Living in Japan

(266 Posts)
mirai Fri 20-May-11 10:42:24

Hi all, not quite sure this has sunk in yet so excuse the exclamation marks! My DP has been offered a job in Japan and we are taking it! We will be going end July-mid August which isn't really very long at all. We'll be gone for at least a year but hopefully longer. I know there's so much we have to do, and organise, any tips or advice would be brilliant. Oh and one more thing we don't get to find out exactly where in Japan for another couple of weeks. I guess that just adds to the lunacy excitement.

I am a (quiet but prolific) regular but I have namechanged for good now as, well, it's a new chapter, innit! grin

mirai Fri 20-May-11 16:14:43

Bumpy, I'm sure there must be some Japan mnetters out there!

Rang the embassy earlier to start the visa process for me, it's a good thing I don't mind paperwork as I think there'll be a lof of it in the new few months!

mirai Fri 20-May-11 16:15:03

*next few months....

RuthChan Fri 20-May-11 18:09:31

Hi Mirai
I'm an ex-Japan MNer.
I lived there for 9 years up until 2008, when we moved here to Belgium.
My DH is Japanese though so we are still tied to the country and will go back this summer for a month.
Advice? Tips? I have no idea where to start!!!
Do you have any questions?
It would be really helpful to know where you might be going too. Does your husband's company have offices in a lot of different places?

RuthChan Fri 20-May-11 18:10:24

By the way, do you have children?
If so, how old are they? That will have a big influence on your life there!

exexpat Fri 20-May-11 18:22:39

I was in Japan for over ten years (Tokyo, but know some other bits of Japan quite well too), left a few years ago but was last back there a few weeks ago and am still fairly plugged in.

It's hard to give any tips without knowing where you're going, whether you have DCs, what age etc, but the standard advice for any western women going to live in Japan is to stock up on bras (hard to find bigger sizes and anything unpadded), shoes (unless you are size 5 or less), clothes if you are more than size 10, favourite skincare and over-the-counter medicines, and contraception unless you are happy with Japanese-brand condoms (they still don't really 'do' the pill over there, nor things like mirena).

Feel free to ask anything on here or via PM.

mirai Mon 23-May-11 08:30:59

Morning, thank you for your replies, it has been a hectic weekend! I'll come back on later to update - ironically I feel like I get more free time at work than I do at home right now! smile

mirai Mon 23-May-11 11:31:29

Right then, we have no children (yet!), and in terms of location it literally could be anywhere from Okinawa up to Hokkaido... We have talked and really we would be quite up for anything/anywhere, but I wouldn't be too happy with anywhere near/in the nuclear exclusion zone (and yes, that could happen).

Ideally it would be somewhere where I could find (some form of) work but we will just have to see how and if that can be achieved once we find out where he's going. I'm going to apply for a Working Holiday Visa which will afford me entry and the right to work (with some conditions) for a year. After that then I will need to get an employer to sponsor me for a proper job... or DP will have to pop the question! grin

We did a huuuge to-do list yesterday which we based on the many 'emigration check-lists' you find on the net, so that has helped focus my mind a little.

That said I am still not sure it's sunk in yet!!

RuthChan Mon 23-May-11 19:33:57

Thanks for the extra info.
Having no children will make your life easier actually.
You won't have to worry about schools etc and you will be freer to explore and enjoy the country once you're there.

I would really recommend taking some Japanese lessons, starting as soon as possible.
I couldn't speak a word before I went. It wasn't actually a problem, and daily life is perfectly possible without it. However, once I learned to speak life really opened up and I was able to meet and communicate with all sorts of different people. Having even just a little of the language makes a huge difference. Most Japanese people speak very little English and really appreciate foreigners who make an effort.

It's good that you're going to get a working holiday visa.
That will give you more limited employment options than a full working visa, but as you said, it will give you prolonged access to the country and should help you to find work without much difficulty. There are many jobs for English teachers and most require a degree, but not a TEFL qualification. Don't worry if you're not experienced yet. If you are interested in other areas of work, you may find your choices limited unless your Japanese is quite fluent.

The area to which you are sent will have a huge effect on the experience you have. Being sent to Tokyo will bring you into contact with lots of foreigners and lots of very cosmopolitan people in a very bright and energetic city. Being in smaller cities will be slightly less so. Being in the countryside will possibly mean that there are no other foreigners and that you are in a much quieter and more traditional community. There are great opportunities to enjoy wherever you are, but the experience will vary enormously.

Do you have any specific questions?

koeda Sat 28-May-11 21:17:18

I've lived in Japan twice - once on the JET programme teaching English. It sounds like that's what your other half is about to do? If so do feel free to ask any specific JET related questions, even though you're not on the programme.

All the advice so far is really good - especially the Japanese lessons. The other tip I would have is start looking round for a few gifts ('omiyage') that are inexpensive, small, light and ideally typically British as they really come in handy during those first few weeks for employers/colleagues, neighbours, anyone who helps you set up home etc. And don't forget to wrap them! Very important in Japan!

TanteRose Mon 30-May-11 03:47:46

sorry, missed this over the weekend.

I am in Japan, south of Tokyo...been here 20 years now.
Lots of good tips so far, you'll be fine!

I worked on and for the JET programme, if that is what your DH will be doing, so feel free to ask me stuff.

There are a few of us out here, keep in touch, and let us know where you will be living smile

mirai Wed 01-Jun-11 23:06:19

Hello again, rushed off my feet here! Thanks for your replies. Koeda and TanteRose, yes you have hit the nail on the head! (was it that obvious?! smile ) We are both so excited, we are still waiting to find out where we'll be placed though.

I started learning Japanese at the start of this year and DP started last year, thank goodness. He has been absorbing it like a sponge, whereas it takes me a little longer to get to grips with it. But I know my hiragana now and hopefully will do my katakana before we go. I've been downloading some apps for my ipod today, I do struggle but at least I'm trying... We started thinking about omiyage this weekend in fact, DP's face as the realisation dawned that it was all going to take up some significant luggage space was a bit of a treat grin We're going to look into shipping some items over once we know a little bit more about what kind of things we'll need (as in ski boots or bikinis!!)

Personally my main concern is what I'll be doing for a job. We have discussed that there may be a chance DP will have to support me, for a year or maybe more, but of course I will be trying my hardest to find a job. I'm also aware that once my WH visa runs out after a year I need either an employer-sponsored visa or a husband to stay on in Japan, but I won't worry about that just yet wink

We are trying to decide on the best length of time for me to follow him over, he is thinking a month later whereas I'm not sure I'd be happy being apart for that length of time. It's meant to be our big adventure so I want to settle in together! I'm thinking two weeks, but.... we'll see!

mirai Wed 01-Jun-11 23:08:50

The 'needing a husband' was meant to come across as a little more-tongue-in-cheek than it did, it sounds a bit matter of fact!! Oops smile

magicmummy1 Wed 01-Jun-11 23:26:27

I'd definitely think about doing a CELTA TEFL qualification if I were you, especially if you're planning to stay out there for a few years. Lots of teaching jobs don't require this, but it will give you the edge over people who don't have it. And there are one or two employers who wouldn't take you seriously without it. It's unlikely you'll find any other type of work initially, assuming that you don't really speak the language.

Agree that you should invest some time in learning Japanese - it will make a huge difference to your overall experience. Also second the suggestions re omiyage and stuff to take with you.

It's a wonderful country with wonderful people. DH and I spent many happy years there and we still miss it dreadfully. Go in with an open mind and make the very most of it - and please try not to hang around too much with expats who spend all their time moaning that japan is too japanese! Let us know when you know where you're
going, and do pop back with any questions you might have.

mirai Wed 01-Jun-11 23:44:37

We did consider the CELTA for me - DP already has it and I would have liked to have taken it before we left. Unfortunately by the time we knew we were definitely going, the local CELTA courses were booked up sad I've been looking into doing it in Japan, this could be an option, I think in Tokyo and a couple of the other big cities there are centres where I can take the course - but again we are waiting on placement info - if we end up in Hokkaido or Okinawa then it might not be possible! However in the meantime I have DP's course notes and textbooks to look through and learn smile

I'm happy that (so far) no one has mentioned anything and I've gone "oh crap!!", it's all stuff that has been thought about... touch wood!!! grin

magicmummy1 Wed 01-Jun-11 23:54:45

You could always do an intensive course somewhere in Europe - usually takes about a month.

You'll have a fab time in Japan. The people are amazing. I'm very jealous....

JET rocks. You will have a great time. Get ready for the rural life though! Very few people are placed in cities. Do tell us where they send you smile

I would definitely bother with learning a little bit of the language before you go. I met some people who never learnt more than a few phrases. Madness.

Ime, in Okinawa at least you wouldn't need a qualification to get work. Maybe in Tokyo or Osaka (although I have taught in both without) but as I said, think rural! One of my friends travelled to some of her schools by fishing boat and water buffalo!

mirai Thu 02-Jun-11 00:08:49

We are totally prepared for rural, it's all about the inaka! Of course I will let you know where we're going...

I know what you mean about not bothering to learn the language, it's like people who go away then only want to eat British food, why?? Travelling to school by fishing boat and WATER BUFFALO?? envy Where was that?

She was on Ishigaki-jima, and covered some teeny tiny islands. Okinawa is lush! I learnt to scuba dive.

[natsukashii emoticon]

Sorry to crash, but what is JET?

is it the same as this?

(there's a reason I'm asking, I'm not just a random mad person.. mostly wink

tribpot Sun 05-Jun-11 00:58:48

It's this.

Ok, sorry... there's a bit JET thing near us that has links with Japan and wondered if it was the same thing.

Pennybubbly Mon 06-Jun-11 02:34:45

Hi Mirai,

I've been in Japan for 16 years now.
The first 5.5 were in Osaka - I originally came to see my brother for a few months who was on the JET scheme at the time, then met my DH (Japanese) and one year turned into another....
We've been in Tokyo for the past 10.5 years and I worked for a chain of English Language schools as Director of Recruitment for a number of years, so please ask / PM me if you need any advice.

Good luck!

mirai Mon 13-Jun-11 13:18:01

Hi all, just to say I haven't forgotten the thread... We are still waiting to find out where will be, which is why I haven't really updated! For now we have a huuge to-do list of things like sorting out tax, pensions, student loans, it all seems like rather a mountain to scale right now, and less than 7 weeks til DP flies out!

Penny - thanks for your offer, I am sure I will be in contact in due course (most likely while I am trying to find a teaching job myself once out there!) We did wonder if I might be able to squeeze in my Celta in July but it seems they are fully booked across the UK, oh well...

Back to waiting for the postman then! smile

mirai Wed 15-Jun-11 11:40:43

Right apparently we should be hearing by Saturday/Monday at the very latest!!

mirai Thu 16-Jun-11 08:58:26

I have a question about medication - I believe Sudafed, (and own-make brands of psuedophedrine hydrochloride), Vicks inhalers, and Nurofen/ibuprofen are all banned in Japan! As someone who gets quite a few colds/hayfever, what can I use over there that is an equivalent?

bigbadbarry Thu 16-Jun-11 09:19:23

Lucky you! Have only skimmed thread but am marking here to come back later. We had 3 amazing years on Tokyo and would have stayed if they'd let us. DD1 was born there. Take deodorant, but Internet shopping will be your friend clothes-wise.

BebeBelge Thu 16-Jun-11 09:43:12

Hi! I am currently in Kobe - been here almost 2 years and LOVE it! Don't have much to add to previous advice but if you end up here or Osaka, do feel free to pm me for more info! Good luck!

PeriPathetic Thu 16-Jun-11 09:53:16

Hi Mirai,

Good luck with your move and hope you finally find out where you're going to be living soon!! I lived in Tokyo for 4.5 years, fabulous city in an amazing country.

Re medication - yes, lots of common meds are banned. Anything with codeine in as well as the pseudoephedrine you mentioned. There isn't a lot of choice of over the counter meds there either. Not sure about ibuprofen.

Allergies are common, but you may not suffer from the Japanese allergy - yet. And if you do, you have to go to the docs / hospital for medicine. It was 3 years before I suffered from the Japanese allergy and now I'm in Europe my old hayfever has come back with a vengeance. confused

exexpat Thu 16-Jun-11 12:36:29

Normal nurofen/ibuprofen is fine - I think it is nurofen plus which is not, because it also contains codeine. And yes, cold medicines must be checked for pseudoephedrine.

I would recommend taking whatever antihistamines you find effective with you, because the Japanese over-the-counter ones tend to be the old-fashioned kind which make you drowsy (disclaimer: it's possible they have improved in the four years since I left Japan, but the pharmacy business moves very slowly there). They are also expensive. You can get better ones on prescription, but that is also expensive unless you have very comprehensive health insurance, and if you end up somewhere rural, communicating with a local doctor may be difficult to start with. I used not to get hayfever in the UK, but developed an allergy to the Japanese tree pollens fairly early on, and now I seem to be allergic to all sorts of pollen in the UK too.

I used to stock up on supermarket/Boots own-brand loratidine (clarityn) to take back to Japan, until I discovered an even better one I could get over-the-counter in Australia, though it's still prescription-only in the UK (fexofenadine). There are internet pharmacies you can use, but you are only supposed to import limited amounts of medicine at a time.

Having said all that, customs never checked my bags for pharmaceuticals, and I once brought a large bottle of codeine syrup into Japan as I didn't realise at the time it was banned. But I suppose you could be unlucky, and it wouldn't be a good start to your stay in Japan....

exexpat Thu 16-Jun-11 12:46:00

By the way, have you found Being A Broad yet? Stupid name, but very useful organisation/website/networking group. There's a magazine and a book too.

exexpat Thu 16-Jun-11 12:48:05

They seem to have another, busier website as well:

PeriPathetic Thu 16-Jun-11 15:34:12

Also, is fabulously useful.

mirai Sat 18-Jun-11 19:56:07

Woo!! Great news. We got our placement and it looks FANTASTIC. Don't want to be too specific but we are <2hrs from Tokyo and it just looks absolutely brilliant. We are so, so happy. Easy access to both urban and rural areas and it looks like I should be ok to find p-t work.

I'm booking my flight out tonight before they get any more expensive!! Cheers everyone!! wine

mirai Tue 28-Jun-11 08:00:40

I knew it was too good to be true...! sad

Despite the prefecture in general being all of the above, it turns out our exact placement within it is almost as rural as you can get in Japan. A village which is 3hrs away to the nearest main town. It's so super-rural that they may even have a problem with unmarried people living together. Just waiting to find out. And even if we can, my job prospects are looking little better than zero right now. Gutted sad

exexpat Wed 29-Jun-11 18:40:15

Just came back to this thread - sorry to hear it's not looking good. Do the rest of the village need to know you are not actually married? Unless you tell them otherwise, they will probably assume you are (and you can just explain that in the West people don't necessarily change their names when they get married). It's not as common to live together before marriage in Japan, but I have found that people in general aren't necessarily that moralistic about premarital sex.

And is the village so isolated that you won't have internet access? There are language schools in Japan that offer English lessons over the internet, or over the phone - you might still be able to do that kind of thing.

mirai Wed 13-Jul-11 12:26:22

I am so pleased to be able to say that things are looking a little better now smile

The village and his employers have actually turned out to be very welcoming (I think they are excited at getting 2 for 1 lol); they were concerned that I would be stranded with nothing to do however, so there is talk of them helping us find another apartment a little closer to the city, to help me find a job. If we get a car we are only looking at an hour's drive to get to most places (the 3 hours quoted turned out to be on public transport), so all in all the future is looking good!

It's now only 5 weeks til I go, eek!! My visa is sorted, my flight is booked, just finishing out sorting out finances, to be honest all I really need to do is pack! Oh and sort out my health/travel insurance. The rest will fall into place, I'm sure wink

TanteRosmerta Thu 14-Jul-11 06:13:19

Glad to hear things are fairly positive smile
Having a car will make all the difference.

Be warned it is HOT over here and will be hotter still when you arrive in August! Bring lots of suntan lotion and a hat grin

PlasticFlamingo Thu 14-Jul-11 09:59:53

and deoderant!!

Good Lucksmile

Bouviergirl Fri 22-Jul-11 15:48:57

Hi, I did JET years and years ago (92-95) - definitely inaka (down south Kyushu) and back then there was an arrangement whereby your working years in Japan counted towards national insurance contributions in the UK when you returned. At the end of my JET time, I think I received some paperwork from the Japanese authorities and it all seemed to sort itself out with this counting towards UK national insurance. The Japanese and UK governments had a bi-lateral agreement on this. Might be worth checking this is still the case.

Reading this thread has made me 'homesick' !!

feel free to pm if you need other specific advice, as well as doing JET also worked for Japanese embassy.

Enjoy what will be a wonderful experience!

midoriway Sun 24-Jul-11 15:33:56

I did JET for three years, in a small city in Hokkaido. I loved it, it was the absolute making of me.

Is your DH working for the prefecture or the local Board of Education? It will be a rollercoaster, but the beauty of the programme is that it is a chance to throw yourself headfirst into a new country and culture, with the back up and support of the JET programme co-ordinators on the other end of the phone.

Has DH made contact with his predecessor yet?

mirai Tue 26-Jul-11 11:24:46

Hiya, thought it was time for an update!

midoriway yes both the predecessor and his school have been in touch, everyone has been very welcoming and friendly, and I am SO pleased I can finally say the housing and visa situations are sorted and although we will be living in a tiny place at least we will be living together! Bouviergirl thanks for the tip I will look into this smile

My only 'problem' right now, and I know it's probably daft, but my god in the last couple of days have I started to feel anxious/nervous - you know that sicky feeling where you can't eat?? I don't think it's to do with me so much (I'm a bit of an adventurer and have travelled all over so leaving home isn't THAT big a thing for me, AND I have three weeks here before I go)... but I think it's because DP is off this Saturday, and I just feel so nervous about it! I can't believe it's finally here. A bit of me is sad that I'm not able to go with him, I wish we could be sharing all the "firsts" together (first sight of Tokyo, first time in our apartment and so on), and of course I'm sad that it'll be three weeks before I see him, and he will have no internet or phone so it will be quite tough being in touch. So that will be hard for me too. It's all feeling a little overwhelming right now.... does that make any sense???

TanteRose Fri 29-Jul-11 07:36:29

hi there mirai!

don't worry, its perfectly normal to be nervous smile

why won't your DP have a phone/internet? there are international payphones in Japan, which he could use. Mobile phones bought here cannot be used internationally, unfortunately. When he gets a landline, he can sign up for international call. I am sure his school will help.

so he's off tomorrow? wish him luck! and in three weeks you will be flying over to join him smile how exciting! let us know when you arrive smile

mirai Wed 03-Aug-11 21:56:42

I have calmed down now, in fact I think it's him who's got a bit nervous! The first few days in Tokyo were intense by all accounts but he's now in our little village in our new apartment and so it's all quite exciting. Everyone is looking forward to meeting me, apparently grin No internet yet but he's managing to send me some emails from his kindle grin

Two weeks to go for me! Fan-bloody-tastic!

mirai Thu 04-Aug-11 16:15:40

A question about mobile phone plans please!

Apparently we need to be on AU for the coverage. We need unlimited email and internet and are not too fussed about free minutes or calls. I've had a look at the AU website and even in English it is SO complicated. do any of you Japanese MNs have AU as their provider? Could you advise what DP needs to ask for?

He went into the store today and even the so-called 'Simple Plan' mindboggled him so if you could tell us exactly what he needs to ask for that would be great. we are going for Android and any family discounts would be fab grin thank you

mirai Thu 04-Aug-11 22:33:14

Bumpy for all you Japanese early risers grin

exexpat Thu 04-Aug-11 22:48:22

Can't help on current phone plans etc, but just wanted to say I'm glad it's looking more positive now.

If you're planning to drive in Japan, have you got your UK international driving licence sorted? You need to go to a main post office, I think, or possibly you can still get them from the AA, and it is only valid for the first year you are in Japan - if you end up staying for longer, you will need to convert it into a Japanese licence - not too difficult for Brits, as you don't need to take another test, just go through lots of bureaucratic hoops and pay a big fee.

mirai Thu 04-Aug-11 23:34:36

The form is filled out and I'm going to town on saturday smile thank you for helping to remind me!

mirai Thu 04-Aug-11 23:35:19

"just go through lots of bureaucratic hoops" tell me about it, and i am not even there yet!!

Indaba Sat 06-Aug-11 00:03:19

wow, lucky you, enjoy!

what a fab adventure

mirai Wed 10-Aug-11 10:43:49

Right I have a very urgent question, about... hair and makeup products!!! grin

Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body moisturiser - I'm not taking any with me as I'm sure I can get fixed up with something I like out there. Agreed?

Makeup: Mascara, blushers, eyeshadows etc, sure I will be fine to buy out there. But as for foundation and powder do you recommend bringing a few of each? I am rather pale and worry that I might not be able to find the colours I need?

Facial moisturiser - I have rather sensitive skin, so I'm thinking to bring a fresh jar of what I sually use then research what's out there, when I'm out there. Am sure there must be some sensitive skincare ranges out there.

Hair - with rather fine tresses I am addicted to John Freida's volumising spray. So I'm taking two bottles of that plus a Tresemme one that promises volume AND fighting against humidity!! Can anyone advise if there's anything similar out there one these are finished, or am I buggered cos all Japanese girls have lovely thick hair? envy Hairspray I'm sure I can just buy out there?

Fake Tan / Gradual tan - does this exist in Japan? What are the best brands? Or should I bring a few bottles with me?


mirai Wed 10-Aug-11 10:44:39

PS I have already packed loads of anti-perspirant and toothpaste - I've heard the rumours!!! smile

exexpat Wed 10-Aug-11 10:59:12

Shampoo and conditioner - you can get thousands of different varieties in Japan, so I think you'll be fine.

Shower gel less so - the Japanese use something called body soap (liquid) which I find much harsher than shower gel - I have a tendency to dry skin and eczema, and it really wasn't good for my skin. I could only find western-style shower gel in import shops and places like the Body Shop. But it depends on your skin type - you might be fine with the body soap. Body lotions widely available, though not necessarily the same brands you'd find here.

Moisturisers - lots around, though I tended to find a lot of them had a rather powdery feel. You'll probably find something that suits eventually.

No idea about make-up as I don't use it, ditto fake tan - but I would guess you are unlikely to find much choice in mild tanning products, as most Japanese women are keener on skin whitening products, unless they are in the sub-set of teenage girls who go for a really deep fake-tanned look.

I'm pretty sure you'll be able to find hairspray, but not sure about thickening products.

exexpat Wed 10-Aug-11 14:53:11

Oh, and yes to taking deodorant, but I never had a problem with Japanese toothpaste - they even have a lot of the same brands as here.

mirai Fri 12-Aug-11 19:36:55

Thank you! I'm sure I'll have more questions over the weekend! Was my last day at work today grin

mirai Sun 14-Aug-11 11:48:53

More questions!! Is there some kind of online store with home delivery where we can buy a table and chairs, and a new futon? I've looked at Ikea Japan but they don't do home delivery. Amazon Japan I can't understand sad and everything I google throws up stores that aren't in Japan. We have to have home delivery as we have no car/live remotely. Any ideas please?

mirai Mon 15-Aug-11 12:25:40

bump smile

exexpat Mon 15-Aug-11 13:57:00

There are loads of online/catalogue companies I bought furniture from when I was living there (can't currently remember any of their names), but I don't think any of them are navigable in English. I think you will probably have to ask for help from your DP's colleagues or whoever is helping you get set up over there.

TanteRose Wed 17-Aug-11 02:17:04

as exexpat says, just ask your DPs colleagues to help with buying furniture etc.

There are loads of mail order/online stores (in Japanese, tsushin hanbai) - catalogues like Dinos, Nissen, and online Nitori stores.

when do you leave?

mirai Wed 17-Aug-11 10:13:25

I leave on Friday


exexpat Wed 17-Aug-11 20:23:53

Good luck! I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. As soon as you've got internet access sorted out, let us know how you are doing.

mirai Wed 24-Aug-11 07:01:54

Konnichiwa! I am now officially a Japanese mumsnetter grin

First impressions, it's warm, humid, there's lots of bugs and massive spiders, food is reeally expensive... On the flipside the Japanese seem SO friendly and helpful and I get to cuddle DP every night. Aww I missed him smile

TanteRose Wed 24-Aug-11 07:07:36

hey there Mirai smile

Konnichiwa! hope you are settling in OK

not sure where you are, but its much cooler than it was last week, so you arrived at a good time. The humidity is still high though, isn't it? Yuck sad

the bugs can be quite a surprise - luckily they are not usually too nasty or dangerous like they are in Australia, for example.

yup, food is a bit more expensive compared to the UK - esp. fruit shock

anyway, good to hear from you - shout if you need info/advice etc. smile

PeriPathetic Wed 24-Aug-11 07:15:06

Ohayo gosaimasu!! How exciting for you (and how much I miss Japan sad )

Friends have told me it's one of the coolest summers they've known this year... last year I suffered in the hottest one for 120 years.

Ikea Japan DO deliver. Ikea delivery but I think you have to pay extra.

Amazon Japan is in English too, but I think only for books. The site isn't as extensive as UK Amazon though, but the service is incredible - I used to order at midnight and it would arrive the following day.

Enjoy your new life!

exexpat Wed 24-Aug-11 11:19:05

Glad you arrived safely!

Food is expensive, but if you are somewhere rural it is worth trying to find a direct-sales place for the local farmers - they often have roadside places where you can get seasonal produce for much, much less than buying it in the supermarket.

Yes, some of the bugs can be alarming, but there is really very little that is dangerous (mosquitoes are a nuisance, though).

Likewise snakes - you'll probably see a few if you are somewhere rural (I even found one on my doorstep in central Tokyo) but the most common ones are completely harmless striped rat snakes or green rat snakes. The only nasty one on the mainland is the mamushi, but I never saw one in my 11 years in Japan, despite spending half my weekends over the last few years in a house on a track half-way up a mountain, surrounded by woods and rice paddies, which was ideal mamushi territory. The harmless ones are mainly fairly long and slim, and plain coloured or have lengthways stripes, while the mamushi are short, squatter looking and have distinctive markings. You might also occasionally see tiger keelbacks which are technically venomous but very placid and rarely harm anyone. We had them living under our house and the baby ones sometimes used to emerge through cracks in the floor....

Hope you are having fun getting your apartment sorted out and getting to know the area.

exexpat Wed 24-Aug-11 14:19:35

Oops - just noticed I did link to rat snakes wrong.

RuthChan Thu 01-Sep-11 19:52:46

It's great that you've arrived and are settling in.
Whereabouts are you?

mirai Mon 05-Sep-11 01:59:16

So, I've been here for two weeks now, in that time I have climbed Mt Fuji (well almost, gave it a damn good go), managed to land a little PT teaching job, come to terms with spending a fortune on groceries, had to evict a good few spiders from the apartment (sorry chaps but you're not on the lease), found a tiiiny little bar in the village, been invited to be guests of honour at a local Matsuri in a few weeks, experienced traditional Japanese cuisine (in traditional Japanese dress) at a welcome dinner in our honour... it's been busy but fantastic!

Ruth we are far up a mountain, somewhere in Chubu...

So far the only things that have been tough to get to grips with (apart from the horrendous cost of fruit and veg) is... the rubbish/recycling system, and the fact I don't have a proper oven. I love to cook and bake and the lack of an oven makes me sad We have a little grill/toaster thing, but it doesn't compare...

Which leads me onto my next question, in a way.... it's my and DP's anniversary later this week but I can't think of what to get him/do for him. There are no shops up here (and I don't have a JP bank account so online shopping is out). I could cook a nice meal but I'll be at work in the evening once he gets home from work. And I can't even bake a cake!!! Any ideas?! A nice card with a message saying I will do a dinner in the next few days?? Just doesn't seem very 'special'... So if you have any inspiration please let me know!

How are my fellow Japanese mumsnetters? No one affected too badly by the typhoon I hope? We have had lots and lots, and LOTS of rain, but nothing worse than that, thankfully.

Ja mata!!! grin

mirai Mon 05-Sep-11 02:05:23

Forgot to say - snakes emerging through cracks in the door -- shock!!

TanteRose Mon 05-Sep-11 04:48:13

Hi mirai

glad you survived the typhoon - awful that 26 people have died and so many are still missing sad

it didn't really affect us in Kanagawa, just very humid and cloudy...

wow, already you've tackled Fuji-san! I climbed it 20-odd years ago when I was a student. Never again!

You could always buy an oven - they are a bit small, and usually double up as a microwave, but do the job.

As for internet shopping - you could always choose the cash-on-delivery option ("chakubarai" or "daikin hikikaebarai")

congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! I am sure a nice card would be fine...

take care smile

RuthChan Tue 06-Sep-11 18:42:28

Hi Mirai

You've already climbed Mt Fuji?!!
You don't hang about do you!
Suppose you wanted to get up there before the end of the climbing season, but that's still pretty adventurous for your first two weeks in the country.

It's interesting that you're in Chubu. I was too.
I lived in Aichi prefecture, so a little south of the mountains.
I rarely saw any snakes though!!

Not sure what to advise about your DH's birthday.
I'm sure he wouldn't expect much in your current situation.
Could you take him out for a nice dinner as you can't really cook much?

mirai Fri 30-Sep-11 00:53:07

Hello everyone! Can't believe it's October tomorrow! Time is flying which must be a good sign smile We've been having a great time, busy every weekend - in fact this weekend is our first one where we have nothing planned and are staying in our village - can't wait for a bit of time to relax! I'm pleased to report we bought a new grill/toaster oven - only 3000Y but a lot bigger than the old one and it's been doing excellently for cookies, scones and cakes - we'll be trying pizzas tomorrow!

For the anniversary I baked a cake and did a nice meal, in return I got a lovely bunch of thanks which I was grin with as 1) I've never had flowers before (shocking I know!) and 2) I was so impressed he managed to find a bunch out here in the middle of nowhere!

Anyway, I am wondering if anyone has some ideas or advice on Christmas. We're not going back to the UK but spending it here. We had thought a nice week skiing in Hokkaido could be special but my lord the costs!! So we researched Nagano area instead but again the cost would be prohibitive. Maybe I was just naive about how much skiing actually costs (once you factor in ski hire, lift passes etc) but either way I think it's been ruled out sad It's a shame as Sapporo sounds wonderful for Christmas what with the german market and the lights... Just need to win the lottery first though!!

So now we are thinking a week in Kyoto perhaps? We want Christmas Day to be special so are happy to push the boat out on a posh meal in a hotel say... I would like the rest of the week to be special too so does anyone have any ideas? Thanks smile

mirai Fri 30-Sep-11 05:17:30

Been Googling today for alternative Christmas ideas, and nothing is making me go 'wow'. I think I had my heart set on the german market and christmas lights, and christmas in a lodge surrounded by snow!! But I've worked out lift passes and ski hire ALONE for the two of us is £200 PER DAY! (In Niseko)... that doesn't even include getting there, hotels, food...

sigh sad

PeriPathetic Fri 30-Sep-11 07:58:27

Yes, it's all very expensive sad

The main problem you'll find with going anywhere for Xmas is that the major Japanese holiday - New Year - follows so quickly on its heels. We went to Kyoto one year on Boxing Day. Many sites were closed for the week to prepare for the New Year. And if you do go somewhere, book early!

We spent a couple of days (not winter) in Hakuba once, very nice but still extremely expensive DH still moans about it Hakuba

Another place my DD remembers very fondly is this Log Cabins in Nikko These are much cheaper, but not a skiing place.

Alternatively, take a holiday elsewhere. Hawaii and Bali are the most popular for expats in Japan due to their relative closeness but still 7 hours on a plane or Saipan?

Good luck!

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Fri 30-Sep-11 08:41:26

Skying is very expensive in any country. Passes and materials renting especially plus you will have to buy the suits/snow boots... if you don't already have them.

I was in japan a long time ago (10 years +). So I am not sure at the prices or how it changed.

You might want to stay in a ryokan with outdoor onsen, it is a pretty special japanese experience (they are not all really expensive there is a range of prices).

One friend of mine flew quite cheaply to korea or taiwan for holidays. Again this may be more expensive and difficult now.

Nikko is a very nice place to visit not far from tokyo by shinkansen.

You can ski in Iwate prefecture cheaper than in nagano or sapporo. I can't really remember the name of the stations I will have to get back to you on that, some around morioka and some around hanamaki. However it has been badly hit by the tsunami and earthquake I am not sure if all the train lines have been repaired. May be akita and aomori (which is really beautiful) will be cheaper too.

You can stay for cheaper in Osaka (lots of business hotels even cheaper if you take a japanese room) and travel to Kyoto, Kobe and Nara from there.

exexpat Fri 30-Sep-11 18:09:58

We used to have a weekend place on the fringes of a ski area in Gunma, and also very close to Niigata, with big ski resorts like Naeba and Yuzawa within daytripping distance.

Booking accommodation, ski hire, lift passes etc separately does work out very expensive, but Japan is the land of the holiday package. They tend to be shorter than the UK - eg a standard holiday might be three nights four days - but they usually work out much, much cheaper than booking direct. Are there any travel agents near you, or train stations large enough to have a view plaza/green window (midori no madoguchi) travel booking office? You'd need someone Japanese speaking with you to interpret all the offers, but if you don't mind staying in a large (possibly less characterful) hotel, you might be able to get a good deal.

The more attractive/upmarket/romantic hotels (particularly in cities) tend to get very booked up on Christmas Eve as that is seen as the big, romantic 'couples night' of the year (Valentines Day is when you give chocolate to your co-workers....).

Onsens in the snow are nice. And Kyoto is lovely in winter too - again a travel plus hotel package might be a cheap(ish) option. It would seem a shame to go out of Japan for a holiday when you have only just arrived and haven't seen the country at all.

mirai Wed 12-Oct-11 05:10:37

Hi all just checking in. Thanks for your suggestions - lived those log cabins Peri! Well I'm pleased to say we have it all booked now - Christmas in Kyoto and then a short ski trip in Nagano for New Year's! Am very grin and we're really looking forward to it. We're two hours away from the nearest large train station Exexpat shock so I had to make do with internet bargain hunting.... had to hunt around quite a bit but got some bargains in the end!
Does anyone else have plans for the festive season?

I'm a lot happier now we seem to be getting a British summer - still warm and sunny in the daytime but without the humidity. It's getting a bit nippy here at night though so we're hoping all our warm clothes parcels arrive soon. They were sent by surface mail a few weeks ago so hopefully we won't have too much longer to wait!

mirai Wed 12-Oct-11 05:11:23

loved not lived! oops

TanteRose Wed 12-Oct-11 05:34:23

hi Mirai smile

glad to see you sorted Xmas out - sounds lovely

we are staying put for winter hols this year (taken the DCs back to UK for the last two Xmases)

never been skiing in Japan (or anywhere else for that matter)

yes, the weather is lovely at the moment - enjoying the autumn here.
We have an autumn festival in our city next Sunday - looking forward to that smile

hope you are doing OK and not had any more trouble with people knocking on your door confused


mirai Tue 18-Oct-11 04:18:14

Hi Tante, well I will be sure to let you know how we got on skiing!

No we haven't had any more 'incidents' - to be honest it really shook me up and for maybe a few weeks after I was very jumpy and anxious about locking the door, closing the windows etc. I'm ok now though smile

So what are you and your family doing for Christmas Day itself? Will you be trying to cook a turkey with all the trimmings or doing it Japanese style with KFC?! (I couldn't believe that 'tradition' when I heard it but apparently it's true!)

We have festivals for the next two weekends plus I need to go on a mission to get my alien card. Also I have two friends coming to Tokyo in a couple of weeks so I'm wondering if I can dip into my savings to go and see them for a night. Would be a few hundred pounds all in but damn it would be great to see them!! Decisions decisions....

TanteRose Tue 18-Oct-11 06:32:11

Ah yes, KFC and cream cake for Xmas dinner confused

No, we don't partake of that Japanese tradition - I usually cook a chicken and do our own version of roast veggies (Mediterranean style, with olive oil and herbs, plus chestnuts...) The DCs will do some hors d'oeuves/nibbles to have with wine/fizz/juice, and we get a fruit stollen from the bakers.

If I am in Japan for New Year (which I will be this year) we do the big family lunch with O-setchi (traditional Japanese new year food...the supermarkets will be full of it in December, or you can put an order in at the convenience store to make boxes of it for you!)

Hope you get to see your friends smile

mirai Fri 04-Nov-11 13:37:56

Hi fellow Japan mumsnetters!

I have a question about visiting the doctor's and getting routine prescriptions. I am starting to run out of the medicines/drugs I brought with me and need to think about getting new prescriptions (sending them from home isn't an option I'm afraid). I am trying to Google how to do this but am getting wildly different information...

- Can I visit a Japanese doctor and get a prescription for a number of items in one go, or does each doctor specialise so I need to see one doctor for each 'ailment'?
- How much will a doctor's consultation cost? I don't have Japanese health insurance (which I know pays 70% of the cost); I do have international health insurance but this only covers hospital visits etc, not routine GP appointments. So I am a bit worried about the costs.
-How much is a prescription drug, is it standard or does it vary?

Please help as it's driving me potty trying to work it all out!

PlasticFlamingo Fri 04-Nov-11 23:57:42

Hi Mirai,

I've just been reading back over a few posts, glad you are feeling more settled now. We've been skiing in Nagano for New Years, it was great fun and the ryokans where we stayed were lovely.

Doctors are a bit hit and miss I find, if you find a friendly one they will prescribe for a few things but normally they stick to their own speciality. Some of the internal doctors also do external and skin. Things like gynecology or eyes you have to see the specialist doc.

There is no repeat prescription system here either, though again a friendly doctor will let you pick up some medicines and see the doc every 2nd prescription. Many of the drugs you can buy over the counter in the UK you have to see a doc for here.
Also if you need regular long term medicine make sure you ask for a months worth as doctors often prescribe a weeks worth at a time!

The cost of the prescription depends on the drug, I think. I have Japanese insurance so only pay 30%, I pay about 1-2000 yen for a consultation it goes up if they do any tests and a similar price for drugs, maybe a bit less.


mirai Tue 06-Dec-11 02:07:49

Thanks PlasticFlamingo. I'm going to try and get a doctor's visit sorted before Christmas; hoping I can go to the local hospital up here rather than having to do a two or three hour journey into the city!

You say you've also been on a skiing holiday, did you get special winter sports travel insurance for it? Or were you covered by your Japanese insurance. I don't have that, only an international healthcare plan, I doubt skiing is covered on it but I have just emailed them to check.

Is everyone getting excited for Christmas now? We found a little tree which looks great and have started getting lots of nice food for Christmas dinner! More than anything I'm looking forward to the break, nearly two weeks off work grin DP has so much lesson/exam planning to do that we have been going to bed at 1.30am or later every night for the past two weeks. It's a good thing I don't have a F-T job because the situation would be untenable!! grin

PlasticFlamingo Tue 06-Dec-11 08:38:39

Hello Mirai,
I'm having an MN day today, as kids woke up a lot in the night, sleepy.

We didn't get any extra insurance for skiing and luckily didn't need to use our national one! I was 7 months pregnant at the time, a whale on skis!!!grin

We have decorated for Christmas and the children are loving their "Elf on the shelf", who is getting up to mischief. Hanging off the ceiling fan and decorating the house with toilet paper to name 2. He also brings them small gifts and chocolates. I LOVE Christmas time.grin

Sounds like you will really need that holiday, not long to go now!

mirai Fri 09-Dec-11 03:42:56

Me too, I am so excited!

I checked with my health insurance and they said skiing is fine as long as I don't go off piste - fat chance of that I'm an après ski kind of girl grin

TanteRose Fri 09-Dec-11 04:23:59

Hi all

yes, we have our tree up and I got Advent calendars for the DCs. They are looking forward to the winter break, as its been a busy term at school

Luckily, Xmas is on a long-weekend this year, so I won't have to work on Christmas Day, as I have sometimes had to do in the past. Work usually finishes on Dec. 28 and starts up again on Jan 4. So not much of a break really...

Having spent the past two Xmas's in the UK, I am quite looking forward staying at home for a change smile

Certainly feels more wintery today - hope everyone is keeping warm!

TanteRose Sat 31-Dec-11 15:00:02

Just turned midnight here in Japan - Happy New Year to all the MNers in Japan!

PlasticFlamingo Wed 04-Jan-12 10:27:53

and a Happy New Year to you too Tante. grin

mirai Tue 10-Jan-12 13:35:11

Happy new year all! How were your Christmasses? Kyoto was stunning, can't wait to go back!

Pennybubbly Fri 13-Jan-12 05:04:14

Happy New Year to all mumsnetters in Japan smile
Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu smile
Hope you're all settled in now Mirai and enjoying Nihon life?
I'm in Tokyo - shout if you ever need anything, although you sound pretty sorted!

TanteRose Fri 13-Jan-12 05:26:48

hi all!

Hope everyone's well and settling back into work/school etc.

Mirai, glad to hear your Xmas trip went well.

Gorgeous weather here in Kanagawa - have had mostly clear, crisp, cold sunny days for weeks now smile

amazing view of Fuji san today

OK, 2012 - we should have a meet-up! Do you ever venture Tokyo-way, mirai?

mirai Wed 18-Jan-12 03:00:29

Indeed I do Tante, and would be definitely up for a meet up! What do you reckon Penny? And PlasticFlamingo?

Anyway, I have some news...

mirai Fri 20-Jan-12 02:42:27

No one wants to know my news? <taps fingers impatiently> grin

TanteRose Sat 21-Jan-12 08:31:39

sorry, mirai...didn't notice this.

What's your news??

hope you are keeping warm - I'm guessing you will have had snow yesterday?

PlasticFlamingo Sun 22-Jan-12 08:42:48


Ooo a meet-up, I've been ill lately, so not sure if I can make it to anything soon. Maybe in Spring.

Ok mirai, what's your news? I will keep checking back because I am incredibly nosey. grin

mirai Mon 23-Jan-12 02:46:56

No snow up here I'm afraid but plenty of rain last week!

Well, <clears throat>, there's now two pieces of news not just one! Firstly DP is now..... DF, and secondly we have been told we can stay here for another year!


mirai Mon 23-Jan-12 02:47:30

PS PlasticFlamingo here's some brew I hope you feel better soon!

TanteRose Mon 23-Jan-12 03:58:15

wow, mirai , congrats on your engagement smile
Are you going to have a Japanese wedding? grin

and good news that you'll be able to stay another year

PlasticF sad hope you are on the mend...

A Spring meet up sounds great - we could do a hanami (cherry-bossom viewing) party!

we are due for some snow this evening - just went out for my lunchtime walk and the wind blowing across the bay from Mt Fuji was very chilly.

mirai Mon 23-Jan-12 04:35:37

Thanks Tante! smile Yes we will be having it here; but I've been reading about getting married here and really it's just going to the office and signing a form, isn't it? There's no ceremony or anything like that, which is a shame really. So we were talking about maybe just doing the form signing then choosing an evening to invite people to a restaurant for a nice dinner (and I get to wear a nice dress! smile ). Did you get married here? You probably know more than me about how it works!

Hanami party sounds like a great idea! Are there many of us in Japan, do you know?

I bet Mt Fuji looks beautiful. I would love some snow but instead it is just the same as usual, cold but sunny!

Pennybubbly Tue 24-Jan-12 05:19:18

Oooooh! Just caught up with events! Congratulations Mirai!
Definitely reason for a meet up then!
Hanami sounds like a good time - especially after last night's snowfall and slipping and sliding to work like a deranged lunatic this morning hmm

(btw: I got married here too - we did the 'signing' at the local city office - 10 years ago on Saturday to be exact grin - then had a Japanese-style wedding at a shrine a few months later in my husbands hometown, then a UK church blessing the following year. Tried for a while to do a "Lets get away to Hawaii and have a romantic beach wedding/honeymoon too!!" break, but we never got round to that one hmm and then kids arrived wink )

mirai Tue 24-Jan-12 05:39:11

Hi Penny and thanks for the congrats! It's snowing everywhere but here!! Send some to me, would you? Blue skies and sunshine up this mountain but I would love to see some snow.

Congratulations for Saturday! We're already talking about honeymoons and are thinking we'll combine it with an amazing trip planned for this Christmas and New Year. We're running away with ideas but I think we should get the actual wedding done first wink Have wasted the whole morning looking at dresses online and have got precisely nothing done with my day and DP is home in two hours! Hmm but time for a brew first I think...

PlasticFlamingo Tue 24-Jan-12 09:14:41

Congratulations Mirai! We got married in the UK and then had a party here a month later in a hotel. My dh organised the party here, we wanted a casual get together and had a laugh although all the relatives were shocked at us turning up in jeansgrin

Congratulations Penny too! Have you heard of the recent tradition of getting a new ring with 10 diamonds on your 10th wedding anniversary? I wish I had known, I would never have got one but I could have teased my dh mercilessly.wink

Hanami sounds fun and thanks for the good wishes.

Pennybubbly Wed 25-Jan-12 01:34:34

Funnily enough PlasticF - my colleague just did a search to see what the 10 year anniversary was - and came up with Tin ..... hmmmmm, not sure I like the sound of that. Ring with 10 diamonds sounds MUCH more like it grin.
....Although hell will freeze over before my DH would pop out in his lunch break and get me one of those..... I'll be lucky to get a box of Pocky.... smile

TanteRose Wed 25-Jan-12 02:38:34

we are coming up to our 16th wedding anniversary shock Been together 20 years in March too...blimey shock again grin

get this, I wasn't even there when DH signed our wedding certificate! I was at work and he went to the city office by himself (I think his mum and dad were witnesses?)

we actually had our wedding ceremony (full Japanese shinto with kimono and head gear) a few days BEFORE that, so I felt it had been done and dusted, and the signing was just officialdom.

We then had a church blessing in the UK a few months later in the summer.

Mirai, you can arrange a shinto ceremony with the kimono etc. It would be a great experience and fab photo album to show your kids smile

mirai Wed 25-Jan-12 03:48:40

Tante, I think DP would be really keen to have a Shinto ceremony, he has mentioned it a few times in fact! Are they terribly expensive do you know? I will have a google and investigate.

I would love to do something special, but on a lemonade budget! All ideas welcomed smile

mirai Wed 25-Jan-12 03:55:57

Also, would there be any issue in doing a Shinto ceremony for two people who are not Japanese, or are Shintoists?

I think that's why whenever DP has mentioned it, I am not sure I am 100% keen. I need to think and read more about it but a bit of me does think why should I wear a kimono in front of a Shinto shrine to get wed, when I am neither Japanese or Shinto and nor is my DP! Does that make sense??

Pennybubbly Wed 25-Jan-12 06:39:59

Similar story here Tante!
DH and I duly went to the City Office to submit our papers during his lunch hour.... it was an (apparently) busy day, so he had to leave to get back to the office. His mum and dad had decided to hijack join us on our happy day and when the miserable city office employee called out our names, his dad pushes me out of the way and collects our marriage certificate shock.
(should have seen the warning signals then!)

mirai Wed 25-Jan-12 06:57:16

I am shock on your behalf! How rude!!

Have relations improved since then?!

Pennybubbly Fri 27-Jan-12 06:57:44

I'll say this, Mirai: If we ever get round to organising a TokyoMumsnet meet-up, I'll have plenty of in-law stories to keep us entertained grin

TanteRose Sat 28-Jan-12 02:14:49

Hi all

it was a bit rock'n roll this morning, eh? two quakes in 3 minutes...woke me up.

mirai not sure exactly where you are, but you were probably closest to the epicentre? Hope you are OK smile

mirai Sat 28-Jan-12 04:18:56

Really, what time? Have to say we went out to a tiny local bar last night and got a little bit merry; DP is still snoring! Will have to look on the earthquake website to see what it was all about cos I didn't feel a thing! blush

Glad you are ok though!

TanteRose Sat 28-Jan-12 07:05:01

7:43am. The epicentre was in Yamanashi ken - near Mt Fuji...
It wasn't too bad but there were 2 quakes in about 3 minutes - bit weird.
Anyway, hope you are having a nice weekend :-)

mirai Thu 02-Feb-12 05:51:35

Well, the snow has finally reached us. I'm on the train to work, through the mountains, and it's so beautiful smile

mirai Thu 09-Feb-12 04:47:00

How are we folks? I think I have been feeling a bit fed up this past week...the weather is grey and miserable, it's cold, I wish spring would hurry up! I am also feeling a bit fed up with day to day life, I need to be working more than I am, sitting at home 3 days a week just isn't doing anything for me, emotionally or intellectually (or financially!). But it's so hard to find anything else with being so remote that really I should just be thankful for the job I already have.

I think the remoteness of where we are is also becoming a bit of a pain; for example in the last couple of weeks we have broken the kitchen bin and a load of glasses. Now back home, quick trip to a Tesco superstore and job done! But here we are actually having to schedule a day trip (and the travel cost) to Nittori to replace things! It's so frustrating.

Also everything in life seems to be on hold/in limbo - we still don't know if we'll be able to stay another year yet (should find out in 3 weeks), so we're not sure if/when we can get married, so nothing can be planned etc etc... I hate being in limbo!

Sorry for the whinge... just feeling really fed up sad

TanteRose Fri 10-Feb-12 05:05:23

Hi there mirai

Hope you are feeling a bit better today smile Everyone needs a whinge sometimes, don't they? Better out than in...grin

Has the sun come out where you are?

it must be frustrating to not know what is going to happen re: staying or not.

About the shopping - can you not use internet shopping?

Spring is not far off now, and in a few weeks you will know whether you are staying or not, and maybe you can try to find some more employment.

mirai Thu 16-Feb-12 04:46:11

Well Tante, what a week this has been! I have another thread in Chat, but essentially... I had a moan here last Thursday about not working enough. Went to work that afternoon and found out that from April my hours were reducing even more sad came home, panicked, DP was lovely and said why don't you just have a google and see if you can see anything in one of the cities (even if 2 hours away).

So, I found a teaching job, applied to it that night, had an interview and found out that YES I got the job but guess what! It's teaching at three schools, one of which is in my village and the other two are no more than 25 mins away! grin grin grin

Which means that today I have to go and hand in my notice (see other thread) and I feel awful about it. But trying to tell myself that by 10pm tonight I'll be back home with a brew and all this will have passed!

TanteRose Thu 16-Feb-12 04:51:56

just looked at your other thread!

yay for you!! grin

lets hope your DP gets to stay another year too...

mirai Thu 16-Feb-12 05:08:11

Well we find out for sure in two weeks, but off the record, we've been given the nod smile

mirai Thu 07-Jun-12 01:14:14

Wow, has it really been FEBRUARY since we all said hello last?! How is it June already!
How is everyone? I'm just on the train to get my visa changed, always stressed but I couldn't put it off any longer!
Plans are coming together nicely for our wedding, we decided to do the formal signing here, next month, and then go back home next March for a blessing ceremony and Very Big Party. So can't wait smile But best of all my mum is coming to Japan! Despite us trying to assure her that getting married here is just taking a form to the office, no ceremony etc, she was adamant she wanted to be here on te day her daughter officially gets wed, so - despite being a nervous flyer - she's coming all the way to Japan! My mum is fab eh grin
Anyway everyone, check in, tell me how you are! Do we have any new Japanese MNers? Say hello!!

Byecklove Thu 07-Jun-12 23:05:42


We left Japan (Tokyo) nearly two years ago and I really miss it. Two of my children were born there so I've got all sorts of memories woven together. For the most part I'm happy to be back, near family (and branston pickle!) but I get real pangs of nostalgia. And don't get me started on the differences in customer service...Just thought I'd hop on and say that I'm a little envious of you being there - and congratulations! Happy wedding day! Good ol' mum, eh? Not one of our many visitors didn't fall a little bit in love with it there.

carolinecordery Sat 09-Jun-12 23:08:21

I lived in Hiroshima City for 3 years on JET. I had the time of my life, although the actual job was a bit pants. Your time in Japan will change both your lives and Japan will never leave you.
I would say take your own laptop with English layout keyboard. Don't know what it's like now but I couldn't find much choice of English keyboard computers when I wanted to buy one. If you buy new expensive stuff in the UK before you go, you can claim the VAT back at the airport if you are exporting the goods for more than a year, I think. I did this when I bought my laptop in England on a holiday back here.

TanteRose Mon 18-Jun-12 07:52:54

just trawling through a few Topics, incl. Living Overseas and noticed some new activity here grin

oooh, Mirai, wonderful news about the nuptuals and a visit from your Mum! how lovely smile

did you get your visa changed successfully?

also how is the job going??

sorry, loads of questions...blush

Hope all the Japan MNers are genki, btw

big typhoon on the way, apparantly - plus the rainy season weather front, means we are in for some very wet and windy weather.

stay dry and sign in to this thread if you have a chance (I might bump it a couple of times over the next few days...)


TanteRose Tue 19-Jun-12 02:11:45

Good morning, Japan peeps smile

the typhoon has hit Kyushu/Shikoku with avengeance - hope sakura down in Kyushu is OK

rain and wind due from later this afternoon for Kanto - hold onto your hats, girls grin

TanteRose Tue 19-Jun-12 11:02:19

Wind and rain lashing down in Kanagawa now... Hope everyone is OK smile

PlasticFlamingo Tue 19-Jun-12 14:38:27

Damn, it's wild weather tonight, the kids are asleep but crying out occasionally.
The house is shaking from the wind gusts.

At least the tooth fairy managed to get here, so DD2 won't be disappointed. grin

Take care all. x

TanteRose Tue 19-Jun-12 16:03:30

Good to hear from you PlasticF smile

The typhoon is certainly giving the Shonan coast quite a battering, isn't it?

We are in an apartment block and even that is getting shaken a bit

Tomorrow is set to be lovely though - that wonderful day after the storm. We may even get a view of Mt. Fuji...

Take care

TanteRose Wed 20-Jun-12 02:19:21

morning all

still quite windy and hazy this morning (no views of Fuji san sad)

hope other Japan MNers are OK smile

mirai Thu 05-Jul-12 15:41:27

Ooh hello I just saw the updates here, think its bedtime now so I will reply tomorrow... But I will tell you that the big day is just a few days away now!!! smile

TanteRose Mon 09-Jul-12 05:28:27


are you a married woman then?

do tell all - hope you had a wonderful day smile

TanteRose Wed 11-Jul-12 04:05:14


TanteRose Fri 13-Jul-12 06:39:29

bumpity bump - for anyone out there smile

PlasticFlamingo Mon 16-Jul-12 06:30:20


How was everyone's holiday weekend?

We are heading home after camping in Yamanashi. Was lovely weather for camping, not too hot!grin

It seems we are heading back with half the population of Kanto, this may take some time.

mirai Mon 23-Jul-12 03:02:01

Hello everyone! It's been a busy couple of weeks for me what with my mum's visit, the end of school term (for me at least, poor DP has to work throu the holidays).... Oh and I got married!! grin It feels very nice indeed to be a Mrs although for us the 'do' next year in England will be the main event. Still, it's nice to have finally done it, the paperwork was a bit of a worry but we got there in the end! grin

It feels like I haven't had a moment to myself for the last few weeks which is why I've been a bit absent from here, every weekend we have been away doing something and so today I'm getting a little peace to myself at last. I know I said I'd PM you Tante but this is the first time I've been able to sit with my laptop in peace instead of on my phone (can't work out how to do it on my phone!)

I'm glad the rainy season is over now but not looking forward to August's humidity. I think my mum is pleased that she'll be going home before August hits! It's been great to see her here and will feel sad when she's gone but we are counting down the months to our visit home and I'm sure it'll fly by. Does anyone have any plans for the holidays? Perhaps we could attempt a meet up?! A little post wedding celebration perhaps hehe wine

TanteRose Mon 23-Jul-12 05:11:50

hey there mirai!
many congratulations - glad it all went well, you must be thrilled to have your mum here to share it with smile

we are not going back to the UK for a visit this summer - DCs are at junior high and have hectic schedules...

so I am saving money and holidays to go next year.

a meet-up would be fun smile

when/where/who and how?? grin

PlasticF - camping sounds fun! that weekend was the summer festival here is Zushi

OK back to work (no rest for the wicked, eh) wink

BleepingSooty Mon 23-Jul-12 14:17:48


I am also living in Japan. I've been here for 12 years now. Married with three kids and a newly acquired cat. Glad to hear you all survived typhoon season.

I am off to the UK the day after tomorrow for a month do have a million things I should be doing.

Thanks to Mirai for pointing me in the direction of this thread.


mirai Wed 25-Jul-12 02:35:11

Waves to Bleeping! You must be on your way to the airport now if not already in the air, send our love to the uk! Apparently the summer is finally starting to hit now, dad text me yesterday to say it was 27 degrees, he was most excited! How often do you head back to the UK Tante?

Well, I am on 'summer vacation' from now til the end of August, so, have vacation, will meet up! DP and I are going away for one week but other than that I'm free...

PlasticFlamingo Thu 26-Jul-12 04:58:56

Congratulations Mirai! When is your Mum going back? It's lovely to have family visit, isn't it?

We are here for the summer due to the kids schedules, pesky ballet. we are going back at Christmas and I am hoping next summer too. I don't get on with summer here too well, last year I declared we would never spend summer in Japan again!!! Famous last words...grin

Enjoy your summer holidays.

Tante did you go the festival? I saw the adverts on TV but didn't know any of the bands. We are going camping again after the ballet Happyoukai has finished.

Hello Bleeping smile

TanteRose Thu 26-Jul-12 05:16:29

Plastic - yes, I remember saying something like that (about summer) but we seem to spend more summers here...

today is an absolute scorcher angry <-- my face grin

the festival I mentioned was just the town matsuri, not the music festival at Zushi Marina (which is happening in August - mostly J-pop, so have never been tempted to go).

My DD and I are actually going to Summer Sonic at Makuhari Messe in Chiba (Aug. 19th) - Tears for Fears, Garbage, Jamiroquai, Rihanna....can't wait grin

ballet is really full-on here isn't it? My DD does jazz dance (no happyokai this year as she is doing high school juken) Best of luck to your DD for her ballet performance!

a cheery hello to Bleeping smile where are you based?
have a lovely time back in the UK

mirai Thu 26-Jul-12 06:56:53

Ohhh we would have loved to go to Summer sonic, or Fuji rock! Next year, next year!!

Mum is here til Saturday. It will be good to get my space back but I'll miss her a lot until we go back to England, there's no happy medium when you live abroad is there, either it's living in each other's pockets for weeks on end or it's just Skype and emails! Oh well.

Talking about going home I have started to look at flights for next year and my goodness the 'Japan premuim' has me weeping! UK-Japan return was about £650, Japan-UK return on the same dates with the same airline was nearly £1400! Ouch!!

PlasticFlamingo Fri 27-Jul-12 08:12:33

Going to concerts with my kids, when they are older, is one of the few things I am looking forward to about the teenage years.

Ballet is nuts, DD is currently practicing every other day for at least 5 hours, often more. It will be everyday next week and as for the cost!!! shock If i had known that before she started.....Mind you the finished productions are fantastic. My DD is going to be a rat <proud> grin

I booked flights for Christmas the other day, Why do they advertise the flights at 45000yen but then you add all the surcharges and taxes and it ends up being over 100000yen?

The kids are playing in the paddling pool on the deck, too hot!!

mirai Fri 27-Jul-12 12:15:31

Am at the airport with my mum tonight, 8pm and 27 degrees, too hot!

Plastic I demand to know what airline/website you are using to get flights home for 100,000 yen. That sounds like a bargain. The cheapest I can fInd for next March is about 150,000yen and that's with two changes and a massive travelling time. What's your secret?!

Also, are you around in August for a meet up? smile wine

PlasticFlamingo Sun 29-Jul-12 00:58:32

Hi Mirai,

I usually book through the airlines but H.I.S. could get me a slightly cheaper deal, so i have booked through them. I am flying with Virgin, direct to London. It's not 100,000 yen though, I think my ticket was 120,000, the kids were cheaper.

It depends where in the UK you are going to, but a lot of people go with KLM as they fly to many UK airports. It is a bit more expensive but then you don't have to travel from London. The transfer times were rubbish though for us this time, hence flying Virgin. The kids prefer the entertainment thingy on Virgin, happy kids = slightly less stressed mummy grin

I am mostly around in August, we have ballet until the 11th and then probably camping the week of the 20th. I am a package deal with the kids during the week and can sneak away by myself at the weekends. wine

What about you Tante? Are you free?

mirai Wed 01-Aug-12 04:32:30

I'll give H.I.S a try then, thanks!

I am considering signing up to an O.U. course, that's about all my news from the last few days! Loving being lazy this week smile

Yes Tante, when are you free?! <impatient for wine> grin

TanteRogge Wed 01-Aug-12 05:13:43

you called? grin

Am up for wine anytime!

if we are talking weekends, then I am free on Sun. 12th, Sat. 18th, Sun. 26...oh and 1st and 2nd of September too.

Where would this historic first Japan MN meet-up take place? mirai, how far are you willing to travel?

mirai Wed 01-Aug-12 05:29:53

What's Rogge when it's at home?! Hang on let me get my diary out...

mirai Wed 01-Aug-12 05:38:31

OK, I'm free 22-28 Aug and 1/2nd Sept.

Well, I'm on the border of Shiz and Aichi but what the heck I don't mind hopping on a Shinkansen for an event so momentous as the first Japan MN meet up! grin

Completely unrelated, I am fed up as I ordered some shoes and a bag online from House of Fraser and the tracking says they've been held up in customs. Further googling tells me Japanese customs whack nearly 5,000Y in duty on each pair of shoes. Wouldn't mind but one pair was only £18 and the other £35! Damn!! Off for a brew to cheer myself up!

mirai Wed 01-Aug-12 05:46:02

PS It's not the cost so much as the travelling time that's the pain for me. Because we are so remote it's a 2hr journey to a mainline train station before we can connect to go anywhere! shock

TanteRogge Wed 01-Aug-12 06:15:15

Olympic namechange - I am posing as the aunt of Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee <joins the elite> grin

well, I don't mind travelling for a couple of hours to meet you part way...somewhere like Atami or Mishima? I love train journeys smile

what say you, Plastic? you and me could meet up in Odawara and have a natter on the way?

mirai, about the shoes...yes, shoes are notorious for having duty whacked on them at customs, its the leather...bummer sad

TanteRogge Wed 01-Aug-12 06:22:46

actually, having looked at a timetable, its less than an hour from Odawara to Shizuoka on the Kodama Shink, so I would be more than willing to travel to Shizuoka station!

<getting excited>

mirai Wed 01-Aug-12 06:31:29

Ahhh, mais oui! I should think of one for myself torch

Having just googled those places, I'd like to vote for Atami please, I love being by the sea me! And if it's nice I can take DH there for a weekend, perhaps! I think it's a splendid plan Tante smile

Oh well re the shoes, to be honest even with the duty they will probably still be cheaper than ones bought here! I remember once when we first got here DP went shoe shopping, we thought the ones he was looking at were quite expensive... then we found out the prices displayed were per shoe, so they were actually double the amount on the price tag! It was a right shock I tell ya.

mirai Wed 01-Aug-12 06:32:39

Oooh Cross post! TBH Shizuoka station would be wonderful for me (and still three hours on the train lol).

mirai Wed 01-Aug-12 06:33:06

<so easily swayed>

mirai Thu 02-Aug-12 07:02:18

Still no shoes even though tracking says they're out for delivery sad I want some pretty things!

PlasticFlamingo Fri 03-Aug-12 08:11:46


So did your shoes turn up? Are they fabulous? I wish I could wear fabulous shoes, but I fall over.

We are off camping around the 3rd week of August so it looks like I am only free on the 2nd Sept if we are talking weekends. I am starting a new job on the 1st!

Shizuoka is a great idea.

TanteRogge Sat 04-Aug-12 03:31:06

Shall we decide on Sept. 2nd?

Congrats on the new job, Plastic!

mirai Mon 06-Aug-12 05:35:31

Well, I waited in all day on Friday for the shoes, and nothing! Then DH came home with a big box, apparently the driver had tried my apartment and got no answer so took them to his school. hmm as I can guarantee no one rang the bell all day! Anyway yes both pairs are lovely (worth the 5500Y duty!) , and I also got a bag for our holiday next week, which I LOVE, so it all ended well.

Yes, let's do the 2nd! smile Do you know any other Japanese MNers that might be able to come along too or are they all quite far away from us?

Our little village had its matsuri at the weekend and a fantastic fireworks display, I was very impressed considering we are such a small remote place. Anyway lots of fun was had, we ended up downing sake & lime cordial cocktails while belting out some Oasis tracks with some of our neighbours, twas great! Had a very lazy day yesterday though!!

Plastic, congrats on the new job, what are you doing?

mirai Mon 20-Aug-12 02:30:57

Hi all, are we all busy with holidays? We've just come back from a great one... <sighs wistfully>

Do you think it's too late to arrange for the meetup now? smile

busynotbored Wed 22-Aug-12 10:18:30

sorry to gatecrash this read, was reading as I have a lovely japanese friend and would like to visit her someday, however the comment "snakes coming through cracks in door" has floored me !! I am petrified of snakes !! did they really come through ur door ??? shock

PlasticFlamingo Mon 27-Aug-12 08:25:31


I'm just back from holidays too, we were camping in the wilds of Shizuoka and then on to Mie for a few days. It was great fun, unfortunately the car broke on the way back home, turned into a bit of an epic journey, we got back at midnight, bleurgh.

All fixed now but also no more money in the bank, so sorry I can't do a meet up this month.sad

My DS spotted a snake when we were camping and the huge spiders came and had baths with us. They didn't get in but watched from the side of the bath.

Where did you go Mirai?

Busynotbored there are a lot of snakes in the countryside, also frogs, lizards, gekkos and a huge number of enormous bugs. My kids are all experts at handling them, which is handy, as I am a total wimpgrin

TanteRose Tue 28-Aug-12 05:35:19

Hi all

Time really has just flown - every hot and humid day just blends into the next one grin

OK, so meet-up postponed - this weekend might have been difficult for me too, come to think of it

No worries, we can organise an autumn meet-up, when the weather gets a bit cooler.

I had a blast at Summer Sonic a couple of weekends ago - it was very hot, but we mums managed to stay cool, drinking beer high up in the stands of the Chiba Marines baseball stadium, while our daughters danced the day away near the main stage, where Gym Class Heroes, Pitbull, Kesha and Rihanna were performing.

Late afternoon, we went inside the Makuhari hall to watch Garbage, Tears for Fears and New Order. Total class!

Anyway, school starts next Monday, and my two are finishing up homework and revising for tests.

They say its not going to rain for another two weeks - eek! September heat is always the worst, as everyone is fed up with it.

Keep cool smile

Pennybubbly Thu 06-Sep-12 06:57:15

[.........rushes in late]

Did I miss anything? I've been back to the UK for 6 weeks over the summer, but am now firmly planted back in Tokyo and sadly, back at the office again....

I've just caught up with the last few messages (CONGRATS Mirai!!) and seen that a meet-up was organised?
Did I miss it sad

If not, can I join, can I join [needy]

Pennybubbly Thu 06-Sep-12 06:58:21

OK, just read your last message properly now Tante...
Yay! So are we doing an autumnal meet?!

TanteRose Thu 06-Sep-12 07:05:41

<waves madly at Penny> grin

how was the UK? bet the atmosphere with the Olympics was brill smile

we MUST have a meet-up in the autumn - I am sure there are other MNers in Japan, lurking...

Pennybubbly Fri 07-Sep-12 07:31:57

[waves madly back] grin
[feels popular]

England was fab. Lots of family around, lots of friends around smile. Even the weather was good (if you don't count the first couple of rainy weeks, which I don't). Didn't want to come back (I never do), but am now out of my post-England-I-hate-Japan blue period and am doing better.
Olympic fever was really REALLY good. Am not interested at all in sports but I actually ended up with a sore throat on more than one occasion from shouting "GO ON!" at random UK competitors. Also from Yorkshire and of course, we did FABulously [preens] in terms of Gold medal percentages.... wink

Yes yes to meet up.
You're Kawasaki right? Do you work Monday to Friday?
Weekends work best for me (or else it has to be school holidays)...

mirai Fri 14-Sep-12 09:20:07

Hello Penny! Yes YES to the autumnal meet! Weekends work best for me too. grin

The first couple of weeks back at school have really flown by. I would love to have a long snooze this weekend but we have two days of festivals ahead of us! What are everyone's plans, anything interesting?

PlasticFlamingo, did you get my PM? I had a feeling that you might have headed towards my 'neck of the woods' on your holidays, it would have been funny if we were so near and yet so far!

Tante, hello, your sumer festivals sounded good. We have decided we definitely want to go to one next year - I have been to Glastonbury a couple of times and really miss it; I have a feeling Japanese music festivals may be mud-free occurrences but even so! smile

mirai Sun 30-Sep-12 07:53:44

Looks like the typhoon is about to hit land; stay safe everyone smile

PlasticFlamingo Mon 01-Oct-12 04:29:57

I hope everyone is ok after the typhoon, it wasn't too bad here, I think it had downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Kanto. Very sunny today.

Mirai we went to somewhere north of Hamamatsu, it was totally in the middle of nowhere. Really nice and relaxing, we spent the days splashing in the river and catching

TanteRose Mon 03-Dec-12 05:22:18

thought I would revive this thread smile

everyone OK?

bloody freezing here in Shonan - and its going to rain later too sad

we are staying in Japan for Christmas (DD has high school entrance exams in February so its juku all the way through the holidays...)

who knows, if its this cold now, maybe we'll have a white Christmas (never happened in the 21 years I have lived here, but you never know grin)

TanteRose Fri 07-Dec-12 09:42:24

Everyone OK? It was a Magnitude 7 and poor old Tohoku is under tsunami warnings again

All fine in Kanagawa - not too bad but loooonnggg!

I'm off out for evening - a couple of earthquakes, tsunami warning and cold weather can't stop this gaijin from hitting the town grin


mirai Fri 07-Dec-12 09:46:27

Hi Tante, I didn't see your 3rd December post but I just came on here to write a message! Glad you are ok. Was just a faint tremble here but didn't it go on for a long time? I so hope everyone up north is ok.

We have a very busy weekend ahead full of Christmas shopping and kampai-ing, so hope you have a good night! Might make some mulled wine now! grin

TanteRose Mon 31-Dec-12 15:13:17

Happy New Year to all MNers in Japan!! Here's hoping 2013 brings fun and happiness to Japan :-)

exexpat Mon 31-Dec-12 15:24:02

Akemashite omedetou! I'm not in Japan any more, but lots of people I follow on Twitter have been tweeting all through kouhaku, so I almost feel I was there for all the NYE stuff...

Hope it's a good, safe, uneventful year in Japan.

mirai Tue 08-Jan-13 03:06:25

Happy new year all! I am really suffering this week. We went away for Christmas and then decided to come home the day before we started work again. Bad idea, the jet lag is keeping us up all night and soooo tired in the day. I really want to start BIWI's low carb Bootcamp but right now I can't even think straight let alone be regimented in what I'm eating! And we still have lots of Christmas goodies left over smile

How was your Christmas Tante and Plastic?

highlandcoo Sat 02-Feb-13 14:32:36

Hi Japanese MNers and thanks to TanteRose for pointing out this thread smile

I am so excited to be travelling to Japan in March to visit my son who's a JET in Sendai. It's great that he's able to take a week off to have a holiday with me and my husband and after a couple of days visiting his school and looking round Sendai we're planning to head to Kyoto for three nights and then end up in Tokyo for four nights before flying back. I'm lucky to have a friend who lived in Tokyo for 5 years and has given me some great suggestions for what to do but more ideas from you all would be fantastic.

Yesterday I started my "Learn Japanese in six weeks" CD. A fairly optimistic title I fear grin and in reality we will probably find ourselves being lead around by our son but I'm giving it a go!

Look forward to hearing from you if there's anyone still there smile

highlandcoo Wed 20-Feb-13 16:28:01

bump <hopeful>

TanteRose Mon 11-Mar-13 05:46:09

Hi everyone!

Thought I would post a message today, the 2nd anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Remembering the 15,000 people who lost their lives in the terrible earthquake and tsunami, and the on-going tragedy of the Fukushima disaster sad

Sorry I didn't get back to this thread, highlandcoco - I guess you are in Sendai now, maybe? Hope you are having a lovely time with your son. Sendai is a great city.

mirai Tue 09-Apr-13 03:34:08

Ahhh I really need to sort out my threads I'm on so that when this gets bumped, I see it! You'd think I wouldn't miss new posts given I'm on here every day, but apparently so!

Anyway, highlandcoo, I hope you had a lovely time visiting your son. Tante, how was your spring holiday (if you had one)? Did you mange to fit in any hanami? smile

mirai Tue 09-Apr-13 03:36:26

Also, I meant to add, how are we feeling about the situation with Korea? Do you think they could/will actually fire a missile here??

TanteRose Tue 09-Apr-13 03:43:40

Hi mirai

I know, I find I have missed this thread, even after I recommend it to others (sorry, highlandco sad) hope your trip was fun!)

no spring hols for me - except that I didn't have to get up and make bentos for the DCs because THEY were on spring break, so it was nice.

back to the grindstone with bentos this week though...sigh...

DD started High school yesterday - so a new beginning for her! Excited and nervous in equal measures, I think

the cherry blossoms arrived so early and then we had various storms/rain on the weekends, so I didn't bother with hanami. I admire them on the way to and from work smile

Hope you are well - staying for another year?

we are off to the UK in the summer for a visit - not booked flights yet, but no doubt they will be expensive and then we get fewer pennies for our yen when we get there.

oh well - will be nice to see family and friends. Really hope it doesn't rain all summer in the UK like it did last year.

TanteRose Tue 09-Apr-13 03:46:33

oops missed your p.s. about North Korea

they would be mad to try and attack

but they are a mad bunch, so who knows?

not too worried, as any missiles will likely be intercepted, but it will be interesting how things turn out in NK - the Chinese and South Koreans will not be able to cope if the country collapses entirely, and millions of NK refugees flood over the borders.

just finished reading "Nothing to Envy" about life in NK - highly recommended

mirai Tue 09-Apr-13 03:56:25

Hi! grin Ahh, I saw that book recommended on the other thread. Think ill download it now - I have four hours to fill and my kindle is fully charged, so why not!

We missed the cherry blossom entirely as we went back home for a couple of weeks. It was amazing and we had a wonderful time, but yes I hear you on the exchange rate! Could have cried at the forex place. It's not very good news for us as we want to stay at least another year and send money home, obviously with Abenomics going the way it is I am getting worried about how much money we're losing every time we send some home sad

Anyway apart from that, yes things are going well, they seem to be happy with us at school, we recently moved house and feel a lot happier there so yes it's all good!

mirai Tue 09-Apr-13 03:58:30

Don't know why there are so many yes's there, clearly I am in an agreeable mood today!

BadLad Mon 15-Apr-13 02:56:41

Two very different experiences last week.

I dropped my wallet in town. This being Japan, I filed a report at the local Koban, hoping to get it back.

What actually happened was that someone found it, looked inside, found the alien registration card and takkyubinned it back to me, at their own expense!!!!

Inside was a little note. Please enjoy your time in Japan. Fantastic!

This morning I have been on the phone to a garbage company, wanting them to come and take my broken rice cooker away.

They want 8000 yen for it. 8 thousand fucking yen.

It really is astonishing here that you have more chance of getting your lost valuables back than anywhere else in the world, but the services industries will rob you blind without batting an eyelid.

BadLad Mon 15-Apr-13 02:57:44

last week = in the last week

TanteRose Mon 15-Apr-13 04:02:08

Badlad smile at the person who sent your wallet back

and angry at the garbage people

do you not have one of those trucks that drive slowly through the neighborhood, playing music and asking if you have any old denki-seihin? Bit like a rag and bone man... They will take things off your hands for free

completely different issue, but I am currently sad and angry because the festival in Tokyo in May has been cancelled, and I won't get to see Blur etc.

hope everyone else is fine smile

BadLad Mon 15-Apr-13 04:14:58

We do have one, but he turned his nose up at the rice cooker, which was broken, so not that surprising. When I lived in Tokyo, they also refused to take a TV I wanted rid of.

Oh well. Sorry to hear your Blur gig was cancelled. One of my friends saw Carter USM in the UK recently. Do you remember them? That got me digging out the old Brit Pop CDs.

Did you get to a hanami party? Unfortunately bad weather on both weekends put paid to mine.

mirai Mon 15-Apr-13 07:32:45

Badlad, isn't that wonderful? It reminds me of when DH and I were looking very lost at Tokyo train station and three people (who were all clearly busy and had places they needed to be) approached us to ask if we needed help. So nice smile

However, am raging on your behalf at the rice cooker incident! Our rubbish rules have changed recently too. We live in the middle of nowhere so buy an awful lot of goods online or in our nearest city a few hours away. For things like batteries the new rubbish rules say we have to return them to the store where we bought them! I don't think so!

Shame about your festival Tante, could you go to one of the others instead, or was it blur in particular who you wanted to see?

mirai Sun 21-Apr-13 08:28:32

Enkai tonight and I just. Can't. Be. Bothered!! Especially not with work as normal tomorrow morning!!

TanteRose Wed 24-Apr-13 02:48:02

did you go to the enkai, mirai?

bet it was fun once you got there smile

yeah, it was Blur I really wanted to see...and Primal Scream...

DD and I were going to go, and she had a few Japanese bands that she was looking forward to seeing so we are both gutted sad

Oh well

any plans for Golden Week (or at least, the two long Golden Weekends!)?

it is always so crowded at any touristy spots, so we usually don't bother going anywhere special.

We have spring cleaning to do - I am going to get the whole family to declutter (may well be an epic fail, with two teenagers...) confused

I am determined to reform my balcony, so we can actually sit out there grin

mirai Fri 10-May-13 03:59:16

I did go to the enkai and had a very sore head the next dy!

How was your GW? We went down to a local matsuri, it was good fun but I preferred our little village matsuri in September, much more of a party feeling, the one downtown seemed a little forced? Like they were doing it because it was tradition but not really getting into it, if that makes sense?

Have you been sitting on your newly cleaned balcony? smile I LOVE sitting outside in the sun. I found some cider on rakuten so have been making the most of the patio set and the sunshine!!

However it's not all been fun and games. I have a hugely important deadline on my final piece of work for me OU course. It's causing me a lot of stress and sleepless nights! Also as you can see from the "homesickness" thread I'm getting a little fed up of having no friends here. We're so remote I can't even go out and meet people and it's getting me down a bit sad

TanteRose Fri 10-May-13 04:07:45


sorry to hear you're feeling low sad

have you made any Japanese friends? I know its difficult to connect without the necessary language...

erm, about my grand balcony never happened - my excuse was that I needed to give it good scrub with lots of water, but because of the sunny days we had, my neighbour downstairs had all her washing out most days, so I couldn't splash around and ruin her futons etc.

Will wait until the next rainy day (tomorrow?) and set to with the bucket and brush grin

hope you meet the OU deadline - the final piece, eh? then it will be all over? Good luck!

OK, lunchtime here at work - am starving so will return later if you want to chat more smile

and MEET UP!
we need to plan one smile

mirai Fri 10-May-13 04:21:59

Well we thought before we moved here that we'd have this huge social circle made up of the Japanese English teachers, but they all work such long hours that we never see them out of work, let alone be able to invite them round for a glass of wine!

We do have one friend in the village, a chap close to DH's age. Every now and then his family come round for dinner or we go to theirs and it's a lovely night. I'd love us to see them a bit more often but we don't want to come across as needy so it's hard to judge, as to how often we should suggest a drink or what have you. He loves golf and DH likes to play too, they went together once and had a good time but he hasn't suggested it since! It's really hard to decipher if they're asking you because they really want our company or if they're just feeling generous towards the lonely foreigner! So hard.

Finally I do get on v well with one of my teacher colleagues, she's my age and so lovely! We invited her round for a nabe party which was nice but nothing more has been suggested... And again I don't want to push it as they'd say yes even if they meant no and I really don't want to come across as forceful!!

Yes I think the next rainy day will be tomorrow which is sooo annoying after all the lovely hot weather we've had this week! Big YES to the wine and meet up, Japan absolutely needs an MN local branch! grin Let's make it happen.

BedHanger Fri 10-May-13 04:45:02

Hello, can I crash your thread for a bit, mirai? In my defence, although I'm in the UK, my half-J children seem to currently be functioning on Japanese time and got me up at 4am <yawn>. Plus I did reply with useful info under a previous name back in 2011!

Where are you based? And how long are you planning on being there in total?

BedHanger Fri 10-May-13 04:50:24

PS, your friends are probably holding back for the same reasons you are - thinking you want your space and not wanting to appear pushy. I would plunge in a try and arrange something else with each. If you're offering them the chance to learn about your culture, speak English and act as a gateway to Japanese culture, tbh they'd probably be super keen to spend more time with you even if you didn't get on (which it sounds like you do!).

mirai Sat 25-May-13 03:52:07

Well after my wallowing, last week was a weekend of impromptu socialising, two BBQs and a karaoke trip which was fantastic! Maybe you were right BedHanger smile

Absolutely under the cosh this weekend though with a huge piece of work to do for the OU sad I really can't be bothered with it!

Sooo then how's about this meetup?! wine grin

Hooya Sun 26-May-13 12:08:40

Hello everyone - newbie to this thread which now thanks to mirai I actually know exists! smile

As a quick intro, I live in Tokyo with my DP, have been here about 2 years since I took the chance for my job to move me here (I work for a Japanese company). I'm not quite a mum yet but I will be in September - due our first baby which we're going to have in Tokyo!

There are many things I love love about living here and a few I really don't, but overall it's an incredible experience and I think we're some of the luckiest people to be able to do it!

Would be great to hear about other MNers living over here!

TanteRose Mon 27-May-13 02:05:15

Hiya Hooya grin

how exciting - a newbie!

Thanks, mirai, for alerting to me to this development on the thread - we really need a Japanese klaxon to alert us to any new posts...

anyhoo, welcome flowers

I live south of Tokyo near Kamakura - been here nearly 22 years shock

<realises just how ooolllld I am - sob>

I would love to chat more, but I am ridiculously busy at work, so will check in again this afternoon, hopefully.


mirai Tue 28-May-13 14:46:25

Hello hello!! I still haven't finished this piece yet, it's really driving me potty as I just can't seem to get my head round it. I will never understand why I am such a procrastinator, it's as though I like to make life hard for myself! Anyway I am just popping in to say hello and wave again to Hooya!! By the way do you know any other MNing expats we could rope into our gang?! wink

violetpie Wed 29-May-13 10:29:14

Hi mirai - thanks for showing me this thread! smile

Basically, as I said on the other thread, we have the option of relocating to various countries - one of these possibilities is Japan. The company that my husband would be working for is based in Tokyo - this is really exciting, but I have some worries.

Whilst looking for information regarding Japan, I stumbled across some websites discussing the increased risks of thyroid cancer and childhood leukaemia following exposure to radiation via food, etc following the Fukushima distaster. This, of course, has terrified me as we have children of various ages, including a toddler. The information I have found is so confusing and contradictory, I was hoping that someone better informed than us could advise? What are the risks and how can they be minimised?

I'd also really appreciate any insight into life in and around Tokyo, we don't really know anything about standards of living (what is a 'reasonable' salary?), housing, schools, taxes, etc. The recruiter wants to know if my husband would want his UK salary matching, but I think the cost of living is so much higher in and around Tokyo therefore we would need an increase to manage. Being utterly clueless re living costs we don't know what to say!

A move to Japan would certainly be the most drastic in terms of culture, distance from family, etc but it could be amazing. Any tips, information or advice is most welcome!

TanteRose Thu 30-May-13 02:58:51

Hi violetpie - glad you found us (mirai is being a star, catching all the Japan-related MNers and pointing them in the direction of this thread flowers)

not sure what to advise about your relocation - living costs are much much higher if you are coming over on the typical ex-pat package. I presume that is what you will be doing?

in that case, don't the company pay for housing/international schools etc.?

sorry, I am not ex-pat in that sense - I live as a local, so my salary is just "normal", my DCs go to local state schools etc. and we live in a normal flat (if you are in Tokyo, there are ex-pat areas with expensive housing in the centre of town, or near to international schools etc.)

Re: the Fukushima/radiation issue - well, I do know people who still avoid vegetables/food products that are produced in the north-east, but I buy veggies that are grown there...the authorities DO test the food, but some people just really don't trust the government (not surprising, really). There is no food that is grown in the contaminated area around the nuclear plant - that area is a complete no-mans-land.

You can choose to buy food only produced in west/south Japan - but of course, you have to be able to read the labels!

I personally think you don't really need to be too concerned if you are living in Tokyo.

violetpie Thu 30-May-13 10:49:00

Thank you TanteRose, your post was very helpful. In terms of the package, I'm not sure. The company is Japanese and the UK recruiter is currently away so we are without any advice there. Apparently, the company want to know what salary my husband would want to relocate - we don't know what to say without a clear idea of living costs or the potential relocation package on offer!

Without this info we don't know where we could afford to live or what we would do about the children's education. I have heard that with the industry my husband is in, Japanese salaries are around 1/2 the amount that an American company would pay, for example - so that's a bit of a concern. It's a delicate situation, we don"t want to scare them off by proposing a salary way over the industry standard, but neither do we want to suggest a figure that would leave us unable to cover the needs of our family.

That's interesting re the food situation, hopefully we would be able to figure out the labels if need be...

mirai Thu 30-May-13 11:13:35

Hi violet I'm a bit caught up IRL at the moment but I'll be with you shortly...! smile

violetpie Thu 30-May-13 22:53:52

Thanks mirai - no rush smile

So, it looks like we too would be living as locals once settled. Apparently, the apartments that employees are shown are around 100-200,000 yen a month. This seems quite cheap compared to what I've seen on various sites - maybe they are very small? We have 4 children and a lovely big house here so am worried about trading this in for a really cramped and not very nice flat.

Schooling also is a potential problem as there's no way we could afford high international school fees. I've seen that some expats home school or use Japanese schools, though I don't know how practical either of these options are. I think there's a cost attached to healthcare, also?

I am still worried about radiation, etc as well - Google is most certainly not helpful under these circumstances! We are a little less worried than before, however, thanks to TanteRose.

On the other hand, it would be a fantastic experience and terrific for DH's career...

Hooya Fri 31-May-13 11:31:08

Hello again and thanks for the welcome! Had one of those crazy weeks at work hence not being around MN for a bit!

I will ask around friends to see if any others are on MN to try to rope a few more in, good idea mirai!

Tante I am jealous you've been here so long - do you speak Japanese? I am blush that I speak pitifully little after a couple years here...

I am currently discovering that being pregnant and working Tokyo hours in financial services is not maybe the funnest sad - especially when the office temp hits 28 degrees! I love the heat usually but my preggo body seems less keen!

Violetpie I may be able to help a bit - though I am on an expat deal rather than living like a local. Base salaries are higher here in my sector and core living costs (rent, bills) from my experience in Tokyo are higher too (compared to London). My firm pays a kind of adjustment to get my UK salary up to a decent level for Tokyo - and it's a good 20% hike in addition to them covering our apartment, so works out at a lot more in total. You should also check about things like annual leave (many people at least in my sector get / take hardly any). I find general living costs like food etc similar or a bit higher than London, worse than HK where I have also lived. The rents you've been quoted seem impossibly low for Tokyo, even for a 1-bed if it's central, and depending on your sector you might expect more in the way of relocation package re schooling etc. Then there are costs like shipping which really you'd want to try to get the employer to pay for if possible grin

I never worry about radiation at all, have not seen any evidence to back it up, and I know my firm would probably fly the expats out if there were any real evidence as they don't want the liability! I moved here a month after the big earthquake and despite a lot of scaremongering have never regretted it or had any problems smile

Maybe pm me if you want some more specific info to avoid me rambling away on here!

Right, I am off in search of food before more work...

admylin Fri 31-May-13 11:52:28

Hi all, can I just ask a question about Tokyo? Dh is there now at a conference and is meant to be flying back to London tomorrow morning but the airport website is saying his flight is cancelled confused Is the weather really bad or something? No idea why.

Hooya Fri 31-May-13 11:55:58

admylin not that I know of, it was lovely and sunny today smile hope he gets back soon!

admylin Fri 31-May-13 11:59:49

OK thanks Hooya, well that's reassuring I suppose! I don't suppose British Airways/Japan Airlines have gone bankrupt either so we'll just have to sit it out and see when he gets back.

violetpie Sat 01-Jun-13 13:10:07

Well, it seems that we have the weekend to calculate a salary that DH be happy to accept. I guess we need to consider rent, utilities, groceries, healthcare (and education as a separate issue). Not an easy task as we don't have a clue how much average electricity and gas bills are nor the cost of groceries for a family of 6 in Tokyo. I think we'd have income tax to pay plus about another 10% in local taxes, is that correct?

I think the relocation package would be very basic; they don't normally employ Westerners so would probably just be things like plane tickets, etc. I don't think Japanese salaries in his sector match up to those paid elsewhere, which makes things even more complex. Everything seems so terribly expensive and it looks like our standard of living would drop massively. The apartments I've seen so far at around their suggested 200,000 yen mark are rather, um, grotty and we have such a lovely house here...

It looks like it would be a massive struggle financially, but on the other hand, brilliant for DH's career. Essentially, he's in the Arts and the company is extremely prestigious - think being a ballet dancer and having Rudolf Nureyev interested (DH isn't a dancer by the way, but it was the closest analogy I can think of at the mo!).

This seems like an impossible task and I am very confused and also grin having just compared his occupation to that of a ballerina!

Hooya Sun 02-Jun-13 01:37:12

voilet from my experience any decent recruiter / headhunter should be providing information on local salaries, standards etc and not just leaving it up to you. If he's recruiting for that market he should have a view (my DP is a recruiter and I've worked with a few). Recruiters make their money from placing candidates with their clients, so it's their job to get the candidate on board and that would include having a clue about salaries for expats in the target market.

If it's central Tokyo, the housing budget you've mentioned would probably get a 1 bed place at the most, hardly enough for a big family! And note most places require 2 or 3 months deposit plus another months' 'key money' so if paying those upfront there will be a big initial cost. No direct experience as we use a firm which doesn't charge them, but I have anecdotally heard it is rare to get the deposit back...

Hope that helps and you get some more useful info from the company and / or the recruiter!

mirai Sun 02-Jun-13 02:49:11

Hi Violet, Real life has freed me from its clutches now so I wrote thre below the other day, some of it's already been mentioned and I'm sure some of it is different for others, it's just a few things that came to me! Sorry for going on, it it quite long!! smile


Ok here’s few things off the top of my head…

Taxes – Income tax is very, very low (something like 5%), but don’t be fooled as after your first year here you get stung for local and residents’ tax which is 10-15% of salary. I didn’t realise this and am gutted! If however you are not working then I am not sure how your personal tax will be calculated, you might be able to ‘count’ on your DH’s payment. However make sure DH understands how much it is liable to be from year 2 onwards as he’s in for big shock otherwise! sad

Pension – I’m not sure what % of salary it is, but for your first year or so you can be granted a pension exemption or reduction. I’m currently paying 25% which will go up later this year to the full 100%. However, interestingly, once you leave Japan for good you can claim back up to three years of pension payments.. so in a way it’s just like enforced saving!

The health system – I pay about £50/month towards it (but my salary is definitely not huge so someone with a larger salary probably pays more), which then covers me for 70% payment of all medicines and doctor’s visits. In ‘my’ Japan, there are no GPs, all doctors work out of hospitals so even if you want something just for a sniffle or a sprain you go to hospital for it (and take half a day’s leave while I wait to be seen!). However in Tokyo you might find something more resembling a GP system? A visit and some medicines generally set me back around 2-5,000 Y (£13-50), depending on how many medicines I get… DH has an insurance scheme that will cover that extra 30% but that’s arranged through his employer; I’m not eligible for it. Your DH might be able to find something similar. I find OTC meds are generally weak and expensive (a pack of paracetamol, half UK strength, about £8!!) So I make great use of echemist which is VAT free and free delivery. I’d be lost without it. I THINK kids get 100% free healthcare til either 15 or 18 but Tante would have to confirm…

Are you planning any more children? Antenatal care and birth is not ‘free’ as such here, instead I am told you pay around 2-3,000Y (£13-19) for each antenatal appointment (of which there are many!), the birth itself costs around 300,000Y which you must pay to the hospital yourself. However, later, your local ward office will then reimburse you about the same amount so you shouldn't be too out of pocket, but it is something to take into account. Hooya is your expert on this one (and I'm hoping to be one day soon haha!)

Day to day life - I find bureaucracy is an absolute nightmare here, (although I’m aware from another thread Tante feels the opposite! grin ). IME, there’s no concept of using common sense here, or making exceptions to the rule. Everything must be done by the book no matter how time consuming or arbitrary… hopefully your DH’s work will be able to help with all the admin and forms.

Food – I have found to be very expensive, fresh fruit and veg costs a fortune (six satsumas £5 for me, although again I think Tante may not feel the same!). However I am nowhere near a major city so I am sure you’ll be able to find bargains! There are a few online ‘superstores’ (based in Japan) where you can buy more western food and things from Costco in bulk, which I highly recommend.

OK gonna stop wittering now. I could go on for a few more pages (writing this in Word!) but you might fall asleep! Afraid I can’t help with schools etc but I truly think your kids would have an absolute ball here, the experience is just amazing, the Japanese are v friendly and accommodating towards kids and there’s so much for them to do here. And it sounds like an opportunity your DH can't refuse! Oh one more thing, if you can, see if you can get yearly flights home included as part of your package. It’s hard to believe but flights originating in Japan can be over twice the price of the same flight just coming in a different direction. I’ve paid £1,300 for a return to the UK yet the very same flight, same day, just going in the opposite direction, was only £500 return. Broke my heart but what can you do?

Anyway if you do come you can join our MN meetup yaaaay!!! wine grin

mirai Sun 02-Jun-13 02:51:58

Bills - I have found water to be very cheap (2,500Y/mo); gas varies with the season (more expensive in winter); electricity also varies - high in winter when you have your heaters on (no central heating in Japan!) and again in summer for aircons, and lower in the spring and autumn (only about 3,500Y/mo in spring!) There's only two of us but I'd say we're very heavy users of electricity! smile

TanteRose Sun 02-Jun-13 09:16:51

Sorry, have finally got a moment to post...

How old are your children, violet?

I don't want to be a downer, but I am not sure you are going to manage to have anywhere NEAR the lifestyle you are used to, on a local salary.
If it is a typical Japanese company, your DH will be expected to work all hours too, and won't be much help on a daily basis.

As mirai says, healthcare for children is free (in Tokyo) up to the end of compulsory education (age 15). But you may want have a doctor who speaks English, and some of those are based at international clinics which don't take national health insurance.

Utilities will be more expensive for a family of 6 - we pay on average about 10,000 yen each for gas, electric and water for a month. In the summer and winter, rates are much more. And your family will need the air con much more than locals, who will be used to 38 degrees and 90% humidity. You will be wanting to use the air con 24 hours a day! and especially in Tokyo, where you won't get much "fresh" air if you open the windows.

About groceries, we spend about 100,000 on food/household items a month for 4 of us. We don't eat out very much, and critically, we eat mainly Japanese food. Costco etc. are good options if you want Western food, but you will need a car to get there, and you will need a huge fridge/freezer to keep everything in.

Your housing costs will be more like 300,000 a month, if you want even close to what you are used to.

I will rally the other Japan-based MNers and see if they have any other comments

Gaah, I really don't want to sound so negative but you will have to really think carefully.
Of course, if you are ready for an adventure, it may be fine. After all, Tokyo and Japan are fully functioning, safe, clean places, with amazing food and culture, great transport systems, friendly people etc.

HOpe you can negotiate a good package!

violetpie Sun 02-Jun-13 16:26:29

Thanks everyone for taking the time to help, it's much appreciated.

Hooya, the recruiter has just said that he knows nothing about Japanese salaries and is unable to help in that area - I think he feels that DH's UK (non-London) salary should cover costs in Tokyo as it's well above average for here, etc. Obviously, it isn't going to go anywhere near covering Japanese costs and I am really worried about the enormous drop in our standard of living if we go ahead.

It's very difficult as the company are not experienced in relocating Westerners so we have no idea what type of figures they have in mind. It's pretty much exclusively Japanese speaking so DH would have to have language tuition - thus adding another layer of complexity into the mix!

TanteRose - the children are 17, 15 and 10 years old plus a toddler. Education is a major concern for the older ones. They are up for an adventure, but I do worry about moving and living in grotty conditions and struggling financially - there are so many other things to worry about already when it comes to making such a massive move!

mirai - definitely up for a MN meetup grin

Well, we've sent a rough figure to the recruiter so we shall see. I think he will think it's really high, but, in all honesty, I think it is a bit low given the cost of everything and would see us in very cramped and basic conditions. By the way, do apartments usually have space for washing machines, etc - 4 children and no washing machine sounds simply dreadful...

TanteRose Mon 03-Jun-13 01:41:31

yes, everyone has a washing machine - not many have tumble driers but you will need one with 4 DCs in Tokyo!

well, your older children will not be able to go to regular state schools - it will be impossible for them, language-wise.
Quite a few of the international schools follow the International Baccalaureate, which I guess your children are not doing?
the British School Tokyo is the only school following the UK curriculum but it is unaffordable for most people unless the company is paying. It costs about 710,000 yen (4,500 sterling) a term.

I could only suggest homeschooling for your older children - your toddler would be able to go to a Japanese kindergarten and would be the most fluent Japanese speaker out of all of you within a few months grin

the only other thing I can suggest is that your DH comes out by himself and you and the DCs come out for holidays etc.

let us know what happens with negotiations smile

Pennybubbly Mon 03-Jun-13 06:22:30

Hi violetpie!
Another long-term Tokyo-dweller here. I can pretty much echo what the others, especially TanteRose (waves to her) has said.
Send me a PM if you want any more info on schools - I may be able to give you some insight into things.
Good luck with your decision - it sounds like a tough one to make!

TanteRose Mon 03-Jun-13 07:12:50

thanks Pennyb smile

snowqu33n Tue 04-Jun-13 10:13:52

Hello, I live in Hokkaido, and been here over 5 years now. Just got married to a Japanese chap and moving house soon so it's going to be a busy year! If all goes well, our baby is due just before Christmas.
Nice to know there are some Mumsnetters over here!
Yoroshiku ne.

violetpie Tue 04-Jun-13 12:32:28

Thanks everyone, you've all been so kind and helpful. TanteRose - that's good news re washing machines. I never saw any on the photos of apartments and I was starting to worry!

Well, we sent the figure off that we deemed fair. I think the recruiter was rather surprised when DH explained the cost of living and conceded that maybe asking for less than DH is currently paid would perhaps be unwise...

Education does seem to be a major issue, I'm thinking distance learning could maybe be a way around this? My daughter is quite self motivated, but the boys may need some, ahem, encouragement. I did suggest to DH that he could go on his own, but that idea went down like a lead balloon.

The more I've read about life in Japan and the culture and people, the more exciting and amazing it looks. Unfortunately, after clicking on some links, I've now stumbled across some more horrible info re radiation - especially Strontium 90 that accumulates in the bones and teeth of children potentially causing cancer and that it isn't being tested for in food. Of course, I am now completely freaked out again. Having witnessed a child dying from bone cancer in recent years, it is something that is of particular concern and scares me terribly. The food labels look, um, rather tricky to read. Does it take very long to be able to decipher them?

Mind you, maybe they've been so stunned by DH's request for a salary that we can actually live on that our anxieties re moving are all academic now anyway grin

TanteRose Wed 05-Jun-13 03:45:32

hi snowqu33n

great that you found this thread - the more, the merrier smile

not sure if you know about MIJ (Married in Japan) - its a Yahoo group that I moderate, for foreign women in a relationship with Japanese men. Click on Join this Group at the link below (remember to send the second detailed form to me as per the instructions...)

<here ends the advertising section grin>

violetpie there has been a new UN report on the radiation situation

I don't think you have to worry too much, but obviously, only you can decide smile

any news on whether the company has accepted your whopping salary request? grin

violetpie Thu 06-Jun-13 18:43:04

TanteRose, not heard yet, though they usually take a while to respond. However, I do imagine them all sitting there open mouthed, in stunned silence, since they got the email grin

mirai Mon 10-Jun-13 08:20:26

Hi snow, Hokkaido hey?! How did you end up there? DH and I will be coming up to your neck of the woods for our winter break, all being well. In fact I was trying to look at some hotels earlier! Is it true Hokkaido is the land of delicious cheap cheese and dairy fudge?! grin

violet any news from the recruiter yet?

Hooya how exciting that we now have two babies due on this thread! I'm always available for babysitting duties ya know!! We were/are supposed to TTC later this summer but as it looms I'm feeling quite nervous about the whole idea, don't know if that's normal!?

Now, please tell me we are going to meet and have some wine soon? I really could do with some tonight actually but feel that might be a bit short notice for everyone!!

snowqu33n Mon 10-Jun-13 11:55:49

Hi there, thanks for the responses. I wanted to come to Hokkaido so that I could snowboard in my free time and I have definitely enjoyed the powder snow. If anyone wants to know anything about ski or snowboarding in Hokkaido then by all means ask away.
There is plenty of local cheese in Hokkaido, havent seen any fudge but there is what they call "nama caramel" which is similar.
I ve only really lived in Hokkaido since I came here so I cant compare, I love it especially for snowboarding, and in summer too you can get out in the mountains and hike, camp etc. I am from Scotland so I need lots of fresh air!

BadLad Tue 11-Jun-13 02:17:26

Anyone got any tales of bizarre (to us) but trivial stuff that surprised them in their Japanese - non-Japanese marriage?

On Sunday I was handed a bit of paper by my mother-in-law. It was from the shrine, and had a few characters I couldn't make out (mostly due to the calligraphic writing) plus the one for health. Therefore it was a charm for health for the forthcoming year.

I was told to wipe it all over my body (over my clothes) from head to foot. When I couldn't reach round to my back, she took it off me and did the bit in middle, as if she were washing my back in the bath.

Anyway, I'll see if it worked.

I think one of my favourite maddening cross-cultural storied is from gaijinpot. A lady who was looking for a house to buy with her Japanese husband found a very nice one, but had to miss out when her mother-in-law consulted a fortune teller and was told that they shouldn't buy a house for eight months!

TanteRose Tue 18-Jun-13 06:08:09

How are you feeling, BadLad? full of vim and vigour, after a rub-down from your Ma-in-Law? grin

I like the incense burners outside shrines, where you are supposed to waft the smoke over the part of your body which you want to cure.

I only have a FIL (MIL died 14 years ago). He is 94 and fought in China.
He is very practical and pragmatic, but as the eldest son of his clan, he gives loads of money to the temple where his (our?) family grave is. He then says he has no money, and walks everywhere (he does use his free bus pass, but never gets taxis).

He is VERY healthy!

mirai Tue 18-Jun-13 06:10:00

Snow queen, we have been looking at a gorgeous hotel near Niseko, log fire and everything, it's a bit more than we were hoping to spend but I'm hoping to jiggle things around a bit! The caramel sounds delicious so i'll definitely keep my eye open for that!

BadLad, how's your health been this past week?! grin

Summer has really arrived in our little piece of Japan, not just the humidity but in the last week alone we've come across snakes and monkeys in the road when we walk up to our village supermarket, and last night I was on spray and tissue duty for the mukade in the loo! And we're not even out of June yet!! smile

TanteRose Tue 18-Jun-13 06:10:04

sorry, what I was trying to say, is that he would have no truck with "fortune tellers".

My DH is the same - he never pays for a 100 yen lucky fortune at New Years or anything like that.

TanteRose Tue 18-Jun-13 06:10:34

mirai - cross post grin !!

TanteRose Tue 18-Jun-13 06:11:46

I know - the weather is weird

we are due for another typhoon tomorrow confused

very humid here today

mirai Tue 18-Jun-13 07:24:42

Yikes I hadn't heard about that one. Typhoons usually = closed railway line here, which wouldn't be good for me!!

I love the lucky fortunes and am especially happy when they have them in English grin

Violetpie are you still there? Am dying to know if the recruiter got back to you mostly to find out whether we will have another face for our summer wine gathering which still needs to be arranged!! wine grin

violetpie Tue 18-Jun-13 22:12:33

Hi Mirai - yes, still here. Not heard back yet. The recruiter has chased them up, but it's an especially busy time of year for DH's industry so it's delayed things a bit. We should hear their salary figure soon though - anybody want to place bets as to how wide the chasm between our figure and what they have in mind is? grin

mirai Wed 19-Jun-13 06:27:07

3 million grin

violetpie Thu 20-Jun-13 12:01:38

Spot on mirai grin. Just heard back - we'll have to see if we could manage on their figure. We provided quite a cautious figure so I'm not sure if their's is do-able. Also DH has just been given a pay rise where he is so the figure the Japanese company have suggested is up to £15000 lower than his UK salary. Will have to have a good think about it.

BadLad Sun 23-Jun-13 08:35:58

My health is fine, thank you all for asking, although I'm sorry to say that the charm doesn't seem to cure hangovers.

Nice bright weekend here, and I will escape to the UK for some of July and August. No humidity, sun until 10pm ish - bliss.

Anyone else going back this summer?

mirai Mon 08-Jul-13 06:27:24

I went back for a few days last month, it was a little crazy and whirlwind but so much fun! The journey isn't so bad, for me it's the cost... If tickets weren't 190k return I think I'd go back for long weekends more often!

OK I really need some etiquette advice from you other residents! The long story short is that two people have invited themselves round to mine and DH's house, for a BBQ... And I don't know what to say. They are not friends as such, acquaintances really and I wouldn't be comfortable or able to relax if they did come round.

One person said "X and I would like to come to your house for a BBQ so can you get in touch with her please", I was caught on the spot and vague in my reply, then the other person emailed me, "Did X mention about a BBQ at your place? We want to visit your house."

How on earth do I reply? Obviously in the UK it's not the done thing to invite yourself round to someone's house (much less to stipulate the fact you want catering with an expensive BBQ!!), I never thought I'd have this problem in Japan?!? Help!!! shock

mirai Tue 09-Jul-13 02:28:35

Bumping, additional information is that the people in question are sort of my employers so that adds another later to the whole thing!!

mirai Tue 09-Jul-13 02:30:21

Layer, not later!

BadLad Tue 09-Jul-13 02:34:53

That is bizarre if they are Japanese. Usually it's the other way round - a Japanese person says something along the lines of "come round some time" for the sake of being polite and is later surprised when the foreigner turns up on their doorstep having taken it literally.

Are your sure your partner hasn't issued an invitation to them?

If not, then you'll have to handle it as you would in the UK. Something like "we haven't any definite plans to hold a barbeque at the moment, but we'll let you know if and when we do".

If they're insistent on seeing your house, they're probably nosey about what foreign touches you have in your home, and to what extent you do Japanese things at home. Many Japanese people are fascinated by foreign couples and mixed marriages (I assume from your first post, your partner isn't Japanese).

Meanwhile, you could always go out to an izakaya and karaoke, to show them that it isn't anything personal, although if you do the latter, you might have to suffer endless enka songs if they are 50ish or older.

BadLad Tue 09-Jul-13 02:36:24

And that is hellishly expensive for plane tickets. Mine cost 100,000, leaving next week. The downside is not going direct.

Anyway, hope the above post helps.

mirai Wed 10-Jul-13 05:03:55

Thanks BadLad, that reply is perfect, exactly what I was looking for. They are Japanese so that's why I was so shocked! DH has never met them so the idea didn't come from them. It's just all a bit bizarre!

Afraid to say I am feeling a bit shit today. We've all seen and read the news reports of Japanese teachers and coaches being abusive with the kids and I saw it with my own eyes today sad. A (small for his age) 12 year old kid being pushed and shoved around the staff room by the baseball coach. He was crying his eyes out. I was so upset I went to the loos and cried. When I came back the other teachers were laughing with the coach about what had happened. Poor kid. This past week I have been getting pissed off with Japan for various reasons but this morning was just the icing on the cake.

A teacher I'm friendly with explained it by saying the boy had been lying and that the baseball coach "ideally" would have slapped him but he knew that "slapping was not good", so clearly shoving him hard multiple times in the chest is alright then!! God don't even know why I'm posting, just want to get it off my chest, I wish I had never seen it. sad sad sad

mirai Wed 17-Jul-13 01:07:15

Back at the horrible school again today. Hating it. I swear I will never speak to or even look at that teacher again.

If anyone fancies organising a MN meet up to take my mind off it today then that would be good! grin wine

BadLad Wed 17-Jul-13 04:28:27

There is no middle ground regarding discipline of children in Japan. It either takes the form of beating the shit out of them, or pleading with them to stop doing whatever it is they're doing wrong.

Not always, but I have seen both extremes far too often.

apibeeman Thu 25-Jul-13 08:58:35

I spent two years there and loved every minute. The food, takes a bit of getting used to but very soon get to love it. Work was fantastic, everybody so nice and polite.
Just don't mention the war, can easily get into something you wish you had never started. Take your Kindle with you or better still buy one out there, all the electronic things are much cheaper and more up to date out there, if you are not going to be working make sure you have plenty to do, there are lots of nice places to visit. Wish I was going back.

ForgetfulNameChanger Thu 25-Jul-13 21:00:37

Hi everyone! I posted this in chat but was advised that posting here might be a good idea too! smile

I lived in Japan for four months a couple of years back and came home for Christmas with the plan to return in the new year but I got ill and couldn't go back. At the time my mind wasn't on Japan or any of my obligations I'd left there so I never chased up any loose ends. I just realised the other day that I had a 12 month phone contract for a mobile and obviously, the phone stayed with me in the UK and I didn't pay for the last eight months. Does this mean I have an outstanding debt over there? Will this affect any holidays or opportunities of living there in the future? Will I be banned from Japan? How can I fix it?

Thanks smile

mirai Fri 26-Jul-13 12:43:44

Hi forgetful!

Which phone company were you with? The reason I ask is in all my research both before and since moving to Japan, I found one year contracts impossible to find. They were all two year ones. So, if you're sure it wasnt a 2 year one the. you might have actually had a prepay plan or something like that, in which case you should be fine.

If it was the case that you did have money owing, would you be prepared/able to pay it back, eg using a debit card over the phone? The phone companies tend to have English speaking helplines so that could be one option.

I don't know if/how any information about unpaid bills is passed to the authorities here; I know it would e a problem if you had money owing for pension or healthcare for example but I'm not sure about debts to private companies. First though I'd find out exactly if you do have money owing and how much, and then take it from there. I'm on hols at the mo but happy to do some research on your behalf when I'm back next week!

ForgetfulNameChanger Fri 26-Jul-13 15:11:20

Hi mirai!

Oh dear, that two year contract does ring a bell! I vaguely remember us all discussing how we would pay off the final year of it if we had returned to the UK. Oh no sad

I think we were with Softbank. I don't have the money to pay them back at the moment but want to because its a horrible feeling having this potential mystery debt hanging over me abroad haha! Thank you for the advice, I didn't think about actually contacting them doh! I will look into whether they have an English line and see if I can speak to someone. If its only Japanese, I'm buggered for now as I can only remember the basics eek!

Hopefully if I get it sorted I won't be banned or blacklisted in someway. I would love to take dd there when she is older so will be gutted if my bad memory has fudged that sad thank you for offering to do research for me smile that's really kind. Hope you are enjoying your hols!

mirai Sat 27-Jul-13 04:45:46

SoftBank do have an English line and when we racked up loads on a foreign holiday they were very good to us and wrote off most of the bill! So you might get lucky. I'll be back in a few days so let us know how you get on!!

mirai Sat 27-Jul-13 04:47:16

I would like to point out we never used our phones on the hol, we had them turned on but all data and 3G etc was turned off... But it turns out they charge you £20 a day just to connect to a foreign network even if nary a call or text is sent or received!! shock

BadLad Wed 31-Jul-13 16:02:11

I don't know if/how any information about unpaid bills is passed to the authorities here

For mobile phones, it isn't (touches wood).

When I finished with docomo, they sent me a final bill, which I paid, although it was unusually low. Then a couple of months later, they sent a new bill for the difference, which I paid reluctantly.

Then they sent me a bill for late payment, on the grounds that I was two months late settling my bill

And about five reminders when I ignored the late payment demand.

Two years on, they seem to have given up.

mirai Fri 02-Aug-13 10:17:19

Let's enkai! wine

Who's up for a meet in August??

Hooya Sun 04-Aug-13 11:42:36

Hello everyone, thought I'd say hi after mirai kindly reminded me about this thread!

I've been very busy as I'm now 34 weeks pregnant grin and finishing work in 3 weeks so just working like a crazy person and sweltering in the Tokyo summer!

Went to Shimoda for the last couple of days and so amused at Japanese beach behaviour! They are so prepared, everyone rocks up with a tent to protect them from the sun, several camp chairs, a massive cool box full of drinks, huge picnic, etc etc smile

Sorry I can't help re mobile phone contracts, I only just finally got one 6 months ago having lived here a couple years!

I'd be up for a meetup subject to timings with work and babyHooya!

mirai Sat 31-Aug-13 06:35:15

Ahhh the end of the summer holidays, how quickly then went! I am looking forward to some cooler weather though, without a doubt.

Tante, you must be back from the uk now, how was it, did you have fun?

Hooya hello, you must have just finished work now, congratulations! I know what you mean about the rganised fun, we went to a music festival a few weeks ago, NOTHING LIKE UK festivals, everything was so organised it took the fun out of it a little bit. Still had a good time though smile

mirai Mon 09-Sep-13 02:47:53

Hmm does anyone know how to read my smear test results? I tried sending them to the organisation that helped me book the smear in the first place but they said they are not able/allowed to translate the results as that`s classed as giving a diagnosis which can only be done by a physician hmm . There are six boxes and five end with `nashi` which I`m guessing is good, but we can`t work out the kanji for the other one. Any tips? smile

mirai Fri 13-Sep-13 07:00:48

Smear test resulted translated and all is good.

Today I just feel so lonely. If DH said "let's go back home" today, I would say yes. :'(

wispaxmas Sat 14-Sep-13 17:23:39

I know the question was asked ages ago, but I lived in Japan from 2008-2010 and apparently had a contract for a USB Internet stick, even though I had though it was 18 months, apparently it was automatically extended at the end because I ticked some sort of box. Anyways, there were a few months outstanding and they tried to charge it to my expired credit card, and I had to dispute it. I disputed it with the credit card company and the charges were cancelled because the company couldn't prove they should have been charging me, as I had written to them to cancel the damn thing.

I know it's not quite the same thing, but I don't think it can effect you legally when returning to Japan!

(Sorry to pop in like this, but also I want to say that I completely understand the loneliness, mirai. Being a foreigner in a place like Japan can be very difficult, and sometimes even with all the support of a tightly knit expat community you just want to go home. It's why I went back to Canada in 2010!)

mirai Sun 22-Sep-13 01:19:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mirai Tue 15-Oct-13 06:03:18

So the typhoon is on its way! Effects already being felt here, I was able to petition to leave work early and rather surprisingly succeeded! However they are positive the school is going to be open and running tomorrow; though I'm not sure the same will be said for our local train line! Oh well, will have to wait and see.

Hope you all take care of yourselves, my advice is to stock up on some biscuits and hot chocolate! (today was the first day I felt cold getting out of the shower!)

mirai Fri 20-Dec-13 02:03:49

Hello hello, I wonder if anyone is still reading? And if our expecting cohort have now safely had their DCs?

I wondered if anyone could advise on wedding etiquette. We have been invited to a colleague's wedding and had spent around £60 on a gift (plus of course the usual expense of hotels and travel etc).

Anyway DH's other colleague came up to him yesterday and told him we actually have to give money, around 60,000 yen, anything less would rude.

We are astonished!!! That's around £370 and quite apart from not actually having that kind of money to spare, was the colleague telling the truth? I thought our gift would be more than adequate but now we are panicking.


caramelwaffle Fri 20-Dec-13 02:28:14

Hello Mirai
Apologies. Am not in Japan, am in Uk.

£370 sounds like a lot in any culture!

mirai Fri 20-Dec-13 02:49:14

Hi caramel wow it must be early there now!

Yes, it is a huge expense and I really don't know what to do. Apparently the tradition is that the bride and groom only take half your money and spend the other half on a gift which they then give back to you. I don't want to give someone nearly £200 to buy me a random present!

I just don't know whether to stick with the present as originally planned (and blame our foreignness for not knowing the culture), or what. DH is now saying not giving the money will cause a bad feeling in the office and his contract may not be renewed. He does like to catastrophically hmm grin

mirai Fri 20-Dec-13 02:50:18

Catastrophise!!!! I hate this bloody phone.

caramelwaffle Fri 20-Dec-13 23:09:22

Hello again.
Have you decided what to do?

TanteRose Tue 11-Mar-14 05:46:05

[[ Three years ago today, this hour, devastation struck the coast of north east Japan.

15,884 people lost their lives, and three years later, 2636 people are still unaccounted for, their bodies still not returned to their families.

there are also still 270,000 evacuees, who cannot return to their homes, and workers are still battling to keep the Fukushima nuclear reactor under control.

The suffering continues

Thinking about all those who lost their lives...and all those who continue bravely with their lives even under the most trying circumstances.

Never forgotten.

TanteRose Tue 11-Mar-14 05:48:49
TanteRose Tue 11-Mar-14 14:16:13

Remembering 3.11

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