I went to Japan the first time in March 1999, right out of college and into a new programming career.
I had never been there before, but ended up living and working in central Tokyo
just over a year and a half.
In my opinion, the very best thing
about Japan are the Japanese people, who are, I think, the nicest and most helpful people in the world.
The East-meets-West Japanese culture,
because of its desire to retain 'Japaneseness' while keeping strides with other economically powerful
countries, is quite unique. It is a place well worth visiting, a people well worth meeting, and a way of life well worth
studying. Japan, though fascianting, is not a utopia. In such a homogenous culture, people that are different stand out in a negative way, almost directly
the opposite of Americans who define themselves by those differences. Women's roles still mostly serve men's roles
and the pressures of performing academically, conforming physically, and not causing trouble do cause a great
deal of pressure for young Japanese. All of these problems are currently, but slowly being solved.
I returned to Japan in the summer of 2003. I was accepted into the Japanese government's JET program.
This highly publicized program has been in place since 1987, bringing foriegners into almost every Japanese
middle school and high school to teach English conversation (a skill lacking in current Japanese education) and
in 'internationalization' however it is interpreted by its executors. This is a journal of
my first year there as an English teacher.
This is a list of things I encountered during my stays in Japan that I thought were cute, ironic, beautiful, a contrast to the U.S,
or very uniquely Japanese.
Granted, most of these are of the beautiful shrines and temples (Everyone MUST see Nikko)
but I do have some city pics.
What's the fuss all about? Here I will explain what anime is, expound on
why it's the best thing since sliced sushi, and give you some recommendations.
One of my accomplishments during my time in Japan was succeeding in passing the practical
exam to get a Japanese driver's license. I decided to write a book to
tell the foreign community (mainly fellow JETs) what I learned in the process to make it
easier when they have to go through the same thing.
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