In Japan, an English teacher’s salary is typically paid by the month instead of bi-weekly or weekly like you might be used to back home.
This means that you end up going through a cycle of being bougie AF for the first weekend after payday, living your best life going out to the city spending cash on overpriced crepes with your kawaii Tinder date. Then, Monday hits and you end up going all Mr. Krabs, ready to take a bullet for that ¥512 you’ve still got on your Suica card as you realize that there are still three very long weeks to go.
When that payday finally arrives it’s mixed emotions of excitement, relief — oh, and dread because it means it’s time to go to the ATM and see how much money you’ve got. As you face the machine ready to withdraw your new pile of cash, this is where things might get tricky for the uninitiated.
The first thing you’ll notice is that (surprise!) the ATM is all in Japanese. Mysterious symbols will appear in front of you and it becomes a dangerous guessing game of what buttons to press. Drawers will snap open and lights will flash and you won’t know what to do to retrieve your bank card that’s just been swallowed by this formidable display of advanced Japanese technology.
While you could learn the basic kanji for using an ATM in Japan, if you’re too lazy to learn the language, then you’re in luck! There is also an English setting. But be careful, this convenience comes with a price. And that price is SHAME.
For some mysterious reason, as you’ll immediately realize, the automated voice for the English settings are infinitely louder than the default Japanese ones. Why? No one knows for sure, but I have a theory it’s a system to single out English teachers in a bank who are likely to rob the other customers because their salary is too low.
Just kidding on that last one. Or am I? Salaries for English teachers in Japan vary depending on the company or organization you work for (God bless you, direct hire ALTs and JET hires) but some may find themselves having a nice long break right about now — for which they don’t get paid a full salary. For anyone coming to Japan to start work as an English teacher, my advice would be to bring a butt-ton of money to see you through until your first paycheck and to read these tips on surviving on an English teacher’s salary in Japan.