I got my placement information on the 21st of May. This year's placement notifications were some of the latest of recent years. I was notified by email first, then a confirmation letter arrived at my house two days later. Here's what the beginning of the email said:
I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted as a participant on the 2013 JET Programme.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs let us know about your placement today and a letter confirming this has been sent out today.
However, because I am sure you are eager to know, please find details of your placement below:
Placement: Tochigi-ken (栃木県)
JET Number: -----------
Date of Arrival in Japan: Sunday, 4 August 2013
Tochigi-ken was not one of my placement preferences, and I have to admit I had never even heard of the prefecture! Needless to say, I got my research on as soon as I could. The more information I found out about Tochigi, the happier I became. It really sounds like a beautiful and pleasant place to live. Here are some things I've found out about Tochigi that I thought I could share with you:
- Tochigi-ken is an an inland prefecture on the east of Honshu island. To give you an idea of where it is (in relation to more familiar areas), Tochigi prefecture is directly below Fukushima prefecture, and above Tokyo prefecture.
- Tochigi has a population of approximately 2,005,096. It's the 20th largest prefecture in Japan, with an area of 6,408 square km. To compare that to where I live, the wider Wellington region is 8,140 square km, and has a population of 490,100. Quite different!
- The capital city is Utsunomiya, and is about 100km north of Tokyo. Utsunomiya is famous for it's many gyoza shops. Yum!
- Another notable area in Tochigi is Nikkō, a city in the mountains of Tochigi. Nikkō is famous for it's beautiful scenery, historical and cultural attractions (some of which are UNESCO world heritage sites), and of course, onsen! Wikipedia says: "The Japanese saying "Never say 'kekko' until you've seen Nikko"; kekko meaning beautiful, magnificent or "I am satisfied" is a reflection of the beauty and sites in Nikkō."
Some of the beautiful places I hope to get to see in Nikkō.
- The highest average temperature in Tochigi's capital city of Utsynomiya is 30 degrees celcius, in August (when I will arrive!). The average humidity in August is 80%. The coldest average temperature is -2.7 degrees celcius. In January and February, Utsunomiya has an average snowfall of 10 centimetres. Comparing again with my town, the highest average temperature here is 22.6, and the average low is 5.2. We had snow in my town two years ago for the first time in about 35 years, it was an extremely exciting time for the whole city! Other than that, the temperatures aren't wildly different, but it will definitely be noticeable.
I can't wait to find out more about Tochigi, the city or town I will be placed at, and the school(s) I will be working in. In the meantime, it's time for me to start brushing up on my Japanese!