Frequently Asked Questions
Over the years we’ve done a few Q+A’s. Below you’ll find a small sampling of questions we’ve answered.
However, most of the answers below are to personal questions, and I know lots of people want advice about Japan, such as working in Japan, living in Japan, traveling to Japan, learning Japanese, and so on… Most of the times the answer to your questions are probably better answered by doing a smart search online.
If you’re looking to get information from real people living in Japan, I’d suggest some subreddits on Reddit.
- /r/japantravel – for travel-related questions
- /r/japanlife – for people actually living in Japan, wanting to know about things like jobs, schools, and hospitals
- /r/movingtojapan – for people moving to Japan
- /r/learnjapanese – for learning Japanese
- /r/japanpics – for posting your pics
- /r/translator – for posting your translation requests
- /r/teachinginjapan – for people interested in teaching in Japan
Keep in mind that these subreddits all have rules about how to post and many have FAQs or wikis. For example, here’s the FAQ for r/japantravel. It’ll probably answer a good chunk of questions you might have. Moving to Japan? They also have a wiki. Depending on your browser or app, these might not be immediately apparent, so make sure to search around in the headers and the sidebar to find the links to these pages which have lots of good, general advice.
Also keep in mind that before posting a question, you’ll probably want to do a search first. The easiest way to do it is by using Google using a site specific search like:
site:reddit.com/r/japanlife it jobs
This will pull up a bunch of posts about IT jobs in the r/japanlife subreddit.
Of course, Reddit is only a single site and people are mostly anonymous, so definitely search other places. For more vetted information, you can go to the leading English newspaper, the Japan Times or official government sources at japan.go.jp (their directory will list out all their various official websites).
- How did Aiko and Shin learn to speak English? Aiko and Shin were born in Canada and lived there for seven and four years. Aiko had a strong base of English before moving to Japan. Since Shin was four when he moved, his English wasn’t as strong before the move.
- How long have you been living in Japan? Our family moved to Japan in 2013 and live in the city of Tokyo. While it’s ginormous, it’s not as busy and filled with concrete as you think (well, it depends where you live in Tokyo).
- Where’s the Mom? She’s very camera shy.
- Where’s the Dad? I’m the cameraman (and also the guy who responds to everything and is writing this)!
- What camera/equipment do you use? For almost all my gear, I have it listed at https://kit.co/lifewhereimfrom. There’s honestly too much to list here.
- Are you American? Nope, we’re Canadian.
- What’s the ethnic background of the kids? Half Japanese (Mom) / Half Canadian (Dad).
- But what’s the real background of the Dad? Dad’s parents are from Guyana and Belize.
- So the Dad is Central / South American? No, actually my Dad is Chinese while my Mother is Scottish, English, Spanish and Native American.
- Does the cameraman speak Japanese? A little, but my kids in elementary school are better than me.
- Why do people take a bath when they’re already clean? Because it’s relaxing.
- Gross, I’d never use the same water as someone else. You have to remember that you’re already clean and you’re family.
- Gross, I’d never wash my clothes with grey water. The water from the bathtub is relatively clean because there’s no soap in there. When it’s used to wash clothes, it’s only for the wash cycle with detergent. The rinse cycle uses fresh water.
- Eat with your mouth closed (comment about Aiko). She was an eight year old kid eating. She now tries to.
- Does Aiko prefer to speak Japanese or English? Japanese. Because she’s better at Japanese.
- Since the kids know English very well, do their schools place them in Advanced English classes? Nope, they take regular English classes that happen in regular Japanese school.
- Are Aiko and her brother retaining their English well or are they losing some? Aiko thinks she’s losing her English. Shin’s is definitely getting better (he couldn’t read and write English before, but now he can). He also speaks clearer now.
- Since the kids speak Japanese to mommy and English to you, what language do you and mommy speak to each other? Aiko and Shin speak Japanese to Mommy. Mom mostly speaks English to Dad, but sometimes the speak in Japanese to practice. This is tough, because we want the kids to retain English, but I (Dad) need to practice my Japanese more.
- Can you have pets in japan, Does Aiko have any pets? Which animal does she like? We used to live in apartment that didn’t allow pets. We now have our own home and two cats. Certain places you can have cats, dogs, birds, fish (small animals).
- Ordinarily on a normal basis, at the entrance way of Japanese schools you would have to remove your outdoor shoes and swap on indoor shoes before stepping indoors. Now, what do visitors do if they are visiting the school during a cultural festival? Schools have slippers for guests, but many parents who visit would bring their own. Festivals are mostly outside, so you wouldn’t need special footwear. Aiko also wanted to let you know that there’s Saturday classes once a month and there are slippers for visitors.
- How did you guys decide to move your family to Japan after several years in Canada? We always wanted to move to Japan, but never had the opportunity. When were young and got married, we thought we’d hop back and forth between countries, but with kids and jobs, we realized it wasn’t so easy. After many years in Canada we were able to move to Japan.
- How did your mum and dad meet? In Canada a long time ago.
- Why were Japanese names chosen for the kids instead of something more Westernized? The kids have Western middle names. Because we were living in Canada at the time the kids were born, we wanted them to keep their Japanese heritage. In Canada, it’s not so weird to have non-Western names, but when the kids are in Japan, having a non-Japanese name would make them stand out more. Also, the Japanese names chosen were ones that wouldn’t be so difficult to pronounce in English (but they still do pronounce it wrong).
- Do people (ethnic Japanese) treat you or your children “different”? Aiko thinks no, but sometimes they say gaikokujin, which means foreigner.
- Do you guys have citizenship in both Canada and Japan? The kids are both Canadian and Japanese citizens until their 22, at which point, they’re supposed to pick one or the other (Japan doesn’t allow dual citizens). Dad is a Canadian Citizen and a permanent resident of Japan and Mum is a Japanese citizen and a permanent resident of Canada.