Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Japan Files ~ To Do List

So I already know that I’m going to Japan even though no date has been confirmed yet but in crossing into a new culture, there are definitely some things that I want to do while I’m there because who knows? I may not even like it. In fact, I may even be hit a little too hard with culture shock  so that all I'll want to do is come home…


Knowing myself, however, the chances of that being the case might be pretty slim. I can’t wait to stick my fingers in this culture that I’ve read and heard so much about so this will act as my Bucket List, plus or minus a few things that might crop up in the future…


Now if that isn't a Bullet Train...
Ride the Shinkanzen

Japanese trains are known for being one of the most punctual and efficient in the world. But this extends to Japanese people who consider it incredibly rude if you’re late. In actuality, people are often early as oppose to just 'on time' and I guess it indicates a show of respect. That said, the trains that run along this sophisticated construction are known as some of the fastest trains in the world. Known for their speed, comfort and safety (and also, for the expense), I’ve got to get on one of these at least once (or twice), especially considering that I’m going to want to jump ship and visit other cities and prefectures.

Locate a Love Hotel

These establishments were born in Japan during the Edo period and are nowadays primarily of use to couples who are seeking a bit of “alone time”. In Japan, it isn’t uncommon for people to stay at home with their parents after university whereas in the west, we are encouraged to find a place of our own. More often than not, people don’t want to bring their romantic interests into their parents’ house so they head to these little boutique-style destinations for a little privacy. I’ve heard they’re hard to find because of their discreet nature but I’m sure I’ll come across one at some point.

Go to a theme park

Tokyo Disneyland. Universal Studios. Nagashima Resort. I love me a good theme park. Rollercoasters are win and the faster and taller the rollercoaster, the better. I feel like a kid again whenever I enter these establishments and they’re general good for a day out with friends. So in the interest of being truly ‘genki’ for a day, I think I’ll have to find my way to one of these

Visit an Onsen

The ‘hot spring’ (or public bath) is something I’d love to try, especially one that’s outdoors. It’s general used as a means of relaxing as well as its appeal to tourists (like myself…sorta) but a lot of them have strict ‘no tattoos’ policies because in Japan, a tattoo is often associated with criminals. Considering that I have a tattoo smack bang in the centre of my back, this might be a problem. But I have read that some foreigners have managed to enter into onsen irrespective. Maybe people are more forgiving of foreigners with tattoos? Hopefully…

Eat Japanese Japan

It’s one thing to eat Japanese food in the UK, but I’m pretty certain that eating Japanese food in Japan will be a completely new experience altogether. And there’s a lot I want to try as well. Okonomiyaki, ramen, soba, tenppanyaki, dango, sushi, oyakodon and stuff I haven’t even heard of yet. I’ll give most of it a go.

Visit a Temple or Shrine

I don’t know too much about these establishments but I do know that they are often the embodiment of religion or ritual and that they’re to be respected. Perhaps similar to the equivalent of walking into a church or a mosque. Therefore, as a crucial part of Japanese culture, I would like to visit one and of course, offer up a prayer. A lot are often still steeped in history meaning that they’re quite stunning to behold. Shame about the no photography rules though.

Going hard - Japan Style
Paint the town red

I haven’t been out properly in London for quite some time but I’ll have never been out and experienced the night life in Japan either. So I intend to find a club out there somewhere and shake a leg. I’m not much of a drinker so I don’t know how that will bode well with other people. I’ve heard that Japan is a lot like England in that sense ~ a big drinking country. But more often than not, if I don’t want any more to drink than I won’t have any more to drink. Dancing however? That’s another ball game. As long as the music is good, I can stay on the dance floor all night. So J-pop clubs and Hip Hop clubs, here I come.

Go to a Karaoke bar

Even though it’s uncertain, it is generally believed that karaoke was born in Japan and in fact it’s still a popular form of entertainment today. I think I’ve only done karaoke publicly once in the UK but in Japan, I’ve heard that you can rent a booth with friends and sing the night away. I fully intend to give my vocal chords a good work out at some point during my time in Japan.

Befriend a local

I have a couple of Japanese friends already and I’m currently in correspondence with some foreigners like (and unlike myself) who are currently working out there as well. But what’s an extra friend of two to help you get around a bit. I know this is going to be a bit difficult considering that I can’t speak a lick of conversational Japanese at the moment, but I think it would be cool to make friends with a local. I’m quite reserved in nature but not trying to make friends would be very stupid of me.

Visit Tokyo

Japan’s capital city. It’s only right that I visit this place. I already know that I won’t be living in it and that’s fine really.It’s known as potentially the most expensive place in Japan. Nonetheless, I’ve just got to go there. Roppongi. Harajuku. Akihabara. Tsukiji Market. The Ghibli Museum. These are just some of the places that others have told me to stop by and visit. So I’m definitely gonna get my Tokyo fix.

Locate a Host Club

As an extension of the above, host clubs are places where men and women go to laugh and drink the night away in the company of an attractive stranger. Sounds a bit suspect, doesn’t it but they’re quite popular. It is the job of “hosts” and “hostesses” to keep their patrons entertained by pouring drinks, flirting, lighting cigarettes…etc, and they’re paid dependant on sales generated. I have heard it said however that some of these places are Yakuza run so while I want to locate one, going inside one mightn’t be an option.

Learn some Japanese

I’ve always been of the mindset that if you’re going to live in another country than you should bloody well learn the language. And even though I know the odd word and phrase, I couldn’t have a conversation in Japanese to save my life. So I’ve got to make a conscious effort to get some Japanese under my belt. And when I’m out there, I’ve got no excuse really.


So yes, these are a but a few things I'd like to tick off during my time in Japan. Some of them are a sure thing; others may be a little bit harder. 

In a way though, as I look back at this list, I realise I'm looking at Japan from a tourists perspective so I'll say it again, it still doesn't feel like it's sunk in that I'm moving to Japan. I'm aware that I'm going to have to take my entire life here in London and convert it into some form of Japanese standard, but I guess all I can do is cross that bridge when I come to it.


  1. Hi Melissa!

    My name is Tom and I am in EXACTLY the same boat as you it seems!

    Interviewed with PKC in London on the 27th last month and was offered the job with no official start date confirmed as of yet. Obviously hoping for the earlier (November) training start!

    Hope all your paper work has gone well. I'm still waiting on one measly document to include with my CRB application before I can send it off to them.

    I'll try and keep up with your blog as our situations are uniquely identical!

    All the best,


    1. Hi Tom,

      Now this is interesting as I also interviewed on the 27th. Small world, it seems.

      I actually had to pop in to the recruitment office today because the Criminal Records Bureau wouldn't accept one of my docs. (I find this strange because I've done CRBs before :/ but such is life)

      Everythings sorted on my end now though and I, too, am hoping for a November start so who knows? Our paths may cross during training. :)