Mar 1, 2019
You hear that Japan is a safe country quite a lot. Here is a little story to the contrary.
After graduation I decided to go to Japan with a working holiday visa. I found an internship at a company situated in a rather rural part of Japan about 1.5 hours from central Tokyo. The company provided apartments for interns so you didn't have to go through the trouble of finding one.
The apartments were small but sufficient for a 6-month internship. Unfortunately, they didn't have an auto lock function and the doors would have to be closed manually from inside. I had only lived in places with auto lock before so in the beginning I was not yet used to locking my door by hand.
One night I came home from work and was quite tired and slept right away without looking the door. At about 3 AM I woke up because there was some sound. When I opened my eyes I saw a person wearing one of these typical burglar masks where you can only see the eyes standing next to my bed. I was shocked and started screaming reflexively.
Once the person realized I was awake they ran immediately and I was left in shock.
I first checked my valuables to see what was stolen and luckily only the cash from my purse was missing. As an intern this was still quite hard to deal with but stolen credit cards or a passport might have ended even worse.
But the most frightening thing I found was that my own kitchen knife was lying next to my pillow. They must have taken it from my kitchen, but I didn't want to think about what they were attempting to do with it.
Unsure of what to do next I tried to call the HR person in charge of the interns. Luckily they answered their phone even though it was still pretty early in the morning. I explained the situation and they contacted another employee that lived close to the intern apartments who then came over and contacted the police for me. I was quite relieved because at that point in time my Japanese was not good enough to talk to the police on my own. The police asked some questions and took some photos. They also let me know that in this area such robberies were quite common as elderly people tend to leave their doors open because they think it is safe enough. I never heard from the police again afterwards though.
Without me mentioning it the company assumed that I would not be able to sleep in this apartment anymore and the employee living close by offered me to stay at his apartment for the weekend as he would go on a trip anyway. After that the company had booked a room at a hotel for me until they were able to find a new apartment. A few weeks later they had found new apartments for all interns and we could all move in. The new apartments were even equipped with an alarm system that the company paid for.
Even though this experience was quite shocking I was pretty surprised how well the company handled it for me. I wouldn't say that every company would pay a hotel for you, find you a new place and even equip it with an alarm system.
Thanks to that I was able to recover quite quickly and could enjoy the rest of my internship. Also now I always make sure to check twice whether my door is closed before I go to sleep.
Hi, I’m Eli. I’m from Germany and moved to Japan a few years ago. I am a typical nerd and like collecting Pokémon merchandise.Follow me on twitter (@hannari_eri) for the latest nerd News from Tokyo. I also write a blog in German over here. https://lifeinjapanisstrange.wordpress.com/
My building has an automatic lock entrance and security camera, so I never locked my apartment's front door thinking that it is safe enough. After reading your blog it changed my mind.
@KevinC It is always better to lock. An automatic lock is nice but there are ways to get around it and the camera is only semi-helpful when the burglar is wearing a mask that covers their face. Stay safe.