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Monday, April 14, 2014

Advice For Women Going To Japan On The JET Programme

Happily, this past Friday afternoon, I received two wonderful LOCs (letters of comment) to a pair of recent blogs, from a woman who will be heading to Japan in July. Yay!

The good-natured Sarah inspired me to offer up some advice for people just heading out to Japan... advice that might make YOUR trip to Japan a tad easier to survive.... especially that first month.

In this case... this one is for the women.

I know... I know... what the hell do I know about women? Plenty and yet nothing at all - such is the mystique that has me constantly craving knowledge on the fair sex. I enjoy probing deep into their... well... I digress...

Still... I probably had more female than male friends in Japan for whom I was either a telephone buddy, a phone sex accomplice, or a guy they trusted to go dancing with down in Tokyo - for safety and for my awesome moves on the dance floor (my words, not theirs). I was also willing to sleep with all of them, but I only actually got to the 15% mark in my Prefecture. Yes, I'm bragging, but you will discover that when it comes to the foreign guys in Japan... they are quite a bit more interested in the Japanese women... I realized that and was therefore 'there' for the female AETs, many of whom I found were quite inviting after a so-called 'dry-spell'.

It was NOT a plan. I was a near 26-year-old virgin when I arrived in Japan. Yes, I'm bragging. (I know that's not bragging... but it's all true.) I was shy, but I said screw it all and my shyness evaporated in the Japanese summer heat after disembarking at Narita Airport in late July of 1990. But it is true about the guys. Almost all of them are suddenly interested in the more 'exotic' women... which is highly amusing to me... Me? As someone who didn't really want to go to Japan but went anyway, initially I was more comfortable around other native English speakers... which was why we have a guy born in England with parents from India leave his home in Canada to go to Japan to get an American girlfriend. It sounds screwy now when I write that out. Laughable, even. But a virgin must start somewhere.

For a look at my day to day activities in a small city that was more rural than urban, check out any of the blogs that look like they have a Rock And Roll song title for a heading. A few names have been altered by myself, but otherwise, it's all true. Warts and all. Though... it's my life and I'm not embarrassed at all by my life in Japan.

I was a newspaper journalist with the Toronto Star when I quit and went to Japan. I like to think that it afforded me the ability to be impartial, but I think I actually came by that from my parents who did their best to bring me up correctly although strangely repugnant to women those first 25 years. Japan sure helped get rid of my acne, though I did lose some musculature in my right forearm.

Anyhow, I did manage to glean a fair bit of knowledge while I was in Japan. 

So... let's disperse some advice that I hope can be of some help to you on your initial trip to Japan:
  1. Hair saloons. There are plenty of hair dressers in Japan... however the odds are great that unless a predecessor can direct you to a salon where they have decent English skills and decent hair cutting skills, you could be in for a rude awakening. This is rarely talked about by anyone, but since I love hair (mine own and on women or better yet my hair plastered sticky wet on a woman's skin), I would recommend that you bring in a photograph of your hair style immediately after it has been cut and styled back home. This is your reference point. Now... your hair texture might just be something that the Japanese hairdressers have never seen before... and as such... well... maybe you want to get your hair cut in a larger city than small town. This photo should be photos, and should show all the sides, front and back. If you color your hair, forget it. They simply do not have the experience to add blonde highlights or frosting. They have experience with long black hair... can you guess now why I grew a 22-inch long pony-tail? Curly hair... whoa... difficult as well... Black Woman with wonderful tight curls? Oh man... might I suggest straightening it? Not only will it make future cuts easier, but it will stop EVERYONE from trying to feel your head. It will happen. They will say it is as soft as a sheep. I know this to be true. Don't be offended. You are there to educate. Everyone else... a simple hair style will work best... and you can always grow it longer. As a happy, horny man, I can simply state: "Don't cut your hair. Ever." I know... not much help... but if you are writing to someone in Japan to get information - ask about the availability of proper hair salons.
  2. Clothing. Japan has a plethora of beautiful women... who wear some beautiful clothing. But they are also built different from most foreign women. Longer upper torso, shorter legs, flatter bum and less boobage. Bring plenty of bras and panties. Japanese bra sizes are confusing as all get out. First, measurements are done in metric using centimeters... and cup sizes... they have some strange measurement that allows a D-Cup everywhere else not in Asia to be a FF-Cup size. It's screwy. Me... as a guy... I was 5'-10.5" tall and 175lbs... I'm Canadian but have little concept of my Metric numbers. I'm taller than average (and that weight is a fantasy nowadays)... but I could not find a dress shirt that fit me or looked good on me. Color? Boring. My chest then was only a 36-incher (48 now thanks to some heavy hours at a gym), but finding clothing? No way in hell. I did manage to introduce teal as a color option after my second year when I went back to Canada and bought a nice dress coat. I got a lot of looks with that... as well as my red silk jacket that I had made for me in Thailand for about $30. If I had that to do over again, I would have picked a color not reminiscent of a valet parking attendant. 34/32 jeans? Not with my muscular ass (soccer!). And my US size 10-1/2 shoes... it's a size 30 (centimeters) in Japan... for men... it was near impossible (near!) to find shoes bigger than a size 26. Now... imagine what it will be like for you. A Woman's size 10? No way in hell or Japan. You want fashion? Unless you are built like a Size 4 waif, your fashion options are limited. By the way... women's fashion sizes - regardless of the country are meant to bamboozle men everywhere. What the fug does Size 14 mean? What part of the body does that measure?! Anyhow... bring two pairs of runners, two pairs of dress shoes (at least) of varying color with low heels because you don;t want to tower over the shorter on average Japanese men, bring plenty of undergarments, and warm clothing - unless you are going to someplace semi-tropical. Japanese houses/apartments are notoriously not well insulated. Sunglasses! Rare is the Japanese who wears sunglasses. Bring'em if you wear'em... it's called the Land of the Rising Sun for a reason.
  3. Dental equipment. Either bring along extra tooth brushes and toothpaste or have it sent over later... I'm not sure what it is, but I do believe that Japanese water lacks the same levels of fluoride that are in Canadian water... when you see Japanese dental work, you'll know what I mean.
  4. Power Converters: Make sure you go out and get an electrical converter... Japanese electricity runs differently from say Canada or the U.S. It will work (maybe), but you will also shorten the life of your foreign equipment. Japan is 100v and the U.S./Canada is 110volts. The outlets are the same two-prong outlets... I'm not actually sure if they have a three-prong outlet. Probably not. At least I NEVER saw one.
  5. Birth control ... take along a supply... have someone mail it to you... just note that average sized condoms in Japan will NOT fit an average foreign guy. I mention this here only because many men are too stupid to think about this themselves. Consider an IUD and maybe a pack of Day After pills. They'll make you sick for a couple of days, but...
  6. Other meds. It's none of my business, but many people take pills for mental health, pills for body health... load up. You don't want a prescription filled in Japan. Not that it's a bad thing... but suddenly everyone knows your business... especially in a small town.
  7. Glasses/Contact lenses... Don't worry... you can find solutions... but there's nothing wrong with bringing plenty of what you need or better yet, having it sent over later.
  8. Feminine Hygiene Products. Once I was asked by a girlfriend who shall remain nameless (rhymes with Ashley) (Oh crap) to get some tampons for her, as she was physically sick and bleeding in my apartment. She moaned out some instructions, none of which I heard after she said "tampons now" and went to my local pharmacist, which was where one would assume you could buy such things. In Japan, however, many a pharmacy is akin to ye olde apothecary from the 16th century. Still, Mr. Maniwa (a lovable old man and letch who once grabbed Ash's boobs in a drunken fit of semi-boldness) directed me to the correct spot in the shop... he spoke decent English and was a friend (dead now)... I saw brands I recognized and not knowing what to buy bought five different types... all of which you could do horseback riding with and canoeing and swimming... all things I'm sure Ashley would have liked to have done... brought them back to my apartment and of course picked the wrong one (five). She sent me out again and this time I was successful. Mr. Maniwa even took all the others back in refund. Decent soul for a pervert, dirty old man. Anyhow... I'm just saying they probably have what you need. Obviously, though, the bigger the town or city, the better your odds. You might have to make do with the selection of flavors they have or however the hell you tell what the difference is.
  9. Cosmetics. We are talking about a pretty homogenous country, so skin tone colors may not be perfect for you. Hell... 25+ years ago in Toronto I wanted to buy a bronzer (I did some runway modeling for fun and money when I was 22), but with my dark complexion it was nigh impossible for me to find what I wanted. I had to use cosmetics from the women's counter because the men's counter hadn't really been invented yet. But women... surely you will bring a fair supply, right? Just know that in Japan, less is more. Keep the good stuff for a night on the town. I would go dancing with you, but I'll need some major advance notice, what with me being in Toronto and all.
  10. Money. Bring a few extra hundred dollars with you for that first month in Japan. I brought about $600 Canadian ($500 American at that time) which was around ¥50,000. There will be so many things that you will want to buy and that first pay-check comes one month after you arrive. As well, things in Japan do cost more than they might in other countries... So many AETs were left scrounging that first month... my buddy Matthew had to borrow cash from me (you did pay me back, right? Probably many times over! LOL!) ... Ashley would have, too except that I made many of her meals - plus as my girlfriend, I thought it prudent to pay for things for her when we went out... even though she told everyone we were just friends because she didn't want to look like a slut to the Japanese. Yes... that double standard exists in Japan. It is a male hierarchy society and women are often still treated as second-class citizens. I had no problem shocking the Japanese men by helping the female Japanese teachers serve tea to the male teachers... and certainly blew their mind when I would get a tea for the female teachers. We're there to teach... and not necessarily to teach English. Keep that in mind, and please bring some extra cash for that first month.
Anyhow... that's all just off the top of my head. I might be full of sh!t and none of this will ever need come to pass, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Oh... maybe bring an alarm clock... and see if you can immediately get drapes for your bedroom to stop that sun from waking you up at 4AM... also... don't hang your laundry to dry where others might be able to get their hands on it, or you will need to purchase more undergarments. Just trust me on that one.

You should also bring bottles of whiskey with you. For your boss and for the principal at the school you teach at provided it is just one school... otherwise bring a bottle for the Superintendent of the Board of Education as well. They really do expect a gift like that. Not Japanese whiskey either. Get it at the Duty-Free when you leave.I also had my mom send over additional gifts for all my main Board of Education co-workers. Scarves (not winter), bottles of maple syrup, touristy wood carvings... things representing your country. The scarves for the women don't have to be anything other than stylish.

Japan is fun. You will learn a lot. Do not judge lest you be judged. Learn the language. Learn the culture. See the sights. Meet the people. Hang out with other foreigners, but hang out with the Japanese more. Be seen in your community and become a part of that community. It is okay to not want to drink as much as everyone else - unless you want to. Women... just like in the big cities, it's better to do things en masse than all by yourself. Japan is safe, but be safer with others you know. Smile. Bow a lot. Always smile. Regardless of what country you are in. Drop me a line and write a guest blog. Matthew H (from Ohtawara) and Michael P (from work) are still threatening to do one.

Up next... some advice for the Men... which will pretty much revolve around bringing extra cash a la Point #10 and bringing comfortably-fitting condoms. I once put a condom on my average pecker and watched it snap off and go flying across the room to hit Ashley in the forehead who was probably relieved that I wasn't premature. Still... the laughing can kill the mood. At least it was because I was too big. It also meant no sex for Andrew for two weeks until Mom sent a package for his package. Hmmm. That sounds more weird than funny. Ignore that joke.

Thanks, Sarah.

Andrew Joseph

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Andrew! After reading many of your postings, it does seem apt that you would start the "Advice for Women" posting with where we should go to get our hair done. Lol kidding (sort of)! I am fortunate enough to be of a fairly small hopefully I won't have much trouble with clothes but it was good to know about all the undies! I would have never thought about that. If let on my own, I would take a backpack with a articles of clothes and a toothbrush and hope for the best. But now....I should probably plan a little bit better. -Sarah