About 1000 JETs have passed through Tokyo in the past week before heading out to their various outposts around the land. When I first decided to come to Japan, the first avenue I explored was JET, and by all accounts it’s the most attractive option for people arriving in this country. The pay is better, the work is more enjoyable, the lifestyle more interesting. Still, I’m really happy with the decision I made. My transition from New Zealand to Japan was near seamless, and that’s almost entirely down to the hard of work of people at the company I work for. Plus a healthy dose of optimism and self-assuredness on my part, of course.
I knew a couple of people from Christchurch in this JET intake, so I headed into Shibuya on Tuesday to have a few drinks with them. A few drinks turned into pitcher after pitcher at nomihoudai karaoke, and various drunken introductions. Here’s the crazy thing: two of the other guys in the group we were with came from Christchurch, and it turned out that they knew some good friends of mine who are now scattered about the globe. Then there was another guy who was taught maths by my friend Marty’s dad. And the other week I met a guy whose brother used to live in my last flat.
That’s the thing about New Zealand. You talk about there being a maximum six degrees of separation between any two people in the world, but in NZ I reckon it’s more like two or three, and often the connection is even more direct than that. It’s a small country, and people move around a lot – around the nation and around the world – so it ends up being pretty easy to find a link with another person, and that tends to be first on the order of business when you meet another NZer. I’ve lived in the Waikato, in Auckland and in Christchurch, plus I have friends from all over the country – and some from overseas – so it really isn’t hard. Still, it surprises me every time.
Last night I headed back into my favourite part of Japan so far: Ginza/Nihonbashi. Shibuya’s cool and all, but you won’t see ganguro girls or hordes of hosts dirtying the streets around here (although I was offered a massage on my way to the station – which I declined). I visited the Tokyo International Forum, which has an extremely impressive glass atrium, and took lots of arty photos. Then we went to 100 Dining, where drinks and food are very cheap (usually ¥100 or ¥200) and pretty nice, and after that to an izakaya called Gohan. Gohan means ‘food’. I love that. Where shall we go for dinner? I don’t know, shall we go to Food? We haven’t been there for a while. They had some really great stuff there…