Tokyo, Japan Report of what it's like to live there - 01/27/11

Personal Experiences from Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan 01/27/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

second. Santo Domingo

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Direct flights to New York, LA, Dallas

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

U.S. Embassy people live in a compound with gym, pool, playground, daycare, and a convenience store.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive, but you can buy food at good prices at the military base.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

nothing, everything is available here

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything. From cheap McDonald's to 3-star Michelin restaurants.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

there is a store that carries organic products, but it is very expensive

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

cockroaches in summer time. Huge ones!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

around US1600 a month

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

They are safe.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

not much but it is always useful

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

lots.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Expensive, especially taxis and shinkansen (the bullet train).

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Buy locally, very cheap.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

30 a month

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

yes

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I think so

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

like New York

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

moderate.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid during summer and cold and dry in winter

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Several. Our son is having a great experience and is speaking Japanese already. He attends ASIJ. It is a very nice school and the faculty seem very good as well.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Not much and expensive, around US2000 a month.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

tons at the compound

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

big

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2. Morale among expats:

it depends, we love it here but some people hate it.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

everything

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

good for everyone

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

yes

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Discover new varieties of noodles.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

visit temples, shopping, eating out, karaoke

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

japanese china, kimonos, japanese dolls, japanese wood prints, etc

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

new food, visit temples, touring in general

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11. Can you save money?

yes

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

yes

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

ugly shoes

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3. But don't forget your:

money

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Memoirs of a Geisha

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Lost in Translation, Rashomon, Seven Samurais.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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