I haven't written much lately, but that's mainly because I've been consumed in training. I'll be brief and say training is not exactly enjoyable. You choose six people, tell them very little about what is going to happen to them, give them no help when they get here, then act condescending and unsympathetic when you are training them, and you are going to have breakdowns and, possibly, people leave. I have neither broken down nor do I plan to leave, though I very often question whether I will do the job up to their standards. I do know people who are about to crack, and I think it is extremely unfortunate. Sure living in another country can be difficult and employers are unsympathetic, but a similar lack of sympathy is not an appropriate way to prepare people who have come to work for you.
I've said my piece, and I shouldn't say more. I hope working with actual students will be more rewarding than training. Having said that, I enjoy the company of my fellow trainees very much. I certainly hope they aren't driven away by these early difficulties.
I, though, am glad I'm here. I walked around yesterday, something I haven't done much since I've been here because of an initial depression followed by this intense training. Honestly, I love to people-watch, and there is no place better than the largest concentration of people on earth. I feel alive walking through the streets of Shinjuku, the neighborhood atmosphere changing every kilometer or so, just as alive—though in a different way—as I do visiting a beautiful shrine or park, or watching a moving film. Uplifted, to put it in one word. No matter what the conditions of my life, the political situation in the world, or the troubles I have with work, walking through a crowd of people talking excitedly, passing by an open-air cafe—one a European style coffeehouse, another serving Korean barbecue—or watching joggers running in Yoyogi park on a path in front of a group of theater students practicing a play, I feel that life and humanity are vibrant and daily pressures and uncertainties are worth the struggle.
Just a quick note about Yoyogi park—which isn't, by the way, in Shinjuku, as I may have made it appear above; I just needed another example;) . This is a great place to shake off homesickness a bit. The other parks, including the sublime Meiji Jingu next door, are very often "too Japanese": they don't let you walk on the grass, you are very confined, and there isn't much incentive to linger. Yoyogi is like the parks I am more familiar with in the US: you can walk, and sit, on the grass, you can run around, you can ride your bike or go for a jog, and it is littered with benches if you just want to listen to an odd mix of the ubiquitous crows and someone practicing their saxophone. Unlike much of the rest of Tokyo, it is a place to be publicly selfish, if that makes any sense: do what you want, as loud as you want; nobody will notice, because they are doing their own thing. Certainly a break from the constant pressure to conform.
Quick note: I just walked to convenience store, and on the way I saw a hair salon called k u, which reminded me I saw a typically inane game show where one of the celebrity guests (as I've noted before, guests on almost all game shows in Japan are celebrities) was wearing a KU shirt (the one with the eyes and beak making up the entirety of the front). I wasn't sure what to make of it, but I thought it was humorous. Also, an alley leading off the same street as the k u salon had a US-style street sign that said "Marilyn Monroe St." Again, humorous, and it fits the Kansas theme as Norma Jean was originally from Kansas.