IZANAU's Backstage: Housing in Japan
Monday, August 13, 2018
Translation and adaptation of Zing!'s article published on 2018/06/06
A few months ago, our team accepted the invitation of Zing! and was featured in a series of interviews about living and working in Japan as a foreigner. Below is a translation of the original Japanese article, which is available here!
Today’s interview will revolve around “housing” and “relationships”. Our interviewees shared with us their feelings on how living in a Japanese house as a foreigner and some anecdotes about their families, friends, what they like to do in their free time, and so on! In other words - we took a glimpse into their real everyday life in Japan.
- This time we would like to talk with you about housing. Is there any difference between houses in Japan and in your countries?
Rafael: I was surprised because mine had no lighting socket in the ceiling.
- That has to be a problem of the property itself, wasn’t it? How did you manage?
Rafael: I looked for the pieces and ended up installing them myself.
- Oh, wow, that’s a lot of work, indeed. And how do you find rent expenses compared to your home countries?
Ruben: Pricey (laughs). But I think houses here are cleaner.
Rafael: It's also expensive compared to Brazil. I mean, is obvious that the cost of living is cheaper in Brazil but even knowing that I still feel the rent is higher. Perhaps twice the price. And the walls are really thin, aren't they?
Thomas: Definitely - I can hear my neighbors talking or watching TV (laughs).
- Yeah, no doubt Japanese walls are a problem. What brands did you choose for your furniture at home?
Ruben: Nitori or IKEA furniture.
Rafael: I also have two pieces of furniture I bought on Amazon.
- Did you buy a particular brand from Amazon?
Rafael: No, it’s normal furniture, similar to what you can find in Nitori or IKEA. Brand furniture isn’t cheap so I don’t buy it lightly.
- Now let’s talk about your family and friends. Do you live with your family?
Thomas: I live on my own.
Rafael: I live together with my wife.
Ruben: Well… I live together with my Japanese girlfriend.
Rafael: Really?! I didn’t know… (laughs).
- We have a scoop here! Ruben, what moments do you like best when you spend time with your girlfriend?
Ruben: Maybe when we go on a trip. We discover new places, try delicious food… And putting icing on cakes, we create nice memories together. Actually, we go often to Nagoya.
- Oh, really? Why Nagoya?
Ruben: My girlfriend’s parents are from there. When we go on a visit, we take the chance to do some sightseeing too. Besides Japan, we enjoyed Korea a lot.
- Do you like Nagoya’s signature dishes, like 味噌カツ (miso katsu, fried pork cutlet with miso sauce) or ひつまぶし (hitsumabushi, eel in a rice base)?
Ruben: Of course! I was so impressed by morning service! Even if I was just in a coffee shop, it felt like I was enjoying a hotel breakfast (laughs). I was so happy I got such an enormous breakfast for just one coin (500 yen)!
- That’s Nagoya style, indeed! What about you, Rafael? Do you like to travel with your wife?
Rafael: Sure we do! My wife and I went to many places. We also like to play games on weekends.
- What kind of games?
Rafael: We usually play co-op games so we can play together - mostly RPGs and mini games. We also play a lot with our Super Nintendo!
- You have a thing for old-school, haven’t you! What kind of Super Nintendo games?
Rafael: Super Mario World and Super Bomberman (laughs). When we start playing these, we just can’t stop.
- Yeah, right? One can easily spend 2 or 3 hours playing without noticing. Did you join AGM by passion for games? And what about your wife?
Rafael: Yes, totally. I think it is hard to work without passion. I’ve known my wife since university, we share so many hobbies besides games.
Ruben: That's cool. I am getting jealous (laughs).
- What a couple! Seems you both enjoy each other’s company every day. Okay, now we want to exchange with you about relationships. Where did you meet your friends and girlfriends?
Ruben: Oh, I often go to bars. But actually I first met my girlfriend in a nightclub in Shinsaibashi.
Rafael: Sure, no doubt you can meet a lot of people in a bar. I often go to the HUB.
- Sounds great, what kind of activities do you do with your friends there?
Rafael: There’s a lot of people playing games. It’s easy to make friends through games!
Thomas: I practice bouldering so I can make friends there. I like hiking and outdoor activities, too!
- Where did you meet your friends, Thomas?
Thomas: I met a lot of friends when I was living in a sharehouse, also in bars. Oh, and at international events too.
- Seems foreigners go to bars not only for drinking but also for meeting new people.
Rafael: Of course! That happens also outside of Japan - even in my hometown bars are more like a community space. It feels like you are surrounded by “friends of friends”.
- Okay, let’s talk about the workplace environment: what are the most common conversations that you can hear in the office? Besides job-related topics, of course.
Rafael: We usually chat about games and daily life problems.
- Really? What kind of problems?
Rafael: For example, all the paperwork we have to deal with at the city ward office.
- IZANAU isn't even similar to the ward office, but you feature articles about immigration processes. Was the Japanese paperwork difficult to understand for you when you arrived for the first time?
Rafael: Not only the documents but also the proceedings and the submission methods are totally different. For example, here you can pay at the arrival of packages. That service doesn’t exist in Brazil. So it is easy to get confused with all the small changes.
- You don’t have a “cash on delivery” service by post in Brazil?! It’s the first time I hear that.
Rafael: That's right. At first, I couldn’t understand anything at all. The clerk just repeated the words “cash on delivery” in Japanese... (laughs). I didn’t understand why the beneficiary had to pay a fee.
- And you, Ruben? Did you experience any issues in your day-to-day life?
Ruben: Actually, yes. The rental contract was a hell of a document. The small letter was so tiny I thought I was going to faint (laughs).
- Rental contracts are difficult to understand even for Japanese natives, though. What did you do?
Ruben: I asked my girlfriend for help (laughs).
- I see! You teamed up with a trustworthy companion (laughs). Rafael, how do you manage when you are unable to read something in Japanese?
Rafael: I use Google translate or an application called Yomiwa - you only have to take a picture of the text and it translates from Japanese into English. It’s so handy!
Thomas: It’s pretty convenient, I use it often.
- Oh, what a great app! I should try it!
Rafael: For me, living in a foreign country is like a survival game - and this tool is one of your best friends here.
- I see. Do you check any specific website when looking for information about Japan?
Rafael: None in special, I follow some Facebook groups.
Ruben: I frequently take a look at Reddit. Although it’s a website oriented for people living overseas, I often peek at threads such as "Japan" and "Osaka".
- So if we head to those threads, we may find you there?
Ruben: For sure (laughs).
- Okay, next question - do you feel happy working in Japan?
Rafael: Everyone in Japan is nice and they use the simplest Japanese as possible to communicate with me. That kind of things makes me happy.
Thomas: Yeah, you can feel the hospitality spirit everywhere. There are many things I want to learn here.
Ruben: That's true. Besides, people in Japan are just honest and likable. There are no differences among nationalities in this company, so the environment is pretty friendly.
- Looks like a wonderful place to work, isn’t it? So, last question - what are your goals for IZANAU in the future?
Rafael: I'd wish IZANAU had existed before I came to Japan. IZANAU offers information on how to transit smoothly to Japan. Also, if you are in job-hunting mode, you don’t have to send endless emails to the companies you want to work for. That’s why I would like the webpage to be more and more famous among foreigners willing to work in Japan.- So you are using your experience to build up IZANAU.
Rafael: Exactly. It transforms the troubles and obstacles we had when we freshly arrived in Japan into tools and contents.For foreigners, working in Japan means getting used not only to a new language but to familiarize with the Japanese culture. And, even if they find some issues inconvenient, they have a good image of Japan.
Hope you liked the new interview - stay tuned and don't miss out the coming ones! In the meantime, why don't you register to IZANAU and find the job of your dreams in Japan, as our interviewees did?
Original interview: Zing! Editorial Department Peter
Text: Tryout and Shinsuke Sakakama
Photography: Tryout and Inoue Masao
Original Japanese Article available here.
About the Author
Half writer, half reader. Tokyo based and deeply in love with - you can easily find me meandering around Shibuya or Shin-Okubo. Communication and marketing assistant by day, video game localizer by night.