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Category Archives: Travel

Winter Resort Work In Japan

Qualifications and Requirements

There is a special arrangement between the Japanese government and other countries for a special working holiday visa. If you are a citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, U.K., Korea, Ireland, Germany, Denmark and France between 18 to 30 years old, you will initially qualify for this opportunity.

Only those applying for ski patrol positions are required to have a first aid certificate. There are no other strict qualification requirements to get a resort job in Japan. Naturally though, if you do have special ski instructor certifications, you have a greater chance of getting accepted for a position with a higher rate.

Language requirements are set at a minimum. You should have completed a year of language study. This is understandable considering that you will be interacting with both local and foreign tourists. Learning should not be a problem though since there are several programs online that you can take to master the tongue. You can also supplement your conversational skills when you are already in the country. There is nothing more effective than learning by using the language.

Work Conditions

Usually, winter resorts require employees to report for work 40 to 48 hours a week. On very busy seasons like December or February, staff and instructors may have to work 7 days a week. Overtime work however is compensated at 125% the hourly rate.

Hourly pay will differ per resort. Ski instructors in Hokkaido are often paid more than those in other locations. If you get a spot in Hokkaido you might land a generous rate of 1000 yen. Other resorts pay around 650 to 700 yen.

Applicants who get accepted for work in Japan are covered by work insurance so you don’t need to worry about this. This is not, however the same as travel insurance for which you need to pay for yourself.

Wonderful Japan Trip

Since, this Tokyo Disneyland is one of the main attractions in Japan, I am bringing my whole family with me so that the children will be able to see the difference. My wife is also excited about this trip and she’s preparing the things already. The children are also excited about our vacation because this will be their first time in an Asian country. Hopefully, after this trip in Tokyo, we can still go to Hongkong Disneyland as well as other tourist spots in Asia. But for now, Tokyo Disneyland is our main destination to have fun and enjoyment.

After my family and I visited the beautiful Tokyo Disneyland, I suggested that we visited Mt. Fuji. We were a bit disappointed since it’s not one of the popular tourist spots in Japan like we thought. We then decided to visit Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavillion located in Kyoto. It is the most famous of all the tourists attractions in Japan. Some of my friends were shocked when I told them that Mt. Fuji is not the most famous attraction in Japan but Kinkaku-ji. This temple was said to be built originally in 1933 and served as home for retired Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. It became a Buddhist temple when the retired leader died. The temple is famous for having pillars over the lake which was designed to emphasize its place between heaven and earth.

It was also said that this Buddhist temple was reconstructed back in 1955 after a young Zen Buddhist set fire inside it. Reports said that the man despised beautiful things like the temple that’s why he tried to destroy it. After the reconstruction, the temple became beautiful and spectacular. It’s really stunning being wholly covered with gold leaf with a phoenix on top. Therefore, the Temple of the Golden Pavillion is another must-see attraction in Japan aside from Mt. Fuji. So, if I were you, I would start saving money for a chance to see this remarkable Japanese creation.

Japanese Travel Proverbs

1. The Philosophical:

Here is one attributed to the famous Japanese poet, Basho:

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.” ~ Matsuo Basho

The meaning of this one is pretty clear. In the literal sense, it could be taken to mean that there are many ways to the same destination. In a more philosophical sense, it speaks to the idea of not just imitating the appearance or specific steps of another person’s journey, but rather to let their journey inspire your own unique path.

2. The Romantic:

Here is a Japanese travel proverb that has a romantic undertone:

“Who travels for love finds a thousand miles not longer than one.” ~ Traditional Proverb

From a literal perspective, this proverb tells us that a love of the journey may be just as important as arriving. More figuratively, it tells us that anything that we set out to do with love and passion will be an infinitely easier task than something that lacks such passion.

3. On Being A Fish Out Of Water:

This one talks about human folly and what it is like to feel like a fish out of water:

“When you travel, you can afford to look a little bit foolish.” ~ Traditional Proverb

When looked at from the perspective of travel, this proverb seems to be telling us that it is okay – even natural – to loosen your normal social observances and rules when you are on the road. On another level, this one seems to speak to the idea that sometimes it is okay to step a bit outside of ourselves and have a little fun.

Great Train Trips

Trans-Siberian Railway

At over 9000 kilometres in length, and taking a full week non-stop by train, the journey from Moscow to Vladivostok would have to be close to the biggest train adventure available. Or do the several other Trans-Siberian routes surpass it? Moscow to Beijing is another option, as is Moscow-Ulan Bator (Mongolia)-Beijing with the latter shaving 1500 kilometres and a day’s travel off the comparable trip to Vladivostok. From Vladivostok there is a weekly ferry to continue one’s journey to Japan or South Korea. With around seven days worth of travel, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know the Russians, Chinese or other Western travellers on board!

New York to Los Angeles

The USA also has several different routes at one’s disposal, to get you from coast to coast. One trip gives the option of travelling past the Grand Canyon. Another makes its way through the Rockies. A more southern route takes in New Orleans. The options available makes one want to do a return leg, and see what one missed on the way over! The quickest journey takes three nights, but then again, if you were in a hurry, you would take a plane! The major cities and natural attractions (such as the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges on one route) mean that there are plenty of tourist options to extend the scheduled journey.

Singapore to Bangkok

This lovely trip on comfortable trains gives the traveller a taste of three South-East Asian nations. Apart from Singapore and Bangkok at either end, those deciding to break up the journey can enjoy several interesting stop overs and side trips. Soak up the delightful mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese culture in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. Butterworth is the stop to link into a ferry to Penang island, while disembarking at Alor Setar or Arau gives one the option of linking with transport to beautiful Langkawi Island. All this before one even reaches stops in Southern Thailand within striking distance of that country’s beautiful islands and beaches.

Single Mom Traveling

I think that traveling remains in a child’s psyche and shapes their character in a conscientious and positive way. I saw it first-hand how truly positive the experience was for my daughter Natalia and I plan to continue traveling as much as we can. Natalia was ecstatic when we would finally arrive to our new destination after hours of travel. She would check out our new home and say “Natalia’s house” and we would both gracefully ease into every new destination and travel situation that we encountered.

The Central Valley was the first place we settled for seven days. I wanted to see where in Costa Rica we would possibly like to settle down for a year or two in the future. I would be teaching and dabbling in real estate and Natalia would be getting a bilingual education and basking in the sun. I was pining for the beach, but I did not want to limit my options to just the beach. Most of the jobs in Costa Rica are in the Central Valley and I wanted to get to know the Central Valley first hand so that I could compare my experiences once I ventured out to the coasts. I also wanted to see what would be more enjoyable as well as practical for the both of us, with a good job market, good schools and a kid-friendly atmosphere. I would then decide on the best option for my toddler daughter- discovering life and growing, and for me- a teacher, world traveler and fun-loving single mother.

The Central Valley is a massive area with many cities including San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela. When I was researching these cities, I was getting advice from people and from the internet to avoid them. I have never been to Central or South America. I did not want to overwhelm myself with a big Central American city, while I would already be overwhelmed with my small travel companion. If I were traveling single or with friends, I would gladly check out the big sprawling cities, but with a child, I felt that I should be more low-key. I wanted a homey small town feel with a two bedroom place and a kitchen so that Natalia and I would get acclimated to living daily life in the Central Valley like the locals.

We chose a small village in the country hills called Pan de Azucar which means ‘sugar bread’ in Spanish. Pan de Azucar is in the outskirts of a cozy little town called Atenas. Atenas has a central park in the center and is surrounded by quaint family run businesses and restaurants called Sodas. Atenas has a simple cathedral, Tico-style residential homes and rolling mountain ranges in the background. It is a mellow town, with kid-friendly shops, including a candy shop, toy shop and a delicious bakery right across from the park. It had treats that Natalia loved to eat, like the carrot bread. Atenas also boasts that it has “the best climate in the world”, which was the deal breaker for me. There is something very wholesome and exclusive about the “best climate in the world” and I wanted me and my baby girl to experience it.

After many dedicated nights of research, I found a cozy two-bedroom house on-line through a comprehensive website that rents vacation homes by owner. In my opinion, when staying for longer periods of time and traveling with children, a home type of environment is the best option. The property where we rented our house is Japanese owned and is called ‘Casa de Megumi’. In Spanish and Japanese, it means ‘House of Blessing’. ‘Casa’ means house in Spanish and ‘megumi’ means blessing in Japanese. Finding a Japanese run vacation rental in Costa Rica was a great coincidence for me because of my recent Japanese-oriented past. I lived in Japan for a year and a half, was pregnant in Japan for five months, and it was the last place I traveled to before going to Costa Rica. Since I have a profound fascination with all things Japanese, Casa de Megumi was automatically kindred to me. Moreover, once I got to know the earnestly helpful owner of the property, Hisano Bell, a Japanese woman from Yokohama, I knew in my gut that Casa de Megumi was the right place for us to start our Costa Rica adventure.

Westeners Love Japan

Depending upon the time you can tailor make the trip to visit all Shinto temples, beautiful Japanese gardens, ride on bullet trains or visit martial arts exhibition matches. There are so many things for you to see and do while in Japan.

Accommodation is very cheap and easily available in Japan. One can choose the suitable kind of accommodation depending upon ones budget. From an individual or shared room, bed and breakfast facilities to medium budget hotels and five star luxury suites and rooms, all kinds of options are available for you to choose from.

Check out the airline schedules and book in advance to be able to fare advantage. Tokyo and Osaka are connected to most of the major US Airports by daily and weekly flights by the airlines. You can take the train service for local travel while in Japan.

Landing in the middle of water can be a thrilling experience if you happen to fly into Japan and land in one of the two airports that are built on artificial island in the bay. These are well connected to the mainland through rail and road. The other three airports are on the mainland and together the total traffic is managed within the five airports depending upon weather conditions and traffic. Besides Japan has many more domestic airports and airstrips too that supports local travel.

Within Japan you have the option of taking domestic flights to the nearest airport or take the high-speed trains that connect the various islands and the main land. In fact you get to see the Japanese culture from close quarters when you travel by local trains.

Planning a budget and gathering information on your total cost of the trip is necessary to be able to enjoy your Japan trip. If you plan in advance and do the right bookings you can end up saving quite a lot of money. You can look at the options of buying pre paid card for the train journeys as well as buy international and Local SIM that works out cheaper and you can stay connected all the time.

Travel Costs For Japan

1. Airfare prices:
This is going to be the largest – and also most variable – of your Japan trip costs. The factors that influence how much or little you end up paying for your flight to and from Japan include the time of year you plan to travel, your choice of air carrier, and of course your departure city. If you live near a major city, you should be able to find a direct flight to Japan without having to transfer plans en route.

In terms of costs, they really vary. For example, you should expect to pay as little as $350 (if traveling from Korea or parts of China) to $1,000 to $2,000 or more if traveling from Europe, Australia or the Americas. If your travel dates are flexible, be sure to plug in different dates into an online travel planner to see how the rates vary by travel date.

2. Transportation from the airport to your place of lodging:
If you will be landing in Osaka or Tokyo (most people do), you will need to arrange ground transportation from the airport to your place of lodging. From both Narita International Airport and Kansai International Airport, you can find train service into the city for about $25. Also, a popular choice for travelers flying into Narita is to take an express bus into Tokyo for around $40. The bus will take you directly to a major train station in the heart of Tokyo.

3. Hotel, inn, and bed & breakfast rates:
Rates for a 3- or 4-star Western style hotel in a big city will usually start at around $150 or $200 per night. If your budget is more limited and/or if you want to have a more authentic Japan travel experience, trying staying in a ryokan (inn) or minshuku (bed and breakfast) for around $40-$60 per night. Hostels will cost even less.

4. Eating out:
High-end meals in Tokyo can run $100/plate or higher, but there are food options to match just about any budget. At the low end of things, you can find convenience stores on just about every major street corner that offer healthy snacks and meals for under $5.

5. Snacks:
Again, convenience stores are a great way to keep yourself fed if you are traveling in Japan on a budget. $5 per meal is a reasonable budget when you go this route. You can find tuna sandwiches, pre-made salads, onigiri (rice balls with meat or vegetable filling), chips, and even hot soup (o-den) during the winter months.

Cheapest Times To Travel To Japan

1. Visit in late fall or early winter:

One of the best ways to keep your Japan trip costs down is to plan to travel during the times of the year when very few Japanese are traveling, either domestically or internationally. One of these times is during the period from September through November. There are few holidays of note going on during this time period, and Japanese children are in school.

2. Visit in late winter or early spring:

Another low season for Japanese travel is from later winter to early spring (February and March). Like the September through November time period, airports and ground transportation systems are not particularly crowded during this time of the year.

3. Avoid New Year and Golden Week:

On the other hand, if you want to save money you will want to avoid traveling during the New Year (last week in December/first week in January). Also, avoid Golden Week, a series of holidays that take place at the end of April and during the first week of May. During these two major Japanese holiday periods, the Japanese are out and about, which drives up travel rates and making things more congested in general.

4. Try traveling midweek:

Another money-saving tip: book your tickets for mid-week travel. Doing so can help you cut your travel costs way down.

5. Check prices with different air carriers:

Finally, check with different air carriers: you may be surprised at how much different the cost of your ticket will be when you shop around a little bit for the best rate.

Resort Jobs in Japan

Accommodation

You’ll be staying in large dormitories, with rooms for 2-4 Japanese or foreign staff. It’s rare to have a dorm room to yourself. Resorts sometimes place foreign and Japanese staff together in rooms, as it’s a great way to make friends and learn the language. However, due to some unfortunate incidents with foreign staff in the past (messy, noisy, etc.), foreign staff are often placed together.

All dormitories are single-sex, and some have a curfew. Male and female dormitories are strictly separated. Entering dorm rooms of the opposite sex can be grounds for dismissal. However, most dorms have common rooms where everyone can socialize. In cases where no common rooms are available, staff usually hang out in the dining room / nearby bars / restaurants etc.

Dorm accommodation is simple but adequate – a working holiday in Japan isn’t supposed to be luxurious – just fun! Some rooms are western-style, while others are fitted with Tatami (Japanese-style straw mats). All laundry, bathing, and dining facilities are communal. Dorms are equipped with beds, futons, sheets, blankets, ‘Rice Pillows’ (like a bean-bag), washing machines, microwave ovens, toasters, hot pots (to boil water) and telephones (to receive calls only). Ski Resort dorms also have central heating (or room heaters), so there’s no need to bring extra sleeping-bags / blankets with you. Refrigerators are not essential because there are plenty of cool places to store food. On the other hand, Summer Resort dorms are equipped with refrigerators and air-conditioning. In most Resorts, dormitory common rooms (used by all staff to chat and relax) are equipped with a TV, however TV’s in individual rooms is a rarity. Of course, drying rooms for gear are standard. Irons are not available – bring clothes that don’t need ironing.

Meals

Breakfast and dinner are served in the dorm or hotel cafeteria, while lunch is eaten at your work post. Usually, you’ll be eating breakfast at 7-7.30am, lunch at 1-2pm, and dinner after work at 6-7pm. In busy periods, you may find yourself eating hastily from a lunch-box at your post – but after the busy period, your lunch-break will be long enough to enjoy your meal.

Meals are simple, healthy Japanese-style dishes – nothing fancy, but nutritious and satisfying. During your working holiday at Resorts, you might grow tired of Japanese food every day, and decide to eat out with your friends, or buy some food from the supermarket/convenience store instead. PLEASE NOTE: Resorts can’t cater to specific dietary needs (vegetarian, diabetic etc). If you’re particular about your diet, you’ll need to buy your own food each day (as staff aren’t permitted to use dorm kitchen facilities to prepare their own food).

Free Time

Doing a working holiday at a Resort in Japan, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful scenery, and lots of fun activities! Carving fresh tracks in champagne powder, lazing on tropical beaches in the sun, or hiking through pristine wilderness will all become routine activities. On your days off, and before / after work, you’ll be free to do as you please (within resort guidelines). In some Ski resorts, you’ll also have the opportunity to do night-skiing / boarding after work.

Expenses

As Accommodation and a Season Ski-pass for your Resort are completely FREE, your only expenses will be for food and leisure / daily activities (ie. ski equipment, eating out, toiletries etc).

Ski Japan

To participate in Ski jobs in Japan, you have to pay for your own Airfare and Travel Insurance. The cost varies – expect to pay between USD $1,500 – $2,000 for everything.

Do I need to pay a Registration Fee for Ski jobs in Japan?

No – as long as you complete your contract, you don’t pay any fees.

Will I really need $4,000 for the VISA application?

The actual amount depends on your country, but at the time you apply for your Working Holiday Visa you must show that you have a few thousand dollars available in your bank account. The Visa office needs to know you have sufficient funds to pay for your airfare, and support yourself while living in Japan. You’ll need to submit a bank statement as proof.

How will I get to the Resort?

Once you arrive in Japan, you’ll be met at the airport, delivered to your Resort by bus, and your experience of a lifetime begins!

How will I be paid?

Once you arrive, you’ll be shown how to open a Japanese Bank Account, into which your salary will be paid monthly. Banks are located near the resorts, so withdrawing money won’t be a problem.

Will I be paying tax?

According to Japanese law, all foreigners must pay 20% income tax. All figures quoted on this site are after income tax.

You can only file a Japanese tax return, to try to get some of your tax back, if you stay in Japan for more than 12 months. Otherwise, you can’t. In addition, filing a tax return is a complicated process – for help/information, you can contact the “Japan Association of Working Holiday Makers”.

Will I need to work overtime?

Yes. During the busy holiday periods (Xmas/New Year break, Jul-Aug Summer Vacation), your resort will ask you to work overtime, as they tend to be understaffed around this time. During this period, please accept you may not have much free time (in some cases, staff have to work up to 50-60hrs a week!). After the busy period though, things quieten down a lot, and you’ll have about 6-7 days-off a month, working a standard 44-48hr week.

*NOTE: Work hours depend on snow conditions – if there’s no snow yet, you’ll be working less (because the resort won’t be busy yet).

I’m a Vegetarian / diabetic / allergic to dairy foods – will that be a problem?

Unfortunately, Resorts can’t cater to specific dietary needs (vegetarian, diabetic etc). If you’re particular about your diet, you’ll need to buy your own food each day (as staff aren’t permitted to use dorm kitchen facilities to prepare their own food).

PLEASE NOTE: Japanese food is high in fish and meat. In the past there have been vegetarian staff who could only eat the side salad (very small) which accompanies the regular menu, and as a result, they began to complain of lack of energy / became sick etc. Please understand that kitchen staff prepare food in bulk, for hundreds of staff dishes every day, so you can’t expect them to go out of their way to prepare something especially for you. If you have particular dietary needs, please think seriously about whether you’ll mind making a trip to the nearest supermarket / convenience store every day to purchase food (as there won’t be kitchen facilities for you to use). Thanks for your understanding.

Will I have internet access?

Ski jobs in Japan give you a taste of rural life – you won’t be living in the big city. The air will be fresh, the nature vast, and the scenery spectacular. On the other hand, you may have to walk 20 mins to the nearest convenience store, and use a public phone because there’s no internet access nearby. You’ll never have to go too far (more than say 30 mins), but at some resorts, you may have to travel, or pay a little, for internet access.