Well, the time has finally come to find out where all the new JETs are heading this coming August. The USA started getting their placements on Monday 20th, while the rest of the world looked on anxiously. In Canada, we got our emails on Wednesday carrying the good news. UK, Australia and all other countries are still waiting for their results. So … where am I going?
My new home for the year will be the city of Hidaka in Saitama Prefecture. Now wait before you Google it, because I’ve already done that and quickly found out that there is nothing to be seen. The town is really small, about 50 000 inhabitants (roughly the same size as my hometown) and surrounded by picturesque mountains, rivers and fields.
What I gathered from Google pictures of this small town is that thousands of flowers seem to bloom all year-round in Hidaka, and hiking is the #1 diversion for the town dwellers. Hidaka is apparently a tourist attraction for Japanese travellers who enjoy scenic hikes up the sides of cliffs and swimming in shallow rivers.
Problem is, as you might recall, I had asked to be placed in either one of these prefectures:
- Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa-ken
Obviously, I didn’t get any of these choices, and was sorely depressed when I first heard that I was headed for Saitama-ken. This little town stuck in between nowhere and somewhere was so far from Kanazawa (my one true love), that I couldn’t help but shed tears of anguish and disappointment when I found out. I now I should have been ecstatic like all the other JETs from receiving a placement offer, but I was too heartbroken over Kanazawa to really appreciate this opportunity.
Yesterday, I went to my JETAA Japanese class, where I discussed my placement with my teacher and coordinator. This is when I discovered the benefits of living in Saitama:
- being terribly close to Tokyo (about 1h30 by train)
- having easy access to most of the Kanto region
- being close to my friend Zoé (she’s going to be attending Soka Daigaku)
- being close to a new found JET friend (he will be living in Musashimurayama)
- one of my Kanazawa friends visits regularly Saitama-ken
- reasonably close to Chiba where several of my friends live
- having the opportunity to explore a new area of Japan
I think that, had I been given my first choice of placement, I would have quickly fallen into old habits. Kanazawa is very special to me, and holds countless memories of my friends and I, and I think that this could have been more hurtful than anything else. At least I have the consolation that in Hidaka, I can start anew and not worry about seeing my friends’ ghosts everywhere around town.
On a happier note, I’ll leave you with some pictures I found of my new home ^_^ I’m sure it will be as wonderful as Kanazawa, and I promise to make the most out of my time there.