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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some More Survival Skills

Well, I want to discuss a few topics here relevant to those who want to live in Japan in the future, but who think Japan is some things it's not.

Firstly, Japan is not all super-awesome when it comes to technology, even though Japan is rather tech-savvy in the media.

Some things to remember:


*Japanese apartments and homes do not have good insulation. You will be hot in the summer and cold in the winter, unless you are willing to pay an EXPENSIVE heating and electric bill. You can run your heating for an hour everyday, and still end up with a bill around $100 a month. Space heaters are NOT the way to go, since they actually take up more electricity than a good heating unit.

Keep in mind that not all apartments and homes come with heating/cooling already installed, so you may have to pay extra for this depending on your landlord.


*Living in Japan can be cheap, or can be expensive. You make it what you want it.  Groceries are not like in the West and the US, and you can't just go out and buy a bulk of food. Japanese people buy food day by day, and grocery shop per meal rather than per week or per month. Getting groceries can be more expensive than eating out if you don't budget yourself appropriately.

On average, Japan costs around $1200 a month, including apartment and bills (so long as the apartment is no more than 50000-65000 yen a month plus bills, and then food and transportation). BUDGET! BUDGET! BUDGET!  SAVE THEM PENNIES!!!

Granted, because the USD does not have much gold to back it up, you are kind of going to be screwed when it comes to conversion into yen. Right now, the conversion is not very good. However, if you live in someplace OTHER than the US, you are good to go. 


*In Japan, you pay for washing or drying. At your apartment complex (if you live in one), you may still have to pay for your wash, or if not your wash, your drying unit each time you use it. The washers and dryers are suuuuper tiny, so you are looking at a couple loads depending on how much you need to wash.  My best advice to you is hang your clothes and bedding out instead of putting them in the dryer.


*Japan is full of discrimination, so expect to be stared at, turned away, ignored, or have comments thrown about you while they just assume you don't know any Japanese.  This is tough, because not everyone does any of these things, but they DO exist in places.  Do not be naive enough to think that you stick out like a sore thumb just because you are not Japanese, because that is not true.  Japanese people are accustomed to foreigners in many places, and generally if you are in a more remote area, you will get more anti-foreigner or "oh cool!". Really depends on the person.

I HAVE been turned away many times because I am a foreigner. Even though I can speak some Japanese, they still turn a deaf ear and pretend they can't understand. Just because you speak Japanese, doesn't mean they will actually help you. The Japanese are VERY shy and VERY stressed, and when a foreigner comes into a shop, they pretty much have two options...

1). Risk speaking English and making a mistake, possibly losing ones' job...

2). Don't speak English, even if foreigner speaks fluent Japanese (doesn't matter because they are too nervous to listen to you anyway), turn away the foreigner and keep job.

Some places are just prejudice, but this IS illegal to discriminate this way. But they will still do it. 


*"Gaijin" is not an acceptable term for a Japanese to call you or talk about you. The acceptable term is "Gaikokujin", and you should call them out on it if you hear someone referring to you this way.  But keep in mind, there is a difference between "casual" and "non-casual" speaking.  For example, my boss uses "Gaijin-san" in reference to me, letting me know she means no disrespect, but because I work in a casual joint this is okay.  But when talking to some customers, she uses "Gaikokujin-san" because this is the polite term.

A few Japanese tend to be shocked when they hear us referring to ourselves as "Gaijin" rather than "Gaikokujin".


*If you are being stared at, do not hesitate to call them out on it. You can tell them that they are being rude, and please don't stare. After a while, you will learn different ways to say this without being rude, or, if you want to be rude, just tell THEM they are being rude and to not stare. (Or: "What are you looking at? Stop it!") 


*Japanese Health Insurance is amazing, so use it if you've got it.  Do NOT be afraid to see someone if you are ill.  But know that there are certain things Japan doesn't seem to understand...

--) Allergies:  Japan, for some reason, does not quite understand the meaning of ALLERGIES.  They don't even have epee pens. They don't quite understand food allergies, so even if you ask them to keep the mayonnaise off the burger they will still put it on, only to wipe it off rather than make you a new one when you remind them you said "mayonezu nashi".  I will talk a little more about this in a moment...

--) Certain Psychological Disorders:  Japanese psychology is way different than Western psychology, so there are certain conditions that Japan doesn't quite get, or they are categorized differently and handled differently in Japan.  I suggest you speak to a doctor when you get to Japan and find one who can work with you and your files and conditions through your stay.  If a doctor knows you, more than likely they can help you better.

--) Medications:  Japanese people naturally have a smaller bone and body structure than the average European or Westerner. So, because of this, medicine dosages are much different.  Also, if you have a cold, you are less likely to find decongestants to help your poor, stuffy nose. This is because Japanese can not have a strong dose of decongestant due to the "stoned" side effects they can cause.  So the dosage levels are much smaller than ours.  You may want to ask a doctor if it is okay to take an extra dose to match your level.  And... DECONGESTANTS ARE ILLEGAL TO IMPORT, so don't think you can just ask your parents to send you over some cold meds if they contain them. 


*"Nanimo Nashi" is what is used to let someone know you want no toppings or everything off of your food. However, this doesn't mean that they will actually listen. In Japan, the menus are pretty much set, and you don't really get the "do it your way". Sure, you can request things to be taken off, but the Japanese don't understand picky eaters or why someone would want something left off because they are allergic.  YES, there ARE people who DO understand, but mostly they just smirk behind your back and not take it very seriously.  I have a friend who is deathly allergic to tomatoes, and once she asked to take ketchup off because it could kill her, and they just laughed and still gave her the ketchup. When she took it back to them to get it remade, they just rolled their eyes and WIPED it off and gave the SAME burger back.  Yes, that's right. Granted, it WILL depend on the place, the person, the cook and the server though. This isn't "set in stone", but it is common that you can not interchange any part of your meal.



I will be getting round to post some topics on the Nipponbashi Cosplay Festival and the Tokyo Dolpa 27 as well!  But until then....


Arashiyama

Welcome Party at the University

Takatsuki Station

Arashiyama

Arashiyama

Arashiyama

AAAnnndd...for those of you into the cosplay stuff... Here is some pics from the Cosplay Event being held at the Manga Museum in Kyoto. ^_^