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Expat Groups in Japan

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: June 2015

Japan has around 2.5 million foreign residents or citizens. More than half of these are Korean and Chinese, most of whom are highly naturalised. There are smaller numbers of other nationalities, especially in the major urban areas of Tokyo, Osaka-Kobe and Nagoya. In these cities, it should be quite easy to find other expats to meet.
Nevertheless, newcomers to Japan may find that coping with the differences in way of life and change in day-to-day pace proves considerably more difficult than anticipated. This can easily lead to confusion or even full-blown culture shock.
Forewarned is forearmed. You can combat the effects of this confusion by learning a little about your new place of residence before you leave home. These days, the most comprehensive source of information on any given country is undoubtedly the internet, especially expat websites such as www.expatbriefing.com. There are many / not many websites aimed at expats in Japan. Such websites can explain in detail how to deal with the difficulties you may face there. This will help to reduce the level of culture shock you feel when you arrive in the country.

Many of these websites include expat forums, such as our own Expat Brieifing. Forums such as this can put you in touch with Japan-based expats who will be able to offer you a wide variety of tips first-hand. This can be a way to forestall possible problems and perhaps make friends before you arrive in the country.

Certainly, the internet makes it much easier for individuals to stay in touch with friends and family they left behind in their home country. However, messaging, Skype and emails can only replace face-to-face interaction up to a point. In the larger cities, it is be possible to meet and get to know other expats in bars, clubs, restaurants and other similar public places. This can also help to alleviate the effects of culture shock.

There are also online expat groups that can help you to meet people. These offer you the opportunity to join regular social gatherings, meeting compatriots in a relaxed setting with the chance to pick up valuable tips on various subjects. Some of these online groups are general (rather like the people you meet in a pub), but most are more specific, that is, they are united by a common home country, language or particular interest. Further expat group listings for Japan can be on our Expat Groups page.

There is a comprehensive list of a range of forums and activities open to everyone living in Japan on the Meetup website, which covers a number of different cities and areas. Subjects include volunteering, various sporting activities and language lessons. There are also events for diverse groups such as photographers, gamers, singles, vegetarians and Japanese cuisine lovers.]Similarly, InterNations (https://www.internations.org/japan-expats/events) facilitates regular expat events in various locations throughout Japan, enabling individuals to meet and exchange views and information about life in Japan.

Other expat websites are designed for individuals from a particular country. Many expat groups are open to accepting expats from other countries but will usually require the individual to speak their mother tongue and to have experience of living in that country.




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