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.

Baseball!

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 victormabutas@gmail.com. I’ll try my best to respond in 24 hours.

 

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Tokyo Drift! A Fast and Furious Journey (Part 3)

I suddenly remembered that I have to write about the last leg of my quick Tokyo trip!

In case you missed out on the earlier posts, here’s Part 1 and Part 2

The last part of our trip covered most of Central and Western areas of Tokyo: Akihabara, Harajuku, and Shinjuku.  These are the busiest places in Tokyo (probably in Japan) and offer a lot in terms of things to do.

We started by visiting Tokyo Imperial Palace.  The palace grounds alone will take you about 30 – 45 minutes to circumnavigate.  One can really feel that this is the epicenter of the Japanese empire just by walking around.  The attention given to the plants, flowers, trees, and structures cordially dial in majesty.

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Behold!  The almighty castle walls!
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How big were horse-drawn carriages in Japan back then?  Because this street is so wide!
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The trees are just perfectly manicured.  Not a leaf out of line.
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We were really lucky because these were not supposed to be in bloom until 3 days later.

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From there, we took the subway bound for Yoyogi Park.  This is a massive and beautiful park that ends at Harajuku.  At the middle, you can drop by Meiji Jingu to get a breather.  It felt like a stretch of 2.5 kms. of gravel.IMG_1676

If you followed our route, this is what you should see:IMG_1678

We went crazy with all the shops from Harajuku to Roppongi.  There were a lot of foreigners living here too.  This area will gladly take your money.  Name a brand and chances are, a flagship store will be in this area.  So bring a lot of dough.  Or don’t.IMG_1679

If you go left from here, you will arrive at another famous shopping destination, Takeshita Street where you could get a shot at one of the graffiti-lined walls.  Each of us just had to take one.

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According to my sister, this street is mostly kawaii girls stuff.  But she was able to find this store, Monki.  There’s a cool dessert place beside it if ever you are a guy shopping with a female.

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The iconic Hachiko just near Shibuya Crossing!IMG_1689

Maybe it is just because off-season but I think Dotombori in Osaka is much busier than this one.  If you are thinking about getting a nice view from the Starbucks joint you see in this picture, good luck getting in.  The upper floors of the train station and malls are the best places to get a nice shot.  I just wished I was into time lapse photography when I went here.  IMG_1693

We had to double back to our hostel to get our bags and got lost.  All the subway-switching can get really confusing.  It really pays to know some kanji especially when the nearest map looks like this:

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We had a great bowl of Seaweed Shio ramen after an exhausting day.  Unfortunately, I forgot the name of this ramen place in Shinjuku.

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While waiting for our midnight bus back to Kyoto, we checked our watches and realized that we had about 4 hours to kill.  Luckily, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is still open!  It has 2 observation decks: North (9:30-23:00) and South (9:30-17:30).  It gives you a stunning 360-view of Tokyo for free!  The elevator line might be long during the day so going at night is better (the night view is better too, I think).  Oddly, the observation deck has a toy store and a coffee shop at the top.  It even has complimentary Wi-Fi! IMG_1702

That’s all, folks!  This series is done!  I can’t wait to go back to Tokyo!

Here’s a video of the entire trip!  I’m very sorry that the camera is shaky, the gimbal is broken. 😦

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!

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Expats Blog

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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.