On your gap year you're going to come across some of the most amazing cities around the world. We thought we'd give you our top 5 cities so you know what you're in for.
From smelly smurf shoes to cubby-hole capsule rooms, a trip to Honshu Island, Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan, can be overwhelmingly Japanese at times.
If you want to spend a year or so living in Japan whilst getting paid at the same time, teaching English is the easiest and most common route for the majority of foreigners. In general, the only requirements are that you’re a native speaker of English and you hold a degree (the subject doesn’t usually matter).
Japan is a country of contrasts: one day you can be shopping and clubbing in a big city; the next you can be in a sleepy rural village surrounded by rice fields, feeling as though you’ve stepped back in time...
The first thing people said when they heard I was going to Japan as part of my round the world trip was 'Wow, you're brave'. There were times when - thinking about the language (I speak no Japanese) and the squat toilets - I felt inclined to agree. However, I figured that the toilets were part of travelling and that a country that had the World Cup in 2002 must at least have basic English.
My job was a cross between teacher and clown. Some of my Japanese teaching colleagues let me do what I wanted in class (mad games to teach directions, bringing in my much-loved funk music, generally having a laugh) while others made me teach pronunciation and spelling (once I wrote 'embarassing' on the board but spelt it incorrectly... which was embarrassing).
Before I came to Japan, I had a notion that Japanese classrooms would contain row upon row of immaculate and impeccable children, disciplined and studious. This was certainly not the case, particularly at my junior high school, where in my first week my English teacher warned me what to expect.