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According to statistic, anywhere from one to two million people visit Japan per month, and more foreigners are working and living here than ever before. That’s a lot of people hopping a plane over, and especially if yours is a one-way flight, preparing yourself mentally before you arrive in Japan is just as important as the physical things you pack with you in your suitcase.

Think you’ve done all your research when it comes to the Land of the Rising Sun? Check out this video on five things you should know before making the big move.

Rachel and Sharla are no newbies to Japan. Both of them have about five years each of experience with the country and language under their belts. After getting through the initial culture shock and finding ways to lead productive and happy lives here, they’ve got a new video for you about things they wish someone had told them before settling down.

1. Learn basic everyday phrases

One nice thing about the Japanese language is that many situations have set responses. When you meet someone for the first time or ask a favor you’ll usually say, “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu,” or when leaving work before everyone else it’s a good idea to excuse yourself by saying, “Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu.” But for those without a good handle on these phrases, they can be somewhat troublesome, like when Sharla told us she used to mistakenly parrot back the customer greeting of “Irasshaimase!” (“Welcome!”) after stepping into a store. A good command of basic everyday phrases before you arrive in Japan will help you out tremendously, even if you’re only a beginner.

2. Prepare yourself for summers in Japan

While Japan doesn’t get quite as hot and humid as other tropical countries like Vietnam and Singapore, the heat can still be very intense and off-putting.

With the recent energy conservation campaigns to reduce air conditioning use, and the fact that most Japanese consider wearing tank tops and other shoulder-baring shirts as an outer layer to be in poor taste, inadequate planning could lead to a miserable three or four months out of the year. Fortunately we’ve got some tips on how to survive summer here.

3. Stock up on daily necessities and clothing items before you come

With around 96 percent of the population ethnically Japanese, there’s not a lot of variation in beauty products for different skin and hair types, nor for clothing. We’re not so sure about the accuracy of Sharla’s claim that many stores sell garments in just two sizes or offer “one size fits all” bras, as that’s not the case in our experience. However, we do agree that finding shoes can be a hassle if you have over a women’s 24.5-centimeter (US 7.5) or men’s 27 (US 9) size foot.

In any case, even when you do manage to find stores catering to your needs, the selection probably won’t be as great and prices are likely to run you two to three times what you’re used to back home.

4. Accept that Japanese society might be less accommodating than what you’re used to back home

Going out to eat? Good luck trying to order your salad without tomatoes or getting an extra packet of ketchup for your fries. In Japan food comes the way it’s listed on the menu, which can be difficult for visitors with allergies or special diets.

Japanese are usually just as rigid when it comes to following rules that have been set in place, and there’s not much wiggle room. This inflexibility may seem somewhat cold at first, but it ensures that everyone is playing by the same book and receiving fair treatment.

5. Using a IC card for public transportation

Using IC cards like Suica and Pasmo when riding public transportation, instead of a paper ticket, means you don’t always have to calculate the cost of where you’re going beforehand. Pre-paid IC cards are available and re-chargeable at most stations, come with extra perks like a slightly discounted fare, and are useable as a form of payment at some stores and vending machines. Not only will you blend in with the locals by using one, but you’ll be doing the environment a favor, too.

If you’re planning to visit or move to Japan in the future, we definitely recommend you take note! For those of you that have visited or are currently living in Japan, let us know if you’ve got something to add to the list!

Source: YouTube/Rachel & Jun via Lakatan
Feature/top image:  YouTube/Rachel & Jun