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Fun / foon Tokyo
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Getting a job in Japan
Topic: adviceS
The old Bible of thousands of FG wannabes for the past 20 years, "JOBS in JAPAN" and most others likeHow to Land Jobs in Japan advice to come here cold and semi-illegal to find a job.

Most J-companies do NOT wanna hire a Pig-in-Poke. The Bad-Case scenerio
is it's gonna take you 3 months to find job and more than $5-10K to get
your own squat, phone, fidge, etc. (The Good-Case scenerio is it's
gonna take you 3 weeks and $1,200). Please note many major Japanese
companies will not sponsor visas (your soon-to-be-bucho is forced to privately).

YIKES! Come to think of it, most of the long-term gaijin on the the FG
Forum came here under some sponsorship such as job transfer, Japanese
education, martial arts, JET, etc. I got headhunted here but I was told
to "wait" for 3-4 months. I scrapped and scammed as an illegal worker
in a bunch shitty jobs and then had to do the Korean visa run on my own
and at my own expense to get my work visa. It was DAMN TOUGH and I ran
out of money ($3,500 spent in 9 weeks). Without leeching off my Judo
sensai and a friendly mama-san who frequently gave me "taxi money" I
would never have "made it".

BOTTOM LINE: Go for it.

Posted by trek/taro at 10:13 AM JST
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Thursday, January 6, 2005
Life in Japan is shitty vocab lesson
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: adviceS


肩たたき 【かたたたき】 (n) tap on the shoulder; request to resign

Been there. Done that. Mo' betta' job because of it.

Posted by trek/taro at 2:10 PM JST
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Wednesday, January 5, 2005
How long does it take to study Japanese?
Topic: adviceS
Q: How long would the full-time Japanese language course in the YWCA take to get me to the top level in Japanese?
A: "How long"? --->For me a lifetime.
Two classes a week for two years will get you the Japanese level 3 in about two years. For level 2, more "intensive" study is needed at least 4 days a week, several hours a day for one year. Level 1 for a Westerner studying at the YMCA is not a reasonable expectation---at least 2 years (more like 4 or 5). All the Western translators working for me as just as trainees with only Level 1, took 5 or more years to get to that point.

Q: I read somewhere that you have to have JLPT Lvl 1 to enroll in a Japanese university, so... if i take that language course i still have to take the JLPT up to level 1 right?
A: To enroll in a Japanese NATIONAL university (dirt cheap, or free scholorship) takes JLPT Lvl 1 to enroll although Level 2 will be accepted for a real scientist. Private universities will accept anything but they are expensive. Your best bet is transfer into Japan as grad student in a real major (not language or humanities) and live on a general research or Ed Ministry scholorship which pays more than 180,000yen/m plus housing.
Botton Line: It's easy, fun and maybe lucrative as long as you're not in not language or humanities major.

Posted by trek/taro at 11:33 AM JST
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Just say NO to NHK fees
Topic: adviceS
NHK sucks!NHK sucks!NHK sucks!NHK sucks!NHK sucks!NHK sucks!
Pay NHK?
Gee, just say NO.

NHK has no method of enforcement for payment of fees (unlike the UK's BBC). Just say "no thank you" everytime they come to the door. Even though I don't have to pay because I'm "special," I enjoy saying NO with a big smile.

Posted by trek/taro at 3:26 PM KDT
Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 3:31 PM KDT
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Monday, October 18, 2004
Q: Where should go drinking in Tokyo?
Topic: adviceS
Q: Where should go drinking in Tokyo?
Japan is a drunk's paradise.
Bars are the second industry here--- the first being sleaze. Every meter of street has a bar; pick one you'll be puking and poorer before you know it.

PLEASE do not be scared to go into those tiny bars with only 5 stools. Often those places are the single guy's savior.

I was once dragged to a sleaze bar and one of the hostess upon learning that I lived in Sugamo-Komagome area DEMANDED that I go to her sister's 5-stool bar. Standing outside a tangled 2-meter lane, I felt real dumb going into microscopic, 2-story, wooden establishment. The 90 year old place was so small I could just about touch the opposite walls with my outstretched arms. It seems just too Japaneseque for a f'ed gaijin like me.

To make a long story short, the mama-san there ended up cooking me a home-cooked Japanese meal, with a few drinks for 3 nights a week for my first few years in Tokyo ...all for 1,200yen. I would have death-by-cup- ramen malnutrition without that lady. Hell on real slow nights, she would close up early and she'd take me upstairs. :wink:

WHERE are good places to hang out?
"Sister Chill" (Jude Brand) has written the book on that and at the she's has writtten "Hangouts, Places to chill " column for years. Here's a typical review...

4 (Shi): Shibuya
4 (shi) has one of the best and wackiest locations for a bar. It is tucked in right under the Yamanote-sen tracks where they lead south out of Shibuya Station. Every time a train pulls in, the room shakes and the music takes a back seat to the commotion above. But you'd be surprised how quickly you become accustomed to this...
... a collection of top-shelf spirits, among which tequila and rum are most prominent. Something special like a Jose Cuervo Reserve de la Familia will set you back 3,500 yen a shot, so I would advise checking the prices before indulging. I was most impressed with the range of rum, which included my favorite Haitian label Barbancourt, with a 15-year old version going for a mere 1,400 yen a shot ... more...

Posted by trek/taro at 9:50 AM KDT
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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Topic: adviceS

Q: What is the best way to come to Japan?

A; Joining a foreign software company and being sent to Japan on "The Package" for expats is the best. Why live in Japan as an "in-country hire" low-life like me when you can live the fatcat expat life?
Ahhh, the old pig-in-the-poke problem: No Japanese company wants to hire you sight unseen...but it's a pain in the ass to come to Japan without work (and often a visa).
"Ideally" if you want to come to Japan, you try to hire on at a non-Japanese company with a large Japanese division and then get transferred here to live as royalty. The greater the Japanese presence the non-Japanese company has, the more chances you have to transfer here on the all-important Package. Occasionally a smaller company like RAMRON (Colo. Springs) with have a gaijin director position available but you would have to have inside connections to know that and generally the smaller the company the higher the level of Japanese is required.
The reason I am saying non-Japanese companies is that Japanese companies don't like to transfer folks from the Real World to Japan except for specific projects of less than 6 months. The game industry has the greatest amount of cross-border transfers most other industries use in-country hiring of very F'ed gaijin and "astronauts" who commute to Japan for a couple weeks or months at a time.
You might find a master's degree somewhat a hinderance in the Japanese corporate world since you will outrank most everyone. I have for sure. The pay diifference for a masters is only 12-20,000yen/month at Fujitsu for example. It's experience and SKILLZ that count .
However, bigger companies, in particular DoCoMo and Hitachi value Phds and advanced degrees. If and only if you remind me by PM, I just learned of one contract programming company that offers 1-year job contracts* in NTT Data, Renesas, et al which would be a great foot-in-the-door.
*(in-country hire, no visa provided)

Posted by trek/taro at 11:14 AM KDT
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Collect the $5,000 please leave Japan evil gaijin bonus!
Topic: adviceS
Check out the Gaijin "bonus" for leaving Japan!
About the J-Pension Refund...
There is a Y590,000 limit on the refund so if you have paid lot of money into the Japanese Pension system having the 11 years you paid into the J-Pension transferred into your UK-Pension program is a better deal (if the UK and Japan have that pension swap).
On the other hand, for folks who mostly worked "off the books" doing freelance work, hostessing and the like during their stay, the J-Pension Refund will be a good deal just as it is for 3-or-fewer-years gaijin. (The very name of the pension-refund scheme in Japanese refers to payments for "short-term" foreigners--the 90 percent who leave within three years.)
The Irish Net Nippon presents Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The
Adapted from an article originally published in the Japan Times.

[[ a bit old, but still valid]]
>Q. What if I have more questions?
A. In Japanese, call the government offices mentioned earlier where the pension payment application will be distibuted and ask to speak to someone who can tell you about pensions (nenkin). Specifically, ask about lump-sum withdrawal payments for foreigners (tanki zairyu gaikokujin ni taisuru dattai ichijikin.)

Also be aware of this possible refund...
I don't know if I would trust these folks with my money, but they do seem to have a "method" to get both the: "1. The pension refund itself (below) 2. The additional 20% tax refund."
[url=] Tax Representative Service Pension Refund[/url]
See the old threads
Pension & Health Insurance payments

Posted by trek/taro at 2:31 PM KDT
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Friday, September 17, 2004
Japanese are more than a bit *amused* anime speaking gaijin
Topic: adviceS
It has been said that, "Japanese speakers are more than a bit *amused* by gaijin who pick up the language from anime."

?Horrified? would be more accurate and for good reason.

Anime freakozoids think speaking like the Beavis and Butthead in Japanese is cho-kool. It seems impossible for them to understand the simple fact that Japanese is not like slang in Spanish or French. Using slang bestows on you negative karma in Japanese--- not cool at all.

Posted by trek/taro at 4:00 PM KDT
Updated: Friday, September 17, 2004 4:02 PM KDT
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004
If a f'ed gaijin in Japan has not filed an IRS tax return in years...
Topic: adviceS
FAQ of the IRS wrote:

....the statute of limitations for IRS to assess and collect any outstanding balances does not start until a return has been filed. In other words, there is no statute of limitations for assessing and collecting the tax if no return has been filed. ....

...The IRS continues to improve its database of income transactions and increase its ability to identify people who have a filing requirement but have failed to file a return. Eventually, contact will be made and the correct tax liability computed. By this time, howevr, the original tax bill will be multiplied many times by the addition of interest and penalties....

....There are numerous practical reasons to file tax returns. Whether buying a home or financing a business, copies of filed returns must be submitted to the lending institution. Important programs like federal aid to higher education also require applicants to submit copies of tax returns to qualify for loans. And the filing of tax returns has a tremendous impact on the future. Social Security retirement and disability benefits as well as Medicare are all computed based on a person?s lifetime earnings reported to the IRS and the Social Security Administration. State benefits such as unemployment compensation and industrial insurance are also based on reported income...

For people with multiple unfiled returns, IRS practice is generally to limit investigations and examinations to the last six years.,,id=122901,00.html

Posted by trek/taro at 10:31 AM KDT
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How to find any Japanese technical term in English
Topic: adviceS
You can get better results by Googling with the following trick:

1. Access the Google site, either Japanese version or select Japanese-only in the Google preferences.
2. Enter each compound term delimited with double quotations.
3. Either select "Japanese sites" or add a Japanese term in kanji/kana.
4. Out of the output references, select any document that includes both the English original and a seemingly synonymous term.

Posted by trek/taro at 10:03 AM KDT
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Thursday, July 15, 2004
Funerals Japanese
Topic: adviceS
Steve B suggests--->... write 'Kono tabi wa honto ni zannen deshita, gomeifuku o oinori shimasu"


Can you believe the rudeness of forcing a gaijin on crutches to sign the damn register standing up, sheesh?

Everyone here in the office is under orders to not to help me (too teach me a lesson). Wish me luck 'cause here goes nothing....

Posted by trek/taro at 11:29 AM KDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 11:45 AM KDT
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Tuesday, July 13, 2004
An authentic Mexican restaurant in Ebisu???
Topic: adviceS
There maybe an authentic Mexican restaurant called Salsita about 5 minutes' walk from Ebisu station. It faces the Yamanote Line tracks --west of the tracks-- just north of Ebisu Statio, (left hand side as the train goes from Ebisu to Shibuya).

Yen 2,500 to Yen 4,000 per person depending on how much you drink. Most dishes are in the Yen 900 to Yen 1,500 range.

Hours: 18:00 to 24:00, closed Sundays.
Address: Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Nishi 1-3-2 1F
Phone: 03-5489-9020

Posted by trek/taro at 11:30 AM KDT
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200,000yen/m is the minimum wage in Japan for an alien
Topic: adviceS
Tips and advice on finding jobs in Japan.

No 96. JPY200,000 is the Magic Number

....Frankly, even if they really scrimped, it would be hard to imagine a couple surviving on much less than JPY4,000 per day for food and transport, which would total JPY120,000 a month.
In giving her this advice, I also expressed the opinion (yes, I told her to get professional advice as backup) that her daughter would be well served coming to Japan on a spouse visa and then attempt to switch to a work visa as soon as possible. As I understand it, you're normally not supposed to work when you're the spouse of a foreigner.
Hearing what a low salary the prospective groom was receiving started me wondering what Japan's minimum wage is. I've heard various stories about whether there really is a minimum wage in Japan. Theoretically there is one, but given that someone can be classed as a "part-time" worker for up to a year, it's anybody's guess as to whether minimum pay rules really get enforced.
The ILO web site ( says that the minimum wage varies between professions and prefectures, but for laboring work in Tokyo, it is JPY5,465 per day, which works out to about JPY121,000 per month.

---- Terrie Lloyd is the founder of DaiJob Inc. He also publishs JapanInc magazine and writes a weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs and business people, about business and political opportunities in Japan. You can find the newsletter at

MANY More Job Tips

Posted by trek/taro at 11:19 AM KDT
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Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Just say NO! (to Japanese police)
Topic: adviceS
If the cops come to call in Japan....

1) Politely avoid as best you can, leaving your house and willing going to the cop station.
An arrest warrant in Japan is tough to get and most likely they'll pick on some other FG. Important to note that police can do almost anything, including searching your home, "IF" you give them permission or allow it. So, sure police can "ask" but you don't have to give them an answer and the crucial point is how they behave when the answer is no, "I don't want to talk to you. Once you're in the station, the cops have 12+ days to torture you without formal charges: Think rubber hose, dogleash optional.

2) Lawyers in Japan are honor-bound to "serve society" as well as you. Sounds nice, don't it. It AIN'T. Japanese lawyers serve society by ratting you out; client privilege is not sacrosanct in Japan.

3) Except for driving, ALWAYS claim you were drunk.
The Shinto gods were all drunks and all things can be forgiven if you were drunk. Pour booze all over your clothing and take a good swig.

Oh and "Absolutely refuse to be budged."

Posted by trek/taro at 10:14 AM KDT
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Thursday, June 17, 2004
Naming an alien child
Topic: adviceS
When Naming an alien child in Japan...
Keep it simple, popular and BI-LINGUAL.
Don't burden the poor kid with an alien name like mine. There many bilingual Japanese/English names which have beautiful kanji. Girl's names like "Ami", "Naiomi" and "Mari" always rank in the top 100 kanji names in Japan. Likewise, Ken is both Japanese and English.

Posted by trek/taro at 3:25 PM KDT
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Friday, April 23, 2004
Dressmaking: Best way to extend a Japanese study visa
Topic: adviceS
Immigration officials search schools for illegal workers
(IHT/Asahi: April 22, 2004) Worried that foreign students are using vocational schools as a cover to work illegally in Japan, the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau searched 10 schools recently and found eight had problems accounting for their students. The schools were in Tokyo, Saitama and Tochigi prefectures. Many were dressmaking schools.... have seen a dramatic drop in Japanese students because there are fewer younger people due to a falling birthrate and the low popularity of sewing.
Foreign students are a godsend for school operators and possibly the future of the domestic industry for such products.

Posted by trek/taro at 3:16 PM KDT
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Monday, April 19, 2004
Must-take items to live in Japan
Topic: adviceS
QUESTION: What to bring to Japan to live.

Bring lots of deodorants.

It's hot but Japanese deodorants are a joke, an expensive joke.

Bring Shoes!

You'll need a pair of unused atheltic shoes for use only indoors at most health clubs. You can't just walk into a Japanese gym with your street sneakers and cut-offs. You gotta have DELEGATED new exercise shoes and preferably delegated exercise clothing too. If you're like me, finding size 12 EEE gym shoes is gonna be a pain (Cost-co Japan and Sports Authority here have them sometimes).
Once I needed deck shoes for yacht party on the Trump Princess. US Embassy very begrudgingly got them for me from the Navy Exchange on Yokosuka only after calling my US Senator a couple of times. The same problem can happen for some US medications not approved in Japan.

Posted by trek/taro at 5:13 PM KDT
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Thursday, April 15, 2004
Official climbing season for Mount Fuji
Topic: adviceS
Gee. Some people. This clueless gaijin wannabe, " Chilibuddy" is "going to be in Tokyo at the end of the month and climbing Mt. Fuji in May!"

Dream on.
The Official climbing season for Mount Fuji is s from July 1 to the end of August.

Posted by trek/taro at 11:42 AM KDT
Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2004 9:43 AM KDT
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Thursday, April 8, 2004
Don't be a Pod People... Be a SAUNA Man!
Topic: adviceS
capsule hotel

Many folks visiting Tokyo think they can save money staying in the pod room, called capsule hotels. Read about them on this guys blog;
Capsule hotels cost at least 3,000yen. All-night Saunas cost 1,200-800 yen. Both have beds. Both are noisey. So save yourself some money and be a real a SAUNA Man!

The public saunas (not gay) are used by real saavy salarymen who miss the last time but don't want to spend money on a $300 taxi ride. At a saunna you check in after 8pm work-out on the gym equipment, do the hot tub, suana, cold plunge, etc, and then crash on a lounge or deck recliner in the "Resting Room" for the night.

I used to do this so often at the "Rosco Sauna" next to my office that I bought an IC card that checked me in automatically for 450yen per visit when buying more than 10 visits. After working overtime past midnight, I would pop in my "Member Card" (sic) into a locker, pull out my yakakata and towel, hit the Unversal weight machine, then the hot tub and plop on the lounge to sleep like the baby Bejesus. They wake me up before 9am, give me a breakfast discount coupon. Then I would snarf their 300yen breakfast in the 1st floor coffee shop, and I'd be back at my desk by 9:30am looking sharper than any of my coworkers.

Don't be a Pod People... Be a SAUNA Man!
But if you're whimp, here's a list of many capsule hotels throughout tokyo

Posted by trek/taro at 6:46 PM KDT
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Thursday, April 1, 2004
Second major (besides just studying Japanese)
Topic: adviceS
Question: I'm a Japanese major right now: Any suggestions on a second major that will open up more doors than my current major/minor?

Find and take one of the US Foreign Service Exam pre-tests. If you score reasonably well, start following the suggestions for working for the US State Dept who are hiring big-time right now and for the near future in asian languages. Damn, I wish the State Dept was hiring like that when I was in my early 20s (I scored above the 90 percental and still it wasn't good enough). In the same vein, Chinese or Arabic would be be a good 2nd major if you are really into language study.
If you're un-techie but into writing, language and Japan, maybe you might like taking coursework in "corporate communications", technical journalism, and the like. If you pass the official "Level 2 Japanese" test and have a tech. writing degree many Japanese companies will hire you (hell, if you pass Level 1 Japanese" and got a techical writing degree I'll hire ya).

Posted by trek/taro at 1:35 PM JST
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