4 Months in Japan: New City, New Job, New Start

On March 17th, I packed up and cleaned my Sharehouse room, turned in my keys, said goodbye to my housemates and friends, signed the release paperwork for my now previous employer, and boarded a bus at Nagoya’s Meitetsu bus center, saying goodbye to my life in Nagoya and ready to begin again in Kanazawa.

I love living in Japan, but I knew pretty quickly that Nagoya and Seiha, the massive, country-wide children’s language school I worked at, were not for me. I’m going to devote an entire post to Seiha and why it didn’t work out, but for now let’s just say that from my previous experiences teaching in Turkey and Germany, I knew what I wanted in an ESL job and Seiha was definitely not it. The few months I worked there were not completely terrible and I learned things, but no way could I have done it for the entire year of the contract I signed! So in January I began searching for a new job. There were a ton of listings online for various ESL positions throughout Japan, but most of them were pretty generic postings and I was worried they would turn out to be just like Seiha. Miraculously, I stumbled upon one that stuck out, where I felt like I got a real sense of what the school’s mission was and what the teaching would be like. It seemed to be just what I was looking for, and happened to be in Kanazawa, a small city on the other side of Honshu island on the Sea of Japan.

You may recall that I visited Kanazawa in January (I wrote all about it in this post). What I didn’t mention at the time was that while I was there, I had already interviewed with for the job. My trip gave me a change to visit the school in person and chat with the manager and teachers there. I liked what I saw, and was ecstatic when I was offered the position a few days later.

Moving from Nagoya, a well-connected hub of 2 million people, to Kanazawa, a somewhat more remote city of half a million, may seem like a strange choice for this self-professed city girl, but let me explain. Nagoya is fine, but it’s nothing to write home about. It is a perfectly normal city, one where people work and study and live their lives and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it lacks a certain something, a certain sparkle, a pulse. Yeah, it has good bars and restaurants, but as you may have noticed from my writing, I don’t really care about that kind of stuff. I like a city with a sense of history, culture, artiness, funk! And Nagoya is pretty much devoid of that stuff.

Kanazawa, on the other hand, is brimming with sparkle. What it lacks in size it makes up for in culture and history, housing tons of niche museums, historic geisha and samurai districts, and one of the most famous gardens in Japan. Because of it’s beauty, it is often called “Little Kyoto”. At no time is that more apparent than right now, during sakura season, when the cherry blossom are in bloom. Just look at these photos! This is where I live now:

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Near Ken Rokuen Garden in Kanazawa
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The river near my apartment
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My walk to work

On March 17th, after a four hour bus ride, I arrived in Kanazawa, where my boss’s mother met me. She doesn’t speak much English, and I still don’t speak much Japanese, but we managed to communicate alright. In her car, as in many Japanese cars, was a TV on the center of the dashboard. To my amazement, she switched it on, and as she drove we watched (or maybe she listened and I watched) highlights of a sumo match. I felt like I had arrived in Japan all over again!

My boss’s mother dropped me off at my new apartment. The building is nothing to look at from the outside, but inside I found a recessed entryway for shoes in typical Japanese style, a narrow galley kitchen, with the tiniest bathroom I’d ever seen (including a tiny bathtub!). Through a sliding door was a spacious and airy room with a futon, coffee table, desk and closet. Another set of sliding doors lead to a small balcony with a tiny washer. It wasn’t much, but it was my very own Japanese apartment. I will write more about this in a future post as well, but this is the first time I’ve lived on my own in my entire life. The apartment could be a total dump, which it’s not by any means, and it would still be very special to me.

I’ve now been in Kanazawa about a month, and I’ve settled into my new apartment and job nicely. I haven’t done a ton of proper exploring yet. Pretty soon after arriving my nasty tonsil infection returned (remember this post?!?) so I have explored two different clinics in Kanazawa! But I’ve got time. I’ve signed another year contract with this new job, and something tells me that working and living here for an entire year will be just fine.

Happy Travels,

Mo

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Sushi from the sushi restaurant next door to my apartment
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