“The culture and tradition is embedded in all the people here. It is best to respect it and not try to change it because you won’t.”
When you’re looking for insider knowledge about a new place you’re dreaming of moving to, planning to move to or have recently moved to, there’s nothing like a another expat’s thoughts and experiences when it comes to “looking under the bonnet” (or hood!) of a place. So, we asked long-time expat in Tokyo, Jeff Cushard, and the team at Angloinfo Tokyo, to give us ten tips that they think might help anyone thinking of moving to Tokyo settle in more quickly…
1. Prepare for great food!
From the bottom to the top the food is very good quality. The Japanese commitment to food excellence is clear in the dedication of cooks in Japan, even the Combini convenience stores stock appetizing on-the-go food. Not surprising, perhaps, that Tokyo has more 3-star Michelin restaurants than anywhere in the world. Find out more about Japanese, cuisines, specialities and mealtime customs.
Everywhere you go the food in Japan is very fresh and their distribution network is very efficient, which helps maintain the freshness. A lot of food in grocery stores around the world wouldn’t be acceptable on the shelves of grocery stores in Japan.
2. Get your cute on!
Japan has cornered this market for decades now. Considering Hello Kitty, anime and cosplay, they have it covered. To see what this is all about make sure you add the famous Hello Kitty Land amusement park to your list of places to visit.
Also, everyday life in Tokyo is very formal. The trains in Tokyo are packed with business people dressed in perfect suits and the other people on the train are neatly dressed as well. But, don’t stress that your appearance might need tidying up, there are several English-speaking hair salons in Tokyo that are great at taking care of expats.
3. Get help finding a home in Tokyo
It’s difficult for expats to find a home in Japan since most estate agents don’t speak English, and there are several unique requirements for renters in Japan (such as having someone sponsor you as a guarantor).
Plaza Homes Ltd. is a popular expat realtor located in Tokyo near Tokyo Tower. Their expatriate housing division will provide a professional English-speaking agent to discuss your housing needs, budget, neighborhood orientation and they will pick you up from your hotel to tour available homes in Tokyo.
4. Yeah! Japan is really clean
Residents in Japan take great pride in cleaning inside and outside their homes. A teamwork concept exists where everyone here helps the greater community in picking up trash and properly disposing of it. Tokyo is probably the cleanest big city in the world.
On a side note, remember that it’s considered rude to eat while walking down the street or on the public train. Find out more about recycling in Japan.
5. Consider a relocation company if you plan on moving a lot of stuff
Japanese government regulations are difficult to navigate and require a lot of documentation. Consider using a relocation company if you need to import a lot of belongings. Visit the Angloinfo Tokyo Directory for helpful contacts.
6. Learn some Japanese, you’ll need it
The Japanese public schools teach English; however, most Japanese people have either forgotten it or are not confident to use it. It can help to write English down as some Japanese people can read English better than they can understand it.
With that being said, your life in Japan will be easier if you can learn some basic Japanese such as asking directions and ordering food. There are several language schools in Tokyo teaching different levels of Japanese.
7. Study the train system, but you can buy a car
The train system in Tokyo can be confusing. Even Japanese people get lost on occasion. Take some time to familiarize yourself with it by reading our How To Travel by Train in Tokyo guide.
Used cars are readily available and can be found at great prices. The most difficult part of car ownership in Tokyo will be parking. Parking can be expensive and most apartments don’t include a parking space for free. If you need assistance in buying a foreign or Japanese car, from these car dealers in Tokyo.
8. Safety is not a problem here
Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. You can feel relatively safe walking anywhere in Tokyo at night.
One exception is groping on trains. This is a serious issue and this is why they created ‘Women Only’ train cars. You should consider using them when they are available.
9. Cash is king
Credit cards aren’t accepted in many places here so you will need to get used to carrying around Japanese yen.
10. Japan has a deep culture, respect it!
This applies to all aspects of your new life in Tokyo. The culture and tradition is embedded in all the people here. It is best to respect it and not try to change it because you won’t. Just try to understand Japan’s culture and do your best to comply.
For tips, advice and practical guidance about moving to and living Tokyo visit Angloinfo Tokyo
If you’ve found this article useful, please share it on your favourite social media channel.
Originally published at www.angloinfo.com on April 4, 2017.