Hiroshima, the wide island Prefecture is a spacious area with a variety of living situations. From living deep in the city center to out in the middle of nowhere, you could be placed anywhere. But before you get too worried, here’s more information about the places you may be placed and how to deal with them.
Within Hiroshima Prefecture there is a great variety of housing and apartment situations. Municiple or City JETs, (your Placement Sheet says “-shi”) who usually teach Elementary and Junior High, typically live in affordable, subsidized teacher housing, or kyoshokuin jutaku (教職員住宅). The rent is only about 10,000 yen/month, and the quality can vary greatly depending on your region and how well your predecessor took care of the place. These places are typically pretty old and may be very out of the way. You do have the option of moving into private housing, but rent can be very high and likely won’t be covered by your contracting organization.
Prefectural, or Senior High School, JETs (your Placement Sheet says “Hiroshima-ken”) may also live in teacher housing if it is available, though many are forced or encouraged to find their own private housing. Most SHS JETs will try to move into their predecessor’s old apartment, which is usually the most frugal and stressfree choice besides moving into teacher housing. Because it’s private housing, these places are usually in excellent locations and very convenient for work or travel.
Out in the countryside, or inaka, it can be very isolating, but there are a number of things you can do to become a part of your community. It may be intimidating, but don’t be afraid to jump right in and get to know your neighbors. Try to participate in local events, and get out and share your culture. Though the community may be small, their hearts are big and welcoming.
Besides social isolation, there is the possiblity of large bugs and colder winters. To prepare for this, make sure your house is well sealed off and that you have all the bug spray you need.
As you’d expect, living in a city is very convenient. You will have easy access to everything you need, and sometimes it may feel a lot like home. Though it may be just as intimidating to go out and experience the Japanese culture, but there are a number of resources, clubs, and activities easily at your disposal.
The initial move in can be really tough depending on how much communication you’ve had with your contracting organization. For these reasons, make sure you have a list prepared of all the questions you have and all the things you need when moving into your apartment. Your predecessor will often function as a go between for you and your new CO, so please be patient with them. Though most predecessors will try to take care of you, their efforts are completely voluntary, and they are also preparing for a big move.
Keep in mind, when moving to Japan, unless your predecessor has agreed to it, there is no guarantee that your apartment will be furnished. It may not even come with an air conditioner. In fact, contractually there is no obligation for them to give you anything or even help you find an apartment. Luckily, in Hiroshima, we have a number of other support systems you can contact in this case including your Block Leader, and if absolutely necessary, the Prefectural Advisors.
For specifics about your housing situation, please contact your CO or predecessor directly as soon as possible.