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Japan With Kids - Forums: Moving to and Leaving Japan: Moving To Japan: US Military
By Heather Flaherty on Saturday, February 7, 2004 - 8:30 am:

I am moving to Japan in April with the Military my husband is active duty. this will be our first move in his 11 year career. What should I expect?

By Sandy Cox on Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - 2:19 pm:

Dear Heather,
Here's my short list of things to expect in Japan that the are not in the very first chapter of any guide book.

1. Cash economy -- be prepared to carry cash. Personal checking is not practiced off-base and not too many places take credit cards.
2. Vehicles drive on the left side of the road, and bicyclists tend to share with pedestrians on the sidewalks. So walk in a straight line and look behind you before you cut over to view a nice looking display. Also be prepared for some very narrow roads, where there may not be room for a baby buggy and a car to pass each other.
3. Carry a pencil and paper at all times. Few here can speak English but almost all can read and write a bit. (Even if it sounds silly to you, you will understand what I mean once you arrive here.)
4. If you have never been overseas before you might have some misconception that Japan is a "poor Asian country" with diseases and dirty water, etc. Japan is more or less the second richest country in terms of GNP even though they have no natural resources to speak of. (OK, #2 spot can be debated, but let it ride for the moment.) So, there are very few cars older than 10 years to be seen on the roads, there is an obsession with the new, with designer goods, with 6 of something when one will do, prices appear incredibly high on even very basic foods such as eggs and milk... in other words, with universal health coverage and efficient tax collection, the standard of living here is among the highest in the world.
5. The public transportation network is amazing. And in Tokyo, even the buses now run information in Japanese and in English on their interior electric signs. However, out in the countryside, you will find English assistance to be minimal.
6. Your patience will be tested by the ceaseless clash of your culture and the Japanese culture. Start Yoga, or whatever works for you to calm yourself down.
7. Living on base, you will be able to choose how much contact you will have with the Japanese. However, it would be an extreme pity if you left Japan without having immersed yourself a few times in this provocative, demanding, but nevertheless highly intoxicating environment. Get out, give it a go.
8. Yes, it is very, very safe, even when the Japanese tell you it is not. There are no guns here to speak of, and very little aggressive theft. You might even feel safer off base than on base!

Further notes: for advice on taking the trains look under the topic heading Traveling to/from and within Japan: Trains.

There are several English language daily newspapers available throughout Japan, to which you can subscribe. Or you can find a kiosk at a train station that will carry one or two or all. (The Daily Yomiuri, The Japan Times, The Asahi Evening News, The Nikkei Weekly, The Tokyo Weekender comes out inside the Daily Yomiuri once a week). Most of these have internet versions. The military publishes The Stars and Stripes. The Metropolis has English language classifieds as does the Tokyo Notice Board. And this website also has "classifieds", not to mention extensive discussions on all aspects of living in Japan. The Wednesday issue of the Daily Yomiuri has a Reader-to-reader market. has things for sale in English. In the big cities there are many churches that offer English language services.

Shipping to/from and within Japan is efficient and safe. Mail inside Japan is 100% safe and very timely. The Global Priority Mail service from the USA is very good, even better than Fedex or DHL and cheaper, but if you are on base, you will probably be using an APO address which I've heard is sometimes slow.

By adam cyr on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 9:12 pm:


I am getting stationed at Yokota AFB in Feb 05 and what like some help on searching for an apartment around the Yokota AFB area. Everyone is telling me that I won't be able to live off base, they'll just put me in the dorms. That won't happen because I will have my daughter coming out and visiting me for the summers. So if anyone can give me some help on this, i'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance


By Latara85 on Saturday, May 24, 2008 - 2:55 am:


I am currently reenlisting for japan and was wondering where are the best places to live since i am a single mother. My son is 16 months. He will need daycare or maybe a nanny. I dont know any one out there. So will it be easy to make friends? I will be statiioned there in three months. can anyone give me any advise. thank you for ur time.


By Edlyn on Saturday, May 24, 2008 - 8:26 am:

Well, if you are in the military and are on the base I'm sure there are a lot of activities. I would check with the base first to see what kind of family support/daycare, etc. they have. If they don't have anything then you need to look around the base.

I'm not in the military so I only know what I've heard but my sister-in-law used to teach at a base school and I've also heard that if you live near a base you can often find listings for Philipina ladies who will babysit (we don't live near a base so that wasn't an option) so I assume if you go the Nanny route you might be able to find somebody near the base.

After you identify where you will be stationed and what the base offers, then you can start looking outside of the base and maybe, once you know the base, somebody here can give you more specific information.

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