Mirrored with permission from Outpost Nine and Azrael

In Defense - A Quick FAQ

I'm receving quite a few emails a day now about my teacher editorials. I like email, so please keep 'em coming! But I do get a lot of people who take issue with some of the things I've said, so I'm writing this to try and address some of the most common concerns I've been hearing.

UPDATE - And I'm updating it to address some of the more common questions I get, hopefully save me some time and slow down my inevitable diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you're looking for dick-grabbing humor, you may want to move on. If you are curious about some of what's going on behind the scenes in the editorials, and some things you may not know about Japan, then read on.

"This is totally fake/what a load of bullshit"

Haha, I wish I was that creative. Everything I've written about actually did happen exactly as I told it, I'm not even embellishing. I have no desire or reason to fabricate stories about Japanese kids poking their fingers up our asses. And if I did, I'd ask you to recommend me a good psychologist.

And if you still don't believe me, oh well. I can't win them all. Nor do I want to.

"But, this totally isn't what I expected of Japan!"

Of course it isn't. Japan has something my friends and I call "Export Culture" - they only show you EXACTLY what they want you to see. There's a lot about this country that a person just won't know and understand unless they live here for awhile. I was a Japanese minor in college, and came here before on a study abroad trip, and I'm still being surprised by things I'm finding here.

Face and image are of the utmost importance here. Japan doesn't even like admitting it's bad parts to itself. It sure isn't going to broadcast it to the world.

"Wow, so you totally hate the country and your job, huh?"

Quite the opposite, I am enjoying myself here, and I LOVE my job. My co-workers are all really nice, my students are adorable (minus the bastards), and I've made some awesome friends here.

Granted, Japan's not a place I'd want to spend the rest of my life. As the old saying goes, nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here. But I'm glad I came and making the most of my time here.

"So, why the angry editorials?"

Heh, they're not angry. All my editorials are is a written version of the tales my friends and I exchange over beers in the local bar. And if you think I've got it bad, I've heard a lot worse. For example, one of my friends, a...uh....rather busty girl, was telling us one day about an exercise in class where the students had to write a complimentary sentence about her. She came to one boy, and his "complimentary" sentence was "Your breasts are delicious."

Now, I don't have breasts (but I sure could use a nice pair right now...), but I can't even imagine being hit with something like that. My friend though, she's my hero. She looked him deadpan in the face and said "But my dear, you've never even tasted my breasts."

Some of my male friends, who work in high schools, have told me they've gotten propositoned for sex from some of the female students. I can thankfully say that's never happened to me. At least, not from my students. But, that's a story for another day.

I write my editorials in a light-hearted sense. I can actually see the hilarity of having to physically restrain a young Japanese boy from grabbing my dick. That's just how it is here.

I actually have a lot of really nice, heart-warming stories, one in particular which (I'll admit) almost made me cry on my birthday. I will write about them at some point. These particular editorials are meant as light-hearted humor, and should be taken as such.

"Why don't you try to Kancho back?"

I've found that there are three ways to deal with Kancho. The first is to get all pissed off and offended by it. I don't see the point - they're just kids and to them there's nothing wrong with it. And if I did that, it would create this whole "Oh my Gosh, we can't play around with teacher or he might get angry" attitude which I don't want. It's not like this is going to cause any permanent damage or even discomfort. So I can be indifferent to it, even find the humor in it. But maybe it's easy for me to say because I have my trusty Kancho Sense™ and I'm a pro at Dodgedick.

The second way is to respond in kind - counter-Kancho, or hit them with one of America's speciality attacks. But I've found that if you do that, it basically tells the kids it's game-on, and they'll step up their attacks. No one wants to lose to teacher, after all.

The third way, the method I employ, is to put the fear of GOD into them. I threaten to do stuff, but don't actually do it. That way, their imaginations will take over and make the reprocussions out to be worse than they actually would be. "Hmm, I can Kancho teacher...but what if he Kancho's me so hard that it would make Tom Cruise The Second to Last Samurai? I'd better not risk it." Been working well for me so far.

"Did you know that kancho thing comes from an anime called Naruto?"

I know of Naruto, and I know of the scene you're alluding to. However, it was Naruto that got the idea from the nation's elementary school kids, not the other way around. Kancho's been around way before that anime.

"You bad man! A culture where sexuality and the human body aren't things of shame and you're trying to teach it to them!"

Well, Japan's perverted. Yeah, people can take baths together and not freak out over it (I've had to learn that skill while I was here). But this is also a country where they had to institute "Women's Only" train cars because the groping problem was getting out of hand. Where high school girls can sell their unwashed panties for quite a bit of money. Where the men have an unhealthy preference for younger girls. Where camera phones have to make a very loud, very audible, non-muteable sound when a picture is taken, because the first models didn't do that and voyeur snapshots exploded all over the place. And one of my school nurses told me last week she gets quite a few students coming to her with sex problems. And these kids are in the 12-15 age range.

You can make of that what you will.

"What is up with your schools? Where's the discipline?"

This is actually a bit of a problem now for Japan. Jr. high schools just don't have discipline options. It works on the honor system - the students go to class and don't cause problems because it's in their best interest. But, if a student isn't planning to go to high school, or just doesn't care, they can act up and there's little we can do about it. It actually frustrates a lot of the teachers I've talked to.

Technically, I teach in the "country", where kids may not come from good families and may not be motivated to do well in school. Also, I've heard that the entrance exams for high school aren't that hard, and students can still pass them despite not studying that hard. Some of my sannensei from the ghetto school last year...they were terrible students and I sort of figured they weren't going to high school. Yet, I occasionally see them around...they did go to high school, and many of them work part-time jobs. I think it was them realizing they could goof around and get away with it. They are, after all, kids.

The difficult ninensei boys...I don't think they want to do anything. Sometimes we catch them smoking (they're 14 years old) and hanging out with the wrong crowd. The "wrong crowd" graduated from the ghetto school a few years ago, and went on to do nothing except ride their scooters around town and make excessive amounts of noice. It's sad, they think they're so cool....ON THEIR SCOOTERS. You will never be cool....ON A SCOOTER. And then they wave at me and try to get my approval...I just smile and say "Wow, your life depresses me", and they don't know what I said cause they never paid attention in English class.

While Jr. high schools have this problem, high schools *I think* have more discipline options, but I have never gone to one and don't know that many high school teachers so I can't really say. While city kids may be more well-behaved, I do believe this is a problem all over Japan. I went to a conference in Kobe, and one of the seminars was about "Jr High Classroom Management". It more or less degenerated into people complaining about their problem students and how they can't do anything about it. It's an interesting dilemma.

And for the record, the worst students I have are at the ghetto school. The other two schools have no problems...at one, there are some boys and girls who can be over-talkative at times, but they'll behave when need be. At the other, the worst student is Mousey...and all he really does is complain all the time.

"Is your situation special?"

Not really. EVERYONE here deals with Kancho. And almost everyone gets felt up at some point (except for me, ha! Go go Gadget Dick Dodging!). But that's not to say if you become a teacher in Japan you'll have a little girl screaming "Breasts!" at you too. Some of my friends wonder if their students are actually really alive, they're so quiet. It just varies.

And some of my friends tell me stories that shock even me. It all just depends I guess.

"Dude, your girlfriend is hot!"

Ex-girlfriend. And no, not really.

"Wow, that's harsh."

Yeah, well, she's a horrible person.

And a note to you male Japanophiles out there - the model/idol pics you may or may not be drooling over is fiction too.

"But, Japanese women are so cute, and sweet, and nice, and..."

Uh-huh, sure, you go ahead and believe that. The women, much like this country...what you see isn't exactly the whole truth.

But if you are bent on learning this the hard way, just take note that what you bring home at night may not be the same thing you wake up next to in the morning.

And no, this isn't bitterness talking. I'm not saying they all suck, but they may not be the goddesses some of you make them out to be. They are human, and come with their own faults which are no better (and in some ways worse) than any other race of women on the planet.

This is just one's man's (probably futile) attempt to curb the tide of Yellow Fever.

"You gotta tell me. What's The Octopus?!"

I told you I'm never telling. Don't even bother asking.

"I wanted to teach in Japan, but not anymore!"

As I said before, it's a good experience. You learn a lot about yourself, Japan, and your own country (just by being away from it and seeing how others percieve it - not just Japanese, but all the people from different countries I've met while here). I'm definitely glad I came. Whether you want to come or not is up to you, but don't let a few possible fingers up the ass deter you. Lighten up, and see the humor in it. And now that you know, you can do as I did, climbing Mt. Fuji and fine-tuning my Kancho Sense™ to a precise science. And then maybe you too can make a website about kids trying to grab your dick.

"Ok, I really want to do this! How?"

I did a program called JET. All you need is a bachelor's degree (doesn't matter what field), fluency in English, a pulse, and to not be a total fuck-up. Even then, the last two are debateable. That's it. You don't need any teaching experience (I had NONE prior to coming) or any Japanese language abilities.

JET actually discourages the use of Japanese in some ways (after all, they're not bringing you to Japan to speak Japanese with Japanese people), but I personally think it's extremely useful, inside of the classroom and especially outside. Most of the JET's who come don't actually have that much Japanese ability (most of my friends couldn't speak Japanese when they got here, some of them still can't...). If you really want to learn, well, there's no better way than total immersion. There'll be plenty of opportunities to do so, and it would be good for your students to see you learning their language as they learn yours.

If you are really interested in JET, you can inquire about it at your university's Career Center, Japanese Department, or go to the JET Program Website.

There are other programs besides JET, which place people in conversation schools like Nova and ECC. I don't know too much about them, so I can't be of much help there. From everything I've heard though, they're not quite as good as JET. I believe the requirements are the same though - you just need a bachelor's degree and to be fluent in English.

"What kind of classes should I take/degree do I need to do JET?"

You don't need anything specific. You don't need a day of Japanese language/culture classes, English teaching methodology, whatever. All you need is a bachelors degree - doesn't matter what field or from what university.

Additionally, JET is not specifically offered through schools - it is just a program that exists for university graduates.

"JET sounds great! But, I have a few questions..."

Please, please, please, please please NO MORE JET QUESTIONS. I give up, I'm raising the white flag, stick a fork in me.

If you want to do JET and can't find the information you're looking for on their website, consult your university's career center or Japanese department. If you are not in university...you are still a long way from doing this, and shouldn't worry about it too much now.

If you actually get to applying, most if not all of your questions will be answered along the way. If you get in, they will ORIENTATE YOU TO DEATH. Seriously. They will give you answers to all the general questions you may have, and even put you in contact face-to-face with former JET's. They will tell you everything you never wanted to know about Japan, except for the really useful stuff, like the threat of kancho or that your kids may one day ask you "Do you play masturbate?" But you're hearing this now so it's all good.

And then if/when you actually get there, they will ORIENTATE YOU SOME MORE. It never ends. They'll be shipping you off to seminars until your human spirit is absolutely crushed, and the words "group work" or "brainstorming activity" will be enough to send you into uncontrollable fits of crying and swearing.

But I'm not the JET spokesboy. Never was, and I don't want to be. JET questions clog up my mailbox and are the primary reason for the backlog.

"I really want to learn Japanese, but my high school/university doesn't offer it. What can I do?"

Go online to one of the college textbooks sites and order yourself a Japanese textbook there. From there, it just depends on how dedicated you are at it. Japanese is not an easy language to learn, at it WILL frustrate the hell out of you sometimes. But it can be done, if you're willing to work at it.

I don't have any specific book recommendations, as I wasn't particularly fond of any of my textbooks. I will say though that for kanji, the Kodansha Kanji Learners is probably one of, if not the best resources you could buy.

As for media, Japanese TV shows like variety (if you can stomach it) and drama are good. But not anime so much. The Japanese used in anime is not natural (intentionally so) and all you'll learn are terribly unuseful phrases anyway.

And of course, stay far away from Japanese porn. Forget the language, it will darken your soul. You have been warned.

"Is that Americanized-English teacher hot?"

She's not bad. And no, I will not post pictures. And if there are already pictures up, I will not point out who she is.

"She wants you dude. You should go for it!"

When she said that I wasn't in a position to do anything. I've decided if she says anything like that again, I'll offer to help, but I'm not going to intentionally pursue it. After all, I didn't fly across an ocean just to bang co-workers. Could have done that at home.

"Dude, you're an English major/teacher? Your spelling/grammar is attrocious!"

Thank you Grammar Police.

This is my own personal website. I write most of the content in WordPad, or straight in HTML (I don't like MS Word's auto-formatting). So I don't run a spell or grammar checker. I do this for fun in my free time. So I'm not sweating it too much. You shouldn't either. ^_^

And yes, I have intentionally left some errors/mistakes as is, just to further piss off those of you who get pissed off over grammar on the internet. ^_^

Besides, live here long enough, and your English starts to detoriate. It's happening to all of us, we're stumbling over prounciation and forgetting simple words, and just making crazy blunders. As one of my friends said once, "And that's a factual fact." You know, as opposed to the fictional ones. He was being completely serious when he said that.

I like email. So if there's anything more you want to ask me about (that hasn't been covered in this or the other FAQ), do feel free to email me at [email protected]. Please give me time to respond (I am working and have a massive backlog) but I probably will respond.

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