Looks like I won’t need to call the Interac office after all. They called me, and with good news.
I’ve finally received my placement, which is a great relief. I have been offered and accepted a position teaching in Kato city, Hyogo prefecture. It’s not Chiba, as I had hoped for, but it is in the vicinity of Kobe as I had requested. I more hoped to actually be in Kobe if that was the case, but who’s to say I might not be able to transfer in next year?
I haven’t been able to find out a lot online about Kato City. Of what little I have, most of it is in Japanese with kanji I have yet to learn. I’ve asked around to my Japanese friends and my regular internet forums. It’s fairly small and young. It used to be three large towns that decided to merge to become a city. They have a famous amusement park and a lot of parks and forests. One of my internet friends has told me that a Japanese TV show survey found Hyogo prefecture to have the friendliest people and the most beautiful women. Every area has its upsides regardless of size, right?
When I say Kato city is small, I mean at around 50,000 people. To give a point of reference, Yamagata was small at about 150,000 people. But unlike Yamagata- which was a city of nothing surrounded by nothing- Kato city is surrounded by Kobe (one hour by train,) Osaka (two hours by train) and Kyoto (two and half hours by train.) Himeji is also only about thirty minutes away. While there may not be much to do where I live, it won’t be hard to get to places where there are things to do. I imagine I’ll get to know Sannomiya a lot better, as well as Himeji’s downtown.
I’ll be teaching at four or five elementary schools, which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, teaching elementary school students is a lot of fun and quite rewarding. They’re very full of energy (the epitome of the Japanese work genki) and always excited to see you. And they tend to treat you like a rock star. On the other hand, their curriculum only has English once or twice a month, hence while I will be teaching at several schools. Both their age and their English level make it more difficult to converse with them outside of lessons, and since I will see them infrequently I doubt I will make the same connections I did with my middle school and high schools students back in Yamagata. My other concern is the infrequency of my presence may make me seem to the other teachers like I am not one of them, like I am more of a drifter. One of my favorite parts of the job before was the camaraderie between my fellow teachers. Events like the seasonal enkai (teacher parties) especially, where we would eat and drink and share stories. It was an excellent way to get to know my fellow teachers outside of the school and one I worry I may miss out on.
Overall, I’m very excited. I’m going to Japan, I know where I’m going, and I’m living in the Kansai region. Where ever I am I will make the best of it.