For many reasons I still feel like I am waiting for my real life to begin here.
There is a lot of predictability in our life here. Up at 6:30. Rice and miso shiru and tsukemono (pickled veggies) for breakfast, I make smoothies for myself a couple days a week. Off to work by 7:45, by bike unless it is raining. Morning office greeting at exactly 8:30; until now I’ve left for the school visits right after the morning greeting, but now that it’s summer vacation I’ll be in the office all day long. Morning greeting: The section head stands up and everyone else follows. We all face him and he makes a brief comment about special meetings or obligations and then we all sit down and start work. Everyone stops for lunch at 12:15, the lights are dimmed and most of my co-workers eat silently at their desks. Work ends at 5:00. I am the first one to leave every day….I don’t feel guilty about it. Dinner between 6:00 and 7:00…. But outside of the routine, the rest of the day is spent on errands and I haven’t been able to focus at all on personal projects…I guess that’ll come once the building is all done.
We are now sleeping in the kura, but we haven’t “set up house” there yet.
Things at work have been pretty intense. I mentioned that four people had been arrested for bribery soon after I arrived. Not surprisingly, it turns out that bribery has been quite widespread in this prefecture for several years. As more and more was discovered, the media scrutiny became more and more intense. It was the lead story in the national news for several days, even topping the G8 Summit! It turns out that several teachers and administrators had been paying to have the scores of their children padded so they would be hired as teachers. Several people who had top scores had points deducted and weren’t hired. Also some teachers paid for promotions for themselves. One guy pretty much pocketed all of the money and then when there was a request for an initial internal investigation, he was appointed chair of the committee. He has admitted to deleting several files from the computers. You can read more about it here or here. Here is an editorial. Needless to say, the outrage is relentless. The office phones are ringing constantly and my colleagues have had to field calls from the media and the public about this all day long for the past two weeks. There have been press conferences every day. The people in my office are not involved, but because they are the local board of education and several of the district teachers are involved…we are all under scrutiny.
There are two other foreigners working in my office, an Australian and an American. One of them has been here 4 years. They are both due to leave at the end of July, and the office is holding farewell parties for them. However, our supervisors can’t attend because of the public scrutiny..they can’t be seen celebrating when there is an investigation going on.
I am still adjusting to the work environment here. There is very little communication and I feel totally isolated even though I sit in a room with about 25 other people. I am so glad that I will spend most of my time in the schools.
It’s a three day weekend!!!! Tomorrow I’ll so some online work and then work on our living space a bit. Tomorrow night we’ll be going to a concert at the beach. Sunday we’ll go visit Jiro’s nieces and check out fireworks at night. Monday is a national holiday 海の日(Day of the Sea) “The law established this national holiday as a day of gratitude for the blessings of the oceans and for hoping for the prosperity of the maritime nation that is Japan. Prior to 1996, it was known as Marine Memorial Day, and was not a holiday. In 1996, it became a national holiday, with its date fixed as July 20. An amendment to the law made it, as of 2003, the Monday holiday it now is.” Wikipedia(Marine Day July 18, 2008)..we’ll go the beach!