Tokyo orientation feels like it was ages ago, but in reality it was less than two months ago. When I look back, at pictures and think about everything that was going on, so much is a blur. I was tired, jet-lagged, excited, energized, and overloaded with information. Oh, and don't forget hungover and sleep deprived.
The day before leaving we had a final pre-departure orientation in Vancouver. The orientation itself was pretty much what one would expect: information about the flight the next day, final remarks on what to pack and prepare for Tokyo orientation, and such. Largely though, it felt like a celebration of what we had achieved thus far, and what we were about to do. "This is it, we all leave tomorrow" "Good luck, don't fuck up" and so on.
The flight itself was pretty uneventful. Some slept, most were too excited to sleep. I was the latter, which turned out to be fine. When we landed in Tokyo it was evening, and it was about 8pm by the time we got to the hotel and checked in.
The house the JET participants at the KEIO Plaza Hotel for the duration of Tokyo orientation, and man is it a nice hotel. The hotel rooms were pretty spacious, even with three of us crammed in there, and the orientation and seminar rooms were stunning. Not to mention that the hotel is what many would call the heart of Tokyo; Shinjuku.
The first evening was a write off for most of us. We walked like zombies to whatever restaurant we could find, ate, then headed back to the hotel for some rest. The opening ceremony was bright and early Monday morning, and it was going to be a long day.
I honestly don't remember much from the orientation and seminars themselves. It was largely speech after speech, with piles and piles of information regurgitated at us over and over again. Of course a lot of the information was useful and important, but it was just really hard to digest all at once while in such a state.
What I do remember are the bonds I made in Tokyo. Of course many of us from the Vancouver consulate were already fairly close, but our friendships grew even stronger in Tokyo. Even now I still hear other JETs remarking about how close we are, and how they haven't really seen anything like it. Maybe it was the overhanging threat of being torn apart in only a few days time, but we stuck together like glue for most of the orientation, during seminars and in the evenings.
We went to Karaoke, and were joined by some guys from Trinidad and Tobago (we made them honorary Canadians, they even sang the National Anthem with us), ate at conveyor-belt sushi, and explored Shinjuku together.
Tokyo orientation was a pretty magical time, but it was short lived. After two days of seminars and bonding, we were finally split apart - off to our new homes scattered across the country.