The Jon

New Job, New Apartment

Well, I’m finally getting around to writing about my new job and new apartment. Click the "Read More…" link to read more. Hopefully it isn’t that hard to figure out.I quit my job on June 2nd, the same day that I got my visa to work as an Engineer in Japan. When I got my visa I was surprised that it was valid for 3 years. My previous visa was also valid for 3 years, but they said when I change it will only be valid for 1 year. So, at least that is a pleasant surprise. Also, my re-entry permit is still valid for 2 more years. That means if I leave Japan, I don’t have to pay the 3,000 yen fee when I come back to Japan during the next 2 years. Hopefully I’ll be able to go with Yukari to Australia again. I also want to travel around Asia a little bit. Thailand and Korea are on the top of our lists, and fortunately they are very cheap. I can go to either of those places for 3 days for about $300 or so. Anyways, about my new job. Yukari saw an advertisement for programmers in her train. That seemed kinda odd, because she doesn’t live in a big city and I’ve never seen an advertisement for a job at any company on a train before. But, it did look interesting and it was in the same city as Yukari so I decided to call. Before I called this company, I contacted a few companies in Tokyo and was going to have interviews there. So, anyways I called and setup an interview for the following day. They didn’t seem very surprised that a foreigner called them. The last place I called, the president didn’t know what to do so he asked to see my resume. After he saw it he wanted to have an interview.. but I ended up turning down that job for various reasons. Anyways… I wore my suit that Yukari bought me for my birthday and went down for the interview. Of course I was very nervous. So, we talked about my experiences and what kind of software I have made. Then talked about visa.. then talked about contacting me with the result. I had a good feeling about it, but didn’t want to count my eggs before they hatched. About a week later, I got an e-mail to my cell phone that said that they woud like to hire me. I was at my job at the time, but that made my day feel much better. Like I wouldn’t have to be at my current job for much longer.. but it was going to take a bit of time to change jobs.

So, a little bit later we had a meeting about my visa situation and what I should do. They said that they were going to contact a government office and see if I can work with my current one, because the wording of the law made it sound like I could do that. But, it turned out that I couldn’t. So, I contact the immigration office to figure out what I had to do. I had to go there (1 hour by local train each way) to pick up the forms. So, I did all that.. then to apply, I needed a contract with the new company, all kinds of proof that the company was a valid company, a copy of my diploma, and the application form. There was a problem with my diploma.. it was in America somewhere in a box. So, I contacted my school and was able to wire transfer them $50 to have it sent overnight and got it a few days later. Then, I went back to the company to get a contract signed and receive the official papers to prove that they were a company. After I got all that, I took the shinkansen to Hamamatsu (they seem better than the office in Shizuoka City). I applied for the new visa on April 27th. They said it would take 3 or 4 weeks to get a postcard, which means I can go pick up my new visa. So far, it had been 3 weeks since the company said they would hire me. I was always worried that they would change their minds because it was taking too long.

So, time went by… I couldn’t quit my current job yet, because I was told that there was a possibility that I would not be able to change visas. After 4 weeks, on May 27th, I called the immigration office to see how it was going. I ended up having to call 3 different places to get to someone that knew what was going on. Japan’s governement offices have so many procedures and red tape.. it’s quite amazing. Anyways, they said that my visa had been approved and that they would send me the postcard next week. So, everyday during the following week, I went home at lunch time to check my mailbox, waiting for the postcard. I didn’t get it until Thursday (my day offs were Thursday and Friday). So, I took the shinkansen to Hamamatsu to pick it up and finally got it! Then I took the shinkansen back to my Mishima to meet Yukari. We went to Fujisawa (1 hour in the oppisite direction.. I must have been on the train and shinkansen for a total of 5 or 6 hours that day) for her to get her paycheck and then go out to celebrate. On the way to the restraunt, I sent a fax saying that my visa had become invalid and I would no longer be able to work as an English teacher in Japan. So the boss called me several hours later (and a few drinks later), so I ended my contract with the company in accordance with the contract. I contacted the new company and told them that I will be moving into the company apartment (which is free.. more aobut it later) on June 11th or 12th. So, I went to the company one more time to get the key and find out about my apartment.

I was expecting a one room and one kitchen apartment. But actually, this is very big. It has 2 rooms that are the same size as my room in Mishima. Actually, the kitchen is about the same size as the 2 tatami rooms. And it has a toilet room.. and a bath room. I don’t have a shower.. I guess that isn’t very traditional in Japan. Oh yeah, lots of closet space! I’ll put some pictures online next weekend when Yukari comes over with her new camera.

So, I contacted a moving company.. they came to my apartment to give me an estimate.. it was 40,000 yen.. nearly $400. The company didn’t say anything about helping me pay for moving… so I looked at cheaper options. In the end, Yukari’s sister came to my apartment (2 times) to put my stuff in her car and take it to my new aparment. I never realized how much stuff I have… about 85% of it is from Yukari and her family! So, I moved in June 11th… and the next night I took Yukari, her mom, her dad and her sister out for dinner.. since they paid for the gas and everything to help me move. We went to Kappa Zushi.. it’s a nice restraunt. Every plate of sushi is only 100 yen! Cheapest sushi in Japan I bet… so we always eat too much.

My first day at my new job was June 13th. The company hours are from 9am to 5:30pm on Mon – Thurs. On Friday, we work longer… 8:30am to 7:30pm. Well, anyways.. my first day I was very nervous. No one in my company speaks English (one person said good morning in English once.. and I found out that the president can speak English, but I rarely see him) and I didn’t know what to do. So, they had me setup my new PC (3GHz P4, 1GB Ram, 80GB HD.. very nice!) and install the software that they make. They told me to take a look at it and play with it to understand how it works. So, I spent my first 3 days reading the manual, using the software, and reading books about the technical terms and algorithms of stock market analyzing. Let’s just say that it was pretty hard… so many new Japanese words that I bet I would have never learned no matter how long I studied Japanese. I showed some of the words to my girlfriend and her mom. Her mom said that it was probably strange for me to memorize such words. Most of the words are only used in stock market related companys. Anyways, I guess it’s good for me.. I can study while working! Everyday, I write down new words.. take them home.. put them in my PDA and can study them.

So, now I have started working on the software. So far I am working with these databases that contains 100,000s of records. I make a PHP script, write the SQL query and output the data for the user. It’s going to be used for their new website. Ahh.. Let me tell you a little bit about the company.

It’s called ƒS?[ƒ‹ƒfƒ“ƒ`ƒƒ?[ƒgŽÐ (Golden Chart) and they have been around since 1979. They started out just publishing a magazine about stocks. They would hand draw all the stock charts, but now it is done by computers. They have many services avaiable.. but I work at the main branch in the engineering department. We have software and web services (java, php-enabled web pages) to give users the latest information about Japanese stocks. We write software to analyze stocks using algorithms from statistics and incorporate these into the software.

I bet that you have heard that Japanese people work a lot.. and that is correct. On Mon-Thursday I usually work from 8:30am to 7:00 or 7:30pm. My first day was from 8:30am to 9:15pm. On Friday, we make magazines that go on sale Saturday. We can’t start making the magazine until the stock market closes, so we start around 5:30pm. But, I’m there at 8:00am in the morning doing my programming job. From 5:30pm to whenever we finish I work. If there are no problems, we usually finish around 9pm. Last week, there was some kinda trouble.. so I was at work until 10:30pm or so I guess. Let’s just say I was quite tired after that.. but I’m sure my pay check will be nice, with lots of overtime.

If you wanna know something else about my new job, just send me an e-mail. Anyways, I mentioned my apartment already… and if you want my new address and don’t have it yet, just e-mail me. Well, this is quite long… I’m gonna finish now and get ready for bed. We have a meeting tomorrow, so I have to be there a little earlier than normal. And I won’t finish until after 8pm.. we have some kinda "Study Meeting" for all the new employees to learn about the company. See you guys later,