Monday, March 29, 2010

Nagoya Day 2: Orientation/Training and Karaoke!

Today offers less pictures because I spent the bulk of my day in Orientation/Training. I can say definitively that our company offers a huge wealth of wonderful teaching materials and comprehensive training that promises to be quite helpful. From listening to the stories of others ALT's in the room starting with Altia who have experience elsewhere, it seems to me that the training and materials here is definitely top-notch. This makes me feel more comfortable, because aspects of the task we're taking in are a bit overwhelming. I'm going to be teaching in something like 5-6 schools, multiple classes in each, and with multiple teachers. It's more than a little stressful to think about the logistics of this, especially things like memorizing my students' names, consulting with teachers about the lesson plans, etc. I think the first few weeks are going to be a bit rough while I get my feet under me. But the attitude of my trainers and fellow ALTs is very positive. If I could handle my first month of Grad School, this should certainly be within my capabilities. I hope.

After training, it was time for Karaoke! Me and three other ALTs from my company were supposed to hook up with the group I met from Interac when my plane came in, but schedules didn't mesh, so we ended up on our own. It was Saturday night, so when we got to Joy Joy Karaoke, the place was booked an hour out. So we put our names in, and then headed out to find some cheap beer. And so I had my first “Kampai” in Japan, toasting with my new friends over frothy mugs of Nama beer. At this bar, they also give you tofu with your beer. It seemed like it was a part of the package, but we found out after we had finished it that we'd been charged more for the tofu than the beer. That was a bit of a downer, though I did enjoy the tofu.

Our number came up just as soon as we got to Karaoke. And so I stepped foot into one of the millions of beating hearts of the motherland of Karaoke, a Karaoke Booth just outside the Kanayama station in Nagoya Japan. The Karaoke booth is a tiny room with two microphones. Inside, the acoustics are great, and there is even a button that allows you to change the key of the song so that you can sing it better. Alas, my knowledge of what key I should be singing in is limited, but I expect I'll get a feel for it once I do more Karaoke.

The place we were at also had Nomi-houdai, which means all the alcohol you can drink (off of their alcohol menu) but in this case the drinks were so weak it was more like an all you can drink random soda selection. In the Karaoke booth, there is a small portable entry screen which allows you to enter the name of an artist and get all of their songs (that the Karaoke place has). Luckily two of the four people with our group knew exactly how to use the machine, so we were able to select our songs on the entirely Japanese menus. Then, once the song goes through (both English and Japanese songs are featured), you read it off of a large, flatscreen which has all of the words written in their native language with Furigana on top. This means that even the songs with Kanji can be read if you can read Hiragana and Katakana.

Unfortunately, while I can read Hiragana and Katakana, I read it like a mentally deficient second grader, ie, very very sloooooowly. So I couldn't really keep up with the Japanese songs I picked though it was fun to try. My rendition of Crystal Kay's “Think of You” was a slow motion disaster. Larc-en-ciel's driver's high was a bit better, in part because I also had a friend join me. I think this is defintely going to be my road to reading and typing in Japanese! What's also nice about the booths is that you really can do lots of songs in an hour, and with your friends the experience is ridiculously fun. Also the sound setup is amazing. In the other sense though, the booths do make Karaoke less of a “meeting people” experience. We are all in our own little booth bubbles, bonding with existing circles of friends. I am definitely going to be doing a LOT more Karaoke in Japan (note from the future: gonna head out tonight, Monday, after our welcome party) but I think that Karaoke is not going to be my vehicle to meet random strangers. I'm gonna have to find my local bar for that. All of these things I'd already suspected, and it is good to have them confirmed.

After Karaoke, we went to a video arcade where we played this mad awesome drumming game. My partner is a professional drummer, so he set it to major hard “muzukashii”. I barely hit anything (as we were playing as partners) but it didn't matter because it was great fun. I especially enjoyed “Train, Train, Train” the song, which was super cute and fun! (and a bit easier to know when to hit the drum).

After that, it was off to bed and ready for another rousing day of orientation! Let's play a game—Yay!

Pictures are Posted to my Facebook Album: Nagoya Day 2

Next Entry: More Orientation and the Long Walk for Hawaiian Food.
Upcoming: It's The Little Things; Musings on Differences between Nagoya and Philly.