So, I’ve been living here in Japan for about three years now. Don’t get me wrong, Japan is cool, unless it is summer and then it is very hot, but the shiny paint has worn off and its become just another place to me. Here are some insights for those thinking to come here to live for a medium length of stay. I’d say long term but apparently if you can make it past five years, things tend to change for people.
So, some realities of Japan.
Its a very safe country on the surface of things. The crime rate is low and people in most areas are fairly nice. Especially in the country side, people are pretty friendly.
You can find most everything that you could ever want here. Some foods are a little tough to find but with the internet, you can get just about anything that you could want.
Most people are pretty hard workers here.
Almost anywhere you go, you can find someone who can speak English.
Foreign guys and women really are pretty popular here. That is not to say that any person you meet will be interested in you but your odds are a bit better because you stand out.
There are actually quite a few foreigners living here. So if you want to talk, you can usually find someone if you look around a little.
You can almost always find work as a foreigner. Your pay will range between 0 and $5,000 and depends on your education and luck.
There is decent transportation to most places.
The down side:
Summers are hot and humid. Like 90 degrees and 80% humidity for almost two months hot.
It’s safe on the surface. Japan has a very high sexual assault and abuse rate. The issue is that very few people report it because of culture. Sex education is also about Zero in schools so students go in with what they learned from the internet, the thriving sex industry in Japan, and maybe a little tiny bit from their parents.
Medically it is an okay country for most major things. The medical system in Japan is pretty cheap and so is the medication. On the other hand, it is rather stagnant. The industry is about twenty years behind in many areas and even further in many simple areas. Case and point, flu and cold treatment is taken care of following traditional methods that have little to no medical backing. Things like being told not to take a shower or bath when you have a cold or letting you stomach get cold at night will cause stomach aches.
Medical side note for women and men. Along with a morbid sex-ed system and an overactive sex industry, Japan is about thirty years behind the ball on their contraceptive industry. If you want to take a contraceptive pill, you have to go to the doctor every month, costs about $30, have a check-up, and then get your one months allotment of pills. There are only about two or three options for which pill also. Then you have to go back again the next month for another exam. Rinse and repeat. Your other option is condoms which are small, a pain to use all the time, expensive, and nothing kills the mood like a pause to put on a condom. Japan says they want babies but when it comes to supporting a happy marriage life, family planning, reproductive timing and security, it sucks.
Back to the foreigners are popular part, yes we are popular but that is because we stand out. As in you stand out wherever you go. Guess what mom, I saw a foreigner today.
Paper. Japan is an advanced country with an astonishingly low computer literacy rate. In 2015, when I got here, the computer I used was still running Windows NT and many others were still on XP. Whether it is work or government, this county runs on paper with lots of very confusing Japanese in small print. City hall is the bane of my existence. Just to get a proof of residence form, which you need for just about everything, it routinely takes about two hours. Oh, and the fax machine is king her. Email? We don’t need no stinking Email. We have memos. Lots and lots of memos.
Working in Japan. You are a foreigner in Japan. You’ll be a English teacher. Why? Because that is the peg that Japan has that Foreigners from semi-developed countries fit in. That or IT and you don’t want to work Japanese IT. Your pay will be between $1700 and $5000 a month. You will have no job security and most jobs are on one year contracts which can only continue for five years and then you get the boot.
People are hard workers here. The means that they tend to work hard at the expense of everything else, including family. Average work day starts at 5am getting ready and the train to get to work. Then you finish work at 5:30pm and work some overtime, which you don’t get paid for, head home and most people don’t get home until 7pm or later. Family time is dead in this country. Oh, and as a foreigner you can take your vacation time but most Japanese don’t for fear that if they are gone from work, they will loose their position or chance at promotion. Same with overtime. No overtime, no promotion.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Japan. But this country has some issues that anyone coming here for a while will face that most people don’t know about or realize. So be prepared. Also, not everything in Japan is Anime, Manga and Otaku culture. Those people who are that way are considered weird by most Japanese. Foreigners, stop being so weird just because you are in Japan. Its really annoying.