I'm not sure if this is interesting or not, but...

For those of you who knows such things, I'm currently doing the JET Programme, six months in. I live somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Also, I'm from New Zealand, though I'm Asian (not Japanese) by birth. Ask away!

EDIT: Whoa, lots of questions! This is wonderful; gives me something to do during my breaks. But I has to go to sleep now. I'll reply tomorrow! Thanks everyone! :) [12:15am, Japan Time]

EDIT: Okay, FAQs.

Q: How much Japanese did you know before coming? How do I study?

A: I had JLPT N2. Japanese Level Proficiency Test. I studied it at high school and university. I don't really have any study tips because I was a lazy student, but this is an extremely good guide which will be able to help you out much more than I can: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/. As for Kanji... sorry, I got a free pass on that since I spoke Mandarin (and sure, I was "lucky" - but I had to learn English from the ground up, too! And it's not like we get injected with magical Kanji knowledge at birth...)

Q: Questions about the JET Programme.

A: Eligibility and pay could be seen here: http://www.jetprogramme.org/. Don't worry about the fact they apparently favour Americans. If your country does it, you probably have a shot. No, you don't need to speak Japanese FOR THE JOB - but obviously it helps immensely. Any advice I could give would be non-American, and I think I'll start a thread in r/japan about my specific experiences with the structure of the programme later. There are plenty of other personal records you can scour from the internet, though. A few tips for aspiring JETs, though:

  1. Write a killer essay. That's the first step to getting your foot in the door. Don't be a weeaboo. What can YOU contribute to the programme?

  2. Have backups. I can't emphasize this enough. You are not guaranteed in.

  3. JET is a job. It is not the best thing in the world nor is it the worst thing in the world. Research thoroughly. Make sure it's something you want to do. Don't glamorize it.

  4. Make sure you can handle the stress of living overseas by yourself. It gets lonely sometimes.

  5. Good luck, good luck, and good luck. I hope I see you here sometime!

EDIT: Also, also, JehuLove is my predecessor. He knows more about what I'm talking about than I do. Listen to him.

Comments: 456 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

latex2e44 karma

What is your opinion about Japanese people being not good at English? (iama Japanese btw...)

TopHatMikey70 karma

Mm, complicated one. Before I answer, you have to remember that this is after all a mountain town high school, and not a particularly academic one. My perspective is therefore pretty limited.

I would generally agree with the statement, and I think there are two main reasons. The first is attitude: Japanese people mostly seem to believe that English is something they can NEVER master. Every day, I get kids who tell me "英語わからんし。日本人だから。" or some stuff like that. I tell them I was born in Taiwan and spoke Mandarin as a first language, and that they should just try. It doesn't help that some of the teachers even seem to support this attitude.

The second is the education system, which is entirely focused on rote memorization, not communication. They think English is just something they memorize for exams. This is where I come in, but my contributions are, I think, fairly limited. I do think Japan is changing. A lot of the younger teachers are very energetic and focused on communication, which is supported by the new high school curriculum coming in the new school year. Maybe in a few decades, things will improve.

And also - there's simply exaggeration. I have a few classes where the kids are all kickass at English. Some have been overseas; others are just good because they like it. Kids like that give me hope.

I would be really interested in hearing what you think too! よかったら、ご意見も教えてください。 :)

latex2e30 karma

I completely agree with you. English is just about rote memorization for most Japanese people, until they go abroad or have to read English articles at university/business.

Reddit is one of the best places to learn and practice English!

TopHatMikey26 karma

I agree! I try to encourage my kids to use Youtube. Not sure about Reddit, but I suspect some of my geekier kids will find it eventually. The internet was how I honed my English skills too, back in the good old days of ICQ, MSN and IRC.

Enfors9 karma

... trying to decipher the last sentance... "yokautari go something-something mo something-something etekudachii"

Not that I have any idea what any of that means, though. I'm just trying to learn hiragana :-)

TopHatMikey20 karma

"yokattara, go iken mo oshiete kudasai". Yokattara means "if it's good" (yokatta + ra). "iken" is opinion. "go" makes it polite. "mo" means someting like "also". "Oshiete" is a conjugation of "oshieru"; to teach. "Kudasai" is polite (please). So: "If it's okay, please also tell me your [honourable] opinion." Hope that makes some sense and good luck! :)

picosaurus10 karma

As someone who has grown up in both Japan and America, I have a theory that due to Japanese culture of showing respect through use of proper speech, and almost extreme avoidance of causing offense, Japanese people are too timid to try out their English skills for fear of sounding rude. In Japan, the japanese language is very dependent on using honorifics and showing proper respect, and most often, a foreigner speaking Japanese can come off as quite crude and offensive (although it is completely understood that no offense is meant). Therefore, I think they associate the idea that any non-native speaking a different language sounds extremely crude, and they have this sub-conscious fear of speaking out.

TopHatMikey4 karma

Interesting. Didn't think about it like that before, but makes sense.

Tremper29 karma


TopHatMikey72 karma

How hard some of these kids work. Yeah, I know you see it in media all the time and the first thing you learn about Japanese high schools is that it's super-tough, but... it's super-tough. The kids have class from 8:30 to 3:15, and then they have club activities till 7, and some kids live, like, two hours away or have part-time jobs. These are just 16, 17 year olds, you understand.

On a more positive note, I was really pleasantly surprised by how NICE these students are. Even my "bad" class were pretty average compared to the rowdy classes back home. In particular, kids are extraordinarily fair: they will never complain if they lose in a game, and they will often help out their classmates so they can win prizes. I've been told that my students here seem slightly nicer and shyer than "city kids", but then I don't have a lot of comparison.

ferro9427 karma

Are they constantly sticking their fingers up your ass?

Edit - KANCHO! I used to read a blog written by a guy who was an American teaching in Japan and learned about it there. Google Kancho, don't worry you won't get weird porn or anything. Japanese version of 'two for flinching' or something equally juvenile.

TopHatMikey22 karma

I had this very conversation with my Junior High ALT buddies the other day. There were six or seven of them, and one of them remarked: "I think High School ALTs are very different from Junior High." "How do you mean?" "For example, have you had a finger stuck up your ass?" "... no. Are you saying you have?"

And they all nodded. You understand. I've had the old crotch-grab once or twice though.

MorbidMax3 karma

Are you talking about a physical? What were the circumstances of the ball grab? I'm lost on this question.

TopHatMikey11 karma

Student (male) came across me on the corridor; saw me; went for the family jewels as a way of saying hello, and walked off wordlessly. It's Japan.

CatalyticDragon26 karma

How does it feel to live in a town called "Vomit" ?

TopHatMikey26 karma

Considering some of the other ALTs, it's kinda appropriate. XD

It's also the onomatopoetic sounds frogs make, so mostly there's a lot of frog-related souvenir crap around.

CatalyticDragon17 karma

Haha, touche. Incidentally frogs go "ケロケロ" (kero-kero) as opposed to gero. Unless that varies by region of course.

TopHatMikey15 karma

Nah, you're right. My bad. The merchandising is just so ubiquitous here that I forgot the right form is kero. :) We even have a tongue-in-cheek shrine here with a frog statue in it!

CatalyticDragon6 karma

Frogs are cool. Is your frog statue sort of the amphibian version of Hachiko?

TopHatMikey5 karma

It's a stone statue inside a shrine. You know, with the torii gates and prayer box, bell and all. Since it's fairly new, I'm sure it's just a tourist gimmick thing and I doubt it has any sort of badass significance.

exilelexxii23 karma

Are you fluent in Japanese? read/speak

TopHatMikey26 karma

I studied Japanese in University - I've got JLPT N2, although in practice my speaking skills are actually pretty crappy now. My reading skills are a lot better though since I also speak Mandarin. It's definitely helpful for connecting with the students and making friends in the area.

ProperGentlemanDolan17 karma

The other day I saw on reddit that in Japan they tend to associate tattoos with Yakuza, so if you've got tattoos you will often get denied access to bathhouses. Can you confirm or deny this?

TopHatMikey13 karma

Absolutely true. They usually have signs up politely declining patronage from tattooed folks. A few of my friends can't go to onsens because of this, or else they have to cover up with discreet towels and bandages. I hear there are a few bathhouses that don't enforce this rule, but those are definitely the exceptions.

mjh108814 karma

Hey bro!

Just wanted to ask if this was your first time to Japan. If so, what part about living in Japan disappoints you the most? I'm not taking about, I can't get a certain type of bread or sweet etc. More culture, environment etc.

TopHatMikey51 karma

This is my third time in Japan. First time was a high school trip (2 weeks), second time was a language study programme (1.5 months).

I would say the saddest thing is seeing the absolute ironbound rigidity of systems here, especially the school system, and seeing how broken it is and how much the kids are suffering from it. [snippy snip] I've mentioned the stress they all go through. Another thing is the sad reality that none of this high school crap will really matter once they're done with it.

One more thing that fascinates me and worries me is how low some of these kids set their ambitions. I've seen the career paths my graduates are planning to do after high school, and many (most?) of them are just going straight into jobs like banking, post offices, and train conducting without university. Maybe it's their lifelong dream, but it irks me that this is a society that doesn't really reward breaking molds and being eccentric. A good kid here is someone who fits into the model and never complains, and "strange" kids are quietly beaten down. For example? I have a great student who's a bit rowdy, but she's very sweet and she lives by herself. One day, we were having lunch together and she showed us her homemade bento, which she makes by getting up at stupid o'clock every morning. One of my teachers - and you have to understand, this is one of my very nice, motherly teachers - remarked: "You would be a good wife someday if you would just stop being so loud..."

Which bothered me.

And the really scary thing is, Japan is such an organised, isolated society that they really can go their whole lives going from one system to another without ever being individualistic or pursuing their dreams. Maybe I'm applying too much of my Western perspective here, and maybe they really are happy, so it's not my place to judge, but I can't help but wonder and worry.

tl;dr: rigid society is rigid.

qweop10117 karma

Sorry but I'd argue that maybe the Japanese have learned how to find happiness beyond what western society construes to be a "respectful career path." Maybe they find plenty of joy in their personal life and beauty and value in even the most menial jobs.

THis is why the Japanese take even a job at McDonalds with pride and respect, while in the US some workers don't give a crap about their attitude with customer service.

And there's nothing wrong with being a blue collar worker in the US, versus being a high-level banker. It's what you make of it that counts.

TopHatMikey3 karma

Definitely agree. Probably why Japan's customer service is so exceptional, no matter where you go.

Linkums5 karma

I was afraid of that and it's one of the main reasons I didn't want to do the JET program (along with being horribly depressed and likely to commit suicide if I worked abroad). I majored in Japanese, but when I studied abroad for three months in my senior year I became a bit disenchanted with the culture.

I would hate to deal with a school system like that and I may even be morally opposed to conforming with it, though I think I'd feel the same way if I taught at an American school. I might be better off doing my own English lessons / cram school privately I think.

TopHatMikey4 karma

Every situation is different. You get to influence SOME kids no matter how bad the system, and those are the ones that counts.

dkentmm14 karma

How is the pay and are you required to live in housing provided by the employer or is the pay adequate for you to have your own place? Are you working contract for a specified amount of time or is the job ongoing? Curious of your age also.

TopHatMikey18 karma

I'm 24 years old this year!

The JET programme's net pay is 3.36 [edit: MILLION] a year for the first year (yen, naturally) which works out to 280,000 a month. After tax, it's more like 240,000, which is still really, really good.

The housing situation differs between each contracting organisation and therefore each individual, but I'm really lucky to be placed in a nice teacher's apartment that only sets me back 8,000 a month - and I have a lounge, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Out of anyone I know, my rent is probably the cheapest, but then again I also live two hours or so from decent civilization.

EDIT: I'm not technically required to live here, I think. I can move out (my friends have done it) but that would involve finding my own place, paying the fees up front, and other hassles which I simply don't need. But it's apparently a possibility.

dkentmm9 karma

Not bad at all. I'm semi retired and have actually been thinking of getting licensed to teach English for something to do. I do have a friend (American) who teaches in Beijing and he seems to be doing quite well financially. Glad you posted here.

TopHatMikey12 karma

Sounds like a great idea, but definitely do your research. The JET programme is government-backed so there's always legitimacy, job security, and a good support network, but that's not necessarily the case with other places. I hear some places in China are seriously dodgy, and there are not-so-hot institutions in Japan too. There's also a South Korea equivalent (SAGA?) if you're interested!

Also, I actually didn't need any teaching qualifications for this job. All you had to be was a native with any university degree (in my case, History/Japanese).

ManicParroT0 karma

3.6 billion a year, eh? The pay must really have gone up since I was a JET, since we were earning a measly 3.6 million/annum.

TopHatMikey3 karma

I fucking suck at numbers. I'm sorry.

ManicParroT2 karma

No worries, just felt like a bit of meaningless pedantry.

I was on JET a while ago and I had a ball.

Does Gero have a ski resort nearby? I remember visiting a ski resort town in Nagano and thinking how fantastic it must have been to live there and have snowboarding right outside your window.

TopHatMikey3 karma

Apparently there's a few, but I don't own a car so my access is kinda limited. There's a couple more up Takayama-way, I think (about an hour away?). My predecessor actually left me a snowboard I haven't been able to bust out yet.

babamcrib14 karma

Have you heard any truly shocking stuff about WW2? My friend teaches English in Japan, she told me that her Japanese high school students blame China for World War Two .

Full disclosure, I'm a yank living in China. Hear much about the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands?

Sorry if these questions make things overly political but I am curious.

TopHatMikey16 karma

Hey, that's actually a really interesting question. Thanks! I haven't thought about that. It's a massive controversy, but I thought the textbooks have been revised. Tell you what. Tomorrow when I go to school, I'll check out what the high school history textbooks say, and give you a better report.

babamcrib4 karma


TopHatMikey7 karma


babamcrib5 karma


TopHatMikey5 karma


TopHatMikey7 karma

Having checked the history textbooks, I can make the following observations:

  • The start of the "Japan-China War" is marked as 1937. 1937! They seem pretty vague on who started the conflict.
  • It DOES mention the Nanjing Massacre and notably uses both names for it - "The Nanjing Incident" as well as massacre. It mentions Japanese armies killed, raped, and committed atrocities to many non-combatants, but generally doesn't give numbers.
  • Unit 731 also gets a mention.

So: better than before, I think, but still pretty damn vague.

Gerace10 karma

I've been considering the Jet Programme after I graduate in about 2 years, I'm interested in Japanese culture and expanding my world view. I'm going to list off some questions so feel free to answer or disregard some.

What made you decide you want to do this?

What does your work entail? What are the hours like?

I understand that you can have preferences of where to be sent, rural, semi-rural, or urban, did you get your choice? Would you have preferred to be sent elsewhere?

Do you have much time to check out other parts of Japan? I've heard it's pretty expensive to travel too.

What kinds of things are you doing with the paychecks (if you don't mind my asking)? Are you more interested in going out and doing things or saving up?

kartng12 karma

At the risk of hijacking the thread, former JET here. I think it would be useful for you to crosspost this question in /r/Japan or similar, as you are going to get a lot of different answers from JETs in different situations. One of the things they drill into you on the program is that "Every Situation Is Different", and the contracting organization you get placed with is going to basically decide what your circumstances are going to be like (and unfortunately, you have very limited control over where you get placed). That said, if I were to take a crack at each of your questions:

What made you decide you want to do this? I was in love with Japan from the first time I played FF7 (lame, I know, but that's what I trace my fascination back to). Was a major anime geek all through high school, majored in Japanese in college. Wanted more than anything to get back to Japan after studying abroad there, and JET was the premier way to make that happen.

What does your work entail? What are the hours like? I was required to be physically present at my school from 8:40-4:25. This was pretty typical for ALTs in my area, although some COs might stretch that out a bit longer. My hours were definitely shorter than my Japanese colleagues (by a significant margin)

As for what my work entailed: on paper, I taught 6 1-hour classes a week. That was it - I had no formal responsibilities beyond that. I also was asked to teach an "advanced" class made up of some of our brighter students (my kids were all bright after their own fashion, but almost none of them were college bound) 3 hours a week. My workload was extremely light. I spent quite a bit of time surfing the net (and sadly, this was before I discovered Reddit!)

I understand that you can have preferences of where to be sent, rural, semi-rural, or urban, did you get your choice? Would you have preferred to be sent elsewhere?

I asked for one of 3 prefectures in the "Kinki" region (i.e. "Mid-Western Honshu"). I got a fourth prefecture in the Kinki region, which made me pretty happy. I don't recall being asked about an urban vs. rural preference, but perhaps I just don't recall. I found that in my Prefecture, having any Japanese ability was basically a one-way ticket to the countryside (which makes sense - you can survive out there a lot better with some Japanese under your belt).

Do you have much time to check out other parts of Japan? I've heard it's pretty expensive to travel too.

Travel can be expensive, but if you're in the countryside, you are going to have a ton (i.e. ~$1200-$1800 a month) in disposable income. You are also going to want to get the hell out of there on a semi-regular basis. So yes, travel is very doable, and I'd say it's almost a requirement for staying sane in a rural placement. Urban ALTs have less disposable income, so travel might be more difficult.

What kinds of things are you doing with the paychecks (if you don't mind my asking)? Are you more interested in going out and doing things or saving up?

My first 6 months, I knocked out about 6k in miscellaneous debt while living quite comfortably. Then I found myself enamored with a city girl about an hour away and blew a ton of money traveling back and forth to see her. I was still banking at least $300 a month in long term savings, however. When I finally gave up on the city girl, I was able to go back to saving quite a bit, though I burned through most of that after meeting my eventual wife (immigration is expensive).

TopHatMikey2 karma


zenmonkey879 karma

You know what's great? My girlfriend and I JUST landed in Tokyo and will be heading to Takayama, Gifu in a week to begin teaching there. I'll bet we live close. We should be bros.

TopHatMikey6 karma

Let's be bros.

Brocomo8 karma

Greetings from a first year ALT in Tanegashima!

TopHatMikey8 karma

Were you Group C by any chance? If so, maybe I ran into you. There were like 3 Group C's going to Kagoshima-way.

What's the weather like down there? 'cos it's been super-cold here.

Brocomo7 karma

I was A. Dude, the weather is starting to warm up quickly. What a relief. Winter took a lot out of me :p. Today was very warm: 20. Good surf! How's it up in your neck of the woods?

TopHatMikey6 karma

Warming up! I think today was even around 6 or 7 degrees. Just last week, everything in my apartment was still freezing, including but not limited to: my toothbrush, my toothpaste, honey, Nutella, and olive oil. Yeah, it's been a hell of a winter.

wearenothingbutdust6 karma

Just stopping by to say this is pretty neat. I'd like to go to Japan one day, but I'm scared I'm going to be way too eccentric and that I'll probably butcher the language. Apparently Individuality isn't something very well received over there.

Now, onto being a Kiwi.

Get pissed much?

TopHatMikey4 karma

Yeah nah bro I've been cutting back on the drinking eh. Japanese beer all tastes the same. I miss some good old NZ wine.

Gunnersbrah3 karma

Upvote for "Yeah nah bro"

TopHatMikey3 karma

Sweet as. Churs brah

mikelae186 karma

Are the hot springs coed? ;)

TopHatMikey11 karma

One of them is not only coed but public. It's literally in a hole by the side of the river. The only people who go there are wrinkled old folks, totally nude.

Otherwise, not usually. You can get private ones in fancy hotels, but they cost a bunch of yennies.

Aetrion6 karma

Wait, a tiny Japanese town by a hot spring with a high school? According to everything I know about Japan it should be under constant attack by giant robots, demons and monsters, not to mention at least half your students probably travel between dimensions, hunt vampires or play some kind of card game that summons even more giant robots, demons and monsters...

TopHatMikey4 karma

Yeah, but teachers don't usually feature heavily in them. I'm pretty sure I'm a peripheral faceless character in the two obligatory opening pages that serves to establish they're just an average high school student. Unless this was one of those hotblooded teacher shows like GTO, which I don't think it is...

dandanuk4 karma

mountain hot spring town sounds idyllic, had a look at the wiki page, and yup it is.

How are you getting on? my friend from uni who is from mauritia said that he wasn't spoken to once outside of class and strongly suspected it was to do with his race, nothing overt just no desire to talk to him - which the white lads he was with didn't experience. He actually left early because of it - this was 07/08

TopHatMikey10 karma

It's definitely idyllic. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a postcard.

I'm getting on okay. I think the kids really like me - they go out of their way to wave or say hello or joke with me. I heavily suspect looking Asian and speaking Japanese have a lot to do with that, but they're mostly great kids. The locals are fantastically nice. Being able to go to a world-class onsen any time I want is nice. On the other hand, it's a stressful job and I have a huge workload. I've actually had my first few nervous breakdowns and panic attacks over the last few months over it, but I think things are getting better.

Right now, I don't have to teach any classes for about a month, so I'm going to unwind and prepare for the new school year. Hopefully things improve.

Thanks for caring. :)

criticalfactories3 karma

Not trolling here, but how do they feel about Whale Wars over there?

TopHatMikey3 karma

It's not a subject that comes up very often...

JehuLove3 karma

As your predecessor, my most pressing question is this:

How the hell did you get on reddit from work? It was blocked when I was there.

(Also, you should probably delete the information that makes you super easy to identify. But that's just, like, my honorable opinion, man.)

TopHatMikey2 karma

I wasn't at work. And cellphone.

Duly noted, sir.

Dantien3 karma

I did a 2 year stint as an ALT for JET in the 90s. I know right where you are 6 months in. Keep up the good work for the students and enjoy these halcyon days while you have them.

(I coulda done an AMA. Wish I'd thought of it!)

TopHatMikey3 karma

Ah, thank you. How's life after JET? Are there any regrets you have? What are your best memories?

RickDicolus3 karma

How is the food? For clarification, are you eating local staples or trying to eat kiwis (or whatever it is that people from NZ eat regularly)? How is the quality? Anything really stand out food-wise?

tl;dr- It may be time to eat breakfast.

TopHatMikey3 karma

Nice question. Being Asian, I normally eat Asian food at home so Japan wasn't such a big change. Mainly I eat out, because I'm too lazy to cook - there's a nice selection of restaurants around. Most are Japanese (sushi, ramen, udon, rice, okonomiyaki) but there's a very good Italian restaurant too that does good thin-crusted pizzas. Quality ranks from "okay" to "very good". Just last night, I had some just-made sushi with fresh wasabi - and it's not even a special thing or anything.

You can't really get Kiwi staples (Sunday roast, bangers and mash, giant steaks on bread) and I miss them terribly. I can approximate some of them, but meat costs a bunch here.

One thing about food here: seafood is extremely cheap and high quality. I can get a platter of perfectly reasonable sashimi from the local supermarket for somewhere around 300 yen. The local specialty is Hida beef - like Kobe beef, only less famous and (apparently) even better. It's extremely fatty, melts in your mouth, and costs somewhere around 700 yen for 100 grams, so I don't eat it very often...

UniversalFarrago3 karma

How's the language working out for you? Unless you already spoke and wrote a good amount of Japanese..

TopHatMikey4 karma

Yeah, I had JLPT N2 before coming here (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). Studied it in University. It's working out okay - my reading and listening is fine, but my speaking is suffering. Mostly it's lack of confidence, but I can get by just fine.

Japanistan3 karma

How did you learn all that Kanji?

TopHatMikey8 karma

First language was Mandarin. Comes with the territory.

Zaniri3 karma

1)What kind of degree did u get before you were illigeble for this? Masters? Bachelor? what do u recommend?

2)Is it mendatory to get a degree in english teaching?

3)Is it tough to get a job different then teaching english in japan for a Gaijin? i got a degree in chemistry and i want to know the posibility to move there since i absolutly adore the country.

Thanks for doing the AmA, it sure is interesting, though i would like to see some more informative questions and not about hot japanese girls or bukkakes....

TopHatMikey8 karma

Then ask these informative questions, so I can answer them! XD

I think the JET Programme website can answer most of your questions, so please have a look here: http://www.jetprogramme.org/. I can give you my personal experiences though.

  1. I had a double degree in History and Japanese, with Honours (kind of like a half-Masters). I'm not sure if I'm in a position to recommend anything. Officially they just want anyone with a degree - Bachelor's is fine. Personally I found doing Honours was immensely satisfying, rewarding, and it taught me time management and organisational skills, but that's entirely up to your own interests.

  2. No, not for this programme.

  3. I'm not sure, but I suspect your ability to speak the language would count for everything. If you can't speak Japanese, then teaching English is probably the best/easiest option. What other alternatives were you considering?

No problem! I'm glad to be answering your questions. This is super-fun!

PantheraAzandica3 karma

Do you have to be able to speak Japanese to teach English there?

AlphaOC2 karma

It's not a requirement but it obviously helps. These positions only require a degree from a 4 year university. They're not the primary instructor for any of their classes; it's much closer to a student teaching position. You coordinate with the main teacher to offer lessons or supplement what they're teaching. In theory, the Japanese person teaching English should know enough to help you out at school and your contracting organization can usually arrange to help with certain things you need (getting stuff set up with the local government).

TopHatMikey2 karma

Yeah, this.

parakeetweet2 karma

Apologies if this has already been asked.

Assuming you are Asian, since you were born in Taiwan, how do you feel you've been treated as a foreigner in Japan? And have you been treated differently from a western-looking (ie blonde hair, blue eyes) foreigner? Japan's intense xenophobia for other Asian gaijin has always been a source of confusion for me.

TopHatMikey5 karma

Ah, this is interesting...

Being Asian here is definitely a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you don't get some of the inherent racism against gaijins, and I can easily blend into a crowd. This is extremely useful, because some gaijins DO deserve their loud, rude, careless reputations, and it's very nice to be able to slip into the background and disassociate myself when they are being deeply, deeply embarrassing.

On the other hand, the disadvantage is that everyone assumes I'm Japanese, so I also don't get the ability to "gaijin smash" - that is, I don't have a free pass on doing strange/socially unacceptable stuff. In other words, people assume I know what I'm doing, and they look at me strangely when I don't, or when I speak some crappy Japanese. I'm sure a lot of shop clerks thought I was just a weird Japanese dude when really I had no idea what I was doing.

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I think me being Asian is also helpful to students in getting over the barrier (unconscious or otherwise). Also, the somewhat-shared backgrounds means I am on a somewhat closer wavelength in Japanese social circles. I think.

Sextron2 karma

  1. Are the summers in Japan where you are as terribly hot and muggy as I would expect them to be?

  2. Are there spiders everywhere, like everyone seems to suggest there are?

Maybe you're high enough in the mountains where neither of these things apply to you...

TopHatMikey3 karma

  1. YES.
  2. No.

gravesville2 karma

Do you have a noticeably different accent when you speak English that your students are able to discern (from watching American movies, for example)?

TopHatMikey4 karma

The big thing about New Zealand accents is that we pronounce i's and e's funny ("bed" sounds like how everyone else in the world would say "bid", for example). Apparently only South Africans have this trait apart from us. That's one thing I've been trying to avoid. Otherwise, I don't get much flack from the students except the occasional "Wait, what?" but I have had some crap from teachers about not sounding "American". Also, all their recordings have American accents, and I find them hilariously overdone.

howester1 karma

Why did you chose to teach in Japan over Taiwan?

TopHatMikey3 karma

I liked Japan more than Taiwan.

spaghetti_hoops1 karma

How do you find the hospitals and medical care in Japan? I have heard that many are shut from Friday to Monday, is this true? What happens if you have an emergency at the weekend?

TopHatMikey2 karma

Fortunately, I've never had to go to the doctor's, but I've heard some horror stories. One of my friend broke her leg and had the completely wrong treatments done to her. Also, a nurse accidentally kicked her in the (broken) toe, and didn't even bother to apologise. I also hear the cold medicine they dish out here tend to be kinda dodgy and/or outdated. On the other hand, medical is cheap here because we're always paying a cut of our pay as insurance.

I'm pretty sure hospitals have an emergency department... maybe only the smaller ones don't?

Jeremyjud1 karma

You have my dream job from when I was in 11th grade. I'm jealous. Just saying. :)

TopHatMikey2 karma

This was my dream job too. Don't give up, you can do it. :)

duckmurderer0 karma

You ever meet any of the Yamagata ALT's? If so, I'm going to use their experience to judge the fuck outta you. BWUAHAHAHA.

TopHatMikey6 karma

Yamagata's super-far from me, bro. Ain't never met any of them; I'm in Gifu. Also, your username worries me.

duckmurderer2 karma

Don't worry about the username. Enjoy some karma instead.

Well, I don't expect you to see them on a daily basis. Just wondering if you've ever met any of them.

TopHatMikey2 karma

Sadly, no. Yamagata is really far. I know everyone in Gifu, though, and a few in the Kansai area. Isn't it like East Bumblefuck out there?

(I guess I can't really talk, though. Hah.)

Joemonster7-9 karma

Bang any hot Jap chicks?

TopHatMikey6 karma

Sadly, no.

Although once I did meet an elderly pimp around town, who asked if I wanted to sex up some young 18 year old for ~20,000 yen. I fled.

Joemonster7-2 karma

Interesting lol. Well played, I would have fled as well!

TopHatMikey6 karma

Doubly creepy because I teach all the 18 year olds in the area. I don't want to consider the implications.

Brad_Wesley-12 karma

You ever been invited to a bukakke party?

TopHatMikey12 karma

Yeah, they happen every other Sunday, 7pm sharp, right after the anime marathon and maid cafe visit. Party food includes Pocky, sake, and sushi (eaten off naked ladies, natch). Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, eh?

Brad_Wesley-10 karma

Sweet, do you have an extra room for me to crash in if I come and visit?

TopHatMikey12 karma

I actually do, but I can't promise any bukkake party invites unless you know the secret handshake, which is passed down by local mountain ninjas from generation to generation.