As I stepped off the limited express from Hakata on onto the platform at Saga station I was unleashed into a world that I had not expected. I had been dreaming about my final arrival into Japan for so long that images had begun to form in my mind about exactly what to expect. The concrete towers that lay out before me, weren’t exactly as pictured. I began to think about how I had got here.
I worked so hard to get that job, spending hours working on my CV, preparing for the interview, saving up enough money to make it out here comfortably. And finally after sending off a hundred documents, and sending several thousand e-mails I got offered a job in Japan, I passed the first hurdle, got my visa put in my passport and I was ready to go.
I was excited about where I would be sent. Kyoto, Osaka, TOKYO. Oh to live under the skytree, to cross Shibuya crossing, to live in the cultural centre of Japan, in the largest city in the world. And then you receive your placement, and it’s Saga. Saga which you’ve never heard of, Saga which most Japanese people think is one big rice paddy, Saga the most underrepresented prefecture in Japan.
Well you can wipe the frowniness off your face right now, because I am here to tell you that Saga is an AMAZING place to be an ALT. In hindsight, not only are there LOADS of other ALT’s in this area but they are all really friendly and have a great community spirit. I have lived in countries all over the world and I have never found it easier to make friends than I did in Saga, the ALT’s and the local Japanese people are warm, welcoming and more than happy to strike up a conversation.
There are not many other prefectures that can boast, beaches and skiing but Saga has just that, with something to suit every persons hobbies, one thing is for sure you will never be bored in a place that has a Round 1, with unlimited sports, spa and arcade games. Saga also has great food, and plenty of restaurants offering different options including my favourite; a cat café.
One great thing about Saga is that it is rural, but it is not rural. Saga has good public transport and if you are lucky enough to live in Saga city, you can get almost anywhere in the city easily by bike. Trust me when I say that Japan gets MUCH more rural than Saga. I know an ALT who lives in a town of 9000, she’s an hour drive to the nearest town, 4 hours to the nearest airport, and the only thing that is in her town are 2 konbinis.
So if you get placed in Saga please don’t fret. Do a little more research and you’ll see all the amazing things that Saga has to offer.
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George is a 20-something hitchhiker, solo female traveller and cunning linguist, currently teaching in Kyushu, Japan. She circumnavigates the globe and teaches languages to all those in her wake. She has travelled Europe and Oz extensively, and has taught languages in 6 different countries and counting. She writes about a mix of language learning, TEFL tips and general travel tales. Follow her journey at http://georgeonthego.org or on www.facebook.com/georgegoingdown or www.twitter.com/georgieonthego