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Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Matt_M, Apr 17, 2002.
Hey guys/girls. I am moving to work in Japan for 8 months. Like the subject says any advice.
RUN dont walk to Acabarra(spelling is all wrong)It is the electronic district. its like our holy land!!!!
And the disney land there is pretty cool too!!
Acabarra would be in Arabia
Akihabara, and taking the Yamanote (green) line is much faster
Ummm, this is a broad topic, give me some guidelines here
Walk to the left, not the right
Japanese drivers are crazy, I could swear I saw the kanji for "Foreigner" painted on the side of a cab like a fighter plane
NEVER step on tatami (straw mats) with your shoes
NEVER put your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl, it means someone died
Take food off the platter to your rice bowl. Use the fat end of your chopsticks to take the food off the platter, and the skinny to actually eat with. Bring your bowls (soup included) to YOU. Watch those around you, you'll figure it out.
Learn katakana and some basic kanji.
Bring aspirin and other basic meds with you. They're expensive as hell
There are no supermarkets in Japan for the most part, but the little markets have very tasty stuff. Other than that convienience stores sell everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING)
There is nothing in Japan you can't buy out of a vending machine
Take the opportunity to watch Japanese TV, it's great, even if you don't understand a word. Wouldn't hurt to check out their music too. They have some amazing artists.
No one in Japan knows where anything is more than 10 blocks from their house
They only THINK they speak English
Feel free to email me or post here with more specific stuff
Keep an eye out for Godzilla and Mr. Roboto!
Heh, on that note, stay away from Tokyo Tower. It's the Kenny of Japan
Will you be taking requests for HT and PC hardware?
Mark, you'll pay a lot more there than you will here, and the shipping is horrendous
Your quite the funny guy!!!!
BTW Matt, you have to get a "beef bowl" at 7/11. I pretty much lived off them!!!!!
Agreed on Japanese TV. I've never spent any time in Japan, but have seen their TV elsewhere in SE Asia, and I found it more entertaining than 90% of US TV even though I don't speak a word of Japanese other than "hai" and "ichi ban"
You lucky bastard!!!! You're gonna have the most excellent time - I assume you'll be living in/near Tokyo. Be sure to check out the night life at Roppongi - they party until about 7am!
Oh, and take lots of money
Take me with you.
For someone who lives here and is a native, I can say what Jeff said is pretty close to true.
However, there are many supermarkets in Japan and more are open until 9 or 10 at night.
Some stores have closing days. This means they have a day during the week where they are closed. It can be any day (usually a Wednesday or Tuesday) and while you may think they should be open you will go to the store and find them closed (very frustrating).
And, some of us do speak English.
Stay away from Natto!!!
What city are you going to?
Wow. Thanks for all the great posts guys
Gomen nasai Tomoko, I was trying to be funny, and I think it came off wrong in the translation
People are GENUINELY VERY helpful, I always felt welcome wherever I went in Japan (OK, an oba-san gave me a NASTY look in Hiroshima, but that was to be expected). However many only THINK they speak English(you are obviously and exception), so while they think they are giving you the proper directions, they are actually sending you in the opposite direction.
Case in point. I was going to Mitaka from Ikebukuro Tokyo to worship at otaku mecca, Gainax Productions. I was told to take the Chuo line to Mitaka. Good enough. I follow the orange signs for the Chuo line to....a brick wall. I found some other ones and followed them...brick wall
This went on for about half an hour
Turns out that they didn't QUITE understand what I was asking (should have tried my mediocre Japanese), and thought I was asking "What train will take me to Mitaka", instead of "What steps do I need to take to go from here to Mitaka". Easy mistake, but the moral of the story is to be very clear and simple when you ask in English
Tomoko, was I right when I said no one knows where anything is beyond 10 blocks No one ever knew, I always asked at train stations and police boxes.
I guess I was wrong about the supermarkets. I only ever saw one while I was there, and mostly bought food from the local markets that I found in Tokyo
Japanese commercials are the BEST!
Get ready for the shock of seeing your favorite stars in commercials
Nagoya is a very nice city, I was only there for 1 day, but I had a lot of fun. It's a lot like Philadelphia, and it's got all the perks of Tokyo without the rush and bustle.
Make it a point to visit Hiroshima. It's sobering, and it's beautiful. While there be sure to try the oysters, and go to what I like to call the "okonomiyaki mini-mall". I forget the official name, but apparently there is a fight between Hiroshima and another city (I believe it's either Kyoto or Nagoya) as to where the food originated. That aside, inside you find over 30 stands, each specializing in a different kind of okonomiyaki (kind-of like a Japanese pizza). I ate 3-4 distinct meals there
Fast food is pretty much the same in content and prices Wendy's is a total ripoff, stay away from there, a Supersize meal is like a medium here, and it's about half again as much. McDonalds has many interesting shake flavors. I personally tried orange, grape, and seaweed (that wasn't so good, though I like real seaweed) Try Japanese fast food instead. It's cheaper, and probably more nutricious. Ramen huts are especially fun and tasty places for something fast and filling
Chances are the store you want is on the 8th floor of some building and poorly marked
Seeing sumo, the FULL version is intriguing. ESPN always cuts out all of the ceremony and it kills it.
Have a contest with your friends to see who can find the smallest cel phone
When visiting someone, bring a bottle of good whiskey (wouldn't hurt to bring 1 or 2 with you). Until very recently, whiskey was outrageously expensive in Japan ($150-200/bottle) and it's still appriciated
Pachinko parlors are everywhere, and they are designed to take your money. Gambling is illegal, so you play for prizes. These prizes can be exchanged at a small window for cash (Or so I'm told) There are tons of great games you'll never see in the US/Canada, so make sure to check out the arcades!
Most, if not all US movies are shown in English with subtitles theatrically (the Japanese respect OSL, unlike those in this country) so even though the movies are about $14-15 a pop, you'll still be able to go.
Tomoko, do you want to chime in with some other things that you, as a Japanese person consider important that you are pretty sure would not occur or be known by a North American?
I spent 2 weeks there last year. It was totally awesome. I'd say get a rail pass before you leave, not sure if you can or not, depending on your type of visa or whatnot since you'll be there for 8 months. If you can, it's a great way to wander around Japan. I guess most of my advice would be tourist related, since that's what I was Not sure how much time you'll have for sightseeing, but I'd say check out Himeji Castle and ask for an English tour guide. It was probably my favorite tourist spot, since I like castles and that kinda stuff. For someone who doesn't speak the language, Japan is remarkably easy to get around. Probably one of the easiest asian countries to get around, since for the most part things are in English as far as subway systems and train information.
Visiting Hiroshima is indeed very sobering, and will probably tug at the emotions quite a bit, or at least it did for me. Being American, I almost felt like I couldn't go to Japan and not go to Hiroshima.
Since you're going to be there for 8 months, definitely try to pick up as much of the language as you can. Being able to read will help, and being able to count would be pretty useful. I actually thought the Japanese drivers were pretty good, or at least I didn't constantly fear for my life. Traffic was pretty organized, and ppl seemed to follow the rules, unlike some of the other asian countries *cough* Taiwan *cough*.
Make sure to take a ton of money out of your ATM on Friday. When I lived there, many of the ATMs close on Sunday and close early on Saturdays. (Why do they close them at all?!)
Buy "import" CDs from Italy that you can't buy here. (Since the HTF has strict rules against talking about bootlegs, I'll leave it at that.)
Get a hanko in Katakana at least...don't get those cheesy ones that cram a full English name on them.
Learn one, just ONE Japanese karaoke song. Study it like the Koran. Memorize it. Then, when you're drunk and the co-workers get you up there on the karaoke stage, you will be a golden god, my friend.
Tell Japanese people your love for root beer and watch them all reply, "Ewww it tastes like medicine."
Bring ice skates, rollerblades, and new shoes. If you have big feet like mine (US Size 13), then you'll be watching everyone else rent ice skates while you play video games.
i just did a quick search on google for "japanese culture"...this was a pretty interesting article...can't attest to it's validity though.
japanese culture: a primer for newcomers
i'd probably take jeff's advice anyday...