My First Week in Kagoshima

This is it… Hello, Kagoshima! Before going to Kagoshima, my friends would tease me that during the winter, I would “lava ski” instead of “snow ski.” That could very well be true because Sakurajima, an active volcano, is just to the right of the city across Kinko Bay.

And what better way to welcome a Kagoshima newcomer than with a taste of the Kagoshima ash fall. On the night I came to Kagoshima, there was ash fall. I wasn’t bothered though. Minus the ash, Kagoshima is a very beautiful city, complete with urban streets, scenic hills, a clean bay and of course, an active volcano on the side. Where else can you see that combination?

First things first, I have to see where I’m going to stay for the next two weeks. I said two weeks because after that, I’ll be moving again to a new apartment, where I’ll be staying for the next seven or so months.

We were accompanied by two employees of Kagoshima, one of which was the General Manager. There is was, roughly 10 minutes from the office, Weekly Mansion Ace. What a name?

It wasn’t actually a mansion but it’s close. It’s got all the amenities I’ve been longing for but wasn’t able to get back in Nagano. Not that I’m bragging but it’s got all the basic amenities and on top of that… air-conditioning, cable-radio (I got a hundred or so channels), a microwave oven (though I haven’t used it yet), a non-futon bed, a VHS player and of course, a western-style toilet and bathroom. Whew!

From then on, I said to myself, “I think I’m going to like this place.” Unfortunately, not all good things last. I would have to move to R’s apartment come November 15. I’ve been there and it’s bigger than the one I now have. I’m just not sure if all the amenities I’ve been bragging about will also be available there. I’ll just let you know when I move there.

Aside from the apartment, I just got to see my place of work. Besides, the office is where I’ll be staying for most of my waking hours. Although I’ve already passed by the office to get the keys to my apartment, I can’t really describe the place unless I’ve really stayed there for a long time and that was exactly what I did the next day, my first day at the ESD Kagoshima office.

I came at 8:00 AM and much to my surprise, nobody was at the office. Worse, the doors were still locked and I don’t have a key. Where are the employees? I found the answer to my question half an hour later.

Employees here do not come to the office at the usual time because they follow this policy called “flexi-hours” where they can come in anytime and leave anytime as long as they complete the required number of hours per month. The only rule is to be at the office from 10:00AM to 2:00PM (core hours) except of course when you go out of the office to buy lunch. I said buy because almost all employees just buy a packed lunch and eat them at the office. So that’s exactly what I did.

There are around thirty people in the office, only three of which are foreigners, R (Philippines), T (Canada) and me (Philippines). R will be leaving in two weeks, so that leaves the number of foreigners to just two. The rest, Japanese. Unfortunately/Fortunately for us, the Japanese don’t really speak much English. I said fortunately because now, I have a good reason to study Nihongo.

Fortunately for me, there are many Filipinos here in Kagoshima and meeting them would be a breeze, thanks to R. So far, I’ve met most of the Filipinos studying in a nearby University (Kagoshima University) and I believe I’ll be meeting more once I go to church. Besides, in Japan, the church is where all the Filipinos are. Right?

So… I guess this would be my life for the next seven or so months and so far, I think I’m going to like it. As long as Sakurajima behaves well, things here will be just fine.

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