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Tips for starting work in Japan?

caseysaurus

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Hi, everyone. I'm starting work in Japan in September. I was wondering if anyone has any tips for entering a new workplace (or simply going into the country), especially in regards to Japanese customs. I'll be working at a children's eikaiwa. (I gather eikaiwa teachers get a bad rap generally but I've done my research and I know what I'm in for. I believe I have the personality to enjoy the work and the perseverance to deal with the hours. Plus it lines up with my general career goals for the future. Anyway.)

I've heard about omiyage and I've decided on maple syrup cookies. (Canadian souvenirs are pretty measly, in my opinion, but better something than nothing…) Is there anything else I should know about, going into Japan? Do I need to give something to the landlord? The postman? Are there items I need to bring because I won't find them in Japan?

Any help would be much appreciated. I'm not asking for teaching tips here though; I'll get those over at Dave's ESL Cafe.

Thank you! :)

P.S. Also! What's the best expats internet forum? I've heard loads about the notorious GaijinPot but unless I'm totally looking in the wrong place altogether, it seems pretty much defunct. I believe this is a good spot but I was wondering if there's another website I should really check out, for meetups, support, etc. Ta~
 

WonkoTheSane

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Bring some basic knowledge of Japanese (and a polite phrase to ask people to speak Japanese), an adventurous spirit, an open mind, and a willingness to try anything you come across.

Everything else you need is probably available in Japan.

Edit: Personal advice is to avoid expats, meet ups, and anything else which insulates you from Japan... Japan is a hell of a long way to go if you just want to pop down to the bar to drink with some buddies!
 

caseysaurus

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Thank you for the advice, Wonko. I do plan on avoiding the expat enclave but at the same time I'm being realistic: I'm going to miss being fluent. I predict I'll cave and want to be in an English-speaking group every few months. I've found a Canadian women in Japan society which seems to be what I'm looking for but I'd still like suggestions, if anyone has them.

Also more tips and advice would be great. I had no idea about omiyage until I'd done some poking about in old threads here and elsewhere. Would hate to miss anything else and arrive unprepared.
 

Glenski

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No need for any gifts to anyone, but if you must, then your coworkers would be sufficient.

Main tips:
Learn as much Japanese as possible.
Avoid the gaijin bubble often but keep a lifeline home to minimize culture shock.
Keep an open mind at work to things that are not a part of your own culture. This is not Canada, so things may not work like you are used to. Learn to adapt.
Keep your hands off your students.

If you want a good discussion forum for teachers, go to ESL Cafe. The one at Gaijinpot has closed, I think. For other matters, this place is as good as any.

What are your long-range plans?
 

WonkoTheSane

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Wherever you're going there will likely be Japanese people happy to speak with you in English, given the right lubricant (hint: alcohol). If you're near a larger city I'm sure there's probably an expat hangout like a Hub or something, and you can check meetup.com for more socializing opportunities.

Have fun!
 

caseysaurus

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Thank you, Glenski and Wonko. I hope I'm going into Japan with the right attitude and I definitely count on having fun! :)

Glenski - I'd love to get into children's educational publishing, particularly working on language or ESL materials.
 

Glenski

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In what capacity, casey? writer? owner? sales? All of the people that I know in the publishing field here have been teachers first (or still are).
 

caseysaurus

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Glenski - I'm sorry, I didn't expect any more replies and left this for a while.

I've worked in publishing before and I'd like to be in editorial or sales. Yes, it's really common to go from teaching to publishing, especially in the children's divisions. But at the moment I'm going to concentrate on teaching 100% without thinking about what I'm going to do afterwards.

Two weeks until I'm off, lugging Genki and Heisig. I'm very excited!
 

Glenski

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I'd have to advise you to either contact publishers directly by mail or phone, or attend EFL conferences where they display their goods, so you can discuss options in person.
 
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