Many of those interested in teaching in Japan are curious about what it is like living here. Perhaps the biggest concern being whether they will be situated in an urban or rural setting. Although each offers attractive and unattractive characteristics, comfort and happiness throughout ones contract is often in the eye of the beholder. Regardless of location, simply living and working in Japan can be an exciting and rewarding experience.


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Various delineations describe the city ALT: there is the ALT who lives in a principal city of an otherwise isolated prefecture, as well as the ALT who lives in close proximity to a major Japanese city such as Tokyo or Osaka. One characteristic of the Japanese city overrides all others; it is CROWDED. While prior contact with a large city is helpful, the Japanese city has to be experienced firsthand before the implications become real. It becomes necessary to think in crowd mode; Sunday must be interpreted as national vacation day when the masses flock to the streets. The street life, then, is lively and exhilarating, perfect for shopping or people watching, but it also extends into the museums where intelligent viewing becomes less than ideal.

Rent and utilities are high, and in some instances rent is double that of people in the country. For ALTs in Tokyo or Osaka rent may be triple. Add this to inflated living costs, and city living, despite its upsides, can be phenomenally expensive. However, since the city is quite westernized and cosmopolitan, culture shock appears to be minimized. There are plenty of foreign faces to be found in the city on those days when you seek the support of anonymity. If you are big and/or fair, there is a propensity for stares that rarely subsides, even in the city.


Perhaps living in a rural areafs best quality is its people. They will be kind in ways that never cease to surprise you. Therefs a feeling of responsibility for you because youfre a long way from home and family. In a strange way they may adopt you, youfre their foreigner. Youfre also a teacher, and teachers are known and respected in small towns.

Being in a small town means that it is definitely in your interest to learn some Japanese. There will probably be a few English speakers in our area (but you never know), and thus you will only be able to talk to a small number of people unless you make some effort to speak Japanese. Life can be lonely if you donft make the effort to meet different people around town, especially if it is because of the language barrier.



Most people who come to Japan to teach as ALTs have the goal of learning the Japanese language in their minds. This is because ALTs interact with the Japanese teachers and students everyday and they become part of the community.

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