It’s time for another episode of “My Japanese Life”.
This series has been brought to life to show you the different kinds of lifestyles, visa types and experiences of foreigners living in Japan.
Today’s episode is featuring Anika, a fellow German woman who’s been living in Japan for many years.
Today’s “My Japanese Life”:
- (Nick)name: Anika
- Nationality: German (♀)
- Time spent in Japan: Almost 5 years
- Visa type(s): Cultural Activities -> Working Holiday -> Spouse
- Profession(s) in Japan: Gardener / Garden Designer
- URL: www.japanesegardens.jp
How / why did you end up in Japan?
I met my husband during my internship in Japan and ended up staying with him.
Was it easy to come to Japan (visa / job)?
I got an internship through an organization. This part was quite easy. When I decided to go back to Japan with a Working Holiday Visa, I was very very lucky that my internship company continued to employ me and I could also continue to stay in my room.
What were the difficulties you had to struggle with at first?
The change from organized internship to WH wasn’t as easy as expected. There was paper I didn’t do, because I wasn’t aware of it. My lack of Japanese wasn’t a help either…
Did you struggle obtaining things one might need for daily life at first such as bank account, cellphone, credit card, driving permit?
Nope. I needed a bank account for the internship, so my host family helped me setting one up. I got a prepaid cellphone – no problem with this either. And because Japan is a cash using country, I didn’t need a credit card.
When I started to need such things I was already married and had another job, which made things easier.
What was your first job in Japan?
I worked as a gardener, cleaned up gardens, parks and cut trees in private and public spaces.
Now I’m a garden designer and write guide books about Japanese gardens.
Was it difficult to learn Japanese? Were you already able to speak Japanese when you moved to Japan?
I had a Japanese crash course before I came, so I was able to introduce myself in Japanese.
I am extremely bad in learning foreign languages and struggled a lot. After 5 years I’m still far from being fluent. Guess it’ll take another five years..
Was / is it difficult to find friends / a partner?
Not really. There is a great German community in Tokyo with a lot of young Japanese interested in Germany and German.
I also met my husband there.
Do you have pets? (If yes, is it difficult to keep a pet in Japan?)
I call a small spider my pet.
This type of spider is called “Jumpy” by a friend and I used to call my spider the same.
I had cats in Germany but found out I have an allergy. So, no cats for me in Japan.
Because of Japanese working hours it’s too difficult to have a dog. And I just have no space for a cage or a fish tank to keep other pets.
Not to mention the difficulties to find an apartment which allows pets and isn’t too expensive.
Compare life back home with your life in Japan:
Life in Germany seemed easier. I had a big apartment, a huge TV, short working hours, a lot of time to travel.
Why did I throw all this away?
Because all this isn’t as important if you are not happy..
I’m happy with my small apartment, my small TV and my job. And don’t forget the great weather!
How did your life in Japan change over time?
A lot! I started living with a host family in a tiny room. I shared the bath and toilet with the son of the host family.
I moved to a share house, which was very moldy. Then I married, moved in with my husband, which was the greatest challenge!
Eventually I changed jobs and gave birth to my son.
If those aren’t great changes, I don’t know what is..
Best and worst thing about living in Japan?
Best thing? Daily life is so easy here! The service is great and the weather is too.
However, I don’t like the working attitude in Japan.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Japan?
Walking through nature. The nature, gardens and parks in Japan are great! I love them so, so much!
Want to stay in Japan forever? Planning to move back home?
(If you’re not in Japan anymore: What are you doing now?)
We’re not planning to move out of Japan. However, if a great disaster happens, and neither Tokyo nor the hometown of my husband is safe, we would move to Germany to have our son safe.
What kind of advice would you give someone who plans to live in Japan?
Learn Japanese in advance! It is so so hard to be in Japan without being able to communicate well.
I still struggle and hate it, because it is hard to make new friendships outside of the German community (for example with Japanese mothers).
And this concludes today’s episode.
I hope you enjoyed it.
Feel free to ask Anika questions. I’m sure she’ll gladly answer them.
Also, if you want to take part in this series, don’t be shy!
Just contact me!