TEACHING AT MEYSEN > MEYSEN FAQS
1. Does MeySen assist new employees in covering
or subsidizing relocation costs for shipping of furniture,
personal items, etc.?
No. New employees may bring as much or as little as their budget allows. However, please keep in mind that Japanese apartments don’t offer much in terms of storage space. In addition, pretty much anything and everything you have available in the United States can be found and/or purchased in Japan (and then some)! Typically, our employees from the US and abroad arrive with standard airline luggage allowances (two suitcases under 50lbs + one carry-on), as most intend only to stay for one to three years.
Teachers are equipped with a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment, so there is no need to bring furniture from home. Each apartment comes with one small, but deep, closet, which is ideal for storing luggage and clothes, but does not leave room for much else.
2. What does MeySen provide in our apartments?
How much money should I bring to Japan to supply my apartment?
MeySen will supply the following items in each employee’s apartment:
- Western-Style (twin) bed
- Bedding & Towels
- Washing Machine & Dryer
- Iron & Ironing Board
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Refrigerator (small)
- Microwave Oven
- Rice Cooker
- Pots & Pans
- Cups & Mugs
- Dishes & Utensils
- Electric Hot Water Kettle
- Dresser/Chest of Drawers
- Land-line Telephone
- Kitchen Table & Two Chairs
- Coffee Maker
- Kerosene Heater (in winter)
- 1-2 bookcases of varying height
- Depending on the apartment: Dish/Bathroom Cabinet
Of course, our employees invest time and money into making their apartment their home abroad. The amount of money varies based on your personal style preferences and budget. Daiso (¥100 Store), 3Coins (¥300 Store), and Salut! (¥1,000 Store) all offer amazing home goods and small furniture and artwork which would allow you to decorate your home for between $50.00 - $100.00 USD.
3. I can’t speak any Japanese. Will it be hard for me to live in Sendai?
Sendai is not Tokyo; there are not as many fluent English speakers here. However, the people of Sendai are warm, open and genuinely friendly. Not knowing Japanese is only a barrier if you allow it to be so!
Many Japanese people know, or understand, a little English. In time, you will pick up and be able to communicate simple ideas and needs in Japanese, which makes communication easier.
In addition, MeySen Academy provides an English Staff Support Team, which is comprised of bilingual Japanese assistants to guide you through paying your bills, obtaining a Japanese Driver’s License, making medical appointments, etc.
4. What is the medical care like in Japan?
The answer to this question varies from person to person depending on that individual’s medical needs. MeySen Academy strongly recommends applicants interested in working abroad, especially in Japan, to research how their unique medical needs will be treated/prescribed in Japan, as many US medications are unavailable or illegal in Japan.
Medications are in smaller quantities and with weaker dosages, and patients are often prescribed a cocktail of weaker drugs for common ailments, like a cold.
MeySen Academy employees are enrolled in Japan’s National Healthcare System, which provides very affordable healthcare at or near US standards. The individual pays 30% of any medical care received, and the government covers the remaining 70%. Your monthly NHC payments are taken directly from your paycheck every month.
Please feel free to contact your recruiter or MeySen Academy Human Resources for more information!
5. I’m a strict vegetarian/vegan/other.
Can I find affordable alternatives in Japan?
Adhering to a strict dietary regimen will be difficult in Japan – not due to lack of availability, but because all dietary label information is written in Japanese!
There are many online resources which may help in reading kanji on food labels, vegetarian/vegan-safe brands, etc. A few can be found here:
6. Is the cost of living high?
Living in Sendai is far more affordable that living in Tokyo or Osaka! Comparatively, the cost of living in Sendai is moderate (not exactly cheap, but not too expensive). Comparatively, the cost of living in Sendai will be higher or lower depending on your home state and city. For example, employees from the West and East Coasts of the United States find the cost of living in Sendai low, whereas employees from the Midwest or Southern United States may find the cost of living in Sendai comparable, or higher than what they can expect in their hometown.
7. Will I be able to find clothes in my size?
This depends on each person’s height, weight and body type. On average, Japanese people are shorter and smaller than their Western counterparts. For example, women will have a hard time finding shoes larger than a US 8.5 in Japan; for men, there are not many shoe options available above a US size 11.
Clothing in Japan is also more expensive in general. Our teachers will probably end up spending the same amount of money by ordering online from an American company and shipping clothes to Japan.
Sizing of undergarments is also extremely limited. Women are strongly encouraged to bring undergarments from home.
Men and Women of all sizes can both find great options at international/national chain stores like GAP, 4L Clothing, UNIQLO, and Forever21, all of which are conveniently located near both MeySen campuses.
There are also several boutique clothing stores around both MeySen campuses, and in Downtown Sendai, which offer a wide variety of clothing and styles (including extended sizes). Some of our staff’s favorites can be found here:
Please feel free to contact your recruiter or MeySen Academy Human Resources for more information!
8. Will I stick out as a non-Japanese person? Will I get weird looks?
You will stick out! Again, whether this is a negative or positive thing depends on your point of view, and your public behavior.
9. Is it easy to get around Sendai without a car?
Yes! Teachers who work at MeySen’s Maruyama Campus are a 15-20 minute walk from Izumi-Chuo Subway Station. Teachers who work at MeySen’s Takamori Campus enjoy access to two bus stops conveniently located on either end of campus. The Takamori bus route will stop at Izumi-Chuo Subway Station about 30 minutes along the route from the Takamori bus stops.
Japan is famous for its public transportation system! There are buses, subways, overground trains and the infamous bullet train (Shinkansen), which will help propel you quickly and affordably all over the country of Japan!
MeySen Academy also provides a communal van for teachers of each campus to use should they need to make a shopping trip to COSTCO, take guests around, etc.
10. What is the tax situation like in Japan?
Will I have to pay US and/or Japanese taxes?
Employees from the United States can work in Japan for two years exempt from Japanese income and city taxes once the appropriate IRS forms are completed; this process can be started before or after you arrive in Japan.
New employees will still need to file taxes with the IRS while working abroad in Japan, especially if you have American and Japanese income across the same tax year.
Once you’ve been living in working in Japan over a full calendar, you’ll be able to complete paperwork to verify “bona fide” residence in Japan, which will affect your US taxes. You can refer to the Employee Information Handbook for more information on paying US and Japanese taxes, or contact MeySen Academy Human Resources for further information.
11. What is the climate in Sendai like?
Northern Japan is, thankfully, nowhere near as hot as locations like Okinawa or Kyoto, nor cold as Sapporo, but it can still take some getting used to.
Typically, summers in Japan are hot and very humid; spring and fall are usually rainy and humid, and winter is snowy and cold, with temperatures sometimes dipping below freezing. However, residents of Northern Japan enjoy a beautifully balanced rotation of seasons – each season here lasts about three months, and the change in seasons is dramatic and a wonderful thing to experience!
Waterproof footwear and outerwear are strongly recommended.
12. How safe am I from earthquakes, tsunamis,
and radiation (as a result of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake)?
Earthquakes & Tsunamis
Earthquakes are common in Japan!
Japan is situated in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Frequent low intensity earth tremors and occasional volcanic activity are constantly felt throughout the islands. Destructive earthquakes, often resulting in tsunamis (of varying intensity), occur several times a century.
Over the years, the Japanese government has enforced measures to make buildings more resistant to earthquakes in known disaster zones. Households in Japan have been ordered to keep a survival kit consisting of water and food to last a few days, a flashlight, a radio and a first aid kit; and are advised not to position heavy objects where they could easily fall during an earthquake and hamper their response or cause harm.
Tohoku University (located in Sendai) actively monitors the radiation levels of the Fukushima area, which have never presented a serious health risk to the population.
You can review summaries of the university’s status reports (in English) here:
13. How safe is Sendai?
Sendai City (仙台市 ) is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, and the largest city in the Tōhoku region, and the second largest city north of Tokyo. In 2010, the city had a population of one million. The city was founded in 1600 by the daimyo Date Masamune, and is nicknamed the City of Trees, as there are about 60 zelkova trees on Jōzenji Street and Aoba Street.
Overall, Sendai is a great city for foreigners – large enough to have all the modern amenities of Tokyo, but still small enough to feel like a countryside town. It’s a great place to learn and practice Japanese, and to gain experience with the nuances of Japanese culture.
Sendai is very safe; crime rates are low and most crime, when it does occur, is usually non-violent.
Do you have any other questions about MeySen, or living abroad in Japan? We can’t wait to answer them! Please feel free to reach out at any time to your recruiter, or MeySen Academy Human Resources!