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Welcome to part 3 of AJ's Japanese health insurance extravaganza! Today we will be covering the second part of the Japanese public health system, the Employee Health Insurance (EHI) scheme.


One of our readers recently gave a very insightful comment about being a new JET and feeling overwhelmed by the elementary school lessons she's asked to teach as part of her position.

Elementary is definitely a different ball game from the (until recently) more common junior high school and high school ALT placements. Today we'll offer some brief opinions on what makes the elementary environment different and share an example lesson format that struggling new ALTs can try out.


This plastic, gormless, empty-
headed Gumper symbolises
the kind of site AccessJ is not.
Well, it's been just over a year since AccessJ's first posts went live.

Back then, it was just Steve and I, pooling some knowledge gained through complicated daily-life experiences and sharing them with the internet.

One year on, and we have two or three new writers, have stuck rigidly to our 4(or more)-posts-a-week goal, have brought in almost 300,000 hits and made absolutely no money.

But we're not going to bug you with PayPal donation links. AccessJ is all about giving :D One day we'll be big and successful. Until then, just keep reading our entries and leaving comments.


PS: We've had a few inquiries about guest posting in the last few months. Although none of them have been successful, if you have something you think would fit the AccessJ style and provide a good read for our viewers, contact us.


If you are slightly larger or differently built than the average Japanese person, you will quickly find you have very limited choice when it comes to clothes and shoes. Even in Tokyo and other big cities you can have trouble.


Everyone can play ohajiki
I made this lesson plan for an elementary lesson I taught last week. I was asked to teach them the vocabulary needed for Eigo Noto 2 L5 (shops and buildings, library etc). However this lesson plan can be used to teach any vocabulary, and I would even use it with 1st grade JHS students.


Welcome to the second part of our (weekly) comprehensive health insurance guide. 

In this section, we will be looking at the fundamentals of the National Health Insurance (kokumin kenko hoken 国民健康保険 or simply "NHI"); specifically eligibility, costs and benefits.


Rice Paddy art (田んぼアート) has become increasingly popular over recent years; with tiny towns drawing tens of thousands of visitors to view these intricate works of art magically growing out of the ground.


In language school, I learned one word for "potato" in Japanese: ジャガイモ (jagaimo). Turns out, real life isn't as simple as language school would have you believe. In Japanese supermarkets, I've rarely seen the vegetable actually labeled with the word I learned as a student, and the varieties popular in Japan look just different enough from the ones I'm used to at home that at first I had to ask someone in the shop: "Do you have any... ジャガイモ?"

So, what are potatoes called in supermarkets? What varieties are popular here? And what are the differences between them? Read on to find out!


About midway through the year (chapter 4 in New Crown), you'll be teaching first graders commands: "Don't use my camera" etc

Here's a fun activity I came up with today.


Welcome back to part 2 of AccessJ's Japanese health insurance super guide. In this section, we will continue discussing the fundamentals of the insurance system including how to pay, co-payments, and third party damages. 

Read on...


Exposure to spoken Japanese is an important part of learning, of course. So, if you aren't actually in Japan, how about the radio? More portable than TV and film (that is, if you record it).

And so, here is a list of Japanese online radio stations:


If you're not quite ready to take the leap to buying your own car in Japan, but you still want access to a vehicle for a few days to travel or move house, consider renting a car. In today's post, we'll mention some attractive reasons to rent in Japan and introduce a site that can set up rentals on your behalf, at a discount and all in English.


At first glance, the Japanese health insurance system my seem more than a little opaque; and employers are often unhelpful when it comes to signing up (English conversation schools and dispatch firms being the biggest culprits). 

But fear not, we at AccessJ have your back with our newest guide.


If you're health-conscious or a fitness enthusiast, then you probably know what ZMA is. If not, here's a blurb from elsewhere:
ZMA is a scientifically designed anabolic vitamin and mineral formula. It specifically contains Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate, and vitamin B-6. It is an all-natural product that has been theorized to significantly increase anabolic hormone levels and muscular strength in trained athletes. 
In fact, ZMA is thought to be one of the only natural and completely safe methods of supplementation to significantly increase testosterone and growth hormones. ZMA has also been known to increase muscle mass, strength, power, and even enhance sleep quality.

The following is an article about how to very cheaply (and completely safely) make your own ZMA in Japan.


The Ghibli Muesum in Mitaka (a short train ride from central Tokyo) is a fascinating visit for any fan of the studios animation.

Several floors of beautifully themed rooms provide a glimpse into the minds of the creators, and almost a step into a completely different world - a place where 'quaint' rules all.

There are hands on and play activities for children (and not easily embarrassed adults), including the wonderful 'cat bus' room, containing a large soft cat bus, complete with piles of little black dust bunnies.

Original short animations are also shown, a great day out for everyone!


You may find that many Japanese children (and adults) have trouble with spelling. I have friends who still are not quite sure of the correct way to spell their names.

In the 3rd grade elementary, students are taught to convert Japanese to English script. However for some bizarre reason they are not taught the same system as they will be taught a few years later in Junior High School; such as つ being taught as tu and not tsu, ち ci and not chi and し si and not shi.

Todays plan aims to introduce this to students through some fun games, aiming to have them remember these formations in romaji.


Welcome to AccessJ's final installment of our Japanese credit card super series. Now that we have covered the in's and out's of getting a credit card and the application process, lets consider if this whole rigmarole is really worth it.

Read on...



I went on holiday last month (yes, I had a great time, thanks for asking!) and missed the roundup, so here's the best of July and August.

We were blown away by the popularity of our Japanese Pen Spinning post this month, which scored 26,000 hits in 48 hours, while our lovely video about Taking a Poop in Japan failed to get anything near 10% of that :(

Dan finished his in-depth guide to Japanese Cellphones and quickly got stuck into an excellent series on Getting a Credit Card.

Laura continued her elementary lesson plans in our Worksheet Sunday series, and still had time to write about Buying Japanese Edibles in England, and the Japanese Straight Perm available at your local hair-dressers.

I posted a handy video explaining how the Japanese Postal Address System works, and several articles about studying Japanese: The Worst Mistake You Can Make Learning Japanese (or any language), JLPT Past Test Papers, and two articles about kanji - why Kanji is So Useful for Learning Japanese, and the Best Way to Learn Kanji.

I also made it known that I am running a series of long-distance runs for charity this year. Every month I will run one half- or full-marathon for Save the Children Japan. Any donation will help the needy. I did a run last week at the base of Mt. Fuji which was incredibly difficult thanks to the altitude and terrain. Make it worth my while!

The mysterious LP has also been posting, letting us know how a Japanese Girlfriend will Affect Your Japanese, as well as polishing a great article on getting an ETC card without a credit card.