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Step-15: Do You Want To Go To Japan? 行きましょう!

Posted by J. Pierre on September 22, 2011

Do you want to visit Japan? If so, what’s stopping you? Maybe you’re intimidated because you don’t know how to communicate with the Japanese? Or perhaps you simply don’t know where to start?

This article will be both brief and highly informative and — as always — based on personal experience! So where do we get started!?

Step-1: Money & Your Visa

The first step is to get your cash together, and know what kind of visa you’re going to use. If you want to stay and live in Japan anywhere between 6 months to a year, I highly recommend the often over-looked Working Holiday Visa.

Alternatively you could settle for Temporary Visitor Visa, but in this article I want to focus on “staying in Japan” so that you can get the most out of the culture and the language, over a longer period of time!


One of the major pre-requisites of the Working Holiday Visa (or “WHV”) is that you have 2500$ saved up and put aside. This is to ensure that you don’t get stuck in Japan and end up homeless and owing one government or another tons of money just to get back home, safe and sound.

The next step is to prepare the money you’ll need for plane fare, to and from Japan. That shouldn’t be any more than 1500$ (I’ve seen tickets as low as 700$ to Tokyo, departing from Ottawa).

That’s step-1: 2500$, plus 1500$ and a Working Holiday Visa.

Step-3: Prepare To Sleep, Eat, Work & Play!

For this step I recommend purchasing a travel guide book from my all-time favourite brand: Lonely Planet! Lonely Planet guidebooks are amazing, and have gotten me out of interesting situations in less than favourable locales in Nowhere-You-Wanna-Be (i.e., weird places in Asia). Check out the Lonely Planet Japan 12th Ed.: 12th edition for all the details you’ll ever need!

Lonely Planet

Once you have a guide book of your choice in your hands, you need to look for 4 basic and simple pieces of information: the city, town or village where you want to go (for example: Osaka), a place where you can sleep (for example: Orange House), where you’re going to eat and finally, what you’re going to do for work.

Finding work in Japan on a Working Holiday Visa, is easy enough once you’re there. However finding work while you’re still in your home country based on this visa is nearly impossible (and possibly illegal). The reason why it’s so hard isn’t because nobody wants to hire you, but instead because nobody wants to hire someone who (1) doesn’t have a visa that permits them to work in the country and (2) they know you’re a traveler and they want to make sure you’re in town, for the interview.

Job interview

If you’re insecure about teaching English abroad, I recommend that you take a TEFL or TESOL course. There are many variants around the world and within the same country, so do your homework. Personally I went with Ottawas’ United TESOL, a private college of international teacher training. They trained and prepared me for my adventures abroad in just under a week.

Now that you know where you’re going to sleep, how you’re going to find work (before you spend your 2500$), it’s time to think of where you’re going to eat. At this point a lot of people tend to wonder “How can I eat, if I can’t communicate?”


The trick: use body language. When you walk into a restaurant or store, you simply point at the item on the menu you want and hand them the money indicated.

If you still feel a little insecure, you can always bring a pen and paper, or a calculator to show the exact amount that you intend to pay.

Step-4: Language

We all want to make friends and communicate with interesting people when we hit the road. So what’s the fastest way to learn Japanese?

For this challenge, I HIGHLY recommend the Pimsleur program! It’s quick, efficient and CHEAP! Using the Pimsleur program, I was able to stumble upon (or into?) a Japanese bar and instantly make friends! I had a great time and they even gave me a unique name: “Samurai-John-sama“.


For extra comprehension, I highly recommend Heisigs’ Remembering the Kanji Vol.1, used in tandem with Anki (which is free!).

Extra resources:
- Exchange rates:
- Backpackers travel website:
- Hostels:
- Check out for more ideas!
- Get inspired, read a travel blog!

This concludes our introductory posts to the Japanese language — but it’s not the end of learning Japanese with! In fact we’ve created a free Japanese ebook, which will continue guide you through the process of learning Japanese, which you can find on our front page.

Comment if you enjoyed this article! :)

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