Moving to Japan



With a high cost of living and different cultural and working etiquette, Japan is typically a challenging destination for assignees. Yet many expatriates will thrive in this new and exciting environment and often the whole family will enjoy the assignment. ExpatFinder is here to assist you in your relocation to Japan, all at the click of a button.

With its bright neon lights and larger than life signs, it’s easy to fall into the trappings of Japan’s highly urbanized cities. Despite the high quality of life, it is interesting to find how deeply rooted the Japanese are to tradition.

The "Land of the Rising Sun" totals over 3,000 islands, is between 70% to 80% forests and mountains and consists of four major islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. The climate varies from cold temperate in the northern part to subtropical in the southern area. Japan has made its mark in the auto industry, finance, transportation, publishing, electronics, broadcasting industries, tourism, steel plants, manufacturing, textiles and luxury goods industry, often credited with efficiency and dependability. The yen is the local currency.

The country is ruled by a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government. The head of state is the emperor (defined as "the symbol of the state and the unity of the people"), and the prime minister is the head of the government. Japan has one of the largest influxes of migrants in the world with a steady, annual flow of 15,000 immigrants. Japanese are hospitable to any foreigners or gaijin. The native tongue, Nihongo (Japanese), is the language of choice; the locals sporadically speak English, but most can understand English, as this is a prerequisite for their education. Although you can easily get ‘lost in translation', don't let it keep you from making your acquaintance with the locals.

Before moving to Japan, bring enough cash (as most merchants do not accept credit cards), financial residence card/Alien registration card, Japanese driver's license in lieu of a residence card, passport with valid visa, personal seal (inkan/hanko), and an original utility bill to help set up a bank account. Since the easiest way to pay bills is through bank transactions, make a trip to the bank as soon you are settled in your own place, and bring a valid passport, stamp (inkan), and "Certificate of Items Stated in Alien Registration Original Slip (Gaikokujin touroku genpyou kisaijikou shoumeisho)." Expats and foreigners must dress appropriately in Japan. The Japanese dress more formally, especially the middle-class adults and people with a high status in society. Most dress up just to run an errand at the store. If you choose to dress down when going out, at least make sure you look neat. A tip for Westerners: Do not expect to find western sizes/proportions in clothing. Look around; you're most likely the tallest person in the crowd. The average Japanese person is smaller, so it goes without saying that clothes and shoes come in smaller sizes than in Western countries. Take enough clothes with you when you relocate, especially for work. Japan has a low crime rate; you can have peace of mind while walking home alone.

In Japan, cars are not usually essential as the country's state-of-the-art public transportation is highly efficient. Trains, buses and subways are easy to navigate and will take you just about anywhere, especially in the metropolitan area. If you want to live in the fast lane, then the heart of Tokyo is the place to be, while the place to be for nightlife is Osaka. In Japan, earthquakes, tremors and seasonal typhoons are part of people's lives. It is important not only to come to terms with these natural conditions, but also to learn the safety drill to follow in the event of an emergency. Familiarize yourself with your employer's disaster plan.

Make sure you register yourself and your family at your home country's embassy or consulate office. An alien registration card is needed for expats staying for more than 90 days in Japan. By law, you must carry identification (passport or alien registration card) with you at all times. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan website details the procedures for applying for a visa in Japan.



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