living.. Ah, it's all part of the experience, isn't it? Besides, in order to get into the JET Program, I'd been selling myself as being very adaptable - I guess it's time to prove that I'm not a liar!

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