The date is March 19, 2000. The time is 11:35pm. My journals are pretty blank, but that's not because nothing has happened in three months. On the contrary, my life has been as wacky as ever. Then, why haven't I written in my Journal for three months, you ask? Good question. The answer is not exactly clear cut, nor is it really pleasant.
Let me take just a moment to explain the life cycle of a JET participant. The first year is filled with wonder, homesickness, culture shock and a whole lot of fun with other JETs and stranded foreigners here in Japan. In the second year you grow more comfortable. You learn more and understand less. You also grow bitter. You still question why things are the way they are, but you are frustrated more and more by the non-answers which Japanese people give you. The "Wa", or Harmony, which at first might have seemed charming, becomes a vice. That's just the cultural aspects, we're not even talking about school yet. The silence and noise of the kids becomes maddening. You become more tolerant to the chaos which takes place in the classroom and you watch yourself grow apathetic. And the JETs who are able to make it to the third year have either fully adapted to Japanese life, have married and made plans to stay for much longer or are itching to get out of this insane asylum!
Well, it's my second year here and I promised myself that I wouldn't get bitter like everyone told me I would, but I have. The students and teachers at school drive me crazy. The lack of discipline and the poor classroom conditions are disheartening me and I have a burning desire to "fix" the Japanese cultural consciousness, the Japanese facade of respect and the barriers of personal communication which plague this land.
Before you get all high and mighty on me, let me just say that I'm not being a cultural supremacist here, if you live here long enough coming from any Western culture you go through this stage, too. You can't help it. Well, most people can't anyway. You start to feel sorry for the children raised where a group mentality consciousness is a good and favorable trait and questions are not. You see the salarymen push old women aside to insure they'll get a seat on the train.
So for those people good enough to write to me and ask me why I haven't written anything lately, that's why. Japan has just been driving me crazy and if I start talking (or writing, rather) I just might let all my negativity out on you guys and that's just not cool. But now I'm just going to give it to you straight. A journal is all about transitions and changes, and good or bad, my viewpoints are changing. Don't get me wrong, I do see many good things in Japan, it's just that lately the negative aspects have been overshadowing the good qualities. I hope that changes soon.
So, without further adieu, I'm continuing my journals.