様々な分野でグローバルに活躍する「普通の人々」が体験を語り、次世代の普通の人々のお役に立てればと思っているサイトです。

日本在住歴約40年のRon McFarlandと外資系勤務が長い齋藤信幸が、それぞれの海外体験を語ります。

Global Interaction & Understanding - A Personal Journey : No.12  次のステップを目指し大学院に進学!

2020-02-29 13:53:42 | Ron's Life Story
Ron-san、以前悔しい思いをしたバンク・オブ・アメリカの採用条件を満たし国際ビジネスのチケットを得るべく大学院に進学するために東京に引っ越し。1977年のお話です。

私はIBMに入社して1年目、ハードディスクの開発に携わっていました。磁気記録はもちろんのこと、ファームウェア、論理回路設計など「意外と」大学での知識が役立ちました。論理回路設計では社内勉強会の講師もしました。

時間とお金をつぎ込んだのが英語。社内の勉強会に加え、横浜元町にあったベルリッツに週2回通いました。また、米国出張には車の免許が必須とのことでしたので、藤沢の自動車学校に通学。貯金はできませんでしたね。でも、自分に投資しないとね。

Graduate school in Tokyo

While in Utsunomiya, I learned of an international graduate business school in English in Tokyo and decided to apply. I think my entrance exam scores were one of the poorest on record, but because they needed students, I was accepted. It was a 3-year MA degree in International Business. So, I was back to school again. If I could get this degree, I will have achieved what was recommended to me in the Bank of America job interview many years earlier to learn a second language and earn a graduate degree to get into international business. I thought that would be my ticket into international business.

渋い赤羽に住み、銭湯通いの日々。近所のちょっとした有名人に。
I got an apartment in Akabane, which is just on the northern tip of Tokyo. That would give me good access to the school as well as enable me to get to Utsunomiya to teach on the weekends.

I got a 2-room apartment, which had no bath. So, I had to use the local Japanese public bath, the “Sento”. Although in recent years they have become rare, public baths were very common, as some houses had no baths. In the evening, a person would take a wash pot, towel, soap, shampoo, change of clothes and go to the public bath. In those days, it cost about 155 yen (about US$1.00 or so) to enter. There were two baths, one for women and one for men. Between the two baths was a wall about eight feet high and a door between the two with a curtain, so you could not see into the other bath. Whole families would go to the bath at once and grandma and grandpa would bath their grandchildren respectively. The younger kids (up to about 5-6) would run between the two baths. The bath really generated a community spirit, as you could talk to the person washing next to you about how your day went, etc. I became famous in Iwabuchi-machi, Akabane, Tokyo very quickly, being a guy from California who could communicate in Japanese. The locals had a lot of questions about me, and I about them. The bath was open from 3:00 PM in the afternoon until mid-night, and I could easily be spotted with my pot on the way to the bath.

Also, I often would telephone a take-out restaurant a block or so away, and did my laundry at the coin laundry right next to the bathhouse. So, I was very visible in the neighborhood. I was there for three years and built a nice community for myself. It is often said that Tokyo is not a large city. It is simply thousands of small villages all packed together. If fully understood what they were referring to. Everything evolved around the bathhouse, coin laundry and a few restaurants or bars. Also, the summer festivals and portable shine celebrations were wonderful and further added to the spirit of the community.



Festivals in Iwabuchi-machi

I decided to try to maintain the working visa by working for an English teaching company full-time and go to school part-time. Then, I could ease my way into the studies without much stress. The company that I worked for sent me to companies all over the Tokyo area to teach their employees English.
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Global Interaction & Understanding - A Personal Journey : No.11 言葉、寒さ、収入、職場環境などのストレスを和らげてくれたのは?

2020-02-20 23:45:43 | Ron's Life Story
During that first year in Utsunomiya, I had a chance to live with a Japanese family and lived exactly the way they did. That was one of three or four times over the years in Japan that I felt great exhaustion with speaking the language continually all the time. It was so mentally difficult that I had trouble sleeping and walked around in a daze on occasions. Quite frankly, with the language problems back then, with the cold weather, with the living conditions, the income, and the working environment, if all my years in Japan were like that first year in Utsunomiya, I would have left the country eventually.



Early days in Utsunomiya

One thing wonderful about my stay in Utsunomiya was that I found a family that I became very close to, the Iwamoto’s. I taught the wife English, as her daughter was studying music in Denmark and was to marry a Danish man. The wife was a medical doctor, and the husband ran a preschool kindergarten. When I met them, the wife was in her late 60’s, and her husband was in his late 70’s.



The Iwamoto family

The wife enjoyed our English lessons so much that when I moved to Tokyo, I deliberately got a place to stay in the northern part of the city, so I could continue to go to Utsunomiya every week for her lessons. Also, to make it worth my while, she set up several lessons for me in Utsunomiya, so it would be more worth the travel. In those days, it took over an hour and a half to get there.

I would go up late on Friday nights and give several lessons that evening. I would spend the night, and give a few more lessons on Saturday morning. In those days, trains leaving Tokyo in the evening on Friday nights were quite often filled with drunks that want to speak to a foreigner. I made it a habit to simply act like I can’t understand a word they are saying, and they would eventually leave me alone.

An interesting thing I learned after I left Utsunomiya and that English school that I work at was the school’s outcome. The owner of the school was a kamikaze pilot during World War II. He went through all the training required including how to fly and had a first rate pilot’s license. He was lined up to fly on his fateful mission when the war ended. He would always sing his war fight songs at parties we had together. We would all clap and applaud him, but we all thought he was a bit crazy. That included many of the Japanese teachers and general people we met in the city. But, I would guess in a conservative, industrial city like Utsunomiya, there were people who respected him and trusted him.



The Kamikaze employer singing war songs

We all knew the company was not financially healthy, and we were paid in very strange ways. For example, sometimes we were paid two weeks earlier to show costs to creditors, or a week late because of lack of funds. Anyway, after I left the school, it was discovered the owner was borrowing money from banks, which were secured by deeds of property that were forged. I don’t know the finally outcome, only the rumors.
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Global Interaction & Understanding - A Personal Journey : No.10 エ~餃子の街からスタートですか

2020-02-09 21:11:02 | Ron's Life Story
1972年にカリフォルニア州のサンノゼ州立大学を卒業して5年目の1977年、ロンさんは羽田に到着。

この年、私は大学を卒業し、IBMへ入社。私とロンさんは、不思議と節目になる年が一緒。
私は1979年の12月に前年に開港したばかりの成田空港から初めてカリフォルニア州サンノゼにあるIBMの研究所に赴任しました。
ロンさんが卒業したサンノゼ州立大学には、専門書を買いにいったことがありました。確か、駐車違反で捕まった?

さて、ロンさんが羽田から向ったのは宇都宮。そこでRonさんとルームメイトを悩ませたことは?
(第5章は4回に分けて掲載します)

Chapter #5: ARRIVING AND ADJUSTING TO JAPAN

I arrived in Japan at Haneda Airport late in the night on Air Siam before it went out of business. The teachers from the school I was to work at were wait for me and two other people that were hired on a 1-year contract.

As soon as we got our belongings, we set out by car to Utsunomiya, in Tochigi Prefecture, which is about 60 miles north of Tokyo.

Utsunomiya was one of those cities, which was completely destroyed during World War II and totally rebuilt after the war. It had major industries and a strong agricultural base. Also, in those days, it was a bit far from Tokyo, so I could not really be an outskirt suburb of Tokyo. Several years after I left, the bullet trains started to go through Utsunomiya and more and more people who worked in the northern part of Tokyo would commute from there. Simply put, Utsunomiya was a conservative factory town.

Coming from California the city was freezing for me. I had an old bicycle, which I used to ride to the school every day, and I think I had two red lines from my nostrils to my upper lip for six months until spring came. Simply, I had an endless cold and runny nose.

Part of the one year there I share a house with another teacher. The house was extremely cold, and we had an old gas stove in the middle of our room. It seemed the heat went straight up and out of the ceiling.

In those days, I learned all kinds of different lifestyles, like taking a Japanese bath, washing, spinning and hanging out the laundry. Yes, those are all very separate functions, which are done individually, and calling the “Benjo”, (Japanese toilet) truck when the toilet got full and smelled up the entire house was another task. We didn’t even have a flush toilet. The benjo truck is a truck with a suction vacuum system on the back of it which sucks out the waste in the septic tanks in houses. You can smell the banjo truck coming down the road for about a block and a half. It’s very distinct if you are right behind it on the road on a bicycle. On top of that, the toilet was not the western type, so we had to practice doing deep knee bends when we went number two. That gave terrible hemorrhoids to my roommate. For me, I was able to get through the whole exercise all right. I, of course, slept on the floor with a Japanese futon.

As I had a good idea how to approach the Japanese language from my studies in California, I literally brought all my books with me. I found one of the Japanese English teachers to drill me the way I wanted on the Japanese language exercises. Here again, I think I set up a pretty good training program for myself.

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