Clothing in Japan and working

Leelee
Bento-ing from: Stevenage › UK
Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 21 weeks 2 days ago.

So I am planning on going to Japan for a year after I graduate next summer. At the moment I am looking at applying for the JET programme and also saving money up in case I don't get on that and have to go it alone and pay for TEFL and the such. I worked out I am going to need to work while I am out there of course and all I have heard about is teaching English and not much else. So ya is there anything else I could look at whilst on a working holiday?

Also, this is the tricky one. How difficult will I find it to get clothes in Japan? I am a UK size 16 at the moment, normally I run a 14 but all sorts of issues have meant I put the weight back on (But I am going to the gym and aiming for a 12 by New Year!) But even a 12/14 I know is quite big in Japan right? Length wise I will be fabulous as I am a petite just about 5', in fact a 28inch leg length is too long for me still >.< Its the er... width xD Should I take loadsa clothes with me?

____________________________________

I'm not short, I'm fun sized ^_^

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maki
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Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
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Re: Clothing in Japan and working

You can get clothing in your size range these days in Japan, at least in urban areas. You do unfortunately have to shop in the "big size" departments of department stores and discount stores - the average size for adult women's clothes in Japan is 4-6 US, and size 8 is an L. (For young girls/fashions it's more like 0-2.) If you end up in a rural area you can always try mailorder sources too. However, clothing is more expensive in Japan than in the US or UK, so you'll want to pack a fair amount of basic clothing. It can be even worthwhile to have your family ship clothes to you, if you run out.

Finding employment could be tough. Unemployment rates in Japan are at an all-time post war high, and they are also cracking down quite severely on illegal overseas workers. Even legal ones are having a hard time. (One town even paid their legal Brazillian workers to go back to Brazil on condition they - and their children - never came back. Sad but true.) You'd need to speak Japanese for most kinds of employment. I hear that even getting teaching positions is tougher now - they used to take any kind of native speaker, but now school districts want people with teaching qualifications and such. You may be able to get a job teaching at a nighttime cram school (juku) for kids, or an English conversation school for adults.

In any case, in order to stay for an entire year you will most likely need either a working visa or a student visa.

I would suggest lurking around some expat forums and asking for advice there. (Warning: many of them are frequented by very disillusioned and bitter Japan-haters who can't wait to get back home ^_^;)

____________________________________

The Big Onigiri.

- Wherever you go, there you are. -

Leelee
Bento-ing from: Stevenage › UK
Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 21 weeks 2 days ago.
Re: Clothing in Japan and working

Thanks for the tips Maki, glad it won't be too hard to get clothes if need be haha! That was a major concern! But I will be sure to pack enough!

There's a working holiday visa I can get that I found out about, it was just whether there would be other options other than teaching. But I think I will do a TEFL course, it kind of makes sense as I can use it anywhere in the world then if I like.

My learning of the Japanese is going ok, struggling but I am sure I can get conversational before I go! I want to take a course out there though and have been looking around, as that is one of the reason I am going to Japan, to learn the language! I was inspired by Japanese movies and want to stop watching them with subtitles xD

I shall try and find some forums as well :-) Thanks!

Loretta
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Bento-ing from: London › UK
Joined: 4 Mar 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 9 weeks ago.
Re: Clothing in Japan and working

Just to add to Maki’s excellent advice,

If you are looking to work in Japan it would be worthwhile to sort yourself out with a few professional looking suits that you can wash and dry yourself but which remain looking smart (it might take time before you have the money to go to the drycleaners each time you want to launder them) – looking groomed and fresh and clean is extremely important, and can be very difficult in scorching humid summers, particularly when you are sharing a room in a chaotic household with little space to use an iron.
I’ll repeat this point as I can’t stress enough how difficult it can be to look poised and hygienic and alert and ‘genki’ on a warm rainy day or when it’s really mushiatsui (even winter brings its problems with high levels of static electricity making it difficult to tame and control fine hair). And yet these are some of the most important qualities that employers look for when hiring English speakers.

Take deodorant/anti-perspirant with you, the Japanese brands may seem very ineffectual compared to Western brands.

And don’t assume that because everyone is so slim in Japan that you will naturally lose weight just by ‘going native’ and eating the same food as everybody else. In urban areas there is often little difference in price between cooking just for yourself and getting an appetising ready prepared meal, either to assemble at home or as a menu set at a restaurant or noodle joint. In fact, eating out may seem more economical than making healthy meals with fresh produce. And then there’s the endless treats, candies, and the cakes and patisserie items. It’s hard to adjust to a new country (one of the reasons there are so many of those bitter disillusioned expats Maki mentioned) and comfort feeding helps with the stress and the sorrow. – I personally tend to put on a pound or two during my visits just because there is so much I want to try, yet I don’t particularly pig out, it’s because I find myself constantly nibbling at new and exciting foods and tidbits.

1,000yen an hour is a very common salary in Tokyo, and there are lots of people who earn this (or less). The employment market really is tough. Some people get by on this wage by living with their parents, but many more manage by working very long hours. Even if you do find jobs you might find it very difficult to earn more than 1,500yen an hour (just to give you an idea of how far that will go, you can reasonably expect to find lodging for around 20,000yen a week, and less than this is possible, particularly if sharing). If you can earn the equivalent of three months rent before you arrive in Japan (240,000yen) you should find the whole looking for work experience much less stressful.

Most programs about Japan have little to say about how tough it can be to make a living there. This is one of the few documentaries I've seen that shows this side of the country (even though I can't stand the director, the subject matter is strong enough to make the documentary worthwhile)
"Japan - A story of Love and Hate"
http://www.seanmcallister.com/php/japan.php

I'm not able to view videos on the computer I'm using, but you might be able to see the documentary here:
http://vimeo.com/11478536

maki
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Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
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Japan A story of love and hate

That documentary was well done, though like some movies (Midnight Express comes to mind) I never want to see it again. I did feel the maker's biases coming out sometimes in an annoying way. There are other documentaries of a far better quality being made these days in Japan (mainly on NHK) about the dark side of Japan if you will, but of course none of them get to be seen by non-Japanese-speakers. There was one in particular about young people with deep, long-term depression; for instanceone young man couldn't even bring himself to open the window shutters of his bedroom. It was really depressing but strangely uplifting too.

Any society has its good and bad sides. For instance, when people find out I'm living in Provence, many are like oh I'm so jealous, it must be wonderful and beautiful and you can get great locally grown produce there, etc. That's all true...but then you see villages with half the stores closed due to the economy, run down areas, and so on. Then, I also read someone complaining on their blog that "France is a terrible placel" because they felt unsafe in Marseille. Both the dreamy/romantic and "France is a terrible place" views are exaggerations - reality is both, and somewhere in between. It's the same with Japan.

maki
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Re: Clothing in Japan and working

I lost about 15 lbs (7 kilo) or so earlier this year in 3 months in Japan even though I was stuffing my face every single day, probably because of all the incidental exercise I was getting. Some of the Tokyo and Yokohama Metro stations are murder. The station near the hospital where my mother was in January had 5 flights of stairs to get up from the ticket booth level to the street. (though I did discover the elevator...)

Luce
Joined: 22 Aug 2010
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Re: Clothing in Japan and working

Hi Leelee,

As Maki said above, finding clothes in a good size can be difficult - but achievable! When I was Japan I was about a 14 (Australia, not too sure how that compares to a UK sorry). I did lose weight though. I found that Uniqlo was great for basics (plus it's relatively cheap!) and Zara, H&M and Top Shop tended to fit better than Japanese brands. I guess on the whole Western women tend to have bigger chests so the fit for tops with buttons or a bit of cleavage can leave you leave you looking a little...squished. Like you - I've got hips and a sizeable bum and eventually I could even buy pants there - not an easy task at home either! I've only ever been clothes shopping in Tokyo or Osaka though.

Oh also, I used to wear Japanese t-shirt dresses or just flowy type (short) dresses over jeans or shorts as a top!

Yep, you feel like a whale but even a few sizes down you'll still feel like one. Being a petite Japanese is something that only petite Japanese people can do!

So yeah, I actually lost weight and so did most of my friends. There's LOTS of stairs. Seriously LOTS. And you're always walking to and from a train station. Compared to my lifestyle there's a lot more incendental exercise. And in summer you'll just sweat it off :/

I do agree though, watch out for the sweets - they are more subtle and therefore maybe more appealing to your taste buds! But of course, eating all of the food you can get your hands is part of the living overseas experience.

I taught english at an eikaiwa (let me know if you want to know more). Moneywise I got by fine and I had to send money home to pay some loans too. By no means was I living like a king, but it's certainly do-able. The longer you're there you might feel more comfortable taking private students, that can be a nice side job for lots of reasons. You will DEFINITELY need substantial savings to get started though - you wont get your first pay for at least a month plus you will you will need to give over your first born for your accomodation (although, I guess that depends on what company you end up going with).

In terms of forums, I think that ithinkimlost (or something like that) is a friendly JET oriented forum. bigdaikon is also JET focused.
Gaijinpot is probably better for jobs than it's forum. Let's Japan also has an OK forum and job listings. A lot of people also swear by ohayosensei for job ads. A lot companies will definitely consider taking you without TEFL etc as long you're personable and have a degree (visa requirement).

Other jobs that people comonly do on a working holiday are hostessing, working at ski resorts or in hospitality. Volunteering on an organic farm (have you heard of the WOOF program?) is also really popular.

You will have a fantastic time!!! I look forward to keeping up with your journey :)

Leelee
Bento-ing from: Stevenage › UK
Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 21 weeks 2 days ago.
Re: Clothing in Japan and working

I am preparing to buy suits as we speak, graduating in the summer means I am going to need some whether I end up going to Japan or not! I've been lucky and my parents have always forced me to look very smart for job interviews, even ones for my small part time 'saturday' jobs. Pressed trousers, blouse, plain black shoes that sort of thing.

I didn't think about deodorant. I will make sure I stock up then!

God there is no way I would ever be as slim as a Japanese person! For one I would look really silly that way! Plus I like my bum and my hips xD But I am pretty sure I will adjust quite well to the food. For one I love veggies and fish. And I'm not a big eater of sweet things, nah uh. They're always too sweet, which is why if I eat a cake its normally one I have baked myself or mum has made so as its not too sweet. Though maybe a bit of dark chocolate now and again does go down rather well. And Pocky haha! I do expect to gain a bit at first as I try a bit of this and that, and work out cooking and stuff. Just like I did at uni for first couple months. But then soon settled and got into a routine and knew what to get and eat etc.

Money wise its sounding a bit like living in London, expensieve! That I did expect and I am saving (well trying) hella loads before I venture out there! I was going to do Australia and started planning that in my GCSE's (before watching any Japanese films) and worked out that working on farms and doing some bar work here and there would get me through. But with Japan it looks like it will be more of a challenge :D Especially if I wanna travel the country! But where there's a will there's a way!

And I could say the same thing about my hometown. When I tell someone I'm from Hertfordshire they're like oh how lovely, Posh and Becks live there, the Big Brother house, how glamerous. No, not really. Its horrible with shops shut everywhere and dirty and run down. Though Fairlands is quite nice. That's about it xD Everywhere has good and bad, I know that. Its all about perspective I guess and being realistic. I don't expect Japan to be perfect! Though I expect it to be slightly better than here >.<

Loretta
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Bento-ing from: London › UK
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Re: Clothing in Japan and working
Leelee wrote:

And I'm not a big eater of sweet things, nah uh. They're always too sweet, which is why if I eat a cake its normally one I have baked myself or mum has made so as its not too sweet.

Ooooh, you are in real danger! I suspect that the sweets and cakes in Japan, by being not nearly as sweet as the sweets in the UK, are going to be just to your taste…
Anyway, don’t say I didn’t warn you. :)

I wouldn’t say that Tokyo is as expensive as London, but it IS different. I think the point I was trying to make is that you can get by with very little because you wouldn’t be the only person needing to economise. As so many people earn less than 1,000yen an hour there’s a lot out there that will cater to them (alongside all the expensive things for people who earn big salaries). Prepared food in supermarkets or in restaurants will seem very cheap compared to England but cheap luxuries that we take for granted in the UK, like out of season fruit flown in from Africa or the Americas, or the Indian sweatshop ‘disposable’ fashion from stores like Primark will be more realistically priced. And without EU subsidies, home grown staples such as Akita rice and Nagano apples reflect what it costs to cultivate and distribute these goods in Japan. Although some do, Art Galleries won’t necessarily benefit from grants and lottery funding and are expected to pay their way yet there are schemes such as the gurutto pass making them accessible and cheap http://www.rekibun.or.jp/grutto/. And the cinema prices (something you might enjoy when you want a break as English language films are subtitled into Japanese) will also seem very steep – although there are deals like Ladies day which can help.
I think the secret to a successful year in Japan is to enjoy and celebrate the opportunities and not just dwell on what you don’t have or can’t afford. And, above all, have realistic expectations so that you don't become disillusioned and bitter.

Strange you should mention where you’re from. When my husband was young he hated being in Tokyo and left so he could go live and study… in Hertfordshire.
(He went back to Tokyo as an adult, was unhappy during his first year there and then gradually grew to love his hometown – a five year process)

Leelee
Bento-ing from: Stevenage › UK
Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 21 weeks 2 days ago.
Re: Clothing in Japan and working

Oh no you are joking! Bad times for me! I will just have to try and resist haha!

I see, well that's not so bad then, knowing lots of people will be in the same situation. Never thought about things like fresh fruit and veg that we have all year. Just have to make sure I'm seasonal, ok. Haha long check list I am developing! Cinema prices can't be too bad compared to here. I am already paying £8 for a ticket, which is why I don't go very often anyway. DVDs are my life. Oh God all my DVDs I don't think I could take them all with me! Never thought of that. And marmite! I may need to go to Makro and get a mega tub thinking about it. And even ration that tub.

I will try and think of it as being a student on a student budget for an extra year :D That should keep me grounded!

That is rather strange! There are some nice places and Uni of Herts is very good. Just, I think its because I live here, I see all the horrible things and the things that don't change etc. Out of curiosity where did he go in Herts?

heidi
Bento-ing from: NYC
Joined: 30 Jul 2010
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Re: Clothing in Japan and working

Leelee, your post reminded me of living in Ireland and England long ago, and the differences between those economies and what it's like here in the States.

Food, raw basic food, is so much cheaper here. Oh, and your eight quid for a film showing is expenseeev compared with the Harlem theatre we patronise which shows first-run films for something like 5 bucks. Meat, fish, eggs, veg, fruit, energy, everything we here enjoy costs less... for now.

That said, this isn't Japan, so ... as you were, LOL! :-)

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