HOW TO: Deal With the Low Point of Culture Shock [Your Advice]

You know what? You are awesome. When I wrote that post about my low point of culture shock, I had no idea what kind of response I would get. It scared me to be that vulnerable and honest, even though I felt it was something I needed to write. But the comments poured in. And the emails. You offered wisdom and advice, and some of you said you've been feeling the same. 

From my heart, thank you.

Lately I often feel so disconnected from "home" and the relationships there, but your kindness reminds me that I have meaningful connections here, and that no matter what, I'm not alone. Your kind words and shared stories have helped me much more than I could say. 

And, many of you said it sounded like more than just culture shock, and how I've been feeling is certainly is more than just that (I often seem to experience more than one thing at a time, annoyingly). But as I've analyzed and separated them out, it was so strange for me to realize that this low point just appeared earlier this year, even though it didn't really a couple years ago when I was dealing with labrynthitis. 

Since I wrote that post I do think things have been looking up a bit (aside from the lack of sleep and having a baby and too much work). Now I only hope I get through winter without being too affected by SAD... 

And I know I still owe some of you an email or comment response. I promise I'm not ignoring anyone; I try to write meaningful responses and I have far too much on my plate at the moment. But please know that I thank you for writing or commenting, and that I will make my best effort to get back to you if I haven't already. 

That said, I'd like to share some of the advice you offered in terms of dealing with culture shock. For anyone reading, not all of it may apply or help you, but there are a lot of good ideas and you might find something that could help in your situation.

22 Japan Links Worth Reading - Oct 28

Another week, another set of links. (Some of the food ones are especially yummy.)

Have a great week! -Ashley

Living in Japan

Japan to see normal to above-average temperatures this winter | Japan Today - This gives me hope...

No takers for free legal consultants at Haneda | Japan Times - This surprised me; why wouldn't people want to take advantage of free legal advice? I get emails about stuff all the time. Or have there really been no problems at Haneda lately?

Japan falls to 101st place in gender equality rankings | Japan Times - This is just sad.

Japanese government radiation monitoring posts not showing reality: Greenpeace | Japan Times

Creating Happier Communities: 22 Local Governments in Japan Preparing a "Happiness Index" | Japan for Sustainability

Major Japanese Internet Shopping Website Launches Sale of Low-Price Solar Panels for Home Use | Japan for Sustainability

Tokyo Public Law Office opens consultancy designed for foreigners | Japan Times - So if you're in or near Tokyo and have legal questions, go! Ask real lawyers!

Gap and Banana Republic in Japan now offer online shopping. It'd be nice if they added Old Navy too...

Our daily motivational pep session [for women] | Japan Times - An interesting piece on the home obligations of Japanese women and how difficult it is to forge a different path.

Getting a Credit Card in Japan - Poll Results

You may recall a post I did a little while back about how to find a credit card in Japan with a poll for those who have a card or have tried to get a card. I've finally summed up the poll responses and have shared them below. Just over 100 people responded, but I deleted several because of missing information or the respondent hadn't actually ever tried to get a credit card.

While this is an informal poll and, of course, does not explain all situations, whether personal or those reflective of a credit card company, some of the information may be of use to those hoping to get a credit card in Japan.

Out of 86 responses, 61.6% percent said they do have a Japanese credit card, and 38.4% do not, though they have applied at least once, as indicated below.

Japan, credit card, Japanese

Those who have at least one Japanese credit card have lived in Japan varying lengths of time, with most of the respondents having been here between three and five years (30.2%), although the 5-10 years and 10-15 years categories aren't too far behind (22.6% and 18.9%, respectively). Comparatively, more non-credit card holders have lived in Japan for one to two years (33.3%), versus the 17% of credit card holders, as you can see below. The 10-15 years category is missing from the latter chart because it was not chosen by any respondents.

Japan, credit card, Japanese

Japan, credit card, Japanese

How long did card holders live in Japan before they were approved for a credit card? Interestingly, it was relatively even between the less than 1 year, 1-2 years and 3-5 years categories (27.5%, 29.4% and 25.5%). So, though most card holders have lived in Japan for more than three to five years, it seems that many of them were able to get a card not too long after arriving.

Q&A: Tips for Buying Tickets to a Musical in Japan?

Q: What is the best way to purchase tickets to musicals here in Tokyo? Was hoping to get tickets to Chicago, but it looks like every performance sold out quick. Thanks!

- April

A: I've never been to a musical in Japan, in Tokyo or elsewhere, so if any you have, what's your best ticket-buying advice? Is it similar to buying tickets for other types of shows/events? I'll add your answers to the post. -Ashley

Looking for a Pet-friendly Apartment in Japan? Here are 7 Things You Should Know

Editor's note: Have pets? Planning a move in Japan? If so, Stephanie in Kanagawa has some very useful info to share in today's guest post. It's definitely not easy, as Stephanie will explain, but with a few tips hopefully you'll be able to navigate the process more smoothly! - Ashley

Moving in Japan is never easy or fun, but moving in Japan with pets is a challenge, even for the Japanese. We recently moved with two cats from Tokyo to Kanagawa and I hope our experiences will help anyone else in a similar situation.

moving in Japan, pets, cat, apartment, finding an apartment

1. Don’t rely on the apartment hunting websites 

22 Fun and Informative Japan Links From the Past 2 Weeks - Oct 7

fall in Japan

Another two weeks, another round of Japan links! We've got mostly fun stuff today, plus a lot of foodie goodness. Must be because Fall is the season for eating...

Living in Japan

Police mull mandatory safety training for unsafe bicyclists | Japan Times - Whether for or against this, I honestly think something needs to be done about all the kids who constantly ignore the rules and cause, or nearly cause, accidents on a regular basis.

Fukushima offers free medical care for children under 18 | Japan Today

Hottest September in 110 years | Japan Times - And boy was I glad that it was!

Affordable Custom Made Shoes from KiBERA | RocketNews24 - This seems like a good service, although they only do (women's) sizes from 22 to 25 cm, unfortunately.


Random patdowns begin at 30 int'l airports in Japan | Japan Today

Japan Wheelchair Travel Journal - One person's experience getting around parts of Japan in a wheelchair.

Festival of Light: Experiencing the Nebuta Matsuri |

Where to See and Enjoy Japan's Fall Foliage 2012 (紅葉)

kouyou, Japan, Fall, Autumn, leaves, foliage, see, view

Now that it's October, we're inching closer to seeing the Autumn leaves in much of Japan -- although some places, like Hokkaido, are already boasting their colors. Lucky you folks in the North!

I've written previously about finding places to go to see and enjoy the lovely hues of orange, red and yellow here in Japan, this is a 2012 update.

You may already be familiar with the popular tourist destinations for Fall colors (such as Kyoto), but if you're looking for some less crowded areas or some place nearby, you might find one of the following sites useful. Each site offers a way to search locations all over Japan and find listings of good 紅葉 (こうよう, kouyou) spots. They are in Japanese only, which is why I'm also providing a tutorial below.

Beauty, Skincare, Organics, and Starting a Business in Japan [Interview]

Today I'm happy to introduce Elana of Tokyo-based Elana Jade Organic Beauty Salon. Elana is originally from Australia and after starting her beauty business there, she later ended up coming to Japan and re-started Elana Jade. Her salon provides several services including waxing, massage, and facials.

I previously interviewed her for Expat Women over a year ago, which you can read here, but wanted to feature her here on SiJ with a more Japan-specific focus. She shares with us about starting a business in Japan, the organic beauty market here, and even takes on some of our readers' questions. Enjoy!

Ashley: First of all, would you tell us a little about who you are, what you do, and how long you’ve been in Japan?

Elana Gilbert of Elana Jade Organic Beauty Salon
Elana: My name is Elana Gilbert and I have been living in Japan for four years. I am a beauty therapist and personal fitness trainer. I believe a holistic approach to health creates optimal well-being. I have owned my organic beauty salon in Azabu Juban for three years now and I'm loving it!

Ashley: What led you to start a business in Japan? 

Elana: After visiting my brother, Nathan, in Japan in 2007 I really fell in love with the country and quickly I decided to move here. The original plan was to come to Japan and start a health and beauty facility with Nathan (who was already working in Japan for four years as a personal trainer). Unfortunately, the timing proved to be wrong with the beginning of the financial crisis. We both decided it would have been too risky to open a place so large at that volatile time. Fortunately I was able to convince Nathan that it was viable to open a beauty salon as a great business model on its own and in 2009 the Elana Jade Organic Beauty Salon was born.

Ashley: What was the most difficult aspect of starting your business here and were you able to find a solution(s)?

Elana: The language was a major obstacle. Fortunately, teaming up with my brother, who had already set up a fitness company in Tokyo, was a major help as he could speak Japanese. More importantly, he had contacts that specialize in foreign company start-ups as well as local realtors.

The second major obstacle as a new and foreign-owned company was obtaining a building lease. Many Japanese landlords are very strict in regards to who they lease to. We overcame this by shopping around until we found a landlord who was willing to give us a go. Having properly set up a joint-stock company with paid-in capital also helped.