Memoirs of a Maiko

Hello. My name’s Ali and I’m a Japan-a-holic. 😉

Maiko Me, 22nd March 2006

People often ask me why I’m so interested in Japan, and they usually want to know what ‘got me into’ Japan. I never know how to answer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been utterly fascinated by Eastern culture, specifically anything and everything Japanese.

I first visited Japan in March 2006, and it was like a dream come true! I was 24, I had never been outside of Europe before, and I had never been on holiday on my own. I spent two weeks travelling around Japan, sticking rigidly to the thorough itinerary I had created for myself. I crammed so much into those two weeks: I saw friends, stayed with monks, ran up mountains whilst dodging monkeys… it was such a trip!

I flew in to Narita and began my adventure in Tokyo. I then travelled on to Nagoya, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, Hiroshima and Miyajima. The two weeks literally flew by, and before I knew it I was on my way back to London. I vowed that I’d return, somehow, some when.

In April 2006, not long after my return to the UK, my English friend living in Nagoya announced his engagement to his Japanese girlfriend. This was excellent news – it meant I had the perfect excuse to go back! As it turned out, they decided to marry in New Zealand but, hey, I would have to stop somewhere on the way to New Zealand – so Japan it was!

Unfortunately I could only spend three nights in Japan on my second trip, as I needed to move on to New Zealand, but I still managed to see quite a lot. This time, April 2007, I went to Tokyo for one night and then Osaka for two. I fell totally in love with Osaka and actually found myself with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat when it was time to leave.

In between the two holidays, something else happened. My friend living in Nagoya has been teaching there for sometime now, and he had often mentioned to me that he thought I should give it a go. The trouble was, I had always been very adamant that I never wanted to be a teacher – was this really the only way I could move to Japan? In September 2006 I started Japanese language classes. The classes were every Monday night, and based on the well known Japanese For Busy People series of books. I loved the classes so much and really took to the idea of being able to speak Japanese.

In November 2007, my friend got in touch and told me that his boss was coming over to do interviews. He thought it would be a good idea if I just met him for a coffee and had an informal chat. So I did. And it was that day, 28th November 2006, when I decided I simply had to do it. I had to go to Japan, and I had to teach.

I found myself so inspired by the conversation I had with my friend’s boss, and I realised that I did want to teach. I wanted to do a job that could really make a difference. As much as I loved my current job as a PA, I couldn’t bare to stay sat at a desk until retirement.

And so the journey really began…

This blog is going to be the live account of my journey to Japan. I’m in the process of planning at the moment. I want to go April 2008. I need to apply this summer/autumn and, if I’m successful, I’ll get an interview around November time. There are lots and lots of teaching jobs available in Japan, but I have decided that I want to begin by trying to get a job at the company my friend works for, even though he’ll be back in the UK by the time I want to go. I like and respect everything I’ve heard about the company so far, and I really want to work for them. If I get the job, I’ll be working in a real Japanese school, along side the Japanese teachers, rather than in a specific language school. That really appeals to me.

I get butterflies in my tummy every time I think about how utterly massive this is. Wish me luck, and…


In the meantime, here are the pics from my two holidays in Japan:

March 2006

April 2007

2 thoughts on “Memoirs of a Maiko

  1. おお、舞妓ですね。
    Will you marry me?

    私は京都南部(deep south)に住んでいます。


    personal assistant、秘書でしょうか?


    • Hi Rockin’, thanks for your comment, and sorry for my slow reply! Haha – I’m glad you like the maiko picture!

      Yes, ‘PA’ is ‘personal assistant’. I’m glad I don’t do that job any more! Now I am a Travel Consultant.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂


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