I’m in Japan, and I’m a Jerk


Here I am, in Japan. I’m an Assistant Language Teacher for the JET Programme, in Nakatsu city of beautiful Oita Prefecture in Kyushu.

I spent yesterday shut in my house with the shades drawn, watching reruns of The Daily Show.

Terrible? Yes. But my hope is that knowing I’m terrible makes me less terrible.

I’m often asked why Japan, and why JET. Japanese fashion, art history, and Hayao Miyazaki films were enough to trigger my interest (though I’m not the Japanophile one finds so often here; it’s only one of many countries on my list). And I want to get better at teaching, to help people in some sort of concrete way.

But, of course, there’s always that goal of finding myself, as if “myself” is a tiny gemstone I might discover floating in my beer glass at the right izakaya, or tucked inside the sleeve of my new yukata. I feel conflicted in this selfish mission as I fumble about the country like a helpless toddler, requiring twice the attention, twice the explanations, biking on the wrong side of the road, and wasting food because the curry is just a wittle too much for my sensitive wittle tummy. Japan wants me here, according to my contract, but at the moment I just can’t see why.

I’m going to watch some PuniPuni videos, maybe learn how to order sushi or say the days of the week. Hopefully, in the next few months, I’ll ripen into something that was worth importing.


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