Congratulations on your acceptance into the JET Programme, and a special welcome to Kagoshima Prefecture, one of the most beautiful and colourful places in Japan.
It might be a little overwhelming at first adjusting to life in your new home, but remember you are not alone! You probably have a lot of questions, and we hope this website can help answer some of those questions. For those unanswered questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your Supervisor, predecessor, the PAs, or post your questions on the KAJET Facebook page! The JET Programme General Information Handbook may also have answers to your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I pack?
Packing for Japan can be very stressful! It will be very hot and humid when you arrive in July/August, but it can get quite cold from late fall to early spring. There is little insulation in buildings and no central heating. Depending on your clothing and shoe sizes, shopping can either be really simple or almost impossible.
At work, the dress code ranges from business formal to casual; please ask your contracting organization or predecessor for more information. You will need at least one formal suit for Tokyo Orientation, Kagoshima Orientation, staff introductions, professional development conferences, and formal school events.
At academic high schools, male teachers usually wear suits or blazers and neckties, and the female teachers wear skirts or trousers, blouses and sweaters. Blouses should cover the shoulders, with a fairly high neckline. This may seem restrictive, but this is the expectation. In non-academic schools, the dress code can vary from formal clothing to athletic attire. Please ask your contracting organisation for guidance. You’ll also need athletic clothes for sports events and extended cleaning time.
You will also probably want your own indoor slip-on indoor shoes to change into from your outdoor shoes. Teachers wear anything from nice leather ones to rubber Crocs. You should also consider bringing extra shoes, socks, trousers, bras, pantyhose, etc. These are things most foreigners struggle to find here in the right sizes.
- Feminine Products
- Hair Dyes
- Personal Computers
It is recommended that you bring some small “token” gifts to give your supervisor, colleagues, and others who will help you during those first few weeks in Japan. Individually wrapped candy or food, magnets, calendars, pins, miniature flags, stickers, etc. are good ideas. However, Japanese people sometimes dislike mint or cinnamon flavored food items.
If you won’t need it right away, ship it! The Japanese postal service and delivery companies are extremely reliable. Additionally, Amazon Japan and Amazon US Global Shipping are will prove very helpful, and more and more online stores are offering competitive shipping rates to Japan.
You are required to wear a formal business suit for Tokyo Orientation. Bring 4 shirts and underclothing for both days of orientation, the day you travel to Kagoshima, and for your first day of work in your placement. Some casual clothing might be good in case you want to explore Tokyo in the evenings after orientation.
Where will I live?
Housing arrangements are typically made by your Contracting Organisation. You will most likely be placed in your predecessor’s housing (if you have one). If possible, speak in detail to your predecessor about where you will be living to ensure a smooth transition into your new apartment.
What will my house/apartment be like?
If you have a predecessor, ask them for pictures or videos!
What will happen during my first few days in Japan?
Well first, there’s Tokyo Orientation. Group A and B JETs will participate in orientation activities on the Monday and Tuesday after arrival in Japan. JETs must wear business suits on both days. On Tuesday afternoon, you’ll meet your lovely Prefectural Advisors, who will escort you from Tokyo to Kagoshima on Wednesday morning. Upon arrival at Kagoshima Airport, you will meet your supervisor (and perhaps other excited staff members), and either be taken directly to your workplace or taken around to begin setting up your new life (registering as a resident at city hall, opening banks accounts, getting a cellphone, etc.). You will receive a more detailed list of things to do in the first few weeks from your PAs.
How do I introduce myself when I first meet my Supervisor?
Almost immediately after stepping off the plane in Kagoshima, you’ll introduce yourself for the first of several times. Some of your supervisors and colleagues may speak varying degrees of English, and some may not speak English at all. Either way, it’s a good idea to put together a simple self-introduction in Japanese. Here’s an example:
Hajimemashite. (Your name) desu. (Your country) kara kimashita. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
What about orientation in Kagoshima?
In the third week of August, you’ll have Kagoshima Orientation. On Monday and Tuesday, you’ll have to wear your suit again. On Tuesday afternoon, all ALTs will be taken to the KAPIC Center for Japanese language and culture classes to prepare you for life in Kagoshima. The dress code is casual, and the PAs will provide you with a list of essentials to bring with you for the week.
The Kagoshima JET Programme publishes a Survival Guide which summarizes the most essential information about living in the prefecture. All new JETs will be given a copy upon arrival in Kagoshima.
What is there to do in Kagoshima?
Kagoshima is a beautiful and interesting prefecture, with many things to see and do. Check out an overview of leisure activities in the Regions and Social Life sections of this website.
What will I do at work?
The Kagoshima JET Programme participants are typically Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), and Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs).
ALTs are mainly tasked with engaging in team-teaching with Japanese Teachers of English (JTEs). ALTs and JTEs should work together to create a communicative, student-centered, foreign language classroom. ALTs are not expected to conduct classes on their own, but should suggest games, songs, communicative activities, and other creative ways to incorporate the textbook in lesson planning and instruction. You can read more about workplace culture here.
CIR positions involve a wide array of duties and responsibilities, which differ across contracting organisations. You can read more about CIR positions and workplace responsibilities here in the JET Programme CIR Handbook (2017).
What if I don’t know anything about teaching?
Don’t worry about it! There are a ton of resources online that can help you plan amazing lessons. You can read more about team-teaching resources here.