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Help with moving to Japan

Ebony

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So, i'm completely new to forums in general. My little family of three are wanting to move to Japan in about 4 or so years, and i've been trying to find out information about Japan, to give us a heads up of what is to come in the near future. And i can not for the life of me, find anything recent. Nothing within the last 2 or 3 years. Can anyone help me out ?
Just wanting to know basics of how difficult it maybe to move to Japan from Australia, to buying a house in the countryside, how to go about bringing my cat, what visa to get, how to become a legal resident, how to deal with the plane ride with a 5 or so year old, etc. Basics of everything there is to know about moving to a new country. This might be a long shot, but i felt i may as well give it a shot to see whether i will help. :)
Oh, and if anyone has any tips or ideas on how to learn Japanese, like App suggestions, computer programs or anything.
We know no one from Japan or in Japan or anything.
 

Mike Cash

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Japan is not a country you can just easily move to because you want to. You're going to need to have a job lined up in Japan in order to even apply for a working visa. In most cases you're going to need a university degree to satisfy Immigration requirements.

What educational background and job skills do you have?

Why do you think you would like to move your family here? Have you ever been here before? Do you envision this being a permanent move? Do you have any Japanese skills? Do you have a plan for improving them before you come here?
 

Ebony

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Were in the process of learning Japanese. It will be a permanent move. Were wanting to become as fluent as possible before moving. And if it comes down to it, we can wait a few extra years to move there so i can do my bachelor im planning to do. I'm in the process of getting a qualification to be allowed to go to University. I only finished year 10 but i'm very determined to continue my education. We both want to move to japan because we love the culture, the festivals, traditions, we love the climate and etc. No, we haven't been to Japan as of yet, obviously we will be going in the next year or two. When i'm not studying and when we have saved up enough.
 

Majestic

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Moving to Japan is a nice dream, but you now need to move from the dream phase to the planning phase. Your first problem is a huge bureaucratic hurdle: you need to have a visa to live in Japan.

You can travel here as a tourist easily, but to live here as a resident you need to arrange a visa, and the requirements are quite stiff. Japan doesn't open its arms to anybody who wants to immigrate to Japan. (Actually, no country does this anymore, but I digress). Being genuinely interested in the country, and being sincere in wanting to learn the language are not valid qualifications for a visa. Usually you need to have a work visa (which comes, somewhat paradoxically, after you have secured employment in Japan). You need to think about what skills you might bring to Japan that would cause a Japanese company to take notice. There are other categories of visa besides work visa: student, artist, refugee, etc., but I think for practical purposes you ought to be looking at the requirements for a work visa. Alas, there is no visa category for the foreign Japanophile who seeks to buy a plot of land in the Japanese countryside and scratch out an existence there, although having just written that sentence I think it might be something the JP government ought to consider.
Becoming an English teacher is the lowest-hanging fruit for those who wish to work in Japan. But while this may be an interesting option for a gap year, most people find it difficult to build a career from it. If you love teaching and have qualifications, or are keen to pursue those qualifications, there are opportunities to teach outside of the English conversation schools (or, for example, start your own English-related business). If this isn't your bag, you will find the English conversation-school "teacher" to be a very tedious existence. It will be a survival-level existence. And, I suppose I don't need to tell you this, but there is a world of difference between living and surviving. Living in Japan is a nice, romantic dream. Surviving in Japan is as dreary an existence as it would be anywhere. There is nothing magical about Japan that makes "survival" here any more romantic than it would be in, say, Woolongong. This is especially true if you are intending to bring your partner and your kids here. Living in a drafty, damp, six-tatami-mat apartment, lit by one doleful fluorescent tube gets old pretty quickly. So get your career aspirations sorted first, and then figure out how to bring those to Japan.
The trick is to come to Japan prepared to succeed at something. And in the worst case - that is to say if you find out that Japan isn't your cup of tea - you can take your skills to another location.
 

Mike Cash

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And without meaning to pry into your personal situation, if you and your partner aren't married then he will also need to be independently eligible for a visa. If you are married, then he would be able to enter with you as a dependent, but I believe there may be rather severe limits on the number of hours he is (legally) allowed to work if you go that route.

My suggestion for you would be to research what sort of job opportunities there are available to you in Japan, decide which among those would interest you, and look into getting the necessary education.

I also strongly recommend that it be education for job skills you can use at home in Australia, or perhaps any other place on the planet you might care to go. The simple truth is that very very few foreigners stay here permanently. Most pack up and leave in a year or two. Practically all are gone by three years.

I would like to point out that we have a Learning Japanese sub-forum and invite you to make use of it.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I'd suggest, before you invest too much time and energy, you visit for an extended period and see what it's like on the ground. No country is perfect and you might find the culture and traditions which impact your daily existence are quite different from what you think of as Japanese culture and traditions.

I personally like it here but I've noticed the vast majority of foreigners I've met here only interact with other foreigners and the Japanese people who run in those circles. I think the disparity between what they expected and what they found is a big reason.
 

Uncle Frank

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I was fascinated with Japan and picked it as my Navy duty station for 2 years. I learned the language enough to get around OK. By the end of the first year there I was so in love with the country that I planned on living there and becoming a citizen. At about a year and a half I found a lot of little things were annoying me about life there. By the end of my second year there , even with a Job off base and a Japanese fiancé , I could not wait to get back to my home in the US. My daydreams and reality were vastly different. That said , follow your dream , but have a back up plan just in case life in Japan doesn't work out.
 

Glenski

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We both want to move to japan because we love the culture, the festivals, traditions, we love the climate and etc. No, we haven't been to Japan as of yet
Don't you think these are pretty contradictory statements? I do.

And, if you love the climate, how can you say that, since it varies from north to south tremendously.

we can wait a few extra years to move there so i can do my bachelor im planning to do. I'm in the process of getting a qualification to be allowed to go to University.
Please stop right here. As mentioned earlier, you need to have a job lined up, or you can't do better than come on a student visa (and that will permit Japan-recognized dependents to come on dependent visas, too). Please answer this question as completely and honestly as possible: what type of jobs do you both figure you'll want here, and how are/will you be qualified?
 

Ebony

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Glenski - My partner works with technology, works with computers and works with wiring.
I personally like science and as i said, its not a move to happen right now. Its when everything is in place and we've ticked everything that is suitable. And yes, i understand it may sound that way. I've just done a lot of research and have a little bit of a idea of there climate.

Uncle Frank - If you don't mind me asking, what were the things that bugged you enough to want to go home so bad? We do have a backup plan, but this is our main goal if its doable. :)

WonkoTheSane - We were planning to come over to Japan at least twice for a good amount of time to get the feel of their ways, we didn't want to go over there blindly. That is why i came on here for some ideas and some help. :)

Mike Cash - Were planning to be married by the time we leave. And that's some really useful information. I will have a look into the opportunities there are that maybe in my interest area. Could you also send me a link for that forum please? :)

Majestic - I was thinking about whether i should be a English teacher until i get myself a job else where. My partner i would suspect would have his qualifications to get a decent job. So i suppose we wouldn't be to badly off. No more then we are now.
 

Mike Cash

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I was speaking of the Learning Japanese section of this forum.

Please make sure you and your partner both fully understand what the requirements and limitations are before you get too far into planning this. As it is, you're looking at a preparation period several years long. You don't want to get way down the road and then discover you have overlooked something which similarly may take years to take care of essentially and you right back to square one.

I have in mind most specifically the need for BOTH of you to be independently eligible for a working visa if you wish to avoid the limitations placed on the one who might otherwise have to come on a spouse visa.
 

Ebony

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Oh, right. Haha, sorry im unfamiliar with this website.

My partner has a better understanding then i do but his helping me while his learning at the same time. Im thinking i could possibly do a course in Japan under a student visa to learn Japanese better to be able to work. And as i said, he would be working in the electrical/computer/wiring area as he will be specializing it. Were thinking of coming to Japan by next year, either around next January or mid next year. Just saving up the money at the moment. :)
 

Mike Cash

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Quite truthfully, you can get by with very little Japanese here and I would suggest that any spare funds go toward financing a college degree for the both of you. If you don't satisfy basic Immigration requirements then it isn't going to matter a hill of beans whether you speak Japanese like a native or speak it not at all.

Some sort of IT related work may be a possibility for your partner, provided he gets the necessary degree, certificates, experience or whatnot....but something like "doing wiring" is NOT going to garner a working visa.

Have you thought about what you're going to do in the event one of you can't stand it any more and wants to leave, while the other wants to stay in Japan? Japan is easy to love from afar, because what you love is your unblemished and uninformed idea of Japan. Many people who come to Japan totally in love with their imagined idea of what it is go home a year or two later bitter and resentful, hating Japan as much as they once loved it. Everybody rides a roller coaster of emotions regarding Japan after they move here. After enough years, the bumps get smaller and even go away eventually....but many cant stand to stay on the ride that long and bail out. Have you two discussed what you're going to do if only one of you is miserable here? You won't necessarily both be on the same highs and lows at the same time and that, combined with the stress of being in a foreign country (and raising a child there) can potentially wreck your family. It's not all teddy bears and rainbows in Japan; have a serious talk together about this.
 

Ebony

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When i said 'doing some wiring', i suspected you may of caught my drift. I don't know the specifics of the area he is in, i only know the outlines really. And to be honest, no we haven't. It's still all theory. Like i said earlier, its not like its happening next year, its something were looking into and trying to find out what is needed for the move.
I understand there is a lot of hard work to do all this and im fine with that. I wasn't making this a short term plan, it was when it can happen. When we have the finances, all the boxes ticked to be able to move there and stuff. Let me get this straight, im not like those other people that jump on here with the same question as i had. I understand you would be sick and tired of people asking the same question, but no one said you had to answer them. :)
Im not trying to be nasty, im just trying to be upfront. Sorry if it offends you but it's not suppose too.
 

Mike Cash

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I'm not trying to tell you that you have to do something right now. It is just that you and I are talking right now and the only time I can be reasonably certain of my words reaching you is right now. You can act on it (or not) at any time convenient for you.

We get inquiries like this all the time and the people never stick around more than a few days at the longest. So we say what needs saying while we have the chance.
 

Ebony

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Okay, i get it. You want to set it straight.. right now. :giggle:
But seriously, relax. I'm not leaving anytime soon. I wasnt on here for a few days because i got busy with doing stuff in my life. :)
You've been the biggest help online since starting my research about Japan, but i must admit.. your a little grumpy. >_<
And i totally get why too, i honestly wouldnt even bother with these sites if i was doing what your doing but then people like me would prob loose it a bit with the lack of information there is.
 

Mike Cash

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Don't confuse straightforward bluntness with grumpiness. This is your life we're talking about, and your family and your dreams. I'm taking them seriously and presume you are doing the same. I'm here to help and to tell you what you need to hear....not what you want to hear. If you want idle chitchat or somebody to blow sunshine up your skirt about your plans, I'm not the guy.
 

Ebony

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I am taking my plans seriously, but i'm a little tired so i'm sorry i've brought some sarcasm into the conversation. Would you have any other information that would be useful for me? So maybe, do you have any information on how to make my daughter a permanent resident? or how to bring a pet such as a cat?
 

Glenski

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Hey, you asked us, so don't complain about answers, especially from people who have lived here for decades.

Now, as for a couple of your earlier responses:
My partner works with technology, works with computers and works with wiring.
I personally like science
Unless your partner lands something with a very international-minded organization or one that is a branch of a foreign company, he is unlikely (IMO) to find something that is willing to hire him without significant Japanese language skills. The industry here occasionally hires IT people from India, but they also pay them dirt wages because they will accept it (and the hardship).

To say you "like science" is not saying anything. Hey, I like science, too, but I spent 7 years majoring in it. I still couldn't find job here because I didn't know enough of the language. So, you are very likely going to have to learn far more than you can in a single year to go with any science major. And on top of that, a mere BS in science won't cut it. I'm sorry, but that's just plain honest fact. Zero experience and a BS degree are worthless for foreigners. You'll need more.

  • Were in the process of learning Japanese. It will be a permanent move. Were wanting to become as fluent as possible before moving.
  • Im thinking i could possibly do a course in Japan under a student visa to learn Japanese better to be able to work.
You aren't being consistent here, and this scares me as someone trying to give sound advice. Either you plan for 2-3 years of long hard intensive study, or you don't. Despite what Mike wrote about not needing a lot of Japanese, my experience in the field is that your IT partner might get by with less than a person in the sciences (whatever branch you end up in, and you haven't even suggested that yet). But a year is not going to cut it.

I understand there is a lot of hard work to do all this and im fine with that.
Sincerely, good for you. But I honestly don't think you fathom the scope of what hard work is needed, which is why people like Mike and I are here to inform.
 

Mike Cash

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Are you under the impression that you and your fella will enter Japan as permanent residents but your daughter won't? I'm pretty sure none of you will be eligible to apply for a change to permanent resident status until you've lived here at least ten years. That's waaaay down the road.

Oddly, you can try for citizenship after only five....
 
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Uncle Frank

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Answer to above a little late. Even after two years of language study and use , I had a very hard time understanding fast conversation on TV & Radio. Kanji study drove me nuts and I could not read a magazine or newspaper without bugging my friends all the time for help. I couldn't carry on a complicated conversation and express myself the way I wanted. The fact that I hated fish , rice , and spices made it hard to enjoy meals ; I was a meat and potatoes guy. My favorite hobby of shooting and hunting was pretty limited by law there. I hated the big city life and longed for a log cabin in the wilderness to live. Really nothing against Japan , the problems were with my habits and learning problems and spoiled life style.
 

WonkoTheSane

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Get the qualifications which would make you successful (not just getting by, but successful) anywhere else. Basically, that means get degrees (masters or above) and experience in highly in demand fields.

Then, get your Japanese language in order so you're able to do the work in Japanese.

Then worry about bringing a cat to Japan. Until then it's a moot point.
 

Glenski

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how to go about bringing my cat
My first inclination is to say "don't". They will cause you problems in finding an apartment (most don't allow such pets) or in paying for one (those that do allow them will charge you more rent). Then, there's also the issue of boxing them up in a confined case and stuffing them in the cargo hold for the 10-15 hour flight...

My second thought is just to point out the obvious:
Let me google that for you
 

Seiko

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Everyone comments on this forum may seem mean but they are speaking the truth.

If you have been thinking about this for a long time the next thing you need to do is start doing some research. On

Here my tips to help you
1. Do a lot of research; ask what you need before moving to Japan

2. Learn Japanese while your home
You can find free apps and check with your local library to see what they have in learning Japanese. There this website called Meetup.com it’s a website where people form groups to meet, you may be able to find someone hosting free Japanese one-on-one learning class

3. Travel to Japan
Know where you want to stay, travel to Japan for 3 weeks to a month and visit every area you can. I strongly recommend you visit, Osaka and Tokyo and other big cities. Don’t bring your kids with you; they will just slow you down. if you do, keep in mind this is not a family trip, use it for research.

4. When you’re in Japan
visit different type of cities. Big, mid and small cities. Visit small towns and outside the cities. doing this i believe help you know where you want to stay.

5. When you in Japan, talk to everyone you come across.
Every foreigners living in Japan have knowledge about living in Japan, can help you, give you tips and maybe know of an opening at a job and can set you up.

6. Try visiting schools
I know it’s hard to just walk into a Japanese school and ask to look around and ask questions. You maybe able to find someone online who can tell you how to go about visiting Schools. Maybe you can do it in Japan while the doors are open and students are arriving. For colleges in Japan, just like colleges in the USA, you can walk and head to administration.

7. Apartments and making the right connection
Let’s say you do go to Japan for 1 to 3 months and you and your partner land a job. Yes you can find an apartment out there. Your chances are very low but you can find a place to stay as long as you want. The only thing is you have no contact and they can kick you out whenever they want. They always ask for you to pay up front. So, if you are staying at the apartment for 3 weeks you have to pay for the 3 weeks. For the month you pay for the month. A lot of foreigners play the “foreigners card” what I call it. Japanese who rent their apartment are very careful.

8. Eat out
If you are able to get an apartment for 1 month and you want to cool, its cheaper to eat out than to go out shopping and buy food to cook. I read a couple blog who travel in and out Japan and I tried it myself and they were out. Remember to adjust food portion, things are smaller, so I had to train my body to take in less and know what to eat that get me full.

When I was in Japan for a month, I had an apartment and I use using it as a base to travel out of and return home late at night. I found an apartment low as 40,000 a night. I keep my meal budget below 8,000yen and I bought the JR Pass and I milk the crap out of it getting my money back and than some.

I believe once you travel to Japan you can get a clean understanding. If do you go to Japan with your family and want to make it feel like you live there. Get an apartment but get a JR Pass to make it easy on travel, if you’re staying local and not traveling a lot taking the shinkansen (bullet train), you wont really need the JR Pass.

I can tell you my story if Japan how I almost landed a job inside a company if you want me too.
 

Glenski

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Ditto to Mike's question and to his earlier response:
Don't confuse straightforward bluntness with grumpiness. This is your life we're talking about, and your family and your dreams. I'm taking them seriously and presume you are doing the same. I'm here to help and to tell you what you need to hear....not what you want to hear.
If we were actually being mean, we'd be cursing and poking fun at her and cutting her down.

Please reread her original post. She wants us to explain practically everything there is to know about coming here, and that already smacks of not doing enough research or in not believing the information she has already read. So, the info she found was 2 years old. Gee, that's pretty recent! Why doesn't she believe it, and how recent does she think it needs to be? Visa matters changed in 2012, but actually in her favor by allowing shorter stays on a work visa, but other than that, nothing is any different now than 2 years ago in terms of finding work, buying/renting a home, studying Japanese, etc.

I know it’s hard to just walk into a Japanese school and ask to look around and ask questions. You maybe able to find someone online who can tell you how to go about visiting Schools. Maybe you can do it in Japan while the doors are open and students are arriving. For colleges in Japan, just like colleges in the USA, you can walk and head to administration.
It's not hard at all to walk into eikaiwas and ask questions. They are businesses, after all, and potential clients/students do it all the time. You may find that receptionists will stumble over English, though, and it would be more professional to phone in advance.

K-12 schools will be the more restrictive whether in Japan or Australia. You can walk in the door, but you would need to know who you want to talk to about work before you can go any further. Universities pretty much have open doors on their campuses, but admin is a terrible place to start because of the language barrier. You'd have better luck finding the full-time teachers' offices and inquiring with them, not just for the language barrier but because they'd be the ones to explain about FT or PT work and what is going on in terms of needs.
 
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