10 years in Japan - my thoughts

Just some of my thoughts.




This entire post is another reason for me to buckle down on my studies and get off the forums.
Thank you for the reality check.


Well… here we are.


… are you in the mafia?


Sheepishly raises hand.

For real, though, great post. Glad you were able to reflect on your experience and condense it into some useful advice!


I’m talking 10 years ago before the internet and WaniKani existed when people communicated through carrier pigeon and had to read actual books and write notes and shit


Yeah I think its easier now. Plus I’m more motivated to learn kanji as opposed to go clubbing in Shibuya.


It sounds like you’ve had an AMAZING life in Japan! I’ve taught in Japan for a few years, and in 2021, my husband and I are moving back. Would you have any advice for my husband (who does not know Japanese) landing a non-teaching job?

Also, this was so motivational to read! I’d tried (with little success) to learn Japanese through self-study for about five years before Wanikani. (I’m so glad I found this.) But like someone else said, this reminds me to get my butt off and study!



Oh! That’s so familiar! I am in Japan for two years now, I thought 1-2 years would be enough to learn the language naturally. No, with Japanese it’s just not working. Especially when you are full time working in english environment :pensive: Japanese is hard!!!

Although I found helpful to have a Japanese friends who do not speak English much, you have no choice but to train your conversational skills


Yeah that’s true, here I’d almost forgotten that the internet came along in 2009.


@Elbereth00 I’m not sure what you and your husband are doing now, but to be brutally honest I think employment prospects for someone who doesn’t speak Japanese are quite low. Unless your current workplace is transferring you to Japan for work, or you’re exceptionally qualified (C-level) I think you have the following options:

  • Work as a model (can range anywhere from a few hundred a month to $7500 a month). This is not stable but if you’ve “got it” you can make a pretty decent living. I did this for a while and know several friends who have continued to do it for years. This is precarious work and your visa will likely never be longer than 6 months (1 year max).

  • Work as a teacher. This can be English, or any other subject you are qualified to teach. If you are in an eikaiwa, you’ll likely get below 400,000 a month. I have no idea what private school teachers make but I suspect the qualifications are more strict.

  • Work as a recruiter. This is certainly the most potentially lucrative type of work. You don’t need to have Japanese (although its of course a bonus) because you’ll be scouting native Japanese speakers who have a high command of English. This can be exhausting, grinding work, but if you luck out with the company/team/coworkers and some other stuff, you can do really well. People who stick with this and get good at Japanese in the meantime can transfer to in-house HR/recruiting positions at big companies (Amazon, Google, etc) if they’re good.

Hope this helps!


Yes never forget that.


Thank you for.the insight!


Wow, I’ve been in Japan for 10 years too, and I can say this is all painfully familiar. (I went directly to the Master stage, though).

Honestly, the only thing that really saved me was to do my PhD in a university with active research on teaching Japanese as a second language. For 6 months, I was a guinea pig enrolled in their experimental teaching program (sadly in the control group, but it was awesome nonetheless), and my Japanese was bootstrapped enough that I could really start to enjoy native content (I got to N2 level, specifically). It slowly snowballed up to my current level.


That’s how Passione works


Teach me your ways.


No arguments there. I can only imagine the breadth of materials now has made learning after work more efficient and less exhausting than it would have been even a decade ago.


Obviously, that was just extreme levels of luck. I guess enrolling in an intensive course could work, but that’s a time investment I would not be able to afford right now (and neither can you, I guess).

For media consumption, I just take full advantage of the 100yen section of the nearest book-off, plus YouTube videos for listening (and a bit of Tsutaya for movie rental).


For the overwhelming majority of people who emigrate, it’s just more comfortable, or even natural to associate with other foreigners who speak their own language, or something closer to it. That’s the usual recipe for not ever achieving fluency in that language. I’ve known Japanese people who’ve been living here for over 30 years and can barely make themselves understood.

I would not have expected job environments to work the same way, though, so your story comes as a surprise. Being forbidden to speak the country’s native language at work sounds extremely harsh for someone who wants to fit in.

Even though Japanese is much harder to those whose native languages are not in any way similar to Japanese, whether gramatically of phonetically, I would dare say if you had had a different, completely immersive experience in Japan, your level right now, at least conversationally would be different. WK would probably still be useful, though.


It would be interesting to know the differences. Is your mother tongue linguistically close to English ? Did you drop it completely once in Canada and was surrounding only by English ? Did you ever pinpoint what was the major factor that allowed you to start speaking so fast in English starting from scratch ?

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