● Teaching Location: Harima-cho, Japan
● Type of Teaching Job: Sister City- Public Junior High School
● Student Age Group: 12-15 years old
● Monthly Salary: 400,000+ yen (~$3,400+ USD)
● Monthly Rent: Zero
● Living Arrangement: Two bedroom, fully furnished apartment
● Monthly Savings: 300,000+ yen (2,600+ USD)
● Contract Bonuses: Free airfare, computer, and additional work
Once Upon a Time Japan Was a Dream Place to Be
By Craig Hoffman
My early years teaching English in Japan were fantastic. It was a magical time for me. My first job was great. And, my various adventures in and around the country were even better.
I created memories that will last a lifetime. In fact, while my job changed, I still live in Japan 12 years later. And, I am most happy that I do. Now, I do so with a wife and family.
Three Things I Love About Teaching English In Japan
Going To The Takarazuka Revue
I took a bus tour trip to Takarazuka, home of the all-girls Takarazuka Revue. I saw the play “Elisabeth.” Women play both the male and female roles. The young actresses go to the Takarazuka Music School for two years.
After graduation, the women are hired for a seven-year tour of duty. The Takarazuka Revue started in 1913, and thousands of Japanese girls audition each year for only a few spots. It is a hard to get tickets, at times, but it is well worth going to see while you are in Japan. I loved it.
Meeting A Geisha In Kyoto
Years ago, I went on a big trip with 16 friends to Kyoto. We saw and interviewed a future geisha. A young maiko-san in training dressed in a beautiful blue kimono greeted us at the door. She was polite and sweet.
We spent time chatting with her as she served hot tea. Her teacher watched from the side of the room. The girl did not speak English, but her Japanese was easy to understand. Everyone took pictures with her after eating some Japanese sweets. The hour was all too short, but it was a great experience.
Staying In A Capsule Hotel
I checked in to a capsule hotel in Osaka during my first spring break in Japan. The front desk staff told me about the layout of the facilities. I went to the basement, and there was a huge spa. Several men were chatting as they sat in big chairs while watching baseball and drinking beer. It was a grand sight to behold as a new foreigner.
A male staff member directed me to the locker area to change. Suddenly, a female staff member jumped out of the shadows and asked if I needed anything. I appreciate Japanese service, really, I do, but I stood there buck naked.
The woman asked me if I wanted dinner. I did (with her). Sadly, she declined to join me. So, I spent my evening chatting with several Japanese business executives over some beer and dried octopus.
Three Things I Love (A Little) Less About Teaching English In Japan
Saying Goodbye To Foreign Friends
Many foreigners who come to Japan return to their real lives. I lost many great pals as they left Japan to pursue other things like graduate school. There are always nice farewell parties. But, it gets harder to make new friends. You realize they, too, will soon leave.
Of course, the longer I stay the older I get, but the new foreigners stay the same age. This growing gap between our ages sometimes presents a few issues. These days I am careful to keep my distance from most of them. But, that too can make a person feel even more isolated in Japan.
Threatening Cellphone Messages
A strange message came to my cell phone one day at school. I translated it on the internet. The text came out as, “We are coming for you. You did not pay. You hurt our feelings for being so cruel to our company. We hope you can live with the shame. Please contact us.”
A Japanese English teacher looked at the message. She said it was a scam to get people to send money to a fake company. If you reply, they are free to charge you a large fee. I deleted the message. But, it was still a scary experience for me.
I got married in Japan. I had a DVD made for the wedding ceremony. The company I hired wanted pictures from my childhood. So, my beloved mother put a few old photographs into the mail. Two weeks passed, and the pictures had not arrived.
A day later I found them crammed in my small mailbox. There was a note attached from the Japanese post office. It read, “We sent your pictures to Turkey. We are very sorry. Please forgive us.” Unfortunately, it would not be the last time that my mail got lost.
Contact Craig Hoffman
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