One of my all time favourite life experiences was my time teaching English in Japan. Why Japan? When I was in Elementary and High School, my parents hosted homestay students regularly, predominantly from Japan and some from Korea, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Brazil. Since most of the students were from Japan, I got really curious about the culture since a Homestay is really a Cultural Exchange as we taught them about Canadian culture while they taught us about Japanese lifestyle. They often gave us “Omiyagi” when they arrived (“Souvenirs” from Japan) which included Geisha Dolls, Ornamental Chopsticks, and more.
After graduating University, it was finally time for me to visit the country and culture I had so much about all through Elementary and High School. I didn’t want to just do a 2 week Tourist Trip, I wanted to live, work, and immerse myself in the country. Therefore, I decided to teach English in Japan. I completed my TESL Certificate (which included 100 hours of theory and 20 hours of practicum). I took intensive Japanese lessons. I also managed to get a job before I left working for NOVA. They sponsored my visa, organized my apartment stay, and provided a good “Intro to Japan” and on-the-job training.
I spent 6 months teaching English in Tokyo (Kanto region) with NOVA and a smaller Private School, followed by 6 months teaching English in Osaka, Japan (Kansai region). I was able to visit over 40 prefectures during my stay in Japan including the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyuushu, and Shikoku. I also got to experience creative travel experiences such as staying in a Capsule Hotel and a Ryoken (traditional Japanese accommodation) as well as trying out plenty of Onsen (“Hot Springs”), climbing up Mount Fuji for the amazing sunrise, and taking a Shinkansen (“Bullet Train”).
Why does Japan rank as one of my favourite life experiences and top travel destinations? Simply because it is so DIFFERENT. The people are different, the food is different, the culture is different, the lifestyle is different. Everything is different, unique, and special. Even though Japan is rapidly become more and more Westernized, the culture and history is so rich that traditional Japan will always remain. If you are planning to travel to Japan, I definitely recommend leaving Tokyo and visiting the more rural areas such as Osaka, and Nara, Kobe.
Have you been to Japan? What were some of your highlights?