The fun and always upbeat Brooke at Getcha Nails Did interviewed me today as part of an ongoing series about nail bloggers. Thanks, Brooke!
If you were awake at night, wondering “What does that Nevertoomuchglitter girl look like, anyway?” -here’s your chance to find out.
While we’re at it, I’ll take a minute today to answer some questions that have come up in the past, mostly about me and Japan. I don’t really like talking about myself- this is a blog about nails, after all! But a few young’uns have asked me how they, too, can get to Japan and what it’s like here.
1) How did you get to Japan and what exactly are you doing?
I studied Japanese and Mandarin Chinese at university. My original plan was to come to Japan for one year, but I stayed a lot longer! My first job was as an English teacher for public school middle + high school students. I was 21 and some of them were 19. It was in a city located smack dab in the middle of Japan’s ‘rice basket.’ Sort of like a Japanese person going to the US and winding up in Nebraska. From there, I moved to Kyoto (not the city, the state- kind of like the difference between New York City and upstate New York). In Kyoto, I worked at a small private English language tutoring school. Horrible. It was in the countryside- gorgeous, but really boring. All the young people left town to get a job in the city. It was so lonely. The school manager was a petty witch, to use a family-friendly phrase. I left the school on really bad terms and couldn’t get a recommendation, so I moved to Tokyo and became a legal secretary for a big British law firm. I worked there a while, saved some bucks to travel around the world, and then I sold off all my stuff and hit the road! I spent almost two years travelling, taking pictures, and going places I never thought I’d see like Tibet, Nepal, Tahiti, Cambodia…But darn, it was hard work. No plushy hotels or comfy trains and a really heavy backpack. I went back home to the US, thought I’d find a job…nothing. Zip. I came back to Japan again, working first as a translator at an environmental engineering company, and now as a translator/executive assistant. Other jobs I’ve had: health food store cashier, neurology lab assistant, amusement park clown, snowboarding announcer and security guard.
Just FYI for all you Japan-bound hopefuls: If you’re a native English speaker, you can probably get a job teaching English, but not in Tokyo as this is very competitive. You will need a 4-year university degree in any subject as a minimum requirement. Immigration will check this out. “Teaching” is more like “entertainment.” Be prepared for a lot of bratty kids, desperate housewives and very low pay. Email me if you have any really specific questions and I will try to help you out.
2) What are some good and bad points about Japan?
Good- fabulously clean toilets that even make background noise so you can piddle without embarrassment! People are generally polite. I never have to worry if a neighborhood is safe after dark or not- I can walk anywhere, anytime. Great food prepared with pride- looks as good as it tastes! Wonderful tea. Sense of tradition- even in a big city, I can see a 1000 year old temple and smell the incense and imagine what it was like centuries ago. Public transportation is fantastic- on-time, and it goes anywhere. People here have a sense of shame- not in a bad way, but in that they won’t have intimate conversations on cell phones in public and they won’t sue over every little thing, and when public figures get caught doing bad stuff, they apologize and (usually) leave quickly. Customer service is usually top-notch- the store clerks walk you out of the store and hand you your bag and bow a lot. There’s much less “me me me” in general.
Bad- Racism and sexism are perfectly OK and not agianst the law here. Women are second-class citizens. There is no protection against discrimination- I had over 10 real estate agents refuse to even show me apartments because I was non-Japanese. People have spat at me and tried to start arguments. Environmental disaster- there is no environmental oversight here in Japan. Companies dump freely in fields and rivers. The groundwater is poisoned. There are just too many people. Japan is half the population of the US- crammed into an area the size of California. The traffic jams here are epic. Young Japanese people have no dreams- they’re taught like robots in schools and education is just memorization. Very few people have opinions that they’ll share and there’s very little intelligent debate- it’s simply not taught at school. Japan is a very lonely place, and it’s hard to make deep, lasting connections. People here are extremely guarded. It’s not even a language barrier- they just don’t form close relationships, even with each other. There are a million unspoken rules about how to behave here, and since it’s 99% Japanese, they all know the rules and outsiders don’t. It’s like trying to square dance when the caller is speaking an alien language. Oh, and things are darn expensive.
Brooke covered a lot of other stuff with her insightful questions, so I’ll just list a few random facts:
I’m a Scorpio.
I was known to eat paste as a kid.
I’m an only child.
I’m planning to do some more travelling after I leave Japan, and I’m dying to go to Scandanavia, Turkey, Greece, and Morocco.
I am left-handed- this is why you usually only see my right hand on the blog!
For me, one of the most important qualites in a person is a good sense of humor.
I have no problem with public speaking, but walking into a group of people in a party intimidates me.
I hate pantyhose!