Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Basic tips of living in Japan to train Karate while working

Richard here,

Recently I had some emails from people wanting to come to Japan to train at Shiramizu for longer than a 3 month tourist visa, so here's some straight forward advice we normally pass along when asked.

People from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Korea, and Hong kong can get 12 months on the working holiday visa - it's either an initial 6
months then easily renewed for another 6 months here, or sometimes the Japanese embassy office
 just stamps 12 months in your passport prior to departure. If you are not from these countries then look at the Japanese cultural visa and a dojo to sponsor you. After you arrive you can apply for a work permit to teach 20hrs a week - learn karate and teach English - as immigration will not give out work permits to teach what you came to learn.

Shiramizu fee for training any time is 3000-4000yen per month. Tournaments, camps and special events are extra.

Accommodation varies - foreign guest houses (gaijin houses) can have
shared rooms from 20,000-40,000yen, single rooms from 30,000-50,000yen.

Full apartments are maybe 50,000-90,000 if you live outside Tokyo up
in Saitama by the dojo, but then you also need to furnish it, and
perhaps pay key money and deposit money.

30,000yen should be more than enough for food, and normally cooking 
yourself most of the time is a good idea, but there are many cheap food options for the
average person here.

Google is the best tool for learning how to live and work in Japan so be
creative in how you make your searches.

The work and school schedules run April to March, so the main job
hunting season is from December to March for starting in April.

However, people quit the English teaching jobs all the time, so starting in
Sept or Jan or anytime is possible.

www.jobsinjapan.com is pretty good, but there are other job posting websites so
google around. Tokyo Craigslist normally has lots too.

Every single message you send to someone if you start applying online,
by fax or by snail mail has to be properly worded if you're looking for
English conversation jobs. One's skill as a perfect 'native-level speaker' is the main selling point so it's important to make no English mistakes in your daily communication.

So, the best advice is,
-Save money for 3 to 6 months prior to coming, or even 12 months.

Don't buy unnecessary things as there are more than enough things to spend money on in Japan.

-While you're saving money, google all the time to find interesting
websites so you can read a lot about working and living in Japan.
The Gaijin Pot forum has lots of threads on working and living here - some
threads are not so handy, but some have good info on whatever you're interested in.

-Then pick your time, apply to lots of jobs, aim for a few gaijin
houses to rent a room, get your working holiday visa and just come

The other option is get a 4-year degree in whatever in English from an English university and then get a 
company to sponsor you to come to Japan. Or get a degree in IT or something many Japanese companies will want to hire for.

Interac Japan is an English job agency for putting native speakers in
schools to help English teachers teach English. Native speakers in these positions are called Assistant Language Teachers, ALT's, so no teaching license is needed.

To be hired as an ALT, you just need a 4-year degree in anything from an English university.

The JET program can also bring you over after you have a degree as an ALT.

Interac  get the work visa for you, and help find an apartment, but you pay your own way over. Sometimes jobs open up during the year when people suddenly quit, like to go traveling to Thailand, which is unprofessional by not finishing the contract, but it opens up positions for other people.

With JET, they pay your way over and find your apartment, but you
can't choose your city so many people end up not where they want to be.

It's a great idea to travel around Asia during time off periods, especially since traveling there and spending time there is so inexpensive, but it's very important to finish whatever contracts one has signed on to complete.
Best to aim for being near a big city. The biggest city in Saitama is Omiya.

There are karate dojos absolutely everywhere, but Shiramizu is
probably the best in terms how positive and supportive they are for
foreigners. There are lots of Japanese dojos that just ignore an foreigner in the dojo for a
long time before maybe accepting them.

So you might want to look for a job in Saitama.

Make sure to use Google Maps so you can see where things are.

Jorudan is a good train trip planning website, so if you try to live
near the dojo in Sugito City, and for example you see a job in
Kawaguchi City, you can check what the local train stations are and
see how long the trip would be.

Traveling an 30-60mins by train to work is common here. All companies
always pay for all your train fare at the end of the month which is
nice, or they add a little extra to the hourly wage to cover it.

Lots of people on the working holiday visa tend to have 2 to 3
part-time jobs to cover their monthly expenses.

A good goal to aim for is to try to make 150,000yen per month, and spend 1/3 on
rent, leaving you with the rest for to live on.

Everything over that you should save.
Lots and lots of people can do this as long as they are able to accept
living in a small shared spaces.

I know people who have survived here on much less, but they get
creative on how to live cheap, plus they focus their energies on only
a few things.

The goal for being here is to be outside doing things, going to the
dojo, learning Japanese, meeting people, etc, so having a small, but
convenient place to stay is a good idea.

A budget of 1000yen is good for daily expenses,
lunch, etc. Then if you don't spend 1000yen in one day, you save the
extra for the weekend. This way you never go broke, as long as you don't spend too much.

Teaching eikaiwa (Eignlish conversation classes) is the normal way to earn money by teaching English. Normal wages are 
2000-3000yen an hour for normally a 3 to 7
hour shift.
Trying to earn 8000-10,000yen a day is a good idea.

ALT jobs pay from 210,000 to 300,000yen per month, but again, you need the
4-year university degree and the company in Japan has to sponsor you.

Teaching private English lessons is another good way to earn extra cash.
Normally for 3000yen an hour, you meet the person at a coffee
shop and just chat, or check their English homework. If you are good
at asking people if they want a private lesson without coming on too
strong, you can actually get quite a few clients very fast. I know a few guys
who were doing one or two a day for many years, so they had lots of
extra cash on hand.

Working in a store or restaurant is normally 800-1000yen an hour.

There is no culture of tipping restaurant or hotel staff at all in Japan.

You pay what you see.

Tipping is done by basically people continuing to use the service they
like. If someone likes your private lessons, they will never cancel
each week and they'll tell their friends about you, plus invite you
out for dinner and day trips.

In terms of karate training, I think the Shiramizu adults classes are
Tue/Thu/Sat 7:30-9:30 right now, plus Wed morning.

They have 2 full-time dojo with dozens of kids and high school
classes, plus lots of high performance. The high school kids are normally
better than most adults so training with them is good too.

Probably 450 kids and 50 adults total.
If there is no class scheduled at different times during the day, you can use the dojo space for personal training.

Arakawa Sensei is the nicest guy in the world, one of the best instructors to study
from, very professional and everyday he is doing dojo classes and
karate business, like organising many, many events.

The intern website has years and years of information that if you read through you'll learn
quite a lot.

And, if someone does end up coming to Japan and wanting to come to
Shiramizu, let me know, I or someone from the dojo will meet you at
Narita airport and guide you into the city.

And google lots, take notes, bookmark good sites, as lots of ALT's and
JETs have blogs about Japan, plus other non-Japanese in IT or finance or house building or whatever. Some are recent, and some old inactive sites.

On some blogs about Japan people just complain that Japan is not like 'back home' (so they should have stayed home), but lots of people write about living and working
here successfully.

Japan has lots of problems, but for someone who wants to come over for a year to work hard and train hard, you can really get a lot out of it.

Japan matures people and sharpens them up because this is a
very active country where most people are overall driven to do things well.

So, if you really want to get over here, you will.

If anyone has any specific questions you can't find answers for, just email me at the intern gmail account.