Why am I still here?

I’ve been living in Japan for three and a half years now, and sometimes I catch myself thinking, Why am I still here? What am I looking for? What am I doing with my life? But I never have to think very long for my questions to be answered. Here are some of my current reasons for staying in Japan:

1. OMOTENASHI–Customer service

My mom always told me that I should never settle for anyone who doesn’t treat me like a princess. She was obviously talking about relationships, but it definitely applies to customer service as well. In America, they say “the customer is always right,” but in Japan, “the customer is god.”

I went to a department store last week a few minutes before they opened, and a staff member came out in her fancy uniform to unlock the doors and great everyone waiting. She said they’d be opening soon and apologized for making us wait. At exactly 10:00AM, she came back with three other fancily-dressed staff members, who all bowed deeply towards the crowd and energetically said “Good morning and welcome. Please come in!” They opened the doors so politely and personally greeted everyone entering. Then, as I passed each vendor in the basement to get to the vegan bento shop, I noticed literally everyone bowing and saying “Good morning and welcome!” This happens everywhere, but this was the first time I’d been to a department store right as they were opening. There weren’t many people buying things yet, so the staff had plenty of time to greet and bow. The amazing customer service and attention to detail was so much more visible because I was early.

Granted, this was a high end department store, but most places in Japan are like this. Makeup counter staff are super flattering and helpful, restaurant staff almost never get anything wrong, and even fast food workers are super nice. It may all be fake, but it works on me. I think clothing and beauty store staff have single-handed scooped me out of my shy, introverted past and brought me into this new world where I like talking to people. I’m treated like a princess all the time, and it’s really changed me. Bravo, Japan. BRAVO.

2. Health Consciousness

Minus Japan’s annoying disregard for the dangers of cigarette smoke (it is legal to smoke almost everywhere here for some VERY STRANGE AND ILLOGICAL REASON), Japan is a pretty healthy place. Kids learn nutrition from a young age, and their school lunches are carefully thought out and prepared fresh. Because of this, people recognize that certain foods shouldn’t be consumed all the time. It should be easy, but America still has a hard problem differentiating healthy from cancerous so apparently it isn’t. I will say that there is a lot of pressure here to be thin and thus many people take it too far and end up with eating disorders, but that happens literally everywhere. Overall, Japan has quite a few healthy restaurants and a generally good grasp on nutrition.

Also, veganism hasn’t really caught on where I live, so there aren’t a lot of vegan junk foods for me to be tempted by. I literally have to make my own food for almost every meal, and I eat pretty clean. It’s not hard for me to be healthy here at all. AND if you read my last post, you know that health care is super cheap as well. Win-win.

3. Safety

Bad things happen in Japan. I know this. Yet I feel very safe walking home at night from the station. With headphones in. Occasionally holding bags of groceries. I have had a few encounters with suspected stalkers, but the experience never lasts more than a few minutes. In America, walking around alone in the middle of the day could gain you a lot of unsolicited advances. Old guys in cars used to always try to pick me up when I was in college. Now I don’t have to worry about that nearly as much.

I know I should be careful, and I am, but I feel like Japan does have a more peaceful, safe atmosphere. There aren’t usually large men around the corner waiting to rob you at gunpoint. Even Osaka, Japan’s most dangerous city, feels much safer than the average American city. This has allowed me to feel more comfortable going places alone and just doing what I need to do to live.

4. Public Transportation/Proximity to City Center

I love driving and belting my favorite songs just as much as the next person. I don’t, however, love driving with a purpose. Having to drive to work or the doctor or the mall is stressful. What if there’s traffic and I’m late? Where do I park? Also, gas prices are ridiculous in Japan, and car maintenance is even worse. If I had a personal chauffeur I’d have no problem, but unfortunately I am neither rich nor important enough for one of those. I was made to live in a place with good public transportation. Japan is that place. Between trains, subways, buses, and taxis you can get anywhere you need to without having to drive yourself. It’s lifesaving.

Japan is also really small and densely populated, so everything is centrally located in cities. If you live even somewhat close to a city, you can get there pretty easily and find anything you may need. Texas is a vast land full of cows and long, winding highways. Everything good is a least two hours away. At this point in my life, I’d take Japan over that any day.

5. Fashion

America has its pockets of good fashion. The problem is that they’re all so far away from each other and only so many people even care about fashion, that it was never really that exciting for me. I had to rely mostly on fashion blogs and runway videos to get any kind of style inspiration. Now, I just have to walk outside. Japanese people just seem to care more in general about their outward appearances. That, or I just find standard Japanese style to be more appealing than its American counterpart. Either way, Japan is full of beautiful, fashionable eye candy. People-watching here is like watching NY Fashion Week and not a train wreck like it is in America. Seriously, even if Japan had Walmart, People of Walmart would not exist. I am so so grateful for that.

Recently I’ve been seeing more and more stylish old ladies wearing very odd but amazing clothes, and I can’t wait to grow up and be one of them. Maybe Japanese people have more money to spend on nice clothes because housing tends to be cheaper, or maybe the need to fit in just forces people to look nice because of peer pressure…either way, I enjoy going out and seeing what everyone else is wearing.

Disclaimer: I am not trying to be vain or judgmental; I simply really care about personal style and think fashion is the perfect way to tell people about yourself without having to say anything.

6. I’m having fun

Quite simply, I don’t feel the need to leave because I’m having so much fun. I love my job and getting to meet so many amazing bilingual children and their families. I love teaching English as a foreign language. I love teaching Japanese people about America and what I know about the rest of the world. I love being an outsider because there are so few expectations of me, and I like proving people wrong. I love learning and living the Japanese language. I love it all. Everyday is an adventure here even after three years, and I hope that feeling never stops. Then I’ll just have to move again.

 

In conclusion, there are a lot of really good reasons I choose to stay in Japan. I still don’t know how long I’ll be here, but for now I am enjoying life and finding happiness. That alone is reason enough to stay.

 

Check out my instagram for current pictures of my adventures (which admittedly haven’t been so amazing lately, but that’ll change soon)! See you soon.

Advertisements

Girl’s day

June has been good to me. Though it’s now rainy season and sunlight has been rare, I am definitely enjoying my final months here with my lovely friends.

I was invited out to Miyakonojo for lunch and a rock bath/sauna trip with two of the coolest ladies I know. We went to a restaurant called SLF and had an amazing four course meal. The salad was covered in local veggies and a perfectly paired blueberry dressing. For the main, I went with margarita pizza and it also did not disappoint. I ate the soup too quickly to take a picture. I’m sorry, it was pumpkin and delicious. Finally, I had a cappuccino and coconut gelato. Ahh, it was the perfect lunch.

image

image

image

After we headed to Miyakonojo Green Hotel for their stone sauna (岩盤浴). I had never been to a place like this before, and I am so glad the girls invited me. You change into a provided cover-up, drink some water, then lie down on the hot slab of rocks in a dark room that’s about 40 C (104 F). First you lie on your stomach for five minutes, then switch to your back for ten. They play light instrumental music, so it’s extremely relaxing, but staying in past 15 minutes isn’t recommended this time of year because you can easily overheat. In-between sessions, you can a break in an air-conditioned room and rehydrate. We did three times total and each time there was more and more sweat. But each time I felt lighter and lighter, like all the impurities and tension were leaving me. Afterwards you can shower, and they have necessary products like shampoo and body wash available. It’s said to have a lot of health benefits, and there were quite a few positive testimonials displayed in the lobby. It was an amazing experience, I highly recommend it if you feel like you need a detox or just want to relax.

image

I’m trying so hard to save money for my future move, but I can’t pass up opportunities to see my friends and experience new things. I’m considering this day justifiable because of its therapeutic nature. I feel amazing! Make sure to check out these spots if you’re ever in the area!

Junior High School Stories: Kids are so Weird

I haven’t written about my students in a while, and I feel like they know it because they’ve been giving me a lot of great material lately. Cute, but mostly creepy material. (NOTE: some student comments are translated from Japanese.)

 

1.

My 8th graders have been studying infinitives and what expressions to use them with. Things like “I like to play soccer” or “I want to go to the movies.” So one day at lunch, I asked some students what they want to do in the future.

The young lady sitting across from me said, “I want to marry a rich, handsome man so I can sit on the couch watching TV and eating potato chips all day.”

To which I replied, “You want to do nothing but sit and eat? that’s not very healthy.”

And she said, “Oh we’ll have a pool. And three mini poodles. It’ll be fine!”

Okay sweetie, what a wonderful dream!

The boy next to her said the opposite. Apparently his dream is to marry an ugly, poor woman. I just don’t even know where they get this.

 

2.

Soon after that conversation, one of my most adoring students came over to poke me and ask me weird questions. I ignored her and asked her the same question as above instead. Her answer? To be my boyfriend. She meant boyfriend. When she was in 7th grade she wrote “I Love KORI!” on her arm and told everyone she was my boyfriend. Hmmm….::concerned face::

 

3.

That same day, during 5th period, I asked a young man where his workbook was, because he was supposed to be working in it.

He said, “It went home.”

“It went home? What?” Because I thought he meant it was at home.

“Oh, yea, it went home. By foot!”

 

4.

Another day, I was walking back to the 7th grade teachers’ room after a lesson. I walked by a group of three girls, and as I passed, I could feel them stop and face me. I turned to see one girl sniffing my shoulder.

“What are you doing!?”

“YOU SMELL GOOOOOD!”

 

5.

Almost everyday, someone (usually a boy) will scream, “I DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH!” in English. Why?!

 

6.

One day I caught a boy copying the answers for the workbook page he was supposed to be doing from the answer book. I grabbed the answer book, playfully tapped his head with it, and then erased all of his answers. He laughed nervously, and then actually did the workbook page correctly. It was a rewarding day for us both.

 

7.

Recently the 9th grade upper level English students were writing group essays. Their teacher was absent this particular day, so I went to the lessons by myself and helped the kids with their grammar and word choice. Easy stuff, you know. I’m helping one group write something about kimono or something, when one boy starts yelling “BEE! BEE! A BIG BEE!”I freaked out, because for once the students knew the correct English word for such an animal and because our school had been having a problem with giant hornets that are apparently vicious and painful. I did not want to stick around to find out what it felt like to be stung by one, and with all the children flailing around like drunk donkeys, that bee was probably peeved enough to stick his little stinger right into my face. Before I could calm anyone down, or breathe for that matter, the tiniest girl in class had run to the teachers’ room, fetched a bug spray gun, and begun (trying) to kill the little insect. She was way too short to reach the bee, who was flying close to the ceiling like any smart bee would, so all she managed to do was douse the classroom in a very obnoxious fume cloud. We all had a good laugh at her futile attempt to murder the poor thing, and then a much taller boy yanked the canister from her hand. He gave that hornet the lethal dose every student was hoping for, and  the little bug buzzed his little way down to the floor where he perished in a puddle of poison.

I felt so weird. This little bug had the ability to scare 20 teenagers with just the flap of his wings, and yet he died so easily at a few breaths of poisonous air. I didn’t know what else to do, so I made the kids have a little funeral for him. We all said “Sorry. Goodbye Mr. Bee.” and threw him into the “general waste” bag.

 

8.

Every Tuesday I help the 7th graders clean the teachers’ room, mostly because I like to look busy, but also because I like to make them speak English. A while back, I taught them the words “dustpan” and “broom.” Now, every week without fail, a boy who could easily pass as an American 3rd grader comes to my desk and exclaims, “Kori! Clean time!” It’s so cute, I have to clean. He is also “dustpan” boy, so whenever someone yells, “DUSTPAN!” he promptly scurries over to them, not unlike a mouse, and provides his dustpan-steadying skills. Tuesday is probably my favorite day of the week because of Dustpan (his loving new name).

 

9.

My favorite thing about my job, by far, is watching students’ faces when they randomly blurt out an answer and it’s right. They’ll say it happily, and if you don’t immediately congratulate them on their answer, they doubt it and try to retract it. That’s when you say, “THAT’S RIGHT!” and their faces light up like the sky on (American) New Year’s. It’s more beautiful than the most beautiful fireworks display, really, and it’s why I do what I do. Slowly, these kids are picking up English and enjoying it. And maybe English itself isn’t so important big picture-wise, but being bilingual is correlated with higher intelligence right? And it means they can talk to me more, because Kori-sensei does not speak Japanese at school without good reason. No sir.

 

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you enjoy this kind of post. I certainly enjoyed writing it! Until next time!

Night at the Aquarium

Tokyo, naturally, is full of exciting things to do. I’m a little bit glad I don’t live there, though, because I’d never have any money. There’s just so much going on.

One night during the week, my friend and I decided to go to the Art Aquarium set up in the Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall. We bought our tickets before at 7-11 and got a drink discount. The day event does not serve alcohol as far as I know, but in the evening, it turns into a “Night Aquarium” complete with adult beverages. On the weekends they also have live music!

I told a lot of people I was excited about the Art Aquarium, and they laughed at me. Maybe they just didn’t understand what it means. The exhibit, called Edo Eco, takes Edo era lantern shapes and designs to create artistic fish bowls. Then the bowls are filled with interesting goldfish and lit with colorful lights. Everything was so well thought out and very modern. Each of the aquariums had their own unique features; some distorted the fishes bodies, and others were simple, allowing the fish to shine. It was, for lack of better adjectives, so cool.

 

 

 

The Art and Night Aquariums run until September 23rd and the entrance fee is 1000 yen. Be sure to check out their website for more information!

Down to (Little) Texas

This summer, my best friend was kind enough to come to Japan and keep me company for 10 days. It was a much needed vacation and escape from Osumi, and we had so much fun.

We headed to Tokyo from Kagoshima on Friday, and that night we decided to check out Meguro’s Little Texas on a recommendation from some friends. I had heard it was a nice little place to grab some imported beer and chicken-fried steak and listen to country music, but I had no idea how much it would really look like a small-town Texas honky tonk. For those of you non-Texans out there, a honky tonk is a bar where one can two-step to local country music and do some beer-in-hand boot scootin’. That description didn’t help at all did it? No, why don’t I show you…Little Texas is surprisingly accurate, if not  little over the top.

 

 

IMG_20140812_095439 (2)

 

IMG_20140812_095353 (2)

 

 

IMG_20140812_095409 (2)

Barbed wire, road signs, and empty chewing tobacco cans? Check, check, and CHECK!

 

IMG_20140812_095416 (2)
IMG_20140812_095425 (2)

 

IMG_20140812_095459 (2)

 

The night we went was Bluegrass Night, and we were very lucky to hear the beautiful sounds of the talented musicians playing there. It was magical. We also had some nachos complete with jalepenos and a few frozen margaritas to wash it down. We later chatted a bit with the owner and he gave us onion rings free of charge. I definitely know where I’m going when I get homesick from now on!

 

If you’re ever in Tokyo and have a free night, check out Little Texas. Even if you aren’t from Texas. There is a music fee (I think it was about 2000 yen when we went), but the food and drinks are pretty standard. And the music is worth it.

 

To get to Little Texas and check it out for yourself, check out their webpage! The bar is about a five minute walk from Meguro Station.

Advice for Newbies: General Tips

Before I came to Japan, I read EVERYTHING I could about this place. Everything. A lot of it was completely useless though. There are tons of regional and situational differences, people have different perspectives, and Japan is always changing. You may get here and realize that Japan is more than you’d ever dreamed it could be. Or you could feel like it does not live up to your expectations at all. To help you, I’ve decided to write this list of tips.

**Before we get started, let me tell you that I am a relatively small, white girl from America. For the most part, I speak Japanese. I don’t know what it’s like to be obese in Japan, or a man in Japan, or a person of color. I can probably help direct you to some different perspectives if you are interested, but for the most part I will be speaking from my experiences as someone who looks and behaves like I do. I hope it helps you in some way! Now, to answer your burning questions!

 

1. Should I learn Japanese?

My opinion on the matter is simple. It’s a big fat YES. Maybe you could get by not knowing anything past your rehearsed introduction. I could not. I’m neurotic and hate making mistakes. I hate relying on other people. I want to be part of the flow and understand the world around me as much as possible. Thus, I learned Japanese.

I know this is not plausible for everyone. Maybe you only want to stay a year an learning the language for that short amount of time is a waste of your time. Maybe you find learning languages later in life really difficult. It’s really not my place to tell you what you can and should do. All I’m saying is that speaking a little Japanese helps immensely! You can buy your own bus tickets and process your own traffic tickets. You can figure out when someone’s saying something bad about you. You can wiggle your way into real relationships with people here who don’t speak English. You can start to get a real sense of what Japan is actually like by having more opportunities to talk to natives. If you can learn Japanese, do it. Start now and never give up. People will certainly respect you for it.

 

2. What do I wear?!

Regardless of what you’ve heard about being an ALT, it is a professional job. To quote the American designer Tom Ford, “Dressing well is a kind of good manners…I find it’s a show of respect to put on your best face and look as good as you can.” It is true that a lot of elementary and even junior high school teachers wear track suits or jeans to school. Once you’ve settled in, you can probably do that to. But my ultimate advice is to look your professional best for a while until people form an opinion of you. For ladies, this means relatively conservative clothing. High necklines, long hem lines, etc. Use your best judgement. After a while, when your newness has worn off and the school year is in full swing, you can get a little more casual (if it’s acceptable). Throw in some bright colors too. The kids love that.

As far as casual, weekend clothes are concerned, people are probably going to think you dress “different” anyway.  I still live by that Tom Ford quote though.  Females tend to be more conservative on the top than their western counterparts, and a lot of them seem to live in heels. This means you can wear short shorts and dresses, but cleavage is a bit of a no-go. It seems more girls go with the cute look than the sexy look, but it’s a free country! It seems people put more effort into their style here, especially in cities. I’d say wear what you want! If you are confident wearing crop tops and sleeveless shirts, do it! In the summer, you’re going to want to anyway.

Guys can get away with almost anything it seems, but I haven’t seen many people here wearing the infamous flip-flops frequently. Geez, I hate those things.

 

3. CULTURE??

I have been told first-hand by many Japanese people that one of the things they admire most about their culture is the constant awareness of everything around them. The modern age as brought some rather flippant people, but the old school group really appreciates delicate and conscientious behavior. It is easy really, just pay attention. You are always reacting and influencing the space around you, so take the time to sit back and think about it occasionally.

Drinking party culture is also a big deal. You’ll likely be asked to numerous enkais (宴会) while you’re here. Just relax! If you don’t drink, your coworkers will probably understand. And if they don’t, lie and say you’re driving home or something. Just talk to everyone (English or Japanese…you’ll be surprised who can speak English under the influence), and keep their glasses full and you’ll be a hit!

Few people expect you to use chopsticks. I’ve found, though, that once you speak decent enough Japanese, they kind of stop asking you about it. I think it has something to do with your aura, ya know?

Old people can do whatever they want. I would advice against copying them. Pick the middle age crowd that’s still working and learn from their behavior.

Presents/souvenirs for your neighbors, bosses, teachers, etc. is definitely not necessary, but it’s a nice gesture and a good icebreaker!

What am I missing…I’ll update you later as I think of things!

 

4. How do I make friends?

If you are a JET coming with group A or B, this is easy. Talk to everyone at orientation and find out where they’re going.

Being an ALT, other ALTs will be around to talk to. They may be 30 or so kilometers away, but most ALTs seem to have a good inner support system so you’ll at least have acquaintances.

You may also “inherit” some local Japanese friends. This sounds weird, I know, but I’ve met a lot of really cool people who have been in the ALT/foreigner crowd for years. People who speak English, have traveled abroad extensively, or just have a general interest in the world can be found even in small towns! Get out there and talk to people. You might meet someone really interesting!

If you have the chance to do a short home-stay or a culture class of some sort, go for it! I did a short stay when I first arrived and I still hang out with my host family. My host “mom” is fairly young, and we get along great! It may be hard sometimes to find friends in your age group, but a friend is a friend, right?

Creating new opportunities for yourself and becoming a “yes” person helps. Join clubs, get involved, and just do what you enjoy. People will be attracted to you. If you speak Japanese, even better. This goes for dating as well. I find it’s best not to go searching for friends. Just live your life openly and the right people just kind of fall into your lap. It takes time, for sure, but if you’re looking for real, lasting friendships, it’s so worth it!

 

 

In general…

The best advice I can give you for your first few months in Japan is to always do more than what’s expected. Dress nicer, smile more, be more outgoing, try harder. All of this will build your reputation. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask your coworkers how to say certain things in Japanese, ask people you feel close to for help when you’re down, etc. A lot of ALTs claim that they’ll never fit in or be considered real teachers so there’s no point in acting like one, but that is completely the wrong attitude to have. If you do want to make lasting impressions and make an impact, always put your snazziest, most professional foot forward. The beginning is hard, but people will notice your efforts. I’m probably never leaving Japan, and so I’ve tried hard to fit into the working world here. Even the superintendent in my town talks to me on a regular basis. He constantly asks me how my schools are doing or  if I have any problems. He also knows I want to work in Japan and he supports me. Never lose who you are, but living in Japan is not like living in America or the UK or wherever; there are a different set of rules. Whether or not you notice these differences and how you react could make or break your experience here.

Good luck! If you have a questions, please leave a comment below! See you again soon.

Advice for Newbies: Culture Shock

Hundreds of new JET Program ALTs will soon be rolling into Japan, so I’ve decided to do a little mini advice series. For the first installment, the most important thing you will be faced with: culture shock. It is real, my friends.

Culture shock affects everyone in some way. Even people who have spent extended periods of time in Japan before experience it. Many ALTs are placed in very rural places, and there are many regional differences in Japan. All the new smells and strange insects and constant Japanese buzzing through your ears will make you want to throw up some times. Or punch something. Japan is probably nothing like your home country. That’s probably why you wanted to come here, but it also might be why you crash and burn here. This culture is quite shocking, I’ll tell you, but there are ways to make your transition go a little more smoothly.

 

1. Don’t overextend yourself. You’ll likely want to jump into Japan head first and immediately start exploring. Exploring is good, but don’t overdo it too early on. The majority of you will be coming in the heat of summer, and it’s so easy to get worn out fast. Take it easy. I’m not telling you to turn down all invitations and stay inside by any means. Everyone needs a breather is all! And a lot of times we ignore our own well-being when we are busy having fun. It helped me a lot in the beginning to stay home and relax when I was feeling tired. Which brings me to #2.

 

 2. Nest. Build your home. Decorate your apartment. Decided where you want your pictures, computer, books, etc. to go. Having a space that is your own makes you feel settled. And when you are having a hard time, retreating to your own cozy space helps calm you down!

 

 3. Make friends. This one was a little hard for me. I take my friendships very seriously and don’t lend out my affections to just anyone. It’s really easy to find English speakers around you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have anything else in common. You might not find your next best friend in Japan. But then again, you just might…and more. Putting yourself out there is extremely important. When you do feel comfortable being alone in Japan, become a “yes man” so to speak. If someone invites you out and you aren’t busy or too tired, go! Go diving with your office acquaintances, or go to the beach with the lady at the resale clothing store. Japan is pretty safe, so if you are smart and take a friend, nothing should happen on adventures with strangers new friends. You might not really get a long with those people on a deep level, but creating a network is so important. And sometimes we can’t be too picky in rural Japan. That being said, you DO NOT have to hang out with all the other ALTs in your area. Be nice, be open, but don’t feel like you have to hang out with everyone because you have the same job.

That being said, I have met some amazing people in Japan. ALTs and locals. This is in part because I’ve tried to be more forward than I was in America, but also because out of necessity, I’ve grown a great deal since coming here. I also find that when you don’t have a lot of superficial commonalities, you resort to talking about human issues, which just makes you realize how similar we really are.

 

4. Admit defeat and ask for help when you need it. Culture shock does crazy things to people. It changes their personalities, and sometimes you wonder how some people made it this far. But most of the time it’s just the ill effects of culture shock. Sometimes, you have to tell your circle you’re going through a hard time. The ALT community can be super supportive, but because us older kids are sometimes experiencing life ourselves, it’s not so easy to see when you need help. Ask…let your friends know you’re having a hard time or are being weird because you are scared or sad. It’s okay. We’ll get through it. It’s happened to all of us, so we do understand.

Talking to your teachers, boss, neighbors, dry-cleaners, etc. can also help you so much! They might not want to here you rant about weird culturally quirks like your ALT friends do, but they can help put some of your issues into perspective and give you a sense of belonging, both of which are invaluable!

 

 5. Try to keep a routine. Preferably the one you had before.

When I got to Japan I practically ate my weight in conveyer belt sushi and conbini food (read: cheap and not-healthy). Obviously, that’s a bad idea. I just wanted to experience Japan through my mouth and I was depressed apparently. But gaining even 5 kilos in a country where people will tell you you’ve gained 5 kilos is even more depressing. Now, this isn’t about weight. I also got so tired because it was hot and I was eating horrible food. All I’m telling you is to keep track of that. You’re going to be here for at least a year; you have plenty of time to try honey toast and all the many kinds of ramen. Again, take it easy. Your body and soul will thank you. (the converse of this is not eating enough because you’re depressed or too busy living. I would just suggest, again, taking it easy at first. Fortunately I’m back to my normal healthy self, but for a while I was miserable). Keeping a solid diet and exercise routine will keep you healthy and give you one less thing to worry about!

 

I know, this advice is not all Japan specific. But I know many people will not have experienced this before and it’s the most important thing to moving to a new country. Especially if that country speaks Japanese and eats all of the seafoods. Asking questions goes a long way. Good luck!