Hi there! This article is written by a young programmer living in Japan and hailing from the cold and barren country of Sweden and have been living over here for 3 years as of writing this post.
A lot of people say that they are thinking about visiting or moving to Japan and there are also a lot of people that express their envy of people with the privilege to have that “magical” opportunity. There are many things to enjoy about Japan; the food, the culture, the entertainment… Though to be honest it is often being overhyped. That is why some people that want to try out living in the promised land of animation and soy sauce might need some advice. (mmm soy sauce )
As a disclaimer you should by no means treat this post as absolute facts. You should fact check everything you read. This is just a compilation of thoughts and opinions.
There are a lot of reasons to love Japan, great food, freaky entertainment, good customer service, awe inspiring games, beautiful art, flourishing nature, interesting culture and a complicated history to just name a few. If that is everything you ever wanted and dreamed of having then Japan may be for you. However it’s more important to know your enemies and in this case that means what you probably will not like about Japan.
Knowing the drawbacks of Japan
First off is that most westerners will have a hard time with adjusting to the different mindset here in Japan. This is true for any country other than your own and in Japan it is especially so since it is in Asia. It may be a bit easier than some other Asian countries to adjust to but the thing is that you will have to prepare yourself to be able to adjust to or understand the way of thinking about some topics. Having an open mind is one of the most important things if you want to enjoy your time here in Japan.
Language is of course also very important. Some Japanese speak English and most restaurants, stores and public services do have English menu, translations and such but the truth is that Japan is in Asia and English is far from their own language roots and some sentences are impossible to translate without creating some confusion. I strongly recommend everyone to at the very least learn Hiragana and Katakana the two basic “alphabets” in Japan. Why would anyone even try to communicate with you in your language if you are not even trying to do the same?
Have you ever had to fill in your personal information 5 times in a row for the same application to something? Well here in Japan that is sometimes needed. This can be seen as part of the first bad point above but it is probably the one thing to hate the most about Japan. This is by no means always the case but some places have a very old and outdated way of doing things and at the same time the Japanese standard of what is a suitable amount of paperwork does not have a limit. In other words they may keep track of all the information they want or else you won’t be able to apply for whatever you are trying to apply for.
These are the most important cons for Japan and if you think you can take those head on then you will have a great time here! Keep in mind that these examples are worst case scenarios and that you may or may not experience that during your stay. The paperwork here is a nightmare though. Until next time!