A Trip to Japan …and Other Things

A Small Shrine at Dazaifu Temple in Fukuoka

I’ve finally settled in and blasted my way through the first stages of becoming an official human being here in Daejeon, Korea: I’ve settled into my apartment and acquired all of the proper pots, pans, and ironing boards, I have caught up and am in full swing with all of my classes (including teaching a writing workshop on Fridays), I went to Japan and got my work visa from the Korean embassy in Fukuoka, got over my impossible-to-avoid-when-in-a-new-country-eating-new-foods-and-working-with-kids illness, and got checked out by 6 different doctors to make sure I don’t have Tuburculosis so I can be registered as a person living and working in Korea. Phew! I have certainly learned that it is no small commitment to work abroad. Alright, now that I’ve caught you up on my misadventures in Korean red-tape and assimilation, let’s move on to more narcissistic-writing of my trip to Japan:

As a fellow teacher and I got off work we were told that rather than waiting until the next morning and taking a bus to the airport, we should instead make our way to the airport that night. We packed lightening-quick and made our way to the train station, took a train to Seoul, but then missed the last train to the airport in Incheon. We then grabbed a cab to the airport and ended up sleeping in the airport (seriously, for those of you who know me, you know that a country isn’t really checked off my

list til I sleep in a bus station, train station, or airport). We slept on benches and waited til the coffee shops and boarding gates opened. While we waited I got to see this gem:

“Please don’t do bad thing to Cacti.”

I, for one, think that Korea is far ahead in the movement to not do bad thing to cacti. Too many people out in the world are just running around doing bad thing to cacti. What did the cacti do to them? Nothing. Yet still, the cacti are subject to degredation and physical-abuse world-wide. Please, let’s join Korea in an effort to support cacti-mistreatment-awareness.

Moving on, we got to Japan and headed straight to the Korean embassy (no problems, easy-peasy). In Fukuoka, the cherry-blossoms were blowing in the wind. “When in Rome.” We grabbed a bottle of Shouchuu (Plum wine) and headed to a park in the shadow of a castle. As we entered into the park, a group of old men (in their 70’s) called us over and asked us to eat and drink with them. This is about as traditional as you can get in Japan. Small pink petals fell into our wine as we drank and ushered in the Spring. Most of the old men spoke a decent amount of English and I was able to fill in the rest of the conversation with my extremely rusty Japanese. That night we decided to keep the traditionalist train going and we went out for karaoke. I kicked some vocal ass, no big deal. The next day we took the subway far outside of town and went to Dazaifu Temple, a huge Shinto temple where I drank some water that I thought was a blessing, but turned out to be for washing your hands…whoops. I also got the privelage of introducing my colleague to REAL ramen the next day, And THAT, is a huge honor. Our last stop was to pick up our visa’s at the embassy after they were finished being processed and then headed back to the airport for our trip home. It was at the airport that I was gifted with seeing this gem:

“I’m not even sure, let’s examine…”

So, I believe what this sign is for is “please strangle other men in the bathroom” or “please have strange sex with other men on the counter in the bathrrom.” I think my two biggest problems with this sign is 1) the person laying down is way too big to be a baby, 2) there is no circle-and-cross through the picture to tell you NOT to do these things. So…uhm…thank you once again Japan, for making confusing signs and making me wonder if I really do have to go to the bathroom at all.

Alright, well that’s all the misadventures and such from this last couple weeks. I’ll be posting again as I see new ridiculous things and head to Seoul within the next couple weeks.


A half-registered American Teacher in Korea…who also has a blog


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About Jordan Carver

I just love life, experiencing it all, and it is definitely better with more people participating. Whether it's surfing, rock climbing, or exploring the forests, it's always better to share the magic.

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