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.