Komban wa! Greetings to you all, Family and Friends!!!
I hope this finds each of you well!! As I write to you, I have been in Tokyo for two weeks now! And they sure have been a busy two weeks! I will be trying to send out these email updates about twice a month. I don't have everyone email addresses, so feel free to forward this to people who might like to read it, or send me their email addresses. Also, let me know if you DON'T want this sent your way!
Now, on with the updating!
When I first boarded my plane in Chicago, I was a little self-consicous about wearing my cowboy boots. Was this a bit too American to show up in? Answer: nonsense. If there is one piece shoe wear necessary for both men and women alike in Tokyo, the answer is boots. Ankle boots, over the knee-high boots, rain boots, leather, pleather, furry, flats, heels, any kind will do. Along with your boots, it is preferable to also show off the socks you have chosen to wear with the outfit. This goes also for heels, flats, and all shoes. Maybe you are someone who needs a comfy walking shoe to transverse a large city, get to work, or walk to the market? Ladies are usually wearing some sort of high heel, and they also proceed to run all over in them! (This is not everyone, but it is a daily sighting...)
Speaking of daily sighting, my neighborhood in Tokyo is Ryogoku, in Sumida-ku (Sumida Ward) of Tokyo. After the first few days of staying at an inn/hostel, I have moved into my own apartment, or manshon... which is really just a play on words. Although small, my manshon covers everything I could possibly need. Plus, the technology aspects make up for what the space might be lacking in! [Bathroom that duels as dryer area, bidet, heated toilet, and video/speakers corresponding to both my door's bell and buzz at gaze.] The area I'm in is known for its SUMO WRESTLERS!!! That's right! The Kokugikan (where they compete) is just minutes away, walking, from my manshon! Because of this, it is not uncommon to see sumo wrestlers walking or biking around, and usually in their kimonos. Any Japanese people immediately known my area, and say with excitement "OOh! Sumo wrestlers!!" I will be attending the winter competition come January!
The two people I was hired with, Jen and Matt, live at the same complex, and I am with them daily. It is a blessing to have such wonderful people here with me on this journey. Their love and support is much appreciated.
What I will be doing for the next 6 months, for the most part, is learning the Japanese language as best as I can. I am in an intensive class that meets four days a week, for 3 hours at a time. This week has been our first week of full class; last week was mainly learning the character sets. The Japanese language uses three different sets of characters (as opposed to the USA where we use one - Roman letters). They are Hiragana (for all Japanese words), Katakana (for all non-Japanese words), and Kanji (Chinese characters). All sets can be found within one sentence or advertisement. At this point, we have not learned Kanji, so fully reading, forgetting the understanding aspect, is a lost cause.
The language is really hard, and my patience and knowledge particularly pushed this past Tuesday. We have three different sensais (teachers) that switch days. One of them is very overwhelming with the amount of information, and does not offer much assistance when not understanding the activity. The two days have been much better. There are six students in the class. (Three J3s ("Japan - 33 months"), my position, and three VYMs (Volunteer Youth Missionary), which is basically the same position but through the Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod. [For all you Lutherans out there, both ELCA and LCMS work very well together in Japan, and there is no hostility between the two.]
I have also been paired up with a church that I will be working with and attending. Mine is Sei Pauro (St. Paul), and located about 25 minutes walking away from me. After one week of attending, I have already been brought into the choir, and will be helping with the children's service. All services are in Japanese, and the congregation comes together for lunch after the service, something common throughout (at least) Tokyo.
This weekend I hope to check out park/museum(?) in Ueno. [The joke here is "everything is in Ueno". Many things we hear about seem to be there, and we've not been there yet.] The ceramics center I am trying to get involved with is there as well. Sunday afternoon a group of us is heading down to Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, to attend an Oktoberfest! I will be spending the night at my friends house who was in orientation this summer with me.
I am sure there is more that I could be writing, but I am going to cut myself off here. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have. I can be contacted via email, Carolyn.Stypka@gmail.com or through Skype: Carolyn.Stypka
Or send me regular mail!
103 Leo Palace MM1
1-23-3 Midori, Sumida-ku
Tokyo 130-0021 JAPAN
The mail system works just fine here, and am told it takes about a week to get from Tokyo to the States. I have only sent one letter out so far (to Busia), but will be working on more. Please send address if you are interested, and will get one out in the next few years! ha! :)
I am including below a link where my pictures, so far, can be viewed.
Your thoughts and prayers are continuously welcomed.