Jul 1, 2016

Expats say life in Japan is ...

Over the course of May and into June (2016),  we posed to you, the City-Cost users, some piercing (using the term tongue-in-cheek) questions about how it feels to be an expat living in Japan. Here’s how you answered. Don’t worry, no identities will be revealed!

1) Complete the following with a word or a short phrase: 'Expat life in Japan is [ .......... ].'

We can’t possibly list all of the replies here (there were too many).  Here’s the Top 10 ...

2a beautiful hard-working life
7a yellow brick road adventure complete with the occasional pothole
9very comfortable once you accept the bubble’s limits

2) The most convenient aspect of daily-life in Japan is ... (Rank 10 options, 1 = most convenient)

1Trains (inc. Shinkansen, subway, etc)
2Convenience stores
3Availability of public toilets
4100 yen stores
5Vending machines
6No tipping required in restaurants
7Ordering food through ticket vending machines
81,000 yen / 10 min haircuts
9Free tissues (handed out at train stations etc)
10Touch-screen ordering in restaurants

Expats say life in Japan is ... photo

3) The most annoying/irritating aspect of daily-life in Japan is ... (Rank 10 options, 1 = most annoying/irritating)

1Crowded trains
2Noise from loudspeakers (politicians, city office announcements, business trucks/vans etc) 
3Renewing/changing your visaPeople who don't hold open doors
4Waiting at traffic lights (even when no vehicles are in sight)
5Paperwork at your local city/ward office
6Separating household garbage
7Landlords who won't accept foreign tenants
8Smoking in public spaces (restaurants, bars, smoking areas, etc)
9Renewing/changing your visa
10People who don't hold open doors

Expats say life in Japan is ... photo

4) Describe what for you is the best thing about being an expat in Japan, and also the worst.

When asked to detail the best aspects of Japan, many of you remarked on the nature of the people as being kind and friendly, and, in some cases, that they mind their own business (except those who want to practice their English)! There were also those that referred to some of the options in question No.2, particularly the convenience of Japan’s transportation systems.  

Culture was also a recurring theme, with a lot of you expressing how lucky you felt to be in a position to experience Japan’s intricacies and complexities first-hand. This was also seen as an opportunity for personal growth by some.  

Safety came up in a number of responses, adding further weight to the oft held opinion among expats in Japan, that Japan’s streets are a lot less threatening than certain areas back home.

The feeling of something close to a celebrity cropped up, too. However, it was remarked that this also had a negative aspect to it, in the sense that one might feel under greater pressure to behave in certain ways. 

In regards to the worst thing about being an expat in Japan (and in opposition to the description of Japanese people as friendly and kind) the word ‘xenophobic’ did come up. Also, Japanese people minding their own business was also seen by some as them being too reserved.  

A common issue was the difficulty in securing an apartment / guarantor as a foreigner.  

Other ‘worst’ aspects of expat life in Japan included, difficulty in making friends with locals, the tight living spaces, an odd dating culture, and how hard it can be to penetrate Japanese society and culture.

(Of the respondents: 40% female, 60% male)

Twitter: City_Cost_Japan




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