Eustacia Tan (avatar)
updated 11 months ago

AMA about Japan

Today's tea. Been drinking the stuff I've already opened or milo but today is FRIDAY and I'm actually off tomorrow so I'm very excited and in a good mood and felt like trying a new tea haha

Since I'm in a good mood today and don't really have anything planned besides work...

Ask me Anything about living in Japan!

If anyone has any questions about life here/how I ended up here (I share a lot but some things I take for granted may be something that you want to know), let me know and I'll answer them when I have some time.


DISCLAIMER: I will be drawing on my (and to a lesser extent my friends') experiences when answering thing. Please do not assume that just because something happened to me, it will happen to everyone.

What do you dislike most about living in Japan? (from @wanderinggoldfish )


Chinese food - especially soups and foods that involve wok hei.

It's such an absurdly ridiculous thing but the first thing that came to mind is "Japan doesn't have decent Chinese food." Everything is adapted for Japanese tastes (which makes sense cause their primary market isn't a Chinese Singaporean) but I do miss Chinese food.

And roti prata and goreng pisang and other Singaporean dishes.

What's your favourite city and why? ( also from @wanderinggoldfish )

Fukuoka because I'm biased like that 😂😂😂 Sorry Sasebo

But for living, Fukuoka is my favourite because of its size (super goldilocks), the convenience of getting around (and getting out for trips) and the food is great too.

And also because I spent my uni years there so I have a lot of good memories of the place.

How are your colleagues? Do you OT a lot and have to go drinking a lot? (From @starthatlikesautumn and @sharotto )

Gonna answer all the questions about my colleagues together haha. If I could find a way to group all work questions together I would but I couldn't :p

My colleagues are all very nice!! I've made a few mistakes and every time they've been very understanding and helpful. Haven't gotten scolded even once!

As for OT, I actually do very little. Up until last week it was like 0 and this past week we've been busier than normal so I do like 30 min every day?

But OT is definitely based on department! I've got friends in other departments that do a lot of OT, so I think it depends on your job scope.

Oh and when I was at a restaurant I did like 1.5 hours OT everyday cause the time I was supposed to leave was peak hour (in peak season).

As for the drinking parties, my company doesn't really have them. My friend's department hosts one once a month but the number of attendees is super small. And there's absolutely no pressure to go.

But I know this differs based on industry because my senpai in banking has nomikais on an insane frequency and according to the Kyocera recruiter, they have a room in their building for nomikais!

What cities have I been to and do I see myself moving there? (Also from @starthatlikesautumn )

So far I've lived in Tokyo, Fukuoka and now Sasebo. I've visited Yokohama, Sapporo, Otaru (and Shakotan - wanna go back for a visit again!), Nagasaki, Osaka (very briefly, probably doesn't count), Kyoto, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Karatsu, Saga and probably a few others that I've forgotten haha.

Don't really see myself moving there, to be honest. I'd love to visit more places but the next time I move I want to move home

Why did you head to Japan? (From @evonne89 )

The boring answer is that I got a scholarship.

The equally boring but slightly longer answer goes like this:

When I was in secondary school, I discovered Silence by Shusaku Endo (and if you followed me in the beginning of the year you'd have seen me fangirl over the movie). So that sparked my interest in Japanese.

Then in Secondary 3, MG has thing thing called ROCS (reality outside classroom) and I went to Kyushu.

On the trip I was like "wow I'd like to try living here one day" and when I heard about the MEXT scholarship the next year, I was like "ok, I'm gonna go get that scholarship and study in Japan AND ONE DAY BE ABLE TO READ SILENCE IN JAPANESE."

And that's how I ended up in Japan 😂😂

Is it tough for foreigners to get a job in Japan (also from @evonne89 )

I feel like I qualify things too much but it probably depends on:

1. If you can speak Japanese fluently (or at least good enough for the workplace)
2. The type of job you want to have.

Some people might include academic records too, but in my first year a Singaporean senpais told me that because we are more or less trilingual, companies don't really care what school we're from (of course we were scholars so we had to go to schools of a certain level. And also most Singaporeans were in good unis so maybe he was thinking of those).

For me, I got two job offers from companies that I liked quickly enough that I was the first in both my zemis to quit job hunting.

On the other hand, my cousin, who is in a higher ranked uni than me, has a Korean friend who hasn't been able to get a job offer. But I heard that she was aiming for the financial industries which is tough even for Japanese students.

Job hunting companies do have services for foreign students and there are companies who have special employment tracks for foreigners so I imagine that if you're not super picky but is more flexible with which companies you're willing to apply to and work for, you'll be able to get a job.

For what it's worth, almost all the foreigners I knew got jobs here. The one guy who didn't had to go home because of his scholarship.

Note: 90% of the foreigners I know studied in Japanese. And those are the people I've heard gotten jobs. Haven't heard any from the others.

Note2: this is relevant if you're currently studying. I have no idea what the graduate job market is like.

Note3 (should just get rid of the word 'note'): one of my coworkers here got hired from her uni in Korea and one senpai got an offer while he was studying overseas in America so recruitment does occur outside Japan.

What do you think makes Japanese working culture so bad? (From @samme )

Hahaha I'm definitely not qualified to answer this cause I actually like my company!

But to try and take a stab at answering the question - I think it may be because Japanese companies tend to have very strong company culture. So if you fit with the vibe, it works, but if you don't, it's really hard.

Can't really think of anything else HAHA. I'll have to wait and experience more of the working culture there.

What cities are worth visiting apart from Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto (from @dodobird )

My bias shines through again because I recommend Kyushu and all the cities in it! It's vastly underrated and if you like good food and nature (and history), then you'll probably have a good time.

Aomori is also a pretty interesting place - their summer festival is really interesting - from what I heard from the students there - and I love their seafood (sorry couldn't find photo).

And Shakotan in Hokkaido is really nice if you're into the countryside. Really friendly too, and I'd love to go back again!

I would recommend going to the prefectural tourism sites and looking for local events! That's what I'm doing now.

How long did you study Japanese to become proficient (from @alwaysmore )

I did a year of intensive study in Tokyo and then I went into uni. But if you ask my friends my Japanese was terrible during my first year. Even in my second year I was asking if I could give presentations in English (everything else in Japanese though) so I guess it took at least 3 years of intensive study + immersion?

Then again I wouldn't really call myself fluent yet because I still struggle a lot with the ultra polite language in the service industry.

Have you ever felt discriminated against as a foreigner? (From @alwaysmore )

Hmm... I think so far I've only had one instance? There have been maybe 3 cases where I ran into unpleasant people but I'm pretty sure 2 of them aren't related to race.

The remaining incident was when I tried to apply for a baito and was told that I didn't need... can't remember what, was told I only needed certain things and I literally brought that and found out that I needed more stuff.

At that time I felt discriminated against but after going through shukatsu I think maybe I was just very ignorant of the baito hunting rules and it was more of a miscommunication (i.e. They assumed I knew what to do and I didn't).

But this is 3 years ago and my memory is hazy so who knows if it was or was not discrimination. Still, I think 1 case in 5 years is super good haha

Have you been able to make good friends with Japanese? I've heard they are notoriously difficult to befriend and can be very fake and insincere. (Also from @alwaysmore )

Funnily enough my closest friends in Kyudai were Japanese people. I think that there definitely is a culture gap but the Japanese people are as fake and insincere as Singaporeans, Americans, Malaysians, Chinese nationals and pretty much any nationality.

There are unpleasant people but I don't really think it's a culture thing?

That said, I do know a lot of people who have struggled with making friends in Japan and I think (like totally personal theory because I'm not them) it's due to:

1. Not seeing the Japanese as people/human but bringing your own set of expectations. This is especially so if you (general you) form stereotypes from anime or jdramas which aren't really that close to reality.

2. Expecting others to adapt to (and understand) you and your culture. While I do believe that cultural differences make it slightly difficult to make friends with Japanese people, I don't think it's significantly harder than say, making friends with British people or Hong Kongers or South Africans. You are basically trying to be friends with someone else from a different culture and who operates with a history and a set of assumptions different from you.

So for me, I find that as long as I just think of the people around me as people and not some strange and foreign race, then the cultural challenges are surmountable. Most Japanese people that I've met are happy to explain stuff that I'm not used to and are very forgiving of my social gaffes.

(For some reason it seems like people tend to view Japanese people differently from foreigners from other countries, like it's a magical anime-like place which I guess gives it a reputation of being hard to fit in and stuff when people realise that things are not what they expect?)

What schools do you recommend to study Japanese and what is the recommended proficiency? (From @enxology )

I've only been to one Japanese school in Japan so I'm not the expert on this, but I really liked my school! It's the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and my course was meant to make all of us ready to study in Japanese after a year.

While I can't give specific school names, you might want to look for a course that teaches you in Japanese (and doesn't use English to explain things to you). It might be harder for you at first, but immersion is probably the most effective method.

What's the biggest adjustment you had to make when you moved to Japan (from @shirtong )

For me it was learning to live on my own haha. I've always been with my family and I'm not the independent type at all so learning how to do my groceries and keep the place at an acceptable level of clean was probably the biggest shock to me. Plus all the paperwork (though the first year was still okay because the TUFS was comprehensive but the second year was O.O)

What phone carrier do you use? (From @whatchewdoing )

I'm using au right now! I signed up with SoftBank when I first came but I changed after two years for the student discount haha.

I also have a line mobile SIM card and if my iPhone was SIM free, I would be using that. Sadly my phone is locked ><

What is the factor that is making you stay in Japan? (From @anemptyvoid )


Even though things have been tough lately, I feel like He's placed me here. When it's time to move back, I believe that He will call me home to Singapore.

Best shopping spots, restaurants, and bookshops, etc? (From @Ultraviolencegirl99 )

Gonna keep this limited to Fukuoka haha. I'm not familiar with the whole of Japan.

Bookshops: I'm going with BookOff because it's one of the best places to get English books and it's kinda like a treasure hunt because you never know what you're gonna get

Restaurants: I keep bringing people to Kokinchan (a yatai) and Tenjin horumon (horumon teppanyaki) so those will be the two i recommend! Oh and not Fukuoka but Log Kit here is amazing! My sister even dreams about it.

Cafe: I don't really have any I recommend. I like Afternoon Tea and generally I like the local cafes (but mine closed down, sadly).

Haha I'm probably not the best person to ask about this because when I find something I like I tend to stick with it instead of trying something new.

What is your biggest takeaway from studying in Japan (from @darrylkwl )

That your education is what you make it to be. Japanese unis are notoriously famous for being very easy and while it is possible to get by with minimal studying, I've never found it difficult to find classes that challenged me.

Black Zemi was stressful and crazy and I will still choose it all over again because of how much I learnt in those two years. And I managed to take Latin and Ancient Greek and other stuff I was interested in so I feel like if you want to learn, you can.

Is it possible for foreigners to buy property in Japan? (From @jeslynlovespanda )

I don't have direct experience about this but I asked google sensei and the second result was "why aren't there restrictions on foreigners in Japan."

So what I found out that Japan actually has a lot less restrictions on who can buy land and property than countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, etc. If you have the money, you can buy the land/house.

The only things that you can't do is take a long from a Japanese bank and you have to report the transaction to the government because of the amount of Japanese yen that you have to buy.

So if you can get a loan in your country of origin or you are rich and have the money on hand, you can buy a house in Japan.

Is your company strict about the use of Keigo? (From @shirry )

In a word: yes.

But it's completely understandable because we are in the service industry and I don't think anyone wants to go to a theme park and have the staff there be rude to you.

With my colleagues, the only directive I've had is that I must value my colleagues as much as I do outsiders (I.e. Don't be rude to them). But it is Japan so with older colleagues (like with senpai) I'm more polite but with my cohort I use informal language.

Any anti-ageing products your recommend? (From @valeriekuek )

Wah my last question is the hardest! First, yay for you being in Japan now!

I don't have any recommendations, though, because I'm very bad at skincare stuff. The only thing I use regularly is Sahne cream, which my grandma introduced me to and she swears by it. So I've developed the habit of using it too!

This was really fun to do! I'm really happy people actually had questions and it was a good way to reflect on life here.

I may turn some of the stuff here into longer posts for my blog (if I do have more to say) so let me know if you want/don't want to be credited by name. 😊

If there are more questions just let me know and I'll answer them either tomorrow or Sunday!

Day 188

Friday, 7 Jul 2017

52 22
wanderinggoldfish (avatar)

wanderinggoldfish uuuu fun! Can I ask two questions? 🙂 What do you dislike most about living in Japan? 😆

favorite city and why.

11 months ago

autumnstar (avatar)

autumnstar oooo nice! japan is a country i like and i love to hear one's experience abt the place too(not the reason i followed u!!) how do u find the people there, like are they really workaholics as many have described them, and are they friendly to you as well? what are the other cities you have been to in japan and do u see yourself moving to those cities next time?

oops... asking too many 😁

11 months ago

evonne89 (avatar)

evonne89 Why did you choose to head to Japan and is it tough for foreigners to get a job there (based on both your experience and knowledge)? Fellow 🇯🇵 fan here! 🙋🏻

11 months ago

sharotto (avatar)

sharotto do you have to OT alot and go out for drinking sessions after work? Haha.

11 months ago

Lambkins (avatar)

Lambkins whoopeeeeeeeee yesterday my Japanese friend was telling me how much she prefers the Singapore working culture to the Japanese working culture, what dyou think makes the Japanese working culture so baddddd? 😁

11 months ago

dodobird (avatar)

dodobird oooo im going to japan for exchange next year and planning to go backpack for a few weeks before school starts! Other than osaka/kyoto/tokyo, are there any other cities you find worth to visit and why? :-) Thank you!!!

11 months ago

alwaysmore (avatar)

alwaysmore How long did you study Japanese for to become proficient?

Have you ever felt discriminated against as a foreigner?

Have you been able to make good friends with Japanese? I've heard they are notoriously difficult to befriend and can be very fake/insincere

11 months ago

parallelpathways (avatar)

parallelpathways Hello! I've been thinking for awhile to head to Japan to study Japanese for a year. Do you have any schools to recommend and what will the recommended proficiency level be? Thanks in advance !

11 months ago

shirtong (avatar)

shirtong what's the biggest adjustment u need to make in moving to japan?

11 months ago

whatchewdoing (avatar)

whatchewdoing This sounds like a super technical question but what phone carrier do you use!

11 months ago

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