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Old 2010-05-25, 08:04   Link #861
Guardian Enzo
Seishu's Ace
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Kagurazaka, Tokyo
Interesting trivia - Japanese convenience stores sell underpants, but not ziploc bags. I wonder if there's any deeper social meaning there.

Last day - I fly out late evening tomorrow, but I don't really count it. Went out to Kawagoe this AM, figuring it would be a mellow way to spend the last day. Then, off to Suginami Animation Museum. That was fun - a free museum really trying hard, with a helpful staff doing their best to speak English. An extraordinarily genki troop of junior high kids on a tour came in just after I got there, and pretty much took over the place.

GeGeGe no Kitaro was everywhere this week. Big exhibition at the museum, and it was all over Chofu yesterday - the author lives there. He's a huge FC Tokyo fan, apparently, and Kitaro is on all the lamposts promoting the team. If they made that as a jersey, it would be a great souvenir. I confess to never having seen an episode or a movie, but I know it's one of those seminal anime properties that's just part of the culture here. It's been remade at least once every decade since the 60's.

Capped off my evening with a visit to Nekorobi, the cat cafe I'd meant to go to last week. It's just across from Sunshine City. Whatever the reason, the cats were far more energetic than at the first one. A dozen felines, all awake and playful. These were clearly healthy, energetic and well-cared for cats - I was impressed. Drinks and snacks were free at this one, to - 1000 for an hour. I think it was worth it - I found the feline frolics soothing to the soul (and I need it right now).

I'll wrap with closing thoughts after I get home, but what a trip. I think I want to take a huge pay cut and get a job teaching English here.
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Old 2010-05-25, 15:38   Link #862
Mystique
Honyaku no Hime
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Join Date: May 2008
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Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
I'll wrap with closing thoughts after I get home, but what a trip. I think I want to take a huge pay cut and get a job teaching English here.
I've said this a million times before, but a holiday is a holiday, you'll have one of the most magical and amazing times of your life here.
Living here is another entire ballgame all together, so let the fairydust settle for a few months before you decide

Seems you've been enjoying more of Tokyo and surrounding areas that I even knew about, nice reports
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Old 2010-05-25, 16:58   Link #863
Guardian Enzo
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Kagurazaka, Tokyo
Well, this is my second time here and I do have an ex-pat friend who has been living here for 14 years. He's given me some unvarnished input about the good, the bad and the ugly of living in Japan generally and Tokyo specifically (he's moved a few times). I think my eyes are pretty open, but the bottom line for me is, this is a good time to be bold - I don't like my job, don't have family commitments holding me back, and generally feel like a change is in order. As I said earlier, I love the aspect of having so much that's new to me here - starting with basics like the language. It does make me feel young, and that's a good thing.

We'll see. I'd probably sleep for about 48 hours when I got back if given the choice, but I'll have so much work piled up that'll be impossible. Got about 5 hours left to enjoy Tokyo before I hop the train to Narita.
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Old 2010-05-26, 18:53   Link #864
Guardian Enzo
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Well, I'm back... And jet lagged. Always seems to worse flying East, and maybe having the down vibe of coming home rather than the adrenaline of arrival too.

Now then, the last day was pretty low key - Kanda Myojin and Ueno Park. My back held up but my feet are killing me - blisters everywhere. I thought my running shoes were the right choice, but clearly not. I'd guess I was doing 5-10 miles a day so maybe the shoes wouldn't even have mattered.

I had an unbelievable time - so many wonderful interactions with folks on the trains, the temple, etc. So many beautiful places and near-religious experiences. The varied and relaxing experiences at the onsen - although the glowing brown water (one of the pools was in a cave, so I'm sure) at Jindaiji was a bit frightening at first. I dropped a considerable amount of coin at shrines all over the country. I suppose the one disappointment was the otaku side - I just didn't see much in Akiba or Nakano Broadway that set me on fire. Picked up a few doujins and the Nyanko plushie, and that's about it. As I mentioned a few days ago, I guess I just have to accept that my interests don't really overlap with popular tastes when it comes to anime and manga.

Now I'm back, and the grind begins again. Sigh.
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Old 2010-05-27, 04:31   Link #865
Qikz
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Glad you enjoyed yourself, sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Thanks for keeping this thread informed, was a good read. :>
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Old 2010-06-05, 14:44   Link #866
Guardian Enzo
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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If anyone is interested, here's a selection of the pics and vids I took in Japan. Feedback is, of course, welcome.

http://picasaweb.google.com/miller.matthew85/Japan2010#
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Old 2010-06-12, 08:42   Link #867
ZephyrLeanne
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Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
Interesting trivia - Japanese convenience stores sell underpants, but not ziploc bags. I wonder if there's any deeper social meaning there.
Yes. It's called the "green" ("use less plastic") movement. That explains. You even have to PAY to get a plastic bag.

It's been there for quite a bit. Try the supermarkets instead.
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Old 2010-06-12, 11:30   Link #868
Guardian Enzo
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Well, as it happens my "TSA" ziploc bag for toiletries had broken, and I wanted to replace it. I had intended to try a suupa but they're a lot harder to find in central Tokyo than convenience stores.
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Old 2010-06-13, 06:57   Link #869
ZephyrLeanne
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Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
Well, as it happens my "TSA" ziploc bag for toiletries had broken, and I wanted to replace it. I had intended to try a suupa but they're a lot harder to find in central Tokyo than convenience stores.
Supermarkets are usually at the basement of dept. stores (ONLY IF THEY HAVE THE NAME OF A RAILWAY CORP.) [Like Seibu, Tokyu, Odakyu, Tobu]. Other dept. stores like Takashimaya, Isetan, and Daimaru MAY have dept. stores at the basement, but they're overpriced.) And you should see one near ANY private railway [JR doesn't count, as well as Subway.]
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Old 2010-06-13, 20:03   Link #870
Guardian Enzo
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Oh believe me, I spent a lot of time in those basements - those food markets are one of the great joys of Japan for me. It just never occurred to me to buy sundries like ziplocs there - I think of them as food places. I'll definitely remember for next time.
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Old 2010-06-14, 09:51   Link #871
ZephyrLeanne
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Originally Posted by Guardian Enzo View Post
Oh believe me, I spent a lot of time in those basements - those food markets are one of the great joys of Japan for me. It just never occurred to me to buy sundries like ziplocs there - I think of them as food places. I'll definitely remember for next time.
1. NOT THE FOOD MARKET. I'm refering to the proper supermarket. In other words, not the cooked food shoppes. The supermarket where you do groceries.

2. You need something to put your food in right? Usually ziplocs can be fund near the baking implements like aluminum foil and grease paper.
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Old 2010-07-07, 14:58   Link #872
Toleen
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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i also want to visit japan someday
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Old 2010-08-21, 20:22   Link #873
Yu Ominae
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Been meaning to say that when I visited Kyoto for the first time, I spotted a Caucasian guy working in the Hilton (I think) near the Sanjūsangen-dō temple. Nice temple BTW and not to mention. Too bad you can't take photo but I don't care though.

Not sure on why this is the case. When I see foreigners working somewhere else (e.g. another country) for the hotel business, I would assume that they would work in some managerial/supervising position. But this is the first time that this was not the case.

Also my bro tried to tip him 1,000 Yen but he warned him that Japan doesn't take too kindly on anyone tipping, local or foreign.
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Old 2010-08-25, 03:26   Link #874
Langus
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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Japan's "no tipping" policy is amazing! I love it!
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Old 2010-08-25, 05:34   Link #875
Qikz
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Join Date: May 2010
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Funny thing is, in England we don't ever tip either. Is it down to the way Waiters and stuff are paid in America since it seems to be almost law that you tip in America?
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Old 2010-08-25, 07:53   Link #876
~sylf~
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I've been seriously considering going over to work in Japan for a while now... not permanently, just about 2yrs, enough to get the language and culture and have fun. I've been digging through this thread and turning alternately more resolved to go and more scared to go. >< I'll admit I only want to go because of my fascination with the place after watching anime so long, but I know for sure it'll have lots of adjustments. I'm asian myself, so I'm not afraid of looking weird on the street or being singled out. Mostly I'm just scared of potential expectations in working hours and the fact that everyone tells me females are expected to be married and subservient, so they might take you lightly at work. Screw that, I have a degree and I'm not afraid to use it. << But it does make me worry... did anyone else work there professionally and have some reassurance? lol.
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Old 2010-08-26, 08:36   Link #877
mindovermatter
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Originally Posted by Qikz View Post
Funny thing is, in England we don't ever tip either. Is it down to the way Waiters and stuff are paid in America since it seems to be almost law that you tip in America?
the idea behind tips is that your saying to the person "you did a good job. So good in fact, that your boss probably isn't paying you enough, so here's a bit extra"
little known fact, that your not supposed to tip the owner of a place since he technically sets his own salary.

Bar tenders and waiters actually often make very little (or no) money and rely a lot on tips (which has it's positive effect, in that you don't pay taxes on tips).
It's funny that most other places in the world that I've been to don't usually have tips, but unfortunately when people see I'm American they insist on tips (usually by withholding my change). I've read stories of people who have gotten really angry if people try to give them tips, but I've never experienced it.
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Old 2010-08-26, 13:02   Link #878
Aird
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Originally Posted by ~sylf~ View Post
I've been seriously considering going over to work in Japan for a while now... not permanently, just about 2yrs, enough to get the language and culture and have fun. I've been digging through this thread and turning alternately more resolved to go and more scared to go. >< I'll admit I only want to go because of my fascination with the place after watching anime so long, but I know for sure it'll have lots of adjustments. I'm asian myself, so I'm not afraid of looking weird on the street or being singled out. Mostly I'm just scared of potential expectations in working hours and the fact that everyone tells me females are expected to be married and subservient, so they might take you lightly at work. Screw that, I have a degree and I'm not afraid to use it. << But it does make me worry... did anyone else work there professionally and have some reassurance? lol.
How much Japanese do you know?

This is probably the most important. If you can't communicate effectively with your boss/coworkers, you probably won't get very far. Can you create a professional resume in Japanese?

I can tell you that 1 year classes in Japanese and knowing hiragana and katakana doesn't get you very far as a tourist. I would never try to work in Japan with that low level of proficency in the language. My roommate has been to Japan on business 3x for 3-6 weeks each time. He had the luxury of everyone in the office being able to communicate in english (communicating in english was a requirement for people working at his company's Japan branch). When he had to participate in meetings that were in Japanese, most of the time he was lost.

My roommate can confirm that in the workplace Japanese can be ageists, sexists and racists. His company had to let go of a foreigner who was completely fluent in Japanse because the Japanese clients would not talk to the person because they can tell that the person was not a native Japanese. The people working in the Japan office for my roommate always asked him about his age and suprised by his age in conjunction with his position.

What kind of connections do you have in Japan?

Knowing someone to help you settle in will probably make it a lot easier. Even better if it's a professional connection since it'll help you get a job. Familarize yourself with immigration, working laws of Japan. What's your plan if you can't find work?

Or maybe you should just consider just looking for work with a mulitnational company that has a branch in Japan or a Japanese company with a branch in your country. You might be able to work your way to transfering to Japan. You'll have atleast the support of your company in establishing yourself in the country.

I'm not trying to scare you out of your dream but you should have realistic expectations based on your current abilities. There are a lot of things to think about before making such a change in your life.
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Old 2010-08-26, 15:48   Link #879
JMvS
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: CH aka Chocaholic Heaven
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I'm planning on going this Autumn, somewhere between the last weeks of September and the first half of October. So where would the Autumn front be in this period? Already near Tokyo or only in the North? And usually how is the light in this time of the year?

I'm asking because my sister, whom I've more or less convinced to come with me, and I are fond of photography (BTW, Kyoto in rainy May is awesome).

We are thinking about a 1-2 weeks stay, with the first part devoted to Tokyo, and the rest to elsewhere, focusing on culture and landscapes.

I am very tempted on heading West toward Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima and maybe even Nagasaki. But on the other hand, the colors of Autumn up North are quite appealing.

Maybe I'll do half with my sister, and stretch my stay a bit to visit more.

But this time I need to better plan my expenses, knowing that:
-the cheapest airplane ticket are from 1100 to 1300 CHF.
-the JR pass, depending on whether we go out of Tokyo, and how long, will be either 0, 300 or 500 CHF for no, 1 or 2 week pass.
-we might be able to crash at a relative's place in Tokyo, but for elsewhere, I want to try the ryokan experience at least once, and maybe youths' hostels (any idea on reservation delays, tariffs and foreigner policies?).
-I suppose that I'll be able to spend as much if not less on food than at home (I live in expensive Switzerland, and usually spend between 10 and 20 CHF a day on food).
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Old 2010-08-26, 23:01   Link #880
Langus
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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Autumn doesn't usually reach Tokyo area till late September/early October. Kyoto especially is very popular for momoji (autumn leave) viewing around the 2nd weekend. This year is unseasonably hot though so the autumn changing of the leaves might be pushed back.

@ sylf - Aird made a really good post so I only have a couple of points to add.

Unless you plan on working as an English teacher during your 2 years expect to have 2kyu Japanese level proficiency before you will be considered for work at a regular Japanese company. They not only require you to know Japanese near-fluent but also "keigo" which is extra formal Japanese used in business settings.

Working as an English teacher is great, especially if you can get in on the JET Program, since the money is good. Given your comment that you want to come to Japan to learn a bit of the language, culture and have some fun, this might be your best option.

Regular companies in Japan have ridiculously long working hours and it is expected that you will work them (without overtime pay, I might add). 12 hour days are common, often followed by drinks with co-workers or a late dinner. Weekend work is also common. No one, unless they are an English teacher employed on the JET program works regular 9-5 hours in this country.

Japanese offices CAN be racist or sexist but many of them are not. I've never encountered any problems. Probably the worst thing you can do is come in with the attitude of "I am important. I have value because of my degree therefore you should all respect me!" They don't care. Everyone else working at that company has a degree so you are not special. Respect is earned here and a lot of times extra work and longer hours are thrown at you because you're lowest on the totem pole.

Generally comments or actions that can be seen as racist or sexist are the result of ignorance or a miscommunication, not ill intent. Explaining that you are offended and why, calmly, will go a long way. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Keep in mind though that saying something like "Well in America we..." won't get you far. You:re not in Kansas anymore.

Overall, I've had a really pleasant experience working in Japan as an English teacher. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
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