When it comes to working a time overseas, away from your home country, there’s no end to the options. Opportunities exist in pretty much every region to suit job and/or adventure seekers. So, why would one choose Japan? There are a ton of great reasons!
Safe & Developed
For one, Japan is a fully-developed country with excellent utilities and municipal services. The quality of daily life is solidly on-par with what would-be English instructors from nations like the US, UK, or Australia would expect. The crime levels are low, people are well-behaved, and the transportation is reliable and safe. The water supply is clean out of the tap, so not boiling your dishwater or opening your eyes in the shower is not life-threatening as it may be in less developed countries!
While some may look to make their time teaching abroad a rugged adventure, the reality of a full year or more in a place where constant vigilance is required is not the “teaching abroad experience” many dream of. In Japan, it’s easy to focus more on your own living, enjoyment, and the appreciation of your students and opportunities.
Perhaps the single biggest draw for many to come to Japan is the culture! Japan’s unique culture features two sides which both appeal to so many people around the world, with both continuing to exist and develop alongside the modern and more global daily and business life.
On one hand, Japan maintains a strong traditional culture full of art forms, customs, and historical artifacts. Japan’s treasure of traditional beauty can be seen in the pretty kimono at summer festivals, in the storied art of Japanese flower arranging, ikebana, and in a history of painting, printing, and writing celebrated across the world. For many, it’s the mystique of the samurai: their flashing swords, magnificent castles, and dojos full of kendo swordsman still practicing today. While the days when traditional forms were an inseparable part of daily life are gone (so don’t come to Japan expecting katana-wielding businessmen or geisha-like beauties at the supermarket, sorry!), they continue to be nurtured, protected and enjoyed by millions – not only in places like Kyoto, but across the country.
On the other hand, Japan’s modern pop culture has become a global juggernaut, easily seen with the country’s anime now well known in every corner of the world. While Japan famously conjures up many stereotypes in people who have never been here, this is one area where it can certainly live up to the hype! Japan is a mecca for not just anime fans, but also gamers, figurine collectors, modelers, cosplayers, J-pop fans, auto enthusiasts, fashion hunters and comic artists.
Between the vivid culture and incredible sights to see all across the country, it can be easy to think of the actual teaching English in Japan itself as just a means to an end: something to do to get some pocket money and fund one’s explorations. And while this is certainly the case for some, there are many more who come to find something special and enjoyable in the work of teaching a language. Especially for people making a bit of a change in life (perhaps coming across from a totally different professional field like the author), the feeling of directly interacting with and helping people towards their dreams can be an eye-opening experience. I have met many expats living and teaching in Japan who came for the anime, but stayed for the rewarding experience of the work and life here itself.
There are so many reasons Japan is a great place to find teaching work, it would be impossible to list them all! If it sounds up your alley, good luck in your job hunt!