Spotlight: (Thriving and) Surviving in Japan


I’d like to spotlight a new addition to the recommended blogs here, Surviving in Japan (without much Japanese). This blog/how-to-directory is an ever-growing guide to how to improve your life in Japan if you are not perfectly fluent in Japanese, but are in English. The author, Ashley, is a writer (and part-time teacher) with a good sense of what people settling in to Japan really need to know about. She’s also the new writer for the “Lifelines” column at the Japan Times. There’s no travel-guide-style “wear toilet slippers in the toilet or risk embarrassment!”-style advice here–you can find that in your Lonely Planet. Instead, you get instructions, recommendations, links, photos, and even translations on topics such as

There are lots of other posts on everything from minor issues like how customize your order at Starbucks to critical issues like what to do if your Alien Registration Card is missing. (I’m secretly hoping for a post on reading Japanese nutritional labels at some point! That would be handy for me over here, even.)

This blog is highly recommended for being informative, readable, and essentially performing a public service. If you’re moving to Japan or are already there, check it out! I just wish someone were doing this for every country (and in every language combination!).

You can also follow Ashley on Twitter at @survivingnjapan.







4 responses to “Spotlight: (Thriving and) Surviving in Japan”

  1. Ashley Avatar

    Hi Clarissa, Thank you so much for the very thoughtful review! (And introducing me to your very helpful site in the process!) I certainly appreciate the kind words.

    And yes! The nutrition labels post is in the works (I find though that when I start these types of posts, I realize more and more information I need to include to make sure I cover it thoroughly – but rest assured it is indeed coming!)

    I also wish I could publish this information in other languages as well – but we’ll see what happens with that!



    1. Clarissa Avatar

      Hi, Ashley!

      Thanks for the speedy comment! Yes, I can imagine that you have to figure out a point at which to just go ahead and post it. 🙂 Take your time! I already figured out “fiber,” heehee (I knew the English labels claiming that 100% buckwheat soba noodles had no fiber were wrong–I guess they have to pay extra for that kind of analysis or something. Heh!). I’ll be looking forward to it!

      Anyway, one person can only do so much, and you’ve already done a ton! English is definitely the best way to reach a big audience. I only was careful to mention it here out of a pedantic desire to not combine “foreigners” and “English-speakers” into a single lump. You know how it is! And the other part was just dreaming–I also wish there were a Japanese (and every other) equivalent to the fascinating Korean gender analysis blog The Grand Narrative, but a) I can’t have everything and b) if I did, when would I have time to write, teach, or eat?

      Thanks and carry on!

  2. Blue Shoe Avatar

    Yes, this is a great website! I especially liked her post on winterizing an apartment…that is the thing I hate most about living here, I think – the lack of proper insulation.

    Anyway, sorry if this interjection is inappropriate (if so, please delete), but I did a post a while back on nutrition labels, if it’s of any help:

    Looking forward to Ashley’s, though. I think mine isn’t as comprehensive as her stuff usually is.

    1. Clarissa Avatar

      Thanks! Your post looks useful, too! I’ll check out the rest of your blog later today (after I finish mailing stuff to Japan, oddly enough).

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