back to article Japan: Land of cheap booze and slippers in the office

In this week's eXpat files, love is the motivator for British chap Stephen Chadfield to make a new start in Japan, where he endures daily workplace workouts and has the chance to drink cheap booze. Over to you, Stephen ... The Register: What kind of work do you do and with which technologies? Chadfield: My current job is …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Teaching English conversation really is a bottom-of-the-barrel opportunity. It can be a useful stepping stone but always have some plan for moving on to real work."

    I would add to this: If possible avoid English teaching at all cost. If you have a spouse visa you are able to work wherever you like and even for yourself. Lot's of people use the English teaching route to get a visa and then get stuck in a rut of meh pay and meh friends.

    1. Shannon Jacobs

      English teaching business mostly collapsed

      I did a lot of English teaching in my first 10 years in Japan, but that was a long time ago. The so-called eikaiwa industry has been collapsing pretty steadily for at least 20 years, and probably 30, but it used to be a pretty good way to make a living. The better teachers moved to universities as adjunct lecturers, though that isn't really the path I followed in leaving the business.

      However, I'd mostly agree with the utility of Japanese these days. One of the larger changes I've seen over the years has been less tolerance for poor speakers of Japanese. Or maybe it's just me, since I've been here so long, studied so hard, and produced such feeble results. My Japanese is pretty laughable, except it's mostly below that level. Notwithstanding that this week I'll finish the 96th (and final) volume of the "secrets series" (Gakken manga de yoku wakaru shi-rizu). About 15,000 pages of Japanese there...

      1. albaleo

        Re: English teaching business mostly collapsed

        I also did well out of the eikawa business for 15 years. But that was in the 80s and early 90s. I was in the "corporate" end of the business, teaching company employees, mostly engineers. If you don't mind staying in company training centres for up to two weeks at a time, it can be rewarding. As most courses involved the students explaining aspects of their jobs and business in English, I got to learn about things as diverse as cable making, desalination plant construction and the production of lenses for compact cameras. It was also during this time I got to work with computers, at first producing training materials, then later online interactive training systems. I'm still involved in producing educationally-related software.

        Like Shannon, my Japanese is pretty feeble. My in-laws can tolerate talking to me for perhaps an hour, before they get another family member to suffer in their place. (The time varies with the amount of drink consumed.) But my experience of travelling around Japan for work has made me the person the family come to for advice on whether Shimonoseki is the dump it is made out to be, and whether it's best to drive to Niihama from Osaka, or take the ferry.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hard to get anything done in Japan

    Every decision requires hours of discussion and agreement. Couple that with 'jobs for life' culture even where the employee is incompetent.

    1. The dog ate it

      Re: Hard to get anything done in Japan

      I never experienced this in Japan. But the German and the Singaporean companies I worked for were terrible; no one would ever take responsibility for making a decision.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hard to get anything done in Japan

        It seemed to me to be much harder with US based firms. No-one wanted to really take responsibility for anything in case it "came back on them", everyone was out for their own career because they could be sacked at an hours notice. It was difficult to build up any kind of network because staff turnover was so high. They talked a good talk... but when it came to getting anything done.......

        They also seemed to spend a lot of time congratulating each other over even the smallest achievement.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. The dog ate it

      Re: A "Gig" is something done by musicians

      My friends in the music business use gig to refer to pretty much any job.

      1. James Haley 2

        Re: A "Gig" is something done by musicians

        You guys are going to do great at your expat English teaching jobs. ;-)

        1. Gavin King

          Re: A "Gig" is something done by musicians

          I believe you meant: "You guys are going to do great at your expat English teaching gigs."

  4. tony2heads

    Japanese wife

    I heard that Japanese women prefer to marry foreigners, as the Japanese salarymen have no work/life balance.

    Any comments?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Japanese wife

      >as the Japanese salarymen have no work/life balance.

      That's a reflection of work culture not ethnic background. If you're a foreigner from the first world you might be lucky and work with a foreign firm that runs using more sane workplace rules i.e. not having to wait for your boss to leave before you can even if it's past 10pm but if you're unlucky you'll be working at a Japanese run place and be subjected to all of the baggage that comes with it.. Like having to go on work "holidays" abroad, work nomikai etc etc. You can have a very good salary and feel poor here because of all the after work activities you're silently forced to do but pay for out of your own pocket.

      If you're super unlucky you'll end up as an English teacher or similar and have to work crap hours to accommodate the school/work patterns of your clients. I think there is a reason why so many eikaiwa workers spend so much of their time moaning about how Japan is a horrible place on the internet.

      TL;DR version: If you're single and foreign in Japan you are likely on the same treadmill as all of the salary men.

    2. xperroni

      Re: Japanese wife

      I heard that Japanese women prefer to marry foreigners, as the Japanese salarymen have no work/life balance.

      It's... Complicated.

      On one hand there is this folklore about white guys becoming instant chick magnets the moment they set foot in Japan. On the other, there are the not-so-subtle jokes with Japanese women shrieking in panic at the prospect of getting engaged to "a foreigner". And then there are the stupid gits running amok, making a bad name for everyone.

      That said, from what long-staying friends and acquaintances I have, it does seems that marrying a native is a common path to settling on the isles. Not that I would know it myself, I was already married by the time I got here...

  5. Pypes

    Cheap booze

    I was under the impression that "real" beer was horrendously expensive in Japan. What booze are we talking about here?

    1. src

      Re: Cheap booze

      Real beer can be expensive. I can buy 2L cartons of very quaffable sake (nihonshu) for around Y1200 (£6.50). They sell 4L PET bottles of Japanese whisky for Y4000 (£22). Even imported spirits seem very cheap here.

      A pint of local Minoh-WIPA (9%) cost Y1200 (£6.50). Bloody delicious though...

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