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
Want to get involved?Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
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.

 

Otsu-karesamadesu: The Japanese Riviera

This post has been written reluctantly due to all the video footage I lost.  For this one, we would have to stick to good, old-fashioned photos.  No time lapses this week, sorry. 

I am not a Japanese language expert but Otsukaresamadesu (お疲れ様です) roughly translates into “Great work!” in English.  If I’m wrong, please let me know.

One of the great privileges in this world is living next to the beach.  Or by a lake.  Or near any pleasing body of water.  Most of the expensive properties around the world can be found along the French Riviera or Lake Como.  And I totally agree with how these are being valued.  How do you put a price on the view you get every day of the week?  Some might even argue that it’s priceless.  I guess that makes it a bargain, then? 

A couple of my Japanese friends asked us what we wanted to do:  go to the world-renowned port-city of Kobe or visit the virtually unknown city of Otsu.  If you read the title, it is kind of obvious which one we chose.

Otsu is the capital of Shiga, which is a prefecture of Japan.  I was surprised to discover a lot of interesting facts about Otsu.  One of them is that it is the main port in which you could access Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake.  I’ve been hearing about Lake Biwa from literally everyone here in Kyoto.  I also heard that there was a UNESCO world heritage site here called Enryaku-ji, but I would have to visit this some other time.

 

From Kyoto Station, it is quite a challenge to get to Otsu.  You would need to take the JR Tokaido-Sanyo line and switch trains at Zeze station.  At Zeze, transfer to the Keihan-Ishiyamasakamoto line and alight at Hamaotsu station.  That’s it you’re there!  One way costs a total of 410 yen.   The whole trip just takes around 30 minutes!

IMG_1885

 

Just look at that view!  If I didn’t say this was in Japan, you would have probably mistaken this for another country.

IMG_1886

 

The whole group striking a pose by a viewing deck.  IMG_1913

In order to best experience Otsu and Lake Biwa, my friends suggested to take the Michigan Cruise which was an old-fashioned American paddle boat. It was going to be an 80-minute ride around Lake Biwa.  The ticket costs 2,780 yen for adults and 1,390 yen for kids.  If you’re a student, just show your ID and you just need to pay 2,260 yen!  Oh yeah!  If you’re really hungry, they serve a lunch buffet on board for an additional 2,700 yen.

IMG_1901

I have never seen nor been on a paddle boat before so I was really excited!  Another first!IMG_1900

The boat was HUGE.  IMG_1888

My friend said this was the tallest hotel in Shiga.  Maybe also the slimmest?  I wonder what the view is like up there.IMG_1896

Another group photo after the cruise!  It was a ton of fun!  お疲れ様です

IMG_1907

It is so near to Kyoto!  I think this just replaced Osaka as my preferred weekend getaway.  I mean, just look at the views!  I’ll pick living near water vs. living in a city about 90% of the time.  If it was that easy.

I’d really like to go back and shoot time lapses here next time!

In Kyoto, We Bike, Bike, Bike!

It was only here in Kyoto that I reacquainted myself with biking.  Prior to Kyoto, I could not remember the last time I rode a bicycle.  

Biking was one of those things that you just had to do when you were a kid.  It was part of childhood (my childhood, at least).  This is why I am astonished every time I discover people my age (or older) who do not know how to ride a bike.  The feeling is almost synonymous to the feeling of not knowing how to spell your name.  Once you can spell it, you just never forget for the rest of your sane life.  Same goes for biking.

And then Formula 1 happened.  Top Gear took over my teenage life.  The Fast and The Furious made me dream.  When I got my student driving permit (2nd year HS) and finished driving school, the dream was no longer a dream.  The feeling of punching the accelerator was the greatest feeling ever.  The high school and college years were all about cars, from a hobby perspective.

All good things come to an end and I had to say goodbye to Big Berta.  

Once I got here, the first thing I had to buy was a set of wheels.  2 wheels.  A bike!  Everybody seems to bike here in Kyoto.  In other parts of Japan, people bike but not as much as they do here.

My only non-negotiable was that my bike had to have gears.  I’m a speed freak and a fixed-gear bike would not be able to deliver that.  Having a bike with gears isn’t only for speed.  It also comes in handy when tackling hills and crested roads.  So whenever you find yourself in Japan or in any foreign city where a bike is necessary, do yourself a favor and get one with gears.  You will never regret paying the extra bucks.  It doesn’t have to be a 21-speed monster, 3-6 gears should be enough for daily commute.

I tried to compile all my biking videos so far into one video.  Maybe I could turn this into another set on its own.

Enjoy!

HD!