No easy answers
June 6 2001 at 7:32 PM

Response to I have a syndrome named after me!

Starbuck, re-read my first reply. And I'll say it again -- you sound like a fun guy to have a brew with.

But finding highly renumerative work in Japan is gonna be hard for you, I suspect.

The reason is -- you most likely don't have any marketable skills, other than your English experience. The sort of job you get is going to be entirely dependant upon how attractively and aggressively you market yourself and your current skill set. There is a lot of opportunity out there, some of it is hidden, lots of it requires networking. Do as Kris says, join some clubs, join some circles, yoy may be surprised at the good opportunities that materialize. Or you may, in fact, be too old to get into something completely unfamiliar, and have to either make-do or go home. Your Japanese language skills are unknown, but my guess is that they're not especially good. This, more than anything, limits what you are capable of doing.

Let's look at a couple of examples. Nayuta, who you probably know, is a good example of a dude your age, or slightly younger, gainfully employed in Japan and not teaching English. Nayuta has a real job, translating brokerage documents and being handy with his language skills in a general sense. They work him like a dog, as he will probably say, but I'm sure he'd prefer what he's doing to the park bench, or even the eikaiwa "classroom". I believe he is a college graduate, and speaks very nearly fluent Japanese. He could switch jobs, move to a different part of the country, whatever he wants. All he needs to do is find a company willing to sponsor his work visa, and that shouldn't be too hard.

On the other end of the spectrum is any number of unmarried, non-college graduates who'd like to go to Japan. Their immigration rules are such that these types of people aren't all that welcome unless they get a student visa, which is not all that casual of a process. As a result, you don't find many "Dudes" taking up long-term residence in Japan who lack college degrees. Probably not a bad thing.

Somewhere in the middle is a guy like me -- a guy who lacks a completed college degree, speaks passibly horrid formal Japanese, understands a fair share and doesn't have all that much trouble making myself understood...a guy with decent skills and a not entirely unfounded ambition of making a pretty decent living in Japan doing what he does with his skills in the U.S. (information technology). I've just so happened to have gotten around the college education requirement for a work visa since my wife is a native (it's her idea to go back, anyway). Not coincidentally, this is exactly the position I intended to be in when I left Japan in 1994 ... I figured when we go back, we'd go back on my terms, with some expectation of a life rather unlike that of a broke-ass eikaiwa kyoushi.

So, in a nutshell -- get some Japanese skills, get some job skills (preferably IT skills), or get both. Otherwise, you're gonna be an English teacher, a model, or something like that. Models can make a lot, but most don't make all that much. Or you could try to hawk rubber dogshit in front of train stations, you know, fake Rolex's, pottery, trickets, you know...hippy gaijin have been doing that for ages.

I dunno what to tell ya. Only you know what you're good at. If you're good at nothing and can't/won't learn any other skill(s), start enjoying the English teacher's life and marry a girl who doesn't want to build a house, cos that's all there is in your future if nothng changes.


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