Archive for category Japan


Hiddens gems in Tokyo

Posted by on Wednesday, 7 December, 2005

OK, I’ve been a bit busy lately so I really haven’t had the time to update so much, but I will desperately try to get back to my old routine. I’d like to start off with a series of posts I’ve been thinking of doing a while now, and that is presenting some “hidden gems” in Tokyo, i.e. some places in Tokyo you might not be completely aware of (at least as a “regular” foreigner here).

FIrst up is Futagotamagawa, which is located by Tama River to the west of Shibuya. Go on the Tokyu Denen-chofuDen-en-toshi line (also the extension of Hanzomon-line; thanks for the heads up John!) from Shibuya a few stops (5 or so) and you’re there. Futagotamagawa is a rather fancy place to live in Tokyo (as far as places outside the Yamanote line go) and has a gorgeous town center, which lies mainly to the North of the train station. The main attraction here is a HUGE Takashimaya department store, consisting of five different buildings (four of them connected by walkways) with, among other things, the best food floor I’ve ever seen in a department store, a truly lovely Starbucks where you can sit outside on the roof terrace and enjoy a great view, and the best “Shoronpo” (小籠包) – Chinese steamed dumplings – in Tokyo, IMO.

For more information, go to Tamagawa Takashimaya homepage (in Japanese)

On the other side of the main street running along the station (i.e. on the station side) there are various shops and restaurants too. For example a Bagel & Bagel shop, a great Indian restaurant and an outdoor coffeeshop serving great smoothies!



Job searching in Japan Part 2

Posted by on Monday, 28 November, 2005

Here’s a follow-up post to my previous post on searching for a job in Japan. I intend to share some actual links to places of interest if you’re serious about working in Japan.

A third post with some more tips and comments more in the spirit of the first part will come in a while too, right now I don’t have the inspiration to write it though!

Anyway, here are some useful links to Internet resources for your Japan job-searching needs:

Recruitment firms:
Robert Walters
East West Consulting
Oak Associates
Panache (specializing in IT)

Online job listings:
Rikunabi Next
En Japan

General information:
Work in Japan
Terrie’s Job Tips
Jobs in Japan (Good for ELT jobs)


High-end audio at Book Off

Posted by on Wednesday, 9 November, 2005

Yesterday I went to Book Off again to browse through the various second hand goods. If you’ve never been to Book Off, I highly recommend it! It’s a big chain of second hand stores that can be found through out Japan.

In its most basic form it’s a place for second hand books, CDs and DVDs. The books are mostly (99%) Japanese, though!

However, recently, the bigger Book Off stores contain much much more than books, and that is why you can find some truly amazing deals there! For example, the one I usually go to in Kawasaki is really huge, and contains cloths, sports goods (golf clubs, surfing boards, skiis etc.), music equipments, audio/video equipment, computers, etc, etc.

Being a wannabe audiophile, I usually browse the audio section to see if they got any good cheap ampfliers and such. Yesterday was no exception, there was a ton of interesting looking stuff. Below you’ll find a sample of what I found yesterday. (Click to enlarge)

As you can see, there’s some truly esoteric stuff for sale in this seemingly normal and plain second hand shop, so I really recommend you to go there and have a look! In addition to those, they had a complete McIntosh setup (pre-amp, power-amp, speakers) for sale, but it was sealed behind plastic so I couldn’t take a photo of it.

By the way, if you’re looking for golf clubs, you can pick up a whole set of irons for anything between 5,000 and 70,000 yen. Lots of good looking sets for around 10,000!


Eating while hiding in the shadows!

Posted by on Sunday, 6 November, 2005

Now this is friggin sweet! NINJA is a ninja-themed restaurant in Akasaka, Tokyo. The food is served by ninjas, who also entertain by doing magic tricks etc. The interior is themed as old Japan with ninja houses, fortresses, secret passageways etc.

From the presentation of the interior:

Ninjas live for war.
So it is inevitable that they live in an environment
equipped as a fortress.


Ninjas lived in mountains and fields.
They lived in nature, with nature.
The interior of “NINJA” is nature itself, with waterfalls and ponds;
a sort breeze whispers and crickets chirp in the distance.
Diners forget time in this soothing environment.

(Via Japundit)


Job searching in Japan

Posted by on Saturday, 5 November, 2005

Well, as I promised in an earlier post, I will try to tell you a little bit about my experiences in searching for work in Japan, and perhaps give a few pointers to anyone who is interested. (Warning: Very long)

Basically, if you’re looking for a professional career in Japan there are a few choices, and also a few things that are pretty much beyond your control. First of all, I will not talk about how to become a traditional “ex-patriate,” i.e. sent out by a company in your home country to Japan for a limited time. Personally I am locally employed and have basically the same type of employment contract as any Japanese. Whereas your choices as a non-native Japanese might be limited, a company will probably be more interested in hiring you on a local basis compared with ex-pat basis due to the lower cost incurred.

How good is your Japanese? If it’s anything but “Very Good” to “Native level” than your choices immediately slim down to English teacher and….yeah… that’s about it, unless you are considering a “career” in being a hostess. Maybe I’m being overly harsh here, but in my experience, the only foreigners in the Japanese society who DON’T know Japanese are either ex-pat contracted personnel, English teachers and hostesses. Everyone else will have to know quite good Japanese for them to be competitive and qualify for “real” jobs. (No offence to all English teachers out there!!)

If you have any way of securing a job *before* going to Japan that is a great plus, since it’s hard to be in Japan with no job. Naturally, having a job before you arrive in Japan can be hard, unless you fall into the ex-pat or English teacher categories (JET programs etc.) so chances are you will be in Japan searching for a job while living officially as a student or something like that. Living costs being as high as they are, naturally this is a process that you’d want to short down to a minimum!

Personally, I have been in a job-searching position twice since I came to Japan in 2003 (before that I was only here on holiday or as a student). When I first arrived, I thought getting a job in Japan with my qualifications would be easy – but I soon found out it was far from a walk in the park! All jobs I found required “fluent” to “native” Japanese level (my Japanese was a bit rusty at the time) and having no prior work experience in Japan also didn’t do my case any good. Thankfully, through my family I knew a lot of people, who got me a few interviews, and finally, after two months I found a job working in a Swedish company. The company was active in an industry I had no interest in or knowledge about, but I couldn’t be picky so I took it.

The second time I was job searching was this summer/fall, when I was still employed – so the need to quickly find a new job was less immediate, but still stressful. This time around I was much better prepared! I prepared a traditional Japanese “work history” document which is often submitted together with a resume, detailing prior job experiences, I contacted two recruitment firms who I let search for jobs for me, and in the meantime I searched the various Japanese job-sites on the Internet. FInally, one of the two placement firms I had been in contact with managed to get me an interview with a highly interesting company, and after a few interviews the job was mine!

So, in summation, if you are going to be looking for a job in Japan, here are a few pointers:

* Study Japanese! In my experience, anything less than fluent (at least speaking) will count as a big negative in interviews. Often your Japanese will be tested by either having the interview in Japanese, or, if the interviewer is foreign, by bringing in a Japanese colleague to have a short conversation.

* If you’re not desperate for full time work, a good place to start is temp agencies. There are many temp agencies that will hire specialists for various tasks, ranging from secretarial work to IT-implementations.

* Use a recruitment company. Many of the good jobs go to professional recruiters only, and going thorugh one of these agencies is the only was to get to them. They will also do the actual job applying for you, so it’s also helpful in that aspect.

* Think twice before applying to a Japanese company. If your Japanese is not excellent, and you possess some unique skills, there is no reason for them to employ a foreigner. And a Japanese company WILL hire a native Japanese over a foreigner everytime unless you have something really special up your sleeve.

* Foreign companies in Japan is usually your best bet – often there will already be foreigners at the company, so they have showed that they are not totally against hiring foreigners. Further, if the official language within the company is anything else than Japanese, it will make your life much easier!

* Proper documents are a must, you should prepare a Japanese resume (履歴書), an English resume, and a Japanese work-history (職務経歴書). The English one can be written basically any way you want, but the Japanese ones follow rather strict guidelines. You can by templates in bookstores, or download Word/Excel ones from the Internet.

OK, I think that’s about it for now. If you have any questions, just leave it in the comment section. I will probably do a follow up post with some useful links in a few days, too.