Whats it like living in japan?

Japanese popular culture.
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scottpilgrim45
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Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby scottpilgrim45 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:22 am

I'm 16 and would like to move to japan later in life. Whats it like there? are the people nice? and is there as much cool computer and video game gear there as people say there is? :D :D :D :D :D :D :D - thanks!
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby Jack Luminous » Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:20 am

A good friend of mine is married to a pretty japanese girl. He loves Japan, everything japanese and speaks japanese very fluently (took him 10 years to get there). He often travels over there with his wife to visit her family. He told me it would be impossible for him to live full-time in Japan because it is very difficult (if not impossible) for a stranger to fully integrate in japanese society. They both choose to live in France, much easier. I'm not speaking from personal experience though, only heresay. I'm curious to hear about other experiences ! :lol:
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby kubatyszko » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:15 pm

I lived in Tokyo in 2006-2016, I was 26 when I was offered a 1-year internship in Tokyo, ended up getting a full-time job and almost 10 years decided it was time to move on.
Japan is interesting, couple points:

1) Samurai's, Geishas and Yakuza don't walk on the streets.

2) The language is not difficult, but the level of the language one needs to speak to be understood is pretty high. In English you could say "I eat" and
people would figure out that you might want to eat, but in Japanese you'd have to say the full sentence with all the details and stuff in the right places, otherwise it "doesn't match the pattern" and doesn't work.

3) It's convenient, sometimes too convenient, everything works, everything is on time. Things don't just break. Over 10 years not a single time I had to call any repairs nor "handymen" for example.

4) Japanese are slowly opening towards foreigners (very slowly), but what I found is that you're more likely to find a 60-year old grandpa speaking English
than a 20-year old person.

5) As a foreigner, it was actually much more convenient for me NOT to be fluent in the language - this way I could always get away with something, or ignoring the rules. If you're fluent they'd also expect you to behave and conform to the society...

6) Don't ask for permission - just do it and ask for forgiveness - usually the answer is no, but when you just do it, as a foreigner you get a lot of leeway.

7) DO NOT even think of working for traditional Japanese company - you'd have to conform to the stupid rules and stuff, if you're thinking of moving to Japan the easiest thing for foreigners is to become English teachers (but these days you'd need to be be native speaker).

8) City vs countryside are extremely different, Tokyo is simply a concrete jungle, not that different from any other major city (well except reliable transport and safety). In countryside people are actually nice and kind. In Tokyo - i've never even exchanged a single word with any of my neighbors.

9) Owning a car is pointless (especially in Tokyo) and expensive, getting a license is easy, if you can prove you've had your foreign license for minimum 3 months (and been in the country of issue for that time) then all it takes is 10 questions on written exam and a quick driving test at the track. (If you can prove one year of having a license then you won't need a "beginner mark" sticker.

10) Video games - yes, but nearly all games are catered specifically for domestic market, very few make it out and get released globally (in English).



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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:39 pm

I've considered living there at times but I don't think I'd do full time due to the weather during the winter, I hate the cold, and Japanese homes are poorly insulated, hot in the summer and freezing in the winter.

I don't live there but I know people who do.

I'd ideally live in Macao/HK during the winter and Japan in the summer.

I already know the language to some degree, it's not easy but my knowledge of Chinese has helped a lot actually. The grammar and writing are the most difficult parts. Verbs are consistently conjugated, and there's no tones like Chinese.

It's very hard to obtain citizenship in Japan, I've done research and it's very stringent. I plan to obtain citizenship in another country first before as the US citizenship makes it expensive and financially inviable to live and work overseas, since you have to pay taxes to both governments.

If you're planning to move there and not be an English teacher (I'm not planning to be if I do) you need a trade like engineering with an international corporation connection to go there or have fluent knowledge of Japanese and act as a translator or some other lingual related career. I'm planning to do the latter as I've realized I can't do tech forever for work because I am not going to be able to keep up with the times and I'm going to eventually be an old geezer saying 'Back in my day...' all the time about various things and possibly end up burned out.

It's a great place to live but socially if you're as they say an 'otaku' prepare to be shunned by various members of the public as it's seen poorly. I'm lucky to have non tech/game habits so I get along with Japanese people well.
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby Elf » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:11 pm

Raion-Fox wrote:It's very hard to obtain citizenship in Japan, I've done research and it's very stringent. I plan to obtain citizenship in another country first before as the US citizenship makes it expensive and financially inviable to live and work overseas, since you have to pay taxes to both governments.

Sort of; it depends how much you make and where you make it from. I had to deal with this in the past. You can handle it in one of two ways:
However, either way, you still have to file with the IRS even if you don't owe. You also have to declare your foreign bank accounts.
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby Jack Luminous » Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:06 am

kubatyszko wrote:7) DO NOT even think of working for traditional Japanese company - you'd have to conform to the stupid rules and stuff, if you're thinking of moving to Japan the easiest thing for foreigners is to become English teachers (but these days you'd need to be be native speaker).


It's actually possible to work first in a foreign company in Japan and then move on to the japanese customer company. The transition can be smooth. I know several people who've done that and you are not really obliged to conform to everything like a real japanese employee because you are specifically hired to smooth out relationship and lead various negotiations between the japanese company and your previous company. It's usually a very well-paid job. 8-)
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby kubatyszko » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:30 am

Getting Japanese citizenship is nearly impossible - there are very few people who managed to do it. Forget it. Also - for adults Japan mandates renouncing all other citizenships, even kids who are dual citizens at the age of 20 (I think) have to declare which one to keep.

Visas - with a company that's willing to hire you visa is not an issue, but it must be applied for outside of the country (the process takes 3 months). Visa conversion ARE possible AND DOABLE from within the country (such as limited internship visa or work and travel visa), most people go the easy way and to convert visa they return to their home country, reapply with the new visa and fly back. I converted my 1-year internship visa to employee visa without any issue. Conversions are sometimes weird, they actually asked me to show all of my first year payslips (which I didn't keep, and had to sneakily ask the assistant to copy for me without telling the boss ;) ).
There are no annual visa limits unlike US.
Transition within company makes it a tad easier but the visas I believe are the same.

More on visas - I think first visas are always for 1 year, then after renewal 2 years, then 5. It used to be a requirement that to apply for permanent residence one had to be on the 5 year visa (meaning had undergone 2 renewals), I think that last year some laws got changed and it was easier to apply for PR, not sure how that affects the timeline.

Taxes - the nice part is that company does all the work, all you get is a slip to sign in the end of the year and that's it.

US taxes - yeah, need to file (I became US resident in the end of 2015 and it's tough), but as Elf mentions, there's an exclusion and credit - up to the amount above.

Houses - true that, most are poorly isolated. There are TWO TYPES of buildings - the ones 100% for rent and the ones for sale (and renting individually from owners) - the latter are usually better quality and depending on the unit location sometimes are not that cold in winter.

Summer vs winter - yep, it's cold and dry, the temperatures are not low (in Tokyo usually never below 0C), but it's the dry air that sucks out the moisture and no matter how thick the clothes you feel cold. Summers are hot and sticky (less than HK though), heat is easy to get used to, I'm an avid cyclist and each summer after about 2 weeks of daily cycling outdoors I'd be used to the heat and never require AC.. (it's much more healthy this way).
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:44 am

Yeah so that's why I recommend getting alternative citizenship elsewhere. Really, nowadays there's no benefit to keeping US citizenship abroad when the majority of EU countries offer citizenship with just 5 years of residency. You get visa-less travel between EU nations plus many other countries and you won't have the stigma that is associated with US citizens abroad. I've also considered Australian or New Zealand citizenship

Dual citizenship isn't something that I am interested in and neither should the OP. As long as when you surrender your US citizenship you pay exit taxes appropriately you can come back to the US for 3 months at a time on a tourist visa to visit friends and family.

The negative perception of US citizens abroad is why I say I am Portuguese and I speak with a Received Pronunciation accent abroad, to avoid prejudice.
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby uunix » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:04 pm

There is a documentary on Japanese life on BBC FOUR right now if you can get it, or maybe catch-up TV via the BBC web site?
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby vishnu » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:18 am

Saw this on jwz's blog a few weeks ago, got to admit I'd never heard of the place:

https://www.failedarchitecture.com/nakagin/

Clickbait visual aid:
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Temporarily lost at sea...
Plan:
World domination! Or something...

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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby commodorejohn » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:38 pm

"Meanwhile, in Neuromancer..."
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Re: Whats it like living in japan?

Unread postby ianj » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:26 am

kubatyszko wrote:5) As a foreigner, it was actually much more convenient for me NOT to be fluent in the language - this way I could always get away with something, or ignoring the rules. If you're fluent they'd also expect you to behave and conform to the society...

6) Don't ask for permission - just do it and ask for forgiveness - usually the answer is no, but when you just do it, as a foreigner you get a lot of leeway.


I find it unfortunate that a common trope in "foreigners talking about living in Japan" contexts is people saying it's difficult for someone of foreign origin to fit in, and then turning around and encouraging behavior like this. I wonder why? I understand you lived there for ten years and didn't stay, and everyone has different priorities, but if someone does desire to become a part of society, I really think they should consider attitude before declaring that it can't be done. If you deliberately position yourself as the ignorant foreigner in order to get away with things, and seek out English speakers to socialize with, then you probably won't. If you follow the rules and don't play games to get special treatment, maybe you will. If you think the rules are stupid, maybe you don't want to fit in as much as you think you do. Perhaps people who are considering moving to Japan should ask themselves whether they want to have a coming of age experience for a few years as a token foreigner and then leave, or whether they want to join society, and behave accordingly. Of course, experience may cause them to change their mind one way or another, but it's probably a good idea to keep in mind what your goal is. Acting like a foreigner and then saying it's impossible to fit in doesn't make sense.

I'm also interested in where you heard that naturalization is nearly impossible. Honestly I don't think many people, particularly Westerners, are interested in naturalization, but for those who are, the requirements laid out by law don't strike me as particularly strict (five years' continuous residence, a clean record, and a stable means of providing for oneself are the major points to hit). Plenty of people do it every year and by the look of it most applications are approved. What's stopping anyone?
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