From ancient history and traditions to fast-paced, vibrant cities, Japan is a fascinating destination for expats. New arrivals are sure to have many questions about their new home, so here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Japan.
Do I need a car in Japan?
In the big cities, a car isn't necessary and could even be a liability. Petrol is costly in Japan, and there are many pricey toll roads. Add to this the cost of car maintenance (roadworthiness tests, licence fees etc.), and it becomes exorbitant, even though the car itself might have a cheap purchase price compared to international standards.
In the more rural areas of Japan, though, public transport can be a bit slow or infrequent, so having a car in these cases is recommended.
Is it worth learning Japanese?
Definitely, especially for the mutual respect this creates between expats and locals. There are many language schools in Japan with varying approaches and some useful phrasebooks and textbooks. In Tokyo, it's easy to get by without ever speaking Japanese, but if expats want to travel a bit further afield, they will need to go armed with at least a few basic phrases.
How do I get around Japan?
Trains, ranging from the Shinkansen (bullet train) to the underground, are Japan's most popular and quickest means of transport. The bus system is also highly reliable, comfortable and often cheaper. There are some fantastic deals on holiday airfares, although trains are usually cheaper.