Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Move to Japan
- When it comes to expat life, there is no cultural shock quite like relocation to Japan. It is a country boasting an idiosyncratic culture like no other. While both popular media and Japanese art have infiltrated the international consciousness for decades, actually arriving in Japan is akin to a revelation and the created images, born of a life in which Japanese culture can seem so close and is yet so far, pales in comparison.
Expats from far and wide have travelled to this exotic country to establish a new home among its traditional lifestyle. However, Japan is also one of the most modern and technologically advanced countries in the world. Tokyo and Yokohama are nothing if not the perfect habitat for technophiles and big city lovers.
It is for Japan, this paradoxical land of the traditional and the modern, the culturally modest and the technologically audacious, that we present a list of the top ten reasons for moving there. Find out why changing your place of residence to Japan is the perfect choice for would be expats.
- The Cuisine
- For the clumsy-fingered foreigner, the first time you use chopsticks will be like trying to use stilts with a broken ankle. On a foundation of violently vibrating wood, the first piece will invariably shake and, Bambi-like, fall before it reaches your expectant mouth. Nonetheless, the rich taste and refreshing nature of Japanese food always succeeds in forcing the puffing, red-faced diner to try and try again until they can wield the formidable utensils like the fly-catching Mr. Miyagi.
Japanese food strongly emphasizes freshness and is thus a seasonal affair. Food is usually cooked either for a very short time or served raw. The central place of fish, fruit, rice, and noodles in the Japanese diet means that it is often mentioned in connection with a healthy lifestyle. Rivalling Van Gogh's palette, the wealth of color found in the cuisine ensures that it is not only pleasing to the tongue but also to the eye.
- Stepping into an onsen for the first time will inevitably incite a severe jealousy of the life of the sea otter in you. Made viable by Japan's volcanic undercurrents, Onsen are hot springs that run throughout the country, both on public ground and private land, and the soothing water is said to have restorative powers. Whatever the case, onsen are so soothing that even the macaque (or snow monkey) take advantage of the waters and can be found lounging in the hot springs near Nagano.
- Safety in Numbers
- Despite having one of the largest populations on the planet, Japan has one of the lowest crime rates on earth. Potential reasons for this are as diverse and proliferous as the people who provide them: From sociologists to psychologists and from law enforcement to the average person on the street, everyone has a different explanation. An excellent example of the atmosphere in Japan can be found in the InterNations Expat Insider Survey, in which 82% of respondents in Japan described it as very safe. For expats from less safe nations, the lack of crime can be a pleasant thing to get used to in Japanese everyday life.
- In the modern world, public transport has replaced the weather as the major complaint featuring in awkward small talk. For many a late riser, there is nothing worse than knowing you are late for work and watching more minutes go by as you wait in the pouring rain for a train or bus running ten minutes late.
In comparison, the Japanese public transport system seems to have jumped off the pages of a futuristic novel. Arguably among the most reliable, punctual, and efficient systems in the world, the train is the ubiquitous mode of transport in the country. Other options are busses and taxis; however, cab drivers are rarely proficient at English.
- The People
- It is in the sphere of hospitality and general kindness that the Japanese distinguish themselves. Known as omotenashi in the industry, Japanese hospitality is one that attempts to preempt the needs of their guests or clients, as those who make direct requests are thought to be unsophisticated. It is a concept that has selflessness and going the extra mile at its very heart.
Although it is hard to define, anyone who has been to Japan will know exactly what it means and for many, it is one of the highlights of their stay. However, it is important to note that the courtesy and kindness of the Japanese extend beyond the service industry, thus making expatriate life here somewhat easier than elsewhere.
- The natural landscape in Japan has inspired countless artists, poets, and, indeed, laymen to create works of art. From folding screens carefully covered in portrayals of cherry blossoms to solemn haiku, pieces honoring the sublimity of Japanese nature are found the world over.
In Japan, one can see the extremes of the natural world, for it is both a famous skiing destination and a mass of volcanic activity. Between these elemental extremes are green forests, long rivers and giant lakes that can astound one in equal measure.
- The only thing that can rival Japan's natural landscape are the creatures that inhabit it. Including the aforementioned snow monkey, the country hosts a rich bio-diversity, and it is not strange to see local deer sauntering through urban areas. Other animals native to Japan include martens, sables, black and brown bears, salamanders, and red-crowned cranes.
However, the most famous animal in Japan is, probably, the koi fish. As an island nation, the relationship between the Japanese and the native fish is a close one. The diet consists largely of fish, fishing is a national pastime, and houses often contain aquariums. However, nowhere is the interaction between the Japanese and marine life more profound than in their relationship with koi fish. The Japanese even had a hand in the animal’s evolution, when in the early nineteenth century rice farmers began breeding carp to exploit their natural aesthetic qualities.
- When it comes to conceiving the perfect metropolis, the model is not found in the mind of great sci-fi writers, but rather in the collaboration of the architects and engineers of Japan. Veritable high-tech warrens, cities such as Tokyo and Yokohama bath their inhabitants in the neon glow of giant, digital billboards and make Manhattan look like a medieval dungeon. Tokyo and Yokohama are world-renowned centers for fashion, art and food, with the former possessing the most Michelin stars in the world.
- It is no surprise that Japan is a country rich in history. Since the dawn of man it has seen the rise and fall of a plethora of cultures, all socially and politically advanced and yet extremely varied. The remnants of these different lives are sprinkled through the countryside and are well archived and illustrated in the country’s countless museums. Brilliant exhibits include the shogun exhibit at the Tokyo National Museum and the artefacts at the Nara National Museum.
- Aspects of Japanese culture can be seen all over the world, from sushi restaurants in Manhattan to Judo masters in the Kremlin. However, alongside such national sports as karate and sumo wrestling, Japan is also a home to baseball and soccer, both of which have their own leagues, stadiums and fan bases.