Japan or Bust なんとしても

Walking through the streets of DC in a suit, that relatively warm February day felt both special and ordinary. I’m going to the Japanese Embassy! But I’ve worn a suit in Japan before, many times. Don’t get me wrong, though—it was a big day. I’ve never had an interview at the embassy before.


After trekking through the metro system and the DC streets and crowds, I arrived at the embassy. However, unlike previous times, where I went into the cultural center open to the public, this time they let me into the restricted access old residence building next to the cultural center. It was gated off. There were security officials in black suits. There were ornate carpets and old paintings on old walls. It felt like a mini Whitehouse. Or is this just the way buildings are in DC?


Anyway, I was taken to a room with a bunch of other people in their suits and 20s, and talked with a few alumni of the JET Program we were applying for. For those who don’t know, the JET (Japanese Exchange & Teaching) Program is an initiative sponsored by the Japanese government to hire foreigners as English teachers in the Japanese public school system. Those hired are paid a full salary and benefits to teach English and act as a cultural ambassador for Japan and their own country for up to five years.

いずれにしろ、スーツを着ている二十代がいっぱいいる部屋に行かせられて、そこで応募しているJETプログラムの同窓生の数人に話しかけた。知らない人のお知らせですが、JETプログラム(Japanese Exchange & Teaching, 日本交換と英語教育)は日本の政府が外国人を英語の先生として、日本の教育制度のために雇うプログラムです。雇われてもらう人は1年間から5年間まで給料などもらって英語を教えて自分の国と日本の文化大使のようなことをします。

After talking to them for a bit and calming my nerves, I asked my fellow applicants, “When is your interview. “11:15,” said one. “11:15” said another. Then another. Mine is at 11:15. What time is it? I was about to get out my phone to check the time, when I heard “Stephen Falke.” I guess it’s 11:15. I went with a JET staff volunteer and another applicant up a very regal staircase and into a room where I had my interview. We are supposed to keep the contents of the interview confidential, so I won’t go into detail, but I think I did pretty well. I think the only thing that would keep me from getting into the program is if I loved Japan too much, as ironic and silly as that sounds. Yet I do. It’s probably way too old news by now for those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while, but I’ve always loved Japan and always wanted to go back since the day I left.

その応募者と同窓生にちょっと話して落ち着いたあとで、応募者に聞いた、「お面接は何時ですか?」1人は、「11時15分です」。もう1人は、「11時15分です」。それからもう1人。私の面接も11時15分だ。今何時だろう?携帯を出して調べるところで、「フォーク スティーブン」と聞いた。11時15分のはずだ。JETのスタッフボランティーアともう1人応募者と一緒にとても王立の階段を上って面接の部屋に入った。面接の内容は秘密情報としなければいけないので、詳しく話さないが、よく出来た気がします。アイロニックだけど、もしも悪点があれば、日本が好きすぎるようなことだと思う。でも、そうだよ。長い間私のブログを読んでいる人には古いニュウスだろうけれど、いつも日本を愛していて、出た日から、ずっと帰りたい気持ちを持っている。

At the beginning of this year, I made a new year’s resolution: Get to Japan. That’s it. No fitness plans, no diet regimens, no new hobbies or habits. Just get to Japan. I especially felt the resolve in my heart that day as I left the embassy. It’s not a question of whether or not I’m going to Japan this year; it’s a question of whether or not it’s through JET. It’s time. I know. God knows. Japan or bust.



About Stephen

My name is Stephen Gabriel Falke, and I am passionate about Jesus and Japan! I have studied abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo for the 2012-2013 school year, and taught through the JET Program for 2 years from 2015 to 2017. On my blogs I like to write about my experiences living in Japan, as well as dialogue about the intersection between Japanese culture and Gospel Truth.
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