There are quite a few things one should know when planning on living in Japan vor a longer time.

This page is still under construction and needs some sorting… but that’ll have to wait a while 🙂

Make your Living

The Japanese washing machines
The Japanese usually don’t do warm or hot laundry, which means they only use cold water and quite hot dryers. My experience is that you either have to get a rare hot water type machine (if possible) or you shouldn’t bring along white T-Shirts and underwear.  You won’t get it clean unless you give it to the local cleaning shops (there are loads of them, but you have to pay, so it should be avoided).

Health care Stuff

Doedorant
I had a hardtime finding a working deodorant in Japan. If you are the no sweat type your lucky and the deodorants for women might work for you, if not you have to depent on health care packages from realtives of your homecountry, or send enough supply by seamail in advance.

Shampoo
Nearly the same applies for hair shampoo.  If you have dandruff (maybe not now, but you might get it here *g*) you should also bring along a sufficient supply of anti dandruff shampoo. If you intend to buy normal shampoo here, go directly to the women section. You won’t find any shampoo in the mens section… they only sell conditioner (which is quite nice but useless for washing hair). I can recommend the H&S (blue bottle). Didn’t get any dandruff using this.
Medicin
Asperin is available in normal drugstores. Some Japanese might tell you, you have to go to the hospital, but thats wrong.


Lactose

If you have a lactose intollerance you will think you have gone back in time. There are no special lactose free products in Japan so far and harly anyone knows about it. Many Japanese also can’t drink milk, but thats it. They get stomache ache and don’t drink it anymore or less.
There is no lactase (lactose medicine) available in Japanese drugstores. You have to go to the Hospital in order to get it, which usually means that you also have to have an recept for it…
But don’t fear, you can get along fairly well in Japan without any medicine, but you have to avaid the delicious cold milk coffee, icecream and so on…
Normal food (also instant Ramen) usually don’t have lactose as an indigret.
The Masks
For most deseases wearing a mask is useless. There are quite a few anti bacterial ones that might prevent you from getting other ones deseases, but they are very expensive. The usual paper type mask is only usefull if you are ill yourself and want to prevent others getting it, or if you are allergic to pollen (Most of the Japanese wear it for that reason in spring). It also can be used in big cities were the smog is quite high.
Wearing a mask also won’t prevent you from getting the swine?new flew. Its a virus, not a normal cold…

Money

Creditcards
Creditcards are fairly useless outside big cities. It’s quite expensive too. If possible you should get a local bank account and use the bank accounts card. If you cant get one you should try to use your countries bank card (Maestro) at local post offices ATM services. Thats the way I got my money in the end, and the transfer charge is very cheap and the exchange rate up to date.
Big Bills
No Problem in Japan, no need to appologize. Japanese shops are used to big bills (10000yen is all you get from the ATM service machines). Of course you should try to avoid using it in a very small shop… since you might urge the shop keeper to get change somewhere else.
Safety
I experienced that you can put your moneybag nearly everywhere (even at a bar counter) and nothing will happen… but I guess that doesn’t apply for bigger cities and further… you better shouldn’t get used to it *g*

Weather

Humidity
High, very high, suptropical….
starting from june it gets very humid in nearly all areas in Japan. I think Hokkaido is the only part of Japan that has European like humidity. The highest I experienced was about 95% at 25deg… but usually its around 80% at 22-26deg. In August it gets quite warm, but the humidity goes down to a very comforatble 70-75% 🙂
Temperatures
Here in Furukawa (Tohaku) its compareable to European (German, France, Netherlands, etc) temperatures. Cold winter, warm but more humid summer.
The southern areas have mild winters and very hot summers (until late september or even october)
Natural Disasters
Appart from the Earthquakes (which are usually not leathal) you have to be aware of normal thunderstorms, or typhoons (which are quite leathal as the typhoons in summer 2009 have shown).


Rainy Season

It starts in middle of june and sometimes lasts until mid august (usually mid or end of July). But rainy season in Japan doesn’t mean that it rains hard every day. Its just more a very high humidity combined with high chances of rain and maybe a whole week of rain. You should be aware of this if you plan a short holliday 🙂
The best seasons for a short holliday are spring and autum, probably around april-june and mid august-october.

Food

If you don’t like rice and fish you shouldn’t come here. -the end
Well  you can actually avoid eating it, but you will have a hard time or eat the same every day. I didn’t eat many real fish during my half year stay, but there are many menus that inherit fish, or other seafood.

Meat
You can get very delicious meat in Japan. Maybe the most delicious in the world… BUT you will have to spend a fortune. Since Japan is not able to produce meat  (just ricefields everywhere *g*) they have to import, which means that it is very expensive. So if you eat meat you will probably eat either just a bit (as rice dressing) or have a huge barbecue. You will also have a hard time finding a real steak.

Vegetables
Nothing special here. Japanese like sweet onions and cabbage. Also alga and tofu are found everywhere.

Fruits
yeah, thats a real problem. Very expensive (10 cherrys, 500yen / 1 apple 150yen / 3 bananna 400yen). Youre either rich or you will have to rely on vitamine tablets for your daily basis.

Rice

You might think rice is the cheapest food in Japan.  No it is not… it may not be the most expensive one, but it’s definitely not cheap.  1kg = 700yen

Natto
50% like it, 49% hate it, and 1% are not sure… that are the Japanese numbers… my guess is that 98% gaijin hate it since you have either have to have an broken taste or grow up with it. The smell of cold feet is still bearable (i think cheese is worse) but the taste is really dull.  Take beans, make them bitter and add some slime… well who ever can eat it is good off since its the cheapest food you can get.

Cheapest food

Thats probably instant ramen. You can get it everywhere and in all kinds of colours and sizes… but sadly not in different tastes. Appart from 3-4 main tastes, curry, seafood, meat and vegetables they all taste the same. But, I have to say though, they taste better than instant noodles you get in europe and there are not as many taste enhancers in them.

Bread

hmm, if youre looking for real bread, like a good old German Roggenbread or likewise, you wont have any success. The only bread the japanese know are sweat ones. Sliced bread (toast) is probably the only bread you can eat to your ramen or for breakfast. Apart from that there are all kinds off sweat bread (e.g. Mellon-pan, sweet roll…).

Beer

Asahi Super Dry is probably the best and most expensive (a small 0,25l can = 250yen). The taste is quite like the German beer I know.

If you prefer youre home countries beer you probably have to go to Yamada. They have all kinds of foreign food and drinks.  (There are 3 Yamada shops in Furukawa, but only one sells German beer, so you probably have to look for your desired beer are while…)

Soft-Drinks

Everthing available. A 1,5l Coke costs about 170yen.

The thing is though that there are not cheap alternatives. There is coke copy for example, but it kosts about 150yen…. so what are you gonna do? Yes, buy the real one…


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