I met people who had lived in the country for over 20 years and didn’t speak Japanese (though I questioned their every motive for living there).If you want a more enhanced cultural experience, if you want to make Japanese friends, and if you don’t want to come across as a total neo-colonialist, you should definitely pick up at least the basics of the language.If you learn nothing else, learn this word: kawaii (pronounced ka-wa-ee), meaning cute. You may roll your cynical eyes, but sooner or later you’ll be purchasing a Rilakumma pencil case while squealing “Kawaiiiiiii! If you are going to be teaching English in Japan, your school will most likely help you find your first flat, though once you’re in Japan there are real estate offices that cater to foreigners and can help you find your dream place.Japanese apartments are generally small, and it’s very common to have tatami mats on the floor and to sleep on a futon (note that a futon in Japan is different than what we call a futon; there it’s essentially a mat that you roll up every morning to utilize the space in your home).Speaking of, the dating scene in Japan is much like any dating scene in an English-speaking country, and lots of foreign teachers end up dating local men and women.There is the stereotype of the “zero to hero”, meaning that men who may not have had much luck with women in their home countries find it easier to date in Japan; I will leave it to your own opinion on whether or not that’s true.A lot of people have asked me if learning Japanese is necessary to living in Japan.
Yes, some of the stuff is downright wrong, such as the fascination with schoolgirls and the horrifying pedophilia sections in certain sex shops, but, for the most part, the kinkiest thing you’ll probably ever see is a few pages of tentacle porn in manga or perhaps a man on a date with his sex doll. All I can say is, if you ever get the chance to go to an otaku (“nerd”) convention or parade, GO. other than the terrifying furry sex dreams you’ll have for weeks afterward.
Also, try not to laugh when people warn you of “fan death”, that is, if you leave your fan on overnight, you will DIE. Getting around in Japan is incredibly easy, and you’ll curse your hometown’s public transportation system the day you set foot on any Japanese subway or train.
Fast, efficient, and clean, the only problems are figuring out where to go (here’s where your Japanese will come in handy) and attempting to travel at off-peak hours.
From skiing in the mountains of Hokkaido to diving in the waters of Okinawa, from Kobe’s beef to Osaka’s okonomiyaki, from Tokyo’s fashion districts to Hiroshima’s museums and Kyoto’s temples, you could go away every single weekend for a year and still never scratch the surface of Japan.
Some of the best trips to take include the hot springs in Nagano (go in winter, when the macaques take advantage of the warm water, too), staying in a monastery in Koyasan, hiking Mount Fuji, visiting Arashiyama in the autumn, and spending at least a few days wandering around Tokyo’s Akihabara, Shibuya, and Harajuku districts (and on Sundays, to Yoyogi Park to see the rockabilly dancers).