Category Archives: TEACHING

Song of the Week 31 – “Blue Train”

Memoirs of a Gaijin Playlist

“Blue Train” by Asian Kung Fu Generation

This week’s song comes to us from Jalen Cox, the focus of the latest Meet the Gaijin Interview.

It’s a really chill song, and I like it a lot. I don’t know what it is about it, but there is something very calming about it. It’s also a favorite song of one of my friends, so it always reminds me of her.

Check out the full interview right here!




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These Are Some of the Craziest Questions ALTs Of Color in Japan Get Asked

Source: Gaijin Pot

If you’re an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) working in Japan, then you probably know that you’re part of an incredibly diverse bunch. ALTs hail from countries across the globe and also come from varying racial, social, cultural, and economic backgrounds.

However, if you were to trawl the web to read about the ALT experience in Japan, more often than not, you may find yourself reading stuff written from the perspectives of white ALTs. But for ALTs of color, teaching in Japan can be very different from their Caucasian counterparts—and they may find themselves facing unique challenges simply due to the color of their skin.

After posting the topic in three different ALT-related groups on Facebook and mentioning it in conversations with fellow People of Color (POC) ALTs, it became clear that being an ALT of color in Japan often invites questions and comments that would be considered pretty offensive back in our home countries. But of course, we’re not at home so we have to figure out the best way to respond and do what we came here to do—educate.

1. Do you taste like chocolate?

According to the responses I got, many melanin-rich ALTs have been asked by their kindergarten and elementary kids whether they’re made of the dark, sweet stuff. Some students have even tried nibbling bits of the ALT to find out for themselves (gotta love experiential learning, right?).

Students have also baffled POC ALTs with creative observations about their skin color such as “Did you get burnt in the sun?” or “Your hands look like my breakfast (toast).” Japanese students of POC ALTs also seem to think that dark skin is some kind on spray-on tan as many have been asked “Does your color rub off?” or “Can you erase the brown off your skin?”

One POC ALT I spoke …continue reading


Earning Extra Income for English Teachers in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot

For as long as I can remember, I was opposed to the idea of working more than one job on point of principle. That code being that nobody who works a full-time job should find themselves struggling financially. The “working poor,” as some politicians have labeled them, shouldn’t exist in a fair society.

Sadly, the notion of a living wage has yet to gain any serious traction in Japanese political circles or indeed among the general population. So, there are times when economic necessity must supersede political ideology. Thankfully, my side gig is writing, which I enjoy immensely — to the point where it doesn’t even feel like work.

Teaching English

Still, not all English teachers in Japan have a background in journalism or a love of writing. Not to worry though, because writing is just one of many options available to us teachers here in Japan. For example, those with experience in sales, the services sector or with multilingual capabilities will find themselves in demand far beyond just English teaching.

Today, we’ll go through the top five additional jobs teachers can take on, how to find them as well as explain the visa eligibility requirements for extra work so you don’t run afoul of the law.

This list was compiled from my own personal experience as well as through consultation with my network of teachers and other colleagues across Japan.

1. English conversation classes

It’s probably not much of a surprise to anyone that the most common and easiest to find source of additional income for English teachers in Japan is: teaching more English classes.

If you’re an ALT, then your schedule allows you free time on evenings and weekends, which just happens to be when eikaiwa (English …continue reading


Song of the Week 30 – “Satori Pt. II”

Memoirs of a Gaijin Playlist

“Satori Pt. II” by Flower Travellin’ Band

This song ties in with this week’s Gaijin Deep Dive, where I talk all about the Japanese Metal scene.

Satori is the first-ever example of Japanese Metal, and I found it the most appropriate choice for this week’s song. While the album does not seem like a “metal” album, within the song of the album you can hear the heavy basses and oddly psychedelic pieces that would define early Metal.

I am almost reminded of the Magical Mystery Tour when I listen to this song, and I really like how odd that feels. One doesn’t expect a Beatles feeling when listening to Metal, but music is a fickle thing.

I guess that what I get for thinking I could compartmentalize it so easily.

Check out the full piece here!




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