I'm already looking into leisure activities in Japan, and obviously martial arts are high on the list. So far, I very badly want to do both iaido (sword art) and kyudo (meditative archery). Should I be in Nara City, I know there is a kyudo 'centre' or training area (there is a whole area devoted to sports and martial arts, like a university campus). Couldn't find any dojos for iaido, but likely they will be associated with kendo.
Obviously, taking Japanese is my priority, and I'd love to learn calligraphy and take a cooking class. From what I've learned about culture shock from alumni experience, keeping busy is absolutely vital. The fascination stage of culture shock can quickly wear off or when it does, the frustration phase is quick on its heels. The key to defeating frustration (which includes home-sickness, depression and actual frustration at the cultural differences) is two-fold: friendship and activity. I thought the friendship part of that was very interesting. The instructors stressed that teachers shouldn't be overly dependent on other teachers, as most teachers are 'here today, gone tomorrow'. The emphasis was on having native friends.
The reason I thought friendship was interesting is because I've traditionally internalized frustration and adversity, as opposed to airing it and discussing it. Friendship is thus the 2nd phase of culture shock (I guess designed to pre-empt frustration, the 3rd), with fulfillment being the fourth. (Fulfillment is perhaps the wrong word, as it's more like acceptance and being in a stable comfort zone.)
Can't stop thinking about this whole experience. I just feel that the more I dwell on it, the more real it is/will be. The only things that make me nervous are the practical details like what do I do about my cat, my apartment and my furniture. Most of that is covered, but it's still kinda up in the air since no steps have been taken. Anyhoo...
Guess I should work. :D