Continuing on with our series of interviews with people who are working and living in Japan, this time we have spoken to James who is currently teaching English at an International Preschool in Tokyo. Teaching English is undoubtedly the most common and popular job choice for most English speaking foreign nationals looking to work and live in Japan.
It can especially handy if you have been unable to study Japanese to a level where you can work in a Japanese business environment (N1-2 level), but still want to enjoy living and working here. It can be a nice temporary position for people until they move onto another position. For others, teaching English is the perfect work-life balance and something they decide to make their key career for their entire time in Japan.
Teaching English in Japan is a booming industry and thankfully one that does not look like is going to disappear anytime soon. James has some great insight into the industry and advice for anyone that is looking or interested in pursuing a teaching career here. Enjoy!
No, I don’t mean you should ask yourself whether or not it is technically possible for you to work in Japan (after jumping through a series of hoops of various sizes and filling in an array of forms), but rather I mean that you should stop and ask yourself, ‘is Japan right for me?’.
If you decided to walk down the long winding path towards employment in Japan, make no mistake there will be many obstacles and challenges along the way. It will not be an easy path, and to keep ones ‘eye on the prize’ may test your resolve on more than one occasion. Therefore supposing upon running this gauntlet and then after reaching your destination you find that the reality is not what you expected, well (apart from wasting vast amounts of time and money) the disappointment would be immense.
So before we go ahead let’s take a few minutes out to step back and say
We have a very special interview from Mike Paxman who is currently working in the mobile games industry here in Tokyo. Mike studied Japanese Language at the University of Sheffield, also helping to run the Japan Society on the side.
He also used to run the extremely popular Japan is doomed blog and has contributed contents to other Japanese culture websites such as Tofugu.
Below is the interview we did together about advice for those who are who are interested in working in Japan and specifically the game industry! Some great contents and hope you enjoy!
When you are job hunting one thing that you will no doubt do is research about a company. It might be the company that you are applying to, its competitors or just somewhere you have an interest in. For anyone new to job hunting this entire process can seem rather daunting, even more so for a Japanese company as much of the material and resources will be in Japanese.
What is even crazier is that if you are going to a job fair such as the Boston Career Forum, then there is a chance you will be applying to 10s of companies. That is a whole lotta research!
However there are many sites and steps you can use to simplify the entire process. Trying to think of a good Kibō dōki(reason for applying)? How about reading exactly what the guys put down that got hired, sounds like some pretty juicy info eh. Not too sure if you will fit in the company and if there is a lot of Zangyō (overtime)? All this information, as well as a companies values, strategy and its entire recruitment process can be easily found on-line if you know where to look.
So far all you job hunting wanna be workers out there I am going to introduce my top sites and own personal method of how I do research on a company. Use it, improve it, ignore it, I don’t mind, but hopefully it will help a few of you out there! Either way it worked for me!
I never intended to do an internship after finishing university. I wanted to get back to Japan ASAP and work at a Japanese company. I wanted to taste the real Japanese working culture and take my Japanese above the N1 level, and at the time I thought the only way to do this was by working at a Japanese company full time. If that was not possible, then working at a foreign company in Japan would be the next best thing.
The only thing I didn’t realize was just how crazy hard it would turn out to be to find a full time job in Japan while being in a completely different country. I had this totally unjustified belief that all it would take is a few e-mails here, then some skype interviews there and companies would be falling all over themselves to sign me up. Unsurprisingly, I was completely wrong.
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test, for those of you who are not familiar with it is one of the most important qualifications you can get to get you into a job in Japan. Of course there are those jobs out there that do not require Japanese to get, but if you really want a job in Japan where you are doing the same work as your fellow Japanese colleagues, this is your ticket in. Japanese society puts a lot of importance on standardized tests – this is something you’d understand by looking at the fact that every university in Japan has its own humongous standardized test you need to determine if you are eligible to enter. The importance of test scores in Japan holds for foreigners as well. Those of you looking to get your 永住権 (eijuuken), permanent residence, having passed JLPT 1 will increase your chances. Not as in you will be favored more, you will actually receive 10 points in their point system to determine the eligibility of people for permanent residence. If we look at the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) we can understand more about the JLPT considering TOEIC is the main qualification you put on your resume when showing off your English ability in Japan.
What do avocados, rabbits, and British Rock all have in common? Well, not that much actually, unless you want to take into account the morbid fact that Percin, a fungicidal toxin found in avocados, is in fact deadly poisonous to rabbits, or the fact that Led Zeppelin have a rare live LP from 1969 called ‘Dancing Avocado’.
But who cares? The fact is that USAGI, located halfway between Shibuya and Omotesandō just off Aoyama-Dori, binds these three things together and somehow makes it seem like the most natural thing in the world. Make no mistakes, this place is as about as quirky as they come and that is exactly what I love about it. It even has its own theme song.
Turn off the main road and find its Ivy covered façade, littered with mismatched pots and an assortment of rabbit statues, then walk through it’s the doors and you will find yourself in a parallel, albeit cozy and homely, dimension where British rock and memorabilia from yesteryear blends seamlessly into a love of rabbits and avocado accompanied food.
Hell you have met your match; its name…… Salaryman boot camp.
Welcome to part two of a series of articles looking at what happens after you make the best decision of your life and join a Japanese company. Specifically we are focusing on the training period.
For those that missed it, part 1 of the series looked at the pre-entry training (yep the training will often start BEFORE you even get in the company) . Pre-entry training is kind of like an early Christmas present, a Christmas present that punches you in the face and makes you write an apology letter. Oh yeah.
This article is the first that looks at the initial training you get AFTER entering the company.
Much like the external exams mentioned above, this gasshuku (Remote Training) isn’t in every company, but it is present in many. For those who don’t know any better the concept of business gasshuku sounds almost fun. You get to stay in a hotel for free, get free meals and also get to know the new people that have also joined the company. Plus if you are a foreigner all the Japanese you can handle! Heck most people have to pay for this!
In reality though gasshuku is often one of the toughest things that any shinnyuushain will go through, regardless of nationality. My own experience brought me down to my knees and almost had me leaving the company (and I like to think I don’t throw in the towel easily) I mean I made it through the recruitment process, and that was no walk in the park !
Head out from Harajuku station, battle past the crowds, crepes and touts on Takeshita Street, ignore the multitude of designer and fast fashion chain stores clinging to Meiji Dori and head straight for the backstreets of Harajuku – ‘Ura-Harajuku’. The real beating heart of this area, here you will find a plethora of small independent boutiques and generally quirky stores sprouting from every side of maize like back streets. Whilst not completely unknown to tourists, the local crowd you will find here are somewhat different to that of the more popular (and busier) spots in Harajuku. It feels more real.
In the middle of all this, down a side alley and on the corner of a quiet street you will find ‘Hola’, an Okinawan themed taco café – not a bunch of words you often find together in the same sentence, but all the better for it.
I have many faults. One of them is that I am extremely ignorant towards certain things if I feel that they won’t affect me directly. I know it is not the best quality to have.
As an example in the summer of 2013 I had no idea that Princess Kate was even pregnant let alone that the baby was rumored to be a girl (she was about 6 months pregnant at the time). I generally didn’t keep up with the news between Kate and William because in all honesty I didn’t see how it would affect me at all. In fact I strongly believe that 99% of the stuff the royal family (and most celebrity) will do won’t affect my day to day life at all. It is this kind of attitude that results in me being ignorant towards a LOT of things.
*Funnily enough at the time of writing this article it seems that she is rumored to be pregnant with twins
Just before I came to Japan on my year abroad there were a lot of people who would talk about how Japan was due for a big earthquake at any time and that it would hit Tokyo pretty bad. I generally ignored these people because I thought that they were probably over exaggerating and that it wouldn’t happen when I am over there. I thought it wouldn’t affect me.