Arriving in Minoh

On the morning of the 26th, the other JET’s traveling to Osaka Prefecture and I gathered in the lobby of the hotel, ready to start off for our new homes. Suitcases and carry-ons in hand, we followed our guide, Natsumi, to Shinjuku station where we took a local train to Tokyo Station. We had time to spare, so we walked around and picked out bento boxes for lunch.

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My little bento box!

We ate our lunch on the bullet train to Osaka, which was about a 2 and ½ hour ride.

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The view from the train.

It felt nice to just sit and listen to music and look out the window and watch the rice paddies sail by to my right and not have to worry about going anywhere or doing anything after three days full of intense activity. But that period of peace ended when the train arrived at Osaka station – because we all had yet another orientation awaiting us in our new home cities.

 

Orientation in Minoh Day 1

Upon exiting the bullet train, my fellow Minoh JET’s and I were greeted with signs and smiling faces. We met a couple “J1’s” (what we call the first group of JET’S to arrive in Minoh two years ago) and three people from MAFGA – Minoh Association for Global Awareness –  who have been in charge of taking care of JET ALT’s as they attempt to adjust to life in Japan. We’d been in contact with MAFGA for a few months already, so it was exciting to meet them in person.

They drove us from Osaka station to Minoh’s city office where we signed paperwork and documents and went through our contract as employees of the city. By around 4pm, I started to crack from the heat and from the exhaustion and from the overload of information that I was trying to process. But I was able to pull myself together and battle through it. At 5pm, our first day of orientation was over, and we were all taken to our apartments on foot. On our way to our apartments, I got my first glimpse of the city. It’s super cozy, very clean, and there’s a cafe on just about every block. I felt right at home. 

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One of the cafes walking distance from my apartment complex.

We were given our keys and taken to our apartments. When I first saw the inside of mine, my heart dropped a little. I knew the apartment would be small, but it was a lot smaller than I’d imagined it would be. The kitchen isn’t a kitchen at all, it’s more like a sink with a tiny area beside it for the electric stove. The bathroom is also super tiny too – it barely has enough floor space for me to stand. But at the same time, I was happy to see it – because it was mine.

All of my luggage had safely arrived already, which was a big relief. After living out of my backpack for the last few days, it was nice to finally have access to all of my clothes and toiletries and medicine. Everything was in good shape and undamaged too, even my coconut flour. ^_^

Around 6:30 the newly arrived JET’s and a few of the J1’s and 2’s ate dinner together at a restaurant and bar that specializes in chicken. We had unlimited cabbage as an appetizer, lots of yakitori, and plum wine soda. We talked about the schools we’d be attending, what day-to-day life is like, and how to adjust to living in a country that’s not always open to foreigners. Each person had had a different experience during their time in Minoh, but all of the J1’s and 2’s seemed to agree that Minoh was the perfect city to have been placed in. 

Orientation in Minoh Day 2

Since I hadn’t gone grocery shopping yet, I went to the Family Mart (one of many, many convenience stores) across the street from the city office for breakfast. Family Mart is one of the few places to have free wifi, so I sat down at their little sitting area and checked my emails and drank my jelly pouch, while an elderly man next to me stared out the window with a coffee cup in his hands.

At 8:30, everyone met at the city office for the second day of orientation. We went through residence registration and filled out the appropriate forms necessary for creating a bank account. It was a long and complicated process and I signed quite a few contracts that I still have no idea what they were for. I don’t know how I would have survived without MAFGA’s help. How other foreigners manage to do it is beyond me.

At 10:30, MAFGA went through each of the different cell phone and internet contracts that we could choose from – Docomo, Softbank, NTT and JCOM. I ended up choosing the cheapest option with J-COM. After going through the contract stipulations, we moved on to the next presentation on Minoh. We learned more about the city, including general information, its history, and fun things to do in the area as well – like the Onsen garden and waterfall park.

After having lunch at the local mall, we took a bus to the Education Center where we’ll need to log our attendance once we start working, and from there we went to the hospital by car to learn how to make an appointment and how to contact the emergency room, which I hope I’ll never have to do!

At 5, the second day of orientation ended and we returned to the city office. I walked back to the apartment and spent the rest of the evening unpacking.

Orientation in Minoh Day 3

We met at the city office again at 8:30 sharp. We started off our final orientation day with a walk to the bank, where we signed up for our own bank accounts. (Again, no idea how I would’ve figured any of this out myself.) We received an ATM card too and I practiced depositing money into my account. The rest of the day was spent signing up for our cell phone and internet contracts. MAFGA even called representatives from JCOM and NTT to come to the city office so that we could sign up for our contracts in person without having to make the trip to their office. Signing up went smoothly for me, and I found out that the bills would be automatically withdrawn from my bank account, so I’d never have to worry about paying separate bills! (If only it were that simple in the U.S.)

At 5pm, everyone met again at the city office and orientation in Minoh came to an end. The orientation process was long, exhausting, and demanding, but it was well worth the effort because I am officially a registered resident of the city! Now I have about a week and a half left to explore, to rest, and to get adjusted to life in my new home.

Below are a few pictures that I took of the city. Enjoy!

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