So you have an Internship in Japan

How exciting! You’re probably expecting this post to have dozens of tips, but honestly, Japan is travelling on easy mode. Google Maps and Google Translate works great, everyone is friendly, you don’t really need to know Japanese and no matter what you find meaning in, you can find some unique instance of that in Japan. Consequently, I only have a few pieces of general advice.

Travel tips

Rent bikes when you’re visiting a city. It’s often cheaper/faster than public transit and you get a better idea of the layout of the city with a greater opportunity for pleasant surprises. They’re usually available at semi-major train stations if you can’t find them listed on the Internet.

Overnight busses are cheaper than Shinkansen, if you can manage to sleep on them. Otherwise they are moving chambers of suffering.

You can also sleep in manga-kissatens as a way to save money if you don’t really need to meet the people at a hostel and you don’t trust Couch Surfing.

Life tips

Find a skill you can learn while you’re there. Mine was Kendo, which my co-workers found by walking around at night, looking for people with Kendo sticks and then asking them where they studied Kendo. If you don’t want to be that social, that’s fine too. I also tried to get really good at short story writing. This is really the same advice you’ll hear anywhere. Have something outside of the core of your life that you can still make progress on when the core of you life is going horribly.

If you’re lonely, find a community. Somewhere. Anywhere. There’s, couch-surfing meetups, hack centres, cooking classes, underground punk concerts, wooden duck carving… etc. If you find yourself being lonely, don’t wallow in it, it will only get worse.

That’s it. Literally any other advice I could give (places to go see, things to eat) varies so much from person to person that I couldn’t possibly recommend anything globally. As my co-workers said whenever I was overwhelmed or perplexed: “Don’t worry. Just enjoy.”

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