What does my sister do in Japan? Her job is not glamorous but it surely is exciting… and a job she loves thoroughly.  She first arrived in Japan on 28 September 2013, just over one month after I arrived. When she arrived in the Country she was issued a 90 day tourist visa and we had to set right to work on finding her a job so that she could apply for a working visa and stay longer!

Oshima Shipyard JapanThe first couple of weeks were a little frantic. Since she is over the age of 18 I could not claim her as a dependent and she could not claim a SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) with the military. If you come into any country that offers SOFA to dependents then you can stay in the country as long as the person you are a dependent under.

We caught an exciting break when I found out that one of the department heads from my ship was transferring (the 1st LT for all of  you Navy guys) and her husband had a job teaching English at the Oshima Shipyard. My sister went to work with him for a couple of days and then she applied for the job the next week. She was rivaling another American who also knew the woman from my ship so it was GREAT news when we found out she had been offered the job. Within a month she submitted for a working residency visa and she was set!

Now that all of those schematics are out of the way, I’d like for  you to join me on a tour of the Oshima Shipyard where she works. It is a world renowned shipyard that makes just about 34 cargo ships a year. 34! that’s almost 3 huge cargo ships a month. In my opinion that’s a very high turnover rate, but then again you should never underestimate the Japanese culture and their abilities.

Our morning started off behind schedule, as we were both running late and as it were, Oshima Shipyard is located on Oshima Island and the fastest way to get there is by the Sasebo Ferry Station (about a 20 min. ride). We had to stop at the base to drop off my car and then we hopped into a taxi and were on the road. Within 5 minutes we arrived at the Ferry station, I bought my ticket and we ran down to the dock and jumped on just as they were closing the ramp

As the Ferry pulls up to the Island, you can see the crane with the signature Oshima Shipyard Insignia

Oshima Shipyard Japan 2After arriving at the Shipyard, I met my sisters first class of students and then Mr. Sato (A man who works there and speaks English) took me on a tour of Oshima so I could better understand it.

The picture above shows a brand new merchant ship in the water. For every new ship they have a naming ceremony where the owners and the captains come to Oshima to break champagne on the hull and release doves for good luck. Mr Sato said that the King of Norway came to one of the naming ceremonies once because he was good friends with a man who had bought one of the ships.

IMG_3544IMG_3520They took me for a drive around the shipyard as part of the tour… and because it was raining.

IMG_3542Around the buildings is where they store big pieces of the ships as they go through the phases of being built. Here are two of the bigger pieces that were being worked on outside of one of the buildings.

IMG_3525A life raft that was standing by to be added to one of the brand new merchant vessels.

IMG_3523Work, work, work, time to put those vessels together.


IMG_3519At this station they build the top levels of merchant vessels  (the “living quarters” if you will) and at the final stage, they are powder coated white before they are craned onto the ship.

After the tour and I met with the Executive Officer in charge at the ship yard (Mr. Sato says he is the busiest man on the island.) I went to sit in on a few of my sisters classes. Normally one class is comprised of only 3-4 students so her class are very involved.  The students that she teaches are around the age of 21 and up and they are all working at the shipyards for project design, mechanical and electrical engineering, master welding, etc. They are very smart and are provided opportunities to learn English to better themselves and the company. Everyone I talked to said they loved English class most and that my sister was a great teacher. I couldn’t agree more!

IMG_3532After 4 classes it was time for lunch and we headed over to the Olive Bay Hotel a new hotel that opened in April as a luxurious place for ship owners to stay when they come in to pick up their ships. Anyone can stay at this hotel but it quite a pretty penny.

IMG_3536The hotel has a very modern feel to it and overlooks a beautiful lake on the other side.

IMG_3537Roses in the front foyer.

IMG_3538One of the best parts of the hotel, the view and the pool.

Oshima Shipyard Japan 4IMG_3539Our lunch. Thank goodness for Mr. Sato because the menus were in Japanese kanji and it would have been quite hard to read. He chose bento boxes for everyone and we enjoyed them thoroughly.

IMG_3558After lunch we had 4 more classes with Linnie’s students and then we ran for the Ferry back to Sasebo. We sat on the top to enjoy the day. Not many others wished to join us.

IMG_3551Enjoying my day while contemplating life I suppose.

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