Believe it or not, I actually chose to live in
the Odawara area. In 1993, I came to Japan on the JET
program. I was placed in a really inaka town in
Tochigi-ken. I was there for two years, and loved it, but it
was just too “inaka,” (the countryside in Japanese).
by Samantha Thompson
After returning home for almost 2
years and working at the Atlanta Olympics, I knew that
I belonged back in Japan. I started a serious job
hunt, which landed me about 5 to 6 offers. The job in Kaisei was just what I was looking for.
Pictured: Ashigara Pass with a view of Mount Fuji
Just like my friend Shawn Thir,I love the Japanese countryside and small town
atmosphere. I also need to be close to Tokyo and everything
that is going on there. After living in Tochigi, I
knew that I wanted to be near the ocean and mountains,
and in a warmer place.
The Odawara area was a perfect
match. There isn’t much of a job selection here, but
with a bit of ambition and creativity, you can make
things happen. It is sometimes hard to be a foreigner in
Japan, but it is much easier when you are able to become
part of a community. Because I teach in a public
elementary school and junior high, I have a respected
position in my town.
Most of the population knows who I
am, and I am treated very well. It is rare to find
such a situation in a larger city. Every morning when
I leave my house, I am sent off with ‘Iterashai’,
and welcomed home in the evening with ‘Okaeri’. You
don’t have to work in the public schools for this to
happen. The key is to become an active member of your
community. It makes all the difference.