Episode Sixty of “Small Talk”

This is an English blog entry about a special episode from the “Small Talk in Japanese” podcast series hosted by two young Japanese girls. The name of this podcast episode is “小さなペットと日本でのバイト経験“. This episode is about 40 minutes long where the two hosts talk about having small pets and their own experiences with part-time work in Japan. They even share some tips to their listeners about what potential casual work to look for and how.

The episode that I listened to was the following: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/anchor-podcasts/small-talk-in-japanese/e/76439786

Let’s get started on learning what the two hosts talked about in Episode Sixty.

As the great hosts that they are, Mizuho and Kanako start the podcast by greeting everyone and saying that this is their 60th episode. They comment that this is like any normal episode they have done so far, but will do their best regardless.

To begin the episode, they start with their 近況報告 where they share a report on what has been happening recently. Kayoko asks Mizuho to start first. Mizuho has two things to share for her latest update report. First thing was about recording the episode and Mizuho was sharing about reflecting on herself and impression of self (かさなるの表現). She talks about misfortunes (かさなる) and how some of them can be misfortunes that we have wrongly perceived them to be misfortunes. (失敗がかさなる or 勘違いがかさなる). Both have been happening to her – like mistaking which day was the recording day. She also mentions that next year from April, she will become a 会社人 (会社員・会社人になる become an office employee next year) meaning she will enter the workforce around that time. Mizuho talks about in order for the person who she interacts (相手 ―あいて) to not get the wrong impression or understanding about her or who she is, she feels that she needs to be careful  ( 自分がかんちがいしように  本当に気をつけて – reflect on self.). So she has been doing some self-reflecting on this matter in order to prepare herself (はんせいした(反省しました))

The second thing that Mizuho shares is “クワガタを飼い始めました” which means she started to look after a stag beetle. Kayoko was very very surprised about this.  A very happy point. They explain that “クワガタ” is known as a stag beetle and the word “飼い” means to have as a pet. And keep it. According to her, it is very common for primary school kids to have insects and bugs as pets. A lot of kids enjoy doing this. For Mizuho, when she was in primary school, she wanted to have a pet stag beetle. But for many years, she did not get it so do. One day… she said that one day a week she would see a stag beetle or that a stag beetle just happens to appear in front of it. She lived in an apartment (Japanese people called it Mansion マンション) and she lived on the 8th floor. The beetles were small and about 3cms longs in length.

Very small. She thought “what a poor thing” and wanted to protect it at home.  Now forward to now, she hasn’t been home for a while now, and she is thinking of mentioning it to her family about getting a stag beetle. Mizuho did sort of having a light conversation about this with her boyfriend in English. She thinks it is very cute to have one and then she mentioned the idea to her boyfriend, he responded to her was not what she expected. Apparently Mizuho’s boyfriend told her that the idea of having a stag beetle is like a bad idea and considered “disgusting” (気持ち悪いことを言われました). For her to receive this information is like a Japanese person saying to her “きもい” which means “aww disgusting” in English. To be told that by her boyfriend, she was really shocked! Kayoko is laughing at this point because she obviously thinks it’s funny.

Mizuho said that in terms of Insects, not that she really likes or nor dislikes it or anything, but to be told by someone that the idea of having a stag beetle as a pet as “disgusting” was a bit of a shock to her. So Mizuho is thinking … “oh so it’s a disgusting thing to do”… so she is trying to understand that this action of keeping a beetle is weird or something… Mizuho shared that she looked further on the Internet and was informed that buying an insect is generally considered as a normal idea or thing in Japan. But for people do in Europe or America. (欧米 ―おおべ), it seems like having or keeping insects as pets is a weird, disgusting or strange thing to do. Hence, she came to learn that its not a common thing they do. She mentions about cultural differences 文化も違い between her boyfriend and herself, the difference in culture and understanding about certain elements in life, that for something like that regarding keeping a stag beetle and being told that it is disguising or repulsive by someone who comes from a different upbringing it is a bit of a shock to her. And it makes her think is keeping an insect really a weird or disgusting thing.

Anyways, she has started her journey in keeping a stag beetle and she said it is very energetic. And she also feeds it lots of food. And is having lots of fun. Up until this point, it was just the introduction of the podcast and Mizuho apologises for how long she has been talking! She realises that 8 minutes of the podcast has gone by. But Kayoko does not mind at all and she begins to share her own experience about having pets. Kayoko shares that she also has had the experience of having insects as pets. This was during her primary school days and when she was still living in the rural areas of Japan (田舎). Kayoko shared that where she was living at the time, there were lots of these insects around and she did take one home on an occasion. She too thinks/thought it was normal (ふつと思ったんですけど) in terms of having an insect/stag beetle as a pet. She mentioned that overseas, in regards to the pet shops overseas, that you cannot buy stag beetles there was something that she didn’t know and was a little surprised about this. She has also kept a lizard (トカゲも飼ったんです) as a pet. For a few seconds during the podcast, Mizuho and Kayoko are trying to explain what “トカゲ” is… “snake”?… and finally they come to an agreement that it means lizard. An interesting fact that they point out here is that there was a “lizard ” type Pokémon character called “リザート” and this, funnily enough, confirms their understanding that what they are indeed about is a lizard. Continuing the discussion, like Mizuho, Kayoko lived in rural areas of Japan, and lived in a mansion and saw insects. She also took home the insect to keep it as a pet. For the longest time, Kayoko thought doing something like this was a normal thing.  But now that she has grown up and lived overseas, she has come to realise that it may not be the case. Mizuho shares her thoughts on this where she says when someone tells you that the pet which you personally think is cute is in fact not that cute.. or maybe disgusting “キモイ”, it is a rather shock to the system! Kayoko also says that these pets don’t grow (あんまり、大きくないから、飼って少ない) and something about maybe it’s not (it was actually a little hard for me to capture what she said here.. ) This is of course very funny for both because it’s a very interesting discovery for both of them.

The podcast at this point changes topic and moves to Kayoko’s report on what has been happening with her.

Kayoko shared with the audience that in order to get her driver’s license, she has been studying for it. “私の近況報告は自動車免許を取るために勉強してる”.  She shares that for most Japanese people before they become university students or while they are still high school students, lots of students would have gone to get their licences. However, in her case, Kayoko went overseas when she started her journey as a university student and before that was busy with other things such as working part-time and preparation and such, and so she did not have time, the opportunity or chance to get her own driver’s license or even come to the point of understanding how to get one. Anyways, she is now focusing on getting one.

Recently, she has been studying for the written test “学科試験(がっかしけん)” At this point, they talk a little about the different types of exams one needs to go through or comes across when needing to get a driver’s license. There is the written test, but there is also one for “ 実技 じつぎ “ which is the physical driving exam. And you need to pass the physical driver’s exam in order to then obtain your driver’s license. Mizuho mentions there is obviously a difference between the two where one focused on the theory and the physical driving exam is test your actually learnt theory. Kayoko at this point touches on the vocabulary for everyone listening, where she explains 学科試験(がっかしけん):a written test –  is all theory-based and 技能試験(ぎのうしけん):a driving test – this is the test when you are actually being tested on your technical skill and ability to drive a car. And it seems to her that the term “ぎのうしけん” is probably more used than “じつぎしけん”. Kayoko recently in order to obtain her driver’s license, she has been going to the driving school(教習所 – きょうしゅうじょ ). She explains the kanji for the vocabulary as “teach, learn place” but this is the place where people go to learn how to drive. She explains the process for obtaining the license is that you’d study but also get a provisional license (仮免許 – かりめんきょ). With this provisional license, one would practice their driving skills. She is trying her best and hopes to get her license soon. After this point, Mizuho shared an Instagram (山田全自動(紹介したインスタグラム) were on there, there are frequent posts shared with people about punch lines and drawings that people may be able to relate to when they are confronted by difficulties with getting a driver’s license or whatnot. It is more of a collection of posts to humour people and Mizuho just wanted to share this as she thought it was funny as well as interesting. Kayoko comes back to her report about studying for her driver license. She thought it was going to be easy but surprising it has turned out to be much harder than she realised 思うたより難しくて、. Mizuho agrees with Kayoko on this point. Kayoko is just amazed by those who have passed the exam and she respects people who have to do it. これはみんな、合格して運転してるの。。。。すごく尊敬する. Mizuho points out at this point that the name for “driving school” has a few different expressions in Japanese. She highlights that the way it has been translated is different. So for them, they call it教習所 – きょうしゅうじょ, but there is also 自動車学校 – じどうしゃがっこ, 自校(じこう), 自学 じがく, ..しゃこう / (車校). The last one “車校” – しゃこう is interesting because the kanji literally means “car school”. Kayoko shares that interestingly her friend’s from Kyushu (九州) do call it “車校” – しゃこう. Mizuho definitely finds that interesting. Apparently, in the Kanto area of Japan, it’s called “教習所 – きょうしゅうじょ”.  There are definitely a few ways to call these driving schools. As Mizuho briefly says “略し方(りゃくしかた” to name these places.

After about 15 minutes into the podcast, Kayoko proceeds to change the topic of the podcast again. The third topic she brings up is  about “日本でのバイト経験”

She called this part of the podcast “ バイト体験談”. (たいけいだん). She is wondering for people who come to Japan during a Working Holiday (ウワーホリ), people who come to Japan to study at university or exchange students and such, there is probably a lot of them who would look for part-time work positions. She wanted to talk about how do these people usually look for part-time work. In Kayoko’s case, she says that she looked for her jobs using Internet websites such as “タウンワー”, “バイトル”, and Indeed (インターネットで探す). Mizuho mentions there are casual/part-time work agents (バイトアイジェント), or go to the homepage and search for a job.  She also mentions when looking for a specific job (特定のバイト)and what she is referring to here are jobs that are published at specific companies or locations, such as looking for work that is close to home or work that is at Starbucks. Mizuho used working as Starbucks for example and said if she wanted a job at a specific Starbucks coffee shop because its closer to home, she would go to the homepage for that shop, look for the recruitment page and apply there directly (“直接働きたいお店のホームページから探す”).

For Kayoko, she says she often uses タウンワー” and “バイトル to search for work. But she also mentioned about seeing staff recruitment flyers stuck at the front of shops (お店に貼ってあるビラ” and it’s pretty much saying that that shop is “募集してますよ”. So, she says to the listening audience to please keep an eye out for these too when looking for part-time work. In terms of using Internet websites such as タウンワー” and “バイトル, if you pass the screening, you will get a phone call to discuss your application and interest, but the phone call is generally to just set a time and day for an interview. Then when you go to the interview, you would take your resume/CV with you.  (面接に行って、履歴書を持って行きます). Kayoko comments that the interviews itself are not usually hard. Interviewees generally get asked questions such as why you want to work here (何で働きたいですかはいリる), when can you work here? (何日ぐらい仕事できるとか,) Which days(何曜日) and such questions. Kayoko says that for these type of interviews, it is not necessary to wear a suit but just dress appropriately and neatly is fine. Mizuho says that she has definitely not gone to an interview for a casual work positive wearing a suit. And she agrees with Kayoko about the interview being quite basic (基本的な) where they will ask your age, and educations, though these would be also written on your resume/CV. They share that there are definitely casual work positions that do not require a resume/CV, and just doing the interview is sufficient. So in summary, there are both were for the job you need and do not need to submit/bring your resume/CV. Therefore, it is important to know what you need to bring. The next thing that Mizuho mentions is about understanding the commute from home to work ( 通勤(つうきん):a journey to work), understanding about travel expenses to work (交通費(こうつうひ):travel expenses) – such as travel costs on the train (電車代) or bus (バズ代).. and being asked how much does it take to get to work (いくらかかりますか) or even just understanding from the employee about what means of transport (交通手段(こうつうしゅだん) )to you use to get to work. During this interview, it is also an opportunity to ask about and clarify these things up. So all in all, it is less about one’s own ability to do the job, but more on whether the someone who is applying is a good fit for the job. “自分の能力てようより、条件に合うかみたい”. So really looking at the conditions (条件(じょうけん)) and using the interview as an opportunity to learn about that instead to see if you are a good fit or a match for the job. Kayoko says these interviews are not too bad. Mizuho says if you are doing a job that involves customer service (接客(せっきゃく)),  then make sure to smile and it will be fine.

Kayoko follows on by saying that she has heard it is easier to find jobs (みつきやすい)around March or April time. According to her, in Japan, some works or school begins in April, so there are a lot of people who would quit their job in March time. So, having said that, maybe this is why looking for work during March or April time is easier. But Kayoko also wonders if it is difficult to find work during other times of the year. Mizuho agrees to say that during that time (during March) job offers or job vacancies (求人 (きゅうじん)//求める(もとめる人)) are at abundancy.

At around 21 mins into the podcast, Kayoko changes the topic again but more as an extension to working part-time in Japan. She brings up the topic of “バイト体験談”. Kayoko asks Mizuho about how long had she been working as a part-timer (みずほさんは、どれぐらいバイトしたことがありますか). Mizuho says she did part-time work while she was in university (大学生なってから、バイトを始めました). She talks about how some Japanese High Schools allow their students to work part-time work and others that do not allow this. In Mizuho’s case, she went to a school where this was permitted (私の高校はバイトオッケーな高校だった) but she did not work during her time as a high school student. She mentioned that generally, most high school students would focus on studying. It is more common for people to become a university student and then find a part-time job during that stage “基本的には高校生は勉強に集中して、大学生ぐらいからだいたいにバイト始めること多いと思います”. Mizuho further informs us that she started working as a part-timer when she was a university student. In her first year of university, she started at Starbucks.  She worked there for about one year. At this point, Kayoko points out that ain’t people who work at Starbucks a bit stylish? (スタバのバイトなんかおしゃれな人が多くないですか). Mizuho thinks about this for a second and she does agree that this image of people working at Starbucks may be the case. She further mentions isn’t this the same for people who work at Muji ( むじるし). Mizuho talks a little bit about how people who work at Muji have to deal or sell clothes so perhaps it cannot be helped that they need to look more fashionable here to be part of the organisation. She shared an experience where she was at Muji and asked someone about an item, thinking that someone worked at Muji. As it turned out that person was not a shop assistant and Mizuho was really embarrassed about this. She really thought that person worked at Muji because of their looks or outfit, and so she was not able to tell the difference (区別がつかない(くべつ)) or distinguish in that situation. Anyways, attempting to return back to the topic at hand, Mizuho continues to say that it may be the case that people who work at Starbucks is similar to those who work at Muji where they are thought to be a bit more fashionable or stylish. Mizuho continues talking about her part-time work and mentions 短期バイト(たんき) which is a temporary part-time job. She explains that this is more a seasonal type of work where for example, what she did was Valentine’s season, she would sell chocolate for about 2 to 3 months at a department store. More recently,  she worked at a privately owned restaurant (個人経営のレストラン(こじんけいえい)). This was an Italian restaurant and she started about 1 month ago. She explains that this is a privately managed restaurant and a rather small business, where she would work about once a week. Though it isn’t much, if she is asked, she would work there or take the shift. Kayoko uses this opportunity to ask Mizuho as to how she found this job. Mizuho explained that she found it through “タウンワー” and when she saw the ad posted on that website, she contacted the owner to which she was informed that the job does not require someone to work all the time but more a once a week sort of condition or if the shop becomes really busy and they need someone, they can contact you to come in and work on demand.  It is obviously up to the worker to agree as to whether they are free or not to say if they can work when called upon. Mizuho described the current part-time job she has is rather laid back. “かなりゆるいバイト。。今のバイトは”. Kayoko reckons that having a laid back job Is not a bad idea, especially if you are studying and when you are busy you cannot go in and work; which you would tell the boss that you cannot go in today or something like that. She highlighted that in this case, you don’t feel guilty ((罪悪感(ざいあくかん)) about it.

Mizuho changes the discussion focus onto Kayoko now and asks her about her part-time work. To her understanding, Kayoko is always doing the more regular type of jobs (定期的な(ていきてきな) ). Kayoko explains she has never done any temporary part-time job(短期バイト) work before. When she was in her first year of university, she worked at the department store, selling cakes at a rather popular cake store “一年生の時はデパートにある、ケーキ屋さんでずっと働いてって”. Mizuho also understands that this store is rather popular too. Kayoko says that it was very popular and very busy so rather troublesome in that way (because it was just so busy) “(すごい人気で、超忙しくて、まあけっこう大変だったんです,”. When Kayoko reached second-year university, she quit that job and went to study abroad. After returning to Japan after, over exchange experience, she started working at a train station convenience store. At this job, she is mainly working at the register (レジ) and from her experience, she has been mainly working with the register. Kayoko mentions you can work at the register at different places and for her when she was working at the cake shop, she also did register and even now. Mizuho asks Kayoko whether she is used to working with the register. Kayoko explains that working at the register it is a hard job and no room for mistakes because it is troublesome to the customer or the shop if you make a mistake at the register. She is a little nervous when working at the register. Mizuho comments that its because you are working with money hence the reason why you are nervous. Kayoko shares that she has learnt two things from working with the register. One thing is about points cards. In Japan, there are lots of point cards and the customer would probably use them and hand them over at the register. Kayoko has found that she likes it if the customer would hand over the money (notes and coins) in a certain order and then a card. It tends to make her happy and her job easier because of the processing order in scanning the card and then accepting the money for the customer’s purchases. For her, she has learnt to first handover the customer the coins, the notes and then the card back in that order. The second thing is about the use of cash. When it comes to money, she is generally worried about making mistakes here. Hence, when a customer uses a credit card instead of money, she is rather happy to see this because mistakes generally will not happen here.

Mizuho moves on here to talk a little bit about working at a restaurant or an eatery (飲食(いんしょく)、飲食店(いんしょくてん)); where it can get really busy at these places. Customers would be calling you from all different directions and making request when they ordering. Kayoko shared that it is different when you are a customer as you do not see how busy staff is when they are working at a restaurant. And now that she is working at a restaurant, she gets to see that side.

Moving further, Mizuho asks Kayoko as to whether she has heard or knows of any part-time work to which exchange students feel are good or bad. Mizuho continues to share her thoughts around how she views working at the convenient store, which is that it was quite troublesome, if not busy. Kayoko agrees with this point.  Mizuho says that people may think that working at the convenient store is simple and easy, but its really not the case. She shares that when working at a Japanese convenient store, your job is not just to sell things but you need to know literally all the procedures or formalities in the store. 全てに手続き(てつづき)。。。。色々なことができて.. Pretty much in Kayoko’s view, a person who works at a convenience store requires you to know everything or know how to operate everything. She sees the convenient store is like a public office (役所(やくしょ)), and a place where people can send items to which staff need to know how to package it. It is also a place where people can buy tickets for LIVE events and concerts, so given the breadth of what you can do at a Japanese convenient store, it seems like it is necessary for the shop assistant at the convenient store to pretty much know everything. Mizuho further comments that if you are someone who does not have confidence in your Japanese language skills, working at the convenience store would be quite difficult. Kayoko agrees with this point and does definitely think working at the convention is quite hard based on her experience. Kayoko mentions that she has friends who are exchange students and work at the drug store (ドラックストア). Kayoko has never worked at the drug store before but from what she has gathered or the impression she has been given, working at the drug store may seem to be easier than at a Japanese convenient store. Mizuho does agree with Kayoko on this and further talks about working at a café or restaurant that it isn’t that complex either. Having said this, she recommends working at the café or restaurant is a good choice as a part-time job. She does see foreigners come to the store but the restaurant owner would sort of come in and serve them so it is good for her. Kayoko cuts in at this point saying that isn’t working at the café a bit hard though…. Mizuho does, in fact, agrees with that but she does say that making coffee (or remembering that) is hard. And that perhaps the language (言語) is hard but not the “手続き(てつづき)”. Of course, when working at the café, Mizuho points out that it is necessary to remember the recipe for the coffee.

Kayoko also does mention that cleaning at the restaurant would be a bit of work too. Mizuho does agree with this. She says that basically labour work is hard ( 身体的・体力的 ), similar to the “mental” work one needs to know or do at a Japanese convenient store. Yet in comparison, she reckons restaurant work is still just that little bit easier than convenient stores.

Café, restaurant, drug store or register jobs  – Kayoko tells the audiences to consider looking into these when searching for part-time work.

It is around 33 minutes that the two hosts feel that the podcast has reached a good point and are now starting to wrap things up. They thank everyone for listening. And say that they welcome people to follow and comment. They love receiving comments as it makes them happy. Mizuho, at this point, recalls there are two things she wants to inform the audience. One thing is about someone asking for a transcript for their podcast. She says that there are no transcripts but there is a vocabulary list towards the end of the podcast. She does apologise to those that they cannot provide a transcript because the work is quite involved to produce one. The second point is about the description for when the vocabulary practice starts in their podcast. On their channel, they point out the time where the vocabulary practice begins. Mizuho explains the reason for having this time in the description is for those who wish to hear the vocabulary first and then they can go back to listening to the episode. This is to make it easier for folks to learn the vocabulary first beforehand.

Kayoko further elaborates that for the vocabulary list for this episode, aside from the new words, they have also included websites they talked about in the episodes and welcome the audiences to refer to the list there to find further information.

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