Preparing For A Move To Japan: Things To Be Aware Of

“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.

1) Mosquitos

Japanese Mosquitos

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

Campaign Van

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.

3) Otoushi


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!

Japanese 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!

No driers in Japan

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.

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15 Comments on “Preparing For A Move To Japan: Things To Be Aware Of”

  1. ThroughTheLookingGlassAndDownTheRabbitHole
    August 2, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Number 2 really bugs me! And they always manage to do it early on a Saturday morning, ha ha.

    • introvertnathan
      August 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      I know, right? My first apartment here…I think they started campaigning right in front of my house. They always woke me up!

  2. samokan
    August 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I think most Asian countries prefer to Sun Power to dry clothes lol . Don’t forget the cockroaches here, they are huge.

    • introvertnathan
      August 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      Lol, true. Being from the U.S., I had never air-dried my clothes before coming here. Or seen cockroaches so big! They are monsters, aren’t they?

      • samokan
        August 3, 2013 at 2:26 am #

        I suggested to do that when I was in the states because it sunny but everybody just said NO and gave a weird look. LOL

  3. Artemis
    August 3, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    It might be inconvenient, but one of the reasons I love living so far out in the country is that I get a nice big apartment all to myself. It’s actually more of a house really – and now that I’ve gotten used to surviving in deepest darkest inaka, I’ll take my two spacious levels over big city living any day.
    I’m with you on the Coke tasting different here. I wonder if American Coke also tastes different to the New Zealand stuff? Because while I don’t dislike Japanese Coke, I prefer what I drink in my home country.

    • introvertnathan
      August 3, 2013 at 1:07 am #

      Ah, inaka. I concur. I lived in a tiny 1K for 3 years before just recently moving into a much bigger 2DK. It feels like a mansion.
      Hm, I wonder if NZ and US Coke do taste different or not…

  4. i*Kan
    August 3, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    Haha, I like the tape your mouth shut one. I think one of the most stressful things about moving (alone) to a new country is if you can’t understand or speak the language. It just feels so isolating.

    • introvertnathan
      August 5, 2013 at 2:38 am #

      Yeah, it’s real fun and exciting when you’re traveling and experiencing new things, but daily life can get pretty isolating until you finally make some friends.

  5. Rurousha
    August 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Mozzies. I swear even Africa’s mercenary mozzies would flee in terror when confronted by these mutants. What makes it worse is that Japan’s insect repellents seem to be as weak as Japan’s deodorants, i.e. totally ineffective. Sigh.

    • introvertnathan
      August 5, 2013 at 2:40 am #

      Haha. I often sit out on my veranda and enjoy the night view. I use the insect repellent incense they have here and it kind of works…

  6. Andrew
    August 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Reblogged this on An Easy Distance and commented:
    I’m adding this post from a fellow Japan blogger about how to prepare for Japan. Well said, well said.

  7. Tasha Summers
    November 24, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Japan is a great country. There are a lot of things that western people are not used to them, indeed. I moved to Japan one year ago. I am still adapting but there is hope. Best regards!


  1. What should you bring to Japan – Manly edition | An Easy Distance - August 8, 2013

    […] This is not a list of general travel pack items. So there is no camera, good walking shoes, etc etc etc on this list. It is specific to teaching in Japan and what I have found that I needed while living here and mostly what I had packed to get here. This post is geared towards men, my wife is writing a companion post for women. Here is another post from a fellow blogger: Preparing for Japan – […]

  2. What should you bring to Japan – Girly edition | An Easy Distance - August 8, 2013

    […] This is the companion to Andrew’s post tailored especially for the ladies. But it is not all-inclusive so if you are preparing to leave the country please refer to the “Manly Edition” as well. It has all the important technology-related information you will need. Also check out this post from a fellow blogger on how to prepare for Japan. […]

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