Blog Review: Surviving in Japan (Without Much Japanese)

Although a lot of the blogging I do for the IJET blog is about how to live well in Ishikawa even if you don’t speak Japanese, as a bilingual, sometimes I forget the little linguistically aggravating details of living that really make or break JETs’ Japan experience. Luckily, there is a site precisely for this: Surviving in Japan (Without Much Japanese).

Ashley Thompson, the editor, is an ex-JET living in Japan. The purpose of the blog, she writes, is

not…about etiquette, where to find a job or apartment, or a list of how to prepare for life here (though, there are some ideas concerning that here and there)…. I had to learn how to do a lot of things on my own during my first years here – things that weren’t reiterated in the various websites and books I read before arriving. And now I’m compiling the knowledge that has helped me “survive” in Japan for you in this blog.


For example, there are several articles about how to arrange redelivery of a missed package from Kuroneko (Yamato) and the Japan Post.

Another topic Ashley has well covered is finding personal care products in Japan. Switching to Japanese personal products instead of buying imports is a subject near and dear to my heart. It’s more eco-friendly as the products don’t have to be shipped, but finding organic/SLS-free products that do not contain natural ingredients to which I am allergic is sometimes a feat. While many of the articles cover how/where to find American products, “6 Places to Find Organic/Natural Personal Care Products Online” is a great resource. (For an Ishikawa-specific list of brick-and-mortar stores, see “Additive Free Shampoos”). Additionally, the site has very detailed guides to feminine hygiene products—bet that wasn’t in your orientation packet!

Some of the most useful posts for daily living are the less obvious ones, like “How to Customize Your Drinks at Starbucks/Tully’s in Japan”; this article explains how to get soy milk and use your thermos at coffee shops.

The site is frequently updated and also has guest posts from Japan “sempai.” Whether you’re new to Japan and Japanese, a veteran expat, or somewhere in between, you can always learn something from this site!

Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR in Anamizu and the editor of this blog. If you have a useful blog about living in Japan, send it our way via the “contact us” tab!

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