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Tips for gaijin

MotomanInuyasha

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Note: I got this off of another site........
Maybe this is premature as I'm still unemployed but my Visa is almost up and I'm leery about renewing it. Still I'm still alive and I've been out of work almost 2 months now. I'd like to think I've got some okay advice to give. I can't remember if this stuff had already been covered in a number of excellent posts here but oh well...

BEFORE YOU COME TO JAPAN
-Depending on your circumstances before you arrive, I recommend bringing some camping gear with you and if you have one-a laptop computer with some internet gear. Definitely invest in a travel pass that is only available OUTSIDE of Japan. This travel pass allows free transportation on JR trains and buses. You get it from the consulate/embassy in your home country and while it is active it can save you a fortune.

The reason I say to bring camping gear such as a sleeping bag, small pot/portable stove and etc is that I was first taken to the company provided apartment in November. What a crock of #### that was!!! They had forgotten my luggage and when the movers did arrive with it, well my doorbell was broken so it took 2 days before my luggage arrived. The only things in my apartment was a single narrow mattress, a broken washing machine, an electric stove that hadn't been used in 4 years and a f###### 2x2 freezer (not even a fridge). The apartment had no heat because the damn heater/AC was broken and no hot water either because the company hadn't activated the electric current for the water.

While Japan is nothing compared to most of Canada in terms of coldness, the cold is still a danger. You will be okay for a couple of hours but because many apartments have thin walls and lack insulation, you will constantly be losing body heat. Without a heater you will need some way to trap body heat in and that's why I recommend bringing camping gear because Japanese homes often provide only limited protection against the elements. I've lived through -45 temperatures back home and have never been colder than I was at hour 4 in my stupid apartment. It was first time I had uncontrollable shivers. My only way of staying alright was to boil a kettle of water and spend the night inside a closet with this kettle of hot water on my lap.

Japan is rather behind the times when it comes to access to free internet facilities, this is especially true in rural areas (and a large part of Japan is highly rural). Bring your own laptop, with it you can use a Broadband phone to contact your friends and family for really low prices. Also many English schools will not allow its workers to tutor and may have some good intel for monitoring its workers, but with your laptop and internet you can do online English tutoring if you have an accompanying camera and microphone. Also there's some kind of machine that when hooked up to a BB phone will treat international calls as local calls if the other person has a similar device. I heard a number of teachers had it installed and regularly called home

-I recommend that you bring some packages of dried meat, fruits and vegetables with you. I had some packages of pepperoni, dried apricots and mixed fruit plus beef jerky. This food is a life-saver in emergencies such as when my company was 2 weeks late in paying me. While Japan can actually be quite cheap in terms of getting food, certain foods are always going to be bloody expensive and if you can spare it you can make someone a gift with some preserves you brought over.

Melons in Japan are retardedly expensive as they are used for gift purposes rather than regualr eating, if you have some melon preserves/dried melon strips these can make some great gifts here.

-I had no problems with sizes here but you may need to bring your own clothes or order it online. One thing to keep in mind though is that if you are of er...heavier body set, living in Japan can really cause you to shed the pounds. I was already thin and light before but I lost over 20 pounds here and my friend who is 44 and over 200 pounds has gone down to 175, a weight he hadn't been since he was in his early 20s. Diet changes and regular everyday physical activity since you don't have a car can make a huge impact. Of course some people weren't able to get used to making the transitition and actually ended up gaining more weight as they stuck to old diet staples but used more due to smaller portion sizes here.

-HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY!!! If things go really wrong, you might need jump out quickly. If you don't have a round trip ticket than you might want to go to HIS as they're cheapest and you can often get a quick ticket to bug out. They unfortunately only take cash but then again Japan is a cash based society and many transactions are cash only here so people often carry big sums on hand.


ONCE IN JAPAN
-in Japan and anywhere else you have to spend money to save money. Go out and buy useful items that you know will help you in the long run. A nice rice cooker and portable resonance stove meant I can cook and thereby save significantly by not eating out, plus I can the stuff home with me when my Japan stint is over. I didn't use the ceiling lights at the apartment, they were overpowered plus they were so old that they were flickering. Replacing the tubes is pretty expensive so I went and bought my own lamp (if you can get your hands on it, LL BEAN in the US has a portable rechargeable lantern than can also run off of socket power). For heat, I went and got a Halogen heater which does cost more in the long run than a gasoline or kerosene heater but it's safer than kerosene and my apartment lacks the lines for gas. Plus it's initial cost is less and it's more portable so I can take it home easily but at the very least it is cheaper to run than my AC/Heater even if that thing had been working. Your first 2 months will be the tightest as you buy equipment but it can pay itself off really early.

-Get a bike/moped pronto!!! This will significantly reduce travelling time and if you get paid train/bus money well you can simply pocket that. For myself I actually made a profit on my bike withing the first month that I got it.

-Make contact with the General Union. Let's face it many English schools here are borderline crime syndicates and as such its workers are in a precarious position often depending on luck of draw plus old savvy to stay afloat. I had plenty of the latter but I had #### on the former and so I was placed in the area that was going through the most restructuring and infighting between Native and Japanese teachers. The guy I replaced had bad blood with the Japanese teachers and so that kinda spilled over to me as they were leery of Native teachers after their experience with him. The General Union can protect you but make sure to take their advice early. The company I worked for had us very well isolated and I was sent to the boonies, so my access to info was severely limited. My first piece of info is this "NEVER EVER RESIGN IF THEY ASK FOR IT!!!! Instead take the firing as a firing and then fight them" I played nice guy and got hosed. As more info came out, I realized the extent that my company was giving us crap. So the moment you arrive in Japan, try to contact the General Union. Their website is www.generalunion.org

-keep an eye out for deals. I got a brand spanking new PS2 for only 6800 yen. The stipluation? To get Yahoo connection but at the time it was free for a month so I got it and later had it disconnected when I was fired. In all I got a month of heavy internet usage and a PS2 for only 6800 yen.
Roughly every 3 months prices on electronic equipment goes down plus big sales are on during January 1 and a few days after as they try to dump old stock. While some places mark their prices up to counter, you can get damn good price at the duty free shops in places like Akihabara or Den Den town.
That way you don't pay the 5% sales tax

In terms of buying groceries, it varies per region and city but in Nagano it would be Tsuruya. In Shizouka there are a few scattered Mom shops-a Brazilian/Japanese supermarket. Note that even a normally expensive high-end grocery store can be quite cheap if they have stiff competition. In Kakegawa, I'd buy food from my local Shizutetsu. Normally that place is very expensive but right across the street was a local chain lo-cost grocery store called Kakegawa Super, so Shizutetsu regularly had price wars and on weekends would sell Oden for 60 yen a piece regardless of type. Heh I used to buy a ton of it and stuff it in a bowl and then claim 5 Oden pieces purchased. Note that some supposedly cheap stores are actually quite pricey such as Seiyu. If you are in an area with Don Quijote or Costco I'd recommend shopping from them too. Plus 100 yen stores can outfit you with some pretty decent equipment, I buy storage boxes from them and much more rarely food items. If you eat out I'd recommend Saizeriya for a great price/value ratio. Speaking of Saizeriya, I had a pair of Asahi 2 Litre Beer Jugs and I'd to Saizeriya and get the unlimited drinks-I'd then fill up my 2 beer jugs. Voila, a source of safe water or cold coffee or pop or whatnot. I'd also heavily raid their tea bags and packets of gum syrup. I'm amazed Saizeriya never had me banned and so unfortunately for them I became a semi-regular.

-Check out your local city hall and international centre. Quality differs but these places can provide anything from free internet access, legal aid, to even providing some small jobs. I did a stint as a freelance proof-reader which is an excellent job as you work your own hours so long as you get it done within the deadline plus the pay can be decent. Too bad it's a one shot kind of thing. But at the international centres you can post up ads declaring yourself as a tutor/teacher. I had a number of job interviews for a regular teacher through my ads at the Nagoya International Centre.

-Get a bank account with the Post Office. The banks of Japan are real biters especially regional banks. Post Office accounts often offer better rates and whatnot plus they are available everywhere. My stupid company first fixed me up with a Shizouka Bank account. Unfortunately those are only available in the Shizouka region and so anywhere else I have to go to a 7-11 ATM which Shizouka Bank affiliates itself with. As well when banks close, they will often close up their ATMs too but at a somewhat later time.

To top it off my stupid company fixed me up with a savings account that gets no interest-I might as well stick my money in a piggy bank or something. Note also that the Post Office tends to give you better exchange rates when you are changing your money.

-Phone lines are bloody expensive- you will be given a bit of free time but after that you pay per minute at some really ridiculous rates and that's for local calls! I'd recommend getting a phone card for international calls if you can't get a Broadband phone (note that there is a service that gives free unlimited international calls, it involves some kind of electronic hardware). I highly recommend the cellphones here


IF YOU HAVE BEEN SACKED AND HOMELESS

Ugh due to combination of company problems and some lack of miracle-making and a pair of faux-pas during Teacher Observation Month, I got the heave ho. Some was my responsibility but the more I find out, the less clear-cut things are.

First thing is to have your Passport and Alien Residence card on hand. You might also need some small photos (the photos will be used to paste on ID).

-Fight your company, try to wring out some UI money at the very least. If you are very successful you might even be able to keep your job and get some compensation money in addition. International Centres often provide legal aid for foreigners plus there's the General Union. I think it's too late for me now but for anyone else-if they ask you to take a resignation for the good of your company and yourself, don't do it! Instead set the dogs on them in return and watch them get a big chunk of assmeat ripped out.

-Don't apply at the big 4 English schools once in Japan. These places never hire anyone who is already in Japan. They only take people who are overseas as they want folks who are blank slates. Any application to them while here in Japan will only be a waste of time.

-Hello Work! If you understand Japanese, this is the place to go to. These guys are the biggest employment agency around. If you don't understand Japanese and don't have someone available they can point you out to places that designed to help Foreigners.

-9th Floor Umeda Center in Osaka-Okay here is the office for Foreigners with full Working Visas. Unfortunately they will not work with people who have Holiday Working Visas but will help give out some info anda whatnot. Tokyo and Fukouka have similar places. I believe Tokyo's place is in Shinjuku but I'm not completely sure.

-JAWHM- These guys are the ones to go to if you are on Working Holiday Visa. For 1050 yen, you can get a membership card. You can then check up on jobs in their list and they will give out a letter of introduction. Also if they can check out the lists for you and report the info to you.

-Contact your consulate/embassy-Zurui recommended this one to me, thanks man. Unfortunately you likely won't get a job with them as their turn-over rates are really low (they told me first-hand). However they do give directions and links.

-Going GI-Seven recommended this one, thanks as well.

-Before you leave, milk the company for what you can get. Before I turned in my keys, I went to the schools and helped myself to garbage bags, pens and etc. I also made a bunch of phone calls using their lines.

-To travel, at this point you might have to resort to train jumping and gate crashing. Sneak up on a guy going through the gates and the scanner isn't likely to pick you up and even if it did, you can crash through it as they have no strength. On the trains the JR officers rarely check for stowaways and when they do just say you lost your ticket and tell them a station that you came from (the nearer the better). You'll have to pay the difference but this is much cheaper than going full price and you'll need to save all the money you can


Okay now my company turfed me and my last payment which combined my final pay with the money they already owe and altogether it was significantly less than my previous month's pay. I had to leave the company apartment and make my way to my friend's place. So I had to spend 2 nights on the streets and weeks later I did one night at a train station.

-Don't try to sleep in the train stations. The JR officers will initially ignore you but as closing time comes they will most certainly give you the boot. That night I finally found sanctuary, wandering to a Wendy's and crashing there after ordering some ice cream. Wendy's here are open 24 hours and I asked them for permission to sleep there and to bring in my bags.

-Beware of Nagoya! After leaving the Kakegawa station, I made my way to Nagoya as it is the next leg of the trip to go to my friend's place. Now Nagoya is highly active in kicking out vagrants as they are running a publicity campaign for the Expo and smelly bums kind of detract from the image they are trying to project. I had to run a few times from JR officers. Also the station tunnels close at 11:30 or so, a steel grate comes down and bars the area off so you cannot take shelter in the tunnels which provides at least a little protection from the elements. Sleeping on a street is nasty, the reason why vagrants bring a piece of cardboard to sleep on is that the concrete surface will drain body heat from you and when you are already very low in body fat this energy transfer happens at an alarming rate. I slept on the ground for an hour before my legs turned numbed. So I went walking around going to convenience store after convenience store trying to soak up the heat. It's better to go without sleep than to freeze so go and keep moving, with luck you might eventually find some shelter. I did when I saw a post office that was open because it had ATMs. There was a chair and I went to sleep on that. The post office was great as the place was heated.

-Crash at your friend's. They will be a lifesaver for you in this scenario also you can use their address for potential employers. Without a fixed address your chances of getting a job are really shot.

-Crash at an internet/manga cafe. You can get night packages at these places and stay the night. I like the Airs Cafe in Umeda as the facilities are clean and they have a decent selection of drinks for free with the night pack. Getting some sleep is kinda iffy as they keep playing music all through the night and you get some really rank social rejects hanging there and playing days worth of Lineage II or whatever. Still it is shelter and cheap, I pay 980 Yen a night at Airs Umeda

-Don't look like a bum. This is really important as this can sabotage your chances of getting work. No matter what happens always stand straight and act with dignity. I don't recommend using shower facilities from internet cafes that have them as they are filthy. Instead grab a bunch of those wet wipes they issue and clean yourself with those. They do a great job as the alcohol solution in them cuts through the grime of travel.

I came to Japan with the intention of spicing up my resume a bit with the teacher description as well as doing some potential enterprise. I actually came kind of close with the 2nd and oddly enough I can still work out use of the first.
All in all I had a good time here even though I got shoddy treatment from my company and I spent too much time with no job. I managed to get a collection of useful equipment plus I have some valuable experience and made some useful contacts here. So even if I have to return to Canada penniless, I believe I'm coming out here with some profit rather than total loss. If I don't get another job here well I should be able to get something back in Canada.

Oh yeah by the way, I really admire ingenuity of some homeless here. I've seen some who clearly weren't doing well despite being there for a long time but in Umeda at a modernist park under the highway near the Ritz Carlton is a homeless community. Curious about them before I crash for the night, I take a look and see they had some decent make-shift houses. They used large cardboard boxes that had been lined styrofoam and blankets which would trap in the heat but leave them with enough ventilation to prevent suffocation. The most impressive thing was seeing that they a huge stove, tv and radio set up. This was powered by a series of car batteries that were wired up together. Very clever
I found these on another site and thought I'd post them, if you have already seen them just ignore this post.
👍
 

Iron Chef

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Always interesting to read another person's perspective but I find quite a few of this person's suggestions to be inefficient and far from practical. The suggestion that one would be well-prepared to take along camping equipment plus stocks of dried foods is laughable...

"The reason I say to bring camping gear such as a sleeping bag, small pot/portable stove and etc is that I was first taken to the company provided apartment in November. What a crock of #### that was!!! They had forgotten my luggage and when the movers did arrive with it, well my doorbell was broken so it took 2 days before my luggage arrived."

Yeah, like i'm gonna pack THAT stuff in addition to all of my personal belongings, wardrobe, etc. And what exactly does a broken doorbell have to do with luggage being delayed for two days? But I digress...

"Speaking of Saizeriya, I had a pair of Asahi 2 Litre Beer Jugs and I'd to Saizeriya and get the unlimited drinks-I'd then fill up my 2 beer jugs. Voila, a source of safe water or cold coffee or pop or whatnot. I'd also heavily raid their tea bags and packets of gum syrup. I'm amazed Saizeriya never had me banned and so unfortunately for them I became a semi-regular."

Practical? Maybe... but I would rather just label you a cheap@ss for that. Not to mention embarassing should you be dining out with friends, etc. Give me a break...

"-Beware of Nagoya! After leaving the Kakegawa station, I made my way to Nagoya as it is the next leg of the trip to go to my friend's place. Now Nagoya is highly active in kicking out vagrants as they are running a publicity campaign for the Expo and smelly bums kind of detract from the image they are trying to project. I had to run a few times from JR officers. Also the station tunnels close at 11:30 or so, a steel grate comes down and bars the area off so you cannot take shelter in the tunnels which provides at least a little protection from the elements. Sleeping on a street is nasty, the reason why vagrants bring a piece of cardboard to sleep on is that the concrete surface will drain body heat from you and when you are already very low in body fat this energy transfer happens at an alarming rate. I slept on the ground for an hour before my legs turned numbed. So I went walking around going to convenience store after convenience store trying to soak up the heat. It's better to go without sleep than to freeze so go and keep moving, with luck you might eventually find some shelter. I did when I saw a post office that was open because it had ATMs. There was a chair and I went to sleep on that. The post office was great as the place was heated."

Wow, with advice like that you should write a book... I'm sure Lonely Planet is looking for someone of your calibre with suggestions like that. Remember kids, if all else fails... find a chair next to an ATM and voila! Instant residence (and minus the camping gear to boot!).

"-Don't look like a bum. This is really important as this can sabotage your chances of getting work. No matter what happens always stand straight and act with dignity. I don't recommend using shower facilities from internet cafes that have them as they are filthy. Instead grab a bunch of those wet wipes they issue and clean yourself with those. They do a great job as the alcohol solution in them cuts through the grime of travel."

LOL, don't sleep on the streets as you suggested earlier and you won't have that problem...

Anyways, like I said earlier... I always appreciate another person's perspective but in this case I find the original author's "advice" to be hit-or-miss on more than one occasion, but maybe that's just me. :cool:
 
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MotomanInuyasha

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I tought that the Bum and camping equipment was odd, but I didnt think to much of it, hmmm next time I'll re-read the the stuff I post. I did find some parts of um "article" to be helpful, the general union thing and the bike thing helped me some. :p
 

budd

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it's always easier to criticize what another has created than to create
 

Keiichi

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These tips were kind of misleading for the title of this thread. For the fact that they're for people who are homeless or expect to become homeless in Japan... Which sounds kind of bad, as if every 'gaijin' that enter Japan would eventually become homeless at some time.

Keiichi

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Actually, amongst the shenanigans there a few gems that really need reposting on their own:

Japan is rather behind the times when it comes to access to free internet facilities, this is especially true in rural areas (and a large part of Japan is highly rural). Bring your own laptop, with it you can use a Broadband phone to contact your friends and family for really low prices. Also many English schools will not allow its workers to tutor and may have some good intel for monitoring its workers, but with your laptop and internet you can do online English tutoring if you have an accompanying camera and microphone. Also there's some kind of machine that when hooked up to a BB phone will treat international calls as local calls if the other person has a similar device. I heard a number of teachers had it installed and regularly called home
Outside Tokyo its quite difficult to find a decent Internet cafe. Especially in suburbs.

-I had no problems with sizes here but you may need to bring your own clothes or order it online. One thing to keep in mind though is that if you are of er...heavier body set, living in Japan can really cause you to shed the pounds. I was already thin and light before but I lost over 20 pounds here and my friend who is 44 and over 200 pounds has gone down to 175, a weight he hadn't been since he was in his early 20s. Diet changes and regular everyday physical activity since you don't have a car can make a huge impact. Of course some people weren't able to get used to making the transitition and actually ended up gaining more weight as they stuck to old diet staples but used more due to smaller portion sizes here.
Been said a zillion times here.

-HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY!!! If things go really wrong, you might need jump out quickly. If you don't have a round trip ticket than you might want to go to HIS as they're cheapest and you can often get a quick ticket to bug out. They unfortunately only take cash but then again Japan is a cash based society and many transactions are cash only here so people often carry big sums on hand.
Oh yeah, even if its just because you need to go home for a family emergency. I didn't have a return ticket and spent a lot of time fearing what I would do if something bad happened at home.

-Make contact with the General Union. Let's face it many English schools here are borderline crime syndicates and as such its workers are in a precarious position often depending on luck of draw plus old savvy to stay afloat. I had plenty of the latter but I had #### on the former and so I was placed in the area that was going through the most restructuring and infighting between Native and Japanese teachers. The guy I replaced had bad blood with the Japanese teachers and so that kinda spilled over to me as they were leery of Native teachers after their experience with him. The General Union can protect you but make sure to take their advice early. The company I worked for had us very well isolated and I was sent to the boonies, so my access to info was severely limited. My first piece of info is this "NEVER EVER RESIGN IF THEY ASK FOR IT!!!! Instead take the firing as a firing and then fight them" I played nice guy and got hosed. As more info came out, I realized the extent that my company was giving us crap. So the moment you arrive in Japan, try to contact the General Union. Their website is www.generalunion.org
This bears posting about a 100 thousnd times. JOIN THE FRICKING UNION SHOULD YOU WORK FOR ANY EIKAIWA COMPANY! These companies, 90% of them, are scumbag companies and will try and screw you over if they see any chance too.

Actually all the stuff in the ONCE IN JAPAN section is quite useful info really.


And this one is a GREAT tip for anyone who ever misses the last train home:

-Crash at an internet/manga cafe. You can get night packages at these places and stay the night. I like the Airs Cafe in Umeda as the facilities are clean and they have a decent selection of drinks for free with the night pack. Getting some sleep is kinda iffy as they keep playing music all through the night and you get some really rank social rejects hanging there and playing days worth of Lineage II or whatever. Still it is shelter and cheap, I pay 980 Yen a night at Airs Umeda
 

Xkavar

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1. That is truly some unique firsthand experience you have, Motoman. Arigato for sharing it with us.

2. You see the link in my sig? I'm going to post your account in that forum. They're an American group concerned with survivalist techniques. I hope you don't mind.

3. It's really a good idea to bring a sleeping bag with you on the airplane, if for nothing more than you don't have to ask an attendant for a questionable blanket that may not have been recently washed.
 

Keiichi

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Xkavar said:
1. That is truly some unique firsthand experience you have, Motoman. Arigato for sharing it with us.
That's not his experience. He got it off of some site, as he mentioned on the first line of his post.

Keiichi

😊
 

SNMP

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Theres actually some interesting information in this post, yes whoever wrote some of that stuff is a cheap a$$ for sure, but some of the info was really helpful! Thanks.
 

Ewok85

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I always heard that English "teachers" had it hard here, but I never thought they would have to bring their own food and camping gear... :\
 

nice gaijin

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Everyone experiences Japan in their own way, I guess. I would probably only consider any of that "advice" if I were planning on moving to Japan to become a vagrant.
 
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All i can say is: don't let any part of your self-exile be harmful to your health...just go home...and if you've placed yourself in danger thru a lack of cautious decision making, then poor you! , but that's reluctant sympathy, believe me! SAFETY NET means having 2 grand sewed into your boots so you can GET THE HECK HOME, man! but like i said above , if self exile is the goal, then i guess some individuals need to experience hard times for bragging rights...
 
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