Out of all the advice thrown at me when I was getting ready to move to Japan, the best advice I received was from our Programme Coordinator at one of our pre-departure orientations:
Keep a suit jacket in your school locker (or car!) at all times!
Take last Wednesday, for example. It was the first day of classes after the fall/mid-year break, so I assumed that there would be an opening ceremony to mark the second-half of the school year. I put on a blouse and my nice red sweater and drove to school.
Upon entering the teachers’ room, I realized I was sticking out like a bright red sore thumb – all of the other teachers were wearing black or grey suits! Although I knew there was going to be a ceremony, I didn’t know it was going to be that kind of ceremony!
Thankfully I had listened to our Programme Coordinator when she told us about keeping a suit jacket on-hand at all times. So, I ducked out of the teachers’ room to my locker, changed from my red sweater into my black suit jacket, and went to the gym with everyone else, no longer sticking out as the obvious foreigner. (Okay, with my pale skin, brown hair, blue eyes, and painted fingernails, I’m still obviously a foreigner… But at least not a foreigner in a red sweater!)
In all seriousness, though, ceremonies, picture days, demo lessons, observation classes, and visits from the BOE, etc., are guaranteed to sneak up unannounced (to you) at least once on your JET tenure. Be prepared! Keep that suit jacket with you. :)