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Old 2003-12-14, 07:09   Link #41
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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I hope ya have a nice time aznkoodies and i look forward to some piccies



I was originally planning on going to japan as an exchange student but after reading what some people wrote i think i will visit it first

Thanx everyone ^_^
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Old 2003-12-14, 18:37   Link #42
NenMaster
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damn i wanna go now,

is it easy to pickup japanese women?
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Old 2003-12-14, 18:48   Link #43
tsurumaru
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Angry

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laguna
I want to thank all people who spend time writing those great insight guides! It really helps when you hear pracical tips like this before traveling.
You're welcome

Actually my trip was part of a year round trip which took in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand to mention just a few. If you are from a developed country I would seriously not recommend travelling directly to Japan from a developing country (like I did from India) as I suffered quite a high amount of reverse culture shock with the extreme differences between these two countries. For example I found it very difficult to budget effectively for at least the first couple of weeks because of the huge difference in the value of everyday items (I had spent the previous three months in India).

I'd also like to say (and I won't go into great detail) that Japan is IMHO a country of great contradictions (at least from my own perspective) The media onslaught of how great western life is, gives such a biased view on our societies that I feel that many Japanese have a very distorted view on what it is really like to live in the west. This also causes a lot of problems as it jars against the Japanese "them and us" social structure. (If you were not born Japanese you will never be accepted as truly Japanese no matter how long you live there etc etc) and I felt quite upset by the way that the Japanese themselves felt they were both in some ways "inferior" to people from other countries (such as the large amount of cosmetic surgery that certain types of Japanese people undergo to make themselves look more westernised) and yet naturally looked down own/ignored other ethnic types.
But the truth is you can only try to change these views to greater reflect reality by your interaction with the people you will meet. The Japanese people I met were probably the most helpful, genuine, and kind people of any of the countries I spent time in and I never felt unsafe in all my time there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Laguna
Btw. Anyone been in Osaka ? Most tips here seem to center in Tokyo area, and I'd like to know more about Osaka (or "kinki region") cause that's where I'm going..
Ah gomen, I didn't go to Osaka, but loved the time I spent in Kyoto (a truly beautiful city). Tokyo is so big its hard to grasp the scale of it all and easy to lose your bearings amongst the high rise buildings. Whereas Kyoto has its beautiful temples and traditional buildings that have survived WWII. Nestled as it is between the folding mountains that are common across Japan you can easily trace the outline of the city by simply looking at the horizon.

A couple of suggestions if you go there:

Kyoto

There are plenty of cheap hostels about 10-15 mins from the main station.
Hire a bicycle for the day! You could probably visit 30 temples in a day (beware of overloading as your brain will become complacent if you go to see too many at once) The main tourist office is just opposite the main station (attached to the department store which has the Kyoto Tower on top of it) They are extremely helpful, speak english and will be able to provide you with any information you require - including the best place to hire a bike.
If you dont want to pay to go up the Kyoto tower then head for the "Skywalk" above Kyoto station, its free and you get and equally good view!
Definitely check out "Kiyomizu dera", Ginkakuji and Kinkakuji temples they are truly stunning in their own ways. Also be sure to say "Hi" to the neverending groups of School children and Japanese tourists who filter through at all times of the year.

Update: There is a museum dedicated to Osamu Tezuka ("The Father of Anime") Creator of such classics as Astro Boy, The Phoenix, Blackjack etc etc just two minutes walk from Kyoto's main JR station. Leave the station via the main exit (facing Kyoto tower) and turn right it is attached to the main station building on the right hand side.
Also check out the underground shopping centre directly under the front of the station (but dont get lost!) there are some interesting shops and some fairly cheap eateries.....

Otherwise near the Ginza area there is a secondhand bookshop (just across the river) = Very cheap manga.

Also several of the restaurants in this area do all you can eat buffet lunches for a set price (the pizza restaurant is very good) this can be a great way to stock up on some vauable calories if you have been running low... (I lost 4 and half stone when I was in India & Japan (63 pounds) due to the change in diet, work and weather etc)

Kinki ben (Kansai Dialect)
O ki ni - Arigatou - Thank you
Honmani - Hontou ni - Truthfully
Akan - Dame - Useless

(Sorry thats all I can remember except they have different sounding sentence endings)

British Passport Holders

Before I forget: Whilst I was in Japan I found out an interesting thing about British Passport holders. Apparently because of a reciprocal agreement between Japan and Great Britain you can have your 90 day Tourist Visa extended at any Japanese cities immigration department for a further 90 days for only a small cost. I did this to allow me to stay longer and had no problems (as I could show my onward flight ticket to prove I would be actually leaving) I was the envy of my American/Australian colleagues who usually had to take a short trip to Korea (by high speed ferry from Osaka or by a short flight) and then reenter the country after a few weeks.
It would be worth double checking that this is still the case though as you know how these things can change!
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Last edited by tsurumaru; 2003-12-22 at 06:29.
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Old 2003-12-14, 19:30   Link #44
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Sorry to change the subject, but

How did you like Singapore? That's the first place in Asia that I plan on visiting. Mainly because I have friends there and because they speak English.

Is it extremely expensive?
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Old 2003-12-15, 10:32   Link #45
tsurumaru
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dopeskills
Sorry to change the subject, but

How did you like Singapore? That's the first place in Asia that I plan on visiting. Mainly because I have friends there and because they speak English.

Is it extremely expensive?
I liked Singapore, although being so close to the Equator its HOT and HUMID (they deserve the capitals!) I famously broke into a sweat getting off my friends sofa. You can also sit and watch the thunder storms grow all day and watch them slowly drift your way.

There isn't a whole amount to do (being a fairly small island). But you could try checking out the slightly "cheesy" Sentosa tourist park. Which isn't all that expensive and does have quite a few Japanese tourists including Bikini clad Japanese Girls . The Japanese and Chinese gardens (a bit of a trek by MTR - metro system) are also worth a visit as is of course Orchard Street <shopping central> don't bother using the roads/pavements/sidewalks there, as there are networks of air conditioned corridors linking most shops with each other. You can also check out the famous Singapore Raffles Hotel (although lunch is a "tad" expensive). The area by the river in town is a pretty nice area for a stroll.

Food and travel is pretty cheap and the people are friendly. Cheap shopping can be found in either the Little India or China town area's of the Capital.
There are also a number of Comic/Video game shops worth visiting on the outskirts of China town.

Oh yeah and a piece of advice, if you find yourself walking through either Little India or China Town and there are a group of Girls lounging around outside of an unmarked building that would be the local brothel.....! Remember you're not THAT popular they are just touting for business!

Lastly remember Singapore is FINE place, there are literally fines in place for almost everything. Absolutely no chewing gum, no running, (no having fun) ! Although you will probably be shown some leniency as a foreigner.
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Old 2003-12-15, 11:21   Link #46
Lord Raiden
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tsurumaru: Aside from your recommendation of Kyoko when going to Japan, what other cities would you recommend going to and what airports would you suggest flying into to get to them? I do agree with you that flying into Tokyo kinda blows the whole explerience...well, unless you're an uber geek and love lots of cool electronic toys.
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Old 2003-12-15, 13:52   Link #47
tsurumaru
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Raiden
tsurumaru: Aside from your recommendation of Kyoko when going to Japan, what other cities would you recommend going to and what airports would you suggest flying into to get to them? I do agree with you that flying into Tokyo kinda blows the whole explerience...well, unless you're an uber geek and love lots of cool electronic toys.
Thats a difficult question, because of my Round the World Ticket I had to stipulate my point of arrival and departure well in advance. I decided on Arrive in Tokyo and leave from Fukuoka (in the very west of mainland Japan(Kyushu)). this allowed me to take a round trip ferry service to Okinawa from Fukuoka and travel direct to Hong Kong although I would have prefered to take a slower journey and stop on some of the islands along the way.

I'd probably recommend you do fly in to one of the Major cities purely in order to be able to find English speaking assistance. Although most Japanese learn English for about 7 years mostly this is based around reading and comprehension skills and not conversational skills a lot of the Japanese I met unless particularly skilled were not willing to "Lose face" and try to communicate with me in English in public, for fear that they would be judged as failures by their peers.......

I regretted not being able to travel very far to the North of Japan (I heard many say that Sapporo in Hokaido was quite beautiful) However whilst I was in Okinawa most of the Japanese students/youth who had also travelled there seemed to be from Hokaido too as apparently whilst it was mid 20's Celsius in Okinawa it was -30 Celsius in Sapporo! (PS if you manage to get to Okinawa try Ryukyu Soba)

Okinawa - Sadly most of the culture on the main island has been wiped off the map by the Japanese and Americans but check out Shuri castle even though its reconstructed it has been done so to the original 14th (?) century designs and there is both beautiful craftmanship and unique design ( a blend of Japanese, Chinese and original Okinanwan ethos). Its also worth checking out Okinawan folk music with its use of Sanshin's (three stringed guitars) and watch out for Japan's deadliest snake, the Habu, which is only found in Okinawa and some outlying islands (To be honest with you you'll probably only see these at the bottom of bottles of the famous Awamori or "Habushu Snake Liquor" alcoholic drinks).

I managed to visit a friend who was on the Jet scheme in Tochigi and also ventured up to Nikko (Which is definitely worth a visit) but sadly didn't go any further North than that. Niigata and Sendai also got several mentions from friends who had managed to travel round a bit more.

Osaka is meant to be fairly industrialised, (so I opted for Kyouto instead) Nara (which is the third city in the so called Golden triangle is also worth a visit if you are going to spend any amount of time based in either Kyoto or Osaka).

In the south Hiroshima, Fukuoka (You've gotta try Hakata Ramen - Oishii!) and although I didn't manage to get that far south Kagoshima, are good places to start (wanted to go visit the active volcanoes near there but perhaps next time)

Sorry, I cant write more at the moment I have to go out soon.
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Last edited by tsurumaru; 2003-12-16 at 07:48.
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Old 2003-12-15, 15:13   Link #48
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No problem. That's good info there either way. Thanks!!
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Old 2003-12-19, 12:47   Link #49
LynnieS
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tsurumaru - Do you mind if I ask how long was your stay in Japan?

Would you also happen to have information on the pros and cons of staying in the country for work purposes? Not really concerned about the finding a job part, but I'd like to get all of the facts in advance to make a proper decision.

The best site that I had found is the DaiJob's site, which is fairly informative, but if there is one that is even better, I'd like to take a look inside.
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Old 2003-12-19, 20:40   Link #50
tsurumaru
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnieS
tsurumaru - Do you mind if I ask how long was your stay in Japan?

Would you also happen to have information on the pros and cons of staying in the country for work purposes? Not really concerned about the finding a job part, but I'd like to get all of the facts in advance to make a proper decision.

The best site that I had found is the DaiJob's site, which is fairly informative, but if there is one that is even better, I'd like to take a look inside.
No problem - I stayed for about 5 and a half months overall.

Hmm for work purposes? It really does depend on:

A. Where you are from.
B. What type of work you intend to do.

For example a LOT of foreigners I met in Japan were from Autralia or New Zealand. This was deu to the fact that the Yen was so strong compared to the Australian and New Zealand Dollar that they could make a lot of money either teaching English or doing bar work etc on either year (legal) or three month (illegal) placements.

Some of the advantages to working there that I can think of are:

Low Tax threshold (I cant remember off the top of my head but Tax was only around 10-15% when I was there). Obviously if you are working for cash in hand then you might not even need to worry about this.

Its a great way to meet (and understand) people, this might sound obvious but I found that working in a bar was a fantastic way to meet people (both foreigners and Japanese) that I would not have done under other circumstances.

If you are interested in learning Japanese then having to confront everyday life in Japan is probably the best way to learn I can think of. Constant immersion in the language and culture (that you might not get from say a vacation) really does force your mind into learning mode.

Working will definitely help top up your funds, I think the cost of living in Tokyo worked out slightly more expensively than in London (UK) which if you dont know is ridiculously expensive. Your funds will decrease at an alarming rate if you don't do something about it.

Disadvantages:

No interest on savings, Japanese banks give close to 0% interest on savings due to the financial situation. Most foreigners ship any savings home via international money transfers. Watch out though as there are thresholds for the amount you can transfer without having to pay fee's (in addition to the cost of converting Yen to $'s or 's)

In Japan like in most of Asia long hours of employment with few holidays are usual. This will eat into any amount of time you have to actually visit anywhere! It would be best to plan in advance what hours you can afford to work to leave yourself some time to actually experince the "Living" part of "Living in Japan"! You might find teaching for cash in hand a good way to organise your own time but the disadvantages of this are that you will spend a lot of time finding willing clients to pay for your lessons and therefore should not guarantee on any form of immediate income.......

Getting caught, if you were ever caught working illegally then you would probably face immediate deportation/ a lengthy jail term, or both..... You would probably forfeit the right to ever reenter Japan...(or at least face a lengthy ban). Depending on your level of exposure/ how much your legal employer is paying the right people depends on how likely you are to ever experience a police bust. (ie in Roppongi not since the late 80's).... ^^;

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you wanted to stay legitimately and are a native English speaker with a degree then I would definitely recommend the JET scheme (Japan English Teacher Scheme). this is a one year (usually) Governement funded placement teaching English in a Japanese school. the money is good, its stable and you will be provided with accomodation without having to organise your own (which can be a bit of a mare to say the least).

Types of Visa:

Also take into consideration the type of visa that you will be issued with upon entry to the country:

These ae all the types I came across but if anyone else is aware of any more or of any corrections then please do let me know.

3 or 6 (very rare) month tourist visa. Officially employment is not available to you.

6 or 12 month cultural exchange visa. Usually issued for the purpose of studying something (such as Martial arts, caligraphy etc) Work officially not allowed, however possibility of teaching English/other work.

12 months Student Visa, not sure about this but may allow limited work to supplement students income.

12 Working Holiday Visa only available to citizens of a country that has a reciprocal agreement with Japan and has its own working holiday scheme for Japanese citizens. This is a great one to try for potentially you could work anywhere legally. However you can only ever apply for one of these visas so be careful!

Spouse Visa: Must be married to Japanese citizen, allows some kinds of work. Very unfair though if you get divorced you risk deportation even if you have kids by your wife....! Didn't stop some people I knew getting into marriages of convenience.....^^;

Working Visa (usually 12 months) a Japanese person (usually your employer) is required to be your guaranter (in the case of the JET scheme I believe this is the government).

Important point if you enter the country under any visa except working or spouse Visa and are offered a job then you will have to leave and then re-enter the country to be issued with your working Visa. (Most people take a short trip to Korea for example). If you are planning on this tactic then remember it can take up to two months to find employment so budget for at least this amount of time before depending on any income). Getting a place can even involve up to 5 months equivalent rent in advance! Therefore see if you prospective employer can help you secure decent accomodation. Also remember that a lot of the posts that will become free are because someone hads just left a year or more placement. These opportunites can be quite "seasonal" ie around the time a school year ends.....
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Old 2003-12-19, 23:54   Link #51
Lord Raiden
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hehe. Very cool. I think teaching english in Japan would be just too cool. I could get better at my Japanese and they'd learn how to talk like a Michigan Podunk. (aka northern michigan/Upper Peninsula hillbilly )
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Old 2003-12-20, 00:51   Link #52
大和魂
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[QUOTE]Who knows, you might think it seriously sucks when you get there, yes it is possible.


It should be against the law to use this kind of talk


日本はこの世界の国の中で一番だよ!!!
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Old 2003-12-20, 01:20   Link #53
LynnieS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsurumaru
No problem - I stayed for about 5 and a half months overall.

Hmm for work purposes? It really does depend on:

A. Where you are from.
B. What type of work you intend to do.

Some of the advantages to working there that I can think of are:
...
Low Tax threshold (I cant remember off the top of my head but Tax was only around 10-15% when I was there). Obviously if you are working for cash in hand then you might not even need to worry about this.

Its a great way to meet (and understand) people, this might sound obvious but I found that working in a bar was a fantastic way to meet people (both foreigners and Japanese) that I would not have done under other circumstances.

If you are interested in learning Japanese then having to confront everyday life in Japan is probably the best way to learn I can think of. Constant immersion in the language and culture (that you might not get from say a vacation) really does force your mind into learning mode.
I think the tax rate for the first year is generally very low, but it jumps afterwards in the second year and so on? As for learning the language and getting to know the country's people and culture, yeah, they are certainly factors that I'm considering. Since I'm interested, long-term, in getting to know the Asia-Pacific region, staying in Japan should give me a good place to travel around the area. As best as it could be done, anyway, within a couple of years.

From a career point of view, having an ex-pat experience should also be a plus.

Quote:
Working will definitely help top up your funds, I think the cost of living in Tokyo worked out slightly more expensively than in London (UK) which if you dont know is ridiculously expensive. Your funds will decrease at an alarming rate if you don't do something about it.
LOL! Tell me about it. I just about broke even when I totalled up my expenses for London and compared that number to my salary that I was drawing down, and the only thing that made that possible was that my company was picking up the rent on my apartment. It's really the use of weekly rent, I think, that threw me at the time. Multiply that number by 4 and convert into USD, and

Quote:
Disadvantages:

No interest on savings, Japanese banks give close to 0% interest on savings due to the financial situation. Most foreigners ship any savings home via international money transfers. Watch out though as there are thresholds for the amount you can transfer without having to pay fee's (in addition to the cost of converting Yen to $'s or 's)
Very true. OTOH, I think that inflation is near zero also, no? Helps somewhat, I suppose.

Quote:
In Japan like in most of Asia long hours of employment with few holidays are usual. This will eat into any amount of time you have to actually visit anywhere! It would be best to plan in advance what hours you can afford to work to leave yourself some time to actually experince the "Living" part of "Living in Japan"! You might find teaching for cash in hand a good way to organise your own time but the disadvantages of this are that you will spend a lot of time finding willing clients to pay for your lessons and therefore should not guarantee on any form of immediate income.......
That's what vacation days are for. To go play wide-eyed tourist at every major tourist trap in the region. Isn't Saturday also an "official" work day in the country? I know that a holiday like Christmas is just another day, but they, for 2004, get Jan. 1st, 2nd, and, I think, 5th off.

Quote:
Getting caught, if you were ever caught working illegally then you would probably face immediate deportation/ a lengthy jail term, or both..... You would probably forfeit the right to ever reenter Japan...(or at least face a lengthy ban). Depending on your level of exposure/ how much your legal employer is paying the right people depends on how likely you are to ever experience a police bust. (ie in Roppongi not since the late 80's).... ^^;
No worries. I don't want to deal with the hassles of Immigration anyway, so I'm not going to work without getting a work visa sponsored first. Don't need the rep of being a hardened criminal.

I'm in the process of applying for a job in my company's Tokyo office, which is why I'm asking all these questions. Our HR dept should cover all of this, but since I didn't go through that dept... Oops. Unfortunately, there's also time pressure on their side, it seems, so everything feels really rushed. Blegh!

Quote:
If you wanted to stay legitimately and are a native English speaker with a degree then I would definitely recommend the JET scheme (Japan English Teacher Scheme). this is a one year (usually) Governement funded placement teaching English in a Japanese school. the money is good, its stable and you will be provided with accomodation without having to organise your own (which can be a bit of a mare to say the least).
That is actually quite a sweet deal. There had been a thread of this in the old forums, but it may not have gotten rescued by the Big Reset of November 2003. I wonder if it can be resurrected?

Quote:
Types of Visa:

Also take into consideration the type of visa that you will be issued with upon entry to the country:

...

Important point if you enter the country under any visa except working or spouse Visa and are offered a job then you will have to leave and then re-enter the country to be issued with your working Visa. (Most people take a short trip to Korea for example). If you are planning on this tactic then remember it can take up to two months to find employment so budget for at least this amount of time before depending on any income). Getting a place can even involve up to 5 months equivalent rent in advance! Therefore see if you prospective employer can help you secure decent accomodation. Also remember that a lot of the posts that will become free are because someone hads just left a year or more placement. These opportunites can be quite "seasonal" ie around the time a school year ends.....
That's what I'm hearing too. That along with the use of key money and such that, as you had mentioned, can really eat into your savings. So long as you're willing to commute into the city - not to mention which city you're near/in - the rent should be more reasonable than a place like New York or London, no?

Do you know anything about (I think they're called) gaijin houses? I did some digging around, and they sounded okay. Not the same as having your own apt, but they basically sound like dorms that aren't owned by a company or the government. Cost-wise, they look reasonable, but you do give up a certain amount of privacy.

In any case, tsurumaru, thanks a lot for providing such great information. Much appreciated!
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Old 2003-12-20, 23:19   Link #54
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i personaly believe that people make far too big a deal about japan, yeah sure its technology is great and shit but...its got alot of sexual inequality and strange often plain stoopid customs, its not all like the animes, with pretty blue haired maidens and young dorky school boys out to get them the girl of their dreams before college starts. I think that if u visit japans, realy read up on it and stuff. and by read up i dont mean pop down to ur local comic book store and pump the resident hardcore fanboy for facts and ep guides. you know what i mean...you guys know...you know
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Old 2003-12-21, 00:44   Link #55
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Have you been to Japan or do you plan to go!!!

Well I plan to move to japan right after college, because I have alot of tech and programming skills I should be able to fit in well with their high tech industry and I make decent money right now so I will most likely be able to fund my trip without too much effort compared to many of you poor children whom can bearly afford to make it to the next day. Heres my question have you been to japan or do you plan to go, if so, tell us when and why, if now tell us why not.
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Old 2003-12-21, 00:47   Link #56
Tomomi
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Yup, I would love to go there to further my studies!
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Old 2003-12-21, 00:47   Link #57
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Maybe this thread will help visiting japan

I would like to go to improve my language skills, but i still have lots to learn!! ^_^
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Old 2003-12-21, 00:57   Link #58
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I'm pretty sure they have an abundant supply of tech workers in Japan and little need for a foreigners who barely speak the language. Not to mention trying to get a work visa.

And would you really want to work in Japan? Haven't they been in a recession for the last 12 years? You would probably make more money in the US.
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Old 2003-12-21, 00:59   Link #59
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i used to wanna go but then i realised...i was being a pretentious twat....so i decided i didnt wanna go...i'm a much btter person because of it
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Old 2003-12-21, 01:03   Link #60
Lord Raiden
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Actually, I'd like to go and visit for a week or two. I think I'd enjoy myself. Not sure when I will go, but I definately want to go. Maybe I could team up with a couple of animesuki members and we could make it a group trip? It would make it much easier I think moving in a small group of say 6-8 people.
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