5 Things You Should think about in Advance Before Starting a New Life in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

5 Things You Should think about in Advance Before Starting a New Life in Japan

By Guidable Writers Mar 14, 2018

This post is also available in: Russian Vietnamese

Study the language

Language is one of the most important things which you should understand before you start living in Japan. At first, you might think it’s unnecessary to learn Japanese because there are a lot of foreigners living in Japan and Japanese who can also speak English. This can be true if you live in Tokyo or Osaka. If you live somewhere outside those areas, you might not be able to use English because most locals don’t speak the language. Furthermore, you need to know how to read some Japanese words, especially kanji, in order to know what you’re going to buy and understand the label description. If you don’t know any Japanese word, you might feel lost in Japanese supermarket and buy things you don’t want by mistake.
When you start your new life in Japan, one thing you should know about it “Japan is the country of paperwork”, especially in house renting, so knowing several phrases and words will make the process faster and easier for you. Furthermore, if you want to make friend with the Japanese, learning the language is the key to achieving that goal. You don’t have to speak fluently, but showing your effort will make them appreciate you more.

Know about the local food

One problem that most people face when they start living in the new country is – food. Japanese cuisine is famous all around the world, such as sushi/sashimi, ramen, or tempura. If you are a Japanese food lover, it will probably be easy for you to adapt to the lifestyle here. However, staying in the country for a long time is very different from visiting a restaurant once or twice a week. Japanese supermarkets are full of Japanese foods and ingredients. There are shops that sell imported products, such as Yamaya, Kaldi Coffee Farm, or Costco, however, it can be pricey for your budget, so local food is always a cheaper option.
Japan does not only have sushi and ramen, there are various dishes which are not only easy to make but also healthy that you can make at home, such as gyudon (beef bowl), omuraisu (omelet rice), or udon. Knowing some Japanese home-cook recipes will help you save some money and make your life here easier.

Learn how to use the train (system)

The most popular transport in Japan is train. There are two types of it: railways – 電車 densha – and subways – 地下鉄 chikatetsu. Beside the fact that train is a fast and convenient public transportation, using it during rush hour can be overwhelming at the beginning. Before you decide to get on the train, there are several things you need to repair for the new experience. First, you need to get an IC card. Suica or Pasmo – are most commonly used. Usually, it costs around 500 yen to make one. Another way to use the train is to buy the tickets at the station. However, comparing to IC card, tickets are a little bit inconvenient since it takes you time to buy whenever you want to change the train line, so having IC card is a better option if you plan to stay in Japan for long-term. Second, you need to know how to read the train map. Depending on the destination, there can be various ways to get there on a different time. You can grab a map at the station or download a route search app, such as Navitime or Google Maps, to find the route you need. For more information about how to use Japan’s train system, check out this post “Train 101: A Guide on How to Commute Everyday in Japan

Get used to Japanese customs

Every country has its own customs, however, Japan has a very strict code of etiquette that many foreigners find “shocking” when they first come here. You might think it’s quite troublesome at the beginning, nevertheless, “live in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Learning about Japanese manners beforehand will give you more advantages in adapting to the new life style and getting closer to Japanese people. Here are some customs that you should know in advance: separating the trash and dumping it on the scheduled day, knowing when and how to bow right, not giving tip, always keeping to the left, etc.

Explore tips on how to save budget

Japan has long been recognized as one of the most expensive countries in the world, especially Tokyo which is popular for its high cost of living. Do not be so upset yet! If you are willing to make some lifestyle changes, it is possible to save the wallet without harming your health. There is one thing you should know: nothing is impossible, even having an affordable life in Tokyo, and there are various ways to do so:

Purchase discount food

If you want to buy cheap food, first, you need to know what supermarkets or food stores are available in your area. Second, there are some stores that have LINE’s accounts so you should follow them on LINE in order to receive sale information. Generally, Japanese supermarkets start to discount ready-made and fresh products near the closing time, so don’t forget to go there at that time if you want to have a half-price delicious bento box. If you’re the type of person who likes to buy things online, check out the daily deals on Amazon or Iherb to get the best price for your shopping.

Point cards

Another way to save money on your bills is using point card. It depends on which store chain you visit frequently. Most stores in Japan have point card system, including the convenience store, supermarket, or even drugstore. Usually, at the convenience store, you earn 1 point for every 100 yen spent, while 1 point for every 200 yen spent at the supermarket. There are also promotions for several products that let you earn more points than normal. At all stores, 1 point is equal to 1 yen, so if you have 100 points, you can get 100 yen discount. Isn’t it a good deal?

It is never easy to start a new life in a new country, especially in Japan. It is normal if you find it difficult to adapt at the beginning; but, do not give up yet! Follow these simple tips and you are fully prepaired for the new journey!