5 Tips For Living In Japan
The first time I went to Japan, I went as a student to learn Japanese. It was an incredibly different experience to going on a working holiday, where I had to organise everything by myself. Cue sudden realisation that I've already graduated and I'm an adult now. Here are a few tips to make adjusting to your new life in Japan a bit easier.
Get an IC card
IC cards are the equivalent of Oyster Cards in England and T-Money cards in South Korea.
Regardless of the colour and the cute (or otherwise) mascot on the card, they all do the same job of transporting you across the country without buying single or return paper tickets. Not only are they convenient but you can also top them up at ticket barriers before you go through the barriers, so you can run for a train without thinking about if you have enough money on the card!
You can buy almost everything you need to survive at Daiso, from cutlery to cleaning supplies to simple furnishings, like pillows. Daiso should be the first place you go after you move in. With most items set at 100 yen, you can stock up on basic necessities without breaking the bank.
After locating your nearest Daiso, I recommend finding your nearest convenience store and your nearest supermarket! If you're looking for large furniture because you intend to stay in Japan long-term, then Nitori, IKEA and perhaps Yodabashi Camera should be your next stops!
Forget your Western comforts
I have dealt with good times and bad times in the same way since university: with cheese and wine. Well, French cheese, Spanish wine, Italian ham, and British chocolate, to be exact. Besides the wine (God bless Liquor Mountain), it's hard to find those European comforts at a price I'm not appalled to pay for. Even fruit and certain vegetables are most likely going to be your biggest expense when food-shopping!
I highly recommend getting accustomed to Japanese food not just to reduce cravings for the familiar but also to avoid buying a single £2 apple or a £3 mini bag of wholegrain bread…
If you do want to treat yourself from time to time, then I recommend finding your nearest Kaldi for an assortment of imported products.
1 yen coins
Japan is very much a cash society. If you're using card at all, it's probably an IC card! This means that unless you pay ちょうど (the exact amount), you will be given change. Unfortunately, this includes 1 yen coins, which weigh nothing and have about as much value as a dirty sponge. They can acculumate pretty fast and take up valuable space in your purse or wallet, so here are some suggestions to get rid of them!
I suggest you spend them at self-service machines at supermarkets! You could also put them in charity boxes at tills (cashiers), donate them at shrines, or keep them for temple games, like trying to get the coin into a ring for good luck.
Pre-drink at karaoke
Unlike in England, where most clubs start shepherding you out after midnight, midnight is when clubs in Kyoto, Osaka and Seoul start getting good! I recommend going to Rainbow after dinner and ordering nomihoudai (all-you-can-drink!) for 2+ hours. You can drink at your own pace, play DJ and feel safe from club creepsters. Speaking of which, here are some tips on staying safe on a night out - this is especially important as a solo traveler!
Though these tips won't help you with your taxes or help you learn Japanese, I hope they give you a few ideas on how to make life a little more comfortable should you ever move to Japan! If you plan on moving to South Korea however…