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Nihonbashi Information Center

Finding a job in a country where you don't speak the language is difficult. But if the right people are around you and you talk openly about your dreams, wishes, and ideas, then suitable opportunities will come to you.


So, less than two months after I landed, I received a message from Stefanie, who had accompanied me to my host family, forwarding me a job ad.

The tourist information office in Nihonbashi was looking for international staff for the information center. The main reason Stefanie had to think of me when reading the ad was that kimonos would be worn during working hours, and first insights into the world of omotenashi would be provided.

The Japanese level should be in the safe conversation range; besides English, at least one more language should be spoken. So perfect for me.


I immediately applied with both a Japanese and English resume and cover letter in both languages. At this point, I was very grateful for my host family life. Both in writing the Japanese resume and the cover letter, my host mom helped me.


After a week, I had the invitation to the interview in my mailbox.

Excited and wearing a classic black and white outfit, I went to the discussion.


Interview round 1


I had the first round of interviews with Min. She is my boss in the international department and moved to Japan over ten years ago. The interview was entirely in English, and I was asked the classic interview questions.


When the question was asked about my plans, I emphasized my interest in all aspects related to hospitality and did not leave out my ryokan plans.


After answering all the questions, I was assured that I would receive an email soon with the rest of the process and that I might have another interview with the tourist information manager.


Interview round 2


The mail came as promised, and I prepared for the second round. I assumed this interview would also be in English, but I was surprised when I arrived. Mori-san, the director of the Nihonbashi Information Center, does not speak English, so I struggled through the conversation in Japanese. I was surprised at how much I understood, and when a questioning look crossed my face, Min-san helped me with the translation.


In addition to the conversation, I was tasked with using a map to formulate directions in both Japanese and English. I was glad we had this topic in class a few weeks earlier, so I knew roughly what I wanted to be heard.


In addition to the directions, I was asked to translate two short store introductions from Japanese into English, which was relatively easy for me since the texts were not written in an unnecessarily complicated way.


Interview round 3


After the second round, I received the following mail a few days later informing me about the contract's date. It was explained to me again that there would be a three-month trial run, with a test at the end and small reviews in between.


At this point, I had been in the country for just two months. If this job wasn't a twist of fate, I don't know what was.


Nihonbashi Information Center


During my conversation course, I worked during the week and on weekends, which allowed me to gain a lot of hours and experience during my first month of work. Thanks to my Japanese colleagues, who explained a lot to me and tried to keep everything as simple as possible, I had a steep learning curve in the first month.


My Japanese quickly improved, and I was soon able to give my first Japanese orientation. I got to know the neighborhood and memorized where which stores were, what they were called, and what they sold. I kept walking the paths in the three main buildings (COREDO Muromashi 1,2,3) and memorized the street layouts in Nihonbashi. Here's a little picture so you can get a rough idea of what area we're covering:


The information center is located in COREDO Muromachi 1. In the same building, you can find stores like Kiya, a store specializing in traditional knife making, and Ninben, a store specializing in Katsuboshi (dried and fermented tuna). Both stores are so-called "Shinise 老舗" - stores with a long history of tradition. Kiya, for example, has existed in Nihonbashi since 1792. The store has survived several fires, the Great Kanto Earthquake, and the bombing of Tokyo during World War II. To this day, Kiya's operators are committed to supporting craftsmanship throughout Japan.


In addition to the stores, the international department staff teaches a cultural tour, which tourists can book. The time consists of a presentation of a Shinto shrine, Kiya and Ninben, including practice demonstrations, the main street that runs through Nihonbashi, and the famous Nihonbashi Bridge.

The tour lasts just over an hour and is conducted entirely in English.



At the end of my three-month training, I presented the tour to my colleagues in the international department and my two supervisors and passed.


New responsibilities and plans

My three-month training is over, and I'm wearing kimono!

What a great feeling.


I've only been working weekends since I started the intensive course and still learn new things every day. I get to train a new employee and enjoy every hour.

No question, the job is exhausting and has boring minutes, but I do my best to take something from every little situation and absorb everything new with open ears.


I will work in the tourist information office for a year starting this month. I will spend most of my time here until next year in mid-August. The language school ends in December this year, and I can hardly believe I have already completed a full year of intensive Japanese lessons. Of that, half a year of night classes from Germany and half a year in Japan.


For today, that should be it for now. In the next blog entry, I will introduce you to the Nihonbashi region and some interesting facts from the tour.


Stay healthy,


your Tanja

 

 

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