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Sometimes working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) at a Japanese public school can be incredibly fulfilling. Most days though, it can be downright weird. This is especially true for female ALTs.
Some Japanese students—hell even teachers—see the opportunity to ask a female gaijin (foreigner) outrageous questions too good to pass up. They can range from innocent to totally inappropriate.
After sampling a pool of 63 female ALTs across Japan, here are seven of the most common weird questions they’ve been asked on the job.
1. Will you marry me?
This particular question is often asked by middle school and high school students. Chalk it up to those budding hormones, but many female ALTs said they’ve received melodramatic marriage proposals from male and female students alike. One ALT told us that some of her students have used these proposals to get out of boring responsibilities like cleaning time.
As an ALT, I think teenagers love to make these proposals because they feel comfortable around the foreigner occupying that strange position of being a “teacher” who isn’t really a teacher. If you’ve ever been an ALT in Japan who’s been reduced to a human tape recorder, you know what I mean. This question is usually harmless and just for laughs.
2. Do you have kids?
Several ALTs recounted stories of their elementary school students running up to them, rubbing their tummies and asking, “Akachan iru” which translates to “Is there a baby in there?”
Simply answering no doesn’t let the ALT off the hook either. It instead opens up the floodgates for overly personal follow-up questions to determine why her womb …continue reading
Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year. As the songs say, it is a time for joy, a time for family, a time for presents and various other forms of merriment.
Perhaps even more so than Valentine’s Day, Christmas is the time of year in Japan when couples fully express their love for each other, usually in the form of elaborate, extravagant dinners and over the top gifts.
However, for some, it can be a very depressing time. If you’re single, Christmas can be a pretty depressing time. It can often seem like you are the only man or woman in the entire universe who doesn’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend.
And even for those of us lucky enough to be in a relationship, Christmas can often be a solitary experience in Japan, as our Japanese partner, and sometimes even us too, are forced to work on Christmas Day, since Christmas is not a recognized holiday here.
It would be very easy to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on the whole thing, just say “Bah! Humbug!” and try to forget Christmas even exists. It doesn’t have to …continue reading
Source: Purple Pen in Japan
It snowed in Hamamatsu! Yay!
I’ve lived here for almost 3 years and this is the first time I saw a considerable amount of snow. It snowed enough to cover the grounds in thin white blanket. When I walked to school this morning, the looked winter-picture perfect. Soooo lovely and a little slippery.
Hamamatsu is on the coast of the Pacific so it rarely snow like this. It doesn’t snow in Shizuoka prefecture actually. Most cars in Hama are not equipped to deal with slippery roads. The result? Heavier traffic than usual. Even the buses are slower than their usual turtle pace so they are late. Because the bus was late, I was late in going to school too. Just for 5 minutes though so the vice principal didn’t mind it. Other teachers were late too.
This is the snowfall data from Current Results. See, it doesn’t snow in Shizuoka where Hamamatsu is.
In my last article, I outlined some important questions to ask yourself as you decide to give birth in Japan or back in your home country. Even if you decide to move, you don’t need to leave immediately; you can receive prenatal care in Japan while you work on your plans.
The usual procedure for pregnant women in Japan is to see an OBGYN at a Ladies Clinic, where she will then be referred to recommended hospitals to give birth. Finding the right English speaking OBGYN in Tokyo can be daunting because many offices are extremely busy (despite Japan’s low birth rate) and you have to find a doctor who you feel comfortable with.
It’s true that Japanese doctors have a reputation of being a bit cold and not open to questioning. I certainly found this to be the case with my first OBGYN. I felt nervous every time I saw her, and when I asked her questions, she was very short and impatient. She especially did not like my husband being with me for the check ups. Finally, I had enough and decided that I needed a doctor who would be excited with me.
After some searching, I found Dr. …continue reading