Everything You Need To Know Before Moving To Japan

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and head out to Japan – maybe it’s for a short term leisurely stay or you’ve probably secured a new role which requires relocation for the foreseeable future! However, the main thing is that you’re going to meet new people, discover new places and make incredible memories which you will carry with you for a lifetime; I mean, Japan itself is a very complex country with an ancient cultural heritage, but alongside this, it’s also the most advanced in the areas of technology and innovation. But don’t let that put you off; here is a rundown of the most important things you should know:

Get a visa

Just like with every country you plan on travelling to, Japan has a specific process for acquiring a visa and preparing immigration documentation. You’ll need to decide which visa is most appropriate for your stay and then ensure you have filled out an application form as well as provided the supporting evidence. For more information regarding visas and immigration, be sure to check out their official site and do your research to ensure you have everything in place before your travel.

Find suitable accommodation

Japan is ranked as the 11th most populated country in the world, so you can probably imagine how difficult it might be to find suitable accommodation for the duration of your stay. It is usually a good idea to have your accommodation situated closer to the train line, as this will make travelling to and from places a whole lot easier. However, it is worth noting that this will come with a higher rental rate. The good news is that there are many property agencies that can assist you with choosing the right place to suit your needs. Best Estate is exclusively for individuals from foreign countries and offer virtual viewings alongside being experienced in several languages. If you prefer to search for affordable accommodation yourself, then consider Oakhouse or Social Apartment for shared living spaces.

Look for a job

Whilst you may have saved quite a bit to help fund your travel plans to Japan, don’t expect the cash to last forever! Therefore, it’s crucial to find a job to keep you going whilst you’re living abroad (unless you’ve moved due to securing a new role…) If you’re confident in the Japanese language, then you’ve already got an advantage as many higher levels roles require this. But, if you haven’t, don’t worry, teaching English is in demand and you’ll only require a degree! There’s also a plethora of job search sites which can come in handy such as Jobs In Japan and GaijinPot Jobs, so be sure to set up job alerts and apply immediately if something crops up.

Open a bank account

Let’s be serious, opening a bank account should be a priority no matter which country you decide to relocate to! Whilst there are a few banks which cater towards foreign travellers, Mobal Pay is one of the easiest to open a bank account with; there’s no complicated forms, no in-person checks, and no confusing residency requirements – it’s the service that’s made by expats, for expats!

Get a phone number

A quick web search offers many suppliers providing all sorts of offers and packages, so you’ll need to find one which suits your needs. One of the most recommended suppliers for a Japan SIM card is Mobal; they offer SIMs for short trips or long stays, provide English language support, have no contracts and ship your SIM card out to you for free! Their most popular plan for long termers only costs ¥2,980 per month and includes data, calls, and texts! There are also many other packages on offer, so be sure to take a look and pick one which suits you.

Shop for groceries and more

Due to the dense population of Japan, there are usually multiple grocery stores available in one area, each serving its own speciality, so no two stores are ever the same! You will find that root vegetables are often available all throughout the year in contrast to leafy vegetables due to the climate of the country. You’ll also see some familiar fashion brands, such as Zara and H&M, but the true gems are the niche boutiques, so be sure to have a look around. For homeware and furniture, IKEA is very popular, otherwise you can shop at Japan’s own Nitori. For electronic devices, be sure to visit Yodobashi or Bic camera for a huge selection of products.

Know the social etiquette

The Japanese community hold social etiquette in quite high regard, and this is much known all around the world! Not only do they provide unforgettable hospitality, but they also have an undefeated willingness to help others. Therefore, it’s expected that any individuals living amongst them with uphold these values. First of all, Google Translate is your best friend if you’re not too skilled in Japanese, so be sure to have it on hand to make your travel experience that little bit easier! When commuting in transport, expect discreet talk and silence for the majority of the ride. It’s also worth noting the food is never eaten on public transport or whilst walking; instead food is purchased to be eaten on the premises or at home.

If you do decide to dine in and hear of super loud slurping of noodles, this is meant as a sign of appreciation and respect for the chef in Japan, however chewing with the mouth open is considered impolite. Furthermore, Japanese businesses often place a money tray near the cash register for customers to place their money; it is extremely rude to disregard this and attempt to hand the cash to the cashier and if you receive change, avoid counting the monies as this displays lack of trust.

Punctuality is very important in Japan and invited into one’s house is seen as a big honour, as social gatherings do not take place very often. It is expected that guests remove their shoes before they enter as a sign of respect and to upkeep cleanliness. If you are expecting to arrive late, be sure to make the host aware.

On a final note

Whilst this is just a basic guide to everything you should know before moving to Japan, it’s a good idea to do more in depth research on your own, as you’ll discover a lot more information and learn more about the social norms – all of which are worth familiarising yourself with. Just don’t forget to get your packing sorted!

Until next time.

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