Posted by: taichateau | June 11, 2008

Japan and some thoughts

Me and some of my students & another teacher.

こんにちわ、私のお名前はジョシュシャトーです。私のアメリカン人です。日本語お話ません。

Well, believe it or not I used to be able to say more. It’s sad how fast you loose your language abilities. So a few people have asked me some questions about Japan so I thought I would respond to those and other thoughts in a round about way through this Blog Post.

I went to Japan in 2005 after going through a weekend interview in San Francisco that was less like an interview and more like a try-out for American idol where at any point you could be cut. They cut one girl for slouching all the time. There were about 80 who interviewed and 5 were hired. I trained in Vancouver, Canada and I went over and taught for GEOS language school. I was placed in Kamiooka, Japan which in near Yokohama city. I had my own classroom for the first time and was making major bank. I could hardly describe my elation as I lived and worked in Japan. I was happier than I had been since my France experience even though my love life was going down the tubes. It just so happens I moved there, partly, for a girl.

So what went wrong? I have experienced culture shock before in France but this was beyond all I had thought possible. The Japanese are amazing, funny, kind people with everything to offer anyone willing. Still, I felt utterly out of place. I would get excited seeing white tourists on the street. The language was hard but not the real barrier. I chose to leave because I wasn’t becoming what I wanted to be and I had few people in my life that I could relate with. With that being said, I regret nothing of my choice to go, especially for the love. If you love something or someone that much you have to give it a shot, even if it is beyond what you would choose for yourself. Maybe knowing that Japan and that person were beyond me is enough to let go, but then again I wouldn’t be stepping into another dimension of possibilities and experiences that could lead me into an extraordinary life if I didn’t try.

I long to go back every time I see a Hiragana letter or pass a not-so-fresh sushi bar, salivating for real Tonkatsu sauce and Unagi. The feel of the places in this world, the pressure, the vibrations in the air are beyond the scope of imagination. Landing there is like taking a journey to distant planet. If you’re brave enough to stand and suck in the air in a new and strangely possible world then I say go for it. Change is a cliché. You will no longer have a different soul. I am not who I was. I thank God for that, and I ask to go back even though I know I was put in this place for a reason.  But hey, there are more countries to go to then just Japan.  If you want to go somewhere though, Japan is the best paying, safest, and funnest country to spend the time teaching in.  I think.

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Responses

  1. Josh, I think you are fantastic. I can totally relate with your description of stepping into a different planet. I know that Chicago is still in the US, but for a girl who grew up on a farm and just a few short years beforehand had been rodeo-ing, stepping off the bus (which i didn’t know how to do. . . .i was so confused about how to get the bust to stop that I missed it . . .embarrassing) into a completely new place. On a random side note, do you know how to cook japanese food? the only thing I have had is fake sushi . . .I will trade you some really good fajitas for anything new and different.

  2. Thanks. We should swap more stories some time. As for the food thing, I don’t really know how to make anything without a recipe book. Most of the food is simple to make it’s just hard to find the food to make it. There are asian shops in Boise though.

  3. If you want real sushi, go to Shige’s in downtown Boise. It’s hands down the best in town (that rhymed).

  4. Did you know any Japanese when you interviewed, or was that part of your training? My husband went through an “I want to learn Japanese” phase and we were thinking of good ways to learn the language. Hosting exchange students came up at one point… at any rate, he’s moved on from that now.


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