So I've been finding out a few things about my placement in Japan and my future residence. My predecessor, that is, the JET I'll be replacing in Japan and taking over at this apartment/school, seems very nice from our email correspondence. He's also shared some info that makes me slightly apprehensive and slightly intrigued/excited (I guess at the prospect of being challenged). Let me share some snippets of what I'm talking about:
Him: So I was talking to your go-between (every ALT is assigned an English teacher to help out with anything needs) and it looks like you will arrive in Itami on the 30th. She'll pick you up and take you to yourhouse. I have a presentation to give that day at my University so Ican't meet up, but I was thinking of coming by the next dayto show youaround and show you how to use the stuff in the house (the bath is especially complicated, as there is no running hot water and you haveto use a special heater if you want a hot shower), assuming that's cool with you.
Me: Hmm..is the no hot running water thing just for the shower, or is it in the kitchen, too? Heh, sounds fun.
Him: Yeah the hot water is lot of fun. There isn't any running hot water anywhere in the house, but there is a gas faucet-thingy in the kitchen, which gives you hot water more or less instantaneously. The shower is a bit more of a pain. You have to fill up the bath and then turn on the tub heater until the water is hot. Then the shower is a pump that pumps water from the bath into a shower head. Not too bad once you get used to it, but it does mean you have to plan your showers about an hour ahead of time in the winter.
So there you have it. This is something that no longer surprises me, although it can still be frustrating. Japan - often perceived as the world's technological powerhouse, yet there are still many places (even in the urbs and suburbs) that do not have a developed enough infrastructure to have access to hot running water. Sure, you can get cellphone reception on a middle-of-nowhere island or on top of Mt. Fuji, but middle class people are crapping in holes and heating their bath water for an hour with gas.
Let me end this post with a clarification. I like Japan a lot - that's why I'm going back. But there are many things I see wrong with it. It's just as I love America but there are many elements of American society (especially politics and pop culture) that I detest. So I'll get some Japan-appreciative posts in here, but there will also be some criticism. And that is the major reason my identity remains anonymous here - because JETs have gotten in trouble with their employers in the past for negative material posted on their webpages.
Well, my situation could be a lot worse. I could be going to a country with no hot water period.