If you’ve ever thought about teaching English in Japan, you probably pictured yourself in Tokyo or another big city. However, smaller cities and towns have their own unique appeal, and are worth considering if you value a slower, more peaceful pace of life and proximity to nature. Meredith S. took the Cambridge CELTA course with Bridge in Denver, Colorado, and got a job teaching in Japan through AEON, one of the biggest English conversation schools in the country. Now she lives and teaches in beautiful Inuyama, Japan, a city of about 75,000 people, about 30 minutes from Nagoya. We asked her to finish the following sentences so that we could learn about a typical “day in the life” for a teacher in Inuyama.
I wake up around 7 a.m. and start my day with some exercise or a nice run around my quiet country town. I live near rice fields and my town is also home to one of the oldest original castles in Japan, so it’s great to see it early in the morning while everything is still quiet.
I teach my first class of the day at 12:00 p.m. Working for an English conversation school (called Eikaiwa, in Japanese) means the working hours are usually from noon to 9:00 p.m. We cater to students who are pursuing English language learning as a hobby, for business, or for school so we are open later hours to accommodate these people.
When it’s time to head to school I walk the 8-10 minutes to my school, which is located right outside of the main station in my town—Inuyama Station.
The weather this time of year is humid! June is considered the “rainy season,” or tsuyu in Japanese, so the weather is warm and usually humid. It does, however, provide a bit of relief from the heat of Japanese summer, which usually starts in July.
Living in this country could best be described as the cultural opposite of living in America. Japan has such a rich history that has been infused with ideas and concepts from the around the world, giving it a unique blend of traditional and modern. Traditional Japanese food never fails to surprise and satisfy, but if you would like something more familiar, they have developed Japanese takes on Western favorites like pizza and pastries.
No matter how many times I see Japanese fashion I am always surprised and intrigued by the eclectic and sometimes eccentric clothes the Japanese fashionistas choose to wear.
The students overall are who I look forward to seeing each day. The adult students are usually very open to talking about themselves, and the classroom provides an opportunity for both learning English and engaging in conversation about each other’s cultures. The kids I teach are very funny and energetic, they are always eager to use what English they do know and talk with me during and outside of class!
The worst part of my day though can be the occasional challenges of living in a culture where they believe in something called honne tatemae, a concept meaning that one has a persona they show to acquaintances, tatemae, and their true self they show to their friends and family, called honne. This belief means that it can sometimes be isolating and a bit difficult to talk with and trust people at first. However, after working with the staff at my school for a while I was able to talk more and open up to them. Since then we have formed good relationships with each other and often see each other outside of work. So it just takes a little extra effort to get to know people, but after that they are excellent, genuine friends!
The best part about living in the countryside is the fact that I live in Inuyama! This is a small, historic city on the edge of Aichi Prefecture. The biggest city near me is Nagoya, and it is only 30 minutes away by train. Inuyama is famous for its castle, which is one of the oldest original castles in Japan! There is also a historic district near the castle with quaint little shops and restaurants, which give the whole town charm.
I get home from work around 9:30 p.m. and I usually unwind with a good book before going to bed.