08-18-2008, 12:23 AM
"Do you have any tips?"
*Learn as much Japanese as you can before you come. Anything you learn will make your stay here easier. Very few Japanese can speak English with ease. If you get lost, try writing your question on paper and giving it to someone young. Use simple words. Probably they can point you in the right direction.
*Bringing a number of inexpensive gifts with you is also a good idea, to give them to those who show you a big kindness. Nothing extravagant is necessary--even a video of MTV would do wonders, or some item of Americana or that represents where you're from. Cassettes of top-40 radio (Japanese radio is horrible), small picture books or calendars, posters, ashtrays, chocolates, pure maple or berry syrups, t-shirts or pens/pencils with famous animation characters (except Disney or Snoopy, which they have in abundance), liquor, caps, coasters, nice soap or shampoos, lotions, cosmetics, etc. would be great. Be aware though that in Japan 4 and 9 are "unlucky" numbers, and especially older Japanese tend to be superstitious, so avoid giving sets of 4 or 9.
*If you still don't know how many litres there are in a gallon, how hot 37 degrees Centigrade is, how heavy 32kg is, or how far 1 km is, then join the rest of the world and get on the metric system. Everything here is metric, and if you're not, you'll be lost very quickly.
*If you know where you'll be, getting some business cards before you come may be a good idea. However, while getting them in Japan is far more expensive, in Japan they can be printed in Japanese, or with English on one side. You will also receive many of them. They are exchanged to show who is superior to whom in this vertically-structured society. Do not play Frisbee with them , or stick them in your back pocket and sit on them when you meet someone.
* In Japan there is a 5% consumption tax. It is placed on every product you buy and every service (except public transportation), and more increases are expected in the years ahead.
* This is obvious, but NEVER SURRENDER YOUR PASSPORT TO ANYONE except the legal government authorities. Many people have been blackmailed to stay in their jobs by shady types who took them "for safekeeping". If they ask why, tell them the truth-- that you trust them about as far as you can throw--, well, maybe not that. But say that it's not even your property to give them--it's your government's, which is also true. Stay away from such places--you wouldn't be working there long anyway.
* If you're definitely coming, bring a good digital camera with you. They are excellent for sending photos to friends thru the net, as well as easy to make many photo albums of your experiences here. You can also store thousands of photos on a Super DigiBin, X-Drive, Nixvue Vista, Digital Wallet, Image Tank, or really dazzle people with an Archos Jukebox. The photos will be a treasure you will look back on with great fondness as you get older, and if you don't do it you'll sorely regret it later.
* On the main island of Honshu there are many earthquake faults, and tremors in Tokyo are a daily happening. Most of them you won't even feel, but on occasion you might get a jolt. DON'T PANIC. But Tokyo is expecting a "Big One" someday, so be prepared for any big earthquake or tsunami.
* In case you lose your passport, license, etc., keep a photocopy of them in your place just in case. They can't be used in place of them but might speed up getting a replacement.