Tokyo Orientation is a whirlwind two days of workshops, jet lag, and exciting new opportunities. After you deplane in Tokyo you’ll likely be running on a mix of adrenaline, caffeine, and surreptitious naps. But don’t worry! Orientation is well organized, and you will be provided with all the necessary information to make it from the airport to the hotel, and then on to Saga Prefecture and your new home.
Note: The particulars of Tokyo Orientation might change from year to year, so keep in mind that some of this information might be outdated.
After you clear customs and immigration, you will be whisked away to coach buses which will shuttle you to the center of the city. At this point you will need to send some of your luggage to Saga ahead of you. It’s important that you arrange your baggage so that you won’t exceed the domestic weight limit for Japanese airlines. As a general rule, you will only be allowed one piece of luggage and one personal item, so plan carefully! Consider packing necessities (professional clothes, toiletries) in a smaller bag or someplace they are easily accessible so you can shift them to a smaller bag. If you have any fragile items or omiyage, make sure you take those into account (you can carry them with you or tell the shipping company employees that your bag is fragile).
After a lengthy bus ride from Narita, you will arrive at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo’s lively and bright Shinjuku district. Depending on what time you arrive and how tired you feel, try to be brave and leave the cool air conditioning of your hotel to explore! If you are completely burnt out, the orientation does not start until around 10 a.m. on the day after you arrive, so you have some time to recover. However you only have two free nights in Tokyo, so take advantage!
The Orientation will commence with an hour of welcome addresses and introductions by various dignitaries. After this CIRs and ALTs will attend separate meetings with general information about life and work in Japan (speeches, videos, etc.). You’ll also receive a lot of booklets, pamphlets, and fliers from various workshops.
In the past, AJET has had a presence at Orientation, but this was not the case in 2014.
The first day concludes with a welcome reception between 6:30 and 8 p.m., which includes free drinks and a buffet dinner. It is a great time to mingle! There are more than 1,000 people at each of the A and B orientation sessions, so it can be a little overwhelming, but it is a good opportunity to make new friends who you can visit or who can visit you. The reception tables are organized by region, so you will have a chance to meet some neighboring JETs.
The second morning will generally consist of a panel discussion and a number of team-teaching workshops. A large number of workshops will take place in the afternoon. These seminars/workshops can be useful, but it is understood that you could be jet lagged and so they are not too strenuous.
The topics include things like: community involvement and making friends in Japan, driving in Japan, working at multiple schools, independent Japanese study, Japanese etiquette for beginners, thriving as a rural JET, and so on. Topics vary from year to year.
In the afternoon, you will attend a prefectural meeting, with some representatives from the Saga Prefectural Government (Kencho) and your Prefectural Advisors (PAs), which will probably include a few announcements but is predominately an opportunity for you to chat and get to know the other new Saga JETs.
Most countries (excluding the USA due to capacity constraints) will invite their JETs to attend a welcome reception at their embassies on the second night. This is often a highlight for many people, and although it may involve a taxi/subway journey, you’ll no doubt be rewarded with free beer, food and entertainment when you arrive. Otherwise, enjoy your last evening in Tokyo! Just make sure you get enough sleep because Wednesday is a big day.
Departure to Saga
After forcing your luggage back into your case and eating breakfast, you will board a bus with the PAs and other new Saga JETs and to catch a morning flight to Saga.
Your contracting organization supervisor will be waiting to greet you at you Saga Airport ready to take you to your town and new home. It will be a blurry, hot, and long day, so be prepared. Welcome to Japan!