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

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!

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