“When are you moving back home?” Answering the Question of Do I want to live in Japan for my entire life?


“When are moving back home?”

That phrase is something I get commonly asked when I make my way back to the US, especially at social functions. It’s almost like there is this default setting on everybody that one day you will just press “home culture” and return back.  Everyone is fascinated by the fact that I live overseas, like I am that “weird Aunt” that lives in some exotic place and is always talking about her adventures that no one can relate to, but somewhat enjoys hearing about.  Ultimately it comes down to “well, are you even planning to come home?”. Now, this question is a very valid question to ask, whether out of pure curiosity or simply they assume that you wont stay “away” your entire life but when I was younger, I dreaded this question. Mostly because I thought it was rude, but also because I didn’t know how to explain in words how I felt about the subject.

For one thing, I never felt comfortable living in the US anyway. I was a small person (4’11 or 147cm) in a place with so much space and excess, as well as I never felt like I was listened to because I wasn’t as loud and extroverted as others around me.  My formative adult years were all in Japan and I blossomed when I moved here, rather than in High School or University, because Japan gave me the opportunities to, rather than the suppression I felt in the US. On the other hand, I learned quite quickly that Japan will never accept me like a real Japanese person, no matter how much I try to culturally integrate into their society.  I never want to become Japanese, but being accepted as knowledgeable and culturally aware is something that I am passionate about, but because I am as foreign looking as you can get, I get a lot of default English and awkward questions about things from abroad.

This question is hard to answer because I feel this pressure to press that default “home culture” button eventually because if I don’t, I will be in this kind of purgatory of cultures because I wont be in my home culture, but I also will never fully be accepted into Japanese society.  At the same time, I feel the Japanese culture suits my personality more, as I am naturally more patient and don’t like as much aggression during conflict. So, I answer mostly with “For the meantime, I want to stay in Japan”, which ultimately leads to the question “Will you live in Japan forever, then?”.

To that I say “I don’t know”. Right now, I feel at home in Japan and after I get my visa renewed this year, I want to lay down my roots more, like with long term financial investments, etc. With that being said though, I am open to moving to another country if the opportunity arises and I think that it would be the change that I need in life, but I think I will always be connected to Japan somehow.

That, however, probably does not mean moving back to the US though. In my heart of hearts, I feel that the US would be the last place that I would want to return to settle down for many reasons, but ultimately I feel that it wouldn’t suit me in the long term. I have seen my home country in a very different light for all of these years and I’m not comfortable with going back into that fully again. I would rather accumulate into another culture,  than re-accumulate into American culture again. Now, will I say I will NEVER move back to the US? No. Life happens and there is a plethora of situations that would call for me to go back to the US for whatever reason, but my preference would be to not go back if at all possible.

What do you think? Have you felt this way about living overseas? Let me know in the comments below!

Advertisements

7 Tips on How to Prepare For Natural Disasters in Japan

Moving to another country can be scary in many ways, but nothing as scary as natural disasters. On March 11th, 2011 a huge earthquake shook the Tohoku region of Japan, leading to a tsunami and leaving widespread destruction in its wake. In 2018, there were 2 big earthquakes, 2 typhoons, and flooding that rampaged through the Western part of Japan (one earthquake in Hokkaido), which lead to the 2018 kanji of the year to be “Disaster”. This was a wakeup call to many, including me,  to be prepared for the worst. For the most part, Japan is a safe country to live in in terms of crime rate, but Earthquakes are a part of daily life. But when a big one hits, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. Not just for earthquakes, but for any type of Natural Disaster that can happen in Japan. Here are my 7 tips on how to prepare and cope with Natural Disasters in Japan.

*DISCLAIMER* These tips are only to be a compilation of information for people in Japan to be prepared for disaster, not a direct source of help. Please contact the respective agencies and resources that I list here for emergencies and direct help. 

  1. Know what types of Natural Disasters happen in your area

    Landslides, Floods, Typhoons, Earthquakes, Volcanic eruptions and Tsunamis are all types of natural disasters that can happen in Japan, depending on the area. Depending on where you live in Japan, there are different types of disasters that occur more often than others.  As an example, Okinawa is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so it is one of the places in Japan that is the most prone to Typhoons during Typhoon season. If you are near the mountains, landslides/ mudslides could be a problem. Living near the sea you are more prone to Tsunami’s if an earthquake hits. Are you near an active volcano? The answers to these questions can be as simple as asking a local, or asking your local ward office what types of natural disasters occur in the area. From there you can see how to prepare in case one of them does happen in your area.

  2. Check the Japan Metrological Agency website frequently – especially during typhoon season

The Japan Metrological Agency website is the most direct source of up to date information out there on Typhoons and Earthquakes and other weather-related information. The website is in English and has a lot of good information on when a typhoon is coming, as well as information on all of the different earthquakes that have occurred. You will be surprised how many earthquakes Japan has in a day. You just don’t feel them!

3. Turn on the Television for the most recent updates during a natural disaster

The first thing I do when there has been an earthquake in my area is turn on the TV if I am near one and check where the earthquake had happened and what the damage is so far. For typhoons, most news channels will have constant updates on where the typhoon is and any urgent evacuations or new developments, so its best to keep this on in the background just in case. They even provide train line updates, as the train lines shut down automatically after an earthquake to inspect for any damages. Back in June of 2018 when the earthquake hit the Kansai region, I kept the TV on in my apartment all day to get the most recent information on damage and train lines.

4. Have an earthquake emergency kit Ready in your home

After the earthquake in Osaka in June 2018, my roommate and I decided to get serious and to finally gather an earthquake kit. You can buy a pre-made one at a store or you can look up what should be needed and make one yourself! We decided to make one ourselves and it contains basics like bottled water, canned food, first aid kit, etc.  Ideally, it contains 3 days of essentials in for the worse case scenario.

To build your own kit, check the advice HERE from the US Embassy in Japan. There are also a lot of other helpful disaster tips contained there too! Japan Info Swap also has a helpful article too.

For an already prepared earthquake kit, check HERE at Rakuten.

5. Know where your evacuation centers/ safety points are

Go to your ward office website and check where the evacuation points are, as each ward handles the evacuation points. Most of this information is in English. For example, type in “Chou Ward Osaka” and the website in English should pop up with a link for evacuation points.

6. Coordinate with Friends and talk about disaster BEFORE it happens

Its a very good idea to talk about disaster scenarios with your friends before I happens, no matter how “morbid” it sounds. When you’re living by yourself in a foreign country, it can be hard to be together with someone at the time of disaster, but make sure to talk with your friends and have a general plan on how to contact them or where to meet up in the case of a disaster. Safety is better in numbers! Someone will know if something happened to you and its another safety net to make sure you are accounted for during a disaster.

7. Register with your country’s embassy/ consulate

Most countries run a program for people living or traveling overseas to register with them in the event  something happens to the traveler or a disaster strikes. If you register with them, they know that you are in the country and will come looking for you if there is a disaster in your area. This also gives a point of contact to family members if they cannot get in contact with you for whatever reason. They can contact the embassy and ask them to give updates on your location etc, and its more helpful for the embassy if they already have your information on file.  The USA embassy program is called STEP and it can be found HERE.

Any tips that I missed? Any other tips or information that you would like to see? Let me know in the comments below!

Questions About Living in Japan – Is It Hard to Get a Job?

Questions about Living in Japan #1

Living in Japan can be a challenge for foreigners and for people looking for information before making the leap to move over here. I reached out on Instagram and asked followers there if they had any questions about life in Japan, and I got some great responses! I want to answer each question in an individual post, so this is the first of a series of posts that I plan to make on questions about living in Japan. The first question is about getting a job in Japan and about the working attitude.

Question 1: Is it hard getting a job there [in Japan]? How is the working attitude there?

Finding a job for a foreigner can be easy for a native English speaker wanting to teach English, but outside of that it can be kind of difficult. A lot of people use teaching English as a spring board to getting a non-English teaching job after. You have to have a high level of Japanese for non-English speaking jobs for the most part, maybe not an engineer or programmer, and you have to prove you want to live here for the long term…. as per my experience. You should also have experience in that field that you want to work in (masters degrees counting in my opinion) as with any job back in your own home country. You also have to be aware that it is competitive out there. Just because you can speak English and Japanese fluently doesn’t mean you get an easy foot in the door. There are tons of Japanese-English bilinguals out there and the competition is tough… you have to have to have some sort of other skill that you can contribute, not just language. 

As for the working attitude, I can only speak for non English teaching jobs, but for the most part Japanese people are very hard working and expect the same from you. At the beginning they might be sympathetic to you, but they will teach you Japanese business practices bit by bit, if you don’t know them already, and expect you to follow them. Some of these include coming in before work begins to prepare for the day even though the work day hasn’t started yet, radio exercises (Yes… my first company made us do it EVERY single day), answering the phones even though you are a foreigner, etc. 

Some of these things are company-specific though. The company culture differs from company to company and the size of the company as well, so keep that in mind. I suggest when going for an interview, have a list of what you are looking for in a company and during the interview ask smart questions to see if that company is a right fit for you. For example, if you want to travel overseas a lot, a job just sitting at a desk won’t be right for you. If you want to work on new projects all the time, a job where you are taking over from someone else and the job is pretty much decided is probably not a right fit for you. If you want direct communication with your boss, ask for details about what type of working environment you’re walking into.

There are many ways to ask questions in interviews to see if you will be a good fit for that company, and don’t be afraid to…. an interview is just as much them interviewing you as you are getting a feel if you want to work for them. I made that mistake so many times because I was desperate to get out and move on to “something better” when in reality it wasn’t the best fit for me. I’m on my 4th company here in japan and I finally found a right fit for me but it took me about 3.5 years to do so… so with that know sometimes you might not find that perfect job fit right away and you can quit if you want. 

On the other hand, I highly recommend you try to stick it out in a company for more than a year though so it doesn’t seem that you are job hopping constantly. There are cycles of liking and disliking your job, just like in your home country, and there is a difference between being harassed/ not agreeing with the company values and wanting to leave after the honeymoon period has died down. You might also be going through some tough projects or work at that moment, so I highly recommend thinking very throughly about why you want to quit before you do and also have something lined up before you leave so you can pay your bills.  

Let me know if you want information on how to quit your job in Japan properly! I’ll consider making a blog post or video about it in the future. Also, if you have a question about living in Japan please answer in the comments below! If you have experience with jobs here as well, feel free to comment your experience.

Seasons of Japan – July 2017 | nihonchique

Seasons of Japan July

July was a very busy month consisting of job hunting, my mom and sister visiting from America, and lots of traveling! I took my mom and sister around Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, and Hiroshima. All of those places are some of my favorite in Japan. This was the month I truly realized I love photography and traveling. Unfortunately, in the months following afterwards I didn’t get the time to do much of any of that, but it is something that still lingers in the back of my mind quite a lot.

I guess life gets in the way and balance becomes hard when you start a new job, especially one that doesn’t have consistent days off.  Taking from the future,  the the time from then until now was a hard journey that I still am on at the moment. Juggling friendships, boyfriends, new hobbies, and a new job is extremely difficult and still something I am not too sure how to handle. Though that is the case, I feel a lot more wiser than I was back in July of last year and I am continuing to grow.

Despite that, July was an amazing month of traveling and I was finally able to take my sister around Japan for the first time since I had moved to Japan 5 years before. I visited Fushimi Inari, Miyajima, Todaiji, Nara Park, Himeji castle and more, eating our way through many parts of Japan, as my sister is a Major foodie! I am glad she enjoyed all of the food I recommended to her.

Would anyone be interested in a Kansai travel guide? I think that would be fun to make and I can introduce you to some of my favorite spots in the Kansai region! Let me know in the comments below if you are interested.

View this post on Instagram

Visited the famous Todaiji Temple in Nara! 🦌

A post shared by Lauren C. Jubelt (@nihonchique) on

View this post on Instagram

Miyajima with the little sis @prncess.di ⛩!

A post shared by Lauren C. Jubelt (@nihonchique) on

Seasons of Japan – June 2017 | nihonchique

June 2017. This is the month that marked the last in a chapter of my life. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get past this month in my life, almost like my blog was kind of frozen in time until I figured out what I was doing. I still now dont know what I am doing and what direction I am going in, but in June 2017, I had the huge high of the NEWS NEVERLAND tour in Tokyo dome with a close friend, followed straight after by the disappointment of hearing that the department/ website in my company I was working for for a year and half would be shutting down and my contract would not be continuing because of it. I was devastated and was extremely hurt that a company I had worked so hard for for a year and a half would just cut me so simply, but despite this I took this as a learning opportunity and got searching for jobs as soon as possible. (Spoiler, I found one and started it at the beginning of August 2017!).

On the topic of the NEWS NEVERLAND tour in Tokyo Dome, that was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. “U R not alone” since then has become my anthem and even when the DVD came out in January of this year, I cried again right long with them at “U R not alone” and had no shame. As I said in the 4th picture, the end of the NEVERLAND tour isn’t the end, and we truly are not alone. NEWS has been along with me on this journey for almost 10 years now. I feel like I have grown with them and they have supported me all of these years, almost half of them being in Japan.  Thank you NEWS. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in Hiroshima for the EPCOTIA tour in April, 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing in a Magic: The Gathering Tournament for the first time – Hareruya Osaka’s first “Ladies One” tournament

A few months ago, my boyfriend introduced me to Magic: The Gathering and was surprised that I had never heard of it, as I am from the country that it was from. As an adult, I was never really into card games, or games in general, but as a kid I used to play Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon – though probably not by the proper rules. My interest in games waned as I got into High School and got into Johnnys, anime, dramas, fashion, and cheerleading before deciding to pursue Japanese and business in University, and then eventually moving to Japan…. which you can say is THE land of card games. I would say that the majority of the people around me didn’t really play card games, or weren’t games in general, which also contributed to the waning interest. That changed when by boyfriend asked if I wanted to learn how to play and I gladly accepted, as I wanted to know what this world was about.

We started to play together at my apartment on the living room table with 2 decks he purchased just for that purpose, and then  about a month and a half ago we went to a card shop and I bought my first starter deck (DINOSAURS FTW!) and from there he helped me add some cards to it to boost it a bit. It is still a budget deck, probably only spending a total of around 3000 yen in (about $30 USD) which included the initial deck + some modifications to it so that I can play in a tournament.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of playing in my first ever Magic: The Gathering tournament!

No, I did not win by any means… in fact I lost every game that I played… but the experience was the most important part. This was Hareruya Osaka’s first “Ladies One” tournament and there ended up being 6 of us playing. It was a casual, Ladies only tournament and it was honestly a lot more fun that I thought it would be! I was extremely nervous, as this was my first time and I know how competitive these types of events can be, but all of the players were extremely nice and helpful to a newbie like me, explaining everything to me as the games went on and asking if I wanted any advice on how to play.  They were overjoyed that there were more than 4 people participating, so that the tournament could happen, especially since there doesn’t seem to be many female players in Japan. A lot of them had gotten into the game through their significant other, like me, so it was nice to chat about that and about women in the game in-between rounds, how long we had been playing, and how we got into it.

I’m glad that my first tournament was a ladies tournament, as it gave me more confidence to play and get stronger seeing other women play and be into a seemingly pretty male-dominated game. I think if I had played in a regular tournament, I would have been a lot more nervous and would have wanted to practice a lot more before I entered into a tournament for the first time, but this was a perfect gateway for me into playing more competitively, especially in Japan where the language isn’t my first language. I honestly hope that this event becomes a regular thing, as it would be nice to play against other women again and make it more accessible to other women who were like me and dont have the confidence to play in regular tournaments yet.

Do you play card games? What do you think about women in card games? Should there be more ladies events to make it more accessible to women? Let me know in the comments below!

Seasons of Japan – May 2017 | nihonchique

May began with me ending Golden Week in America. After wine country at the end of April, I toured around San Fransisco for the first time and it was awesome! Properly saw the Golden Gate bridge and even had a night tour of Alcatraz.

After I got back to Japan, I went on a short day trip to Arashiyama (嵐山)in Kyoto with a friend and biked up to a temple called Otagi Nenbutsu-ji ( 愛宕念仏寺)in a mountain with beautiful statues. I was then wished away for a day trip for work to Kochi again where I ate Katsuo Tataki (鰹のタタキ), a way they cook the fish and Katsuo is “Skipjack tuna”, for the first time (DELICIOUS!)

View this post on Instagram

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge 🌁

A post shared by Lauren C. Jubelt (@nihonchique) on

 

View this post on Instagram

Night tour of Alcatraz!🔦😱

A post shared by Lauren C. Jubelt (@nihonchique) on

 

 

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

鰹たたき!🙃🐟 Katsuo Tataki! 👍🏻

A post shared by Lauren C. Jubelt (@nihonchique) on