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Friday

Petrol prices vary a lot.

I live in a small city in the mountains, and it's much more expensive to fill your tank here than in other places. The rationale for that is the holes in the mountains. Gas tankers aren't allowed to drive through tunnels because of the potentially devastating results of an accident, so to get to cities like mine they need to do some massive detours. This results in an almost 10% markup.

In Tokyo expect to pay around 135-140yen per regular litre right now. Here in Nagano-ken you'll pay something like 142-147. High octane is about 10 yen more expensive, and diesel is around 20 yen cheaper. These figures are liable to change with the economy, but you get the idea.



Wednesday

For a country often lauded on marks of social sensitivity and public safety, Japan has its share of dark patches. One of the most shocking by Western standards is the porn industry.

Warning:
This post is disgusting. If you don't want to be offended and saddened, you probably shouldn't read it.



Monday

I've just bought a car. It's a 2005 Nissan Cube. Very Japanese.

If you are living in Japan outside of a big city you will probably need some mode of transport. I just used a bike for the first 18 months in my town, but my girlfriend and I quickly got bored of bumming lifts off people and not being able to take decent day-trips (our city has what is known as "the slowest train in Japan" for a reason).

Long story short, we got there in the end. Here are the steps you must take if you want to buy:



Sunday

This is simply a typed up list of the vocab and important phrases taught in the first volume of New Crown. It's useful to have as a reference of what is learned when when designing worksheets/bingo. There's nothing worse than slipping in a load of words students don't know yet and complicating a simple activity.

It may also be interesting for those of you who want a better idea of the form teaching English takes in Japan.

As usual, click here to view in Google Docs, but you'll want to save a copy.



Friday

The Japanese are known for sleeping in unconventional places, and now you can be too!

Another (see my posts on Love Hotels, Capsule Hotels, Hostels and Couch Surfing) low budget accommodation solution is what I call "wank-booths".

All around major cities you will see posters for what look like comfortable faux-leather chairs in front of a computer in a wooden box. That's exactly what they are, and you can rent them (or do away with the chair and just have a padded floor) for as long as you like. Prices range from 300yen for an hour to something like 1,500yen for 12 hours.



Wednesday

One of Japan's little cooking miracles--if you like rice--is the rice cooker. It's a fire-and-forget solution to the staple food of Asia: No more waiting for water to boil on the stovetop. No more setting timers to make sure your rice doesn't under- or over-cook. No more burnt rice stuck to the bottom of the pot or trails of white rice-residue to scrub off the side of your pot and off of your range.

If you live in Japan, you probably already have a rice cooker. And maybe the person you inherited the cooker from already told you which button to push to "make it go." But, have you ever wondered what those other three buttons on the cooker do? Today we'll learn how to use your rice cooker, and along the way, you might find out there's more functionality, even in little budget cookers, than you thought:



Monday

Got a gaijin card? Got a hanko?

That's nice, but technically to use your hanko for official things it needs to be officially registered with the local authorities. In practice you only need to prove this for a car or a house. Anyway, here's how you get it set up:



Sunday

"Today we have a lesson. Anything OK" or "Please some game" are the terrifying bane of my life. The good news is that I have a solution. Well, at least for second and third grade JHS.

It's simple enough to play without any Japanese and can be made to fit almost any grammar point/s or revision topic. The best part is that you can use it multiple times with the same class. In fact, some of my classes have even requested it.

It's "The Typhoon Game"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Friday

Good to read and compare to this entry about living costs.

Japan is reportedly the second highest paying country for English teachers (just behind Brunei).

And in reality, if you can find a job at all at the moment, you can expect to get Japan's standard (and pretty good) starting wages. However, that's a full time position - one which is becoming rarer by the minute.

A future blog will address the requirements for teaching in Japan (usually only a degree in any subject), and another already published one gives further tips on finding a job, but for now let's take a look at what the current ALT employment situation is in regards to MONEY.



Wednesday

When you move somewhere to live and work, there are two things you need to know to get you started: how much you'll get paid (<-- teaching English), and what the living costs are.

We'll go over basic food costs another time - so today let's look at the cost of running a house/apartment.



Monday

Japan has very few foreign residents compared to many Western countries. There are quite a few Korean, Chinese and Filipino citizens, but a lot of them pass undetected even by the Japanese. In fact, if you look even slightly Asian expect to be treated like you were born and raised here (but the truth will out!). If, however, you look like the rest of us expect a mixture of over- and under-estimation by the people you meet.

I'll write a separate post for the language barrier and embarrassing convenience store moments. For now, let's start with the types of people who you can expect to meet teaching in Japan.

Beware: sense of humour is required:



Sunday

This week I'll talk you through an activity for, but not limited to, chapter 1 of New Crown (Juniour High) for third graders. It's ultimately a recipe (involving first, then, next and finally) which uses a video of one of Mr Bean's escapades.

Despite Mr Bean being a bit of a douche, this activity went down very well in some usually less-than-well-behaved classes.



Friday

Looking for work outside the English teaching industry? Here's a nice Tokyo consulting firm where you can start:



Wednesday

Two great free resources about converting a driver's license are the sites GlobalCompassion and Supermelf, the latter of which hosts a document called the AJET Driving Book. These sites are comprehensive and just as good as any information you'd pay for, short of driving lessons at a Japanese driving school. If you need help changing your foreign license into a Japanese one, check these out in addition to our very own AccessJ Driving Guide.



Monday

If you are just visiting Japan and want to drive, or if you will be staying in Japan for a while, but need to be able to use a car right away, this can be accomplished with an International Driving Permit.



Friday

A budget hotel is a perfect option for a travelling couple who don't want to wait until the acceptable "stay" period of love hotels, but if there's only one of you (or you want to meet new people), and you don't fancy couch surfing or capsule hotels, then hostels are for you.