living in japan - the translator vagabond
Thread poster: chinoiseau

chinoiseau  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:12
Member
Chinese to French
+ ...
Apr 27, 2003

I am thinking of living in Japan for a while, say six months or a year, bringing my office-laptop with me. I intend to continue from there my translator activity( chinese-french).



I wonder how much income is sufficient to be able to live decently in Japan, whether it is easy to find accommodation ( preferably in a calm little town,kind of countryside, all i need is an internet connection andphone line), and how i could resolve the visa issue ( I would be working from home, maybe without working permit).



More widely, how is it hard to translate (and translate only) for a living in Japan?

What is your own experience? Thank you for sharing.



JM


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 19:12
English to Japanese
+ ...
Naturally your choice depends on your visa type and income. Apr 27, 2003

Hello and Bonjour Jean-Marc,



I\'m a Japanese translator living in Japan since I was born here. As a Japanese citizen working as a freelance translator, I may give you some advices for living in this country, firstly from a broad sense.



1. Living. Your interest in smaller cities would be preferable when you need to consider the high rent price ranges in larger cities like Tokyo. If you\'re freelancing, your first problem will be naturally the usabiity of the Internet and everything should depend on that like in my own case. The rent is lower in smaller cities, however, you may not expect as low as the standard in your country, I\'m afraid, since everyone talks about the high cost of living in Japan, which I need to investigate, but probably it\'s true, so it should be based on the amount of money you can spend for your planned life here if you find it worth investing. For renting, you definitely need a guarantee, ideally a Japanese citizen, if you consider renting an apartment of whatever size. Otherwise, you may get information about different kinds of accommodations accepting foregin visitors.

2. Internet. Currently, I guess some major ISP covers almost all city areas within the country, so unless you decide to live in a quite remote place, you will not have to worry about the Internet use wherever you may live in the country. Major ISPs like NTT, Yahoo, Acca, Plala and so on are competitively ameliorating their services and now I should say thier service contents and price ranges are becoming more attractive and reasonable to us than some years back.

3. Visa. About this aspect, I\'m not at all familiar with the situation faced by foreign citizens here when they claim for their working visa and so forth. In that regard, you would get useful information from someone in the same situation as yours, I\'m afraid. As for a life as a freelance translator, you\'re already working as such in your own country, then, you will continue that up, besides making most of the advantage of being close to the Japanese agencies who need your valuable services.



I\'m just broadly making responses according to your concerns. If you have any following questioins, you may drop them here consecutively. I would be answering as long as I could assume my answers would be helpful enough for you.



Good luck,

M


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Tokyo_Moscow  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:12
Japanese to Russian
+ ...
It depends Apr 27, 2003

If you have a proper visa(working or family), you can work in Japan, if you are on the tourist visa, it is illegal to work here. If your native language is English, you wouldn\'t find it difficult to find an English teaching job, though it is better to apply for the job before coming to Japan. The cost of living here is very high and finding an apartment is not always easy for foreingers. Besides, when looking for a place to live,you will be asked to have a japanese guarantor(even Japanese people are) and should be prepared to pay large sum of money for the landlord(including non refundable deposit- around two-three months rent amount). Options-to find good friends here and stay at their place, to marry a Japanese, to contact translation agencies... It would be a great plus if you can speak, read and understand Japanese including kanjis. Not many people in the countryside of Japan speak English... But Japan is a great place to visit and you will enjoy its beautiful nature. If you like it, you can consider your options after coming here.

Good luck!


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 06:12
SITE FOUNDER
A useful link Apr 27, 2003

Following is a link to one of the English-language publications in Japan. There are job ads and information about accommodations. It may give you an idea of expenses. You might also want to post your query to their forums:

http://metropolis.japantoday.com/


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Philip Ronan
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:12
Japanese to English
+ ...
About visas Apr 28, 2003

Unless the situation\'s changed since I lived in Japan, there are basically three types of visa you can go for.



A tourist visa lasts 3 months. Technically, people on tourist visas aren\'t allowed to work or even look for work. In reality, people often do this (that\'s how I originally got started in Japan). I\'m not sure if it\'s all hat easy to extend a tourist visa, but you can always take a quick trip out of the country to Korea or Guam to renew it.



To get a working visa you need to be sponsored by a Japanese company, who will prepare a \"certificate of eligibility\" for you. You will have to leave and re-enter Japan to activate this visa. However, I have a feeling it might be difficult to get yourself sponsored for French/Chinese translation. If you get a job teaching French at a language school they might be able to sponsor you.



The other option is a cultural visa. This is offerred to full-time students. So if you\'re interested in learning Japanese or a martial art, this could be what you want. Your school or dojo should be able to sort out the paperwork for you.



As Minoru mentioned, rents can be quite high in Japan, especially in the big cities. Non-refundable deposits are generally unavoidable when renting an apartment. If you\'re only going to be in Japan for a few months, you could try looking for a room in a \"gaijin house\", which is a place that accepts foreigners without expecting huge downpayments.



Anyway, good luck whatever you decide to do!


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Tenten D  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:12
English to Japanese
+ ...
rent is expensive in Japan? Apr 28, 2003

I went back to Japan last January from UK just to see my family.


And I found that rent (in Kobe, 1.5m population) is actually far cheaper than Edinburgh, where I am living.

For the same money, I can have 3 room flat in the centre of the city.

I don\'t know about France or other French speaking countries, but obviously in Japan, the price is going down for sure.



That\'s my impression, although I know it totally depends on the city you go to.



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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 06:12
SITE FOUNDER
right Apr 28, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-04-28 13:14, Tenten D wrote:

I went back to Japan last January from UK just to see my family.



And I found that rent (in Kobe, 1.5m population) is actually far cheaper than Edinburgh, where I am living.

For the same money, I can have 3 room flat in the centre of the city.

I don\'t know about France or other French speaking countries, but obviously in Japan, the price is going down for sure.



That\'s my impression, although I know it totally depends on the city you go to.





I would say that is true in Tokyo, too. For a while, people in some areas were getting retn reductions without moving.



That said, the up-front fees and potential hassle would probably still be prohibitive for someone looking at staying just 6-12 months. (Unless the policy on deposits and key money has changed, too, in the last few years.) So your best best is probably to look to guest houses or other living arrangements that cater to travelers. The link I gave is a good starting point.



By the way, after 6 months you might find you want to stay longer...

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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 19:12
English to Japanese
+ ...
another useful link Apr 28, 2003

Now you know the visa is the biggest issue in your consideration. How about your English background? Can you perform as an English teacher instead of French? As Philip points out, you may apply for a French teacher position, but from my experience and knowledge, there are only a few eminent French language institutions in Tokyo, for example, and the possibility of visa sponsorship should be also be investigated in that regard. I observe it seems to be much easier to find a teacher position in English at a number of language institutions or even company language courses than in French as long as you are fully qualified for the requirements.



Of course, I think it\'s better for you to use your own language skills when you live in Japan in the same manner as you do that in your current situation, while if it\'s really difficult for some crucial reasons including visa, it may be a matter of how you will prioritize your concerns: the eagerness to experience the Japanese culture, the type of job you perform, the place you live, etc.



As for accommodation, I repeat it\'s somewhat inconvenient as everyone describes, but I know there are some guest houses exclusively designed for shortly-staying foreign visitors, fully equipped with the Internet facility, and you could live as comfortably as you live in any other ordinary types of Japanese apartments.



Meanwhile, here\'s another useful link for foreign citizens in Japan to find helpful information for living in this country: http://www.gaijinpot.com/index.php



HTH



M


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 19:12
English to Japanese
+ ...
Visa issue Apr 28, 2003

Hey, here\'s the link of \"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs\' Guide to Japanese Visas\", which gives you the basics about how to get started with the Japanese visas: http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/



And here\'s the \"Visa\" link page of the gaijinpot.com, where you will find a forum regarding the Japanese visa: http://www.gaijinpot.com/visas.php

[ This Message was edited by: M.Kuwahara on 2003-04-28 17:18]


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Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:12
Member (2001)
English to French
+ ...
Jean Marc May 23, 2003

Hi Jean Marc !



The only thing I can (may) tell you is the following :



If you intend to leave in Japan, you must first of all to be a Japanese culture lover ( and of course to speak Japanese rather fluently .).



The only chance you have to be accepted by the Japanese citizens is to speak Japanese (at least a minimum and this, without heavy accent) and have a few Japanese friends leaving there.



If, unfortunately, you do not masterize the basics of Japanese language, Its better not trying to go there



I mean : not only speaking but also reading Kanji (at least 6000 ideograms) ,Romaji, Hiragana and Katakana writings (these three latest are rather easy to learn)



Providing that you can/may masterize these basic options you have to be a sincere and a truly Japanese Culture Lover with some good knowledges about it - and be aware that your future colleagues, neighbors, and friends will not accept you such easily if you are not capable to prove it



I worked more than 10 years for a Japanese Sogo Shosha, traveled more that 35 times in Japan, but I do know that it is not sufficient to be accepted by the basic Japanese population: I have red many times Eiji Yoshikawass Musashi (the Japanese three musketeers) and also the Genji Monogatari (quite unknown by the Japanese basic population, in spite of its literary importance).



This is not sufficient: If you cant read it in Japanese you cant read it at all



Well, if you have a possibility to go in Japan and leave there, dont hesitate : I am sure you will love it



Bst rgds

















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Ensor  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:12
English to Polish
+ ...
Few comments on Thierry Lotte's remarks May 23, 2003

Hi Jean Marc



I wouldn\'t take it too seriously what Thierry said about speaking fluent Japanese and mastering 6000 kanji. If you know 2000 that should be enough. Just kidding! I\'ve lived and worked in Japan for 15 years and even though speaking a little Japanese might help, a little bit of English can also be of use. I\'m afraid you wouldn\'t be able to count on your French here, as hardly anyone learns this language.

When it comes to \'being accepted\' by the Japanese people I haven\'t had a problem with that. Unless of course Thierry means \'being treated as a Japanese\', but I don\'t suppose you would be interested in that - after all you\'re French, not Japanese.

Speaking of jobs, if your English is good it should be relatively easy for you to find a teaching position at one of the English schools here, ( having a B.A.degree would be good, M.A. even better)but you could also try for a French teacher at tertiary institutions: as far as I know many of them offer French classes, and not only in Tokyo.



I\'m sure you\'re going to have a lot of fun here, as this is a great place to be for those who like to learn new things.



Good luck



Piotr



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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 19:12
English to Japanese
+ ...
kanji May 29, 2003

Supporting Ensor's comment, I mention we have what they call "Jouyou kanji", which is literally translated as "Chinese characters in common use" counted as 1945 kanjis and that as the name suggests we commonly use only those kanjis (Chinese characters) in daily or business uses everyday. I guess there is no problem for you if you absorb these basic kanjis as far as an ordinary life is concerned.

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Evan GEISINGER
United States
Local time: 03:12
English
+ ...
What??? WRONG! (I doubt even 20 Japanese people know 6000+ characters) Nov 25, 2003

Thierry LOTTE wrote:

Hi Jean Marc !
First: You only need about 1100 Kanji (and only the basic meaning and an ON yomi) to "get by" and the average Japanese person doesn't have an ACTIVE vocabulary that includes even all of the "official" 2,111 Kanji.

Outside of the top 6 metropoli, you are likely to have people impressed by your interest/diligence if you learn any but the most basic of Japanese. (And for reading, the Kana and 300 or so Kanji are a good start from which to build).

Ignore the naysayer- I was there for 5 years, and people loved me and I got along fine. And know more kanji (by a tad) than most Japanese I meet (and I doubt I know _anything_ about any more than 2100 of them). the Kanji kenteishiken (Kanji test) for Japanese natives only has 2111 characters at a relatively high level, and most Japanese have to study hard to pass it (especially if they've been out of school for a while).


----------------
The only thing I can (may) tell you is the following :

If you intend to leave in Japan, you must first of all to be a Japanese culture lover [SNIP]

I mean : not only speaking but also reading Kanji (at least 6000 ideograms) ,Romaji, Hiragana and Katakana writings (these three latest are rather easy to learn)

Providing that you can/may masterize these basic options you have to be a sincere and a truly Japanese Culture Lover with some good knowledges about it - and be aware that your future colleagues, neighbors, and friends will not accept you such easily if you are not capable to prove it

I worked more than 10 years for a Japanese Sogo Shosha, traveled more that 35 times in Japan, but I do know that it is not sufficient to be accepted by the basic Japanese population: I have red many times Eiji Yoshikawass Musashi (the Japanese three musketeers) and also the Genji Monogatari (quite unknown by the Japanese basic population, in spite of its literary importance).

This is not sufficient: If you cant read it in Japanese you cant read it at all

Well, if you have a possibility to go in Japan and leave there, dont hesitate : I am sure you will love it

Bst rgds









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Kaname
Local time: 19:12
English to Japanese
+ ...
I know a surfer who lives on 80000 yen a month Nov 25, 2003

There are place in the country that have internet access and can be rented for virtually free. the cost of living is relative to the lifestyle you plan to live. If you have a Mac are places with free access in Tokyo and the other major cities. Rent in Tokyo can be expensive but it can also be very cheap if you stay at a "gaijin house". My advise to you would be to vist the city for a while to make contacts then if you are serious move.

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