Is it your dream to teach English in Japan?

Where Do You Work?


Questions you get when you live in Japan, part… I don’t remember.

Where are you working? どこで働ていますか。Doko hatarateimasu ka?

Where is your workplace? 職場はどこですか。Shokuba wa doko desu ka?

What is your job? 仕事は何ですか。Shigoto wa nan desu ka?

Another question that’s asked when you’re getting to know someone new, anywhere. It’s like Japanese people instinctively know, foreigner = probably English teacher; but also, most of the time they’ve got a job or go to school if they’re living in Japan. Again, people are just curious and want to get to know you, they aren’t trying to stalk you or make fun of your job (usually).


The common answer to this question is the name of the school(s) where you work. Listing multiple schools works, or one of the main schools, if that’s easier.

“I work at ~ junior high school as an ALT” or “I work at ~ Eikaiwa in the city,” etc.

If they know any students there, they’ll be able to brag to them that they met you and you were eating tonkotsu ramen at Taiho (or whatever you were doing), hohoho (how Japanese women and Santa Claus laugh), isn’t that great?

It’s more likely that even if you work in only one school for your day job, you have a side hustle as a private tutor and are working on getting into translating, or something like that. Let’s keep it simple.



Simple like ‘Softly custard bread’ Hmmm.


Another answer, slightly less common, might be, “I work all over the place as a freelance tutor, have my own English school,” etc. Some people might be impressed, or jealous, that you can be successful in your own business.

And even less common, is the non-teacher answer. I haven’t used this answer, so I don’t quite know the reaction, but I’m guessing it would be of the impressed and surprised variety. If you can do something like programming or translating work, your Japanese level is impressive and you deserve that reaction.

You’re like the Asian overachiever of the foreigners living in Japan.


Even though the working environment is changing everywhere, the concept of working part time or being self employed isn’t totally accepted in Japan yet (with the exception of part time work for students, housewives, and retirees). There are more than enough jobs to be filled, even if some of them pay minimum wage. The fact that lots of people have to work a couple part time jobs or try to earn a side income online isn’t really recognized. The concept of work and how that’s changed since the industrial revolution (and is changing again), is really interesting to me.

If I were to answer ‘housewife,’ to this question, I might get some surprised looks. (It’s actually not bad here, if you’re a married woman then you can get away with being a housewife or working part time, especially if small kids are in the picture.) The work ethic here is a little different so unemployment and even self employment (harder than it sounds if you’re doing it right) are misunderstood and frowned upon.

I’m ‘self employed’ at the moment and I haven’t perfected how to answer this question yet. “I’m looking for work and doing some freelance teaching,” is alright I guess.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 21, 2016 by in Living in Japan and tagged .

My ebook, No Time For Love

%d bloggers like this: