All About Japan

How Hard Is It to Live in Japan as a Foreigner

| Life in Japan , FAQ
How Hard Is It to Live in Japan as a Foreigner

One of the biggest questions we get here at AAJ is about the difficulty of living in Japan as a foreigner. As this cannot be summed up by one simple answer, we polled our writers to find out how their experiences have been. From language to cultural differences, there are challenges indeed. But, life here can be quite simple with the right outlook.

Ellery Smith

Ellery Smith

Depending on your language level, and how well you try to blend in, living in Japan can be a cake-walk or a constant uphill battle. The former is obvious. As your Japanese speaking, reading and listening improve, things that once seemed impossible, like ordering dinner at an izakaya , gradually become easier. If you ever feel like you are reaching a plateau, try something new with your study habits by taking up a new hobby either in traditional Japanese arts, or something with a more modern flair.

Being a foreigner does mean that you will stick out like a sore thumb, which is why you should try to blend in as best you can. That being said, don’t go out and dye your blonde hair black. Just try to listen, pick up on the social etiquette cues as to what people are, or are not, doing. Reading up on proper Japanese etiquette. The do’s and don’ts of Japan is a great place to start (we've covered a lot in FAQ Week) and will keep you from running into any social catastrophes.

Living in Japan can be an easy, exciting adventure, so long as you remember to study up on the language and social etiquette before jetting off into the land of the rising sun.

Read more of Ellery's work here

Thomas Shiozaki

Thomas Shiozaki

To be honest, I do not think living in Japan is difficult for countless reasons. I will discuss a few of the bigger ones. First, the air and water are clean, the food is not overwhelming to the senses nor hard to adjust to, which is hard to find even in developed countries.

If you are living in the cities, everything is convenient thanks to public transportation. Even if you live in the countryside, stores are fairly easily accessible. Etiquette is important to Japanese people as well as manners and always being considerate; service here is unbeatable.

One thing foreigners might be concerned about living here is the language barrier. Japan is known as a country that is not very capable of dealing with foreign languages. However, the Japanese government is working hard to encourage its people to improve their foreign language skills for 2020. Japanese people have been endeavoring to improve their English, and even learn Chinese; most of the signs in larger cities are now in four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. Many of my foreign friends have no problem settling in and enjoying their lives in Japan. I see this trend going in a positive direction and Japan is becoming more foreigner-friendly!

Thomas has a wealth of articles you can read here

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