Part 2 of – Things Foreigners Should Know About Japan Before Living Here

Me and Tony Matterhorn

Click here to read Part 1 of this article

A friend of mine who is studying in China and visited Japan maybe 3 or 4 times, believed that I was exaggerating in my last post about some of the stuff….ha, I wish I was. Everybody has a different experience here yes that’s true, but most are similar to mine guaranteed, based on reliable surveys. Some issues are uniquely mine, others are shared by only Jamaicans, others by only black people, while others by all foreigners. Even yet still, other issues are faced only by foreigners in a particular area.

Visiting here is nothing like living here I can assure anyone. From what I have gathered though from several friends, I heard China is 10 times worse than Japan in almost everything that I complained about. And the general image is that they are rude and really don’t give a damn if you are offended or not by what they do. Again this is very general, there are always exceptions!!!

Things Foreigners Should Know About Japan Before Living Here – Part 2

23) Japanese People Are GENERALLY Shy and many times Easily Offended.

So if you should complement a regular Japanese person. You probably will see their face getting pink. That’s because they are blushing like crazy (Well the females that is. I tend not to complement men) and maybe they will say hazukashi which means something like they are shy or they are blushing.


24) Many Japanese people are workaholics

Yes, it is even a fact that people die on the job here. And work is the number 1 thing in many of their lives. Not family, not money, but work!!!

I again must stress that these things are very general and there are always exceptions. And as I mentioned in  Part 1 – Number 4, Japan can be very paradoxical, so you can expect anything here.

And for any Japanese that think they are too unique… Well the truth is that every single culture on earth is unique in their own way. Indiana and New york in the USA has 4 clear seasons too, as far as I know. Every culture has good and bad stuff about them. Some more good than bad, some more bad than good

25) Eastern and South East Asian countries are easily accessible.

So places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, South Korea, Phillipines, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are pretty easy to get to from Japan and ridiculously cheap.

26) Many Earthquakes

This speaks for itself. Japan is one of the most earthquake prone countries on earth.

I am also guessing that the entire world by now should have known about the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Okayama prefecture where I lived for 3 years is one of the safest from all natural disasters. But Yokohama city isn’t as fortunate. Actually I felt a big earthquake while teaching today (as in July 3, 2012).

27) I dont know how many of you knew this, but Japanese people have no Wisdom Teeth….

Well I can’t find any solid proof of this but my Japanese friend said it to me. I don’ particularly want to go and check that out personally so I take her word for it. Her explanation was that, centuries ago, they stopped using them, so I guess evolotion decided to take place or something.


This does not mean that they have no wisdom because ……

28) Many Top companies were formed in Japan, possibly second only to the USA. Companies like the following are all Japanese:

Electronics and Entertainment – Sony, Pioneer, Toshiba, Sharp, Panasonic, Nintendo, Sega, Capcom, Konami, Namco Bandai, Square Enix

Cars – Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan, Honda, Subaru, Suzuki, Isuzu

29) Fun Place –

Despite the xenophobia etc… If you got used to the food, the people and the culture, it can be one of the best places you have ever been to. Seriously! It is an amazing place with a clash of modern and ancient… I must admit that many of the people’s thinking in terms of foreigners are still very ancient. Not all but many (I heard China is 100 times worse). There is a whole lot to see here. Hey my friend in China said an English school there hired a Russian who could barely speak English, over a Jamaican whose official language is English. Want to guess why? The Russian is white. That’s it.

30) Many opportunities to teach English

There are dozens of English teaching companies here. There is one little problem. They tend to favour Americans and Australians. And to get even more detailed, if you are white, then you have more like a 90-95% chance of being successful in getting the job. If you are any other race, then there might be a slight bias. Again its not always the case, but its chiefly the case.

31) Many Shrines, Castles and Temples

I’m not very very interested in this kinda stuff but if you are, there are many many shrines and ancient castles in Japan. some famous ones are in

Hiroshima (Hiroshima Castle and MiajimaShrine – shrine in the water)

Nagano (Nagano castle)

Hyogo (Himeji Castle)
This is probably one of the most amazing ones

Kyoto ( Kinkauji Temple, Nijo castle, and mannnny mannny more in Kyoto)
Kyoto was an old capital of Japan so it has quite a few of these stuff

Osaka (Osaka Castle)

32) If you want Information to spread fast about a Foreigner, tell a Japanese.

Many Japanese people are inquisitive, especially when it comes on to foreigner’s business. And, information about you will spread like wild fire… eg. a friend told me that at her school, the vice principal sits right beside the printer and every single thing she prints, he reads. Also, they are particularly interested in if you are dating someone. The interest gets even higher if you are dating a Japanese.

Almost anything you say will spread TRUST ME!!!

33) This one is for the males… If you find a Japanese girlfriend. BE CAREFUL… Why? Because:

i) they are either going to be totally submissive (no problem with that) OR totally have other boyfriends. This too has a whole lot to do with location… the city girls are generally very wild. While the rural ones are generally more submissive… But again I say Generally. My friend in a rural area, after 3 months of breaking off with his Japanese girlfriend… she got married to some guy… YES married and Yes 3 months… then he found out that she had this boyfriend for like 5 years…

ii) Many Japanese girls are generally very JEALOUS and down right different (for want of a better word) compared to westerners.

Again, my friend said he was talking to some random foreign girl and his then Japanese girlfriend saw him.. Oh bwoy… She called him then took his car keys and sped off in his car????? She then sent a couple of emails saying stuff like you cheating bastard etc etc????? This girl hardly knew English but she knows how to say bastard…. And all he was doing, was talking to his friend on the road. So, if they see you with another girl anywhere, it can spell trouble.

iii) They probably won’t kill you but they can and occasionally will mess you up.

A Jamaican guy who migrated to the US and spent 3 years in Japan, said, when he lived in Tokyo, his girlfriend cut up his American green card????? What did he do to deserve this, I don’t know.
Oh and some of them will just snap and say its over… without giving you any good reason why. They just wake up one day and say “Sorry it’s done“… and as far as you know, you didn’t do anything wrong…. I think this happened to about 2 or 3 of my friends.

But but, if you find a good Japanese girl, you will be a happy man, according to 3 of my friends who got married to Japanese citizens… 1 Jamaican, and 2 Americans. And Japanese women generally love to cook and clean 🙂 … So there won’t be any trouble there. Sorry, I can’t speak for the ladies, but one general thing is, don’t expect a whole lot of loving after you have a child or 2… Again, being very general.

Oh and Marriage does not mean automatic citizenship, nor does having half Japanese kids. The kids will be citizens but you can still get kicked out of the country if you mess up. And as I mentioned in a previous post, if a marriage doesn’t work out, and a kid is involved. Then, the best thing to do is leave the country with your kids or keep them close to you at all times. Because if the Japanese partner in the failed marriage, decides that they are going to run away with the kid(s)… Then, I am very sorry for you. It is possible that you may never see them again in this life time.

34) Nakedness is not a big deal.

So yes, they are even unisex onsens (hot water baths) here in Japan. However, I heard (Because I have never been to one of these ones) that its mostly women in their 50s and 60s go to them. So if you are interested in wrinkles, then go knock yourself out.
But most of them are either exclusively male or exclusively female. And again, going back to number 1 from my previous post, THEY WILL STARE AT YOU!!! Oh and if you have tattoos, then 95 % of the onsens won’t let you in… Guess why??? Because they associate tatoos with yakuza (Japanese Mafia). I still don’t get the idea that even though yakuza are only Japanese men as far as I know, foreigners with tattoos can’t go in….. I personally think thats just another ploy to keep foreigners away or at a minimal.

35) Kids who get used to you may want to touch forbidden places.

There is this famous thing amongst Japanese kids called the kancho or something like that, where they stick you in the behind with 2 fingers. And they are going to try it on you!!!Some will go as far as trying touching your private. I am not sure where else in the world this kind of thing is done.

36) Using the phone on the train is considered impolite

You can talk as loud as you want on the train. But making or getting a call, no matter how important it is, is considered impolite by Japanese standards.

37) If you are religious, you may have a hard time.

If you are religious in any way, whatever religion you belong to, if its not shinto or Buddahism, then you may have a difficult time here. Especially if you are in rural areas.

38) If you like Anime, video games and/or Asian girls, then you will really like here.

Yeah all these are here in abundance. Japan is home to all these and much much more.

39) Be careful of Eating and Drinking Party Invitations.

More than likely, if the people you work with like you or not, they will invite you out to drinking parties. But, sometimes they don’t tell you that you have to pay for your food. So because they invite you, you may think that its free… sometimes it is… But most times its not. and it can be expensive. The worst thing is that you may end up paying for food that you don’t like… And so if you dont like the food, then read Number 6 – Part 1 of this series. Oh and they will probably try to force you to eat the food that you don’t like. And they may pain stakingly ask you REPEATEDLY, why you don’t like a certain food……. You are going to have to explain this SEVERAL times to SEVERAL different people, and occasionally to the SAME people.

40) Never wear the shoes you wear outside, inside a school building…

I don’t know where this came from, but, outside shoes is for outside and inside shoes are for inside. If you don’ have an inside shoes, there are several inside only slippers at the entrance of almost every school and some business places. My friend said to me that it has something to do with showing respect to the building. or something of the sort… HUH!! Showing respect to a building????

41) Suicide Rates are astronomical 

Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. For the past 10 or more years consecutively, over 30,000 people have committed suicide. It’s like my entire community in Jamaica committing suicide each year. Unbelievable if you ask me.

42) Serious Population decline

It is estimated that by 2050 the population of Japan will be half or less or less than half its current population. Why? Work is more important than having kids. Also there is an increase in men who have absolutely no interest in females. Not that they are gay, they just aren’t interested in the females. So foreigners from where ever, do yourself and Japan a favor and give a helping hand.

Contributed by Dave Collymore: Visit his blog at:
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