Sunday, 26 September 2010

Moving house

So, since I moved house yesterday, I figured now would be a good time to post about the old house. Yes, Im a little out of date. So sue me.

Anyway, Muramatsu-san, a little 55(ish) year old woman, was my first host. She lived about 3 minutes bike ride from the school in a littlewooden bungalow. The first thing that strikes you in Hibarigaoka (the place where I was living) is the cramped nature of the streets and the hodgepodge of architectural styles. Since land prices in tokyo are so high, and labour is so cheap (more on that in a bit), the expense in buying a home is the land upon which you build, so lots of newly sold houses are simply torn down and built upon. Hence there is little to no architectural cohesion in any suburbian neighbourhood. Examples from Hibarigaoka:

 Yes, I know, those are just streets, but hopefully you can see what I mean. Anyway, so I moved from this house in hibarigaoka:

To this one in Tachikawa (one and a half hours away from Jiyu Gakuen)

On the previous subject of labour, the Japanese low unemployment rate is very easily explained once you're here. While this country is famous for it's technological prowess they seem to use simple manpower for tasks we would demote to machines. This abundance of labour manifests itself as everything from a man at every car park, waving cars in and directing them to spaces, to the 5 men I saw, on a tiny back street all holding batons directing traffic past some roadworks. We would use ticket machines and temporary traffic lights in these situations, but the Japanese keep their Unemployment figures low instead. The builders over here, probably driven on by the fear that they are easily replaceable peons, are incredibly efficient, getting from foundations to the picture below in just 4 days. Tell me that wouldn't take our Polish/English hybrids 5 weeks at least.

Anyway, I leave you with a video tour of my first house. A traditional Japanese bungalow. All sliding doors and that jazz. And yes, I am wearing my long johns. Its a youtube link btw.

Also, It would be great if in the comments section people could leave ideas as to where they'd like me to focus my rambling gaze next. The food? The shopping? The trains? (saw a real commercial monorail today. Mad.) Basically that means, tyron, come up with ideas. Questions that you want answered etc.

Otherwise ill just carry on rambling.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


Right, so, if you're on this page I presume you know who I am and what I'm doing, but if not, here's a quick recap.
I'm Andrew Maloney, from London, a gap year student teaching English in Japan. I'm supposed to be here for a year, but basically I'll be here as long as I can last... it's far harder being so far from home than I thought it would be.

Anyway, I've been here two weeks so i figured it was about time to get this thing up and kicking.

So, first things first, where am I?

Well, somewhere just off the left side of this map apparently. Welcome to the most complex transport network ever devised. Not only because of the sprawling lines themselves, but the Japanese tendancy to spread their interchange stations over wide areas with massive shopping centers in between line entrances.
I'm living and working in a suburb called Hibarigaoka in the west, at a quaint and... unique school called Jiyu Gakuen. Famous for its unique christian ethos and attitude to teaching, but more on that next post.

This is the school, which is about 3 minutes bike ride from the house in which I'm living, with both the owner - a woman named Kyoko Muramatsu - and a Danish 21 year old gap year student who teaches Gymnastics at the school. Apparently the danes are famous for it... who knew?

The Boys' Department

I'll finish with some pictures of the school. It is quite picturesque.

The path to the Assembly Hall

The Girls' department

By the way, clicking on the photos *should* expand them to much bigger and better sizes.