English and Work in Japan

I’m guessing because of my FB posting patterns, a page from a Japan-centric blog, Gaijinpot appeared touting its ‘Do you want to work in Japan?’ classified webpage.

Have thought many times about returning back  to Japan to work for a few years before really retiring and out of curiosity, looked around.

At the time I looked, there were 780 postings, quite a lot.  Of those, the overwhelming number of posting were for English teaching jobs.

This says much about how “internationalized” Japan really is, i.e.,  westerners are still only thought good for working as an English teacher. Ok, to be fair,  there were also postings for engineering jobs, sales and software development jobs- provided the applicant has professional level Japanese fluency, but again,  the ratio of English teaching  to these mainstream jobs was way, way in favor of the ‘English teacher wanted’ jobs.

The other takeaway is the futility of teaching English in Japan.  The Japanese have been trying to be English, etc., fluent since maybe Meiji, 1868?  And yet most people cannot carry on a conversation  with an English speaker?

The roots for this  are that first,  English is not taught in Japan with the purpose of learning to speak it. Second, there are very strong social disincentives  for a Japanese in gaining fluency in English, or any other foreign language. My own observations are  that a Japanese who has attained a degree of fluency in any foreign language, often attained by an extended period outside Japan,  are view by Japanese society as a whole as no longer ‘one of us’, that they’ve  lost some intangible part of their ‘Japanese-ness”  This manifests itself in the difficult these people still have in finding mainstream rather than niche employment in Japan.  (a further example of this is a high school outside Nagoya, built expressly for the large number of children of overseas assignees (Toyota Motor mostly), who returned to Japan after their father’s overseas assignment ended.  Instead of trying to change the public school system to accommodate these returnee children and open up and diversify  the school system,  this school (The Nanzan Kokusai Junior/Senior High School) was built, which to me sends a message that there is no desire to open up the Japanese public school system and that these children, rather than be included, need to be in effect, quarantined.)

Also English teaching in Japan is a business, a big business. Having a higher degree of foreign language fluency in Japan would of course mean a drastic shrinking down of this industry and its profits. So why rock the boat so to speak and work to really teach foreign languages with the goal of true fluency.

The last thing that struck me going through these job postings was the offered salaries. Man, talk about low-balling!  To be fair to Gaijinpot, they have no control over this.  But many of the salaries, even for the non-English teacher, main stream jobs were in the 200,000 to 300,000 per month range.  From my own experience, a monthly salary  in that range was just enough to get by even if single, back in my day, and that was awhile ago. So unless things in Japan have changed more than I know/imagine,  I  cannot see how someone working in a job in Tokyo for example, earning 200,000+ yen a month, can make ends meet..


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Before and After

Been a week since the Blizzard of 2016 passed over us (and others).  After the snow had fallen and the skies cleared,


That’s my car under that mound.



After 6  hours of back-breaking work.


And a week later,


There’s still work needed on the sidewalks, the walk at he immediate right of this picture which the neighborhood kids use to walk to the corner where the school bus picks them up.  The house to which this portion of the walk belongs to though is vacant, its owner I understand passed away about a year ago and it has sat vacant since (wonder if the insurance company who wrote the policy for that house knows that?).  Sure I could be a god civic mined person and clear it, but if there is one thing this storm has shown me, it is my physical limitations.  The last big snow we had was 6 years ago and while tiring I did handle it (helped too that son unit was still living with us) Just clearing off snow from my own property now proved to be very, very physically challenging. I’m just not up to tackling something extra.


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Some $$$ Coming In For a Bit

Started on Tuesday, what I was told would be a 2 or 3 week review project, but as often is the case, the agency had no idea was it wastalking about/the client was mum on the details.

As usual, can’t share specific’s, but its is J to E translation of business documents.  A good thing in a way as its really been a while since I have done this and I see I am rusty.

The client I have worked for before in NYC- not a pleasant experience ether.  Its only been a couple of days, but here in DC, things seem much more laid back.

The building lobby, once housing a bank, is cavernous with one reception desk in the middle towards the rear. I’d take a photo of it with my cellphone to show how the lobby dwarfs everything else, but have a feeling that would not go over so well.

Behind the receptionist desk is the entrance to the elevator bank, the passageway flanked by a set of very sturdy iron bars, welded in the open position.  My guess is this was the entrance to the bank vaults once and the fact the bars still  remain, and given of what I know of high profile, big law firms, these bars strike me as a private joke.

Different work atmosphere too.  We are told we should work no more than 60 hours a week, but we are free to work as much as we like.  Different from my last job which also had a max hour limit and, ‘you don’t have to work the max, but…’ Very little; chit-chat too a difference from the last job.  Perhaps those working are more professional?

Life after Blizzard 2016 is slowly getting back to normal.


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And it Came…..


And 12 hours later….


And it still is coming down.  Neighbors made a stab at clearing, but gave up.

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As we wait


That and eggs, milk, pancake mix and for some reason, cheese.

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Sleeping it Off…..

Is what wife unit is doing at the moment, this morning.  She arrived back on Saturday and as for whatever reason, the jet lag going eastwards is always more pronounced than going westwards.

While in Japan, she missed the central heat and well-insulated houses we have here.  I’ve heard all sorts of bullshit Nipponjinron, on why Japanese housing is for the most part not centrally heated nor insulated.

She did enjoy taking the nightly, hot, deep baths ( I miss those too) which were a necessity in the evening to keep her warm.  Also enjoyed the food back there.

Had felt bad about not going with her, but what I have learned, I think my  instincts wee quite correct that I would have been in the way.

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The Most Advanced 3rd World Country on the Planet


I’ve witnessed/experienced, many examples of this.  The latest is from wife unit, who is back in Japan for a couple of weeks on family business.

One of the things she has looked forward to is watching when she has a spare moment, Japanese TV broadcasting, but when she tuned on the TV at her mother’s home, there was no reception.

Why?  because the rooftop antenna wires has broken.  Rooftop antenna???!!  Given the proliferation of cable TV in the United States, I can’t remember in recent memory a house that still has a rooftop TV antenna on it, especially not around this area.

Wife unit calls the area where she grew up, the sticks, but actually  it is now more of a now bedroom town, sandwiched  between the cities of Nagoya and Toyohashi. An old town to be sure, but not 田舎.

Japan touts itself as developing world-class, cutting edge technologies, and yet, there are still rooftop antennas.


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