Paula's 'JET in Japan' page
After four years of working as an Information Officer for Tyneside Training and Enterprise Council, I decided a change was in order. So I found myself in the land of terminal cuteness known as Japan, on the JET programme in Japan. That was one of the reasons. The others were karma (presumably), and a desire to escape, even if temporarily, from my native Newcastle upon Tyne.
If you don't want to wait for lots of images, then follow the links below. You'll see some pictures that give a good idea of just how hard JET program(me) participants have to work...! (If you follow some of the other links on this page, you'll be taken to interesting sites, but beware! My sense of humour means that you may not always get what you're expecting...)
Sitting in the Rose Garden in Iwamizawa in the summer of 1997, when the temperature got as high as 38 degrees Centigrade. El Nino, anyone?!
Yet another party - Christmas, this time (you can see we work ever so hard on the JET program!)
Most non-Japanese who live and work in Japan choose to do so in the big cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe or Kyoto. However, since the idea of facing subway gropers and/or earthquake drills (do NOT forget to change your shoes) every day didn't really appeal, I asked to come to Hokkaido and found myself in Iwamizawa, the 'district capital' of Sorachi, Hokkaido.
Sorachi shares many characteristics with Northumberland, the best kept secret in England, and the county that sits next to Newcastle. Both areas are very rural and have had to contend with dramatic changes in the past generation as traditional industries (e.g. coal mining) have declined and young people have drifted into the cities in search of work.
Hokkaido itself is the part of Japan where it gets so cold the army, I beg its pardon, self-defence force, build snow statues every February in Sapporo and DON'T MELT. It couldn't have been that bad, however, as although I'd only intended to stay one year initially, I actually stayed for two. There were, however, days when I really thought I'd strayed into a wandering episode of the Twilight Zone. Like the days when...
...my ears would ring with the sound of 'Japan is safety country/* is so dangerous because Japanese people are killed there/Can you use chopsticks (after 14 months)/What's your bra size/are you a virgin (1997-8 favourite student question to foreigners) conversations'.
*Please substitute the name of your native country, or one where English is the native language, preferably America, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or Britain.
Then there are the 15 to 18 year old students who, after four to six years of studying English, still can't answer questions like 'What's your name?' spoken at normal speed (or indeed any other speed) without
(This last is possibly practice for when they metamorphose into the 'Irasshaimasse' ladies in Japanese department stores. I just know I came to hate the word 'Wakaranai [the informal Japanese for 'I don't know'] although without it senior high school students would be absolutely bereft of conversational ability in any language.:)
THEN there are the ATMs... in the centre of Sapporo, the fifth largest city in the cash-based society dwelling on the archipelago of Japan, the ATMs didn't open until 8.45 am and closed at 7.00 pm. In all my time in Japan I never understood this.
I'd just like to define 'cash based' here.:) In 24 months in the country, I never saw a personal cheque. In my town, Iwamizawa, with 85,000 inhabitants, there were TWO shops that accepted foreign visa cards. Add to this little idiosyncracies like only being able to order potato fries (UK=chips) at a particular restaurant when you order alcohol, and you'll understand why I referred to my temporary adopted home, much as I loved it, as the Twilight Zone.
Please remember, however, that my experiences are simply those of one foreign individual in Japan - and dose my opinions liberally with salt!
Be prepared (or as prepared as you can be!) for life in Japan with the following books.
Japanese for Busy People (Volume 1)
Get the tapes to go with the book - Japanese for Busy People I/3 Audio tapes
Get by in Japanese - Short BBC guide to basic Japanese. Good starting point.
Or, if you prefer your Japanese language learning by CD, try the following.
Rosetta Stone: Japanese Explorer
Japanese Now! 8.0
Dave Barry Does Japan
Importing Diversity: Inside Japan's JET Programme
Culture Shock! Japan (Culture Shock)
Or if you'd prefer to search for your own books use the link below.
Copyright 1997 email@example.com