The world imagines Tokyo as a futuristic utopian dreamscape where order and reason prevail, and everything, and everyone, works in perfect insect-like harmony for the greater good of the city. Trains run on time, the crime rate is enviably low, the streets are clean, and the citizens are generally intelligent, considerate, and polite. Is it really like this? The answer is…yes.
Tokyo, compared to virtually anywhere else on the planet, is a glowing beacon of what civilised 21st century life should be. This colossus city of over 39 million people seems to blend all the best aspects of other cities and somehow discard the bad; it’s as stylish asLondon orParis without the snobbery. It’s as modern asNew York without the crime. And it can match any eastern city for culture and heritage.
To live and work in Tokyo is an experience which can have life changing consequences. Being immersed in Japan’s modern culture for a few years, or even a few months, is nearly always beneficial to those who make the effort. Whether it’s eating in some of the city’s super-cool restaurants and partying in its ultra-trendy clubs, or taking time out to learn about its fascinating history, you are sure to have a memorable experience that will stay with you forever, and gain an insight into what makes this town one of the most successful metropolises of modern times.
Teaching English in Tokyo
Many English teachers arrive in Tokyo with a TEFL position already in place, with many large language schools recruiting teachers from their home countries in a process that can take up to 3 months. However, it is still possible to arrive on a tourist visa and look for work once you’re there. A lot of smaller language schools are more than willing to employ teachers this way and there’s always the possibility of earning money tutoring private students.
Salaries are usually quite good for English teachers in Japan, especially so in Tokyo. The average wage is around 125,000-250,000 JPY/month (approx. $1,500-3,100 US). Typically this is for a 25hrs working week. Teachers are also expected to sign contracts for no less than a 6 month commitment, although yearly contracts are becoming more common. Employers provide health insurance and holiday concessions. Additional benefits can include: Monthly travelling allowance (usually up to 25,000 JPY/month), assistance finding accommodation, and contract completion bonuses.
Japan, like many eastern countries in recent times, has standard criteria for those wishing to teach in the country. English teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree (in any field) and it is desirable to have a little teaching experience before you arrive. Tokyo is a very competitive market and positions are often taken by the more experienced teachers. Having a 100+hr TEFL certificate is a clear indication to prospective employers that you have the minimum basic skills necessary to carry out the job correctly.
Must-Do in Tokyo
- Ginza. The Ginza District is a spectacular shopping and fashion area known as one of the most luxurious shopping areas on the planet. The district’s main streets are crammed with tall, modern stores but the back alleyways are just as interesting. Almost every alley is lined with small enticing Japanese eateries, and the contrasting atmosphere makes it hard to believe you’re still in the middle of one of the world’s most hi-tech cities.
- Imperial Palace. The Imperial Palace occupies the site of the ancient Edo Castle, which was established in the 1450’s. It is believed that the construction of the castle involved the labour of some 300,000 workers. This is a spectacular complex with fascinating historical significance.
- Ueno koen. Is a large public park in central Tokyo with an interesting offering of museums, temples, and a zoo. It’s also one of the most popular spots in Tokyo for cherry blossoms. Near the southern entrance one can see an unusual statue of Saigo Takamori, a famous samurai who lived in the nineteenth century, his opposition to the Meiji government was the basis for the movie ‘The last samurai.’
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