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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

Kind of a strange question.

I have been thinking I would like to do an extended visit to Japan.

From the few people I have talked to I think I would like to live around Kyoto. I have really never traveled around the world and am at a point where I would like to and can afford to.

Here is my crazy, wide open question: Where should I start and what are some important things to know?


I don't know anyone living in Japan currently and if possible I would like to work while I'm there.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Can we assume you've tried a web search? If not, check out the Japanese Immigration Bureau. There are a number of visa categories you might try, depending on your situation. If you're from the US and just coming over for a maximum of three months, you could come as a tourist without any pre-application. But, technically, you're not allowed to work while here as a tourist. I doubt anyone would know if you tutor the occasional High School student for pocket change but you'll have a hard time finding anything more stable because Immigration is pretty strict about the no-work rule. You'll also be limited as housing, cell phones, insurance, etc if you're only here on a temporary visa.

You say you're at a point where you can afford extended travel... would that include possibly paying for some kind of cultural lessons? If so, you could search for schools that specialize in 3- to 6-month courses in flower arranging, Japanese calligraphy, or some kind of martial art. The course won't be free, obviously, but many such schools will sponsor you for a cultural studies visa.

If you take working off the table, you could come for three months (presumably as part of a more extensive Asian vacation), pop over to Seoul for a week or two, then come back to Japan for another three months. The Immigration guys at the airport are likely to assume you've over here working but if you can show that you have the wherewithal to support yourself without working, I doubt they'll turn you away (unless, of course, they have reason to believe you *were*, in fact, working in violation of your visa, as happened to an American journalist recently).

Living here long-term isn't that big a challenge. Getting here and funding your stay without running afoul of the visa rules is the big challenge. So I'd say the first step would be to look over the available visa categories and see if you can come up with a plan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Larabell,

Like you said, I am leaning more towards the 90 day tourist Visa. I'm trying to see how much I'm looking at spending on basics (ie: food, travel, housing). Is it worth it to stay in the big cities? or to stay in a smaller one and get a train pass? If I am in a big city is it worth getting a train pass for my whole stay? or just as I need it?

I am actually really interested in taking some martial arts lessons while I am there. I am leaning toward Aikido, do you have any recommendations on how to look for this?

Lastly, you mentioned "cultural lessons", is this a recognized type of service or more of a concept? What I mean is there a website that lists multiple types of Cultural Lessons, or should I be looking for a Aikido school that will sponsor a visa if I sign up with them?


Thank you very much again,

Nick
 

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Apartment rent is usually cheaper the further you get from a major city. But temporary accommodations may not be that much different since there will be more selection (and, thus, more competition) in the city centers. You probably won't be able to rent a real apartment on a temporary visa -- at least not cheaply. Check out places like Sakura House, which specialize in short-term rentals. Also search for Metropolis Magazine for possible sharing arrangements. Metropolis is also a good resource for finding out what's available and for how much.

A commuter pass on the train costs about the same per month as 15 round trips (the price varies according to the route and the distance). They're generally only good for that specific route. If you travel into the city along the same route every day, it's worth getting a pass. If you only go occasionally, or go to different places each time, it might be cheaper to buy tickets as you go. If you're planning on going to a lot of different places in one day, most of the train operators will sell you a day pass for unlimited riding that day -- but it's usually only good for that company (for example, a day pass for the subway won't help if you spend most of the day riding JR). I'd suggest waiting until you have a good idea where you're going to live and what your travel patterns are like.

I don't have any suggestion for finding an Aikido dojo, since I've never tried finding one myself. But there used to be a Seidokan teacher advertising in Metropolis a while back and I see flyers posted on neighborhood billboards from time-to-time (mostly Karate but I have seen flyers for Aikido before). Try Google. There's probably an association of some sort that might have a list of dojos in Japan. Keep in mind that you'll probably need to find one where the instruction is offered in English.

The Cultural Activities visa is real... it's listed on the Immigration Bureau's website. I've never met anyone who's come over on one but, then again, most of the non-Japanese I know are either working here or just visiting. I don't know off-hand of any list of schools. Try Google. If you search for Aikido schools in Japan, their website should indicate whether they're willing to sponsor visas (and the ones that are too small to have a website are probably too small to sponsor a visa as well). It should just be a matter of doing some research online.

Unfortunately (assuming your're from the States, like it says on your profile), you're not eligible for what is probably the best visa for your situation. Citizens of certain countries (like Britain, for example) can come over for a year on a "working holiday" where the intention is to spend time visiting the country but where the option to work (or look for work) is open. I've met quite a few people who came over on a working holiday visa, found a job here, and then converted to a regular long-term working visa once their year was up.

By the way... assuming you come over on a tourist visa, the Immigration guys can't stop you from talking to people about the possibility of working here. So if you have some kind of technical skill that might interest a company in Japan, you could ask them to sponsor you for a working visa. I also know a few people who did that and ended up finding a job. As long as you change your visa status before you actually start work, it's technically legal (but don't tell the Immigration guy at the airport about your plan because it's not an encouraged practice). But don't assume you can just pick up a job at McDonalds... most employers won't even talk to anyone who doesn't already have a proper visa because of the paperwork hassle. Your chances are pretty slim if you don't bring a needed technical skill to your prospective employer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Working on that Google thing, thanks again Larabell.

Also thanks for the tip about Metropolis Magazine.
 
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