John: Japan Australia
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Japan, etc.
I am a web developer and freelance writer living in Gifu, Japan. I am originally from Melbourne, Australia and moved to Japan straight after graduating University to teach English. I planned on staying for a year, but loved it so much I ended up staying for over 10 years.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I didn’t start blogging about my Japan experiences until I came back to Australia. I missed Japan so much that I wanted to share my passion and knowledge of this amazing country with other people. It has come full circle now as I am moving back to Japan full time early next year and will continue to blog about my experiences and life in Japan.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Some of my favourite blog entries have been:
- 10 Things to do on a Budget in Tokyo
- The Rules of Sushi
- Japan on a Budget
- Mos Burger in Australia
- Is it Safe to Travel to Japan
Tell us about the ways your new life in Japan differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Life in Japan differs greatly from that of back home in Australia. I had to get used to a new language, culture and food. I was glad that I had a background in the Japanese language which helped prepare me for Japan. I actually went over to Japan with a group of friends, which made the whole process of adjusting a lot easier as we were all going through a similar experience and were there to support each other.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Japan? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I don’t think I was fully prepared but having a background in the Japanese language as well as the culture certainly helped a lot. I was lucky to have taken part in some language exchanges with Japanese students studying at my University as well as working part time as a guide with them. If I could change anything, it would have been arriving a lot earlier to Japan before commencing work to get better adjusted to the country and my environment. The first few weeks were hard because I was away from home in a strange land but gradually settled in and loved the whole experience.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I’ve been lucky to have had some amazing cultural experiences in Japan. One of the most memorable was participating in our local community festival dressed in a happi (traditional Japanese festival coat) and carrying the mikoshi (portable shrine).
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Japan?
My top three tips would be:
- Learn the language or at least some of the basics before arriving in Japan
- Accept the inevitability of culture shock and relish doing things the way they are done in Japan
- If you’ve never learned how to use chopsticks, figure it out before you go
How is the expat community in Japan? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
We have quite a good expat community living around Gifu City, so it was pretty easy for me to meet like-minded people. We would have regular weekly get-togethers after work at the local beer hall and engaged in activities like ultimate Frisbee and soccer. It was an amazing experience to be able to meet and make friendships with people from all over the world.
How would you summarize your expat life in Japan in a single, catchy sentence?
Long-lasting friendships and the time of my life.