The moment you land in the colossal city of Tokyo, do a 360-degree turn and spot the three-layered highway and towering skyscrapers — as you do, you’ll get that instant rush of awe, confusion and terror.
Those first few weeks of my Japan journey will forever be etched in my mind. As we were dropped off at our temporary accommodation and the jet lag took hold, the blur of packing up, saying goodbye to our dearest and getting on the plane to here simply disappeared.
Now back home, I recall my Japan experience and find myself thinking “if only someone had told me that before.” Well, here I am telling you all this now. These are my top ten things that for better or worse, I think any expat to Japan needs to know as they embark on their Japan adventure.
1. Etiquette: Your manners matter more than you think
This will save you from some awkward interactions. Our first meal in Japan left us sat for 20 minutes wondering why no one had come over to ask us what we would like to order. We soon realized why everyone was shouting sumimasen (excuse me) to get the attention of the waiters and waitresses. We were given the time to get settled, choose what to have and then, when ready, call the waiters politely. It’s a give and take — you will be expected to treat people with respect here just as you would be treated.
Also — don’t tip! What you get on your bill is what you should pay — usually at the cashier, not the table. As I got used to the life in Japan, I also gradually got rid of my sometimes grim etiquette of London, whether that meant smiling, giving polite and short bows, or simply having a friendly demeanor. No one is saying chat to people on the train (don’t be silly!), but reminding yourself that you won’t get anywhere with hostility will get you a long way.
2. Earthquakes: Be prepared, it will happen
Click here to read more.
- External Link