What should you know before starting the Japan countryside life? This week, we answer this question! For more questions on moving to Japan, surviving daily life in Japan, and more, Guidable is here to help. Submit your own questions at the bottom of this post!
Question: How Can I Move to the Japan Countryside?
How can an American couple move to a rural part of Japan? What does it take to live in the countryside, and what should I expect?
If you’ve ever watched a Ghibli movie, you probably have an idea of how dreamy the Japan countryside (inaka in Japanese) can be. But how do you actually move to rural Japan, and not only that, how can you survive in the middle of nowhere as a foreigner?
My first home in Japan was in the Japanese countryside in a little town in Miyazaki-ken, nestled between mountains and volcanoes. I could enjoy the serenity and unique quirks of such a small countryside town, but I also learned a few things that might help you navigate life in Japan’s countryside. Here are my top tips:
1. Find a Job and Housing
Better yet, find both at once! Look for a job that will help you secure housing. If you’re a native English speaker, many English teaching jobs, especially for ALTs (or Assistant Language Teachers) are located at schools in rural areas. This gives you an easy path right to the countryside, and not only that, but most of these positions provide housing for you. Even couples can apply together! To find jobs across the country, check current openings here.
2. Learn Basic Japanese
You don’t need to know Japanese to survive in Japan, but in the countryside, you will likely find that many signs, menus, and people around you only use Japanese. To help you navigate everyday life, get familiar with basic Japanese. If you already know the basics, that’s great! You may want to continue studying and improving to help make inaka life more comfortable.
3. Consider Driving in Japan
Japanese trains are iconic, from charming little local trains to speedy shinkansen. However, you’ll likely find that many rural neighborhoods actually require a car to get around. Before coming to Japan, you can get an international driver’s license. These aren’t valid in Japan for long, though (typically expiring after one year), so you may want to also consider getting a Japanese driver’s license.
4. Use the Internet to Fill In the Gaps
When living in the countryside, online tools will be invaluable! Be ready to rely on translation apps, web-based doctors if you can’t find an English-speaking doctor nearby, and websites such as iHerb that can ship some of your favorite foods and personal care products (since you likely won’t find them in a small Japanese town).
5. Be Prepared for Japan Countryside Culture Shock
Try out living in rural Japan, and be prepared for possible culture shock. If you’re new to Japan, living in the middle of nowhere can be especially shocking, so remember to be patient and take one challenge at a time. You may have heard of free houses being available to own in rural Japanese towns, but I would recommend avoiding making any big commitments until you’ve tried living in the inaka first.
For many, it can be easier to adapt to Japanese culture and life in a more populated city with plenty of amenities, a larger expat community, and more easily available resources for foreigners. However, for others, living in the Japanese countryside is a perfect fit for its laidback lifestyle, quiet streets, and Ghibli-like scenery.
Looking to find the perfect job in Japan? Look no further than Guidable Jobs!