Moving to Japan!

I will be moving to Japan in a few months for the JET program. I am looking for any advice on what aspects of Japanese language I should focus on to survive everyday life in Japan. Anything would be helpful, Thanks!!


I mean, there’s nothing you actually need you could live your whole life and not know any Japanese there. But, I think the answer is pretty clear, just think of daily life and where you might have gaps in your knowledge. 定期券、振込、those are words I didn’t even think of before coming to Japan, but there are plenty of other more common things, like going to the store and the keigo you will hear at said store, that you should work through as well


Lots of folks are talking about the JET program here:

You can probably find some good advice in there.

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Food names, for when you’re shopping at the supermarket or convenience stores. Typical interactions with cashiers at aforementioned stores. If you’ve got allergies, then certainly learn to recognise allergen information on food packaging.

Street signs.

How to ask directions - and, possibly more importantly, how to understand the response.

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For general information, I would recommend reading some threads on reddit.
There are many people asking questions that you might be interested in.
There is also an AJET Facebook group for Incoming 2018 JETs.

Tofugu also has some JET guides.
Pretty good information.

For language, I think learning Hiragana and Katakana would help you a lot. Even if you don’t know what it means, at least you can spell it out.
If you need to know some words, a self introduction would be nice. You’ll be saying your introduction many times.
Please, thank you, excuse me, and I’m sorry are some useful phrases.

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As somebody else has said, everyday life in Japan without knowing much Japanese is not very hard. Especially if you’re on JET, it’s probable you will have a support network of JETs nearby that can help you out if you don’t know much. (Which can actually be frustrating if you are trying to improve your skills…). Not to mention your English teacher coworkers who may be able (and even willing!) to help you with various aspects of everyday life.

That being said, if you want to practice everyday language usage, focus on stuff like shopping and small talk. Make a simple jikoshoukai and memorize it. (“Nice to meet you, I’m so-n-so, I’m from blah-blah, I’m ___ years old, I like Spongebob squarepants, Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” etc.) You might even want to just pick up a Japanese phrasebook and start memorizing the stuff inside for practical purposes (travel, eating out, etc.). Take note of stuff you already do in your daily life and practice phrases associated with that in Japanese, because everyday living isn’t very different in Japan once you’re settled.

I’m currently on JET and about to finish my second year. Overall, I’d say the most important thing about learning the language here, at this stage, is simply understanding what’s going on around me, especially in the workplace. A close second is being able to form relationships with people. However, that’s something you can definitely work on while you’re here and don’t need to stress on before you make the trip. Your feelings and intent are more important than language skills when you make your first impression, so just buy some nice omiyage to give out and practice that self-introduction. :wink: And get to work early.

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