08-26-2010, 11:58 AM
I should've clarified (and said it better) that I was judging what I said about the bullying thing off one experience. It is unfortunate, but the kids were able to tell that the kid was from another country and were quite apt at picking out all the differences. These kids were 4-5 years old. The kids name was different, his clothes were (a little) different, his manners were different, and his facial features were different. Not only did the other kids point this out (not all of them, but a few of them) but the teachers were quick to talk about him in a way that would differentiate him from the rest. It could be just the way it goes at that one school, but I was a little taken aback by the situation. The biggest thing that I noticed about the kid was that while he was perfectly fine language wise, there was something completely missing culturally (which is actually a language difficiency in my opinion... but that's another topic). I could not tell if he was doing certain things on purpose or not. I suspect that some of it was on purpose.
Judging by other preschools I've been to... I've definitely seen Japanese bullying Japanese both physically and verbally. It depends on the school and kids and stuff like that, but I've seen what I'd consider pretty bad situations. The kids usually just kinda tick without warning and start wreaking havoc on anything and anybody in their path until a teacher comes to stop them. So while in some schools I've seen bullying is non existant, in other schools it exists. This is very unfortunate though. I wonder how kids that young get to be that way... It sucks but it's totally there (even in the inaka).
Also drawing from my experience... at the elementary school level I did not notice any bullying of the foreign kids there. In fact, I thought the kids were great. This is definitely a characteristic of that school in particular though. The kids' manners weren't lacking though... if anything one kid in particular seemed to have a good sense of humor about his situation. The only thing that sticks out in my mind was him trying to locate his 'grandma's house' in America. It was a pretty big circle in America that he drew with his finger which drew a great big roaring laughter from everyone including the teacher. He took it in stride though and everyone was pretty understanding after he said he'd only been there a once or twice.
Also, Ishikawa prefecture is quite big. In some areas they get more snow than you could imagine. In other areas it's not so bad. When you start going up into Notto Hanto, then you start to see some serious snow. Even in the mountains dividing Kanazawa from Toyama are pretty bad. There was snow left this year all the way till June if I remember correctly (definitely in May though). At any rate, I like Fukui as a place to take a trip to, but I'm not so sure how easy it would be to live there (of course I'm imagining a town like Obama). There are quite a few cities (which are basically towns) that I'm quite fond of though-- Sabae being one of them (as an aside, they have what is so far my favorite Hard Off in all of Japan...Yamaha NS-10's for 3万, Focusrite Red 8 for 20万... shoulda coulda woulda... but I digress :P).
Espie, I'm sorry if you are already aware of this, but Japanese schools start in April and end in March. The JET program starts you in the summer 'vacation' that separates the first and second trimesters. I doubt that would matter at the preschool level, but it might make a difference in Elementary School. (but there are sometimes kids who do start in the second trimester so it's not impossible).
Espie, make sure your plans B, C, and D are solid. I've seen some people become really let down and depressed as a result of not making it in to this kind of thing. I think if you get dealt some good cards you could have a great time with your kid in Japan. You could also get here and live in hell for a year. If you get to the interview process, make sure you've played out a million different scenarios in your head of what they might ask you about how you're gonna cope with your kid in Japan. I kind of doubt that if they let you in they would place in you an area that would not be acommodating for you and your kid though... so maybe I'm overreacting and overthinking.