How I Came to be in Japan

A view of Tokyo

I arrived at Narita Airport, Chiba (near Tokyo), at the end of July 1999. Although I had experience teaching freshman composition as a T.A. in graduate school in the U.S., I had never taught Japanese students (one of my freshmen students in the U.S. had been a native of the Philippines). Nevertheless, I was anxious to jump-start my teaching career.

I was based at a senior high school for the first year. “I’ll give it a year, maybe two,” I promised myself. (This is how all ex-pats start…)

Eighteen years later, I’m still in Japan, and I’m still teaching English. In the interim, I have moved five times within three separate prefectures, taught English from elementary school age to senior citizen, and earned a second master’s degree and a doctorate in education.

Oh, and I also got married. In 2009, my wife and I had a baby girl, who became the pride and joy of our small family (in 2012 our second daughter was born, to double our pride!). My wife works full time, but she was granted child care leave; she was even paid 30% of her salary for the year (much of which had to be paid back immediately for pension and health insurance, of course).

“I’ll give it a year, maybe two,” I promised myself.

However, when she returned to work, it was impossible to get into a day care center in our area…let alone a day care center that was willing to take care of an under 1-year-old infant that couldn’t walk or talk yet.

So, what to do? We talked it over, checked out our options. I found out from my school that, technically, I could take child care leave until the child is 3, provided that my spouse was working full-time and no close relatives were living in the local area. Great, I thought. Why not?

And so the adventure began…

3 Responses to How I Came to be in Japan

  1. takesan from gojo says:

    i just happened to find your blog, which i found very interesting to read. also i learned that you you took a year baby leave. when you have time, why not vist us with your cute toddler. very recently we had a two-month- old puppy, another labradre reteaver dog, who we named Hana. do you remember we had a dog named Tama, who recently died after 15 years of living with us. a 15-year-old dog is probably about 100 years old in human age. amazing long life!


    • Hi, long time no see! Yes, the year long child care was quite an experience. I intended to write once a week, but I was just too busy looking after my (very active) daughter! I hope to add some more stories to this blog…but also I’m considering putting together a book in the near future, when I have the time. I’m sorry to hear that Tama died recently. I remember her as very active; she gave you quite a workout during your walks as I recall. Maybe this summer we can visit and introduce our toddler. She enjoys meeting new people!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Iris Kobayashi de Moura Bernardes says:

    amu o Nihon.Morei ai por 11 anos e agora retoornei ao Brazil,mais como todo bem dekasseki sinto muitaaaa falta de tuduuu do Nihon.Meu filho nasceu ai e ele tambem sente falta,principalmente dos programas de TV.Gostaria de saber como eu fasso pra assistir os programas infantis do Nihon.Muito obrigada pela atencao.Iris Kobayashi


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