ようこそ！ The Japan Everyday web site is now active and ready to share practical news and information about life in Japan. The site’s motto is, “Experience Everyday Life in Japan No Matter Where You Live.” The articles posted here will be useful and enjoyable for any Japanophile no matter where they live. Immigrants and foreign residents of Japan, or those about to move here, will find the information they need to live as successfully as they can in this island nation. If you reside elsewhere but have a fascination for Japan and its culture, you will also find resources that introduce you to this ancient and modern society. Whether you’ve been transferred to Tokyo for your job, are a JET program member trying to figure out the country for the first time, or are looking at the nation from afar, this site is for you!
I’m your host, Tim Odagiri, and I’ve been living in Japan since September 2019. I arrived just in time to ride out the worst of the Coronavirus in a relatively safe country. But that safety came with a set of cultural and human-interaction expectations that I wasn’t used to, having just moved from the United States. I’m starting to overcome the initial culture shock, although everyday has new things to learn. I know I am not alone in this, and my hope in creating this site was to share what I and others have discovered in our new island home.
Starting this week, you will find new articles posted here several times per week, all designed to help you navigate and understand Japan. As a nation, it is culturally rich and fascinating. But some of procedures and ways of interacting that you may have taken for granted in your home country are implemented differently here. People who grew up in Japan are adept at navigating the paperwork requirements or engaging in a bit of 場の空気を読む (“reading the surrounding air”). For those of us who have just arrived, things like this are far from automatic, and need to be discovered and incorporated into our daily routines. It’s all part of living in Japan, every day!
The articles on Japan Everyday will cover five key areas.
- Daily Life / 日常生活 — These posts will help you get a handle on everyday living in Japan, from riding the trains to filling out an application for renter’s insurance. Many of the early articles will be based on my own experiences during my first year in Japan.
- Culture / 文化 — There are lots of web sites that discuss Japanese culture, from anime to sumo, and every niche interest in between. While Japan Everyday will include these topics, the goal of the articles in this section is cultural literacy. In every country, there are historical events, regional facts, traditions, and daily and annual routines that citizens simply know because they absorbed them throughout their lives. Newcomers lack this knowledge but will eventually be expected to know and incorporate it. Each post in this section will advance your understanding of the cultural atmosphere that is special to Japan.
- Language / 日本語 — It is simply embarrassing how long I’ve been studying the Japanese language, only to be stuck at an intermediate level. Now that I live here, I realize that the textbooks only cover a subset of what you encounter when you are out and about in Japan. The articles in this section will introduce you to formal language topics, but also to “Japanese in the wild,” little bits of language that you see and hear all over the place and that you really should know, but won’t find in a Genki textbook.
- Media / メディア — This section will introduce you to videos, podcasts, books, web sites, apps, works of art, and any other media items that will serve to enhance your life in and understanding of Japan.
- Info / 情報 — The final section is a bulletin board of basic information about the site, event announcements, and other topics that don’t fit neatly into the other categories.
As for your Japanese language skills, you don’t need very much to enjoy this site. Most of the articles will be in native English, and all important Japanese terms will include translations. Some of the language-specific articles may target readers who have achieved a specific level of language proficiency. Those will be clearly marked, and translations will often be provided. Native speakers will review all Japanese included on the site, so you know it will be accurate.
I look forward to understanding a little bit more of Japan Everyday with all of you, no matter where you life. 頑張りましょう！
[Image Credits: acworks/ac-illust.com; Happy Jungle/ac-illust.com]