Japan Christmas '92 ~ Spring '93: Fukuoka

Spring 1993
Dear Friends and Neighbors;
Recently, the company I'm working for has acquired a Macintosh computer-and everyone in the office is using it to send out letters-including me! (Will IBM ever forgive me?) As most of you know, I moved back to Fukuoka in December of last year. I finished my contract with Interac in Kurashiki and decided I wanted to move back to the big city. I'm just not cut out for small town life - even though, in this case, the "small town" had 400,000 people. Far bigger than Uictoria but with about one-tenth of the amenities; and, the redneck conservatism of a small, shall we say "unnamed", town in north central D.C.. The streets all rolled up at 10 o'clock and all that stayed open were the Hostess Bars. So, I'm glad to be in Fukuoka where you can party all night if you want to, but, especially, where the people are far more friendly and a tad more cosmopolitan shall we say.
Well, it's time to bring you up to date on my exploits in Fukuoka. I managed to arrive at the place I was staying about 10 minutes before my luggage arrived that I had shipped from Kurashiki - I'd call that good timing! I'm living in an old house that's managed by an American - John Backhoff- who's quite a character - he manages some houses, and is now collecting scooters to ship to Hong Kong - Japan's garbage is someone else's prized possession. As I mentioned before, what they throwaway here is quite amazing – tv's, videos, refrigerators, and even motorcycles and scooters. Even cars – they have a very strict inspection system here which is linked to the insurance. After ten years, the inspection and insurance cost rises dramatically, so these older cars are just junked or given away for next to nothing. I share the house with a Japanese girl - separate rooms of course but we share the kitchen and bath facilities. But all the Japanese people I tell about my living arrangements freak right out - this just isn't done in Japan. They all think that she must be my girlfriend or some loose immoral woman - and they won't be convinced otherwise. So I've given up telling anyone about my living arrangements. Actually, I'm looking for a new place to live and trying to arrange the key money through my company. The way things are going I'll probably move in May sometime after I get back from Canada. I'm planning on coming home for two weeks around Golden Week. Just bought my ticket today! I'll be home on April 26 until May 9.
The first month I was here I didn't do too much except rest and read. Working seven days a week in Kurashiki wore me out and I needed a bit of a rest. I did do a little part time work as Santa Claus - about 8 times! My 'ho ho ho's' went over real well I think I may have found my calling there - but, for now, I guess I'll have to stick to teaching English. I started looking for a job just after the New Year So, I was looking for a job and just phoning schools and going to interviews - however, most people were hiring for April. But, I telephoned Top and they were looking for teachers; to start the end of January; and I got the job.
I'm working for a company called TOP English School located right in Tenjin- the downtown core of Fukuoka - which is where I wanted to work. The company is fairly large; they have three schools in this area and some more in Osaka. Top is part of a Japanese corporation called Daiei - which has computer training, and classes for government workers and real estate etc. The job is quite good. I work from 1 pm to 9 pm five days a week but actual teaching time is between 10- 15 hours per week. The rest of the time you're expected to stay in the office and pretend you're busy - so we get time to study Japanese or write letters or whatever. Sometimes we get interrupted and have to do something important like handing out flyers or cleaning the storeroom or making posters to brighten up the office - a tad bizarre but tolerable. The first month and a half I was here, they had Bill (another new teacher who got hired with me) and I teaching at a 'juku' (a private children's' school) - a short term contract they got and then hired Bill and I to do it because we "had experience". But neither Bill nor I told them that we didn't really like teaching kids and that our combined "experience" wasn't a lot. Anyway, we BS'd our way through it and unfortunately we did such a good job that now they want to continue the program. But, in the future the program will be reduced to only one day per week - I hope! Typical Japanese business - nobody knows what's going on, no one's made any decisions- but "maybe…". So we'll get told the day before it all
starts - or maybe the morning it starts - who knows! Anyway, the staff here are friendly and easy to get along with. The management is Japanese but our supervisor is Japanese fellow Ken- who lived in the states for 5 years and is married to an American lady. So he's at least used to our strange gaijin ways.
As well as working for Top, I'm also playing at Jacky's Bar two nights a week - Tuesday and Thursday. It's right around the corner from Top so it's all very convenient. Next I hope to find a apartment in this area and life would be very convenient here indeed. I'm very glad I moved to Fukuoka - it's just nice to be in a large city - particularly one that's on the ocean. I quite enjoy the seaside here and I'm looking forward to the summer when I can do a little touring of the islands and perhaps even get some sailing in. Well, I think that about brings us up to date. Hope everyone is doing fine in Canada and still having a good time. See you soon!
Drop me a line and let me know how you're doing.



Copyright©2003 Braden Corby