6 ways to find English-language books in Japan

books, English, Japan, ebooks, ereader

If you’re preparing a move to Japan and wondering how accessible English-language books might be, this post is for you (or if you’re in Japan already and want a few more ideas, or have some great ideas to share with us). Though in some cases acquiring them may be less convenient (or more expensive) than your home country, rest assured it is possible to English books here without resorting to paying an arm and a leg to have Amazon in your country ship them to you.

So, what are your options?

A Guide to Sunscreen in Japan

sunscreen, Japan

Just in time for summer (despite some of the gray days during the rainy season): an overview of sunscreen (or sunblock) in Japan.

Understanding the Japanese Pension System

If you've been following The Japan Times Lifelines column, you may have seen my past few articles regarding the pension system in Japan. The system is by no means easy to understand and I've learned a lot about it in the past couple months, and while I never thought I would need to know all this, I can definitely say it is useful information to be aware of.

I've included links to the articles below for anyone curious about "totalization agreements", "kara kikan", and the lump-sum payment, among other things. And of course, I welcome any tips and advice from those who've had more experience with this system (to potentially include in future articles).

Japan pension answers often case-specific (April 19, 2011)
Is it possible to make back payments, and the 25-year pay-in rule.

Pension 'gap years' and missed payments (May 10, 2011)
Info about country totalization agreements and clarification about the back payments rule (didn't apply to JM in the first article).

Pension payout query: to leave it or lump it? (May 24, 2011)
Info about the lump-sum withdrawal, and whether it is a good idea to take or not. If you're in Japan for the short-term, you may want to read this.

Permanent residents, mind the 'gap years' in your pension payments (June 21, 2011)
Clarification about the whole "kara kikan" issue.

Finally, I need to give a big shout out to my husband, David, for all his help with the difficult research for the above articles. If you're on Twitter, definitely go chat with him! -> @DavidTJPN.

And, thanks to all of you for all the feedback, ideas, comments, suggestions and amazing support! It is greatly appreciated.

Q&A: Making friends in Japan?

Meeting people in a new place can be challenging no matter where you are, but as expats in Japan, how do we make connections with the local community?

Q: I'm a university student from Canada visiting Japan for the summer. I'm in Numazu currently and have found it difficult to meet Japanese people. My Japanese is very elementary but it just seems hard to befriend natives here. Expats, however, are a different story.

Any tips or advice?


6 Reasons You Should Use Bamboo Charcoal (Takesumi)

Now that the rainy season is here and humidity is on the rise, many of you may be searching for ways to cope. We’ve already looked at 40 ways to to survive the rainy season, plus 5 more ideas, but today I want to introduce a very useful resource - not just for the rainy season, but all year round.

What is this resource?

Japanese Deodorant: What's in it, What's the Best, and What You Think

Japanese deodorant

Does Japanese deodorant work? Can it even compare with western deodorant? If you're moving to Japan, do you need to pack a two year supply just to survive?

Japan Goggles translates kanji from images

I'm sure many of you know well the frustration of trying to decipher labels, signs, and the occasional menu in Japan. Even if you come to Japan knowing a good number of kanji, unless you know all of them, you may still occasionally run up against characters you've not seen before and wonder how to read with the rest of the kanji you do know.

Nowadays, smartphone apps seem to be the common tools of choice for "surviving" as an expat in a foreign country - and there are so many useful ones for various tasks. I previously wrote about 8 survival tools for living in Japan, including a few of my favorite iPhone apps (ShinKanji, Katsuyo, Kotoba, etc.), and I've also written about the Google Translate app, available for iPhone and Android.

In this post I introduce an iPhone/iPod Touch app to include in the "survival tools for living in Japan" - Japan Goggles. I think it has a lot of potential for anyone who can't read Japanese fluently, and possibly for regular use when out and about (when reading comprehension often is even more critical).

7 tips for going to the movies in Japan

Someone recently wrote me an email asking about movie theaters in Japan, as he’ll be here for the summer and is an avid movie-goer. So, since it IS summer, and people often like going to the movies during the summer, (not to mention, it’s a good way to share A/C instead of running it at home...), here’s a few tips for going to the movies in Japan.

Before we start, two words you should know: 映画 (えいが, eiga) is movie, and 映画館 (えいがかん, eigakan) is movie theater.

1. How to find a movie theater in Japan

Though there are various ways to find theaters in Japan, one site I find particularly helpful is MovieWalker. Yes, it's in Japanese, but it's not too hard to navigate, as I'll show you below.

First, choose your location (red text is mine):

English Language Magazines in Japan - Part 2

This week's Lifelines column is a follow-up to the May 17 column about English-language magazines in Japan, Print is suffering, but English readers have never had it so good.

May 31 Lifelines (Part 2):

English magazines run gamut from poetry to prose, Kanto to Chubu

Thanks for all the additional suggestions, (you're mentioned in the article above) and if you find any missing from either list, please let me know!