Planning a Life in Japan? 5 Essential Tips for a Smooth and Successful Relocation

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Jul 11, 2023

Japan, the land of the rising sun, is a captivating country filled with modern technology, ancient traditions, and enchanting landscapes.

If you’ve been attracted by its irresistible charm and have decided to relocate, you must note that moving to a new country can be an exhilarating yet challenging task.

Understanding the Housing Market

Japan’s housing market is unique and diverse, with properties ranging from tiny apartments in the heart of Tokyo to sprawling houses in the suburbs. It’s crucial to get familiar with how it functions to make informed decisions.

Work with Local Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents in Japan play an indispensable role in helping you find a suitable place to live.

Particularly, on the Find Hokkaido Agents site you can find Sapporo real estate agents that are known for their in-depth knowledge of the local market and excellent client service.

They can guide you through the complexities of the Japanese property market, assist you in negotiating rental agreements, and even handle all the paperwork on your behalf.

Rental Procedures and Rules

Japanese rental procedures can be different from what you’re used to in your home country. You’ll often be asked for a ‘key money’ deposit (a non-refundable payment to the landlord), a guarantor, and several months’ rent in advance.

Understanding the house rules, such as noise restrictions, pet policies, and garbage disposal, is crucial to avoid potential conflicts with your neighbors or landlord.

Learning the Language

The importance of language in successful relocation cannot be overstated. While English is widely taught in schools, Japanese is the primary language used in daily life and business.

Take Language Classes

You should consider enrolling in language classes before moving. Learning basic Japanese phrases, numbers, and polite expressions can significantly enhance your daily interactions and life experiences.

Use Language Learning Apps

In addition to formal education, language learning apps can be helpful. Apps such as Duolingo, Memrise, or Rosetta Stone provide an accessible and flexible way to learn Japanese at your own pace.

Adapting to the Culture

When relocating to a new country, cultural adaptation is an important process. This is especially true for Japan, a nation that prides itself on its deep-rooted traditions and customs.

From business conduct to social etiquette, the influence of these traditions permeates every facet of Japanese life. Successfully integrating into Japanese society requires an understanding and appreciation of these customs and traditions.

Learn About Japanese Etiquette

A key aspect of adapting to Japanese culture is understanding the country’s etiquette. Etiquette plays a vital role in Japanese society, serving as a kind of blueprint for interpersonal interactions. Japanese etiquette is quite detailed and touches on many aspects of life, which include:

  • Gift-Giving: In Japan, the act of giving gifts is seen as a way of showing respect and maintaining good relationships. Gifts are typically given on occasions like house visits, social gatherings, and business meetings. When presenting or receiving a gift, it’s customary to use both hands.
  • Business Card Exchanges: In a business setting, the exchange of business cards, or ‘meishi’, is of great importance. When receiving a card, take it with both hands and take a moment to read it carefully. It’s considered rude to write on the card or to put it away immediately.
  • Public Behavior: Public behavior in Japan is dictated by the principle of maintaining harmony and avoiding actions that might cause inconvenience to others. Loud conversations in public places, eating while walking, and failure to queue orderly are generally frowned upon.
  • Dining Etiquette: Dining in Japan comes with its own set of rules. For instance, it’s impolite to point chopsticks at others, stick them upright in rice, or pass food from chopstick to chopstick. Remember to say ‘itadakimasu’ before you start eating and ‘gochisosama deshita’ when you finish.

Participate in Local Festivals

Local festivals, or ‘matsuri,’ are a crucial part of Japanese culture and provide a window into the country’s rich traditions and community spirit. Participating in these festivals can significantly aid in your cultural adaptation process. Some of the ways you can engage are:

  • Attending Festivals: Throughout the year, numerous festivals take place across Japan, each with its unique customs and events. These can range from peaceful lantern-lighting ceremonies to energetic parades filled with music and dance.
  • Understanding the Significance: Each festival carries cultural significance, often tied to seasonal changes, religious beliefs, or historical events. Understanding the stories and traditions behind these festivals can give you a deeper appreciation of Japanese culture.
  • Joining Local Celebrations: Festivals are communal events, and participation is often welcomed. Whether it’s carrying a ‘mikoshi’ (portable shrine) during a festival parade or participating in traditional dances, joining in these celebrations allows you to experience the culture firsthand.

By taking the time to understand and respect Japanese etiquette, and actively participating in local festivals, you will find it much easier to adapt to the cultural aspects of your new life in Japan.

Familiarizing Yourself with the Local Cuisine

Japanese cuisine is diverse, healthy, and an important part of the country’s culture. Familiarizing yourself with it is a delightful and rewarding endeavor.

Try a Variety of Dishes

Don’t limit yourself to sushi and ramen. Japan offers a wide range of dishes, including tempura, yakitori, and various regional specialties. Trying different dishes will give you a broad perspective on Japanese cuisine.

Learn to Cook Japanese Dishes

Learning to cook Japanese dishes can be a fun and practical way to understand the food culture. You can join a cooking class or learn from recipe books and online tutorials.

Navigating the legal and financial aspects is one of the most critical parts of your relocation. It includes visa procedures, banking, taxes, and health insurance.

Understand the Visa Requirements

Different visa categories apply to different purposes such as work, study, or family reunion. It’s essential to understand the requirements of your specific visa category and keep track of the renewal process.

Set Up a Japanese Bank Account

Setting up a Japanese bank account will facilitate various transactions, from receiving your salary to paying your bills. Many banks in Japan offer accounts for foreign residents, but the process can be more straightforward with a local’s help.

Final Remarks

Relocating to Japan is undoubtedly an exciting journey filled with new experiences and challenges.

While this transition might seem daunting initially, careful planning and understanding of local customs, housing, language, cuisine, and legalities will ensure a smoother process.

Engage reliable experts, learn the language, immerse yourself in the culture, explore the cuisine, and handle legalities wisely. With these five essential tips, your dream of a life in Japan can become a rewarding reality.

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