WOW. There are so many things that I’ve experienced over the past week that it’s hard to keep my head focused on the purpose of this blog post: explaining what I went through to become a resident in Osakasayama City.
Today begins my second week in Japan. And I’m well into my teaching now, and I feel like I’ve settled in quite well, though I still get tired earlier in the evening than I would like to (I’m usually pretty spent by 10pm… When normally, I could stay up until midnight). But that also means I’m waking up pretty early in the morning. Which I’m trying to use for productive purposes. Not to mention I teach on a split-shift. Today for example, I teach for an hour at 10am, then for 2 hours at 4pm. Then for 1 more hour at 8pm.
Anyway as I said, this post really mostly narrates the procedures of becoming an official resident of my city, for those who are interested in bureaucratic stuff like that. Although mind you, here in Japan, I found it pretty interesting. Nothing like lining up at the Registry Office to renew your Driver’s License… Let’s start with my Residence Card:
Unfortunately, this has my “mad Chris” face, which was the very first picture I sent to Japan along with my Certificate of Eligibility. And that makes sense because this is the picture I actually sent here to Japan, while the second picture I took went on my Visa. But anyway, I need to carry this card with me all the time, apparently. It seems they are really quite strict when they see things out of the ordinary, and a large Filipino guy in a small town in Japan is pretty out of ordinary. So apparently, I can expect to be “carded” at least a few times when I’m here.
I got this Residence Card in Osaka Airport as soon as I landed and went through Immigration. This is a new procedure. Before I think we would had to go to a Ministry of Immigration office to get it. So having the card right when I arrived probably shortened the process I had to go through to register as a resident.
When I got out of the airport, the Nagaharas were there right away to pick me up. It was about a 45 minute drive from the airport to my apartment/the school. And there was traffic. Which surprised me. But also showed me the difference between Tokyo and Osaka. Tokyo is really much more train and public transit dependent, while Osaka seems a little bit more into cars (though mind you, it still has an extensive public transit infrastructure).
The day after I arrived was when we did most of the work. Again, since I had the residence card, though, one of the steps was taken care of. So we just had to go to City Hall to register as a resident in Osakasayama.
At City Hall, I was introduced to Sayurin, the town’s mascot. She has the body of a dragon, and her hair is made of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms). Walking around town afterward, I started noticing her on everything. She’s on the busses, the garbage cans, etc. Anything municipality owned basically. I decided to buy a keychain version of her.
I was really glad to have the Nagaharas with me to do all the registration stuff. I’m sure I would have been able to do it myself, but they probably did it in one quarter the time it would have taken me.
This is basically what registration does… for me at least. My address was printed on the back of my residence card. Obviously for the municipality it means more. It’s pretty interesting: They actually keep really detailed records of the residents in the city. I forgot to take a picture of it, but they had a board up that showed the city’s statistics from the previous month. How many people moved in/moved out. How many babies were born/how many people died.
From what I remember, Osakasayama had just under 60,000 people, almost evenly divided between males and females. I forget the number of people who moved in, moved out, and died. But I do remember, that there were 33 babies born. I took note of that because I know that Fort McMurray, which is roughly the same size as Osakasayama, has about 100 babies born each month. So that was pretty interesting to see.
After registering as a resident, I got my health insurance, which the school paid for. Praise the Lord for the benefits of this job! Then with our business done at City Hall, and as an official resident of Osakasayama, I got a picture beside Sayurin at the main entrance (featured image). Afterward, we went to the Post office so that I could open a bank account at the Japan Post Bank. Yes, the Post Office owns a bank. This is one of the more convenient places for me to get an account, so that’s why I went with it. We’ll see how the services are, though. I’ve barely done anything with them yet except deposit some money from my first pay cheque.
After a short break for lunch, the Nagaharas took me to Sayama Pond, which is a manmade pond that is something like 1,400 years old! It was the first pond built of over 140 in the city. Specifically, we went to the museum, which was really interesting, showing the history of the pond. It was made by a Buddhist monk who apparently learned the technology from the Chinese. It is used to irrigate the rice fields scattered throughout the city, and it was pretty advanced technology back in the day. It also makes a pretty sweet walking path, at almost 3,000 metres around. The northern bank is really nice because you can even see as far as Osaka City. Maybe walking around it might become a regular thing for me? Maybe..
Well that’s about it for this update. Before I get on with some prayer requests, here is a quick tour around my apartment…
So things have been going well this past week. Next post, I will talk more about my school and my first few classes. Please pray that I get along well with my students. So far it’s been really positive. Especially with the adult students and some of the older children. But of course anytime you get a group of children to teach you will occasionally come across certain ones that are harder to work with.
Also please pray as I begin to develop relationships in my classes, and hopefully eventually around town. Those who know me well know that I’m not exactly the most outgoing person. So it’s difficult already, not to mention the language barrier. Which brings me to my last prayer request: Please pray that I would be less of a lazy bum and that I would be more diligent in studying. Haha. I’ve got several goals for myself over the next year. I won’t get into those now. But obviously learning Japanese is one of them. So I pray that I would be diligent to use my down time well to accomplish those things.
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