“How can I prepare for moving to Japan?” asked someone moving to Japan.
“Well, do you have a closet?” asked the guy who lived there.
“Yes, of course.”
“Well, clean it out, and then sleep inside for three months. When you get to Japan you will be ready.”
Yes, mind you, the apartments are small. And that is my first answer for how to prepare for a move to the land of the rising sun. Also, tape your mouth shut and practice communicating in gestures if you can’t speak any Japanese and don’t plan on learning.
And while I do plan to post about some real, honest to God useful advice about how to prepare to come here, I couldn’t help but first make this little tidbit about a few minor things to be aware of.
There are a few little things that will make you go “grr…” (Or stronger language, which I will refrain from using because I keep my site PG13) once you come. So, here are a few things that gave me an unhappy surprise when I shook hands with them for the first time, things you should be aware of before making the pilgrimage.
Japanese mosquitos are an abomination unto the Lord, spawn of normal mosquitos and wasps. The first time I was bitten by one of these Satan bugs I thought I was having an allergic reaction. God help you if one bites your face. You look like you went a round with Evil Ryu. Hadoken!
2) Noise Pollution Laws
Japan takes a very different view of noise pollution. Meaning, anyone can drive around your neighborhood at, say, nine o’clock in the morning, blaring whatever they want on a loudspeaker duck taped to the top of their minivan. So during voting season candidates (more precisely their cronies) do just that. They’re not making a speech either, just playing the same simple phrase in an endless loop. “Vote for X. He’ll lower your taxes. Vote for X. He’s best buds with Obama. Vote for X. Vote for X. Vote for X.” Because repetition can penetrate even the dullest mind. Because repetition can penetrate even the dullest mind.
These are appetizers you are given without being asked at izakayas, a kind of drinking bar. It will be something unidentifiable and nasty, and you will be charged for it. So you’re basically being made to pay for something you would sooner kill by flushing down the toilet than ever think about eating. A few Izakayas give you the choice of getting an otoushi or not–but you have to ask not to get it. So for the most part, whenever you go to an izakaya, a tiny plate of Slimer’s butt sweat will be placed in front of you, for which you will be charged.
4) No Pepsi!
You will find Pepsi Next in every convenience store, but they will not carry normal, blue-label Pepsi. You can find it in some vending machines, but Japan is mostly a Pepsi-free country. And if you’re a Mountain Dew addict, you won’t have any luck there either. Mountain Dew’s rather rare in the land of the rising sun, so rare that I’ve only been able to find it in one vending machine outside my tiny local station.
Though if you can’t live without your Pepsi, you may not have to go completely cold turkey. About 10% of supermarkets around my neck of Japan actually do carry 1 liters. I recently found one somewhat close to my new apartment and stocked up. But you’ve got to look.
Though…and this is up for debate, Coca Cola tastes different here. Me and a few other believers think that J Coke tastes superior to A Coke. So even if you’re not a Coke fan, why not give it a try? You might be surprised.
5) No Driers!
Due to the limited space in many Japanese homes and apartments, few Japanese homes have driers. And since buying one is extremely expensive, and even then may take upwards of three hours to dry your clothes if you have one, many Japanese prefer to hang their clothes outside. It’s why apartment fronts can look like laundermats on a sunny day.
So, that’s a few minor things you should be aware of if you decide to make the pilgramage to the land of the rising sun. Because knowledge is power, right? I say that in all honesty. Do your research before coming here, because if you know beforehand, it’s that much easier to deal with once it jumps out of the internet and stares you down in real life. That way, it won’t impede your enjoyment of this great country–or any maid cafes or host clubs you may or may not frequent.