JET program placement requests: close to Tokyo
So you wanted to live in Tokyo.
JET doesn't place in Tokyo. Yes, the data on placements (2012) shows 10 for "Tokyo," however those are actually far outside the city. Getting your foot in the door in the most popular city for ex-patriots is a tough gig for a beginner, usually requiring you to work at Gaba while looking for another placement. If you don't have a place to crash while you get on your feet, Tokyo is expensive too. Teaching English abroad is easy to get into (compared to many jobs these days) but you have to take what they give you, whether you're on interac, Aeon, or any of the other myriad companies that will bring you over to Japan to teach English.
But don't give up hope! The wonders of Japan's rail system work in your favor, bringing Tokyo to your fingertips. Especially with the new JR Kanto Pass, getting to Tokyo just became much cheaper. For those of you who don't know, the JR Kanto pass is a 3-day pass which allows anyone holding a foreign passport unlimited travel in the Kanto region. That's the Tokyo region, north to JomoKogen in Gunma, west to Komoro in Nagano, and south to Izukyushimoda in Shizuoka. Check out the links below to see the JR website page about the new Kanto Pass. They only sell these in Tokyo for some reason, so make sure to pick one up when you get into Narita!
So, for example, you could request Nagano prefecture. Most of this area is covered by the Kanto pass, so within 3 hours you can easily be in Tokyo. There is a shinkansen direct from Saku-Daira to Tokyo Station, but even if you are in lovely Komoro (famous for the fall colors) it's still only a hop to Saku-Daira and then a jump onto the shinkansen. Check out the link below to see a map of the coverage area.
If you need to be closer, or don't want to spend the money on constant Kanto passes, there are a myriad of smaller cities around the Tokyo metro area. Anywhere in Saitama or Kanagawa will get you close enough to take a short and cheap train on the weekends. Saitama has a lot of placements as well, making the odds better. To the north is Kasama City (just one example), about an hour and half from Tokyo by train, with tickets of about $20. Chiba or is the obvious option, but it's not a likely placement request as it's pretty popular. You can try your luck, they do place about 50 JET participants there, however there is only one placement in Chiba city proper.
Additionally, there are many other interesting cities in Japan. You're going to be in Japan at least a year, and Chiba isn't convenient for going anywhere but Tokyo. My personal recommendation would be to request a place in the middle of a few major cities with shinkansen routes, such as the Takayama area in Gifu. Takayama isn't famous in the west, so it won't be requested so often and you're more likely to get placed there. Central Takayama is 3 hours from Nagoya, four hours from Tokyo, and 4 hours from both Kyoto and Osaka (depending when you can catch the trains). Additionally, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe cities accept many placements. Kobe far outstripes the rest with 114. Hyogo prefecture as a whole had a whopping 189 placements in 2012.
No matter why you choose an area, make sure to have a decent reason for the interview. It's fine to say you want to visit Tokyo, but have something else about the area ready. Remember, JET is not a free Japanese vacation, and the interview process weeds out people who think it is. Don't be one of them, but do try to get placed somewhere that you'll be happy about.
- JR Kanto Area Pass | Fares & Passes | JR-EAST
JR-EAST: JR Kanto Area Pass
- JET Placements 2012
Origins and placement data for JETs in 2012 (see page 4).
- Japan Rail Map - Airport Guide
Simplistic map showing the most major train routes and shinkansen for the whole country.
- The JET Programme in Japan - JET Stories of Japan
The JET Programme, Japan - JET Stories of Japan
- The JET Programme, Japan - JET Blogs
The JET Programme, Japan - JET Blogs and Information for JET applicants.