Saturday, June 24, 2017

Jesus City Japan a.k.a. My JET Placement

I have reached a JET pre-departure milestone; I've finally heard from my predecessor and my school!  It's exciting because now I know exactly where I'm going, almost down to the address.  My placement is both exciting and a bit disappointing, but I'll get to that later.  I know why you really came to my blog today.  You want to know where I'm going.  You already know I'm going to Nagasaki, but Nagasaki is a big prefecture.  I could be literally ANYWHERE.



Well, have no fear, I am finally writing about where I'm going!  My placement is...

Sasebo-shi, Nagasaki-ken!
Let's get educational!

Once a small fishing village, Sasebo is now the second largest city in Nagasaki, second only to Nagasaki City.  According to the Japan National Tourism Organization website, Sasebo is "a romantic port town...[with] a bright and hospitable atmosphere." It houses a U.S. Navy base and is not shy to foreigners as evidenced by the Friendship Business Project which aims to make sure Sasebo is a foreigner friendly city (if you speak English and spend American dollars).  Sasebo has a population of about 250,000 people and has access to beaches, mountains, and a multitude of islands depending on the direction you're going.  It's known for American style hamburgers, Lemon Steak, and seafood.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, Nagasaki is one of the most christian prefectures in all of Japan.  It is home to 130 Catholic churches alone, not to mention any other denomination. Just in case you had any doubts about the Christianity of Nagasaki, Sasebo is the only city in all of Japan to use the symbol of a christian church in it's flag and seal.

Sasebo City Flag
Fortunately Sasebo does have an Adventist church in the city that's only a minute or so from my school.  Through Facebook I was introduced to an ALT who attends there currently and she says she told them of my arrival.

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One of the most famous attractions in Sasebo, and the one I'm most excited to visit, is Huis Ten Bosch.
Marmalade Boy, Chapter 38

Huis Ten Bosch is a Dutch themed Japanese theme park that has life sized recreations of Dutch buildings.  It's full of seasonal flowers, shops, theaters, museums, restaurants, hotels, and amusement rides.  There's even a hotel staffed by robots!  The park has been featured in movies, television shows, and even in anime and manga.  I personally know Huis Ten Bosch from one of my favorite shojou manga, Marmalade Boy, when the main characters go on a trip around Kyushu towards the end of the series.

Huis Ten Bosch is about 30 minutes outside of downtown Sasebo and seems to be open year round, though I can't find a definitive answer on the website.

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As great as Sasebo sounds, I am the tiniest bit disappointed.  Because Sasebo is so used to English speaking foreigners (thanks U.S. Navy base) I'm afraid that my Japanese won't progress as much because of the language handicap.  I don't want to be held back because I'll be comfortable having English stuff available to me.  I don't want to walk in a restaurant and immediately be given an English menu.  I want the immersion of being forced to learn Japanese.  Of course I'm happy to have even made it this far so as to receive a placement through the JET Program, so don't think I'm complaining.  It just means I'll have to work even harder at studying Japanese.

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Sasebo is a city with a lot of history and I'm a lot of interesting things to see.  While this post was just a very brief overview of where I'm going, I can't wait to experience the city on a personal level and see what it has to offer.  I've been emailing my predecessor back and forth about my school and my apartment, and everything is starting to fall into place.  I'm really excited to start a new phase of my life in Japan. Of course I'll be taking you guys along with me the whole way as I expand my knowledge on this adventure in the land of the rising sun.

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