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  • Coming To Japan

    I have been reading these forums for some time and have decided that I will actually move to Japan in May/June.

    Initially, as I am a graduate and qualified teacher, I would be considering teaching as my first option. With more than 11 years of teaching experience I don't see much problem with the job market in that respect and the salary seems adequate. Presently, I work in Moscow, Russia where I have worked in management roles within educational institutes.

    However, I am also a published photographer and would ultimately aim at opening a studio in Japan in the future along with my Russian spouse to be.

    My question: if anyone would be so kind to answer, is would it be better to come via a corporate school or simply arrive off the boat so to speak?

    I am 36. Is there an element of ageism in Japan?

    Not surprisingly, I have noted alot of attacks of English teachers from 'corporate' types and also see this in Russia too. I have also seen alot of attacks on the major schools, which does create some concern as I initially thought that they would be a good starting point.

    Overall, I won't be put off by any nonsensical 'don't come we've got enough foreigners' attitudes - that simply does not work and as an expat of more than 11 years I know the score with alot of local expat folk...

    So, anybody offer me some sound advice.

    Cheers

    D:

  • #2
    Originally posted by darcy
    I have been reading these forums for some time and have decided that I will actually move to Japan in May/June.
    Welcome on board, Darcy. Where in Japan are you moving to?

    Originally posted by darcy
    Initially, as I am a graduate and qualified teacher, I would be considering teaching as my first option. With more than 11 years of teaching experience I don't see much problem with the job market in that respect and the salary seems adequate. Presently, I work in Moscow, Russia where I have worked in management roles within educational institutes.
    With your kind of background, you shouldn't have any difficulty landing a solid teaching position here. Your only possible drawback is a lack of Japanese language background, but that's most definitely surmountable. Your management background should play in your favour. There's a lot of good job advice on this site.

    Originally posted by darcy
    However, I am also a published photographer and would ultimately aim at opening a studio in Japan in the future along with my Russian spouse to be.
    I hear ya mate! I'm just finishing up a term of study at a university in Tokyo and looking to branch into a career in freelance journalism. As of April I will be back in ESL teaching while I pursue my writing on the side. I'm not in a position to quit my day-job yet, but that's the eventual idea. My wife and I also have a music/theatre/multimedia art production company that we have just founded and we are putting on our first show later this month. My wife hopes to quit her day-job this year to be a full-time musician and voice-over artist. In sum, there are LOTS of opportunities out here for artistic folk - especially in Tokyo - but you really have to make it happen yourself. Get out there and promote your work, bug the hell out of the local expat magazines, rent out a space and start your own exhibition, and people will eventually catch on. It took me six months to get my first magazine article published out here - six months of essentially harassing this one editor - but I got my foot in the door and should get at least a couple more article spots this year.

    Originally posted by darcy
    My question: if anyone would be so kind to answer, is would it be better to come via a corporate school or simply arrive off the boat so to speak?
    Everybody seems to have a different opinion on this one. I've never "arrived off the boat," although in my case, coming to Japan as a research student on a national scholarship, a lot of job opportunities (mostly teaching) seemed to emerge out of the woodwork. Actually, now that I think about it, the scholarly route might be an attractive option for you, as a photographer. The Monbukagakusho (Japanese Ministry of Education) offers plenty of bursaries for people in the arts (photography, paining, film-making, music etc.). Check out Tama Art University in Hachioji (West Tokyo) for contacts. Interestingly, the university seems to have a very strong representation from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states (Latvia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan etc.). If you speak Russian you should have no problem navigating this crowd.

    Originally posted by darcy
    I am 36. Is there an element of ageism in Japan?
    My mother-in-law finally got completely fed up with her thankless job as a public school teacher in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) and just recently accepted a position as head teacher at a school in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture. She is 57. I think it probably depends on the school, but the better schools would rather have someone qualified (which you certainly sound like you are) than someone young and unreliable who is just as likely to flake out and flee the country as to stick to a contract. Some companies are ageist, but those are bound to be ones that are after trained monkeys, glorified tape-recorders, rather than bona-fide teachers.

    Originally posted by darcy
    Not surprisingly, I have noted alot of attacks of English teachers from 'corporate' types and also see this in Russia too. I have also seen alot of attacks on the major schools, which does create some concern as I initially thought that they would be a good starting point.
    Teaching English in Japan runs the gamut from the big chain schools (the McDonalds of the profession) to the international schools, private JHS/HS's and colleges and universities in which a background in curriculum development and considerable teaching background is de rigueur. I've never worked for any of the big chain schools (Nova, Geos, Aeon etc.) but it seems like a lot of people get started in Japan through one of these and then branch out into bigger and better things. I have a good friend who came to Japan with his Japanese fiancee after completing a Master's degree in mathematics, and got his foot in the door through Nova. He mostly hated it, but last I heard he was having some success finding teaching jobs more closely related to his own subject, jobs that rarely advertise outside Japan. You might consider this approach.

    As for the blowhards who attack the English teaching profession at every opportunity, I say ignore them. Most of them are former English teachers themselves who have supposedly "moved up in the world" and feel it their more prerogative to slander their former occupation. It's the sad truth that teachers are a much-maligned lot: underpaid, overcriticized, the first to be blamed for society's wrongs and the last to be given credit for successes, and their profession generally dismissed as something that anyone can do. The good part is that in Japan, teachers are generally accorded a greater degree of respect than they are in much of the rest of the world (I have no idea what Russia is like in this respect), even if this does not apply to the expat community.

    Originally posted by darcy
    Overall, I won't be put off by any nonsensical 'don't come we've got enough foreigners' attitudes - that simply does not work and as an expat of more than 11 years I know the score with alot of local expat folk...
    And so you shouldn't. There's plenty of room here, especially for worldly folk with an international outlook. Japan needs more people like yourself. Incidentally, what sort of photography do you do? The show my wife and I are putting on this month will feature works by two photographer colleagues of ours, one Japanese one Filipino. We also have two sculptors, from Latvia and Peru respectively, and a gang of musicians and other performers from a variety of places.

    Originally posted by darcy
    So, anybody offer me some sound advice.

    Cheers

    D:
    Hope this helps. Gambare!

    Comment


    • #3
      Zap, I am not one to hand out praise willynilly but I do like the cut of your jib! Positive yet aware. Keep up the good work my man, you nicely counterbalance some of the lunacy, racism, misogyny and general dumbness here on Gaijinpot.
      Last edited by waller; 2005-03-07, 02:50 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Darcy:
        Your message is very well thought out and you seem to know the direction in which you're going. Going the teaching route as Zap has talked about is a well worn road to getting established here. Yes, there are the trolls and sledgers on GP who take issue with English teachers, whether they are qualified or not but you seem to be qualified and so would at least have an opportunity to obtain work in the teaching field while at the same time building up your other business.

        My only suggestion is to check out the visa requirements rather carefully especially with your spouse-to-be who is Russian. I would recommend contacting the Japanese Embassy as to what is required in the way of paperwork. But the visa issue is an important and I think that this fact can't be stressed enough.

        There are lots of opportunities in this country if one is willing to put in his/her time, so to speak. There are many successful people here on GP and you will find their posts all over this forum so GP is not just filled with teachers who have a grudge to bear or an axe to grind.

        Does ageism exist here in this country? I think it depends on one's perspective. My own take on this point is that I think that westerners (or foreigners) have more chances at finding new careers after 60 than those of the people of this country or if one were back in one's own home country. If one has been in this country for any length of time, I have found that there is usually a kind of respect from one's peers for being here so long or for having reached a certain age plateau. You really have to be a complete flake NOT to make a decent living in Japan. Please also keep in mind that I do not think that Japan is heaven on earth - quite the contrary and this fact is attested to by the many posts here in this forum - but it is rather decent place to live despite its warts and all.

        Hope this helps and gives you a little insight into your situation. Best of luck.
        R.

        Comment


        • #5
          thanks

          I wasn't expecting such sound advice.

          I am especially excited about the 'arts' connection. I never thought there would be much interest in it from that point of view. I should add that I am a songwriter (hobbyist) and perform in Moscow regularly. You can hear some songs at www.norecordlabel.com - look for darcy daguere:-)

          So, I'm one of those creative types.

          I'm thinking of coming over in May to Tokyo for 3 weeks and basically hitting the schools and local press. I've found alot of really good info through this site, which is excellent! I am a bit confused over visas though..

          Russia is a fantastic country and it breaks my heart to leave, but things are less rewarding here nowadays and the expat community is continually faced with being forced to work illegally - no work permits etc as employers can't afford the costs. It's just not worth it anymore. The government simply wants us out. I am fortunate as I have a relatively good job, but most teachers are back packers and my friends who work in the corporate world are mostly illegal... but illegal in Russia is relative as nobody really seems to care. The real point is that if you don't exist and you're planning a family etc things will catch up with you ... not a great plan.

          That's a good point about my fiance.. I need to look into that properly. I thought I would arrive and check things out first before getting her over, but I think that may not be such a good plan afterall.. thinking on it. I thought she might be able to teach russian, copy edit, or translate - something like that to begin with. Her English is good and she's a medical grad - maybe sales in pharmaceuticals or something.. she will decide herself anyway.

          Thank you all very much

          Cheers

          NB: as for location - Tokyo would seem the best starting point, but really have no clue where I would prefer... go where the work is first and worry about social stuff later.
          Last edited by darcy; 2005-03-07, 06:59 PM.

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          • #6
            Darcy:
            On the point of your fiancee and her visa I mentioned that you check this out rather carefully because I think that the Japanese consulate may be rather strict. I base this ONLY on one experience we had here where I work and it was this. A German, who we work with in our business field, was making his annual trip to Japan but at that time, he wanted to bring along his spouse, who had Russian citizenship. He asked our company for an official letter stating that he was coming to Japan on official business and that he would be accomapnied by his wife and would be with her and stay with her and return with her the whole time he was in Japan. The consulate in Germany demanded this letter before they would issue his wife a visa to visit Japan with him. Now this was about 7-8 years ago and things may have changed since then but I kind of doubt it because immigration policies do not change that quickly or just willy nilly so to speak and I daresay that they are still stringent, hence my suggestion about checking out the requirements for your fiancee.

            Also concerning your own postion, certainly you can come into Japan and LOOK for a job on a tourist visa. It is however illegal to WORK on this visa. So when you come through immigration do not mention this fact to the officials. You are just on a visit. There are stories on this forum about people who have been refused entry because they stated that the purpose of their visit was to look for work. Now the other side of the coin is that schools of course want you to have a visa in place or at least the procedure to have one in the near future (so that you could start working in the foreseeable future). So it's kind of the chicken and the egg situation. Some schools like Nova do interview overseas and therefore the interviewee can get the docs to make application for a visa through the consulate but I imagine that this is impossible in Russia. So I guess your only option is to come over here first, find a position, go back and apply for the proper visa with papers and documents in hand.

            Hope this helps.
            R.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks

              Richard,

              unfortuanately, I am aware of the prejudices against Russian women specifically. The stereo-type being that they're all marrying foreigners and jumping ship once abroad... justified 15 years ago, but these days thing are quite good in Moscow for the majority of graduates, but mud sticks so to speak. The rest of Russia is simply a toilet!

              We've been together 3 years. She does not really want to leave Russia. I think we will just have to deal with this as it comes. I think alot of cross-cultural relationships face this problem at some point, especially when one partner works internationally. Her main concern at moment is will I be seduced by some oriental lady, which is highly unlikely as I'm 100% with her. Unfortunately, she is a bit insecure but God knows why as she's 5 feet of absolute heaven on earth..

              I've had some applications through for jobs. They all seem contradictary at best stating you can apply abroad, but then saying can you bring certain items to interviews etc, which are in Japan. I imagine the best thing to do is organise interviews for set days when I can arrive in Japan and hope I get a positive result. My main concern is where to stay for a few weeks - not expensive and the best location. If I get a position, I can then worry about Anja joining me at a later date...

              I am thinking about this holiday working visa thing.. you are right about being in Russia causing more hassle, but I can fly to London if needed.

              Anyway, thanks for input because I really am running blind here.

              Cheers

              D:

              Comment


              • #8
                Wonder

                I'm coming to Japan in the next 4yrs and I was wondering, where is the best place to live?
                I plan to teach English.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TommyHidike
                  I'm coming to Japan in the next 4yrs and I was wondering, where is the best place to live? I plan to teach English.
                  Niigata
                  Niigata
                  NIIGATA

                  The garden of Eden, my friend, cleverly disguised as Niigata in Japan. There is rumoured to be some sort of fountain of youth there that gives the flora, fauna, and local populace an almost angelic glow. Nightlife, nature and everything in between. You can't go wrong with Niigata.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TommyHidike
                    I'm coming to Japan in the next 4yrs and I was wondering, where is the best place to live?
                    I plan to teach English.
                    Although I live there myself and am quite fond of the place, I would be inclined to advise you to avoid Tokyo. Reason being, everybody and their dog seems to want to live and work there, the cost of living is sky-high and the wages for English teachers seem to be relatively low in comparison to other centres (presumably due to the high demand for the jobs). Also the summers in the capital are pretty unpleasant: hot, sticky and although Tokyo is at least technically a harbour city, there's been so much land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay that it no longer feels like the city is near water - so there's not much relief to be sought rom the sweltering summer heat. Having said that, there's a helluva lot to do in Tokyo - but if I weren't tied to the city I might well move to a smaller centre in a more scenic area.

                    I see a lot of adverts for well-paid gigs in places like Hiroshima, Kanazawa, Nagano, Sendai and other medium-sized Japanese cities. I used to live in Nagano Prefecture, and I really miss the place. Being from the west coast of Canada, the geography and the climate remind me of home. I live in Tokyo now and have a lot going on to keep me there, but after a while the city starts to get to me in a big way and I have to escape to somewhere more rural.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      OP: As far as the big chains go the level of desirability in terms of employment seems to be:

                      Aeon
                      ECC
                      Geos
                      Berlitz
                      Nova

                      in that order.
                      Last edited by stillnosheep; 2005-03-13, 09:06 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        On photography...

                        Darcy: few here have commented upon your photography angle, so I'll give it a try....

                        I will soon be returning to Japan (to study { ), after doing a year at the English teaching bit..... And I like photography and even did a little bit of event photography in the USA way back when...

                        As you well know, Japan is known for cameras. And, most people here own high quality gear. The average Japanese can make a photo that is technically good (e.g., exposure, etc.) HOWEVER, as in many things artistic (and the society as a whole), they struggle with finding uniqueness and an identity in their photography.

                        There are many exhibitions and displays of photography throughout Japan. Commericial photographers are readily available.

                        Photography is one of those areas where you will have to offer something truly unique, in order to stand out from the crowd. Do you want to do commercial work, or are you approaching this as a fine artist? I have not tried to sell my photographic services in Japan. Nor will I ever (as a photographer per se, but someday I might try to get into some sort of publishing/journalism...) Rather, I simply collect images to add to my own personal collection... maybe in 10 or 20 years I'll have enough good images to make some sort of portfolio....

                        In other words, unless you are confident that you could move to Milan, Paris, or New York and successfully sell your work, don't think you will be able to make a go of it (as a photographer) in Japan.

                        However, it has to be the greatest place on earth to pursue it as an art or hobby...

                        -ft

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Paradise

                          Niigata are you kidding!
                          There is a low population there = no jobs!.
                          Seriously that's a mean post.
                          That can give nightmares what I saw there
                          it's just not to prospective there I can't even think about it.
                          A bad start the end had become before the beginning boy! what a way to go.
                          If I start all over would I do the same?
                          I'd rather be pushed into a Starbucks.
                          I'm in a place now where you've never seen before
                          in dreams.
                          Last edited by electric_japan; 2005-03-16, 05:37 PM. Reason: comment

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