Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Japan Experience Is What You Make Of It

I have been living in Japan for just about a year now. I have had many interesting adventures; some positive and some negative. During this time, I have learned many things, not only about myself, but about life in general. I have wrote about my reflections on living in Japan before, but I have never wrote about making the best of living in the land of the raising sun.

I must admit, I have not thought about writing on such a subject before. Main reason being, I feel that I may lack enough experience to really tell people how to make the best of living in Japan. I know that their are people who get a real kick out of telling others what to do. It is their passion in life to tell others `How things are and how everyone should live their lives.` That has never really been my habit.

So, what I can say about the experience of living in Japan is that it really is what you make of it. People come to Japan for many reasons. Some people come to land of the raising sun for vacation, to work, to experience a different culture, to escape the life they were living in their mother nation, as well as many other reasons. I came to Japan for two reasons; I was madly in love with a women and my mother nation is turning into a 1984 style nightmare. I have found that my reasons are unlike a lot of people who venture to Japan. This makes my situation a little different compared to a lot of other people. So, I guess I could offer a unique perspective for this months Japan Matsuri.

Like I mentioned above, I feel that I may lack enough experience to tell other people how to make the best of living in Japan. With that in mind, as well as keeping with this months JP Matsuri topic, this post will be about how I have resolved to make the best of living in Japan.

I consider the pure daily adventure of living in Tokyo, to be how I get the most out of living in Japan. Tokyo offers just about everything I want/need out of a city. As great as many American cities are, none of them can compare to the scope and size of Tokyo. I am starting to think that if I cannot find it in Tokyo, chances are good that it does not exist. I have run across so much weird and devilishly fun things during my time in Tokyo so far. I mean, pick a vice and Tokyo will feed you until you are on the floor naked while throwing your guts up! Some people might say that I am exaggerating just a bit, but I have learned not the doubt Tokyo`s ability to surprise and shock.

From Maid Cafes to Happening Bars, just about any desire can be satisfied. Considering that Tokyo may very be the hardest working city in the world, it comes as no surprise that it is also the one of the most extreme cities in the world as well. When I first started living in Tokyo full time, I was mostly unaware of the depths of Tokyo`s endless skyline. I used to look at Tokyo as a big giant business type of city. Now days, I know that Tokyo offers more than just business deals and drunk salary men. The whole place seems to have layer after layer of subcultures and personalities. I mean, what other city in the world can I enjoy top quality coffee in the morning, soak in a hot bath spa during the mid day, go for drinking in the evening with almost every type of drink on the menu, and cap off the evening with a call girl and a love hotel? I am not saying that I have experienced such a day, but from what I can see, such a day could easily happen.

So, Yeah. The Japan experience is what you make of it. I have resolved to dive head first into the pure adventure aspect of living in Tokyo. Other people might want to take a totally different approach to living in Japan. No matter how you choice to make the best of living in Japan, make sure to enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

J-Blog of the Week Ed# 1 Loco in Yokohama

KO. So, I have been thinking of a way to expose people to English J-blogs that they might other wise ever see. There are a lot of good blogs out there about Japan. Some English J-blogs are very popular, while others do not get so much attention. While, the popular ones deserve the attention, there are plenty of others which deserve a few more page views as well. I have decided to start the first weekly feature here at The Ghost Letters. The J-blog of the week is now here for your enjoyment. Every week I will feature an English J-blog which deserves to be seen by more people. I hope to do this every Tuesday or Wednesday.

This week`s English J-blog of the week is Loco in Yokohama

I have been checking out Loco in Yokohama for a while now. Pretty interesting blog I must say. I first found this site though I noticed that the post he had submitted were not getting much attention. This usually means that a rare gem is being overlooked. So, I started checked it out from time to time. It seems that this blog has only been up and running since October 2008 but it is full of great stuff to read.

There are several sections of this blog well worth checking out.

10 ways not to go Loco in Yokohama is a interesting look at how to have a good time in Japan. A lot of the post in this series hold a lot of truth. You will have a good laugh, as well as agree, with many of the post in this ten part series.

Home Alterations is a great series which I have been wanting to read more of for a while now. It is kind of like home sickness but with a twist. From what I have checked out so far, he talks about NYC vs. Japan. It is an interesting series and I suggest reading every post.

There is also the Acts of Retaliation section and the Real Gods Require Blood section; which is an on-going web novel of good quality.

Overall, Loco in Yokohama is a great English J-web blog! If you have never checked it out before now would be a good time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

When I am just about to lose all faith...I get promoted!

Over the past several months I have slowly been loosing confidence in the company I work for. I know it is sad to have little faith in the company, but after having my pay cut(for doing my job well), constant schedule changes, lack of proper communication, and not being able to get a straight answer to even the most basic questions it is hard to sing the company praises. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was recently offered a promotion.

I accepted the position of Instructor Leader. It is kind of like a head master position. Apart from my duties of teaching students, I will also be teaching other teachers, conducting workshops, handling some paper work, and keeping overall company spirit on the up and up. I will be getting a little pay raise but the promotion is more of an opportunity for future advancement in my career. The last time I got a promotion was back in the states. I was given the title of `Team Leader.` It consisted of doing a hell of a lot of paper work, record keeping, and trying to keep my fellow workers in line while assisting customers in understanding the meaning of the word NO. You can imagine, due to my southern sensibilities, the humor involved as I balanced a spread sheet while having it out with a customer, at the same time, answering questions from employees.

This time around the situation is very different. Unlike many American companies, I have found that in a Japanese company people actually care about what they are doing; and make more of an effort to do a good job. I am actually excited about this little promotion I have been given. I must have impressed someone at the top. All I really did was do my job to the best of my ability, hide my unhappiness with some of the decisions made by the brass, keep an up-beat attitude at work, and stayed cool with management. From what I have noticed not many people have been all that nice to management. It seems that the brass are always very surprised that I am nice to them, and even have a beer with them from time to time. The reason I have been nice to them is that I understand they are in a hard position. They are trying really hard to keep the company afloat when almost everyone said it was a lost cause. They are having to make some really tough decisions. I remember the first time I agreed to have a drink with management. We ended up drinking on the street. One of them said to me, `Ryan you are the first teacher to agree to drink with us. We will remember this as it means a lot.` Apparently it did mean a lot as I now find myself moving up the chain a little bit.

I am a little surprised that I have gotten promoted so fast. I have not been working for this company for even a year yet! Although, considering the company is operating a brand name it has never attempted to operate before, my promotion is most likely one of the first to be handed out to teachers. I do worry a little about the jealously factor. A lot of teachers are having a hard time and here I am getting a little promotion. I will have to be careful not to feed any jealous feeling from other teachers. It will be important for me to develop a good working relationship with most of the other teachers. As it stands now I work on my own, kind of like a lone gunmen. At the two schools I work, I am the only teacher.

So, for now I will put off my plans to change jobs. Hell, I got the positive attention of the brass so I might as well stay for a while to see how things play out. Considering that many people are losing their jobs and ending up homeless, I should be happy that I am in a decent position; with respect to my career. The future is still a little uncertain, but for now, things are starting to look a little brighter.