YOURS, MINE, AND OURS
Welcome to Japan. It’s perfectly normal to feel stressed at this point – everything is new, you might not know any Japanese, and you’re away from your friends and family. But, there is one thing that you should NOT disregard… and that would be the safety precautions that you take in your everyday life. Japan has the lowest violent crime rates of any first world country, but that doesn’t make caution and safety optional.
By virtue of being a foreigner in Japan, you already have more attention focused on you… and this is both a good and a bad thing. Being different inspires curiosity in the people around you… and can result in anything from having random people approach you on the street wanting to shake your hand, (odd but unthreatening), to being followed home, or being accosted by a flasher (both unacceptable and dangerous).
Toyama Prefecture is a good place to live, and without a doubt 99% of the population are decent people, but even though Japan has a reputation for safety that does not mean that you can disregard all safety precautions. Basically, the most important safety tip is… Use Your Common Sense! Compare situations to what you would do at home… if you wouldn’t go out for a run at 2am at home, then don’t do it here! If you wouldn’t walk home from a bar alone at home, don’t do it here. Do not allow yourself to be lulled into a feeling of “Japan is safe… there’s nothing to worry about.”
ENKAIS AND PARTIES
One of the best parts of our job as JETs are the parties that are held with the other teachers. Enkais are the perfect time get to know your co-workers in a completely relaxed atmospher, and a lot of people blow off steam… which could mean anything from complaining about work to sexual harassment. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, remove yourself from it, and inform your supervisor. But, do not be surprised if no apology is forthcoming… behavior at enkais and drinking parties is attributed to alcohol and is assumed forgotten by the time sobriety returns…(although the same does not necessarily hold true for the ALT so don’t do anything stupid!!!)
Sexual harassment does occur and not only at enkais. If there is a problem at your school, do not assume you must grin and bear it. Talk to your supervisor, and actively confront the problem. Something important to keep in mind is the fact that the Japanese treat uncomfortable situations differently than how most JETs would think to react. When uncomfortable, often Japanese will be silent, change the subject, or even smile. Many times, their advice will be to do the same as well.
Keep in mind that they want to help, but they are helping you in the only way they know how, by pretending it didn’t happen. If the situation is not handled in a way you are satisfied with, please contact the PA for further assistance.
Besides enkais, you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to drink on the weekends with your fellow JETs and new friends in Toyama. In fact, one may be overwhelmed by the number of opportunities you’ll have to go out and enjoy yourself. One bit of advice is to always pace yourself and don’t feel pressured to drink or go out if you aren’t feeling up to it. Many 1st years experience a bit of burnout after the first month or so. It is important for you to know your limits, especially since you’re likely to find yourself in places you’ve never been before, quite often
It is also important to surround yourself with people whom you trust and will help you out, in case of those inebriated moments. If you are the sober one, please make sure to look out for your friends! Don’t be afraid to call someone for help if you need it.
Remember, you are an ambassador for your country, the JET Programme, a representative of your school, and a role model to your students. If you behave in an embarrassing, inapproriate, or dangerous way due to alcohol, you could find yourself in a situation where your job or well-being may be in jeopardy. Please keep this in mind when you’re thinking that 2nd nomihoudai sounds like a good idea.
The March 11th, 2011 Tokohu Earthquake and Tsunami has forever left an everlasting imprint on all of us who were living in Japan when the disaster happened. That catastrophe taught us many things- the importance of life, friends, family, and also the critical need to be prepared.
The following were some FAQs about Toyama after the Earthquake and Tsunami.
Q1. How much damage was dealt to the prefecture due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami?
Q2. How has the radiation from the Fukushima Power Plant effected Toyama?
Q3: Why is that?
When the earthquake hit on March 11, people all over and outside of Japan were attempting to make contact via cell phone. With so many calls being placed, each cellular provider network became overloaded, and calls failed to connect.
|Disaster Message Voiceline|
|171-1-Your Home Number (to leave)||171-2-Your Home Number (to check)|
The Disaster Message Voiceline is always in place regardless of these circumstances.
To use this service, first dial 171-1- Your Home Number (work number is also okay as long as it’s a landline) and leave a short message such as “It’s me, ___________, and I’m okay.”
Then, those who want to check on you can dial 171-2-Your Home Number (or whichever number you allocate) and retrieve your message.
For more general information about staying safe in Japan and what to do in case of an emergency, please see this guide.