Living in Japan can be a rewarding and enriching experience, but it can also be challenging if you don’t speak any Japanese. However, there are ways to overcome the language barrier and enjoy the culture, food, and scenery of this beautiful country. In this article, I will share 10 tips for living in Japan with little to no Japanese, based on my own research and personal experience.
Tip 1: Know the basics of Japanese language and etiquette.
Learning some common phrases, greetings, and expressions can help you communicate with locals and show respect for their culture. For example, you can say “Konnichiwa” (hello), “Sumimasen” (excuse me or sorry), “Arigatou gozaimasu” (thank you very much), and “Oishii” (delicious). You can also learn some basic etiquette rules, such as bowing, taking off your shoes, and using chopsticks properly.
Tip 2: Use Google Translate or other translation apps when needed
Sometimes, you may encounter situations where you need to read or write something in Japanese, such as signs, menus, forms, or messages. In these cases, you can use Google Translate or other translation apps to help you understand or communicate. You can use the camera feature to scan and translate text, the voice feature to speak and listen to translations, or the handwriting feature to draw and translate characters.
Tip 3: Use Japan Travel by NAVITIME or other travel apps to plan your trips.
Japan has a lot of amazing places to visit, but it can be overwhelming to figure out how to get there, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. Japan Travel by NAVITIME is a comprehensive travel app that provides information on transportation, attractions, events, and tips for Japan.
You can search for destinations, routes, timetables, fares, and maps in English, and get offline access to essential information. You can also use other travel apps, such as Japan Official Travel App, Japan Rail Pass Calculator, or Japan Guide.
Tip 4: Use Tabelog or other restaurant rating apps to find the best places to eat.
Japan has a diverse and delicious cuisine, but it can be hard to choose where to eat, especially if you don’t know what the dishes are or how to order them. Tabelog is a restaurant rating app that helps you find, compare, and save the best restaurants in Japan.
You can search by location, category, budget, or rating, and see photos, menus, reviews, and maps of the restaurants. You can also use other restaurant rating apps, such as Gurunavi, TripAdvisor, or Yelp.
Tip 5: Use LINE or other messaging and social media apps to communicate and connect with other people in Japan.
LINE is a popular messaging and social media app that allows you to communicate and connect with other people in Japan. You can send text, voice, video, or sticker messages, make free calls, and join group chats. You can also follow official accounts of celebrities, brands, or media, and get news, coupons, or entertainment. You can also use other messaging and social media apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram.
Tip 6: Join online forums, social media groups, or meet-up events to find and interact with other English speakers in Japan.
Living in Japan as a foreigner can be lonely or challenging, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. It can be helpful to find and interact with other English speakers in Japan, who can share their experiences, tips, and support with you.
You can join online forums, such as Reddit, Quora, or InterNations, social media groups, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or meet-up events, such as Meetup, Couchsurfing, or Internations.
Tip 7: Find language exchange partners, tutors, or students online or offline, and practice your Japanese skills with them.
Learning Japanese can be fun and rewarding, and it can also improve your job prospects and social opportunities. One of the best ways to learn Japanese is to practice with native speakers, who can teach you the language, culture, and slang. You can find language exchange partners, tutors, or students online, such as HelloTalk, iTalki, or Duolingo, or offline, such as language schools, cafes, or bars.
Tip 8: Adjust your budget and lifestyle according to the cost of living in Japan.
Japan is known as one of the most expensive countries in the world, especially in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Housing, utilities, transportation, food, and entertainment can be very costly, especially if you want to maintain a western lifestyle. You may need to adjust your budget and lifestyle accordingly, and look for ways to save money, such as living in a share house, cooking at home, or using discount coupons.
Tip 9: Find a suitable job and a balance between work and life in Japan.
If you plan to work in Japan, you may face some challenges in finding a suitable job and adapting to the Japanese work culture. Many jobs require a high level of Japanese proficiency, and some industries may not be open to hiring foreigners.
The work culture in Japan is often characterized by long hours, strict rules, seniority system, and high pressure. You may need to adjust your work style and expectations, and find a balance between work and life. You can look for jobs online, such as GaijinPot, Jobs in Japan, or Daijob, or offline, such as job fairs, networking events, or referrals.
Tip 10: Have fun and enjoy your experience in Japan.
Living in Japan can be a great opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun. You can enjoy the delicious food, the vibrant nightlife, the diverse entertainment, and the friendly people. You can also pursue your hobbies and interests, or find new ones, such as anime, manga, karaoke, or martial arts. You can also express your creativity and individuality, and find your own niche and community in Japan.