Toilets from the Future

Why toilets?

It seems only fitting that my first blog post would be about toilets.
For people who really know me, know that I have kind of an obsession with toilets and bathrooms.
I mean, nothing says classy like a great bathroom experience at a restaurant. When I talk about bathrooms, I’m not talking about a line of stalls with urinals adjacent them. I’m talking about private sanctuaries. They are mini-hotels where you can take a 5min break and leave feeling refreshed (and lighter)! It is a total experience. Everything from the light waft of fragrance when you walk in, to the peaceful melodies of a harp bouncing off the polished porcelain, and don’t forget that ambient lighting,

So this toilet junky went to Japan and tried out one of those Future Toilets.

 

First Encounter

This was my first adventure to Japan, way back in 2008. It had been 4 years after graduating high school and I was still a wandering mess. For some reason, I was going snowboarding with people I had just met in Nagano Japan.

After a long day of snowboarding, we went back to the hotel, where we played games in broken Japanese. After the drinks began to flow broken Japanese eventually became broken English.

It was about the time I realized I was speaking broken English, that I also realized I was going to throw up – soon. In a slur of imaginary words in Japinglish I asked someone for directions. A now frustrated and profusely sweaty me discovers the nearest bathroom.

Bursting into a stall I find myself face to face with a Future Toilet! Proud of myself for making it this far, I do my business in said future toilet. Up until now, the whole experience was quite a success. Now all I needed to do is flush and rejoin the party refreshed and rejuvenated. But…

This damn toilet doesn’t have a knob!
No handle, either.

Panic sets in. The sweat comes back.

No rubber button, no metal button, no foot lever.
A chain, like on those old porcelain pots? NOPE.

There it was. Side the toilet was a magnificently oversized remote with 25+ buttons.
Some with icons but mainly just in Japanese. I could have read some of it, but that was several hours ago.

I used my gut instinct and pressed the button that looked most like ‘flush’. What happened next felt like an eternity. A small stick protrudes from inside the toilet and proceeds to squirt warm toilet water in and around my face.

Great! Not to mention I still haven’t flushed the toilet yet.

Features Features Features

True story. Sadly… In the end, I figured out how to flush it and fell in love with the Future Toilet.
These things are incredible luxuries! The people over at Toto say it best, “We are the Apple of Toilets.”

These toilets have a list of features you could never imagine.
Just to name a few of my favorite.

1. Heated seats
-I didn’t care that the porcelain toilet seat was like ice to my skin. Until you feel the warmth, comfort and superior support from a heated future seat. The feeling is sensational. Especially on a cold winter night.
2. Automatic Seat Opening and Closing
-If you have ever had a fight over why you’re significant other clumsily fell into the toilet in the middle of the night because some hairy beast left the toilet seat up… then this feature is for you! I gave into reasoning on the battle of the toilet seat. With it down there is less splash, and keeps your seat even warmer!
3. Butt Spray
-It is made for cleaning your rear after doing your deed. It does just that. It does it well. Enough said.
4. Flushing Sound or Music
– Don’t care! Never used it, and am not planning on using it. But for those who are cautious of people outside smashing their ear to the door, listening to see if you are going to be 2 minutes or 20 minutes, this is a good way to let them know. It’s going to be awhile. All without incriminating yourself.

Overall

These toilets are a must have! I will continue to use toilets as part of how I judge restaurants, shops, and my friends. If you’re curious how it feels, check out this [Buzzfeed video]

Have your own future toilet story. Let me know down below in the comments down below.

 

P.S. Not all the toilets in Japan are Future Toilets. They have relics like this one I had the displeasure of crossing paths with.

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The Long Shot

This post is about my personal experience of how I came to live in Japan. After graduating a four-year university in San Francisco, I took a long shot. I bought a ticket and went to the Boston Career Forums. The rest is history.

How to find a job in Japan. The long shot.

This post is about my personal experience of how I came to live in Japan. After graduating a four-year university in San Francisco, I took a long shot. I bought a ticket and went to the Boston Career Forums. The rest is history.

What is BCF

Boston Career Forums (BFC) is the world’s largest Japanese-English Bilingual Job fair. It is an annual event that brings 200 plus big name companies under one roof. All for the single purpose of finding new employees.
The catch is, while BCF is in America, it was not intended for Americans. The career event is targeting Japanese foreign exchange students that are still abroad. Typically in Japan, you would start your job search up to a year before graduation. If you happen to be abroad, you don’t have a fair chance. Thus BCF was born.

Secret shortcut

So the event is a long shot. You will be the token foreigner that crashed the party if you attended. But it is potentially the greatest shortcut to a successful career in Japan.
There is a general rule for companies attending BCF. The rule is that everything at BCF stays at BCF. Wait no that’s Los Vegas.
The rule is, all hiring needs to be decided with-in the three-day event. Which also means there is no long drawn out process of seminars, tests, and further interviews.
This gives you a huge advantage over searching for jobs in Japan.
With a few months of prep, you could interview for all your favorite companies plus 50 others all in a weekend.
Lastly, the forum organizes all participating companies information on the BFC website. No more endless nights of researching company websites, to find out they aren’t looking for people like you.

Why you should go
Three reasons why making the trip to Boston is worth it

  1. Effective & Productive Job search. One location, one time, one format allows you to spend your time wisely. Play that numbers game in your favor. The three-day rule, gets you feedback fast so you don’t waste resources on unnecessary leads.
  2. No prior job experience needed (nor expected). Most job offers are for new grads where the company supplies you with full training. At worst the job becomes a glorified (very well) paid internship, at best a new career and a dream come true.
  3. Once in a lifetime chance. The amount of interview experience you will get during one weekend is enough reason to go all on its own.
BCF_101
The Convention Center , Oct, 2012

My Background

I’ve heard all the excuses in the book.
“My Japanese isn’t good enough”
“I haven’t passed the JLPT N1 yet”
“How am I supposed to compete with native Japanese speakers!?”
My answer is always the same. You and me both!
To be honest, I was on the verge of a nervous wreck. I didn’t have JLPT N1 (I had the N2). I was worried my Japanese wasn’t competent enough, and I didn’t have any other skill to fall back on. What the heck did I get myself into?!
Halftime Locker Room Pep-Talk
I was feeling overwhelmed and belittled. I was in desperate need of an ambition refill, or a locker room pep-talk. You know, the one in the movies. The team is down by… a lot. So the coach delivers the biggest motivational speech that raises everyone’s spirits. In the end, leading to a miraculous victory. Yeah, that’s what I needed.
In a nutshell, the speech I got was something like this.

You have one chance! Don’t F*** it up! In Japan, if you don’t get a job after graduating, you are outcasted as a reject and a weirdo. News flash – you are a weirdo! Thats why you’re studying Japanese in the first place.

If you succeed, you are almost guaranteed a job for life in Japan. With it comes the best Business Japanese Etiquette course. The best part is, you get paid!

So quit that internship, take time off school and go FULL ASS on this. The worst scenario is you come back with a lot of experience. Best scenario, you come back with a future.

Needless to say. I pretty much did exactly that. I didn’t quit my internship. But I did very suspiciously get those specific days off.
After attending BCF myself, I would like to add a bit of first-hand advice to the Locker Room speech.
  • It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak perfect Japanese or understand everything. The greatest thing about being the underdog is, no one will ever see you coming. Nor will they expect you to speak Japanese when you do.
  • Don’t pay attention to what the companies are asking for. They want experience, native speakers, not you… whatever. But you never know! There could be a different opening or the interviewer might just like you. You just can’t know, so don’t let the chance sneak away.

+33 Awesome Resources for the Freelance EFL Teacher in Japan

So you teach private English lessons?

→Online Schools←

 BestTeacher  : Skype Lessons + Audio Recording + Message Correction

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Requirements: Test & Interview required.
Payment:  600~1,000 JPY/hr  (340JPY for 25 min lesson, 35JPY a correction, 10JPY for everything else)
Experience:
Sadly, I failed the test. Wasn’t able to finish it (kid attacks etc.), but the test was hard.


Lyngo is another company with Japanese students.

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Requirements: None (no exp. needed)
Perk: They provide training
Payment:  900~1,300 JPY/hr  (Paypal)
Experience:
Applied and am still waiting for a response.


Eigox a new Japanese company that has a simple and strait forward design.

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Requirements: Native Speaker, Send introduction video of self
Payment:  600 JPY/hr  (Paypal Only)
Experience:
Simple strait forward site. Doesn’t supply any perks, such as teacher materials etc.


Cena Academy good company looking for high quality ESL tutors.

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Requirements: Bachelors or higher, Teaching Credentials
Careful: Have interview lessons are not paid
Payment:  18 USD/hr  (Paypal Only)
Experience:
Simple application form so I applied but haven’t heard back.


English Everywhere looking for high quality teachers with teaching experience.

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Requirements: EFL/TOEFL qualification (necessary)
Payment:  ?? JPY/hr  (Paypal Only)
Experience:
Mention several times that they are very strict and anyone with out teaching certificates will automatically be declined.


Hello English (http://www.helloenglish.us/) very small Japan oriented company.

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Requirements: –
Payment:  ?? JPY/hr  (Paypal Only)
Experience:
Application process is simple. Send an email with an introductory video of yourself. Thats it. (no response back yet)


E-Communication (ecominc.co.jp) good sized company based in Japan, with bilingual staff to help.

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Requirements: 
Perks: Access to online textbooks, videos etc.
Payment:  2,000 JPY or 16 USD/hr  (Bank Transfer / Paypal Only)
Experience:
Send in a resume. Had two 5~10 minute interviews where you perform a mock lesson on the spot. If you live in Japan, you can opt for the higher JPY payment, but need to give them your My Number card.


YesNo  – Interesting online school but offered real life lessons only.

→Teacher DataBases←

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Charges students by contact information.
~2 Contacts =  ¥1,800
~5 Contacts =  ¥2,800
Tutors: Free Account
Sign Up:  Very Easy, Simple profile page
Very popular site in Japan, with many teachers and stiff competition. Also, the business strategy doesn’t help the discovery of new teachers.


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Charges students by contact information.
~5 Contacts =  ¥3,910
Price for tutors: Free
Sign up: Kind of Annoying – long form, but all straight forward information.
Also very popular site in Japan. I personally got a student from this site, relatively fast. Friends have also had good luck finding students here.


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Price for tutors: Free
Price for students: Free
Sign up: 5 mins – Need to fill in alot of information, including schedule and interest, but they are all pull-downs or buttons.
Overall:  Very interesting site that is completely FREE for both Students and Teachers. On top of that, teachers are able to search students and email them, which is defiantly a feature I will be using.


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Price Students: Free
Price Tutor: Free
Sign up: 10 mins – The process is pretty annoying. Picture is required right away. Need to select railway and station information right away.
Overall:  Student page is smartphone accessible *only smartphone* There is a clear and very customizable group lessons, location and schedule. Looks very promising.


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Price Tutors: Free
Sign up: 1 min – super easy to create an account. You can set up your profile afterward.
Overall: Different than other sites. This is a job search site for ESL teachers. Created by ESL teachers for ESL teachers, it launched earlier this year. Excited to see what good can come of it.


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Cost Teachers: Free
Cost Students:
Sign Up:  Account creation is easy, but there is a quick quiz on the site’s policy and guidelines.
Overall: The site uses its own coin based currency. Students buy anywhere fro 80 ~300 coins. Lessons average at 9 coins. What sets them apart, they have corporate plans, so you should see a good healthy amount of students.


121sensei.com

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Teachers: Free
Students: 5 contacts =¥3,500
Overall: The site is extremely simple, and really isn’t a beautiful at all. But it lists all the details students are looking for, and I was able to find students off of it relatively fast.


→Lesson + Resources←

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Awesome site with over 10,000 Free worksheets, lesson plans,  projects and more.  You can search a specific lesson plan out, or browse by grammar, topic etc. Great site, will definitely be turning here first for resources.


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Great site for the busy teacher. With Wordsmyth, just enter your student’s vocabulary list or troublesome words and create great high-quality vocabulary quizzes instantly.


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Incredible start-up from Taiwan that gives incredible tools for English learners watching youtube videos. Turns an average youtube video into a learning lesson, with quizzes and vocab lists, etc.


Stickyball – Nothing Fancy, just good option for worksheets.
Film English – Video Lessons for free 
All Ears English – Free English Podcast
Go Natural English – Free Video Courses & Premium as well
Tripppin – Online courses free account, interactive
Anglo – Link  – Video and Written Lessons requires free account
Real-English – Video Lessons, with and without subtitles. Beginner friendly

→Organization + Management←

  1. bit.ly – Share and Manage links.
  2. Trello: Keeps track of everything.
  3. Evernote: The workspace for your life’s work.
  4. Dropbox: Free space up to 2GB.
  5. Yanado: Tasks management inside Gmail.
  6. Wetransfer: Free transfer up to 2GB.
  7. Pocket: View later, put it in Pocket.
  8. Mailtoself: An iOS extension to mail notes to yourself from any app.

→Billing + Online Payment←

There are tons of online resources  for Billing and Online Payments, but even if the company offers services in Japan, they usually tend to be different or cost more. So I narrowed down the top 5 providers in Japan. Unfortunately, as most Japanese things are all the links are in Japanese.

PayPal – Most well known and a safe bet. Overall, it isn’t the cheapest.
SPIKE – From my research, spike-free has the cheapest sur charges for small business. 
Stripe – Also very well known service, and offers service in Japan as well. 
WebPay –  Supports JCB, and offers reasonable prices
Yahoo!ウォレット FastPay – Also has very cheap sir charges depending on the price of purchase and supports JCB.

→Booking + Scheduling←

 Acuity Scheduling Good booking for free. Simple design.
Bookeo – for online booking ($20/mo)
HealCode – Very interesting features including Facebook App integration, multiple lesson and package deals etc.
Timely  – Very iOS 6 design. Has many features for multi-staffed business ($19/mo)
youcanbook.me – ($10/mo) pretty basic but great price.