This is more of a personal comment, but I just realized that I didn't adequately inform my readers:
I am employed, eliminating the need for a self-sponsored visa. As I mentioned, I had been sending out resumes and doing interviews almost nonstop in February, March, and April. One of the companies that had originally turned me down due to my low Japanese skills (JLP 4), came right back and offered me the position.
Where am I going?
To beautiful Kagoshima (鹿児島), often called the Naples of Japan. Kagoshima is the southernmost city on the main islands of Japan (not including Okinawa), and is overlooked by the ready-to-erupt volcano Sakurajima. Sakurajima had a serious eruption in 1914, and might be due for another any year now. If I don't come back alive, at least I'll have the satisfaction of knowing my death was rather unique (I had to look up the statistics for this - curiosity got the better of me).
A city of approximately 600,000 people, it is comparable in size to my old home Austin, Texas. The nearby volcano provides excellent onsen areas, and the warm climate makes it an ideal place to relax on the beach. There are several ferries that can take you to the nearby islands of Yakushima (屋久島) and Tanegashima (種子島).
Although I must admit I will miss out on the Tokyo experience, I am looking forward to discovering every inch of Kyushu. There are so many unique areas here - Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Oita, Beppu, Kurokawa.
Where am I working?
Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories. See their website here.
What am I doing?
Scientific consulting and proofreading, as well as acting as an international liason to foreign companies. I am a little concerned about entering another corporate world, but I can honestly say I'm thrilled to finally escape the stereotypical English-teaching role bestowed on foreigners.
The training period will last for three months, the contract for an additional nine. However, I am hoping to get a three-year extension on my visa.
What do I need to do now?
I'll be posting more information once I get settled in my new home, and blogging about it in a article titled "Ending Your Contract with an Eikaiwa" (among others).
Although I am not applying for a self-sponsored visa, I do still need to apply with immigration to extend my visa status (luckily I don't have to change my profession to researcher), and, once I find a new residence, register my new address with the local government office.
How did this happen?
Funny you should mention it. I had given up all hope of working with SNBL, and if you've been reading my recent blog entries, you know I was risking a lot not deciding my employment status before Golden Week. Visa renewal takes time. Finding a job takes time. Booking a plane ticket home is expensive.
Although I did not answer my phone the first time, I received the offer in a voicemail from SNBL at the exact moment I was entering the 11th temple of the Shikoku henro trail (Fujiidera 藤井寺). Right in the middle of attempting one of the most arduous and spiritually cleansing journeys on Earth, I find my prayers are answered. Coinicidence or not, I believe I will complete the circle someday; I will be walking the path of the henro again, to thank whatever karmic force was responsible for my staying in Japan. I'm not a religious zealot by any means, but I believe in paying tribute where tribute is due.