One of the things that might have attracted you to Japan is its close proximity to South East Asia, Russia and Australia. Below you’ll find some useful information, which can help you plan your holiday. Most of your contracts state that you have 20 days paid holiday a year. Although this doesn’t sound like a lot, if you arrange you vacations around national holidays, you can make it stretch quite a bit.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Most schools prefer ALTs to take their paid leave when there are no classes, i.e. not during term time. The Japanese school year is divided into three terms, and roughly speaking the students get 2 weeks off for Christmas, 2 weeks off for the spring break and about 4 weeks in July/August. These are ideal times to go on holiday.
So now you have a rough idea about when you want to go the next step is to inquire about flight availability. You might want to have a quick word with your supervisor and tell him/her you are thinking of going somewhere, although they might be more interested if you have some concrete dates. Things get booked up really quickly, especially around Christmas time, so it may be wise to start planning about three months in advance.
Most travel agents will allow you to make a reservation without paying anything for a few days or even weeks. They will give you an itinerary, which you can show to your supervisor. Once he/she gives you the go-ahead you can pay your 20,000-yen deposit (refundable or partially refundable if you cancel your flight within the given time limit). This deposit will of course be deducted from the price of your ticket. You will be required to pay the balance about two weeks before the date of your flight.
TAKING PAID LEAVE (NENKYUU)
This is the easy bit and your supervisor will help you fill in the forms. Try to plan everything a couple of months in advance – it is unlikely that your supervisor will appreciate you telling him/her that you are going on holiday the very next week. The contract states that if you are taking more than 3 days consecutive holiday you should consult your supervisor at least one month before.
NOTE: When taking an international vacation, you MUST inform your school one month prior going flying out. The reason is everything has to approved by your principal, vice principals, and in some cases your Contracting Organisations.
IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG
It is advisable to leave a photocopy of your passport (both the information page and the page with your re-entry permit and visa) with your supervisor. This will be very useful should you happen to lose your passport. If you want to take travelers checks, they are available at the Hokuriku Bank. Try to get large denominations as in some countries there is a flat rate to change one check regardless of the amount.
Unfortunately, it is rather difficult to find a moneychanger in Toyama. Large banks, post offices, and some smaller banks might offer currency exchange services. However, there may be limited currency. The rates offered are also not very competitive. The easiest way to exchange currency is to do it at the airport. Try to exchange a portion of the currency in Japan and the rest in the country that you’re visiting.