Off to Yokohama

On December 16th, 1941, just about one week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, this American song was recorded.

“Good bye Mama I’m Off To Yokohama”

Goodbye mama I’m off to Yokohama For the red, white, and blue My country and you. Goodbye mama I’m off to Yokohama Just to teach all those Japs The Yanks are no saps A million fightin’ sons-of-Uncle Sam, if you please Will soon have all those Japs right down on their Japa-knees So goodbye mama I’m off to Yokohama For my country, my flag, and you. Say Goodbye to mama. You’re off to Yokohama. So be brave and be strong, You won’t be gone long. Say bye-bye mama, The land of Yama-Yama, Until April, I guess, Will be your address. On Christmas Eve when dad and I are trimming the tree, You’ll do your share of trimming out on land and on sea. Say goodbye to mama, You’re off to Yokohama, For your country, your flag and me. Goodbye mama, I’m off to Yokohama For the red, white, and blue, My country and you. Goodbye mama, I’m off to Yokohama Just to teach all those Japs The Yanks are no saps. A million fightin’ sons-of-Uncle Sam, if you please Will soon have all those Japs right down on their Japa-knees. Goodbye mama, I’m off to Yokohama, For my country, my flag, and you.

Here is an image of the actual record. More info on this site.

record

History!

Furusato – Traditional Japanese Children’s Song

Some of my friends gave us a gift to congratulate us on our new baby!

It plays music! Watch the video below to hear the song. It actually plays much longer but I just gave it a little tug to make the video.

This is a traditional Japanese song for 6th grade elementary school kids that was first released in 1914. The title is Furusato, which basically means “hometown.”

My friend Yuko was among the group of friends who gave me this gift, and she also gave me some interesting background and cultural insights to the song. I’ve mentioned Yuko a lot on this blog. You can find her on the interwebs in the following places: @guideyu and @guideyu_ and Guide-Yu.jp. She knows a lot about Japan!

This song is about someone who is already an adult and living far away from his hometown missing his family and friends. However, this song is often sung by elementary school kids who would have no concept of what this feeling would be like.

Yuko’s mother, who is 70+ years old now, remembers not understanding the line that goes 志を果たして (I achieve my aim) when she was a child singing this song in school. Also, Yuko (who is my age, 30 something) says that her generation thought (or perhaps joked) that the line that goes うさぎ追いし (usagi oishi, chasing rabbits) was actually うさぎ美味しい (usagi oishii, delicious rabbits). The expresson うさぎ追いし is rather old-school, so modern-day Japanese kids are often not familiar with its meaning. Moreover, Yuko grew up in Tokyo, and kids in Tokyo never chase rabbits anyway! Yuko also points out that, even though they didn’t find this song to be especially moving when they were children, today most Japanese get very sentimental when they hear this song because of the beautiful nostalgic melody and lyrics.

After the 3/11 disaster this song was used a lot in Japan, so if you were in Japan at the time you may recognize the tune. The destruction and radiation from the disaster has created thousands of people who were forced to leave their hometowns and don’t know when they will be able to return, so the lyrics of this song are very appropriate.

Here is a JapanesePod 101 video that has the song and a decent translation.

Here is an audio file of an apparently normal Japanese person singing Furusato.
http://soundcloud.com/akiko-a/furusato-japanese-traditional

And, here is yet another video fo the same sung by a professional!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmrJyek9mpw

Here are the lyrics and meaning (in Japanese) yanked from Wikipedia.

歌詞

兎追いし 彼の山
小鮒釣りし 彼の川
夢は今も 巡りて
忘れ難き故郷
如何にいます 父母
恙無しや 友がき
雨に風に つけても
思ひ出づる 故郷
志を 果たして
いつの日にか 帰らん
山は靑き 故郷
水は淸き 故郷
読み

うさぎおいし かのやま
こぶなつりし かのかわ
ゆめはいまも めぐりて
わすれがたき ふるさと
いかにいます ちちはは
つつがなしや ともがき
あめにかぜに つけても
おもいいづる ふるさと
こころざしを はたして
いつのひにか かえらん
やまはあおき ふるさと
みずはきよき ふるさと
意味

兎を追ったあの山や小鮒を釣ったあの川よ、今なお心巡る思い出深き故郷よ。
父や母はどうしているだろうか、友は平穏に暮らしているだろうか。風雨(艱難辛苦の比喩とも)の度に思い出す故郷よ。
夢を実現したら、いつの日にか帰ろう、山青く水清らかな故郷へ。

Enjoy!

Expat Bubbles: The Forces that Suck

bubbles

Expat bubbles. Or in Japan you might call them gaijin bubbles. What are they? Why are they? Are they all bad? How can you avoid them? Here’s my two cents as someone who has lived in multiple countries, inside and outside of the bubbles.

Living in an Expat Bubble

You’re living in an “expat bubble” when you’re living overseas but you end up mostly hanging out with other foreigners and frequenting places that other foreingers living in that foreign city tend to frequent.

Usually your bubble will be inhabited mainly by people from the same general cultural background. For example, an American might find himself in an expat bubble filled with other Americans, Australians, and maybe some Western Europeans. A Japanese person may find themselves only hanging out with other Japanese in the area. If there do happen to be any locals that manage to penetrate your bubble and become part of the group, they will probably be locals who already speak your language and have spent some time living in your culture.

Many seasoned travelers will immediately label living in an expat bubble as bad behavior, because hey, aren’t you living in a foreign culture to well, interact with and learn about that foreign culture? Stop hanging out with your fellow foreigners already! Why would anyone ever choose to live in a expat bubble when there is an entire world of foreign-ness waiting to be discovered?

Well, as much as I encourage people to immerse themselves in whatever culture it is that they are exploring, I also understand why expat bubbles occur — I’ve allowed myself to be absorbed into a few expat bubbles myself.

In general I strongly dislike the idea of living in an expat bubble when living abroad. It prevents you from really learning about the culture that you are living in, and can really water down your overseas experience. Not to mention that if you’re trying to learn the local language being stuck in an expat bubble can really set you back.

So, how do you know if you’re stuck in an expat bubble?

You know you’re living in an expat bubble when:

  • You live in a big city but you frequently see your foreign friends when you’re “randomly” out and about. (You’re running in small and tight circles.)
  • You are living in a non-English speaking country but you’re able to go for days without speaking a word of the local language. (Even your grocer can speak your language.)
  • The majority of the conversations overheard at your favorite restaurant are not in the local language.
  • All of the recommendations you receive on where to go or what to eat come from your fellow foreigners or foreigner-oriented magazines.
  • A lot of JapanNewbie readers are expats, if you think of any more that come to mind please share in the comments.

    Alright, so now you know what an expat bubble is, and the symptoms. However, it’s not always easy to avoid being sucked into an expat bubble, so I don’t blame people who find themselves in that situation.

    The difficulty of breaking out of or simply avoiding an expat bubble can depend greatly on where you are from and where you are living. For example, it is much easier for an American living in Australia to avoid the grip of the expat bubble when compared to an American living in Tanzania for example. The same goes for a Japanese person living in Montana versus a Japanese person living in Hawaii.

    I have “lived” in about four different countries other than the US where I was born and raised. I was in France for about 6 months, Japan for about 7 years, Tanzania for about 3 months, in Kunming China for about 8 months and I have been in Shanghai for about 11 months now. In each place I have lived I have experienced different intensities of the expat bubble lifestyle.

    In Japan, mainly because I spoke the language, was dating (and am now married to) a local, and worked at a company that employed mostly locals, I was able to largely avoid the expat bubble — perhaps I even avoided it so much that it was, in a way, detrimental to my experience in Japan. On the flip side, when I lived in Tanzania I could count the number of local Tanzanian friends I had on one hand… France was somewhere in between, and my situation in Shanghai is a little weird… More on that later.

    So why the extreme difference in expat bubble intensity with each change of location? I’m the same person right? I still love travelling and total immersion right? Why could I avoid the bubble in Japan but not in Tanzania? Well, beyond the effort of the individual, there are several forces at work that suck an individual into the grip of the expat bubble. Let’s examine a few of them.

    The Factors that Suck you into the Expat Bubble… SUCK!

    Economic
    When I was in Tanzania economics differences really drove a wedge between the local and the expat community.

    If the average foreigner in Tanzania wants to eat bread, beef, or pasta, they are going to need to go to one of the few Western restaurants in the city. These restaurants are incredibly expensive compared to what it would cost to eat at a local restaurant, but they are not terribly expensive when compared to what one would pay for the same back home.

    So many expats reason, well I could go down the street and get some ugali and goat meat for an extremely low price, or I could pay what I would pay in New York and sit down to some wine and excellent lasagna. The average local often isn’t willing to pay such an expensive price for such a meal, so they rarely go for lasagna or to any of the other “expat” restaurants. So, when the expat goes to dinner at such a restaurant he will likely be eating in a very foreign, and probably Western, environment.

    This means that it becomes sort of awkward to go out to eat with local friends unless you offer to pay for their meal at one of the expat places, or you are willing to try out a local spot. In some countries this isn’t simply a matter of “liking” the local food or not, there may be sanitation issues, such as the often mentioned drainage oil problems with some low priced restaurants in China. Or it could be more simple, what if you hate second-hand smoke and the only non-smoking places are expat joints? Or what if you are vegetarian or on a strict kosher diet? All of these factors will limit the places that you are willing to go to eat, and might necessarily enhance the thickness of your expat bubble.

    The expat bubble effect in Tanzania was particularly extreme because the economic gap between the expats and the locals was huge. For example, it was possible to buy cereal in Dar es Salaam, Frosted Flakes and whatnot, but if you wanted any to you had to go to one of two grocery stores that carried it, and it would cost more than $10 USD a box. I never bought cereal there, but we did go to that grocery store to buy some other things that my wife needed to cook some of her staple dishes. Cereal is not a necessity really, but many other random items that Westerners were used to could only be found in that shop, for example dishwasher detergent, and were quite expensive. All the staff in the grocery store spoke English well, and pretty much everyone who shopped there was either foreign or an extremely rich Tanzanian. So, in Tanzania even the grocery store situation fed the expat bubble phenomenon.

    As you may expect, the economic factor is not as much as an issue in Japan. Japanese have money — so you can find Japanese locals even at the most expensive “expat” bars in Tokyo. However, other factors in Japan contribute to the draw of the expat bubble…

    Language
    Another factor that will impact the draw of the expat bubble is language. In Japan the language factor is huge. The less likely it is for you to speak the local language, and for the locals to speak your language, the tougher it will be to escape the expat bubble — because hey, you can’t communicate with anyone.

    I don’t think I’m going to offend anyone by saying that in general Japanese suck at English (and any other language), and non-Japanese suck at Japanese. The language gap in Japan is massive, even larger than it is in Tanzania… many, many, Tanzanians speak English and speak it well. I would even venture to say that more Shanghainese are comfortable speaking English than Japanese who can speak English in Tokyo.

    If you’re trying to avoid the expat bubble, one thing you can do to break down barriers is to learn the local language well.

    Cultural
    Cultural differences can also contribute to the expat bubble effect. For example, let’s talk about coffee.

    In Tanzania (specifically Dar es Salaam) there was not really a local cafe culture. If you wanted to have some quality coffee and muffins or something in the morning you only had a couple of places to go, and these places were pretty much only frequented by the expats in the area. There are enough expats to support the business, so the shops do well, but if you continue to go there you see the same other foreigners over and over again, and there you have it, you’re in an expat bubble.

    There are other more subtle cultural differences that can contribute to an expat bubble. For example, in Shanghai there is a huge Japanese community. There are about 50,000 Japanese here for the long haul, and there are only about 27,000 Americans. Because there are so many Japanse there are a ton of excellent Japanese restaurants and a lot of Japanese-style bars. There are even some restaurants where by default the staff speak Japanese and the menus are all in Japanese. If your culture is such that you want to eat Japanese food all the time, you’re in luck, you can. Not only that, but you’ll be surrounded by Japanese people when you do. This is the Japanese expat bubble in Shanghai – and many Japanese are surely trapped in it.

    So there we have it.

    As I see it those are the major factors that can trap you in an expat bubble. Know them, so you can learn to avoid them if you so desire.

    Having said all that, I completely understand that expat bubbles are not all bad. Here in Shanghai I’m sort of in a weird American expat plus Japanese expat bubble that actually has allowed me to learn a lot about how these jet setters do their thing in China. I also have local friends, but they are mostly people I met through work or other relatively well-off Chinese living here.

    I’m going to do a follow-up post that will share my thoughts on what you can do to INCREASE your chances of getting stuck in an expat bubble when overseas. Then you know, you can do the reverse to… well… not get stuck.

    Anyway let me hear your thoughts and let me know if you have any questions!

Love for Miyagi Japan

One of my old friends personally knows people who lost everything in Miyagi, so she was prompted to start up this Love for Miyagi Japan fundraising project to try and help them out. This is a small project that is hoping to help out a small number of people, but with your help it could have real impact.

Here is a link to the Love for Miyagi Japan project blog.

This non-profit organization was founded by Chie Murakami Schuller, who was born and raised in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. She now lives in Columbus, Ohio. She founded this organization to raise funds for and awareness of the recent natural disaster in Northeast Japan. Ishinomaki(Miyagi) was devastated by the recent tsunami caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake on 03/11/11. Donations raised by this organization will be sent to Chie’s friends including one friend who is still missing (she left behind a husband and a 5 month old daughter). Money can’t buy happiness nor can it bring back a loved one. However, our love will be much greater than the tsunami that took everything from the victim. As our logo says, our love will cover everything-including thier sadness and pain. Thank you for making a difference and showing your support for Miyagi, Japan. If you have any questions regarding this organization or how the donations are sent/spent, please contact us at loveformiyagijapan@gmail.com

Also, if you donate 25 bucks you get a tote bag that will carry your stuff while spreading the word.

If you’re still looking for ways to help Japan, check this out.

Get a unique bag that shows your support with each donation!

Break into Manga Translation with Manga Digital Guild

Lot’s of people who study Japanese hope to get into translation some day. And when it comes to translation, many people hope to do manga or game translation, why? Cause the content is freaking fun! But how to break into the field? A friend recently introduced me to Digital Manga Guild, and it seems to be a legit way to get some experience, and to get paid as well.

If you’re serious about giving this a shot your first step will be to take one of their tests.

You can test in many aspects of the translation process, including translation, editing, and lettering. You can even form a group and plan to work together on projects.

The workflow, click to enlarge

I have never tried Digital Manga Guild myself, but it does look like a legit opportunity. They even have a profit sharing scheme going, so if you stick with it you should eventually make some change.

Translation is always great because it forces you to figure out language that you may not be familiar with, and it’s a real skill that can serve you well in the future. I encourage peeps out there to give it a shot! And if you do, let us know how it goes!

がんばれ!

– Harvey

Interview with Yuka-sensei

We have another interview for you! This time with my good friend, Yuka the Japanese teacher!

Sensei in her graduation kimono

Why did you decide to come to the U.S. to teach Japanese?

I received a scholarship to study TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) while teaching the Japanese language at Boston University.

The initial motivation to come to the U.S. again (I was an exchange student in upstate NY for 9 months) was the urge to explore outside Japan more after going around the world on a cruise ship as an interpreter. Also, I did not have such a great experience in NY because of my lack of understanding of the American college lifestyle, so this time I wanted to achieve what I could not do last time I was in the U.S.

Interesting.. what about American college life didn’t you understand that gave you a hard time? We’re curious to know what about the American lifestyle might be tough for Japanese people.

I did not like the crazy parties on campus especially because my next-door neighbor was a DJ… Also, I did not like some students’ crazy drinking on the weekends. Also, since I was in upstate NY and there were not so many Asian people, the school cafeteria did not serve rice at all. The difference in food was one of the biggest culture shock experiences for me and made me miss Japan a lot.

Another thing that was difficult in upstate NY was to make “American” friends. I lived in the International House, so I was able to make a couple of really good international friends. But, it just felt like no American students were interested in me and I was sometimes too scared to talk to native speakers of English. I felt very self-concious when I spoke English and I did not want them to judge me based on my English.

Wow, thanks for sharing that, and you should know that it’s very courageous of you to give study in the US another shot. Many people would have just been done with it! Nice job! Now, could you briefly describe your job now?

I teach first and second semester Japanese at BU. I teach two sections of 20 students. So, each semester, I have about 40 students in total. We have a 50-minute class four days a week and we cover all the four skills of language. We use the textbook Genki and the first semester covers from Chapter 1-6 and the second semester covers Chapter 7-12.

I have students from different backgrounds such as students from Korea, China, Mexico, the Philipines, Vietnam, and the U.S. They are very studious and many students study Japanese not because it is a requirement of the department but because of their genuine interest in the language and the culture. This is my 3rd semester to teach Japanese at BU, but as I get used to teaching and gain more experience, I can predict my students’ mistakes and change my instruction styles depending on the “teacher instinct.”

I love my job and I would like to continue teaching Japanese in the future although I am thinking of applying for a PhD program in one or two years from now.

So what were your initial impressions of people who study Japanese in the U.S.?

I was very impressed with my students’ ability to speak. Also, I am very happy to see students who are are very energetic and genuinely interested in the language. Although the first two chapters of Genki are very overwhelming for native speakers of English or Spanish since they need to learn “hiragana” and “katakana” in less than a month, once they grasp the broad picture of what the language is like, they seem to succeed very quickly after that.

Do you think that learning Hiragana and Katakana in a month is unreasonable? How do most of your students handle that pace?

I think it is reasonable to learn Hiragana and Katakana in a month because they are the two core alphabets in Japanese and I believe that students would learn better by “recycling.” In other words, rather than being stuck at the same learning stage, I believe it is better to move on to the next stage and come back to the previous stage later and review it again and again. Students would inevitably have to see the two writing systems anyways, so I do not think it is unreasonable at all to learn Hiragana and Katakana in a month (although it may be difficult for some students).

What are your recommended textbooks for people learning Japanese at the level that you teach?

I recommend the textbook “Genki” that we use in our school. The textbook is great in that it has a number of picture prompts and has CDs (You need to purchase them for the current edition, but the new edition, which will come out next year, will come with CDs.) Also, it has a website called “Genki Online” which has a lot of useful resources. You can easily self-study Japanese using the resources online.

Another textbook that I recommend is “Minna no Nihongo.” It is the most-commonly-used Japanese textbook in the world and it is translated into many languages. Although it would be a great textbook for native speakers of English, grammatical explanations in other languages could be confusing for some who do not know any English because the textbook was written for native speakers of English and then later translated into many other languages.

What do you notice about students who are able to learn Japanese well? Do they do anything different from those who… well… don’t?

The second language acquisition theory of “Interaction Hypothesis” states that students need to interact with others and negotiate meanings to acquire a language. What I notice in my class is that students who are outgoing and interact with me or other people who speak Japanese have a great command of speaking whereas very serious straight A type students score high in quizzes and exams. Thus, I do not think the academic grade necessarily reflects their true linguistic ability. However, each student has his or her own learning style and those who already know how to study a language and know multiple learning strategies succeed in the language in the long run.

Thanks for your time Yuka! I know you’re busy keeping all those students in line so we’ll leave it at that.

Thanks for having me! It’s fun to share!

Good luck with the rest of your studies and work!!!

– Harvey

If you’re into Interviews you might also like…

Interview with Translator @Durf
Interview with @Sandkatt
Interview with a new JET CIR
A JET CIR Interview

First-hand Look at the 2010 Boston Career Forum

Sam the Newbie attended the 2010 Boston Career Forum to find a job in Japan. He put together this writeup of his experience, so I’m posting it here so that everyone can benefit!

Feel free to post any questions that you may have in the comments and Sam will come back to answer them!

From the CRUSH of 9,000 suits, a solitary photo survives...

About the Boston Career Forum

Boston Career Forum (CFN) is run by Disco International, a Japanese HR company. They hold a few different job fairs throughout the year in LA, London, and Tokyo. But the Boston event is by far the largest (I met a few students who flew from Tokyo to attend the event!!). For anyone who’s been following this thread, it’s extremely difficult to get work in Japan when you’re in the US. CFN is definitely the best way to do it! The Boston event is targeted mostly at undergraduates, but there are all kinds of positions for mid-career, MBAs, and other grads.

Getting Prepared

I started preparing for Boston Career Forum through their website probably 3 months before the event. It’s free to register with Disco and free to register for each of the events. After registering, the first thing you do is fill out your resume in English and Japanese using their form. You can’t upload your own resume in DOC or PDF format, so this can be a little time-consuming.

Basically, how it works is each company will post their information on the website: their company profile, what positions they’re hiring for, what majors they’re looking for, what Japanese/English levels they require, etc. So search for the companies to which you want to apply and start doing research. Each company will have a few screening questions, either in English or Japanese or both, that you are required to fill out. These are questions like: “why are you choosing this company? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Describe a difficult situation?” Standard interview questions basically. So you’ll submit your resume and the answers to these questions. This should be viewed as the first step of the application; so be sure to put your effort into this step.

Depending on the company, they might acknowledge your application with a response through the CFN email system or to your personal email address listed on your resume. Some companies won’t reply at all, so it really is a case-by-case sort of thing. Other companies will ask you to apply through their own internal application system, where you’ll be invited to complete online assessment tests and other screening questions. So again, it depends. Just to be sure to stay on top of your email, and check the CFN website often. In my case, a few companies contacted me for phone/Skype interviews prior to the actual event. But from talking to other applicants, this is pretty rare.

About one month before the event, companies will start contacting you to set up interviews for the actual event. Based on previous year’s statistics, most people are able to schedule a few interviews before the event. I was in this group. Again, I think it depends on the company. So if you’re not contacted for interviews, don’t be discouraged! The vast majority of companies accept walk-in candidates at the event. But, of course, if you do get an interview scheduled, that’s a good sign!

So the strategy that I took was to apply to all companies that I was interested in, or that I met the requirements for, get a few interviews scheduled and focus heavily on preparing for those interviews. Other people will focus on one sector (finance, IT, retail) and do research on all of those companies and try to walk-in interview with all of them. I think it depends on how much time you have and what your personality is like.

Navigating the Career Forum Battleground

The actual event takes place on the third weekend in October at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Friday and Saturday are the busiest days, with Sunday being a bit slower because a lot of companies leave on Sunday. So, if you’re doing walk-ins, try to do them as soon as possible. That being said, I didn’t find it necessary to arrive as soon as registration opens (9AM) and wait in line with the other 9000 people (true!) to be the first one into the venue. It’s fine to get there at 9:45, 10:00 AM and just walk in on your own pace.

The venue can be a bit overwhelming. It’s held in a large open room, with thousands of people running around in suits. One on side of the room, there will be all the company booths, registration tables, office supplies desks, computers and copiers for printing out resumes, etc. On the other side of the room are individual interview booths that are enclosed with white curtains. You’ll get a map and other information when you arrive for registration.

Overall, the event is, in traditional Japanese fashion, very well-run and efficiently organized. There is free Wi-Fi in the building, a lot of eating options, and plenty of room to sit and prepare for your interviews. The only issue that I observed was the dearth of power outlets. So if you’re bringing a laptop, be sure to charge it before you go.

Once you get in there, you are free to walk around and do walk in interviews with any company you want. The vast majority of companies will accept walk in interviews. It works like this: the company will have a person greeting applicants. Go up to him/her and introduce yourself, explain that you’d like to do a walk-in interview. They’ll probably ask you to submit a resume, likely the English version. Then you’ll probably have to wait for a chair to open up in front of the interviewers at the booths. Some of the more popular companies, you’ll have to wait 30 minutes to get to the front of the line. But that should give you more time to rehearse your answers! Other lines will move more quickly.

Handling the Interviews

The first interview takes place at the company booth, in the open, in full view of your fellow applicants. This can be a bit intimidating; but it’s the only way for the companies to get through so many applicants in a single day. After you’ve left the booth after the first interview, the company might contact you (most likely via your cell phone) to schedule a second interview with a more senior employee. They’ll set up a time and ask you to come back to their booth. At this point, the two processes (walk-ins and pre-scheduled interviews) look the same. When you go back to the company booth, check-in with the greeter and tell him/her your name and interview time. They’ll escort you back to the individual interview area where you’ll sit in a chair outside the booth and wait for the interviewer to call you in. The same call back process will take place if the interview goes well. I personally was called back twice (3 interviews total) by a few companies all on the same day. So your schedule can fill up pretty quickly. Pace yourself!

In my case, the interviews were about 50/50 English and Japanese. Again, it depends on the type of position/company/location you’re interviewing for. In one case, an interviewer gave me a Japanese newspaper and told me to read out loud. Other interviews were all in English. So it depends.

Wine and Dine

If all the interviews go well, (some) companies will invite you to attend dinner with the employees and other applicants at night. From my point of view, these dinners are an opportunity for the interviewers to observe you in a more casual environment and see how you interact with other people. So you should be on your game for these dinners, even if it’s very casual. That being said, you don’t need to be in total interview mode. It’s ok to have a couple of drinks and get relaxed a bit. Just make sure you don’t drink too much!

That’s a Wrap, or, The Big Wait

So that’s a basic rundown of the pre-event and event details. I can’t tell you too much about the post-event situation, because I am still living it! It’s been about 5 days since the event finished and I am waiting to hear back from the companies with which I interviewed. I didn’t receive a timeline (i.e. “we’ll let you know within one week”) from any of the companies, so I am keeping my hopes up. Of the applicants that I spoke to, only one received an offer of employment at the actual event. So I think this is a very rare case (look at the statistics, only 16% get offers in Boston). So to any participants who are reading this now, let’s keep our hopes up for good news!!

Feel free to post if you have any questions or comments.

– Sam the Newbie

Related Links:

Photo Tour of the Career Forum on their official site.

Help a newbie get Work in Japan! – the original Sam the Newbie Post

From JapanNewbie Of Centuries Past:
Career Forum FAQ
Career Forum Opinions

From around the Web:
What I learned from the Boston Career Forum
Boston Career Forum Report

Japanese Podcast Recommendations – Part 4

The next podcast recommendation is Nikkei Veritas Moyamoya Talk by TV Tokyo Announcer Oe Mariko.

Moyamoya Talk with Oe Mariko

とーく!!! Just a quick Japanese print culture lesson. Seeing とーく, with it’s と and く in Hiragana placed around a katakana vowel extender ー thing may seem a little weird. Basically, this is トーク which is a katakana-ification of “Talk,” but they used Hiragana to make it cute. Hiragana is cuter than Katakana. I think this is a fact. That happens quite a bit in advertising, so keep on your toes!

This podcast is basically a conversation about recent business and economic trends that affect Japan. Most of the podcast has someone explaining things to Oe Mariko, and she keeps it moving by asking questions and giving prompts in a quasi-conversational manner. The podcast description says that it will clear up those unclear, fuzzy, you know… “モヤモヤ” subjects that you need to know if you’re an individual investor or just want to keep up to speed with the latest trends affecting the Japanese economy.

For example, on my flight back from China yesterday I was listening to one podcast where they happened to mention the increasing numbers of Chinese tourists in Japan. They went through the demographics of the visitors, what they were likely to spend on gifts, the places they were likely to visit, Japan’s readiness in regards to the increase in non-English speaking tourists, stuff like that. I recommend this podcast to anyone learning Japanese because it’s not as much of an in your face information dump as a straight forward news podcast, yet the conversation is serious enough that you’ll still learn lots from it.

Here is a link to the Moyamoya Talk Podcast Website.

You can also follow the host, Mariko on Twitter!

Here is a direct link to the Moyamoya Talk files in the feed.

Be sure to check out the Manyoushuu Podcast Recommendation, and Nikkei Trendy Podcast Recommendation, and the Profile Podcast from the other posts in this series!

– Harvey

Other Japanese Podcast Recommendations:
Nikkei Trendy
Manyoushu
Ueda’s working person Profile!
Audio Book: Ningen Shikkaku

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