Flip-Flops and Teaching English in Japan

ITTT 20 SingleThere’s no question I’m working much harder now than I was when with EPIK in Korea. I now teach at a private elementary school in Japan and it’s clear that my role is much more involved. Tons of planning and scheduling, documentation, and tracking student progress.

The school I teach at is very well respected in Hiroshima and it is run in a way that indicates it plans to remain respected. The Japanese teachers work HARD. Wow, long hours. At the same time though, there are many perks. First, it is a great, positive atmosphere. I think when people are working this hard and for the number of hours they do, being positive is key for the long haul. Something I can still learn from myself.

DSC03191The facilities are incredible. The amenities are top notch bar none. We have a pipe organ and rock climbing wall, if that gives you any indication. Also, when the school does an outing like a teacher welcoming or extra-curricular event, it’s done very well. For example, I was recently invited to watch the Hiroshima Toyo Carps baseball team play at Mazda Stadium. For a city with only about 1.1 million people, this stadium is awesome. Top notch. The high school had this event for their teachers and they invited me because I had looked into their judo team as a place to work out. As a side note, the principle is a 7th dan and the vice principal is a 6th dan who came up by way of the Tenri University team. The school had reserved the BBQ Deck at Mazda Stadium, which are the best seats in the house. Walking around on two decks, free food and beer. Wow, what a way to watch a baseball game!

DSC03196On top of it all, I get to wear flip-flops in school during the warmer months. At first I thought it would feel odd, but now it feels very natural and comfortable. My feet can breath! Everyone in the school wears them, from students to staff. Amazingly, they had ONE pair that was just about my size, so nothing is digging into my heel.

If you know, I left Korea in search of the new. A greater challenge. Well, I have definitely found it. The pace and level of expectation from teachers is high. I was overwhelmed for a while, and I’m still working on getting my hands around everything. I guess I need to be more careful of what I wish for.

To be continued…


  1. Lee Pilmo says:

    It is good that you are able to wear soris while teaching in Japan. Here in San Francisco, Ca, the teachers do not have dress codes, as far as I know. Some teachers come to class in hoodies, torn jeans, and flip-flops. When I was teaching in San Francisco decades ago, teachers always stood in front of the class; therefore, comfortable shoes were imperative. And men always had to wear a shirt, tie, and slacks with dress shoes. Female teachers always had a suit or skirt and blouse. However, those days are gone and most female teachers go to class wearing slack, jeans, and athletic shoes. Hardly any male teachers wear a suit or slacks with a shirt and tie anymore. Maybe that explains why students don’t respect teachers anymore. After all, I think that appearance does count. How could one expect a student to respect a teacher who comes to class in a tee shirt, worn-out jeans and athletic shoes?

    • You’re absolutely correct. Professional apparel is integral in any profession. Can you imagine getting ready to have surgery and the doctor is wearing jeans and a t-shirt? I’d flip.

  2. Welcome to Hiroshima. Sorry, gotta ask: what elementary school? I’m also at a private elementary school in Hiroshima and also lived in Korea before… Coincidence!

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