(Version 3.3 June 30, 2003)
Introduction 1 Top 10 Tips 2 Who‟s Who and What‟s What 3 Glossary of Commonly Used Terms 3 Useful Web Sites 5 Recommended Reading 8 Japanese Lessons in NYC 10 Japanese Culture in the Area 10 Japanese Book & Media Stores in NY 11 Japanese Food & Gift Stores in NY 12 Shipping Things to Japan 13 Advice – What should new JETs do to prepare? 14 Advice – What is the best part about living in Japan? 15 Advice – What is the worst part about living in Japan? 18 Advice – What was the best item you packed? 19 Advice – What was the worst item you packed? 20 Advice – What did you wish you had packed? 21 Advice – What was the best omiyage you brought? 22 Advice – What was the worst omiyage you brought? 24 Advice – What was the best teaching supply you brought? 25 Advice – What teaching supplies did you find useless? 26 Advice – What is the best thing about your job? 26 Advice – What is the worst thing about your job? 28 Advice – Any other advice? 30
Welcome to the JET Program! I hope you all have a stress-free month getting
ready for your trip!
I know, I know, FAT CHANCE! But the CGJ staff, the good folks at the Japan
Local Government Center and JET alumni are doing their best to take off some
of the stress and help you all feel more confident about your adventure.
With volumes of materials written for the JET Program, guidebooks, phrase
books and 1000 other bits of information being thrown at you, you might wonder
what this collection of photocopied sheets brings to the party. This handbook
was prepared by New York alumni for people in this area and to provide some
first-hand, practical and casual advice for new JETs. Hopefully it will answer
some of your questions and more importantly let you know about some things
you might not have thought to ask about. I do apologize for the strong New York
City bias, especially since we serve all of NY State, as well as parts of
Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. If you know of good places outside
of NYC please let us know and we‟ll add them. In order to keep this clear, I‟ve
tried avoid Japanese words, when their use is necessary they are written in
italics and should all be explained in the glossary.
Since we are volunteers and do not work the Consulate, we have no information
about your departure, your contracts or your visas. That information will be
coming to you from the consulate. In the coming weeks you‟ll be getting a lot of
important materials from them so please read everything they mail to you.
Really. There‟s important stuff there.
Special thanks to the Japan Local Government Center, the Consulate and to the
dozens of alums who took time to write hints and tips.
Please send any questions, objections, suggestions or miscellaneous comments
to me at AlexanderMcLaren@hotmail.com
Please post any questions for the alums on our message board at:
TOP 10 TIPS!
Whew… this thing gets bigger every year. And none of the advice is bad, it‟s just
hard to sort through it all, especially when you don‟t know what will happen to
So here are my Top 10 Tips:
1. Read. Get a general guidebook for Japan and one book specific to your
own interests and read them both. Read everything the consulate sends
you, they‟ve been preparing people for years now and do a great job at it.
2. Question. Ask your predecessor and your new employer specific
questions about what clothes you‟ll need, prices, working conditions and
other details the general information cannot cover.
3. Look. Check websites for expatriates in Japan, listen to war stories from
ex-JETs because there will be problems and situations you might never
expect. Talking to people who have been in Japan prepares you for the
things you would never ask about.
4. That being said, know your limits. It‟s impossible to be ready for
EVERYTHING and the surprises and new experiences are one of the best
parts of living overseas. Don‟t kill yourself trying to prepare for every
5. Remember that Japan is a country and the Japanese are people, as
diverse as Americans or anyone else (despite the best efforts of their
school system ?). There are assholes and angels, xenophobes and
xenophiles and xenoindifferents. Remember that every generalization is
just that, don‟t expect them to be 100% true. 6. Learn Japanese, if you have the time, start now with classes or tutoring.
If not, start the day you arrive at your new job. Seriously, NOTHING will
improve your social, professional and personal life as much as becoming
(at least) conversational in Japanese.
7. On to the practical stuff…don’t overpack, there is little you can‟t get in
Japan and nearly all of that can be gotten by buying on-line.
8. Bring a laptop or buy a computer in Japan. The internet has changed
everything about going overseas. Unless you‟re deliberately seeking a
total immersion experience, a computer is vital. Even if you don‟t want e-
mail and the web, it‟s still a vital teaching tool. 9. Subscribe to a magazine or two you like. Regular news from home and
reading material make life a lot better. Plus you don‟t have to pack them! 10. And finally, don’t panic. Thousands of people have done the JET
Program and enjoyed it. Only a statistically insignificant number have
been sacrificed to the Volcano Gods ?
WHO’S WHO AND WHAT’S WHAT
Administration of the program is pretty complicated