Frequently Asked Questions
This is the Mie Guidebook FAQ.
As it is an ever-expanding word in progress, please edit in your own questions. In the cases where questions can be answered by information from other pages, such as regional questions or questions about lesson planning, please feel free to link to those pages within the FAQ.
- 1 Incoming JETs
- 1.1 What's Mie like in general?
- 1.2 When do I find out my exact placement?
- 1.3 It's July and I still haven't heard my placement. What should I do?
- 1.4 What can I do before finding out my exact placement?
- 1.5 What's the weather like?
- 1.6 Should I bring my winter coat?
- 1.7 Do I need to bring an umbrella? I heard there's a rainy season
- 1.8 When is the Prefectural Orientation?
- 1.9 When will the suitcases I send from Tokyo arrive in Mie?
- 2 Life in Mie
- 2.1 What kind of cell phone should I get?
- 2.2 What is a furikomi bank transfer and how do I do it?
- 2.3 How do I send money to my bank back home?
- 2.4 Where can I find an English-speaking doctor?
- 2.5 How do I get my mail re-delivered?
- 2.6 How do I get a Japanese driver's license?
- 2.7 How do I renew my license?
- 2.8 How do I type in Japanese?
- 3 Recreation
- 4 Travel
What's Mie like in general?
When do I find out my exact placement?
The wait to receive your placement is a hassle and source of anxiety for JETs each and every year. Unfortunately, the government bodies in place are run by a tight bureaucracy with a number of rules that come between you and the knowledge of your placement.
- Municipal JETs
- If your initial placement, as received from the JET Program via your embassy or consulate, indicates "Mie Prefecture" as well as a specific city or town name, your are a municipal JET. This means you will be teaching at either junior high schools or elementary schools - or that you're a CIR. As each municipality is governed by different rules, the time frame for receiving placements can't be set in stone. Some will receive their exact placements right away, others won't hear for months. In general, though, municipal JETs receive their exact placements more quickly than prefectural JETs.
- Prefectural JETs
- If your initial placement, as received from the JET Program via your embassy or consulate, indicates "Mie Prefecture" and nothing else - ie. no city or town - you are a prefectural JET.
- This has two implications, generally:
- You will be working in a high school. Though there are maybe four or five exceptions, most high schools in Mie are in or close to population centers, meaning that you will most likely not be placed too far out in the countryside and you'll be in an area with decent services.
- You will not find out your exact placement, what school you're in, or what city you're living in for a long while, potentially not until the first week of July. Have no expectations of hearing your placement before then. In some cases, people may hear a month or so before then, but there is a rule at the Mie Board of Education, which manages all the high schools, that ALTs notifications don't officially go out until early July. The wait sucks, and isn't fun, but there is still a lot of preparations you can make before knowing your exact town.
It's July and I still haven't heard my placement. What should I do?
- It's the beginning of July
- Though it's a ridiculous situation, you should sit tight. The paper with your info on it is passed through at least four hands (likely more) before it arrives on your predecessor's desk. If any of these 4+ people are out of the school on a business trip or perhaps for a family event, it will mean that paper does not find its way to your predecessor/supervisor as quickly as it should. Since many placements go out on July 1st, it may very well take a week or more in some cases. The vast majority of JET placements are in areas where authentic food from your home country will be next-to-impossible to find, and so perhaps it is best relieve the frustration due to the wait by getting an early start eating all your favorite foods from home that won't be available to you here.
- It's the middle of July
- At this point, an email to the person who sent you the welcome packet is warranted. They will likely email the school/BOE you've been placed at to rattle their cage.
- It's the end of July, the plane for Japan leaves tomorrow
- Get on that plane anyway. Though extremely rare, there are cases of people not learning of their exact placements until arriving in their prefecture. If you received the letter of acceptance from the JET Program / Japanese consulate and a welcome packet from Mie Prefecture, there will be a job waiting for you when you arrive. Though you suffer the stress of the unknown now, you can hold you head high knowing you were one of the few who went to Japan with no idea where you were going to be living. Also, any frustrations you may experience while on the JET Program are liable to pale in comparison having gone through this experience.
What can I do before finding out my exact placement?
Almost all placements will require the same preparations as any other, as basic things in Mie such as weather don't change that much. Unless you are coming with a significant other or spouse, you can take care of almost all your preparations without knowing your exact location or school.
- International Driving Permit
- One thing to be aware of is that some people will need a car and that some won't. Whether or not you will use a car on a daily basis, or even own one, an IDP is good thing to have as it allows you to rent cars for travel. Also, if you do need a car, you may not find out your placement until it's too late to apply for the IDP so start this process sooner rather than later. You should set out to procure your IDP, at latest, in late June or early July.
What's the weather like?
Summers are hot and disgustingly humid, and winters are cold but not freezing: the temperature generally stays above zero degrees and thus there is no snow. However, schools and houses are thiny-insulated, winds can be very strong, and windows are always single-pane, so temperatures inside can be very chilly during the coldest months. Additionally, there is not as much climate-control indoors as you may be accustomed to, and it can feel awfully cold or terribly warm, even in your home or school.
That said, spring and autumn are very beautiful and temperate, with often little rain and many days of consecutive sun. These months are very popular times for in-country travelling.
Should I bring my winter coat?
If at all possible, have your winter clothes sent to you and don't waste space in your suitcase with bulky things like winter coats. However, winter clothing will be a necessity for three to five months of the year. Offices are not always heated, and schools rarely are heated, so layered winter clothing can be a boon for moving to differently-heated spaces.
Do I need to bring an umbrella? I heard there's a rainy season
Absolutely not. You can buy them everywhere. Additionally, inexpensive rain gear can be bought in a variety of sizes, but the caveat for the long-of-limb still applies here.
When is the Prefectural Orientation?
The Prefectural Orientation in Tsu is held during the week and is generally a two-day event, but the dates change from year-to-year, some years it may be immediately after Group B arrives, other years it may be a good two weeks after Group B arrives. However, it is not something that incoming JETs need to worry about whatsoever because your schools or BOEs will be aware of it upon your arrival. You are required to go, and so your schools will not plan anything for you on those days. Since it is required you will not be asked to take vacation days, it is considered a business trip, and you will not have to pay for the train fare to Tsu. If coming from especially far away (like those in southern Mie), your school/BOE will pay to put you up in a hotel as well.
When will the suitcases I send from Tokyo arrive in Mie?
Incoming JETs who bring two suitcases are required to send at least one to Mie upon arrival at Narita Airport, and if you choose to take the second to the hotel for orientation you'll have to send at the end of orientation before departing for Mie. This is handled by Japanese suitcase shipping companies which provide excellent service and prices -- sending suitcases this way in Japan is quite common and so the services are pretty solid. Any suitcases sent upon arrival at Narita Airport will definitely have arrived in Mie before you get there and will be waiting at your school/BOE/house (wherever you were told to send them by your supervisor or predecessor). It a suitcase is sent from the hotel at the end of orientation, it will likely arrive in Mie within two days (at the maximum) of your own arrival in Mie.
Life in Mie
What kind of cell phone should I get?
- See Phones
In general, the 3 major phone providers (SoftBank, DoCoMo, and AU) all offer nearly identical services and prices. SoftBank, for one reason or another, is the crowd favorite among most JETs and English-speaking ex-pats in general, however be wary that its signal area isn't as all-inclusive as DoCoMo and may be a viable choice in some of the more isolated placements.
Be aware that you will likely need a gaijin card to apply for a cell phone, this is an official policy with all three phone providers. Incoming JETs will fill out forms to receive their gaijin card soon after arrival, but may not receive it for up to a month.
You will no doubt hear stories of JETs who have attained their cell phone without a gaijin card. This has little to do with the company or even the store you choose, and almost everything to do with the actual employee who signs you up. They may not ask for you gaijin card at all, they may demand to see the form indicating you've applied for one (the so-called "temporary gaijin card"), or they may demand to see an actual card - it is almost entirely up to chance.
What is a furikomi bank transfer and how do I do it?
- See Bank Transfer
Many financial transactions made in Japan are done by bank transfer, or furikomi (振り込み). Though Amazon and other large online merchants favour convenience store ticket machines for their payments, ordering from smaller companies will often involve a money transfer to that company's bank account. Furikomi is also useful for sending money to other people, such as sending payment to the AJET Treasurer to pay event fees. The system effectively replaces the use of checks as found in many countries.
How do I send money to my bank back home?
While there are many methods for sending money home, it is reasonable to say that GoLloyds is the best options. It is a service which you must sign up for, and after receiving an account you furikomi money from your local ATM to a Japanese bank account owned by Lloyds TSB and it will automatically be remitted to your home bank (generally) within a business day. The process is about as hassle-free as can be.
Where can I find an English-speaking doctor?
- See Medical Care
There is a larger official list and a smaller unofficial list, the latter of which is based on numerous personal recommendations made by Mie JETs over the years.
How do I get my mail re-delivered?
- See Mail Redelivery
How do I get a Japanese driver's license?
How do I renew my license?
How do I type in Japanese?
For Windows XP, see this blog entry
What are your seasonal recommendations for things to do around Mie?
Where can I get the schedule for my local movie theater?
- See Movie Theaters
Which stations in Mie have a Midori no Madoguchi?
So-called "green windows" (みどりの窓口 midori no madoguchi) are JR's ticket offices where you can buy regular tickets, limited express tickets, and seat reservations for any JR train country-wide. In addition, they sell regional and seasonal special tickets, such as the Seishun 18 Ticket.
- Northern Mie: Kuwana • Yokkaichi • Kameyama
- Central Mie: Matsusaka • Taki • Tsu
- Eastern Mie: Iseshi • Toba
- Western Mie: Iga-Ueno
- Southern Mie: Kii-Nagashima • Kumanoshi • Owase
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