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 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!!

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