Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How To's #10: Find a Doctor

If you can't read Kanji, finding a doctor maybe difficult. However, they are absolutely everywhere.

In Japan, they have large general hospitals and small clinics. There are specialized clinics all over the place. Your don't really need to make and appointment most the time, and you can show up day of...it's quite convenient.

And to my female readers, the OBGYN is referred to as "Ladies Clinics". Also,oddly enough they automatically use curtains so you can't see the doctor...Personally, I think that just makes me more uncomfortable...(sorry guys...if that was too much information)

Your best resource is the Himawari Clinic Hotline: 03-5285-8181

This is there website

The operator will ask you what language you speak and find a proper translator. So this is a good resources to give to your non-english speaking friends,too. You tell them what you need, and which stations you are willing to travel to.

They will ask you to call back in 15 minutes. In that time they will have prepared a lovely list of doctor's that meet your criteria. Rather it be English-speaking...male...female... you name it...they'll help you find one.

They will even give you details instructions on how to get there. So if you are living in Tokyo, I highly recommend that you have this plugged into your phone.

Information worth noting:

So...in my personal opinion...Japanese doctors are not that great. I am not saying Japan is not a great country....but... my American body needs stronger and more thorough meds. Your appointment consists of you listing out your bodily discomforts...and them giving a prescription for everything you just listed...

There is no taking of temperatures...checking of heart rate...and everything else your use to with an American doctor(that is if you are American...)

I had a horribly case of bronchitis throughout the winter. It was so bad that I pulled a muscle in my side. I was in a great deal of pain, and could barely walk. All they gave me was a minor cough suppressant, and nothing for the pain. In situations like these...I wanted my Codeine and Ibuprofen!

I was also like to note that this is a nation that would not tell you if your dying. They'll tell your family but not you directly. I guess I'm too American...to appreciate that it's more of a polite gesture than them denying my right to know...

And since it is relevant, I will dabble a little bit in the Wonderful Japanese National Health Insurance. Something that as an American, a mythical concept, is a godsend as an alien in Japan. The health insurance covers up to 70% on everything! From the appointment cost to the lesser drugs they give you (it's better than nothing), it will only cost you 30%.

All foreigners in Japan have an alien registration(toryoukushou). Depending on your location, you will register with an assigned ward. At the time you do that, you can apply for your Hokkenshou, which is your national health insurance card. It is as simple as that.

Note: It is cheaper to get your wisdom teeth pulled in Japan. However, it is ill advise...since they give you weaker pain reliever 0_O

my list to bring from my own country includes: Ibuprofen, nyquil, dayquil, Vitamin C tablets, and Allergy medicine

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How To's #9: Enjoy the Wonders of Suica / Pasmo and Commuter Passes

How do you manage to have millions of people traveling via train in a crowded city like Tokyo?

The answer: Suica/Pasmo

These are cards that cost about 500yen($5) and can work as prepaid tickets. You scan it over the ticketing sensor and it automatically deducts yours fare amount from your card. The sensors can go through wallets and even small purses. You can use these for all ticketing booths that have a scanner.(Metro, JR, Keio, Odakyu)

Be careful not to go too quickly otherwise it won't scan and than at the next station you will have to speak with the counter person to fix your card.

I would like to state that SUICA is better than PASMO. Suica is with the JR system and Pasmo is with Keio and Metro. Suica is more than just prepaid tickets for trains and buses.

Suica can be used at vending machines, convenient stores and electronic stores. For example, at Akihabara, you can pay for many of your purchases using Suica. Thinking about buying a new laptop? got two grand on your Suica?... why not...

Granted thats an excessive example...It is still pretty convenient. In fact, many cellphones have allow you to use your cellphone as a Suica. However adding money is kind of a pain, and it might scratch up your ridiculously aesthetic j-phone.

TEIKI (定期) - Commuter Pass

The commuter pass is a must for anybody living in Japan for longer than a month. You pay a set amount for a pass that lets you unlimitedly travel between one station and another. Students gets discounts, and companies will sponsor work passes(Note: for student discount you must show your school ID). If you are neither, you should buy one anyways if you find yourself traveling to one big station all the time.

Good ones to have are ones going to Shinjuku. Since that is a big station, you will likely depart from there all the time. Having one of these allows you to freely travel back and forth between your home and wherever. So you don't have to worry about the cost if you forget your cell or something.

You can buy your commuter pass and have it as a card or you can have it directly printed onto your Suica. You can do it via machines, or speak with and attendant and "midorimadoguichi" (Translation: Green Window). You may purchase it for 1,3, or 6 months. The costs of the commuter pass will vary on distance and time frame.

It's rare... but I've heard of people getting commuter passes with the Shinkansen!(bullet trains) 0_O

What to do if you lose your Suica and thus your Commuter Pass?

I love the Japanese system! So this has happened to me once, but I was fortunate enough to have someone explain to me the system before I spent a hundred dollars on another commuter pass.

If you lose your Suica or Pasmo, go to the train office. Tell them that you dropped it (suica/pasmo wo Otoshita)... than ask what should you do..(dou sureba ii desuka?)... They should hear your accented Japanese, and proceed to help you by speaking bad English or extremely slow Japanese.

They will ask you for 500yen to buy a new card, and print the new commuter pass on it at no additional charge! How great is that!

And when you go back to your country or whatever, you can sell your Suica back to the station and return your 500yen!

Additional Information: Suica works in the Kansai area. However, it goes by ICOcard. So use any of the JR machines to add money. However, these do not work on the Hankyu line.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tokyo How To's #8: Start Teaching English(Earn far more than Money than Minimum Wage!)

This entry is not how to get into a English teaching program like JET. This is for individuals already in Japan who want to some pocket money.

There are two ways:

1. Get a work permit and work for a company

  • PRO: legitimate, back to back students, set schedule, and company provides materials
  • CON: Pay is less, hours aren't flexible, and teaching method is restricted
2. Find your own students through networking websites

  • PRO: flexible schedule, casual, over coffee or food, and much better pay
  • CON: Higher chance of encountering "creepies", commute time is costly, and inconsistent

Getting a Permit and work for a company

From what I know, you can get this only as a student. With the school, you can apply for up to 28 hours part-time. After you attain the permit, you can apply to various English teaching schools. Large companies like Gaba are very popular. However, one should only expect to see only a little over 1000yen ($10)

Finding your own student through networking websites

There are many websites that can be found for this specific purpose. I used both findateacher.net and findstudent.net. I personally liked findateacher.net more, simply because I got better responses.

There are some necessary notes that need to be taken when making a profile:
  • blood type O is best (its like horoscopes in Japan)
  • Scorpios have a bad image
  • You will get much better responses if you are a girl
  • If you are a girl, be sure to use really cute pictures of yourself
  • The first lesson should never be free(fishes out the wierdos, and covers train cost)
  • Always meet in public areas (like Cafe's, there are LOTS)
  • Students that want to meet you outside of lessons should be immediately dropped
  • Prepare a inquiry response. This was mine (in Romaji):
"Watashi wa Claudia Desu.Eigo o benkyoushitai desune. itsu ni aimashouka? doko de iideshouka? watashi no keitai meiru wa *******@ezweb.ne.jp. henji suru toki ni kono meiru tsukatte kudasai. yoroshiku -Claudia"


It depends on your Japanese skill level, and if you are male or female. I started off with a sample lesson of 500yen($5) and regular lesson of 2500yen($25). After a few month, I had regular students at 3500yen($35) an hour. I wasn't strict on overtime, because I was receiving a good amount of money. I also often time received meals,too. Many of my student could only have the lessons after work on weekdays.

How to teach

You definitely need to get some learning material. Do not bother explaining to them grammar. Just start practicing how to say things. Try to teach 6 year old and above, and individually.(Otherwise, they go nuts)

Adults: I tailored my lesson to each student. The first lesson is getting to know them, their level, and what they would like to achieve. I emphasized conversational ability and pronunciation. A useful learning material was the free magazine Metropolis. You can get it in any Tower records. They had interesting summarized news. That would be discussion topic. Very easy, light hearted, and just all around good time. Many of them have studied English before, they just are not confident with it.


How to get rid of creepos?
It's easy! just say " I am sorry, but I have to go back to my country. Best of Luck"

It is kind of bad, but it is the best way.

You can make a lot of money, and learn quite a lot about Japanese culture. Be safe and Good luck!