Ask Sensei: Octogust edition

It is indeed an odd relic of history that September, October, November, and December are our ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth months rather than our seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months respectively. So with Octogust just around the corner, we should all probably consider making the most of our time as the school year approaches with the beginning of November, I mean September.

This time, Kelsey Syers asks via Facebook, Can you describe the visa situation in Japan for those who may be interested in future employment there? How does the process work? What degrees and skills are in demand? If I may go on a brief tangent, I have to say that I sense a lot of people wanting to respond, Go Google it already! This is an unfortunate, if entirely understandable, byproduct of the times we live in. For many of us still remember a time not all that long ago (the same time when we had to walk uphill both ways through the snow to school) when people had conversations like this all the time, asking each other questions that the other person may or may not have known the answer to. Even if the other person did not know the answer, it could still be an interesting conversation. That being said, I fear that I will be unable to do better than Google on this question. I do know that there are multiple types of visas to go to Japan, but as you can imagine, the only kind I’ve ever had was a standard three-month tourist visa. These are allegedly lenient, as although I’ve never stayed much beyond two weeks, my understanding is that, upon the three-month visa’s expiration, one could simply travel to Korea or Taiwan or Hong Kong for example, spend the night, then take the return flight back to Japan and get a new three-month visa upon re-entry. Student and work visas are, as you can imagine, less lenient. Actually I have a former student in Osaka right now who will soon be returning from a term overseas, who could probably tell me more about the process for student visas. Work visas also exist, though I have heard they are more for skilled occupations than for (let us say) cleaning subway restrooms or working in convenience stores. I would expect that JLPT level 2 Japanese or the equivalent is a minimum expectation to be employed there, but again I am only speculating.

Jeskai Angel asks via TwitterSeems like most American media, even if aimed at kids, has some sort of political / social subtext, but I don’t see this nearly as much in anime. Is that because Japan / Japanese media is less politicized, or because I’m just missing the socio-cultural commentary? My reading is that Japanese media are just as politicized as in the US, even if less overtly so in Japan. I have seen enough protests in Japan, complete with flyers, signs, and some guy with a bullhorn, to make me suspect that humans are political animals regardless of geographic location. That being said, you can find current cultural references in a lot of anime, not to say in all anime. Sometimes, with or without help from the subtitlers, we can get enough of the gist to catch the reference.

Finally, Tyler Burnette asks via Facebook, How do you handle anger? Very easily, I just beat people up when they annoy me. No, Tyler-kun, please don’t do that! Sensei is probably only joking. But seriously, I would say that there are at least three kinds of anger that I can think of. One is anger at other people whom one knows. I find this anger the easiest to let go, once one realizes that being angry or unforgiving towards a person has absolutely no effect on the other person, and hurts only oneself. Then there is a kind of anger at situations, or at people whom one does not know, such as the individual (let’s be kind and not make references to his intelligence or body weight) in the supermarket with his Big Cart in the Exact Middle Of The Aisle, staring at jars of pickles. Not that I know anyone who falls prey to this sort of thing, but although one can imagine spending half a minute or a minute inwardly conversing with this individual (“They’re PICKLES. You aren’t choosing a spouse or a job. PICK one.”), it is still usually relatively easy to let it go after a few minutes. But then there is anger at oneself, and shame at one’s past decisions, even ones that were completely innocent. This is much more dangerous and something which I struggled with for far too long, and even still has too much influence over my life. I would implore anyone who is experiencing this kind of anger not to make the same mistake I did, and instead to seek help sooner rather than later. The irony is that the things because of which one is angry at oneself turn out to be far less real or troublesome than even the guy with the pickles, though it takes some experience to understand this.

I’m well beyond my usual word limit, so I’ll just end by wishing you all the best for the rest of the summer. Sensei will have office hours again, probably right around the time classes begin. Somehow I expect I’ll see Shiraishi-kun’s face again this term. Believe me, there is always a Shiraishi-kun. And maybe that’s OK.

R86

R86 is a chemistry professor, which is the sort of job that probably made you stop reading already. He teaches at Texas A&M University, also known to Austin dwellers as "Enemy Territory." In his spare time, he enjoys music (flute/saxophone/clarinet and MIDI/Vocaloid synthesis), gaming, and watching anime.

2 thoughts on “Ask Sensei: Octogust edition

  1. Thanks for the response again, Sensei. I’ve had a week recently where every little thing was getting to me for some reason. I know everyone has experienced it, but I’m glad to know and be reminded of it.
    Is there a kind of anger where you want to physically harm a software engineer for not knowing where the “Start” button is?

  2. Well, of course he doesn’t know. Buttons of any kind are hardware. Being a software engineer, surely (or so he thinks) he can’t be held responsible for hardware?

    Unless you mean the kind of button that is a clickable screen element. In that case, I think you might have found the guy with the pickles.

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