Like so many other Aomorians, Tom Coward enjoys spending the winter hiding under his kotatsu. However, he still believes that, “…it is your duty as a JET in Aomori to try snowboarding if you never have, you won’t regret it!” He misses fish and chips as well as the warm weather back in Australia, but serving as CIR in Rokunohe has taught him to appreciate, “…the food, the people, the scenery and being able to tell the post office what time and date you want things delivered.” See what else Tom had to say below.
What are your plans after JET?
If my Japanese is good enough I’d lik to stay in Japan and do interpreting/translating, I can be pretty lazy though, so I’ll have to see about that.
How long do you plan on staying in Japan?
I could see myself living in Japan for the foreseeable future, I haven’t really set a time limit on it. I’ll probably just stay until I don’t enjoy it anymore or until Abe devalues the yen so much that it’ll take my year’s salary to buy a box of cereal.
List a few things you dislike about Japan:
The inconvenience of lots of things in Japan – not being able to use a credit card, having ATMs inside of buildings that shut at 5pm, ridiculous post office/bank hours etc. And the Japanese education system; the fact that it puts all its emphasis on passing tests, rather than making sure the kids actually learn stuff!
Do you have any interesting or embarrassing stories about adjusting to Japanese culture?
Before I came to Japan for the first time, I was told that if you don’t understand something, it’s usually best just to smile, nod and say “Hai”. On my second day in Tokyo, I wanted to buy some Japanese dumplings, but I bought them from what I now know is more of a souvenir shop for Japanese people. I took the box up to the counter and the woman there asked me about 5 questions to all of which I nodded and said yes. So the dumplings, which were supposed to cost about 700 yen, ended costing me about 2000 after I had them gift wrapped and bowed etc. all just so I could go sit in front of that store, rip it all off and eat it right there. The woman must have thought I was bonkers.