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Coming to Japan on a Working Holiday Visa

Ada TSO “I came to Japan on a working holiday scheme and I’m enjoying working and traveling,” says English language teacher Ada TSO. “I’d recommend working holidays to people who’ve just graduated from college and to those who want to start a completely new life. I myself quit a job to come to Japan because …

Japanese Maps and the Meaning of Place-Names

Do you know that the kanji “日本” and “日” (ni / nichi / hi) means “day” and/or “sunshine”? Do you also know that “本” (hon / moto) means “book,” but also “origin,” and/or “home”? In brief, together “日本” means “the origin of sunshine.” This is why Japan is often referred to, in English, as “the …

What are Common Names for Japanese?

In Japanese, “namae” usually means a person’s “full name” (given & surname), however, it can also refer to just your given name, a similar concept to English. Generally, Japanese call one another by their surnames, although among close friends they may use given names. In Japan, it is said there are about 300,000 different surnames, …

Few Restaurants in Japan Provide English Menus

Something that non-Japanese must find inconvenient is restaurant menus. Called “oshinagaki” in Japanese, the term “menu” is now also casually used. Nevertheless, most restaurants still only provide ones written in Japanese. What many restaurants in Japan do provide are menus with photos so that customers can see what food is available, however, it is still …

Finding Your Way Around

While most Japanese do not speak English, they do know some basic English words. When you ask them the way to a station, they will only understand if you use the English word “station.” However, when you lose your way and try asking “Where am I?” few Japanese will understand what you are saying. Instead, …

Shopping Wisely in Japan

It was once said that Tokyo is the most expensive city to live in, but that has drastically changed. Since Japan is now in the middle of a recession, inexpensive commodities are not only being sold in Tokyo, but across the nation. Depending on how you shop, it’s very easy to buy inexpensive merchandise. The …

Some Simple Japanese Foods

There are a variety of different foods available in Japan, including Chinese, Korean and Western cuisines, and among them is the Japanese light meal, or fast food. “Yoshinoya,” “Matsuya” and “Sukiya” are well-known gyu-don (beaf bowl) chain restaurants where you can have a regular-sized bowl for less than 300 yen. “Tenya” is another well-known chain …

Convenience Stores – Indispensable for Daily Life

“Konbini” or “convini” is the Japanese short form for convenience stores, the system of which was imported from the USA. They open from early morning to late at night, some remaining open for 24 hours. Japanese convenience stores do more than just sell daily items – they also provide a variety of other services. One …

A Basic Guide to Using Japan’s Banking Services

While living in Japan it is important to learn how to use the various banking services. The Japanese word for “bank” is ginkou, however, most Japanese understand the term “bank.”

The Convenience of Train Station Facilities

Japan’s train stations offer commuters many different conveniences, including public toilets. The word “toilet” has been adopted in Japanese, but the final “t” is silent.

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