When you head to the incredible islands of Japan, you have no option but to cram your itinerary as full as humanly possible to experience all the fantastic sites to see, activities to do, and food to taste. If you’re one of the lucky few embarking on our brand spanking new Teach English in Japan program, you’ll have a whole year to tick off all the items on your Japan bucket list. Right from the get go, we have made it our priority to ensure that you have a solid cultural foundation to prepare you for life in Japan and experience arguably the most enriching cultural immersion in Japan possible.
In this 2 part series we’ll break down all the amazing elements of TravelBud’s in-depth foundational course on cultural immersion in Japan and explain why, out of all the things to do in Japan, we’ve chosen these to prepare you best for life in Japan. While our Paid Teaching program comes with all the fundamental to teaching abroad – from an internationally accredited TESOL course, a guaranteed job placement earning up to $2500 per month, 24/7 pre-departure and in-country support, and more – we believe that the cultural element is just as important and so dedicate the first week of the program to the following in order to equip you with a strong cultural foundation before your TESOL training and teaching adventure begins:
- Tons of enriching lessons from experts in the field on Japanese culture, etiquette, history, geography, and politics
- 6 hours of Japanese language lessons
- Active learning through thrilling cultural excursions which include Nagoya’s ancient castle, the Tokugawa Art museum, an authentic Japanese cooking class, a walking tour and welcome dinner, and even a Sumo Wrestling match!
Overcome the language barrier
Trying to immerse yourself in a foreign culture ain’t no walk in the park if you have no means to communicate with the local people. This is why we dedicate at least 6 hours to Japanese language lessons for our TESOL students where we take the time to educate them on the basics of Japanese language, through lessons which highlight common phrases to give you jumpstart for communicating through day-to-day life as well as within the context of the workplace, while introducing you to the Japanese alphabet and basic pronunciation.
The goal of our language lessons is to empower our teachers with a basic yet broad grasp of the rather complex Japanese language, and in doing so provide them with the means for basic communication with local people and co-workers which they can build on during their year or more of teaching English in Japan.
With respect being highly valued and an ancient hierarchical system of practices, language forms a crucial element. It is not necessary to be fluent, but it will certainly help ease you into the culture and assist with day-to-day tasks like ordering delicious food, navigating the efficient transport systems, effectively running your classroom and upholding respect to those in your work environment. And if it is your goal to learn Japanese whilst you in turn impart your English language skills to your Japanese students, it will give you the basics from which you can master the language over time.
If you’re looking to learn Japanese during your time in Japan, there are a number of options. You can go for the formal system of two-way learning with university students or co-workers who will teach you Japanese in exchange for you teaching them English. There are also group classes in bigger cities and more formal one-on-one classes that will accelerate your learning.
Hiragana is one of three Japanese writing systems you need to learn to be able to read. The other two are katakana and kanji, but hiragana is where everything starts. The earliest text, the Kojiki, dates all the way back to the 8th century. An ancient language that has evolved over time with remnants of Chinese and Hiragana being the version of the Japanese alphabet.
You’ll learn the basics of Hiragana during your first week on the program but for a super informative and effective breakdown of the various elements of learning Japanese, you can get a headstart on understanding the basics here.
Taste and cook your way through Japan’s Diverse Food Scene
In Asian cultures in general, food is a lot more than just an explosion of flavours and new taste to tantalize the palette. Food and cuisine is also a lense into certain cultural practices and history, and Japan is no exception.
During your first week of cultural immersion in Japan, we teach cultural etiquette surrounding many facets of life, including practices to do with eating out at restaurants and the special event that every meal is in Japan. You may find yourself at a teachers dinner and need to make use of these practices so as not to feel like a fish out of water. Little things like eating soup with chopsticks (right?!), never resting chopsticks on your bowl and returning all dishes back the way they were laid out to how they were originally served once the meal is complete.
Eat your heart out Japanese-style with your coursemates
Once you have come to grips with cultural etiquette in Japan, there is also a welcome dinner during the course where you can make use of your newly acquired etiquette at a traditional Yakitori Chicken pub setting (with substitutes for vegetarians of course!). This is also a great bonding time with your fellow TESOL students and soon-to-be teachers, who are embarking on the same incredible journey as you in Japan.
Master the art of cooking Japanese cuisine like a local
Apart from the etiquette side of things, we also host an authentic Japanese cooking class! And this is where you’ll put your language classes into use as you visit a local market to converse with and buy fresh produce from the local street vendors which you’ll be putting to use in the kitchen.
For those that are a dab hand in the kitchen, or even those whose culinary skills are not amongst their foremost talents, the cooking class is a tool for learning a new skill and engaging with a huge element of the culture that you will naturally learn more about: FOOD! The menu for each cooking class will vary from course to course, but will be traditional Japanese fare, such as Yakitori Chicken skewers or the ever popular sushi.
Maximize your cultural immersion in Japan – Part 2
In part 2 of this culturally immersive series, we delve into the other important inclusions and benefits of TravelBud’s cultural immersion course in Japan such as the Tokugawa Art Museum, a guided walking tour of downtown Nagoya, a visit to the ancient Nagoya Castle and even…a Sumo Wrestling match. Read all about it here!