I got a cultural visa to live in Japan and practice Judo

…for a year!

Cool eh?

I am excited.

So I came over here to Fukuoka, Japan about 5.5 months ago. I started off training a lot of jiu-jitsu and tried to get a visa through that school, but it didn’t work out.

Probably cause it was “Brazilian” jiu-jitsu. There’s not much of a difference between judo newaza and BJJ as BJJ was derived from judo.

And…

I tried to explain to the immigration officer how there were only like 5 teachers between me and Jigoro Kano – founder of judo. Yet, it didn’t work.

But that’s o.k. because I was planning on training judo too.

Ironically there are more places here to train BJJ than there are judo. Judo is popular in the school system, but after school it’s not that popular. I only found like 2 places in all of Fukuoka where adults could train compared to like 5 or more places for BJJ.

Anyways…

It cost me $40 to get my residence card after I received my COE (certificate of elgibility). I had to do a second application that looked almost identical to the COE, but was for a a change in residence status.

It took about a month to process after my application was submitted. I didn’t have to leave the country to get a new visa like I had to in China, Korea and Taiwan when I taught English there. I heard you could get these for karate or aikido too. And maybe for stuff like: archery, tea ceremony or other Japanese cultural things.

Anyways, it doesn’t permit you to work. You need your own money and you need to show them your accounts.

Then you need to find a school that wants to help.

How did I do it?

  1. Come over on a tourist visa
  2. Find a school and a Japanese cultural activity
  3. Fill out the application and have your school enter their info
  4. Create additional documents including your experience that is related like for me that was practicing judo and BJJ in the USA (photos of me in competitions and getting promoted in both BJJ and judo)
  5. Bank balances and or proof of income outside of Japan
  6. Submit and wait

Sharehouse Fukuoka

sharehouses in fukuoka

Are you looking for a cheap place to stay in Fukuoka, Japan? Have you thought of staying in a sharehouse? WTF is a sharehouse? Is that like a guest house? What’s a guest house?

So…

Based on my experience it’s like a hostel/apartment – somewhere in between. They can vary in quality and building type. Some are in old creepy houses with freaky looking ghosts like above and some are in newer apartment buildings.

What are the advantages of staying in a sharehouse?

  1. short term housing
  2. fewer move in fees or non at all
  3. you don’t need a special visa – a tourist visa will work
  4. you can meet people that you might like
  5. you’re lonely and you want to talk to someone… anyone… you don’t care

Some have weird rules too.

Like…

  • you have to pay for guests
  • no sex
  • only girls allowed
  • you need a “Line” account… like what? can’t you live without your damn social media account?
  • forced sociability

Reviews of share houses in Fukuoka…

“I hated that motherf***er. He acted all tough and I just tried to keep cool, but really I was imagining breaking his arm or blowing out his knee… but if that dude touches me I’ll really damage him and then what will happen? He’ll cry, call the cops and the owner and pretend to be all innocent.”

“Man, are all Japanese this anal? Or maybe it’s an Eastern Asian thing.”

“I hope that jealous fat b*tch chokes on her rice.”

“They lied to my face.”

“This place is a sh*thole. If an earthquake hits this place it will be a goner.”

But don’t mind the negative reviews.

You might loooove Sharehouse Fukuoka…

Oh, I should mention that some of these sharehouses have flaws like:

  • noise
  • dirty toilets
  • mold
  • no doors or maybe a curtain separating your room
  • old tatami mats which might have dust mites
  • stupid f**ks that are managerial types. Like why do you need a manager in a house?
  • pro-social types
  • anti-social types
  • old and dirty houses
  • cats that might shit in your room
  • off the beaten path places. Some places that are far from anywhere you want to be.
  • drunks
  • random people

How much do share houses in Fukuoka cost?

I paid:

  1. My first room was 30,000 plus 12,000 a month in utilities
  2. My second room was 35,000 plus 12,000 a month in utilities
  3. My third room was 50,000 a month for everything
  4. I visited a share house with cats and a whole lot of shoes that was 42,000 a month
  5. I saw one online that was like 40,000 something for a dorm room (what?!) and like 60,000 something for a private
  6. You are looking at about 35,000 for the cheapest and 60,000+ on the high end for your own room

Are there contracts and fees involved?

Sometimes…

  • cleaning fees which are questionable when no one appears to clean the damn place.
  • a 6 month contract in one
  • no contracts in others
  • 3 months in one
  • 1-3,000 to have a guest spend the night
  • one month deposit in one
  • no deposit in others

What’s the best sharehouse in Fukuoka?

Best for what? It doesn’t exist in my experience.

If you don’t mind interrupted sleep, general dirtiness, being pro-social, living in rickety old house that won’t survive an earthquake, living under a sexually oppressive roof – which means NO SEX, and living with random people then Sharehouse Fukuoka might be for you.

Hehehe, this post was part fiction, but a large part truth.

The abdominal workout that I do at Axis jiu-jitsu (5 exercises & 500 repetitions)

This is at Axis jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka. On some of the weekdays we do an abdominal workout with about 5 different exercises and on this day it totaled about 500 repetitions.

The larger the class the more sit ups we do.

It’s a really awesome core workout.

I think my stomach actually got a little more cut from this, the intermittent fasting I do, and the exercise I sometimes do when I am fasting: jiu-jitsu, riding my bike 12km a day, working out, etc.

Related:

My Simple 11 Minute Full Body Weight Workout

I like body weight exercises because they are simple and I can do them almost anywhere. You don’t need a gym to do push ups, squats, sit ups, planks, and/or jumping.

And those exercises right there are a basic full body workout.

If you have access to a bar or a playground you can usually do some pull ups or leg ups which I’ll show you in the video.

And remember you don’t need a gym or weights. So that’s not an excuse!

This body weight workout will work your upperbody, core and legs and it only took me about 11 minutes and nothing else other than a swing set that I used as a pull up bar and a stone wall to jump up on.

Here I do some:
-pull ups (upper body)
-leg ups (core+arms)
-planks (core)
-frog jump squats (legs)
-jump ups or box jumps (legs)

I do 2 sets of each exercise for the most part. I usually go for fatigue and stop and then do another exercise and then come back.

Here I do about 25 pull ups, 20 full breaths of planks, 15 leg ups, 40 frog jumps, and maybe 70 box jumps.

Doing another set would probably give me more muscle development, yet I can get bored doing a lot of repetition so I keep it simple. Also I don’t like to spend a lot of time doing this.

Have knee issues?

Box jumping up does not hurt my knees. Jumping rope can hurt my knees and squats can hurt my knees and if I jump down from the box that can hurt so I step down and jump up.

This was shot in Fukuoka, Japan. My current home.

Related:

Inside the sharehouse where I am living in Fukuoka, Japan

In this video I take a look inside the sharehouse where I am living in Fukuoka, Japan.

I moved here in January and started in one sharehouse and then moved into this one which is a little better. It’s quieter and I have been sleeping better.

It’s pretty cheap and…

Things are going pretty good. I like Japan and I have been training jiu-jitsu a lot, learning Japanese and working on ESLinsider.

1st Impression Of Japan

This wasn’t my first time to Japan, but it is the first time back in Asia since 2011. My first time in Japan was actually in 2008 after I found a teaching job in Korea I went to Fukuoka, Japan for a visa run.

I made this video a few weeks ago actually. I talk about Japan, Fukuoka, culture, compare it to San Fran a bit and then watch some cool koi and check out some gardens in late January.

NSJ Sharehouse – My experience

UPDATE: JUNE 22, 2019

I moved out of the Katae sharehouse June 1 and this is an update.

You may love this place. Seriously. You might really like it. It might totally suit your needs, so take this with a grain of salt.

Now I am going to share a little of my experience there.

What I liked:

The location is in an alright area near Fukuoka university and Nanakuma station, but quite far from downtown. I had a bike and would ride like 10-15km a day to judo and jiu-jitsu classes.

What I didn’t like:

  • You have to sign a contract for 6 months. I didn’t like that. And I left after 4 months, but she gave me my deposit back.
  • If you have your girlfriend over to stay the night you have to pay like 2-3,000 Yen or something. Just one night doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.
  • There is a sort of forced sociability there.
  • Some of the people.

The owner is a bit pushy about being “friendly” and smiley and all of that. Now I am a pretty easy going guy by my very nature and friendly enough as long as you treat me with respect, but if you don’t then I am not going to be nice to you just cause.

She said something about “tatamae” which is the Japanese word for being sort of fake and polite, but I am more of a “honne” kind of person.

There were some people there that I didn’t like for a few different reasons. Actually by the time I left I didn’t like several of them.

I am debating going into some of the stories and about some of the people there, but I won’t waste my time now.

This place is more Japanese too, like maybe 80% and a few I suspect have issues with foreigners. Maybe there were 3 foreigners and like 6 or 7 Japanese. The first sharehouse was a little more mixed when I was there, but you can read more about that below.

The room I had was quite large and fine, but noisy as it was above the kitchen and there was no door. All of her sharehouses there that I stayed in Katae and Fukudaimai were old and noisy.

The sharehouse thing is not for me.

In fact I only stayed there and here in another sharehouse because that was the only cheaper option without a long term visa. If you have a long term visa I would just rent your own room.

Maybe if you are younger you may like it, but I don’t see what the point is other than it’s cheaper. I don’t think I would have liked this anymore if I was 10 years younger. I am an introvert and like privacy.

I don’t need to have fake social talk.

Although if you can rent your own place you can get something as cheap and better since it’s your own apartment.

Anyways you may love this place.

UPDATE: Maybe 3 or 4 days ago I moved into a different NSJ Sharehouse and so far it’s better. I like my room better, it’s less noisy and my annoying neighbor is gone which is the biggest perk.

Original post…

I have been living in this place for about 2 weeks and honestly I think it’s a piece of shit. I was planning on writing a review later, but this just triggered it. It’s 2:32 am and I am up because I can’t sleep.

2 out of the last 3 nights I have been listening to my neighbor go in and out of his room at 1, 2 and 3 am. When he shuts his door it sounds like he is shutting my door.

This place is very fragile. It’s like I could jump through the wall.

I do yoga in the morning and vibrate my legs on my mat and when I do that the whole house shakes.

I can hear my neighbor through the wall talking to himself. I can hear him push the button to turn on his heat. I am surprised that it is still standing. The wall between us is more like a curtain and I am surprised that this place hasn’t been destroyed by a typhoon or earthquake.

It’s not made out of cement. It probably is thin wood framing with thin walls, but nothing like 2×4’s. It’s really wimpy and COLD because it’s not insulated.

Even the shower water doesn’t get that hot. It gets kinda hot, but not that hot so you end up spending a longer time in the shower.

Supposedly someone cleans the place too for a discount, but they don’t do a very good job. Well, the surfaces are clean enough, but the toilets aren’t cleaned.

It’s cheap and well you get what you pay for.

I am the oldest one living here. There’s like a kid living next to me who is still in college.

Wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for my neighbor. But it’s like you have pseudo privacy. I have turntables and do some music and other creative stuff and just feel that is unsuitable in this house.

Oh yeah the other thing that she said before I came when I was asking about how soundproof one of the rooms was something like, “if you want soundproofing then maybe Japan is not for you”.

Like all houses in Japan are like this one???

Not.

Maybe if you read this you might find the place to be o.k. for you, but don’t expect much. Expect something like a dormitory room hostel with curtains between the rooms. Remember you get what you pay for.

It’s on the cheaper end, but actually it should be cheaper considering the quality of the place. And from what I have heard from other people living in Fukuoka it’s not that cheap. I have lived in a lot of places across the USA, Taiwan, China, Korea and now this crappy place.

Honestly I don’t really have anything good to say about this place. There’s other people and well I don’t really give a fuck. I’d rather live alone and have a more simple life instead of living with random people and neighbors that complicate your life.

Training jiu-jitsu at my new dojo in Fukuoka, Japan

So I have been in Fukuoka, Japan for a few weeks training jiu-jitsu and learning Japanese. It’s going good.

I started training at a new dojo called Axis jiu-jitsu Fukuoka. It’s a nice small space near Ohori park in Fukuoka.

It’s fun training at a new place too.

I chose this place basically cause it was the closest place to where I live which is like 7km away and the owner let me train there on my first day for free.

Before that I went to a couple of other places in the city to check them out.

The first place said there was no free class and that it would be 2,000 Yen which is about $20 and if I wanted to train for a month then it would be 20,000 Yen.

What?!

I had already done some research on places around Fukuoka and knew a few were around 10,000 Yen a month which is about $100.

I went to the next place and they seemed more friendly. They didn’t invite me for a free class, but said it was 10,800 Yen.

I was thinking that maybe things in Japan were different with no free first class.

So then I was thinking of going to another place, but just decided to go to Axis jiu-jitsu since that was closer anyway. When I did the teacher Kanda invited me to the mat when I walked in the door for free.

So after class I rode my bike home and pretty much decided that was where I was going to train at. And that’s where I am now.

Some customs remind me of my first school in San Fran, Romulo Melo as everyone seems to shake hands when they greet each other on the mat.

Maybe that is a Gracie thing I don’t know.

It’s nice to be able to train everyday too. I hurt my knee, but other than that the vibe seems mostly pretty relaxed too.

More on Axis jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka.

How I am living cheaply in Fukuoka, Japan

I originally put this post about living in Japan cheaply on my other blog ESLinsider. Here is the post…

How I am living cheaply in Japan

I just moved to Fukuoka, Japan about 5 days ago. I have wanted to live here for quite a long time. Finally, I made it. One of the things that kept me out of Japan was the fact that I thought it was so expensive.

I think that is what most people think, right?

Well, I think it can be, but it’s not that expensive for me as at the moment  I would say that I am paying about $7-800 a month to live here.

My rent

I am living in what is called a sharehouse. I basically share a kitchen and bathroom with 8 other people and have my own room. That costs about 30,000 Yen a month plus 12,000 for utilities which is about $380.

I saw other places in Japan that were close to that price, but without a long term visa most places won’t rent to you. Many also want you to have a Japanese friend to act as a guarantor. There can also be a lot of fees: like a cleaning fee, key money, guarantor fee, deposits, and you sign a contract for a year.

I had to pay a deposit of 30,000, but only signed a contract for 6 months.

It’s pretty wimpy construction, but it’s alright for now.

If you are interested you can find these online by searching:

(insert city name here) sharehouse

Food

Some things seem a little cheaper and others not so much. Eggs are less than $2, milk is also less than $2 a litre, vegetables vary, The only thing I noticed that was a bit more expensive that I usually eat was sweet potatoes. They were like a few dollars more expensive for a lesser quantity.

I haven’t seen much of a selection for cheese which was expected as that was the same in other places I lived in Asia.

I am estimating that my bills will be similar to before in San Fran or maybe a little less.

I have been making a lot of soups with miso or soba noodles.

Transportation

I got this great bike so my transportation is free. I paid 6,800 Yen for this bike. I have been using it quite a bit as most things I need to get to are far. It’s about 7 kilometers to jiu-jitsu and a similar amount or more to get to the center of Fukuoka (Tenjin or Hakata).

Japanese lessons

I feel pretty excited to have found some lessons that are nearly free. The city government has a volunteer program at different government buildings throughout the city. These classes are like a $1 a class or $5 a month or maybe $10 for 6 months of lessons (usually one day a week), but there are classes everyday of the week in different locations.

At this point I am trying to match up my schedule so I can take the classes near or around the same time that I do jiu-jitsu.

Jiu-jitsu lessons

They are cheaper than in the States. The cost at the place where I am planning on going to is 10,800 a month which is about $100.

How long will I stay in Fukuoka?

As of right now I am on a tourist visa. I can stay here for 3 months and then I have to leave. I will probably just take a short trip to Busan, Korea where I used to live and come back for another 3 months.

Then I will have to decide if I want to stay in Japan for longer. If I do want to stay in Japan for longer then I will probably need to change my visa status. To do that I would need a different visa. Some of the ideas I have are:

  1. Apply for a cultural visa
  2. Find a job teaching English in Japan

The cultural visa is more appealing to me as I may be able to get that by studying judo, but I have not found anywhere to do that in Fukuoka. You’d think it would be easy to do, but not so.

There are lots of places for jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka, but the “BJJ” community on Reddit doesn’t think I could since “Brazilian” jiu-jitsu and Japanese jiu-jitsu are considered a bit different. Brazilian jiu-jitsu evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu and emphasizes grappling on the ground and competition.

But I am still planning on asking my teacher about it after I have been training there a while.

As far as teaching English goes I have sort of been there and done that in China, Korea and Taiwan. Lately ESLinsider has been doing well and I have been able to live off of it. However, if something changes then I may need to get a job or perhaps a part time job that would give me a visa.