Aug 3, 2018
We live in a great little neighborhood out here in Niigata - we know most if not all of our neighbors, and interact with them regularly. We took a few steps though to ensure we got out on the right foot from the get-go, and it doesn't really take much!
If you're soon to be taking up the expat life in Japan, or even moving towns, here 5 things that worked well for us to establish ourselves as well-liked (we think!!) neighbors!
Our charming neighborhood in Niigata
Come bearing gifts!
We found that introducing ourselves right as we arrived was helpful in establishing who we were - and we also brought American chocolates as a gift. Having something to give is always a way to ingratiate yourself to the local community wherever you live! If we're headed out of town for work or for leisure, we also try and pick up some small omiyage for them where possible as well.
Offer a hand when you can
Neighbors going away on a vacation? Offer to water their plants! Snow building up and you see them shoveling their driveway? If you can help them get the job done in half the time, go ahead and do it! We find that being a good neighbor in this way helps to build rapport and respect. Plus, in this neck of the woods, having someone help you with snow shoveling is akin to immediate best friend status.
Take part in community events
If you can get involved with local events here, it's a sure fire way to connect with your neighbors so they can get to know you. Especially in smaller communities like our own, you are always running into your neighbors at festivals and other fun things happening locally.
We find that attending local events helps us experience more of Japan and also interact with the residents in our neighborhood.
Don't mess up your trash!
We really try and pay close attention to sorting our trash here! We've seen folks who haven't had their rubbish collected because they've put something that isn't plastic in with their plastic trash, for instance. We don't want to inconvenience anyone or be seen as not following the rules, so we try to be extra diligent in this regard. So far, so good!
Be wary of how much noise you're making
I feel like this goes without saying for just about any neighborhood around the world, but here in Japan I feel like my local area appreciates peace and quiet more than what I was used to back in Australia or the States. Making sure that you don't have music blaring late at night, or playing an instrument at the crack of dawn is just good manners.
After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!