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Season Three

Life never ceases to be boring, if you make efforts to keep yourself interested. At least, that’s how I feel after the last three months.

I mentioned near the beginning of the year that I’d be leaving my job with American Language School in West Tokyo to move on to other things. That all went very smoothly. The woman who replaced me is a lovely, lovely human who I hope is enjoying herself in her new position. I haven’t received any desperate phone calls from the office asking if I can come in to help, so I’m assuming things are going great! Saying goodbye to some of my students was emotional. Saying goodbye to some of my other students was, honestly, a relief. Thankfully, the ones I had the strongest connections with I’ve been able to keep in touch with. I’m still on good terms with management at the school, too.

While I had written on this blog a few times about my feelings regarding my teaching job, there were a number of factors that went into my decision not to renew my contract. One of the biggest factors was a family plan that would take up most of the month of June and the first few days of July. If you followed along on YouTube at all, you’ve likely already seen some video footage.

My family went on a month long trip to Europe. We explored Italy and Croatia, and got to meet distant relatives for the first time. My father competed in a worldwide swimming competition (and got 10th place in the world for his age group!). We rented a sailboat and island hopped around the Adriatic, stopping in the evenings at beautiful harbors to eat delicious food and enjoy the summer. It was a whirlwind trip and an incredible series of experiences. I’m still in the process of completing videos of our fun.

Milna, Croatia, on the island of Brac. The first place our sailboat stopped. Absolutely gorgeous!
I arrived back in Tokyo at the beginning of July to a mailbox full of junk and bills. Ah, reality.

To finance my trip and my anticipated period of unemployment that would inevitably follow, I sold my car (in the US) in spring with the help of my family. I had some cash stocked up to help make the transition to a new job easier, but knew I needed to find a new position by the end of July. As much as I wanted to get going and start working right away after arriving home from my long vacation, jet lag and and a brief sickness got the best of me. I suppose it was just my body’s way of reminding me that having a few days of staycation following a vacation are very important.

Over the last 6 months, things have really picked up on the activity front for me here, though I didn’t blog about it. For about a 2 month period in spring, I worked with a Tokyo based law firm helping with some stateside liaising and document checks. My agreement with them ended when I left for Europe, but through their connections, they (totally on their own) hooked me up with a university job one day a week. I met my former employer and their university connection for dinner and drinks (AKA “an interview”) one evening. This was followed about two weeks later by an interview with the managerial staff of the department interested in hiring me at the university. It all went well, and I secured a once-weekly position doing editing/proofreading work. It’s great, but one day a week doesn’t pay the bills.

Japan’s payment system operates a little differently than the US system. Paychecks are delayed by a month. For example, if you begin work on the first of April and work full time through that month, you are not paid for that month of work until the end of the following month (May). Keeping this in mind (along with my slowly draining bank account), I knew I had to find something by the end of July, or I’d be in deep trouble.

I got lucky. I sent one resume and one email to a listing I saw online. The listing was for a data entry job, and it was close to home. The listing used words like “flexible” and “part time”. I figured it couldn’t hurt to chat with them and see what they needed. If we could come to an agreement, it would be great. I figured I still had other options, if absolutely necessary.

I went in for an interview and had a great time. To make an increasingly long story slightly shorter: they hired me. 4 days a week. 9 hour days. And it’s definitely not data entry.

So, what’s my primary job now? I work for a beer importer! The company imports beer from all around the world. Delicious, delicious beer. I’m split between two divisions of the company. One of my jobs is to work with the company’s owner/COO to manage branding and planning activities. This so far has involved preparing presentations for him, monitoring promotional activities, going to events, and checking out sales data to start forming marketing plans. I am thoroughly enjoying myself and learning a lot in a very short period of time.

A summer rooftop pool party I went to last weekend. Free of charge, with a guest. Because my boss asked me if I could make it. Life is sooo hard. Just terrible.
The other portion of my job deals with assisting in the development of the company’s new e-commerce project. Readers who are in Japan: think of it as Rakuten, but for craft beer. It is awesome and I can’t wait for it to go live so we can all take advantage of it. The site is both a collection of media and resources as well as a beer shopping site. However, you won’t be finding Asahi, Sapporo, Suntory, or Kirin available for purchase. Instead, you’ll be choosing from beers produced by Japan’s 200+ local brewers. We’re very, very excited about it. It’s going to be ready for users soon. Really soon. Like, make sure you know where your wallets are, residents of Japan. I can’t wait.

In addition to these jobs (which have me working Monday-Friday, 9-6 or later), I’ve also been doing more and more media-related work this year. Some readers may be familiar with the JapanesePod101 series, or other language study services provided by the same company. I’m now working for them on a very part time basis to produce video lessons and to provide voice support for audio lessons.

The video lessons I’m doing are to teach more natural English phrases to people who have already been studying for some time. There are a few free sample versions available for viewing on their official YouTube channel, but the full package is a subscription service. My role in all of it is pretty small; they set a time for me to come in to film a few lessons at a time (from 7 AM, ARGH). I show up and try to stay awake and energized. They put a script in front of me, I read it, they edit it a few days later, and then give it to people. Feedback has been good. They tell me I’m their only host that nobody has written bad comments about. Huzzah! I’m contracted to do 25 lessons with them, and we’re at about the halfway mark.

The voice recording work I’m doing for the same company is fairly easy; I sit in their teeny little studio and read vocabulary words into a large microphone. Occasionally I also work with a native speaker of another language to be the English support for individuals learning something else. For example, most recently I worked with a native speaker of Arabic. My voice is the one saying things like “When you want to express that you like a food, try saying…” For the most part, it’s easy work.

I also have an online editing job. I do it when I can. Pretty self explanatory.

Lastly, and most recently, I have one new media project on the horizon working with NHK. I met with the producers of a show a couple weeks ago, and things are now in progress for…something! I don’t want to say too much here and risk counting my chickens before they’ve hatched. News will be announced when news is available.

So! That’s how season 3 of ArishaInTokyo starts! I realized today that I’d forgotten completely my 3 year Japan Birthday. July 19th marked the date! My, how much has changed. I’ve been reading through a lot of my old posts in the last few days and have wanted to write something, but wasn’t sure where to start. I guess this is it!

I hope that everyone has had an amazing summer thus far. Mine has been fantastic. I’m very, very excited about the latest turns my life has taken, and I’m excited to be sharing it with all of you. While I’m afraid I won’t be writing much about my experiences with students, the last few weeks have shown me that my new positions are going to be anything but boring. I’m busy, but not in a way that makes me feel frustrated. It seems as though these changes have been for the good!

I have a lot to get caught up on, blog wise. There are draft posts sitting on my wordpress account just waiting to be finished off, plenty of pictures to share, and more videos to be made. My hiatus was a good one. It was absolutely necessary! I’m looking forward to making the next year the best year yet.

Thanks for reading, as always! Have a wonderful week!


  1. Anana Anana August 20, 2012

    Hi Alisha,

    it’s great hearing from you again on the blog front. Of course I’m following you on twitter but it’s always great reading from you. I hope you keep doing great and entertaining things in your life.

    Greeting from Germany
    P.S.: I’m going to Tokyo next month for 3 weeks and I am really excited!

  2. james james August 21, 2012

    “…think of it as Rakuten, but for craft beer.”

    omg. i need the url, and i need it now!

    sounds like an awesome holiday.
    great tokyo update. pool parties for work? tough gig that one 😛


  3. Will Will August 24, 2012

    Really interesting that Craft Beer’s getting big in Japan, as someone from the UK, it’s Oregon I’d immediately associate with the US Craft Beer scene (or Real Ale as we call it here in the UK!)

    Keep up the good work on the blog, continues to be a great read!

  4. Wayne Wayne August 29, 2012

    When I read that you had quit your teaching job, I thought – Oh no! Without a steady teacher’s paycheck, how are you going to survive. But after reading this blog, I have concluded you are way above the pack in talent. To go to a data entry job interview and get hired for something entirely different is revealing. The former employer (on their own) helping you get the Tokyo University gig is revealing. Getting all these gigs in such a short time is revealing. Even the police recognized your skills. So, don’t worry about the future. Your future is bright.

    • Alisha Alisha August 29, 2012

      I think this is the kindest comment I have ever received. It made me a little teary eyed. Thank you.

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