Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A quick primer on Japanese money and acronyms

I thought I should include a quick guide to some of the acronyms I'll be using as I describe my life here and a short word about the money.

With the exchange rate hovering right around 100¥=$1, converting money in my head to have some idea of what I'm spending is no problem. You just have to move the decimal point two places to the left and you have dollars. The problem with Japanese money is that the smallest paper bill they use is the 1000¥ bill which is about $10. Everything below that amount is coins in increments of 1 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, 50 yen, 100 yen and 500 yen. So you end up carrying around a huge amount of change that actually adds up to a significant amount at times. No dollar or $5 bills - those amount equivalents are in coin form. Makes it seem even more like play money at this point, plus paying 2,345 yen at the grocery store seems like such a huge amount until you convert it in your head.

But change is cool to have for the amazing vending machines they have EVERYWHERE here. No Japanese person will ever die of thirst because there is a beverage machine in even the remotest and most out-of-the-way places, and all of them feature a dizzying array of beverage choices. (31 different cans and bottles are available at the machine just minutes away from my apartment)

Acronyms:
JET - Japan Exchange and Teaching programme
so JETs are all of us participating in the programme
more specifically ALT which stands for Assistant Language Teacher, which is what I am
Some JETs are CIRs, which means Coordinator of International Relations - CIRs have to speak, read, and write very good Japanese and work in local government offices instead of schools.

BoE - Board of Education
I work at my BoE every Tuesday (kayobi) after school starts August 27th and everyday right now. One big difference with American offices so far - almost everyone smokes and they let them smoke in a small ante chamber behind the coffee maker/sink area, and unfortunately that's right behind my desk.

I think that's good for now, but I'll post others as I think of them.

-JCH

3 comments:

Emily Watkins said...

I created a link from my blog to yours, and also to this specific post; it was easier than explaining the acronyms myself. I hope you don't mind. I will remove the links straight away if you have any reservations.

Emily Watkins said...

Oh, and I'd like to add:
JTE = Japanese Teacher of English.
These are the folks the JETs work with directly. Some JTEs speak English better than others, though all can hold a conversation with you, and they are great for explaining strange notices you get in the mail.

Anonymous said...

Also:
MEF‹archaic›=Mombusho English Fellow. Distant precursor to modern JET. Rumored to have had prehensile tail (for holding inkwells), gills (required for drinking appts. w/ BETs [which see]). Shimane version indigenous to Izumo region. Passed into extinction from excessive exposure to FLHR (frequent Lafcadio Hearn references).
BET ‹ archaic›=British English Teacher. MEF equivalent from Albion ‹ archaic›. Shimane version habitat restricted to Gotsu, district of Iwami ‹ archaic›. Rarely without cucumber-garnished gin & tonics, due to shortage of lime (also gin, tonic water). Readily identified by Smiths cassette tape collection.
(J. Daggett, Matsue, '85-'87)