Tuesday, 27 July 2010


We're only 4 days away from the big day now. Most of the two months I've spent at my parents' house have flown by, but these last few days have been a slow, slow drip. Apart from being in Japan, I'm looking forward to sleeping in a conventional bed (rather than a fold-out one) and not getting woken up every morning at 7 (by my parents). After arriving in Tokyo we'll be staying in the upscale Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku for three nights, so that should be quite a change from what I'm used to.

I've spent these last few days preparing for Japan. Last week I went into town to pick up some regional items to show my colleagues and for if I do school visits - it's always a good idea for the kids to have something physical to look at. I went to the Tourist Information Centre and picked up a few free leaflets on the local area, making sure there were lots of colourful photos inside. I couldn't really find anything on Sheffield in general, as most of the leaflets were focused on one particular event or place, but I also bought loads of postcards with things like the Supertram and the Sheffield Wednesday ground on, so I reckon I'll have enough stuff to show everyone.

I've also bought some gifts to give out to my seniors at work. Giving gifts (お土産) to your co-workers is an important part of Japanese culture, and it's usually done after you've been on a trip or on holiday. You also generally give gifts when you go to stay at someone's house or the like, so I guess when you combine those two customs it's only right for JETs to bring gifts. It's a kind of "nice-to-meet-you" present, as well as a good introduction to your home country/region. Last time I went to Japan I was staying at someone's house straight away, so I took gifts then as well. I wanted to buy a Yorkshire Tea tin, which I knew you could get, but I didn't manage to find one, so settled on some biscuits and Earl Grey tea. But this time I went to the Yorkshire Tea website and ordered a couple of those tins along with some other goodies to give out. I found the prices relatively cheap, and I think they'll make great presents. And because of a shortage of decent tea in Japan, I'll probably be nipping back to my seniors to borrow a few tea bags later on.

I've also bought any extra clothes I needed, had my leaving party, sorted my travel insurance and booked my coach ticket down to Heathrow, so all that's left to do now is pack my suitcase and go.

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