Summer 2016

Summer 2016
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eyes on the Prize

I’ve been thinking about what has happened to us over the past 6 months. Today, marks our anniversary date for starting a new life in Japan. “Jumping off the cliff” has been an exciting experience so far. Fate has allowed us a safe shelter so that we can catch our breath during the long fall. This is a good and a bad thing. It’s good for obvious reasons. I have a job that I enjoy and I’m beginning to feel comfortable about surviving in Japan. Living in Tsukahara has been fantastic and I have no regrets…except for one. Maybe regret is too harsh a term. When I first arrived in Japan, I was filled with enthusiasm and I was ready to try anything. As time has passed, my comfort level increased and my enthusiasm to try anything decreased. I was finding it hard to keep my eyes on the prize. What was the prize? Operating a successful business was the first thing that came to my mind. Erika was doing a great job of keeping the business going as I worked for the Yufuin Department of Education. Tiny steps had to be made in order to get the show on the road. Finding a suitable location for a dedicated English school was a big step. This step required a huge investment in time and money. The plans for opening a school in Nakatsu were cancelled before we ever opened our doors. At the time, we had too many things going on. We had heard only negative feedback about our plans.

Finding a location has been extremely difficult. It’s not like you can go out and find a building that allows for a school, pets, and provides ample parking. We needed to live there on the days that it was too late to commute home. Which city do we choose? How far away are we willing to travel? If we chose a city that was close by, then we would have a problem of having fierce competition among several English schools. Cost was also a prohibitive factor. We knew that choosing a location required a lot of research and networking. Making the time to do the research was an ongoing problem. Language was a huge obstacle to overcome. I was relying on Erika to find a place to open a business because of the language factor.

 A typical search went something like this: Find an area that had a cluster of public schools. Find out how many students attended the schools. Try to find out if any English schools existed in the area (That was very difficult because many of them do not advertise on the net). Then, we had to find out if a building was available that matched our criteria (That was not easy since many buildings are not advertised as being vacant even though they were). Once a building had been found, then it was up to the landlord to decide if they wanted to rent to someone who would be leaving if the school was not successful.  Most landlords didn’t allow for dogs or live music, both of which were very important to us.
As I mentioned in the last post, we did find a place to open our school. I spent the weekend moving furniture and assembling an ABC floor mat. I can hear the wise cracks as I write this post…”I had no idea you knew the alphabet.” Yes, believe it or not, I remembered all 26 letters. Getting them in the correct order was the challenge! We had purchased many educational materials in the U.S. and shipped them to Japan. We also purchased some items from an English school that was closing in Beppu. The school was very successful, but the landlord kicked them out of the building. The young couple who ran the school will be moving to Canada. They were only open for two years, but they had over 100 students. I know they will be a success wherever they go. Thanks to them, we purchased some comfortable chairs and desks at a fraction of the cost. We also picked up a projector/ screen so that we can have movie night with our students…more on that topic, later.  Erika will be delivering teaching materials to our school this week. Hopefully, we will be finished moving by the end of the week. 



  1. congratulations!! that's so exciting!!

    i am starting teaching on my own as well. i will be teaching from my house. luckily our tatami room downstairs is easily accessible from the genkan and right across from the toilet. at the moment i only have 12 students, but i'm really excited about all the possibilities!

    good luck with your school!

  2. Fantastic! Twelve students must keep you very busy. Which age groups are you targeting?