A shallow, outdoor hot spring with large stones around and in it for decoration. It is surrounded by trees changing colors (green, red, yellow) in the fall season.

A Beginners Guide to Onsen (Hot Springs) in Japan

If you ever get the chance to visit Japan, one of the must-do experiences is to visit an onsen. An onsen is a natural bath that uses spring water to provide a warm, potentially healthy bathing experience. Visitors enter the baths in the nude, with the onsen usually separated into male and female areas. Then … Read more

A photo of five hands each holding a mug filled with beer that are converging in the middle of the image to toast. Under them on the table are plates of food like edamame, cucumber, and cabbage.

A Look Into Japanese Izakaya: A Quick Guide

Having a drink after work is a universal pleasure. Somewhere to retreat to after a long week or punishing day. Britain and Ireland have their pubs, Germany has the beer hall, the USA has the bar, from South Africa’s Shebeens to the Cantinas of Latin America and Spain. All have their quirks, but each is … Read more

A photo with a black microphone in focus in the middle on a table. In the background, a green and pink drink in glasses, a yellow tambourine, and a tablet for karaoke can be seen but are blurry.

A Short History of Karaoke & Its Culture In Japan

Karaoke, meaning “empty orchestra” in Japanese, is singing along to an instrumental backing track. A visual accompaniment usually shows scrolling lyrics on a screen in time to the music. Many people have tried karaoke, one of the most popular nightlife activities in Japan and globally, but few know the story behind it.   Karaoke: Origins The origins … Read more

A young, Asian businesswoman at her desk pinching the bridge of her nose while looking very tired.

Death By Overwork: All About Karoshi

Simply put, 過労死 (karoshi) is a “Japanese term for sudden death caused by overwork,” according to the Oxford dictionary. Karoshi: Societal and Cultural Background The term karoshi was first recognized by the Health Ministry in 1987, and its use has been increasing since then. Culturally, Japanese people tend to put work above all other aspects … Read more

A young, blonde woman in front of a blackboard pointing at the "ABCs" written on it with a piece of chalk.

Is the JET Program Worth It? Pros Vs. Cons

Is the JET Program worth it? In my opinion, it is 100% worth it. If you have the chance, you should definitely do it.   HOWEVER… working in Japan is not all sunshine and rainbows. Many JETs get sick of the job, or even Japan itself, after just a year or two. So how can I … Read more

Medicine pill tablets in their pill packs, which is in a mini shopping cart with a blurred view of a pharmacy drugstore's shelves in the background.

Complete Guide to Over-The-Counter Medicine in Japan

  Japanese drugstores, or yakkyoku, can be daunting.  Even if you feel pretty good about your Japanese ability, names and descriptions of medicine can be highly technical and heavy on the kanji.  With shelves bursting with more products than you ever knew existed, finding the right medicine might seem like an impossible task. And kampo-yaku, … Read more

A young woman sitting in a car and looking out of the window and smiling. She is holding keys in her right hand.

How to Get a Japanese Driver’s License

A Japanese driver’s license may seem unnecessary to anyone living in a large city. Places like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya have great public transportation systems, so driving is easily avoided. On the off chance you can’t get to your destination by train, there’s definitely a bus within walking distance of where you’d like to go. … Read more

Four women and two men dressed in business attire clenching their fists as if doing a fightint pose. They are standing in front of a desk with laptops on top of it.

Japan Workplace Culture: Communicating with Your Japanese Co-Workers

Communication is the backbone of any office environment. This is no different in Japan. Language is important for communicating, but it’s more than just saying the right words. It’s usually much more nuanced. Your delivery of a statement can impact its meaning. Your body language can also affect how your words are interpreted. These subtle … Read more

A shot of the many buildings in a busy city at night, with the lights in the buildings lit up.

How to Find an Apartment in Japan

Looking for an apartment in Japan? Be prepared for a long and complicated process involving tons of paperwork. And, you’ll need quite a bit of money, too. Even for Japanese people, moving is frustrating.The upfront costs are incredibly high and come with strange, outdated fees like “key money”. But, if you’re a foreigner in Japan … Read more

A man and woman are seen on a deck in the distance, with a body of water and ship in the background, and a blurred tree in the foreground.

JET-setting into the Deep Countryside of Japan: My Experience

When I taught English abroad in the inaka (countryside) of Japan, I lived in a very small, very old mountain village. From afar, it was beautiful. Rice fields surrounded the mountain, lush greenery was everywhere, and in the summer, tall cumulus clouds floated slowly across the sky. It was like a scene straight out of … Read more

A young Asian male and female taking a selfie with a smartphone in front of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan.

9 Cultural Mistakes Foreigners Make in Japan and What To Do Instead

Let’s face it – if you’re new to Japan, you’re probably gonna make a few cultural mistakes. And you wouldn’t be alone. Deeply rooted in tradition and religion, Japan has a rich and complex culture, with what seems like a million unwritten rules. That’s pretty tough to navigate, even for Japanese people. Just like with … Read more

A Japanese Bidet Toilet Armrest with buttons to do several functions.

How to Use a High Tech Japanese Toilet

Your first contact with a high-tech Japanese toilet may be a shocking one, especially if you can’t read Japanese.  These electronic toilets, known locally as “washlets,” boast so many advanced features they’ve become an internationally-discussed cultural phenomenon.  Just looking at the control panel can be an overwhelming, dizzying experience.  What are all these strange buttons … Read more

Japanese High School Students in uniforms standing in a line and posing for a picture.

Working for The JET Program – A Typical Day

If you got accepted to the JET Program as an ALT, congratulations!  All of your hard work and patience has paid off.Now you’re probably excited and anxious to find out all about your school, and what working for the JET Program will be like.  Here’s a general guideline about what you’ll be doing on a … Read more