That was my experience at least, but due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that happened mere months before my arrival, my whole process was pushed back by about six weeks. So maybe that's why I was so eager...
My predecessor was helpful with whatever I asked of her and sent me a video of the apartment so I knew exactly what kind of space I had to work with when I arrived. Not only that, but if you remember this post, it also took the edge off my shock when I arrived (but did nothing to alleviate the tears. hmm). She would comment on my pictures the first few months after my arrival and so on.
As I was waiting to hear about my successor, all the other ALTs had learned of theirs and began the usual process of informing them about their daily life and duties as well as trying to establish what could be sold to the successor or thrown away from their belongings. My JTE had told me on other occasions that my three previous predecessors were girls and from America so I just assumed that would be the case. I had wild imaginings of preparing long a Word document detailing every aspect of life in Tamba and what I had learned. I got this idea from my previous employment where a sort of manual is on file listing useful phone numbers and quick help guides, but with a to-do list as long as mine, that didn't happen..
Soon after I found a note on my desk with the name Peter Johnson and his email address. I took the grand leap of deducing that this was news I had been waiting to hear! Hello, Peter! Peter? A boy...huh, well look at that. He is from America though, and the nicest guy. We emailed each other a few times, but he didn't have many questions or expectations. He bought a few items off of me, but oddly refused the mattress. For some very hygienic people I know refusing a mattress is not a surprise at all (myself included), but I was selling it dirt cheap, it was a full size, already in the apartment, and even for a clean freak like me, a new mattress cover would have sufficed. He explained that a futon would be fine for him (maybe for the authenticity?) so I wished him Godspeed and sold the mattress to another incoming Tamba ALT. (oh these youngens with their resilient backs).
It's not too common for a predecessor and successors to meet since people usually leave their town to travel or go home right after their contract, but I was sticking around for various reasons and so, we met! It was strange going back to my home of two years, the site of so many happy, sad, quiet, personal, intensely visceral memories and having to walk in to my apartment like a guest. I explained a few things that were baffling him like the bathroom temperature control panel and the hot water faucet, and left my apartment forever.
Good luck, Peter! May you come to love Tamba as dearly as I do (but you will never be queen of Kasugacho Mountain! That's mine forever! haha)