Overstaying Your Visa in Japan Is an Incredibly Dumb Thing to Do

Okay, terrible confession time – I was an illegal human being for about ten days a few months ago. I had no idea and luckily I didn’t get stopped by any cops or anything.

I went to immigration to upgrade to the new foreigner card and the lady behind the counter’s eyes grew huge and she said, “You’ve overstayed!” and frantically whipped out a bunch of paperwork I had to do and return as soon as possible.

I spent the afternoon gathering the stuff I had to from the city and ward offices. I then filled out all of the necessary paperwork (they give you a temporary extension and then a new visa usually at the same time, so you have to fill out both documents).

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The Japanese Convini Is Where Your Dreams of Convenience Come True

Why do I love Japan so much? To be totally and horibbly honest, it’s the fact that at 3 in the morning I can go to the nearest brightly lit convini (convenience store) and buy a super noodle cup, a candy bar and a lemon chu-hi. The convini is there for me like a good, good friend that never lets me down.

Okay, maybe that’s not why I love Japan so much, but it certainly helps. In the US, your local convenience store has nothing but questionable taquitos rotating in a grisly slow death on a filthy grill and nachos whose cheese comes from a ‘bladder.’ Oh, not to mention liquid meth energy drinks and frozen pot pies. Continue reading

Gaijin Is a Racist Word

This is a topic I’ve never wanted to write about but now it seems like the time is right. If you live in Japan, people will call you gaijin. I’ve always accepted it and not cared much about it. I knew it had racial overtones and wasn’t a polite word, but I actually like my outsider status and I’m happy to be a non-Japanese.

The problem is that my kids get called gaijin. This is going to be a problem their whole lives and in a society where bullying is epidemic, it worries me a bit.

So, is the word gaijin a racist word? The answer is: Yes. Continue reading

The Longer You Teach in Japan, the Better It Gets

I just ran into a guy the other night that I used to work with many years ago at a crappy eikaiwa school. It was weird because I’d totally forgotten about that place, and just seeing him brought back all of this crazy trauma. It reminded me of an alien abduction movie I saw where the abductee has a flashback and curls up under a table at a party and sits there in a fetal position shaking.

I was like that guy under the table.

The eikaiwa was run by a madwoman who suffered from acute paranoia and thought everyone was stealing from her. She made my life a living hell for a good six months before I had enough and quit. Continue reading

Where to Stay in Japan

If you’ve visiting Japan and you need a place to stay, you’ve got two options:

  •  l  Stay with a friend in their shoebox-sized Tokyo apartment
  • l  Spend the cash and book a proper room in one of the country’s fine hotel facilities.

There are lots of lodging options in Japan and it can be confusing if you’re a first time visitor, so here’s a quick rundown.

Western-Style Hotels

Japan is full of western-style hotels and most of them are really nice. In fact, they’re too nice; you won’t find the cheapo-but-not-too-horrible hotels by the side of the highway. Most of these hotels are located in major cities and they cost an arm and a leg. However, the price is usually worth it. Service is guaranteed to be good and the amenities will rock. Continue reading