Throughout the past year, I have talked about the weather in Toyokoro and how in a lot of ways it is differs to Summerland weather.
For example, we experience high humidity in the summer, and dryness in the winter.
We have days in the summer where you can see for miles, and days in the fall where you struggle to see two feet in front of you due to heavy fog.
In the winter, driving can be treacherous due to heavy snow on the west coast, and ice on the east coast.
Once a week, I drive to a school that’s 20 minutes east of Toyokoro, which presides on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. That one day of the week I can always count on the weather being drastically different to the weather in Toyokoro.
Despite this strange climate, we still haven’t had any snowfall, or even freezing this year.
It almost feels like Summerland with the warmth that still hangs around.
Since I’ve been here, one thing that Japan never fails to do, on an almost daily basis, is surprise me.
For example, some daily things are much easier to do here while some are more difficult.
When I need to get gas, have my oil changed, or have my car washed, its as easy as driving to the nearest gas station, sitting in the car, and letting the gas station attendants take care of everything.
Since I don’t need to tip, it isn’t expensive.
However, gas stations have very short hours from what I’m used to. In smaller towns they open at 8 a.m. and close around 6 or 7 p.m. Weekends, they close even earlier.
Every month, I receive my water, Internet, house phone, lunch, and electric bill through my Board of Education.
To pay these, I can just go to a convenience store when convenient and pay them there.
My kerosene heater gets automatically filled up about one time a year, and I pay that at the nearest gas station.
The rest of my bills are automatically taken from my bank account.
However, going to the ATM is frustrating. Banks in Japan have ATM corners, separate from the bank like Canada has.
The bank in Toyokoro closes at 3 p.m., while the ATM stays open until 5 p.m. Most people work past 5 p.m, making it impossible to get money after work.
Since no place I’ve been yet accepts debit cards, this can make some events a bit worrying.
In 7-Eleven stores in cities, they have 24-hour ATMs. However, most banks will only allow you to withdraw from your account until 9 p.m. Between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., you cannot withdraw money.
On Sundays, the hours are even earlier.
So some things that are difficult in Canada are extremely easy to do here, and vice versa! It took me a while to get used to some of these.
Thanks for reading! Jaku niku kyo shoku – the weak are meat; the strong eat.
Anna Marshall is in Summerland’s sister city of Toyokoro, Japan as the assistant English teacher.