Rachel aus Großbritannien hat sich zu ihrem Work & Travel-Abenteuer nach Japan aufgemacht. In unserem Blog erzählt sie uns, warum sie ihren 30. Geburtstag in Japan verbringen wollte und warum sie definitiv jedem empfehlen würde, Work & Travel auszuprobieren!
Japan has been a country I have wanted to visit for a number of years now and I have managed to fulfil my dream as well as spend my 30th birthday in this beautiful country. I have had so many experiences and met some wonderful people that I would definitely recommend doing a working holiday to anyone who wishes to spend a year immersed in a different country with a rich history and culture.
I was introduced to Japan when I started watching anime, although at the time I just saw it as a cartoon. My first anime was CardCaptors which is the American dub of CardCaptor Sakura when I was in primary school. Then I grew older and I watched shows such as Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing and various others. I still watch anime as well as re-watch them.
Two of my passions is history and reading. I read both fiction and non-fiction and in my final year in high school, I read ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden and I found the details of the locations brought wonderful images in my mind and I wanted to see these places for myself. I then watched the film adaptation with Ken Wattenberg and this just cemented this more in my desire to visit Japan. Although, it took me a while to get myself to Japan.
In October 2018, I was on holiday and I found myself feeling in a bit of a rut with life. I was turning 30 and I wanted to do something different. So I looked into Japan and getting work teaching English however most wanted degrees and I don’t have one. I am a horse riding instructor and I went to college to study horses then left to work at stables in London and Cornwall.
Did I give up? Of course not. I kept looking and I found the Working Holiday option which didn’t require a degree. So this made my day.
So I looked through different companies and I found BUNAC, a partner company with World Unite! and looked at the website. I was blown away with the amount of useful information on the site and I decided to go for it, although my biggest concern was the fact I was turning 30 and a Working Holiday visa was only for 18-30. I e-mailed them and arranged a phone call discussion.
I spoke with a member of the BUNAC team who cleared my worries about my age and was extremely friendly. This gave me the confidence to pay the deposit and start the process of filling out the paperwork. I handed in my resignation at work but gave them till after new year as I didn’t want to leave them short and I returned home in early January 2019.
I was getting excited when I found out that for the first time, they had given out the allotted number of visas for the current tax year, which is 1000 however they said they would re-open in April. This put a little hiccup in my plans as I had planned to apply in February to fly in April but I just moved things around. I planned to visit London early April and before the Easter holidays. I went to the BUNAC office in Kensington and met with some of the team who helped me organise my paperwork ready for the Embassy. I headed to the Embassy next and went through security and got a ticket and waited.
My paperwork was looked at and my passport was taken. I was handed a receipt which would have to be handed back when the passport was collected and I returned to BUNAC. I was nervous but they assured me that I had been successful as they would have given me my passport back otherwise. As I live in Wigan, which is a bit far and expensive to travel to London for overnight; I was relieved to find out that BUNAC pick up passports and then send them by next day delivery. Of course there was a fee and I paid it as it was much cheaper than the alternative. By the following Saturday, I had may visa.
Arrival in Japan
I landed in Japan 30th May 2019 at 12:30 pm about half an hour earlier. I got off the plane, collected my luggage and was directed through to customs. Those with the working holiday visa need to go to the left side and wait as this is where we get our work permit and residents card. I then went downstairs and my luggage was checked and I exited to the Arrivals area where I waited for Nozomi, a World Unite! team member from the share house I had booked to stay in.
Nozomi was very friendly and we took the limousine bus from Narita Airport. I was super excited and logged into the free Wi-Fi on the bus so then I could download Line. Line is like messenger and it connects us with the team as they offer support for the whole year even if we move around Japan. We got of the bus and I followed Nozomi who led us towards the Tozai Metro line and told us to remember our stop Kiba which is T13. We got off the metro and walked towards the share house. At the share house, I was shown to where I would be staying and given time to rest before the filling in of paperwork.
When the paperwork was done, I walked to the local my basket and picked something to eat and spent the evening talking to some of other residents.
The next morning, I met up with Nozomi and some of the others and we went to set up our JP bank account. Nozomi helped us throughout the whole process and once we were finished asked if we were going to head out for the day. I said yes as I was eager to explore. We headed to the metro and I gave her 1000¥ and she got me a PASMO card. I thanked her and headed out to explore.
My first stop was Nihombashi, only a few stops from Kiba and I had a wander around. I even went into a museum and looked at some interesting artefacts.
There is also an induction meeting, which lasts about an hour and a half. This gives you important information on getting a job whilst in Japan. You can do various jobs such as teaching English, babysitting, work at a restaurant etc. They explain the interview process and how to accept a business card which is really helpful. This is how I found out about Care Finder. This is babysitting site where you set up a profile and then arrange a meeting with the Care Finder team who then verify your profile. This is a good way to generate some income. I have met some lovely people through Caret Finder and it has helped me to boost my income.
Looking back on those first few days, I was glad that I went through a company like Bunac/World Unite! as they helped me get myself established in Japan. They also assisted me in getting a Japanese sim card, work, language school and a wonderful team that I can count on if I need assistance.
Language school and Work
One of the benefits of this programme is being able to attend language school. This is extra but it an opportunity to learn the basics of Japanese from native teachers but also a change to meet other travellers. I did the Hiragana and Katakana which is 4 weeks. I recommend this for those who want an introduction and basic foundation as there are lessons available at community centres.
As part of the support we get for the duration of our stay in Japan, we are sent job alerts through Line. I was alerted to a nursery job by Nozomi which was successful and my boss is keeping me on till end of March which is fantastic.
Another early job I did was one I found myself and that was as a waitress in a Japanese restaurant in Asakusa. I was wandering around and went to have lunch. As it was quiet, I got talking with the manager and left with a job. It was a wonderful place and I even went there for my 30th birthday. Unfortunately, the restaurant is no longer open.
I have also used Craigslist which does have some good jobs for freelance teaching English, schools, however, be careful as there are some that are not suitable for a working holiday participant. Although, my most recent job was one from Craigslist which is teaching English at a nursery/preschool. I love this place and began there in December 2019. I have met some lovely people and the children are fantastic. I work 3 days a week and will be working there till end of April 2020.
Experiences in Japan
I have experienced many things whilst in Japan so far and there’s still much to see and do. I have attended festivals which are wonderful celebrations for everyone to enjoy. I have worn a Yukata which is the summer kimono and it’s made of cotton. I also bought my own in Asakusa.
The Yukata in the photo opposite is the one I brought in Asakusa and I wore this on the last night of the festival at Yasukuni Shrine in Kudanshita. This is held over 3 nights, 13th-16th July 2019. It was a wonderful evening and many people come to attend the festivities where people come to honour their dead.
As I mentioned earlier, one of my reasons for doing the Working Holiday was to celebrate my 30th birthday. I definitely spoilt myself as I had a lovely hair treatment and haircut at Nalu76 a hair salon in Omotesando. This is a fantastic salon as the staff speak English, very friendly and professional. I then went to Asakusa and had a meal with some friends I had met at the World Unite! share house.
The following day I went to Disney Sea which is unique to Japan. I am a huge Disney fan and this is definitely a place from me. I left early and there was already a long queue however once it opened at 8am we got in quite quickly. It was a lovely day and I had a wonderful time especially exploring Mermaid Lagoon and the Arabian Cost. I stayed for the till 9pm which was when the evening show had finished.
One activity I highly recommend is held on the 3rd November for Culture Day and this Yabusame; archery on horseback. I watched this highly exciting sport at Meji Jingu Shrine in Harajuku and as a horse rider myself, I can see the dedication and skill these riders have achieved. It is popular and challenging as they have to hit 3 targets at gallop. Those that make it through the first round proceed to the next where the target is smaller and when hit confetti is released. Those who have competed for a year are allowed to wear their family crest. It is exhilarating and something I would watch again and again.
In Novemeber, my mum came to visit for two weeks and we had a wonderful time. We saw Mt Fuji, went to Teamlabs Borderless and Odaiba onsen called Odaiba Ōedo-onsen-monogatari. It is a fun place to visit as you can play festival games, wear yukata, enjoy food and drink as well as various treatments. You are given a wrist band when you enter and you use that to buy with then pay when you leave.
Pictures are Mount Fuji, Mum and I at Team labs and at Odiaba Onsen.
As I reflect I see my time in Japan has been a fantastic experience and I would do it all again. I have learnt much and have met so many people who I hope to remain in contact with. This is something I think everyone would benefit from; to be able to experience a new country and culture is eye-opening. To be honest, a year is not enough and I wish I could stay longer, however I am already planning my next visit.
I wish to say a big thank you to the team at World Unite! and at BUNAC for providing me with this amazing opportunity and hope my experience will inspire others to do a working holiday visa.