Winter work in Japan
My Introduction to the ski industry
After growing up going on ski holidays with my family, and spending many seasons surveying the enviable lifestyle of the winter season staff, I knew I wanted to work on the mountains when I left school. Living in New Zealand meant I had access to heaps of great resorts but I had heard rumours about Japan for ages and seen photos of my mates on Facebook, knee deep in powder with snow stuck like magnets from head to toe.
All I needed was my sleeping bag, my skis and a job… how hard could that be? I had worked in a café for 4 years and was armed with my hospitality experience and positive attitude. Basically I was prepared to do anything as long as I could support myself and ski all day, but after trolling the semi translated English/Japanese work forums and facebook pages, and applying with every western style food outlet in down town Niseko, I was quite confused about where to next. Thank god for Google…
EA stood out in my search results purely for the guaranteed job offer, but what I was about to go through was a life changing 8 month journey that led to the story that is the rest of my life. Sound dramatic enough for you? Similar to taking a 1920’s teenager and asking him to operate an iPhone, it’s fair to say I was thrown in the deep end. From small town New Zealand, I was about to head to one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world!
After signing onto the program I was accepted into a position at Canyons, I made my way through the Visa process with the help of my training consultant and now good mate Alex, and within 2 months I was boarding a plane for Tokyo. Once I met up with the EA crew it was all on, quick orientation, bank details set up, sim card purchased then straight out to training, exam and boom…. WORKING!!
If you had told me way back in my first winter I would have to walk to work regularly in what most people would call stay-at-home-snow-day, that there would be weeks that my food budget would be $26.50, and my power bill would at times resemble the amount that could afford a small car, Im not sure if I would have realised that it was about to be the time of my life. For every sacrifice along the way the payoff has well exceeded all my expectations, lifelong friends, job opportunities around the world, a great working environment surrounded by likeminded people and an income that now allows me to live the lifestyle I had aimed for.
That was back in 2012, since then I have returned to Japan every New Zealand summer, the lovely people, the amazing food and the unreal amount of snow just keep calling me back, and in between I have been living the good life instructing in Queenstown. I signed up for a program that promised a job, the opportunity to train and qualify and turn my passion into a career was not something I hadn't even considered, mainly because I didn’t know it was possible. The EA program let me venture out of my comfort zone in search of my ultimate gap year and introduced me to a group of people that have helped me shape my career. When I think back to what I wanted for my life and watching those snow seasonairs enjoy their mountain life, I guess it just reminds not only how grateful I am for Google(!), but how stoked I am to have parents that let me head to the snow and how lucky I was to get into a program that offered me that first job and entry into this industry.
If you can ski or ride, you're considering a winter season and need a job, you've gotta try Japan!
Jordan Myers, New Zealand
EA Intern 2012 - Canyons, Japan