Skating in Sendai: Teaching English in Japan

Let's play 'Spot The Gaijin'

For the second installment of my interview series about teaching in Asia, I sat down with my friend Nino. Nino and I both attended Boston University and shared several Japanese classes with each other. Since I always thought he was much too cool and good-looking to talk to, I actually didn’t get to know him until the Spring semester of my Junior year. So, I am definitely glad that a fortuitously placed copy of Karl Friday’s Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan led to a conversation with him – he is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and his knowledge of Japanese history is astounding. I can honestly say that he knows far more about samurai history than I ever will. Nino graduated from BU in 2009 with a degree in East Asian Studies and a concentration in Japanese. He has been teaching English in Japan since January 2010, first in Ishinomaki and later in Sendai City.

Constantine: So, why did you want to teach abroad?

Nino: Sadly the answer to this is more for the selfish reason of pursuing my own interest in Japanese history than anything else. Though, I do find teaching to be a fulfilling job, especially when you notice how much the student has learned. But, initially my passion for Japanese history is what brought me here; considering there’s no better place to study the history of a country than in that country itself.

Constantine: What sparked your interest in Japanese history?

Nino: Damned if I know. I first became interested in middle school… I have always been quite the nerd. The answer I usually tell people is Shogun by James Clavell. But, as an academic, admitting Shogun was my inspiration is actually sort of embarrassing – considering it’s such a bastardization and romanticized version of history – even if it was written as fiction. But in any case, I read it in middle school and knowing it was based on history got me interested to learn the actual history. I had always been familiar with samurai just from the general fantasy genre (which might often blend Eastern and Western mythologies or histories together) but after reading Shogun, it was the first time I actually began to pursue an academic interest.

Constantine: Shogun was actually something that sparked my interest in Japan as well. I read it at around the same age you did.

Nino: Yeah, I hate admitting it, but that’s what did it.

Constantine: It’s better than Sailor Moon.

Nino: [laughs] Very true. I think the first history book I read about the subject was a [Stephen] Turnbull pop-culture samurai history book…which I also don’t like admitting. But it was when I was young and stupid…though I must say it did provide a good background and introduction into the material. Ninja Scroll also played a part – I watched a lot of anime and played a lot of videogames when I was younger…I had a hell of an imagination, so I was always kind of curious where all that stuff came from.

Constantine: So it was this interest in Japanese history – particularly the samurai – that made you decide to major in East Asian Studies in college?

Nino: Without a doubt. I actually decided to do East Asian Studies as opposed to Japanese Language and Literature because East Asian Studies allowed me to get credit for other classes that were not directly related to Japan but that I could relate in my own studies. For example, Taoist religion would not have counted toward a Japanese Language and Literature degree but it did for East Asian Studies…Chinese philosophy, Chinese history…none of those would have counted, but they’re all relevant to the study of Japanese history. It was less the actual degree I was worried about so much as what I would be able to study in a broader sense.

Constantine: You’ve always been a big fan of self-directed study. To me, it always seemed like the institutionalized nature of education at BU really rubbed you the wrong way.

Nino: Mmm that’s true in some sense but not entirely true. There’s only so far you can go in self-directed study. What rubbed me the wrong way about BU was how limited the academic program for what I wanted to study actually was. Professor O’Brien coming to BU was the most exciting thing about my entire education…because she brought with her classes that I was actually interested in.

Constantine: Me too!

Nino: I mean, I was interested in learning about Chinese history, philosophy, Japanese language, etc, but Professor O’Brien came and actually starting teaching a class called ‘The Samurai’…which was like, “Fucking finally!” I waited three years to take one class essentially. Her arrival also allowed me to do that independent study, which was extremely rewarding and interesting for me because I was still studying on my own but with guidance. So, I didn’t have the limitations of studying on my own but I had the freedom.

Constantine: So, moving to Japan after graduation was the next logical step for you. I know that you initially applied to the JET Program at the same time I did. Can you tell everyone a little bit about your experience with the JET application process?

Nino: Well, in retrospect, it’s absolutely tedious and time-consuming. I was so worried about getting into JET that I failed to see the literally hundreds of other opportunities outside of JET. JET takes almost a full academic year to apply to – with an application, interview, placement, etc. – and they sure take their time letting you know how you’re doing. It takes a couple months after you apply to know if you even got an interview, then another few months to know how the interview even went. AEON is much the same way, but neither are necessarily the best option.

Constantine: JET definitely creates a lot of mystery around the application process, which seems to blind people to all the other options available for working and living in Japan. I agree that JET isn’t necessarily the best option. So, after you didn’t get into JET, you started to look for other options. How did you find out about the job in Ishinomaki?

Nino: Actually, even when I found the job in Ishinomaki I was still a little clueless as to all the opportunities there actually are. I found the Ishinomaki job through Craigslist Japan – which is really only used by foreigners in Japan. It was only after I decided to leave that job that I really began to look everywhere and was able to see all the opportunities I had actually missed. There are literally hundreds of jobs listed just on GaijinPot or Dave’s ESL Café (those are two of the most popular websites) but there’s dozens of other similar websites that list perfectly credible jobs that are much less of a hassle than JET or AEON.

Constantine: Do you have any advice for people who currently looking for jobs in Japan?

Nino: Hmm, it’s strange. I can’t really say if my experience was a positive or negative one, so I’m trying to think of advice…What essentially happened to me was I got the Ishinomaki job and got a visa for a year Then, I quit the job three months in and still had a valid working visa. So, I was eligible for basically any English teaching job available, which worked to my advantage because many job offers say you need a valid visa before applying. So I was able to pick and choose where I wanted to work…I’m not sure if that’s positive or negative, because I also spent a year looking at places like JET or AEON that only hire from overseas. I thought that if I didn’t get into those then I would have a hard time finding other companies. So, I guess my advice would be to not put all your eggs in one basket because there are literally hundreds of opportunities. You just have to know where to look and you’d be surprised how selective you can actually be with the jobs that you find.

Constantine: I know a lot of people who want to work in Japan feel a little intimidated by the process of getting a working visa. What process did you go through to get your visa? Did the company in Ishinomaki help you with the process?

Nino: They did pretty much everything actually. They said “send us this stuff” – which included a criminal background check, photocopy of my diploma and passport. I think there was some other stuff but none of it was difficult to acquire. When they got it they did everything. The way I got my visa was a little sneaky though. I technically went as a tourist and then after I arrived we changed my status to working visa.

Constantine: I see. So, what was your initial teaching job in Ishinomaki like?

Nino: Well, it was in the middle of nowhere so I was basically loaned out through the company to various kindergartens and community centers around the area since gaijin teachers were few and far between. I worked with students of all ages and abilities; from preschool kids and kindergarten kids (who were the most fun) to adult conversation classes and adult beginner classes. But the English teaching company was part of a larger non-profit organization and as such was only a small fraction of the company as a whole. So it wasn’t very well-funded and had no real curriculum. I did all the class planning myself.

Constantine: About how many hours of actual teaching did you do a week? What was your schedule like?

Nino: I taught about 30 to 35 actual classroom hours. But I also had to plan all of those lessons, so I ended up working 40 maybe 45 a week. And the schedule was real bad – classes were basically scattered all throughout the day. So I might have had some free time in the middle of the day but never enough to actually do anything…I would usually just end up sitting there staring at a wall because if I tried to do anything I was interested in, the time would be over before I had gotten anything done.

Constantine: You definitely had a much bigger work load than I do as a JET. How much did you get paid?

Nino: The same if not less than you. But many of these jobs are hit-or-miss. Some jobs you work long hours for the same pay as another job where you might work not at all. It really depends. I was really discouraged in Ishinomaki because I was unable to do any of the things I had initially set out to do by coming to Japan. Just like any industry, I guess, some jobs are great, some are good, some are okay, and some suck.

Constantine: It definitely is hit-or-miss. So, the job in Ishinomaki definitely encouraged you to look for a job somewhere else. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing in Sendai now?

Nino: I now work in Sendai at a kodomo eikaiwa [children’s English conversation school] and an English conversation café. The work day is a little more structured, which gives me much more time to actually do what I want when I’m free. For example, I might work only in the morning one day or I might work all day another or I might work only night time. The day isn’t as scattered, which allows me to actually make use of my time to pursue what I’m interested in.

Constantine: What is your current living situation like? Do you have your own apartment and how much would you say your living expenses are in Sendai?

Nino: Oof, this question hurts me to think about. I actually am living in a monthly apartment right now – which means I sign a new lease every month. But the apartment is not really an apartment, more like a Japanese hotel room. Which means it’s small – extremely small. And it’s downtown so it’s also extremely expensive.

Constantine: I’ve seen some, they’re basically like one room.

Nino: On the bright side, it’s furnished and utilities, internet, etc. are all included. So it’s not too bad…but it’s certainly not ideal. It’s one room, but one very small tight room. It’s a hotel room basically, but not like a normal American hotel room. Those are much bigger.

Constantine: [laughs] Yeah, my parents were shocked when they came to Japan and saw the size of hotel rooms. Do you feel like you make enough money to maintain a fairly decent standard of living?

Nino: Mmm, well now I do. But when I first came to Sendai I was strapped for cash because I was looking for work and the jobs I got weren’t giving me enough classes because I was brand new. Since I’ve become established as an actual teacher there, and now I’m doing okay. I’m certainly not rolling in money but that’s not really a concern of mine.

Constantine: That’s good to hear. I know a lot of people are concerned about the cost of living in Japan.

Nino: Yeah, depending on where you go the cost of living is no different than in America. If you go to Tokyo or big cities, the cost of living can be pretty outrageous. But Sendai is actually a very livable city… It’s a pretty big city too, the biggest in Tohoku.

Constantine: Now that you’ve had the opportunity to live in a fairly rural area and a city, what are some of the differences you’ve noticed between rural and urban areas in Japan?

Nino: Well, in terms of social interaction, cities are far more involving. Gaijin are rare in rural areas, and as such, it might be difficult to make Japanese friends. In Ishinomaki almost nobody wanted to talk to me and there was a drastic shortage of young people. Many Japanese people operate under the assumption that foreigners can’t speak any Japanese, and living in rural areas often makes those on the receiving end of this assumption well aware of it. So it can be very isolating.

Constantine: That’s definitely been my experience in Oshima. It’s very difficult to even get people to talk to me here and it’s extremely isolating.

Nino: Exactly. Living in a city is far more tolerable though…for me anyways, because I’m able to actually practice Japanese and there are young people here with whom I can socialize. And while in America socialization was never something I prioritized, in Japan I consider it to be language practice – seeing as how there’s no way you can attain fluency without speaking. It’s also just more fun. There’s much more to do here and, because Sendai is basically the travel hub of Tohoku, I can get to anywhere I want pretty easily.

Constantine: I know that you were much more knowledgeable about Japan and Japanese culture before moving to Japan than most people, but have you encountered any interesting cultural differences between Japan and America?

Nino: Ippai aru yo na! There’s dozens of them. One of the differences that always makes me laugh is the pot culture in Japan.

Constantine: Oh, you would mention that!

Nino: [laughs] I had to! It’s been one of my most epic struggles since coming here. It is super illegal here and even talking about it in the open is pretty taboo. But the ironic thing is that images of marijuana leaves are all over the place. Often you’ll see senior citizens with marijuana leaf shaped car fresheners hanging in their car.

Constantine: I often wonder if they realize what it is.

Nino: Yeah, it’s simply because they don’t know what it actually is. Many Japanese people – even young people – have never seen weed and don’t even know what it smells like, let alone actually smoked it. It’s terrible illegal and yet they down alcohol like water.

Constantine: JET has made me too paranoid to ever do anything bad. JET is always under so much public scrutiny that you will get crucified if you ever do anything bad here.

Nino: [laughs] Yeah…luckily, I’m under no public scrutiny at all. Except as a gaijin, but that’s unavoidable.

Constantine: Totally unavoidable… That actually reminds me to ask you something. You have some pretty extensive tattoo work on your body. Have you ever had any negative reactions? Or any funny reactions for that matter?

Nino: Yeah, almost every time people become aware that I have them. As a skateboarding, tattooed gaijin I get stared at like no other. Almost everyone that sees me skateboarding at the park stares. If they don’t know me, they’ll just stare like I’m from outer space. If they know me and just didn’t know I am half covered in tattoos they’ll often give a reaction more than staring…but it really depends on the person. Most people don’t know I have them because my shirt covers everything. But, since it’s been summer, I’ve been skateboarding whenever I’m free. In fact, its how I’ve made most of my friends. But, also since its summer, it’s really hot, so I skate without a shirt…so, you can only imagine.

Constantine: When I expose my tattoo, I can hear people behind me reading it out loud. It’s hilarious.

Nino: [laughs] Do they know what it is?

Constantine: Well, first they just start reading it without realizing what it is, “Nam…myo…ho…” and then they figure it out and get really confused, “Why does she have that tattooed on her?”

Nino: [laughs] Then do you whip out your naginata and slay them?

Constantine: I’m still trying to figure out how to roll my Rs like a yakuza. Until then I will never be scary.

Nino: I know, that’s so awesome. I wish I could do that.

Constantine: It’s so sexy…rarrr. [Laughs] Man, I have problems… Anyways, let me ask you a few more questions. What are some of the differences you’ve noticed between American and Japanese students?

Nino: Mm honestly, I’ve found a lot of Japanese students have difficulty being creative. If you ask an open ended question, they have a lot of difficulty interpreting and creating something original. But they are far more superior in knowing detailed information. For example, if you look at a college entrance exam, the immense amount of detail in those questions is overwhelming. It might ask the name of a specific river north of specific mountains in a specific region, or something like that…something far more detailed than you would ever see on an American exam. But oppositely, it will never ask for an opinionated essay about a character from a famous novel. The focus is more on attention to detail rather than independent thought.

Constantine: Yes, one of the things I struggle most with when it comes to the Japanese education system is the lack of emphasis on analytical thinking. It works for Japan though, so more power to them, but it’s not the way I see the world.

Nino: Exactly.

Constantine: Alright, moving on. What is the weirdest/funniest thing that’s happened to you in English class?

Nino: Hmm, there’s laughs pretty often in my English class. But one of the things that I always thought was weird is the whole kanchou thing – sticking two fingers up someone else’s butt as a prank is pretty disgustingly hilarious.

Constantine: Dear god, I’m glad that has never happened to me.

Nino: [laughs]

Constantine: Improving your fluency in Japanese was one of your biggest motivations for moving to Japan. Do you feel like your Japanese has improved and do you have any advice for people who are currently trying to learn Japanese?

Nino: It has hopefully improved a great deal. I used to be very shy about speaking Japanese, especially when I was in college. But after moving here there’s only one way you get better and that’s by practicing. Making mistakes through actual experience will help you remember much faster than by reading over and over from a textbook. For example, if you read a definition of a word from a textbook, you might forget it in a day or two and have to look it up again. But if you try to use it when you’re speaking to someone and they say “No you’re thinking of a different word” you’ll never forget it. It kind of takes making an ass of yourself to learn and to get it to stick. I can name countless times I’ve said something totally wrong and then been corrected and now I don’t make those mistakes anymore. Experience can often be a much better teacher than anything else.

Constantine: That’s interesting. When I knew you in college, you always seemed very confident and mysterious. It was quite alluring. I would not have used the word ‘shy’ to describe you.

Nino: That’s hilarious to me. In terms of speaking Japanese, I was very shy. I remember I used to try speaking to Hide but after maybe five minutes I would just give up and speak English because I wouldn’t know how to say something so I would just stop entirely and speak English. Now, probably when I talk to Hide I might still make mistakes but I’ll no longer care.

Constantine: Well, Hide is probably the most difficult Japanese person on the planet to actually speak Japanese with. I date the guy and he won’t even speak it to me.

Nino: [laughs] That’s also hilarious.

Constantine: Alright, two more questions. What are your future plans? Do you want to live in Japan for several years, or do you want to more back to America in the near future?

So, are you going to introduce us Nino?

Nino: That’s a good question. I plan to live in Japan for at least another year because I’m after that language acquisition. However I really have no idea how long I’ll actually end up staying. I might go home after another year, might not. Part of me really wants to be an academic and study Japanese history for a living and part of me wants to continue that as just a hobby and like start a skate shop in Japan or something. Skateboarding is something that’s not popular in Japan but young people all know it and think it’s cool. It’s a very underground thing. But skate culture is very much the same wherever you go in the world, so I’ve been able to make friends that are real cool and the kind of friends that I would have in America…but Japanese. Because it’s not popular here, most of the skaters in Sendai know each other and they all hang with each other. So, it was a great way for me to make friends. Especially since they’re all kakkoii and real nice guys. And humorously they all think it’s cool that they’re friends with an American who is into the same stuff they are – hip hop, skateboarding, etc.

Constantine: Well, I hope you meet a sexy Japanese skater girl, get a marriage visa, and live happily ever after. Alright, last question – would you recommend teaching in Japan to anyone?

Nino: I would recommend teaching in Japan to those who are seriously interested in learning more about Japan or pursuing an interest you already have in Japan. If you don’t have an interest in Japan specifically there are dozens of countries you can go to teach English. But for those interested Japan it’s really satisfying, though it might be terribly trying at times. That’s really all I got.

Thanks a lot, Nino!

Click here to read the previous interview – about teaching English in rural China.

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Comments (14)

  1. Jessuru

    In my experience, Japan has one of the most authoritarian and broadly anti-intellectual education systems in the democratic world (though, we Americans give them a run for their money). I taught an independent IR class in Hong Kong, a place were independent education is far more openly appreciated. The higher levels that my largely autodidactic Hong Kong students had acquired vs my compulsory school “educated” Japanese students had acquired in critical and analytical thinking skills was extensive.

    I honestly can’t stress enough how important it is to not let English teaching’s monopoly on employment for foreigners in Japan blind people from seeing the other ways in which one can experience the country. As an ALT, my contribution to the institutionalization of the Japanese students in the classes I worked in was relatively minor, but it still something that makes me feel bad about myself to this day.

    September 5, 2010
    • constantineintokyo

      I have to admit, I am a little in love with you for writing this comment, and I really strongly agree. ‘Critical and analytical thinking skills’ is not high on the list of priorities for the Japanese education system. In fact, I don’t think it’s on the list at all. To me, it seems like ‘socialization’ is the main goal of the Japanese education system in that it seems more concerned with teaching students that necessary skills for life in Japanese society than it is with giving them tools to understand and interpret the world around them. From conversations with a few of my friends, it seems that this anti-intellectualism continues on into graduate-level education as well.

      While I shy away from criticizing Japanese education (they are rather touchy about their right to do things the ‘Japanese way’ and not give into imperialistic Western criticism), it certainly clashes with my own personal view of the purpose and role of education. The best students I have had in Japan were not Japanese – they were exchange students from Vietnam and Korea (though this may have nothing to do with the education systems in their home countries). After being here for over a year, I must admit that I have become very disillusioned with the entire ALT system. I can think of many ways that I could have better experienced Japan, so I was definitely one of the people who was blinded by the English teaching monopoly. Particularly for people who are highly analytical and intellectual, I think that teaching English might be one of the most stifling and under-stimulating ways to experience life in Japan. That said, it might be perfect for others and I have met many people who sincerely enjoy being English teachers here. I’m just not one of them.

      Sounds like I should interview you for this series about teaching in Asia…would you be interested?

      September 5, 2010
      • screwflanders

        in regards to constantine’s observation that socialization may be the goal as opposed to the development of analytical thinking, and furthermore in regards to the overall sentiment of bother responses, i must agree. as i’m sure both of you must have heard the phrase “the nail that sticks up must be hammered down,” i think you’ll agree it’s difficult to experience life in japan as a product of a western educational upbringing and not notice the drastic difference in the emphases of said systems.

        it’s sad that this proverb is still so applicable to japan’s modern educational system, considering its origins being somewhat archaic. and though i haven’t thoroughly researched specifically the origins of the proverb itself, it’s fairly apparent that historically, such an attitude has to be the product of the social adoption of zhu xi neo-confucian thought of the mid-late tokugawa years. and without going into detail, though it proved to keep touzama vassals and in line and obedient to the tokugawa, moreso it encouraged the cementing of social mobility among both the commoner and samurai classes in order to prevent further uprising.

        however, given such a background, this attitude might well have been suited to a time when the ruling classes were worried about civil unrest and disobedience, but times are obviously much different and thus this phrase i feel is much less applicable today. and while there are certain things that japan’s modern educational system does well, i think in order to look toward what comes next, innovation and independent thinking is valued in order to create solutions to very different problems than existed in the past.

        it’s for this reason that i’m actually glad i not to go the ALT route, as i’m not at all involved in the compulsory education system. rather, the kodomo eikaiwa functions more as a youth activity, much like a day camp or after school program would, and the english cafe allows the opportunity to speak with more mature students who are interested in sharing ideas. and though neither job is really intellectually challenging for me, the job operates more as a means of staying here in order to pursue something i’m much more interested in. and in regards to jessuru, i agree it is indeed sad that english teaching holds such a monopoly on jobs for foreigners in japan. but i also think people often forget that japan’s experience with globalization was far different than any other modernized country as it was much later, much faster, and much more effective. though on the flip side, i think people’s attitudes are much slower to change. and since japan really has had contact with the industrialized west for about 150 years (excluding contacts since the 1500’s with the portuguese as it was pre-industrial), i can also understand why such attitudes are still prevalent.

        i might have gone on a little diatribe there but oh well.

        September 10, 2010
        • constantineintokyo

          Extremely well-said and ABSOLUTELY correct! I can’t even add anything to this comment because you totally hit the nail right on the head. (On a side note, at first I didn’t even realize this was you! Have you taken a vow against using capital letters? Hahahaha)

          September 10, 2010
  2. amannin

    Constantine -> I really like when you interview people that went routes dissimilar, and yet similar, to yours. Intriguing to say the least.

    You know, I think too many people are afraid to just admit how much of an influence anime (or manga) has had in their lives and in their interest in Japan. Let’s face it, Japan really doesn’t have much of an influence on the US (at least as a whole) — the only [cultural] things we get from them are pop culture and or anime / manga (the latter probably being the biggest). (I would also say music / movies, but I’ll just include that into pop culture).

    I recently applied / interviewed for AEON and didn’t get selected, much to my dismay, and I’ve been thinking since — why AM I so interested in Japan, even after all these years. I really think it has a lot to do with anime (well, the good anime). I don’t watch anime because its anime, or listen to Japanese music because its Japanese, but these things have definitely kept up my interest that otherwise would have dissolved into obscurity by a society that is otherwise indifferent to Japanese culture. (Granted, I would likely never bring this up if applying to teach English in Japan, but it’s a shame that it’s such a taboo to even mention).

    And mind you, its not like pop culture / anime are my only interest — actually these days, I would say they are probably toward the bottom of the list. And is it wrong to just say, I actually like the sound of Japanese (and French) — does it paint me extra nerdy or unintelligent?

    Anyways, one other thing — what are these “other” job opportunities not related to AEON or JET that you & Nino claim are so abundant? I would sincerely like to know more. And are the applicable to someone from overseas — or would I have to go Nino’s route?

    September 7, 2010
    • constantineintokyo

      You know, I have been thinking about this a little bit lately. I’m not exactly sure how or why anime/manga got such a bad reputation, but I certainly get the impression that you have to downplay that aspect of Japanese culture if you want to be taken seriously as a Nippon-ophile. While anime and manga lack a certain ‘academic credibility’ (though this has been changing recently), it’s sort of absurd to expect that people who are interested in Japan haven’t seen it. As you pointed out, it’s definitely the most internationally prolific form of Japanese culture. What’s more – if you’ve been interested in Japan since a young age (for me, it was 12), then anime/manga would be one of the most likely gateways. After all, 12 year olds don’t run around reading The Chrysanthemum and The Sword.

      Granted, you should know more about Japan than what you see in anime and mange if you have to live here, but I am definitely reconsidering my tendency to distance who I am now from my ‘nerdy’ otaku days. Likely anime when I was a teenager doesn’t disqualify me as a serious student of Japan today.

      As for English teaching opportunities in Japan – it’s definitely easier to find a teaching job once you are actually in Japan. What’s harder, though, is to find a teaching job that actually pays you a decent living wage. The days of foreigners coming to Japan and making lots of money as English teachers are long gone. I really have very little knowledge about teaching English outside of JET, but it seems like Dave’s ESL Cafe is a good place to start.

      September 7, 2010
      • amannin

        Strange, it was exactly at 12 that I remember becoming interested in Japan — well, in the way that a 12 year old can. I had other little interesting experiences before that too, but for some reason, maybe comprehension development, it wasn’t until around that age that those things had more of an impact. That, and seeing a person explode spherically in a hallway from some intense telekinesis (can you guess what anime movie title that was?) totally spellbound and captivated my little 12 year old heart.

        And for some reason, I still am… Well, in a slightly more matured and educated manner, but still somewhat, though in a lesser-manner, captivated.

        September 7, 2010
        • constantineintokyo

          For as long as I can remember I’ve been slightly obsessive about hobbies. Before Japan, it was Greek mythology and fantasy novels (give me a break, I was like 10). But anime just seemed like a perfect combination of the sci-fi/fantasy stories that I loved and ULTIMATE EXTREME BADASS-ERY. Haha.

          Hmm…a person exploding in a hallway from telekinesis? Was it Sailor Moon? Kidding, I know you’re talking about Akira (well, I hope you are so I don’t seem like a tool). For me, I saw Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and Perfect Blue in succession. Those are three awesome films, so I was pretty much done for at that point.

          September 7, 2010
  3. amannin

    Hey, I just noticed that this powered by wordpress — as it used my icon from my own wordpress — interesting!

    September 7, 2010
  4. wes

    teaching English is big time biz in Japan which is why even NHK produce their own English language learning programs even though most are lousy – thous some are more entertaining than educational 🙂

    November 9, 2010
  5. Chantal


    I just discovered your youtube videos / blog the other day and I’ve found them to be very helpful. I’m applying for the 2011 JET this week and I think I have a fair chance of getting in. Like you I decided that I was going to try to go to Japan with JET when I was 12 years old, so I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

    I guess my question is, since you similarly had dreamed of participating with JET since you were young, how are you finally finding the experience? Are you enjoying your time there, and what parts of it are different from what you expected or are dissatisfying?

    I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for what I may or may not be getting myself into haha.

    Any reply would be much appreciated, thank 🙂

    – Chantal

    November 16, 2010
  6. Matt Moscardi

    Constantine – we need your help – please contact me at, we don’t have a way to get in touch with Nino and be sure he’s ok after the earthquake. If you know how to get in touch with him, please please email me as soon as you can! I hope this reaches you!

    Matt Moscardi

    March 11, 2011
  7. fiat 126p

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    learned lot of things from it concerning blogging.

    November 8, 2013

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