Moving to Japan can be one of the most astonishing adventures many expats enjoy. Unsurprisingly, there are more than 50.000 people in Japan who are over 100 years old, known as centenarians. The country is located in the Pacific Ocean and has marvellous parks and gardens with colourful flowers and incredible temples where expats could enjoy their free time while reading a book or chatting with friends under the beautiful blossoms of the trees. “The Land of the Rising Sun” is one of the world leaders in developing and implementing environmentally friendly technologies and Japanese are known to highly value animals. If you move to this country, do not be surprised if you see ducks with socks on a leash with or cats treated like princesses. Actually, according to statistics there are more pets than children in this beautiful country. The Japanese even opened up a cat café where you can drink a cup of tea and spend time with cats.
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Unlike most countries, Japan on average has 2 gun-related homicides per year, making it a suitable place for those who want to enjoy a safe environment.
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Moving to Japan
Japanese people have unusual traditions and a rich culture. Expats might feel that there are many things they are not used to, however, it is fundamental to make adjustments if you plan to live in Japan. Many expats know that Japanese people are not used to saying “No”, and rather prefer to elegantly show that they are not positive about an agreement. Moreover, keep in mind that Japanese have collectivistic culture. Young people are always supposed to show respect towards elderly. You will also soon realise that Japanese usually avoid making an eye contact, do not take this as disrespect this is a cultural characteristic.
A less known fact is that there are over five million vending machines in Japan where you can buy anything from hot food and coffee to internet, flowers, toys, underwear, umbrellas and many more. So do not worry when shops are closed, there are probably few of those vending machines near your place!
If you are not used to pay in cash in your home country, and hope to continue paying with your credit card in Japan, then you could be disappointed to find out that paying with cards is not possible. Many of the procedures when it comes to banks or other institutions are still undertaken in a very old fashioned way usually “by hand or on paper”.
In contrast, Japan has an amazingly well developed infrastructure with highly efficient public transportation. Trains in the country are the most punctual ones in the world with an average delay of only 18 seconds.
There are many aspects of life where Japanese culture plays a crucial role. Religion, to most people’s surprise, is not one of them. Many Japanese are actually not even aware of what the difference between Buddhism and Shintoism is. Expats are suggested to learn the most important do’s and don’ts before the actual relocation, this will certainly be advantageous.
Accommodation in Japan
Moving to Japan will be a very good opportunity for expats who value personal growth. One of the most important things, finding an accommodation, however, will undoubtedly be a challenge newcomers need to face.
Property prices in Japan are fairly high. In big cities like Tokyo and Osaka are that properties are even more expensive than usual because there is a lot of competition. Usually when renting a property, there are not many options for expats moving to Japan. Many are apartments not higher than two storeys, with thin walls made of wood or steel. This type of apartments are also the most popular type of accommodation for expats to reside in. Properties in newer buildings are usually higher than these and are made using concrete.
Different furnished and unfurnished apartments are among the options available. Important to remember when renting an unfurnished apartment, is that most of the time they do not even have lightning. You have to arrange that yourself when move in. Renting an unfurnished accommodation could help in cutting costs. It will also enable you to ship your furniture using the services of international removal companies. They can ensure a secure and efficient shipment.
Sharing a house is another alternative those moving to Japan could consider. Tenants choosing this option are usually young expats or Japanese who are trying to save money. Depending on the property and the landlord, tenants could either have to share bathroom and kitchen with others or they could have their own bathroom. Those who consider sharing a house with Japanese tenants, should keep in mind that a common practice for Japanese families is using the same bath water. After cleaning and rinsing themselves first, family members get into the bath tub and soak, then every other member uses the same water until the last one finally drains it.
Expats looking for a suitable accommodation in Japan are advised to obtain the services of real estate agents, especially if they do not speak Japanese. It is a common practice for landlords to be sceptic about foreigners, and going through an agent could increase your chances to rent a property that meets your needs.
Lease agreements are signed on one or two year basis, usually with a damage deposit equal to one month’s rent. More often than not, to be able to rent a property expats will be required to have a guarantor i.e. an employer. This is a way for landlords to make sure they will receive their money. As for the utilities, tenants are usually required to make arrangements themselves, because they are not included in the monthly rent.
You should not be worried about relocating to this island nation with its booming economy, rich culture and many festivals. Although there could be quite some challenges newcomers need to face upon arrival, it will all be worth it.
Those who worry about the language barrier in Japan and the fact that they will not be able to watch TV, will be delighted to discover that there is a language button on Japanese TV’s. If you want to watch TV, use the remote control to switch Japanese movies or news to English. Impressive, right?
Moving to Tokyo
With its 30 million inhabitants, Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan city not only in Japan, but in the whole world. Expats moving to Tokyo have to keep in mind that it will be extremely difficult to find quiet spots without people around. Long queues and a fast pace of living is not uncommon for the city. There is a lot to enjoy in Tokyo; from modern luxurious buildings to ancient temples, and a never-ending list of entertainment activities. Tokyo is a metropolis that will certainly satisfy the needs of both art lovers as well as the ones interested in historic attractions.
For expats who relocate the city and want to see different places, it will be very easy to undertake day trips to different places such as Asakusa, the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree or many more. That is because city and the country in general has a very well- maintained public transport, that is very crowded but also highly efficient
Moreover, along with the entertainment offerings and sightseeing attractions, expats might be astonished by the many modern art galleries, museums, concerts and festivals.
Concerns about the language barrier would often be justified with signs being in Japanese, making it difficult for expats to find their way through the city. However, Tokyo is recently becoming more expat friendly with many of the signs made available in English and Korean as well.
Tokyo is home to more amusement parks, sightseeing and entertainment options than one could ever imagine. The high living standards and never- ending opportunities to grow, both on a personal and professional level, have made the city a very attractive expat destination in recent years.
Shipping Container to Japan
Thousands of expats opt for shipping container to Japan. Usually it is a complex process that requires time and good preparation. On the other hand working with international moving companies specialized in shipments is a good option everyone has. Those willing to cut costs could discuss their situation with the international removal companies and ask for advice. More often than not professional movers will be happy to answer any questions that one can. It is not even necessary to be their clients. However, be aware that not all international moving companies would be that nice. It is important to find the best ones that suit your interests best. Before shipping container to Japan, it would be wise to decide what needs to be shipped and how- airfreight and seafreight are the alternatives you have. The latter is often cheaper but requires more time. It is good to discuss any details and concerns one has with the international removal companies.
Keep in mind that international moving companies could also help with shipments of packages and goods that are not enough to fill a container. In this case the can provide you with an option to share a container. It is as efficient as shipping a full container load, the only drawback is that it could take quite some time. Do make sure to ask international removal companies whether they could offer a container tracking service which will enable you to know where the container is at any given moment you decide to check.