Japan is often called a safe country. In fact, Japan ranked 9th in the Global Peace Index released in June of 2020. Among major developed countries, it ranked second to Canada. Japan has laws targeting firearms and swords, so no one walks around with a gun or sword (of course, there are no samurais carrying swords around their waists). Through surveys and interviews, we asked some foreigners who have worked in Japan about their lives.
Is it dangerous to go out at night in Japan?
Mr. Mani Gyawali from Nepal worked in Oita Prefecture and says, “The city I lived in was a very safe place. When you go out, either for work or privately, you don’t have to worry about the time. Compared to my home country, I think that Japan is very safe and peaceful at any time of the day.” On the other hand, Annie told us, “Compared to my home country of the Philippines, Japan is very safe at night. However, I did have a scary experience. One time, in an area of town with lots of Japanese pubs, a drunk person started talking to me.”
After just arriving in Japan, Ms. Batgerel Ariungerel from Mongolia, also told us, “I thought Japan was very clean and safe. But when I came to Japan, there was nothing but stories of accidents and bad happenings in the news, so I felt a little uneasy.” While it’s true that Japan is a safe and peaceful country, it’s still a good idea for women to avoid walking alone downtown late at night.
Are the cities clean?
It seems that when foreigners come to Japan for the first time, they are suprised and say, “The cars on the road are so nice and clean!” Public transportation, such as trains and buses, are also clean and usually you won’t see any trash on the ground. “I was interested in the system for separating trash and how nice and clean the entire city always is. I was also surprised to see restrooms and drinking fountains in parks. I learned that Japanese are very conscious of their manners,” Mr. Mani Gyawali from Nepal told us. However, people seem to have different impressions of how clean things like restrooms are. Someone also commented, “The restrooms in shopping malls and department stores are very clean and sanitary, but public restrooms are often not so clean. Train station restrooms smell bad …”
It is said adhering to manners and following rules is a national characteristic of Japanese people. As a result, the streets in Japan are generally clean and pleasant. However, there may be some rules that are difficult for foreigners to understand when they first come to Japan. Ms. Riswanti from Indonesia says, “There are so many rules in Japan. You should learn them one by one.”
How does the cost of living compare to your home country?
It’s hard to definitively say how cheap or expensive the cost of living in Japan is, but compared to Southeast Asian countries, things like food seem to be more expensive. Annie from the Philippines lives in Japan and says, “Prices are cheap in the Philippines. In Japan, vegetables, fruit, taxis and pizza are expensive and salaries are high. However, electricity and water are probably cheaper than in the Philippines. I think prescription medication is cheap because of the excellent health insurance system. Mr. Mani Gyawali from Nepal, who has lived in Japan, said, “When I first saw the prices of things in Japan, I was really surprised. For example, the price of 10 kg of rice is about 5 times more expensive than in my home country. However, after getting used to living in Japan, it didn’t bother me so much. That’s because even if the cost of living is high, the salary level balances it out. People who just arrive in Japan may feel that the cost of living is very high,” he says.
On the other hand, it’s also true that the cost of living in Japan has hardly risen over the past few decades. Another commented, “Six years after returning to Mongolia, I went back to Japan again. What surprised me was that the prices of food I often eat, like bread, ice cream, ramen noodles, soda, etc., hardly changed from six years before. The inflation rate in Japan is lower than in Mongolia, so in a way, financial planning is easier.” Now it’s easy to check prices on the Internet, so you may want to look into the prices of daily necessities before you go to Japan. It is also very important to prepare money and plan for living expenses when coming to Japan.
Can you get food/ingredients from home?
If you are going to live in a new environment, you are probably thinking about the food. You may be worried about things like whether or not they have the same ingredients and seasonings you use in your home country, or where you can find them. Actually, in Japan there is a wide variety of food, you can find all kinds of ingredients, and there are lots of restaurants so you can enjoy eating. Let’s take a look at some comments from foreigners who have lived in Japan.
・“There is quite a variety of food, from Chinese food to Western food. If you go to a big city, there are restaurants with different and unique food from foreign countriesーfor example, Peruvian, Ethiopian and Uzbek food. Of course, there is also plenty of fast food. However, the restaurants that offer my home country’s food taste all right but are expensive, so I buy the ingredients and cook on my own. I can find some of the seasonings from my home country and buy them online.
・When I just arrived in Japan, I didn’t really care for Japanese food and had a really difficult time. At first, I bought ingredients I needed at the supermarket and made food that tasted like my home country’s food. After getting used to living in Japan, I started to eat Japanese food more often, and I even started cooking Japanese food at home. When I wanted to eat food from my home country, I would go to a restaurant in town. There are lots of different ingredients available at supermarkets and online, so I didn’t have any problems with food.
How to spend your days off
Now is a difficult time to travel around due to the spread of the coronavirus, but since Japan’s domestic transportation network is so well-developed, you can travel to various places by plane, train, or highway bus, even on just your days off. Ms. Anarbayar Renchinkhorol from Mongolia tells us, “Japan is basically a safe country, so even women can feel safe traveling alone.” You can also enjoy things like going to the movies or shopping nearby. Some people enjoy activities in their local areas like teaching cricket to Japanese children, cultural exchanges and karaoke competitions.
Annie from the Philippines says, “On weekends, I enjoy going around to local cafés. I also like looking at the shops in the city and going out to eat at restaurants. I like to participate in local events (festivals, exhibitions, etc.). I also love to experience Japanese culture, such as through tea ceremony. I want to do a lot of traveling and aim to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan!”
When you work as a care worker in Japan, you tend to be busy studying for care (exams) and Japanese on your days off, but it is a good idea to go out and enjoy Japan on your days off to keep stress from building up.