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Living in Japan

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

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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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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....

TheSnickeringFox Thu 02-Jun-11 00:06:14

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

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TheSnickeringFox Thu 02-Jun-11 09:18:36

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

[natsukashii emoticon]

JarethTheGoblinKing Sun 05-Jun-11 00:17:30

Sorry to crash, but what is JET?

JarethTheGoblinKing Sun 05-Jun-11 00:43:52

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.

JarethTheGoblinKing Sun 05-Jun-11 01:04:47

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

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