16 Oct 2021
7th September 2020
JET spotlight: Nick Bradley
1. How and why did you end up on the JET Programme and where did you go?
I had just finished my master’s degree in English literature, and was considering a PhD, but wanted to take a break from my studies before doing the PhD. I felt like a change of scenery and was interested in learning a new language and culture. I also had a place to teach English in Thailand, but it was my Japanese friend at university who advised me to apply for JET and go to Japan. Her reasoning was that the job was more secure and better paid, and I could travel to Thailand (and the rest of Asia) from Japan. Needless to say, she convinced me (thanks Maki!), and I went out on JET knowing nothing about Japan. I was based in Hiroshima prefecture, fell in love with Japan, and enjoyed it so much I ended up staying for longer than I had first intended.
2. What are some of your long-lasting memories from JET?
Gosh… So many… Climbing Mount Fuji and watching the sunrise might be one. Dancing in the city festival each year could be another.
3. What were the challenges for you while on JET and how did you overcome them?
I don’t remember anything being a challenge. I just loved every minute of it.
4. What did you do straight after JET?
I ended up working for a string of Japanese companies as a translator.
5. How was life after JET and after Japan, coming back to the UK?
Life after JET was difficult – I think JET was a great job, and working as an ALT dealing with people every day was very rewarding. Post-JET, I think I’ve gradually moved away from office jobs and translation because I’ve realized I’m a people person. I like my alone time when I’m writing fiction, but in my day-to-day life, I like to deal with people.
In terms of coming back to the UK, I’ve been back and forth between Japan and the UK for a long time now, and there’s always a bit of unease switching between the two cultures. But I think I’m more used to this now, and am better at coping with culture shock and reverse culture shock.
6. How did the book come about, what gave you the idea for it?
I don’t think there’s a single moment that inspires a book. It’s a culmination of your lived experience over your entire lifetime. I suppose I started writing the book when I was doing the MA in Creative Writing at UEA. I had intended to not write about Japan, but everyone reacted very positively to my writing about Japan, so I thought, “Oh well… I suppose there’s no escaping this.”
7. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to write that quintessential Japan novel (that every JET has one fermenting in the noumiso)?
Just work hard. And don’t give up. You can’t write a novel without working very hard, and you’ll never finish a novel if you give up.
8. What are your future plans for any books and career?
Write lots and lots of books until I die.
JETAA UK has two copies of the book to give away - follow @jetaauk on Twitter and retweet this article with your own cat-based haiku and #catsofjapan. The two top retweeted haiku writers get a copy of the book! Winners announced end of September.