> a day in the life
> life in japan
coming to Japan, I mostly read about teaching English
in Japan. From what I read, there seemed to be plenty
of work teaching English in Japan. I did read a little
on culture shock and Japanese culture, but very little.
I studied a little Japanese, but not too much.
did not arrange work before coming. I had a working holiday
visa, which would allow me to work up to a year, and more
importantly, work as soon as I found a job. From what
I had read, I figured I would be able to find work quite
easily. I decided to take a chance and just go. If things
didn't work out, I had a return plane ticket home.
Before getting here, I knew Japan was an advanced country,
but it was hard to really know what to expect. For me,
that was part of the fun! So I jumped on a plane and left
arriving in Osaka, the first thing that struck me was
the sheer number of people. There were so many people!
I was amazed how many people there were on the trains,
especially at the train stations. Plus everybody seemed
in a rush. Being from a small town in Quebec, Canada,
this was quite a shock.
I also found Japan to be quite urbanized. Looking out
the train, I couldn't spot any of the traditional Japanese
homes and buildings one might expect to see. Instead,
I saw an endless landscape of similar, rather plain-looking
houses, apartment buildings and in the city, skyscrapers.
I did live in the countryside at first, but even there,
I saw little evidence of traditional Japan. Japan seemed
so westernized. Even the people wore western clothes.
Where was old Japan?
In the city, I found that no matter where I went, my surroundings
seemed to look the same. There also seemed to be very
little greenery. I found that space, something abundant
in Canada, was lacking here. The combination of less space
and more people was quite a change from my home in Canada.
adjusted to my surroundings and smaller spaces. As for
lack of greenery in the cities, I took trips to the countryside
or went to parks when I wanted to enjoy nature. In fact
there is plenty of green in Japan with over 78% of the
country being covered in forested mountains.
The hardest adjustment for me was all the people. Soon
after my arrival, I worked in a small city in Yamaguchi
prefecture. It was not so crowded there. The shock came
when I moved to Tokyo 7 months later. Tokyo was extremely
crowded. Riding the train there during the rush hours
is an experience I do not recommend to anyone (think of
canned sardines). However, having worked in Tokyo for
a while and now the Osaka area, I have pretty much adjusted
to all the people. The trick is to accept it and to go
with the flow. There are places in any city that are especially
crowded. I can choose to avoid those places. If I go,
I simply don't stay too long. In my own business I determine
when I work and so avoid those nasty train times as well.
Today I just flow along within my own comfort zone.
I have found that to really enjoy life in Japan, you just
have to go with the flow. It's better to accept Japan's
differences from the start instead of complaining about
them. You'll enjoy Japan much more if you do as the Japanese
do. I highly recommend studying and speaking Japanese
as much as you can. If you can, eat Japanese food. Make
Japanese friends and go out with them. I have found Japanese
people like teaching me about their culture when I show
sincere interest in their culture. These things should
make your stay here much more enjoyable and enriching
as it has mine.
mix of the old and the new
me Japan is a mix of the old and the new. You might be
walking around in the city, surrounded by skyscrapers,
people wearing western clothes and talking on state-of-the-art
cellular phones, but then all of the sudden you might
see a woman wearing a traditional Japanese kimono among
the crowd. Women still wear the kimono in Japan but usually
on special occasions. Or you might come across a Buddhist
temple erected next to a skyscraper. The Japanese use
many high-tech items such as high-tech cell phones, daily
organizers or gadgets to ring home and have the bath tub
filled to a desired temperature and water level, and the
kids all walk around playing with games most NASA guys
would be happy to own! However, on the other hand they
are still very much attached to traditional customs. This
mix of the old and the new makes Japan and Japanese culture
fascinating. The more time you put in Japan teaching English,
the more you too will notice and I trust learn to enjoy
There are many traditional buildings, and the Japanese
are very proud of them. We can see their incredible and
ancient woodwork, but they are often hidden. You have
to seek them out. If you ask around or look hard enough,
you can find many Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, traditional
buildings, and Japanese gardens. These offer a taste of