Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kamakura Japan Our Orientation Field Trip

Michael and I had to take orientation classes the week of Nov. 17-21st. This was actually a good week for us to take the classes because my husband was out to sea and he would return the night of the 21st. The classes kept me busy and made the waiting game a little easier. The first day is called AOB, area orientation brief. It should be called Base Orientation. We sat through an endless line of different dept.'s coming in and telling us what they had to offer and what we couldn't do on base. I'm being a little sarcastic there. Some of the info was informative, but none of it was on paper and there was no way I was remembering all of that info. I think we had about 30 different speakers. We were all glad when the class was OVER.

The next 4 days of the class are ICR, Inter-cultural Relations. We had two local Japanese instructors, Naoko (pronounced NOWCO) and Hugi (prounounced HUE-JEE. Naoko is a woman and Hugi is a man. They took turns teaching us. We learned the meaning of CULTURE through an amusing fictional exercise. People don't realize that culture is all around you. From your weather, to how your parents raised you, to what kind of food is available to you, to how crowded your city is OR NOT. It was a very good lesson and a valuable one. Then they took us through very basic language skills, japanese history, geography, do's and dont's of ettiquite, using the bus and train systems, eating in a japanese evironment and speaking with japanese people. I'm sure there was more to the class than just these items. We all learned a lot. We also had a presentation from a "Gaijin" (foreigner, actually an American) that has lived in Japan for over 12 years. On Thursday we went on our personal choice field trip. Michael and I chose to go to Kamakura and we took a new friend, Henrietta with us. We met Henrietta on our first Tokyo sightseeing trip. She is a great sightseer and we enjoy having her with us. Bryan also missed the bus that morning, so he went along too. Lucky him.
The trains are an affordable and efficient way to get around Japan. When you go to Kamakura you take a train that is an older train. It is called the Enoden Line. It is alot like a trolley type of train. It was not very crowded and was very comfortable. Check out the Coca-Cola sign on the side!! Japanese are very funny with English. The special pass you buy for the Enoden line allows you to get off and back on the train as much as you need to on this route. It is called the "Kamakura Free Pass". Ha! It isn't free. It cost about 1200 YEN per person. That's about 12.00 in US$. This is a round trip ticket and took us all the way there and all the way back with many stops in between. Very nice. There's a lot closer places you can go that cost more than that and you can't get off and on in between. Due to time constraints, we weren't able to stop at all the places that you can stop. We boarded the train and decided to go all the way to the end of the line at the Kamakura stop. We looked out the windows and saw more of the same looking city. The train stations did look a little smaller. Then all of a sudden the city stopped on one side and we saw OCEAN. Beautiful water and sky and surfers in the water. It was beautiful. Henrietta has been on the West Coast of the US and she said it looked alot like the Pacific Coast. But because it is a large Bay, there was mountains way on the other side of the water. It was just an amazing surprise and made us all very happy we came already. When we got to Kamakura I wanted to try and find an Italian Restaurant that was listed in the Frommer's Travel Guide. It was listed as Milano a Riccione. We did find it!! But the name is A Riccione Milano. After we asked about the 10th person, they said, "Riccione" and showed us which way to go. It was an AUTHENTIC Italian restaurant in the middle of Japan. Amazing!! They had a brick oven and since it was lunchtime, we decided to try the pizza lunch special. It was a thin crust pizza with FRESH tomato's and FRESH mozarella. Also, I requested the "set" with the appetizer and received a plate with a tiny portion of a potato salad, a raw slice of fish, and Italian ham, but tasted a lot like bologna. Yes, I tried a tiny piece of the raw fish and NO, I didn't care for it. It was fishy. Oh well, at least I tried. It was very nice that they spoke enough English to explain the menu to us and to make a few cute jokes. The waiter was very nice. Like all restaurants in Japan (except on base) you do not tip. They see it as an insult. They are paid very well, not at all under the same pay as the wait staff in the United States.
WORK IN PROGRESS ***Will Finish this blog later..............Sleepy.

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