Expat Women Blog Directory
ようこそ！ (yokoso) Welcome! to my version of a Japan survival guide. Rather than a travel guide, this blog is for anyone moving to Japan to live for any length of time, or folks currently residing here.
So, if not for travel, you ask, what is the purpose of this blog? Why this particular blog?
Hundreds of blogs written by foreigners living in Japan already exist. Dozens of people have written books about living in Japan as well. An internet search would give anyone new to Japan plenty of information about living in this great and unique country, also known as nihon in Japanese. Yet, after living here for a year and a half, I realized there were many things about living in Japan that I had not come across in the many books I read, or the various blogs and internet research I had done. It was easy to find how-to's for introductions, bowing etiquette, and table manners. Books and lectures on culture and the latter said items were incessantly reiterated by those attempting to prepare me and hundreds of other new language teachers for the big transition. I even spent nine months learning basic Japanese and given explanations from my Japanese teachers about the Japan facts, such as: Japanese people sleep on futon (different than a futon in the western world) and use ofuro (a bath, deeper and less wide than a typical western bathtub, but the etiquette also differs from how westerners would usually take a bath).
Shizuoka prefecture, about an hour and a half southwest by bullet train from Tokyo. Now, to this day, I still think Tokyo is almost its own world, set apart from the rest of Japan. Shizuoka is quite modern, given its close proximity to Tokyo and place on the Tokaido line, a main train line in Japan linking the largest cities. Yet, outside of busy cities like Shizuoka city and Hamamatsu, smaller cities are characterized by suburban sprawl, and acres of green tea and rice fields. The Japan Alps cascade as a western backdrop, and depending on where you are in Shizuoka, Mt. Fuji rises majestically, snow-capped in winter, dry and often cloud-covered in summer. The Pacific Ocean crashes against Shizuoka's eastern shores, aside Suruga bay that cuts out the nature-rich Izu Peninsula. A slightly slower pace of life exists in this prefecture, as any outside of the great metropolises of Japan.
This, and other experiences in those first months, motivated me to find ways to do things on my own, so I wouldn't have to bother my coworkers all the time. Again, my Japanese was quite basic. Introductions were easy, talking about likes and dislikes, ordering at a restaurant or some basic shopping terms. However, I felt that much of what I had learned was inapplicable to so many situations that had become commonplace in this new life in Japan. So, I did research. I learned. I adapted. Of course, all the while I was working on my Japanese, in the absence of a formal classroom. I certainly am not advocating attempting to function in Japan without trying to learn Japanese. You can learn Japanese, at the same time as learning how to get by. You learn because you have to learn in order to survive. (It's easier to remember that way, after all.) Also, people have different ways they learn best, and the ways I learn best don't usually involve a classroom, though I know plenty of people who learn much better that way.
This journey then, has led to the birth of this blog. The premise is to share things I've learned or found by way of my own initiative. As such, I also hope that this will inspire others to share their own "survival" experiences. I've created a forum to help facilitate this.
Also, as I post, I will update the "recommends" and "links" lists, for quick access to specific resources. In the sidebar, you'll see I've added a "search" function and "labels" as well, to make finding what you need to find, easier. I know from experience how important this is!
Thanks for joining me. I'm glad you're here, and hope this will be of help to you in some way.