By: Jessica Roh |

Anyone who has traveled to Japan will tell you how meaningful and impactful the experience was for them. Japanese culture is as beautiful as it’s land whilst Japanese people are friendly and hardworking. Through the JET Programme, I was fortunate to get a one year contract, teaching English in Kyoto city. I believe that Kyoto city is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are many historic temples, and traditional style restaurants, making it easy to enjoy the delicious taste of matcha tea and ice creams in the region.

What surprised me the most about living in Japan was how clean and fresh everything felt, despite the population density. Every morning, people would come out to clean the streets.The elderly would roam the neighborhood to greet the children on their way to school.

And the food!! Food is prepared often, ensuring quality and freshness. Even convenience stores (konbini) sell fresh and healthy meals and snacks, which can be accompanied by a cold (or hot) drink available at the variety of vending machines on each block. The air is humid, and the skies demonstrate an array of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Nature is ever present in Japanese people’s lives. They understand the value of taking care of our beautiful planet, as well as the importance of even the littlest creature’s life. In Japan, valuing the other over yourself is a very common philosophy. and Japanese people work so that the people who are affected by their work can live pleasant lives. There is a very harmonious feeling from every sort of social interaction.

In my experience as a teacher, students work very hard in Japan. In general, Japanese society shows a huge amount of respect towards teachers. I felt extremely loved and appreciated in every single school. The students are not greedy, they do not cheat and they eat very healthy meals, which makes it much easier for them to concentrate in school -did you know that juice boxes are banned in Japanese schools because of the high sugar content? You’ll notice an overall appreciation for education in Japan. Japanese TV programs even regularly broadcasts educational or informative shows.

If there is one word that would describe what changed my life from living in Japan, it would be patience. Patience: to appreciate what we have in the moment, to take a deep breath of the fresh air provided by our hardworking trees, and the importance of helping others.