Moving to Japan? Here are 10+ tips to help women prepare for expat life

By Brooke Larsen

Congrats, you’ve done it—you purchased a one-way plane ticket to Japan. I remember the exhilaration of heading overseas to start a new chapter. Nothing compares.

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however. Even with how prepared I was, one ordeal after another just kept arising. I had to Japanify my name (thus totally altering my identity), negotiate a cell phone contract in a foreign language, and take out a loan because I ran out of money before my first payday. In the hopes you’ll have an easier transition, here are 10 things to help you prepare for and settle into your new life in Japan.

1. Handle your visa situation beforehand

Unfortunately, you can’t just hop off a plane and swagger in, confetti falling. Anyone looking to study or work in Japan long term should secure a proper visa before they arrive.

How to become a resident of Japan

First, apply for a visa. To do so you’ll need:

You’ll then take or send these documents to your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate and let them handle the rest.

Visa sponsorship is a case-by-case scenario, so make sure you investigate your options carefully. Check out the Immigration Bureau of Japan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan websites for help. The two main types of long term permits are for employees and students.

Work visas

A work visa allows foreigners to live in Japan with the sponsorship of their employer (or a Japanese national). Working visas are normally granted for periods of 1 year or 3 years (with the option for renewal) to those with some kind of specialized skill—categories include artist, engineer, instructor, investor, and journalist.

This is a great time to make a living in Japan because the rules for acquiring a work visa were recently relaxed due to local labor shortages. Native English speakers are even more fortunate—jobs teaching the language are always available in abundance.

Working Holiday visas

Japan has working holiday arrangements with many nations, including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea, and the UK. People between the ages of 18-25 (and up to 30 with special approval) can work part-time for one year.

Student visas

Student visas are available to anyone going to Japan to study. Generally, people do this by studying Japanese, attending a Japanese university full-time, or joining a study abroad program. Kyoto University has a helpful guide on how to apply for a Japanese university. Contact your local universities to see if they have a study abroad program in place.

Insider Tip: If you don’t want to teach English, however, there are other options. If you know Japanese, you can get a job as a translator or at a local company. Freelancers with multiple income streams can self-sponsor if they can provide proof of adequate income. Don’t assume you have to go down the English teaching route just because everyone else does.

2. Figure out your finances

Click here to read more.

© Savvy Tokyo

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Somehow no mention of learning to separate your garbage...

doomed to fail......

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Be wary of your surroundings at all times.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that Japan is 'safe' every single area you visit, at all hours of day and night.

While it may be safer than many cities around the world, it is certainly not 100% safe as seen from the high profile cases of 'western' women who were killed in Japan.

In addition, be wary of riding on trains and gropers. While it is my understanding that this affects more of the local Japanese ladies and not so much foreign women, it still pays to be wary.

In addition, do not sweat the small stuff like so many foreigners do. For example, if you try to speak to a local and they automatically try to speak to you in English, do not interpret it as 'racist' or 'ignorant' as so many foreigners do. Compare that to other countries where just about everyday some random stranger will hassle and antagonize you for not speaking the native language in public.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

olman-13: " NOT sweat the small stull....."

Never been to Japan, but have traveled abroad, and I think that is wonderful advice. Try to have a sense of humor, and don't take offence easily. I remember the university kids in Rome playing a harmless joke on us on the Metro, and not getting offended turned it into a pleasant memory. It is their country, and having it flooded with foreign tourists is probably not ideal for them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Also be prepared for only choice of men to be Japanese or weird foreigners

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Be prepared to be disappointed. I have met so many unhappy Western women in Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

tips to help women as the title?

Can't we just address the elephant in the room and acknowledge that most expats in japan are probably guys, who are english teachers in some form, who came to score highschoolers. lol

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why don't they print this same article for those in Central America? Seems #1 is fine for every country on planet Earth except if going to America.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I would like to have swap system.

Take my European passport.

I take your Japanese.

But we both have to pass through 90% accuracy of each other such as

Gender, Age, Health etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is their country, and having it flooded with foreign tourists is probably not ideal for them.

Out of curiosity, how many years must a person have lived in Japan before they are considered not to be a tourist, and are allowed to feel Japan is their country, too?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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