Tag Archives: TJET

Japan wants your poop.

Specifically, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education wants you to collect a stool sample.

It’s that time of year for my school that we are doing our annual health exams. I will get to ‘look forward’ to the inevitable poking and prodding and being told that I am overweight (grossly obese by Japanese standards). These things I was expecting, having read reviews by previous JET Programme participants. What I was un prepared for was the bonus activity of having to handle my excrement.

I was issued a small, blue ziplock pouch with some items in it. The teacher who gave it to me, looked at it, looked at me, then back at it; he proclaimed with a vexed expression that he would have to write me a note with the instructions. To save time I volunteered to have my wife give me instructions. He seemed pleased with that option.

When I presented the pouch to my wife we opened it and she promptly determined it was to collect a stool sample. It contained a folded instruction sheet (in Japanese), to sample collection vials and two folded sheets of paper. The sheets of paper are to prevent your excrement from sliding down the pipe where the toilet flushes out of (pardon for my lack of plumbing terminology). Each of the vials has a small ridged plastic probe fixed to the cap. You are supposed to use the probe to penetrate the excrement to the degree that the ridges retain some of your waste. You then close the vial which contains a blue preservative liquid.

Woe to me, the barrier sheet I placed in the toilet was not strong enough to contain my sample and it tore thru. In a distressed state I called to my wife. She suggested I use disposable chopsticks to grab my sample and pierce it with the probe. After much frustration I proceeded to fish out my sample enough that I could collect material on the probe… while fighting back my intense desire to vomit.
I firmly closed the caps; triple bagged the chopsticks in a garbage bag and wiped down all surfaces with Lysol Disinfecting Wipes. The collection was successful and I was able to follow my wife’s recommendation without contaminating myself, but the psychological damage was done.

20151012_145249a

I had just used chopsticks to grab my poo so I could poke it with a plastic stick.
I think I’ll be using a fork for a while.

When traveling by JET…

So I left the US on 07/25/15 (got to Japan on the 26th) and had a reasonably comfortable flight on Delta Airlines. My local JET Alumni Association was kind enough to see us off and give us some going away gifts.  The fan and sweat towel are lifesavers if you don’t already have them for your trip.  I typically go through two sweat towels a day, now that its the peak of summer.
IMG_0633

Helpful tip for the flight, food quality is better if your request a kosher meal and the seat is more comfortable if you can arrange to get a bulkhead seat (44J for me).  I’m talking about a First Class amount of legroom almost.

When you get to NRT-Narita Airport, you hit the ground running.  Immediately you check in with Immigration (where you are issued an Alien Registration Card), collect your bags, go through customs and make your way to the buses.  Those who are wise have their important items pre-packed into their one allotted carry-on and check-in bag they are allowed to take to the Shinjuku Plaza Hotel.  From personal experience, it is a pain to have to repack in the airport.  Excess baggage is sent ahead (Shinagawa Prince Hotel for TJETs) and you may not see it again for a while.
IMG_0660
Arriving on Sunday, we got the rest of the day off, but I was too tired and sweaty (adjusting to TKY heat) to do much other than get some basic provisions at a drug store and a simple meal at Coco Curry.  Yay~~~curry!!!!
IMG_0665
The following day we began our Post-Arrival Orientation.  Seattle Consulate and PNW JETAA prepared us really well and much of the content of the lectures/presentations were old hat by then.  There was some interesting information, but as it was the most basic kind of information, other parts of the content completely did not apply to the TJETs who would be placed almost exclusively at a single high school as part of our assignments.  Be prepared for a lot of sitting, clapping, trying not to fall asleep while fighting JETlag (<-that’s a pun btw), waiting for lunch, shuffling through paperwork and general amounts of boredom.  Also, bring a notebook.  The paper provided is not good for much more than writing in the margins.
IMG_0666 IMG_0668

Japan Today

Japan today is very hot.  Very humid.  The Japanese term is 蒸し暑い-Mushiatsui.  Meaning muggy, but I prefer the Japanese because with as much as I sweat in this heat I feel “mushy”.  Its been 90+ degrees with high humidity.  I suffered heat exhaustion recently so make sure you drink lots of water and mind the electrolytes.  Be aware that it hits you, sometimes before you realize it.
The in-processing experience that is JET post-arrival orientation is everything and more that previous JETs said it would be.  That’s not exactly a compliment.  The JET program has a lot of moving parts to it and a lot of ALTs to administer to.  Being caught in the hustle and bustle can make you wonder what the hell you’re doing on a daily basis and how much planning was given to what you need to do when you hit the ground running.  You know that there is a theoretical plan, but just where you are in it is more of the issue.
Furthermore, Tokyo Jets as myself have compounded issues.  My situation is extraordinarily lucky as I have family in Japan helping me get set up.  But if you get selected as a TJET, you are both blessed and cursed in some ways.
I will update later with a more detailed description of it, but lets just say than katsudon for breakfast makes everything better.

IMG_0685

#Katsuya