Jobs – Japan

Detailed Guide To Buying A Japanese Rail Pass

For this article, we’re going beyond the typical Pasmo or Suica cards used for daily public transport in Japan. The JR Pass encompasses the Tokyo Metro (Yamanote Line), plus so much more like the Narita Express or even bus and ferry lines. 
Background on the JR Pass
The JR Pass is a joint offering by six companies that make up the Japan Railways Group (JR Group), namely, JR East, JR West, JR Central, JR Hokkaido, JR Shikoku, and JR Kyushu. There are three other operating companies in the group that offer other services like freight, research, and information technology. The group’s goal is to make travel throughout the whole of Japan more economical and convenient. 
Here’s a breakdown of the JR Group’s service regions for reference

JR Pass rules, disclaimers and qualifications
Gone are the days when JR Passes can only be purchased from abroad, whether online or through an agency or sales office. Today, you can reserve and buy tickets online, domestically or internationally. When purchasing from outside Japan, you are first given an exchange certificate which will be converted into your JR Pass upon arrival. You can check out the purchase methods here. 
Take note that a JR Pass needs to be activated (at the airport or most train stations), marking day 1 of the ticket’s duration. You’re not allowed to pause in between days, so it’s best to finalize your itinerary before purchasing a ticket. 

There are certain conditions to remember before purchasing a JR Pass, such as the “Nozomi” and Mizuho” trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo, and Kyushu Shinkansen Lines not being eligible for the rail pass or the type of visa the purchaser is holding. 
According to the JR Group, the JR Pass is a special fare ticket only available to travelers visiting Japan from abroad for sightseeing. Therefore, you must have a Temporary Visa entry status, allowing you to stay in the country for 15-90 days for purposes like sightseeing. 
Here’s the sample “Temporary Visa” entry status stamp required for your JR Pass to become valid. 

There’s another eligibility requirement for Japanese living abroad who want to purchase a JR Pass for a tour in Japan. Full details can be found here. 
JR Pass types and prices
Now that you’re acquainted with the rules and disclaimers, here’s a breakdown of the ticket types and corresponding costs. For those with the Temporary Visitor visa status, there are three types of JR Passes to choose from, further categorized by the user’s age and the seat type (ordinary for standard seats or green for more spacious seats, much like traveling in first-class).
For those purchasing a nationwide JR Pass online or at a ticket office in Japan, here are the types of passes and the price. 

Here are the prices for those purchasing overseas and getting an exchange certificate first.

How to choose the JR Pass for you
Based on the map mentioned earlier, it’s easy to get confused about which JR Pass to get, whether the nationwide one that costs almost ¥30,000 for a week or a more specific ticket that’s cheaper. If your itinerary covers Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, then the nationwide pass covering JR East, Central, and West is your best option. This allows you to make changes and explore any other part of Japan as well. 
However, if you are visiting a particular region, you can either pick one of the three regional passes:

or only a part of a region:

You also have the passes that link different JR regions, such as the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass, Osaka-Tokyo-Hokuriku Arch Pass, or Sanyo-San’in Northern Kyushu Pass. 
Some of the regional passes mentioned above cost half of the nationwide version, giving you extra savings, as long as it covers your sightseeing itinerary. Many JR Passes also offer unlimited rides on the JR local trains, buses, ferries, and private railways along the route, so you don’t need to purchase extra tickets!
You can check out JR Pass’ official website for more details.
JR Passes for foreign residents
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and tourists entering Japan becoming non-existent, the JR Group had to change its business model to focus on the local population, making the passes available to foreign residents regardless of visa status. For example, JR East made the Tohoku Area Pass and Nagano-Niigata Area Pass available to foreign residents. 

The JR Kansai Wide Excursion Pass soon followed, costing only ¥10,000 for a three-day ticket. The JR Passes available to foreign residents vary based on the region and can only be purchased within a specific period, so it’s best to check travel guides to confirm availability. 
With Japan finally opening up borders to tourists, you might soon need some transport methods. Meanwhile, those who’ve been in Japan and need some time to recharge away from the city are in luck because they can do so without purchasing the ultra-expensive one-way shinkansen tickets. Hopefully, the guide above helped! 

Hana Otsuka
Hana is a freelance writer, finance analyst, and chef who pursues various hobbies. She aspires to be a philanthropist who helps out others in any way she can.More articles by Hana Otsuka

5 Tips for a Successful ALT Interview

For many native or near-native English speakers, working as an assistant language teacher (ALT) is one of the most popular ways to get a taste of life in Japan. Positions are available across the country, numerous companies can sponsor visas, and generally no Japanese ability is required. However, before booking a flight or moving homes, it’s necessary to dazzle at the all-important interview. If you’re looking to move to Japan or simply change employers, use these 5 tips to increase your chances of getting hired for an ALT position.
1. Dress Professionally
Or, put another way, be sure to follow the Japanese office dress-code. While many offices outside of Japan may be flexible and provide more opportunities for self-expression through fashion choices, Japanese work environments prefer a more standardized approach:
Men are expected to show up to interviews, in person or online, in a pressed and fitted suit with a neutral patterned tie. Facial hair can be considered unprofessional in Japan, but should be acceptable as long as it is closely trimmed with clear boundaries. Be aware that long hair on men is rarely acceptable, with some companies offering a position contingent on agreeing to a shorter hair style.
Women should wear a neutral colored blazer, skirt, and pressed dress shirt. Dyed hair is acceptable for anyone as long as it is a natural shade. Additionally, tattoos should be fully covered, jewelry kept to a bare minimum, and strong perfume or cologne should be avoided. By following the standard dress-code prior to being briefed will indicate to the company that the applicant can easily blend into a Japanese work environment.
2. Listen Well
If you’ve made it to the interview stage, it is likely that your chances of being accepted into the company are good. This means that the school has almost enough information about you to feel comfortable offering a contract. Keeping this in mind is critical because Japanese interviews are not conversational. All questions should be answered succinctly. In most cases, the interviewer will be speaking the most, explaining the ins and outs of the position, and simply ask the applicant clarifying questions. Dominating the conversation, going on tangents, or speaking too colloquially are surefire ways to weaken an application.
3. Express goals within the company
“Where do you want to be in five years?” is a common interview question. However, the optimal response may change depending on the culture. Japanese companies still expect full commitment from their potential employees despite the decline of lifetime employment and the fact that English teaching contracts are generally one to two years. It’s tempting to slip into a narrative that expresses high ambitions and motivation, but many Japanese employers do not appreciate applicants who plainly state that their goal leads them to eventually leave them. Instead, they want to hear interest moving up in their school and the willingness to learn from their current staff and resources. While transparent communication is looked upon positively, this is more of a values difference when approaching employment that applicants should keep in mind.
4. Only ask follow-up questions
Nearing the end of the interview, the interviewer will ask what questions you have about the position, school, or company. Asking for clarification on something touched upon during the interview is in-bounds, but there are numerous questions that should be avoided. It’s not the end of the world to ask about visa sponsorships, benefits, or relocation options, however, this information should have been found on their site or requested during a correspondence prior to the interview. Arriving to the interview well-informed and therefore asking astute questions will help you stand out from the crowd.
5. The interview ends when you arrive home
This piece of advice is applicable to interviews of any sort in any location, but is especially true in Japan: as soon as you step out of the house to go to the interview, imagine that each person you pass by is somehow affiliated to the school. Schools are incredibly large networks and it is likely that you will be seen by someone connected to the school without you noticing. News of poor behavior prior to or after the interview may quickly get reported to potential employers and swiftly kill an application.
When in work clothes, you are seen as a representative of the company, even if you’re only a prospective employee. Therefore, try to greet or at least appear friendly to everyone you meet. Passersby as you wait to be called into the meeting room, students, parents, everyone. This is your chance to establish yourself as approachable to both students and staff alike, which will make you far more memorable when it comes to decision time.

How to deal with difficult Japanese colleagues

Working in Japan can be a new and exciting experience. But adjusting to a different country’s work style can also be a challenge! You may face difficulties you have never encountered in your previous country. Why does my co-worker never talk to me? Did I do something wrong? Why are my ideas being ignored?
Here we discuss some common issues you may face with Japanese co-workers and how you can resolve them!
Common problems with foreign workers
You may have noticed that some of your bosses or co-workers seem to resent working with international people. A recent study by employment agency, Persol Group, highlighted the top complaints Japanese mangers have with foreign workers:

Foreign workers are too assertive
They demand salary raises
They have little loyalty to the company
The learning curve for their position is long and slow

Communication barriers
If you came to Japan to improve your language skill, you may be keen to practice with your co-workers. But bear in mind even if you are an advanced learner, things may still be lost in translation.
If your co-workers are English speakers, try double-checking in both Japanese and English to ensure understanding. If you are doubtful that the message is coming across, take the time to be very, very clear. Mistakes are forgiven in Japanese companies, but it will take a while before they fully trust you again.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to talk in Japanese! Many Japanese people are nervous about speaking in English. They are afraid of making mistakes and embarrassing themselves. But, if you demonstrate that you are willing to make errors in Japanese, they will be more comfortable talking to you in English. Even if you are not an advanced speaker, your Japanese coworkers will appreciate your effort.
Cultural miscommunication
Japanese workers prefer to avoid conflict. That’s why Japanese people are usually very indirect when trying to communicate problems. Sometimes a criticism may be cleverly disguised.
For example, one scorching summer day, I wore a light shirt to cope with the heat. My Japanese co-worker and fellow teacher mentioned “Oh! That shirt you are wearing… It has a very *light* texture… a very *interesting* material…”. I was pretty pleased with her compliment until I realized her true meaning. The shirt material was ever-so-slightly transparent and therefore inappropriate for school.
Other workers may mention “You must take so much time to do your make up!”. This actually means “You are wearing too much make up”. So, it is important to understand the inference when communicating with Japanese workers. A casual comment may have a subtle double-meaning.
Attitude is Everything
You probably already know the importance of a ‘genki’ attitude in the workplace. Part of your role is to help maintain a positive atmosphere at work. Of course, everyone has their bad days, but your Japanese co-workers will be upset if you continually bring the down the mood every day.
Although this may sound like ‘toxic positivity’, it is important to understand that being genki is part of the group mentality of Japanese culture. An upbeat, enthusiastic attitude helps support the whole team. So, try your best to help in any way and keep the complaining to a minimum. Ganbare!
Traditionally, drinking parties (nomikai, 飲(の)み会(かい)) were common in Japanese working culture. Nomikai can be a casual drink after work, or a formal event. The atmosphere is more relaxed because the environment is away from the office (and alcohol is involved!). drinking parties are a good opportunity to get to know your bosses and coworkers better.
Due to the current Covid restrictions, nomikai are less common. Also, many younger companies in Japan are unenthusiastic about drinking parties, as younger generations are drinking less alcohol.
So how can you bond with your Japanese colleagues? Look out for other social events at work. Lots of companies hold barbeques, golf trips or sight seeing excursions for employees. These events are a great opportunity to build relationships with your coworkers. You can also get some healthy fresh air at the same time!
We hope this gives you some hints for smooth social interaction and how to avoid tension in the office. If you are interested in knowing more about working in Japan, please browse our helpful articles at Jobs in Japan.

We Built A Fashion Studio in Tokyo | with Pio

On this episode I’m speaking with Pio, who is a partner at House Tokyo, a new all-service fashion design studio in Tokyo. I love her story because it shows that no matter where you come from, if you start with a humble attitude and a willingness to learn, you can build something really awesome in Japan. I hope you enjoy this conversation.
Check out House.Tokyo and on Instagram.
Timestamps:00:00 Intro01:01 Why did you join House Tokyo?02:07 How did House Tokyo start?03:45 Were there any difficult regulation barriers?05:12 What’s your background and why Japan?06:03 What’s unique about Japan fashion?07:10 What surprised you starting House?08:34 What has gone into starting House?09:30 Was it hard to make a factory?10:40 How did you get the money together?11:58 What do you attribute your success to?13:24 How do you convince people to work with you?14:29 What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in Japan?
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5 Essential Keigo Phrases You Need to Know to Work in Japan

“Keigo” – it’s the single most terrifying word to Japanese language students (after “kanji,” of course). Put simply, keigo (敬語(けいご)) is a speech style that shows deference to those of higher status. It’s a rather complex but somewhat formulaic system; while it is at first daunting, it is likely that learners will hear and pick up on many key phrases simply through exposure to Japanese work environments. Most Japanese co-workers will not expect their foreign counterparts to know the ins and outs of keigo, especially since many Japanese study it themselves. However, properly using keigo will undoubtedly soften your speech and be appreciated by others.
Here are five essential phrases to politely communicate at work:
1.「恐(おそ)れ入(い)りますが」“My apologies, but…”
This is technically a kenjō phrase, meaning it indicates your low status in comparison to the listener, and can be used to soften a request. Often, the following request may take time, effort, or consideration to be completed. Opening your request with a line such as osore-irimasuga acknowledges the trouble the other must go through, and the speaker’s appreciation. This phrase should come in handy especially when starting a new job, where reports and projects may require approval by your superiors.
「恐(おそ)れ入(い)りますが、表(ひょう)の数字(すうじ)をご確認(かくにん)いただけますか?」 = “I’m sorry to take up your time, but could you check the numbers on the chart for me?”
2.「都合(つごう)がつかないため」 “I’m not available”
Textbooks often teach students 「都合(つごう)が悪(わる)い」 or the simple 「ちょっと…」 to indicate that a proposed time doesn’t work. While both options can be used quite liberally across different situations, switching out 悪(わる)い (literally “bad”) for つかない elevates the expression. Because of the addition of ため at the end, meaning “because,” a suggestion for another time or date would be expected.
「都合(つごう)がつかないため別日(べつび)でお願(ねが)いします」 = “Because I’m not available (at that time), let’s find another day.”

3.「時間的(じかんてき)な余裕(よゆう)がないため」 “I don’t have time to spare”
Though the English translation of this phrase may not allude to its polite nuance, it is used to state that there isn’t any space time for a new project, an extra lesson, or an impromptu meeting that could be an e-mail. As with number 2 above, the ため at the end means that there should be a follow-up sentence.
「恐(おそ)れ入(い)りませんが、今日(きょう)は時間的(じかんてき)な余裕(よゆう)がないため、アミさんのレッスンを明後日(みょうごにち)にしていだだけないでしょうか。」= “My apologies, but because I don’t have any spare time today. Would you be able to put Ami’s lesson for the day after tomorrow?”
「スケジュールに余裕(よゆう)がない」 can be used as an alternative phrase.
4.「ご指導(しどう)いただけませんか」 “Could you please provide guidance?”
Starting at a new job in Japan or in a department means a lot of new things to learn. Rather than a somewhat blunt, “I don’t know about ___, can you tell me?” 「〜知(し)らないので、教(おし)えてください」, 「___をご指導(しどう)いただけませんか」admits lack of knowledge and politely requests assistance in one fell swoop.
「資料(しりょう)の作成方法(さくせいほうほう)をご指導(しどう)いただけませんか?」= “Could you provide some guidance on how to make the materials [pamphlets, documents, etc.]?”
5.「不勉強(ふべんきょう)で申(もう)し訳(わけ)ありません」“I apologize for my lack of knowledge/study”
「わかりません」wakarimasen “I don’t know/I don’t understand,” is probably one of the most common phrases uttered by new foreign employees as rarely is it expected that new comers enter with a vast set of knowledge. Using 「不勉強(ふべんきょう)で申(もう)し訳(わけ)ありません」adds weight and functions as an appropriate apology for the inconvenience not comprehending may cause in a work environment. It can easily be used as a stand-alone phrase.

Buying and registering a used bicycle in Japan

Unlike other countries like Singapore, where bicycles don’t need to be registered, owning a bike in Japan entails a far more detailed process than just paying the amount shown on the price tag. 
Who can own bicycles in Japan?
As long as you have a registered address in Japan or a zairyu card (residence card), even if temporary or for a short-stay period, you can own a bike. Upon purchasing a new or used bike, you will need these for documentation or registration purposes. Other than those things, you’re good to go in accessing this essential transportation method. You can also opt for an even more temporary bike through rental services, which will be discussed later. 

How and where to buy a bike in Japan
Buying a brand new bicycle in Japan is pretty straightforward if you get it from a shop. You pick out the bike that you want and inform the staff of your intent to purchase. They will also recommend the best bicycle for your height and riding lifestyle (whether for daily commute or off-road trekking).
You often have to present an ID and fill out a registration form called jitensha bouhan touroku. The registration form is submitted to the police for filing by the bike shop on your behalf. The staff gives you the original copy of the bike’s ownership form, a yellow sticker of registration which you put on the bike frame, the keys to the lock, and other forms such as discount coupons for future maintenance services. It costs about ¥500 to register a bicycle through a shop.
Your other option is to purchase one online from Amazon or Rakuten. This method is more convenient wherein you don’t need to browse and fill up forms, although you will still need to register your bike at the nearby police station. If you don’t get the yellow registration sticker, you will need to get one at the police station. 
Then you have the second-hand option, which is equally popular in Japan given the rapid turnover of short-stay individuals. You can get terrific bike deals online through sites like the Facebook group Tokyo Sayonara Sale or Mottainai Japan. There are many of these groups in Facebook but I included some links to get you started. The first group is for buying and selling, while the latter is strictly for giving away so you can get your hands on some wheels for free! 
You can even find some branded bicycles that would otherwise be sold for over ¥100,000 for far less. With some patient window shopping through the page listings, you can come home with a “new” pair of wheels at a fraction of the cost.
The only thing to consider with taking the second-hand approach is transferring the bike’s registration over to you. Those selling their bikes often mention in the listing if they can accompany you to the same bike shop or police station for the transfer. Otherwise, you will need to get the details from the owner and go through the process yourself. 

Discarding a used bicycle in Japan
Now that we’ve covered how to buy and register a bicycle, let’s tackle disposing of the item, in case you’re planning to upgrade or let go of your bike. 
I have a friend who wanted to get rid of his really old bicycle quickly and thought he could leave it in some deserted space in Tokyo (this approach is not advised). So, even though his bike is already considered trash, somehow, a few days later, the police came knocking on his door with his bicycle in tow. 
There is a right way of disposing of a bicycle in Japan. They fall under the oversize trash or sodai gomi category, along with furniture. You can’t just dump a bike along with the weekly trash schedule, though. For this, you need to contact your municipality’s “Oversize Waste Reception Center” to arrange a special pickup service for a fee of about ¥800. You can find more details here.
Another option is to contact companies that get rid of bulky trash for you and are usually more foreigner-friendly because they can often speak English, unlike going through the municipal approach.
Of course, if your bike is still in good condition and you no longer need it, you can sell or give it away at the same Tokyo Sayonara Sale or Mottainai Japan Facebook pages. 
Other ways to bike around Japan
You can also consider renting a bicycle instead of purchasing one, especially if you only need it occasionally. A lot of the train stations across Japan have a designated bike rental area where you can pay to use a bike for an hour (about ¥100-300), half a day (¥400-800), or a day (¥1,000-1,200). 
Some companies, like Bike Share, offer monthly rentals for ¥2,200, giving you unlimited 30-minute trips within that period. If you’re taking a day tour and want to cover more sights, this is a great option to look into. A couple more popular rent-a-bike companies in Tokyo are Tokyo Bike Rental, or Cycle Trip, which specializes in sports bikes.
You might already be convinced to get a bike, whether brand new or pre-loved, given that cycling is a deeply rooted practice in Japanese culture. Plus, there’s no denying that having one just makes your stay so much more convenient. Hope this guide helped explain the where and how of getting a bicycle in Japan!

Hana Otsuka
Hana is a freelance writer, finance analyst, and chef who pursues various hobbies. She aspires to be a philanthropist who helps out others in any way she can.More articles by Hana Otsuka

What Is A Japanese Rental Guarantor Company And Why Do You Need One?

Looking to rent an apartment in Japan? If you have already started, you know how tough the process can be! Renting in Japan can be a complicated experience, especially for foreigners. Be prepared to wade through a lot of red tape!
One of the most confusing parts of renting in Japan is the need for a guarantor. What is a guarantor? How do I find one? Here we list all you need to know to about rental guarantors in Japan to secure the apartment you want.
What is Rental Guarantor?
A guarantor is a person who can cover the cost for you if you cannot pay your rent or damage fines. However, the recently revised Civil Code does allow a limited Guarantee Amount (the maximum amount the guarantor must pay).
Please note that a ‘guarantor’ and ‘joint guarantor’ have slightly different meanings. A guarantor may request the tenant to pay their unpaid rent. A joint guarantor (連帯保証人(れんたいほしょうじん), or ‘rentai hoshounin’) is legally responsible if the tenant doesn’t pay for rent or damages.
In Japan, a co-signor or guarantor is called a ‘hoshonin’ (保証(ほしょう)). As this person is agreeing to fulfil your financial debts, they must prove they have the financial means to pay. Most Japanese people ask a parent or close family member to be their guarantor.

Who can be a Rental Guarantor?
For foreigners who are new to Japan, finding a guarantor can be difficult. Many landlords or management companies have the following requirements for a guarantor:

A Japanese national
Someone who works full-time, with proven evidence of a stable income
Someone under the age of 65

This is so they can ensure that the guarantor can pay and (hopefully) will not pass away before the rent is due!
So, what do you do if you can’t find such a person?
What if I can’t find a guarantor in Japan?
Luckily, you have a few options:
Your company
In some cases, your employer may be willing to be your guarantor. Try asking your company if they support corporate contracts. If you are relocating to Japan from a foreign country, your company should help you. A lot of international companies will help set you up in an apartment in Japan. If this is the case, they will probably sign a lease and be your co-signer. This is usually the case for ALT companies in Japan.
A guarantor company
A guarantor company, or ‘hoshonin-gaisha’, (保証人会社(ほしょうじんかいしゃ)) will perform the same role as a personal guarantor in exchange for a fee. If you choose this option, be aware that a lot of housing agencies will require you to use their own recommended guarantor company.
The price of the fee can vary depending on the company. In some instances, it can be a one-off fee (10% – 100% of your rent) with an annual renewal fee. Please be sure to check your contract about future costs before you sign.

Do Guarantor companies in Japan speak English?
Setting up and getting settled into an apartment can be tricky if you don’t speak Japanese. But a few guarantor companies offer customer support in foreign languages. If you can choose your own guarantor company, here are a few options:
GTN (Global Trust Networks)

The most popular guarantor company for foreigners.
Provides customer service support in 10 languages (including Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Nepali, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.

iSmile (IThinkRent)

Offers English service support.

You can pay rent with a credit card.

The guarantor fee is the cost of one month’s rent for a one-year contract.

Nihon Safety

Customer service available in Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese.
No restrictions on the tenant’s age, nationality, or profession.

What do I need to use a guarantor company?
Securing a guarantor can be a lengthy process. To help speed it up, prepare the following documents ahead of time:

Copy of your Passport
Certificate of residence
Proof of income (Employment certificate, income certificate, final tax return, or withholding slip)
An up-to-date Residence Card

Do I need a Rental Guarantor in Japan?
A joint guarantor is required to lease an apartment under Japanese civil law. But if you really want to avoid to whole guarantor process, you can opt for shared housing instead.
Shared living in Japan is good for newcomers, as you meet new people and can support each other. It is also a great way to save money, as many shared house contracts don’t have the same expensive fees as leasing an apartment.
Leopalace and Sakura House both offer affordable shared housing. They have apartments in many locations, particularly in larger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. Both have multi-language staff to help you if anything goes wrong!
Japan is slowly beginning to welcome more foreign residents. Hopefully in the future, Japan will begin to de-regulate the rental process for foreigners. Until then, we hope this article helps you get the right guarantor and right apartment to enjoy your life in Japan.

How to watch sumo at the Ryougoku Kokugikan

The Ryougoku Kokugikan (両国国技館(りょうこくこくぎかん)), also called sumo hall, is the stadium where sumo matches are held when the tournament is in Tokyo. This stadium was built in 1985, however, that does not mean that before there was not a place where you could enjoy sumo in Tokyo. In fact, this is the third building to bear the Kokugikan name. The current Kokugikan has a capacity of 13,000 people, more than enough so that no one is left without seeing their favorite wrestlers or rikishi. It also has a small sumo museum; in case you are curious about this ancient Japanese sport.
The sumo tournaments in the new year (hatsu-basho), the summer tournament in May (natsu-basho) and the autumn tournament in September (aki-basho) are all held at this stadium. If you plan to visit Tokyo during any of these months, we highly recommend buying tickets for sumo. Aside from the thrill of seeing these heavyweights in action, the fast pace of the matches, the screaming of the spectators, and the voices of the snack vendors intermingle evoking a bygone era in Tokyo.
The stadium is surrounded by big images of top sumo wrestlers so fans can take pictures with them. The interior of the stadium is also impressive, as its layout is very vertical. All the stands are oriented dizzyingly towards the small rim, which is surrounded by a narrow corridor that separates it from the fans.
Sumo wrestling
The beginning of the fights is always preceded by a traditional liturgy in which the sumo wrestlers scare away evil spirits with salt and giving the traditional kick to the ground. Although the most impressive thing is the silence before the fight that fills the stadium, and that is only broken by the noise of the two bodies of the sumo wrestlers when they collide with each other. As a general rule, there are only 10 seconds of fighting that become pure emotion for the entire stadium.
When one of the two fighters manages to knock down the other and expel him from the ring, the stadium explodes with emotion. It does not matter which sumo wrestler is your favorite, in Japan the effort of all the fighters is highly valued and this is reflected in the heartfelt applause that the winner receives.

How to buy tickets
When you approach the main entrance, if there are sumo matches on those days there are people who will encourage you, in English, to buy tickets and they will give you brochures also in English explaining the basics of sumo. Still, numbered tickets can also be purchased a month in advance at the stadium itself, online or at Family Mart, 7-eleven and Lawson convenience store machines.
If you buy tickets for the highest area of the Kokugikan, you will spend about 3,000 yen. Therefore, if you are only going to stay for a couple of hours it may seem expensive, but you have to think that if you buy them in the morning, you can access to all the fights that day, which start early in the morning.
Of course, inside the stadium you can find stalls where you can buy drinks and food, which is great if you are going to spend the day watching fights. If you do not want to stay there the whole day, we recommend you go at the last minute session around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m., because that is when the fights between the sumo wrestlers of the higher divisions take place.
Etiquette to watch sumo
You can bring your own drinks and food (except in certain seats very close to the fighters). You can also take photos, but do not stand in the middle of the aisle or block the view of those behind you. You can talk (not too loud), but if the fans also cheer and applaud their fighters, you can join them. It is fun to shout the occasional “Ganbare!” (“hang in there!”) and it is amazing to see how angry the Japanese get when their favorite fighter loses. Although as in all stadiums, if you leave at the end of the tournament public transport is saturated, the best fighters usually fight at the end of the day, so do not leave before, because you will probably miss the best 15 minutes of the day.
How to get there
The Kokugikan is less than a 2-minute walk from Ryougoku Station on the JR Sobu Line. In fact, the stadium can be seen from the station platform. Seeing a sumo tournament at the Ryougoku Kokugikan is an unforgettable experience that we recommend doing if you are in Tokyo. You will not regret it!

María Lupiáñez
I was born in Malaga (Spain), and after spending a season in Paris and London, my great passion for comics and manga led me to move to Kyoto as a doctoral student in 2018. In my spare time I write short stories and, I am the author of the book Touching the Stars.More articles by María Lupiáñez

AI in Education is to HELP Teachers, Not Take Their Jobs | Inside Japan with Pablo

#InsideJapan #Episode173
I talked to Pablo Riveros, Director founder CEO of Tsunagaru Edutech to understand the state of technology in schools in Japan, how to help teachers to use it, and whether AI is coming for teacher’s jobs. I hope you like this conversation and if you do, please share it with a friend.
Check out Pablo’s work at
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10 Fun Things to do in Yokohama!

As the weather warms in Japan, nothing is better than hopping on the train and taking a stroll by the water. Though Yokohama Station is only a 30-minute ride from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, the ambiance couldn’t be more different. Both are major, urban centers, however, Yokohama is luxuriously spacious while striking the perfect balance between a bustling city and a laid-back seaside town. If you’re planning a trip to Yokohama, here are 10 things you can do with your friends, loved ones, or children in the downtown area.

1.Picnic at Rinkō Park
Rinkō Park is the largest park in the Minato Mirai 21 business district. Right on the water, it’s the perfect place to bring family or friends to watch boats bob through Tokyo Bay. Bring a tent and a cooler, and enjoy as Yokohama begins to glitter at nightfall.

Access: Minato-mirai Station (Minato-mirai Line) – 5 min. walk
Sakuragichō Station (JR Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line/Yokohama Municipal Subway) – 15 min. walk
Address: 1 Minato Mirai Nishi-ku, Yokohama, 220-0012

2. Yokohama Tram Museum
In September of 1872, the first railway Japanese railway was constructed, linking Yokohama’s present-day Sakuragichō and Tokyo’s Shiodome. As the rail industry grew, Yokohama’s tram network experienced 68 years of ridership before being retired in the 1970’s. Now, at the Yokohama Tram Museum, you can visit a refurbished tram depot and discover the wonders of 7 authentic, preserved tram cars. Additionally, there are model trains and activities for children.

Access: JR Negishi Station (Negishi line), transfer to either the #21, #78 or #133 bus for Shiden-Hozokan and ride it to the last stop (7 min.)
Entrance: Adults – ¥300 Age – Jr. High School Students – ¥100 Seniors (65+) – ¥200
Hours: 9:00 – 17:00, closed on Mondays except for during school holiday breaks (if Sunday or Monday is a public holiday, the attraction is closed the following Tuesday)
Website: (Japanese)

3. Cosmo World Amusement Park
Follow the Ferris wheel’s swirling light display at the heart of the business district to find Cosmo World, Yokohama’s pay-per-ride amusement park. With a massive roller coaster, log flume, haunted house, and more, this compact urban amusement park has something for everyone. Additionally, just a short walk over the river is a collection of rides designed specifically for young children.


Minato-mirai Station (Minato-mirai Line) – 2 min. walk
Sakuragichō Station (JR Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line/Yokohama Municipal Subway) – 10 min. walk

Tickets: Prices vary from ¥100 – ¥900 per ride, with ticket packages available
Website: (Japanese)

4. Nippon Maru Memorial Park
Located amongst a variety of attractions near Sakuragichō Station is the docked training ship, NIPPON MARU. Built in 1930 and used to train cadets, the ship has sailed around the globe 45.4 times and has been open to the public for tours since 1984.


Minato-mirai Station (Minato-mirai Line) – 5 min. walk
Sakuragichō Station (JR Keihin-Tohoku Negishi Line/Yokohama Municipal Subway) – 5 min. walk

Admission: Combo tickets available, lowest (for minors) at ¥300 reaching ¥600 or adults. Please check for details.
Hours: 10:00 – 16:30, closed Mondays (if Sunday or Monday is a public holiday, the attraction is closed the following Tuesday)

5. North Korea Spy Ship – Japan Coast Guard Museum
This low-key museum in the center of town is home to a North Korean spy ship discovered on December 22, 2001. After an altercation that resulted in the self-destruction of the crew, the ship was eventually pulled from the sea and put on display. At the museum are various items salvaged from the ship, from dictionaries, rudimentary equipment to snack packages, as well as a video documenting the pursuit of the vessel.

Access: Bashamichi Station or Nihon Ōdōri Station (Minato-mirai line) – 8 min. walk
Admission: Free to all

Hours: 10:00 – 17:00, closed Mondays (if Sunday or Monday is a public holiday, the attraction is closed the following Tuesday)
Website: (Japanese)

6. Catch a baseball game at Yokohama Stadium
With the capacity to hold a little over 34,000 people, Yokohama Stadium is a great place to get your baseball fix while exploring a new city. The stadium served as the 2020 Summer Olympics baseball and softball venue, and has been used for concerts as well, hosting global stars such as Madonna and Bon Jovi.


Nihon Ōdōri Station (Minato-mirai line) – 3 min walk.
Kannai Station (JR Keihin-Tohoku/Negishi line/Yokohama Municipal Subway Blue line) – 3 min. walk


7. Design your own packaging at the Yokohama Cup Noodle Museum
Create your own, customized cup noodle packaging, learn how to make chicken ramen from scratch, soak in the history that starts with chicken ramen in a shack to a global phenomenon, as well as “experience” what it’s like to be a noodle in a factory (kids only, unfortunately).

Access: Minato-mirai Station or Bashamichi (Minato-mirai line) – 8 min. walk.
Sakuragichō Station (JR/Yokohama Municipal Railway) – 12 min. walk.

Admission: Adults – ¥500, free for high school age and younger
Hours: 10:00 – 18:00

8. Shop in the historic Red Brick Warehouses (Akarenga Sōko)
The two iconic red brick buildings on the harbor boast a 100-year history, surviving the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, and currently serve as a shopping and event spaces. Originally customs warehouses, the two buildings are now treasured for their historical significance and draw in a large number of domestic tourists. Be sure to check their event calendar – various festivals are organized throughout the year, with an outdoor skating rink to enjoy during the winter.

Access: Bashamichi or Nihon Ōdōri Station (Minato-mirai line) – 6 min. walk.

Minato-mirai Station (Minato-mirai line) – 12 min. walk.
Sakuragichō Station (JR/Yokohama Municipal Railway) – 15 min. walk.
Kannai Station (JR/Yokohama Municipal Railway) – 15 min. walk.


Warehouse No. 1: 10:00 – 19:00 (2nd and 3rd floor operating hours depend on individual exhibitions/events)
Warehouse No. 2: 11:00 – 20:00 (café and restaurant hours may vary)

Website: (Japanese)

9. Learn about robotic mechanics at Gundam Factory
If you’ve ever wondered about the construction of the Gundam characters, the Gundam Factory has you covered. Though there are multiple exhibits, the biggest draw of the Factory is the 6-story-high Gundam replica that visitors can examine up close.

Access: Motomachi-Chūkagai Station (Minato-mirai line) – 7 min. walk.

Monday to Friday: 11:00 – 18:00
Saturday, Sunday, and holidays: 10:00 – 20:00


Gundam Factory Yokohama – Adults ¥1,650, Children ¥1,100
Gundam-dock Tower – an additional ¥3,300


10. Yokohama Chinatown
Yokohama Chinatown is one of three historic Japanese Chinatowns, long with Kobe and Nagasaki. It’s one of Yokohama’s most popular tourist destinations, with streets bursting with food stands, restaurants, souvenir shops, and is also known for fortune tellers. Exploring downtown Yokohama will certainly work up an appetite, and there is no better place to grab a bite than Chinatown.

Access: Motomachi-Chūkagai station (Minato-mirai line) – direct access.

How Hard Is It To Get a Non-English Teaching Job In Japan?

Getting a job anywhere can be difficult but it can be even more challenging to get a job in a foreign country and in a foreign language. To do well in the job hunting process you have to prepare properly and follow the Japanese style of job hunting, which is a little different from what you might be used to.
What if I’m not a new graduate?
Japan has a long tradition of hiring new graduates who, in times past, would be expected to dedicate most or even all of their working life to a company, and in return that company had very strict rules on firing to make sure employees were protected. This is changing in Japan and the “job for life” is looking like a thing of the past for younger generations.
These days more and more Japanese are changing jobs mid-career and companies are looking for talent beyond the annual hiring of new graduates in April every year. Year round recruiting for key positions has become the norm. As a foreigner in Japan you can take advantage of many skills gaps in both early and mid-career positions, especially if you can speak Japanese to a business fluent level (though often this is not required). There is a massive skills gap in Japan, especially in the tech sector, and many companies desperately scramble to hire coders and engineers from overseas to fill this gap. This could be you, but there are a few important things you need to know to have a chance at getting some of these positions. The first hurdle: your resume.
How is a Japanese Rirekisho different from a Resume? 
Japanese have a very specific style of resume called a rirekisho 履歴書. It covers your education, experience, and certifications and has a specific format, along with some useful info for companies about how far you would be willing to commute and if you have children. It also includes a section for you to write a personal statement to sell yourself and introduce one of your good qualities. These can be VERY difficult to write for people who are not yet fully fluent.

Writing a rirekisho is not the same as just writing your resume. It’s much stricter!
For example, in most cases we do not put a date on our resume when applying for a position in Western countries, but in Japan there is usually a place for the date. This date should be the date you give the resume to the company, and it shows that it is up to date. A resume dated earlier, such as last month or last year is seen as rude, as if you didn’t care about this company enough to update your current experience level. Make sure you are consistent in using either the Western date system or Japanese throughout your rirekisho (2022 or 令和4, but not both) to demonstrate your attention to detail.
It used to be standard for companies to ask for a handwritten resume. That’s right, even now this is still expected for some traditional companies! A candidate’s handwriting was considered to be part of the screening process, but luckily these days resume written on a computer are the norm at most jobs. Just make sure you get a friend to check your spelling and details for mistakes, which are rarely forgiven in an official document like this.
How do I sell my talents with my free writing section?
You have to walk a fine line to sell your talents in Japan without hubris. You should focus on two main points:
1) A clear and specific reason for applying for this job
2) How your skills and experience would be an asset to the company at this job
This section of the rirekisho is sort of similar to a cover letter for most companies you would apply for in the West. The first priority is that you must be clear in your reason for applying. How does the company’s mission appeal to you and why would you want to choose this company over others. The person reading your application will be looking for someone who will fit well into the company culture, and someone who just wants to “make a good salary” and “have lots of holiday days” is not going to go to the top of the shortlist. Think about these questions:

How did you learn about the company?
What do you expect to achieve when working there (that will help the company make money and achieve its goals)?
Does the description of the role fit well with things that motivate you to produce your best work (collaborative, travel to foreign countries, more responsibility for your work, creativity etc).

A good way to do this is to look over the job description and directly write your free writing section to answer the problems that the company is talking about. If they say “the position requires someone who has experience with PHP and mySQL”, mention these skills directly somewhere in your rirekisho or in the free writing section. If they say “open collaboration between teams is something we pride ourselves on” then mention that you work best in an environment where open collaboration between teams is a great way for your best and most productive work to happen. Don’t be afraid to almost copy the words and phrases they look for, it will demonstrate that you read and thought about the description and role of the job directly.
How do I pass the interview?
Here’s where your Japanese language ability really gets to shine. Using the appropriate keigo 敬語 (polite/humble Japanese) can be difficult even for native Japanese speakers, so being able to do this to even just a passable level is bound to impress a Japanese interviewer. To pull this off, the key is to practise many answers to standard interview questions ahead of time so that you can feel confident in the content and language you are using in at least part of the interview. Don’t wing it on the day, even Japanese people don’t do that because confident expressions are difficult to come up with under pressure. If you know Japanese professionals, get them to help you with interview practice and to correct your keigo grammar – Japanese people do this too so don’t feel embarrassed if your Japanese level doesn’t feel perfect. This is hard, it’s okay to practise a lot.
If you don’t have many Japanese friends who can help you with this, luckily there are free online seminars for learning about how to write resumes and do well in interview situations. These resume seminars cover key points about how to write an impressive resume that will pass screening, and show your strengths in order to get an interview.
Click HERE to see more information about the next seminar on June 23rd, 2022!
This seminar will cover everything you need to know about writing a MUCH better Japanese resume so you can succeed in your search for a job in Japanese.

I hope this article has been useful for you and helps you with your application to work at a Japanese company. 

How to buy a bicycle in Japan

If you have been living in Japan for a few months, buying a bike is a good idea. Bike riding can save you so much time and energy, especially if you live in a rural area. Where buses and trains are limited, having a bike will give you more freedom and flexibility. Plus, reducing your commute will give you more free time!
Where to buy a bike in Japan
Buy a bike from a specialist shop
Due to the universal popularity of bike riding in Japan, bike shops are everywhere! Even if you are hesitant speaking in Japanese, buying from a bike shop is the highest recommended option. The staff have the knowledge to suggest the best kind of bike for your size, weight and safety requirements. They can also help set up your bicycle insurance.
Check out used bike options
Buying a bike second hand is a great way to pick up a bargain. This is a good option if you only plan to live in Japan for a year or two.
Recycle Garden Yoyogi in Shibuya has a huge range of discount and used bicycles. Suginami Clean Cycle in Tokyo is a system where locals sell used bikes they have repaired themselves. It is a very environmental way to pick up a bargain!
You can also try local community forums and asking around your workplace. Even in small communities, there is usually someone who has a pre-used bike they will be happy to pass on to you.
Buy a bike online
Another option is to buy your bike online. This has the advantage of avoiding any awkward Japanese, but the prices may be higher. You can buy bikes from large online retailers such as Amazon and Rakuten. Please note that not all bikes will arrive pre-ass