Jonathan: Japan Letsgo
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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 Jonathan from Madison, Wisconsin, USA. I've been interested in Japan since I was a kid, since my uncle married his wife, Mariko. She is from Japan. I moved to Japan in November 2011, after finishing college.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging as soon as I got to Japan. Initially, I simply wanted a way to collect my thoughts and memories, but later it turned into a project to show my family, friends, and interested people what life is like for me in Japan.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Yes. I had discovered the sale of Wisconsin cheese in Tokyo. As Wisconsin is famous for cheese domestically, I was surprised to see it all the way here in Tokyo. I wrote it up on my blog and then my hometown newspaper featured it on the back page of the newspaper.
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?
While I didn't experience culture shock when I moved to Japan, I immediately noticed a big change in my diet. The food is the biggest change for me. I think the food in Japan is awesome, it’s healthy, and above all, easily available. I also think public transportation in Japan is hands down the best in the world due to its ease of use and reliability.
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 was pretty well prepared having studied Japanese language and culture in school. I also did a 1 year exchange with home stay in Tokyo. I could always use improvement of my Japanese speaking ability but now that I am here, I hope to improve more.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Japan?
- Bring an international drivers license with you as it will aid in obtaining a Japanese driver's license which is notoriously difficult.
- Study some Japanese, even if it’s just basic greetings and “Excuse me” as it will go a long way as far as Japanese society is concerned.
- I recommend bringing a few small gifts that represent your home well. As you meet new friends and visit their homes, giving a gift makes a great impression. Gift giving in Japan is a bigger part of the culture than any other country I have been to.
How is the expat community in Japan? Did you have a hard time finding like-mindedpeople or fellow expats?
There are many great resources for expats in Japan. There are English magazines, newspapers, and websites readily available. I can easily connect with expats to pursue just about any activity, hobby, or interest I am interested in. Many expats in Japan are, in my experience, very friendly and willing to share their cultural knowledge.
How would you summarize your expat life in Japan in a single, catchy sentence?
With adventure around every corner and excitement in the mundane, there is rarely a dull moment in my Japanese expat life.