Japan – Let’s enjoying!

One reason I started this blog was that I wanted to give advice/inspiration/things to think about etc. about Japan and ju jitsu.  Ju jitsu has been put on hold, frustratingly.  I caught a cold in Tokyo, which kept me out last Tuesday and then holiday plans with the girlfriend kept me out Friday night.  So, tonight was supposed to be the start of commitment but my cold has resurfaced.  I woke up with a very sore throat and it hasn’t improved over the course of the day.  Doing something that will cause dehydration doesn’t sound great.  So, let’s focus on the other.

I’ve wanted to make this post for a while so here we go.  It is by no means exhaustive but it’s a start.

Most people who have interest in Japan want advice before setting out on a journey of living here.  Is it right for them?  What should they know before coming?  How do they go about getting a job?  These type of things.  Let’s address some of these FAQs.

How can I find a job in Japan?

These are a dime a dozen.  A quick google search will yield a crop of results.  Really, the question is more like how can’t you find a job in Japan.  Jobs are everywhere here for foreigners.  The real question is really “how can I find a legitimate job in Japan?”  That is an entirely different question.  Yes, jobs are plentiful here; however, more often than not they are…. shady.  The best way to confirm the legitimacy of something you find online is to ask someone who lives in Japan the reputation of said company.  Also, do extensive google searches on the company.  Websites like gaijinpot are great for finding out information about Japan from insiders.  The key is to do your research and use the tools at your disposal.

What kind of person should move to Japan?

This, of course, really comes down to personal preference.  However, I do think there are some characteristics that help survive in Japan.  Patience is a big thing.  This is a slooooooow country and little, if anything other than portable technology, ever changes.  Someone who doesn’t think their home country is the greatest place on earth since Jesus built his first house.  Pride is great; I encourage pride in something.  But it helps to realize positives and negatives in order to keep things in perspective.  Finally, typically someone who has some interest in Japan outside of hooking up with J-girls.  Even if that is a priority, there needs to be at least one other major interest.

Do I need to know Japanese?

In a word, no.  But, this question is actually one that made me want to start this blog.  I have read one blog too many that say Japanese is not essential to getting by in Japan.  This particular advice seems to be written solely by people either living in the greater Tokyo area, only been here a few months, or on the JET programme.  Possibly a combination of all three.

In a word, no; in a sentence, to move here you need none but to live here it becomes somewhat needed.  I see so many blogs that say you don’t need Japanese, after all said blog’s creator gets by with very little Japanese.  That’s great if your goals are to come to Japan and travel the hell out of the country/asia.  Many people come here, stay a year or two, and don’t do much else other than travel around with other foreigners.

You can always find another foreigner who has capable Japanese.

However, if you value things like going to the bank, getting gas, mailing a letter, not getting a plastic bag for buying gum at the convenience store, and other taken for granted things then you need to learn Japanese.  It is true that you will likely find yourself in a situation with some interpreter somewhere around that will be assigned to help you (provided you listened to the first advice and found yourself a half-way reputable company).  I came with 0 Japanese and my interpreters were invaluable for things like simple grocery shopping.  However, 1) said interpreter might not have too much availability (many companies assign one for important things like renewing visas etc.  Helping translate how to use an ATM isn’t high on their priority list) and 2) you really don’t want to depend on another person to pick up toothpaste for the next few years, do you?

Not only is this a bit demeaning to you, but it’s terribly intrusive to your helper.  Even basic Japanese will go a long way.

I see so much nonsense about how “many Japanese people know enough English to help you anyway.”  You need to throw that BS out of your head right now.  In Tokyo, yes people will know some English to help you out.  Out in real Japan (i.e. anywhere that doesn’t end in “okyo”) you’re unlikely to find even a handful of people who understand anything more than “how are you?”.  Japanese people on average have very limited English skills, if any at all.

What this all comes down to is you don’t need any, at all, to get over here.  Once here you’ll survive like a baby with adult reasoning skills until you can get some good Japanese under your belt.

Is Japanese a really hard language? I’ve heard nightmarish things.

No.  Those people are dumb.  Ignore them.

Will I be able to eat Japanese food?

Yes.  Although whether or not you’ll want to is another story.  I ate bee larvae and grasshoppers last month.  I’ve also eaten raw horse, raw whale, chicken hearts, cow tongues, intestines, bone cartilage and pregnant fish.

The key to Japanese cuisine is to have an open mind.  Put it in your mouth and see how it goes.  Some of it is really tasty, other things make you gag upon contact with your taste buds.


Ok, let’s stop there for now.  Mostly because I’m hungry and I want to eat, partly because this will give a chance to digest what else I want to include.  If you read this and can think of other questions please let me know.  If you read this and know someone who wants to come to Japan show them the blog.

I have a cold, I’ve decided McDonald’s is the meal for tonight.  When I choose to I really fail at life.


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