Filipino Expat Living in Japan

New expat bloggers on Expats Blogs get to answer an online interview about their respective lives abroad.  It asks questions relating to moving abroad, studying/working, living, talking, and everything else about the expat life.  It is an easy read and touches on a wide array of topics.  Hopefully, it could help some people who are planning to move to Japan in the future.

Sharing your own experiences there might help other prospective expats to learn from your individual insights, too.

I posted the interview here but you can access the link here:

Filipino Expat Living in Japan – Interview with Vic

Published:  13 May at 12 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Japan
What is the best part about an expat life in Japan? Studying, traveling, and living abroad at the same time! Vic’s blog talks about his life in Kyoto and Japan. Where he reads, hikes, bikes, and eats! Vic is also an international student so his blog tells a very different story than most of the other expat blogs out there. Vic also has an ongoing project of capturing breathtaking time lapses wherever he goes! Vic’s expat blog is called Vic Mabutas (see listing here)

Inari with my classmates!

Here’s the interview with Vic…

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from the Pearl of the Orient which is the Philippines. Manila, to be specific.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am now living in Kyoto, Japan.

How long have you lived in Japan and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been living here for about 8 months already and will stay here for about 16 months more.

Why did you move to Japan and what do you do?
I moved here because of a generous offer to study in Japan. I am currently an MBA student.

Did you bring family with you?
No, I live alone.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The first month is probably the most painful one. I did not know how to read nor speak Japanese and that was very frustrating. After a couple of months, gravity sets in and I became more comfortable. Living and touring are two very different things.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was quite hard given the language barrier. Luckily, the school I’m in offers a lot of language exchange programs so it was easier to make friends after enrolling into that. Most of my classmates and colleagues in school are expats so it is very easy to socialize with them.

Kyoto from above!

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The best thing to do here is to relax. If you’re into living in the perfect balance between city life and the relaxed life, Kyoto is your city. Temples, shrines, and mountains should keep your personal harmonies healthy.

What do you enjoy most about living in Japan?
I enjoy reading books by the Kamo river or on top of Mt. Daimonjiyama. Biking all over the city is such a wonderful thing as well. The Japanese people and culture are very interesting too!

How does the cost of living in Japan compare to home?
It does not even come close. Compared to the Philippines, living in Japan costs about 3-5x more.


What negatives, if any, are there to living in Japan?
Probably the language? But it’s very fun to learn though! Imagine all the Japanese anime and great movies you could watch. Not to mention having Japanese friends!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Japan, what would it be?
Try to learn how to speak basic Japanese first.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I would say the daily struggles of living alone is probably the hardest part. Next would be, studying the language.

When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
Repatriation would definitely be an issue. The transition from a developing country to one of the most developed countries in the world was hard. But I think repatriation will be even harder since you have been part of a highly-developed society for a considerable amount of time.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

  1. Try your best to learn basic Japanese before coming here. If you could manage to enroll yourself in classes, that would be fantastic. It will solve a lot of the early problems.
  2. Go around Japan! It is such a beautiful country! Personally, I recommend the countryside. All the cities are the same.
  3. Japanese food is so delicious but can be relatively very expensive as well. So eat wisely!
  4. Japan is a very active country. As an expat, running, hiking, and biking are awesome ways to explore cities while keeping fit!
  5. If you are studying in Japan, participate in language exchange programs as much as you can. Your Japanese network will directly increase.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Battling loneliness in Japan is highly dependent on what kind of person you are. So you would need to figure this one out. Japan has so many things to do though so get out there!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
If ever you want to contact me, just send me an email at I’ll try my best to respond in 24 hours.


Reading List!

I would want to keep a record of all the books I’m going to read from now on.  I wish I did it in the past but there is a probably a good reason for that.  It should partly serve as an indicator of my biases.

A Bibilography of the Study of The Self, perhaps?

So, I’m sharing with you my spring reading list.  I plan to post this here for reference and update accordingly.  It covers a wide range of topics but I’d love some related recommendations if ever you chance upon this.

*bold means done

Waking Up by Sam Harris

The End of Faith by Sam Harris

Superinterlligence by Nick Bostrom

Profit Over People: Neoliberalism & Global Order by Noam Chomsky

Secular Cycles by Peter Turchin and Sergey A. Nefedov

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj

Journey To Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Choices, Values, and Frames by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman

Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment by Daniel Kahneman and Thomas Gilovich

The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell

Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens

Critical Chain by E.M. Goldratt

Kyoto Time Lapse! +GoT Ep. 3 Is Now Loading

You know that feeling when you’re so immersed into whatever you’re doing that you don’t realize a week just passed?  That was last week.  Whew.

First, nothing delights me more than speaking to my girlfriend properly.  Not just sending some random emoticons and late messages.  I’m talking about real conversations in real time.   Maybe I’ll do a piece on long-distance relationships some time in the future.

Second, as you might have suspected in this post’s title, I cannot wait for GoT to fully load.  Given Japan’s internet, it should be over before I finish writing this post.  And yes, *spoiler alert*, John Snow is alive!  Ep 2’s ending was something else and a total rebound from the always-dismal season opener.

Third, I am still dumbfounded with how the Spurs lost to the Thunder.  I know how damn good the Spurs are and losing the series in 6 games was really below expectations.  No wonder Pop’s interview was so dry.  But, it’s also exciting how the Thunder will size up against GSW.

This time lapse shows the Nishijin area of Kyoto where you the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) is located.  This was shot for roughly 6 hours on a 5-second interval.

Should be a great week ahead!  Hope you have an awesome week, too!


I Lost All Of Today’s Footage!

*this is a rant

Today was one of the greatest days ever.  I went to this amazing place by the sea and I was able to capture some fantastic footage.  It was most likely similar to driving to the South of France on a convertible and not making it because you ran out of gas.

Until my micro SD got fried.  Like fried chicken.  The weather was too good, I guess.

That was when I realized that I broke a cardinal rule: always bring extra SD cards.  

I’m so piled up with homework that I almost forgot to blog.

I still have a couple of photos and phone videos and I’ll try to make something out of them tomorrow.



On Laziness

One of the greatest enemies of a person is laziness.  For a student, the recognition is amplified a hundred times.  For someone who is doing 3 jobs and supporting a family of 5, the recognition is astronomical.

Every thing in the material realm is bound by time.  That’s a fact.  People age.  New shoes become old.  Species become extinct.  Deadlines pass.  Oh @#t, did I submit my project already?

Assuming that you live in a material world (not everyone does), the single greatest source of waste is a wanton disregard for time.  That also probably makes time the single most valuable resource in the material world, too.

Which then leads me into asking:  Why do people allow laziness to permeate their material lives? 

The answer is simple: genetics.  Humans (and I am broadly generalizing here) prefer comfort to pain, happiness to sadness, etc.  The list goes on.  So don’t cringe, it’s not your fault.  It’s natural.

In the material world, however, natural preferences are not always rewarded.  If you prefer just sitting around all day at work, you would certainly get fired.  If you choose to sleep all day and ignore your assignments, they just balloon and you get a failing mark.

That is most likely the contextual landscape and this is my hypothesis: there is a natural human preference for laziness but the incentive schemes of the material world penalizes it.  

So can one escape laziness?  I’m afraid not since humans are programmed to prefer it.  However, the repercussions of being lazy are most likely going to be negative in the material world.  And that is something to keep in mind.  Unless, you live in a different world.

The material world is also full of distractions that can keep us from becoming lazy.  People become active.  They run, read, bike, blog, love, fight, etc.  But after some time, people develop a natural laziness towards any activity.

What one can do is recognize this natural tendency.  Just recognize.  See what happens.

You can even tell me what happens.

Think about it.

I think I need to find a world that rewards laziness.  




For Golden Week, I’ll Blog Every Single Day!

If you have been following my blog, you would have heard an earful about how tough school has been so far.

I’ve received a lot of visitors from a lot of countries ever since I got featured on Expats Blog.  The colorful map on the Stats menu was nice!  Thank you!  Hope you are learning a lot (or not).

This is why the first order of business for Golden Week (which is like a 1-week long holiday) is to do some retail therapy.  Ever since news came out that Uniqlo and NY-based artist KAWS were doing a collaboration, I knew I had to get my hands on them.  I think KAWS is one of the best when it comes to modern art and design.  His works for Medicom and A Bathing Ape (pre-I.T.) were legendary.  It was kind of weird that Japan was the last one to get them, since Uniqlo is from Japan.  But anyway, the fast-clothing brand decided to release them on the 1st day of Golden Week!

So I woke up early to avoid unnecessary lines!  I had to get the most iconic KAWS creation, “Companion.”  I must say the prints were all very nice!  The embroidered “X X” was perhaps my favorite part.  Maybe this is the return of KAWS? Who knows?  Hopefully, more collabs in the future!

*I plan to blog every single day during Golden Week as a challenge to myself.  

The colors and the attention to detail is something else.  
One word: iconic.  This should replace the teddy bear if I were in charge of things. 

Certified Expat Blog!

Looking back, it is often the small things that have profound ripples in the future.

Just wanted to share that my blog recently got featured in Expats Blog!  *乾杯 (kanpai)*

Thank you for adding me!  And coincidentally, this is my 20th post!

Expats Blog


The word expat (expatriate) gets tossed around a lot when I was working.

As I browsed the internet for the definition of the word expatriate, I found some divergence in the definitions of various reputable dictionaries.

I proceed at briefly testing this surprising semantic discovery.

The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “someone who does not live in their own country

Well, I guess that makes me an expatriate.

Interestingly, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:

to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere; also :  to renounce allegiance to one’s native country

On a pedantic level, this is a much stricter definition and I certainly would not fall into this category.  My allegiance remains with the Philippines.  Although one can argue that the addition of the word also weakens this somewhat conclusive definition.

The contemporary philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in his Tractatus (which I have not yet had the privilege nor the knowledge to finish) was roughly quoted saying: “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.

I just did a Google search for “how many words are there” and a site said that there are 1,025,109.8 words in the English language.  Fascinating.

Language can only take you so far.