Site review: GaijinPot

Living in a foreign country can be one of the most frustrating experiences a person goes through, especially if they aren’t equipped with a full grasp of the language and culture, or a solid set of people and material resources to explain the ropes. One site that aspires to do it all is GaijinPot, an online community site for all manner of advertising, information, and personal exchange related to Japan for people (both foreign and native) living there.

The site divides its services into four main sections (as the header of the site states): Jobs, Apartments, Classifieds, and In Japan, although it has many subsections for these in the left-hand sidebar.

Jobs:

GaijinPot has a great search engine for its job listings. Predictably, most of them are English teaching positions, but even amongst those there are a variety of types, such as part time teachers for young adults and adults, business language teachers, and even pre-school level for 1-3 year olds. However, you’ll also find advertisements for technical jobs, human resource work, business consulting, and more. The level of English and Japanese proficiency required is specified, and the listings are from all over Japan, so there’s a good chance you can find something near you. The basic info about salaries and whatnot is included, so it’s great to glance through and see what interests you in the pay range you’re looking for as well.

There’s also a special area where you can sign up as a Job Seeker and upload resumes and send in applications, so if you’re seriously looking for work in Japan, I highly suggest you at least give this site a look to broaden your options.

Apartments:

One very daunting challenge for foreigners planning to live in Japan is apartment hunting. It is true that the failing economy in Japan is opening new doors to foreign tenants. But even so, many Japanese landlords don’t want to rent to someone who has no Japanese guarantor to vouch for his or her character, and who is not accustomed to the way renting apartments is handled in Japan. Therefore, a resource like GaijinPot that lists foreigner-friendly apartments can be a huge relief to those searching.

You’re able to search under “Rentals,” “Guest Houses,” and “Serviced Apartments,” or look up agencies directly that advertise through GaijinPot. Large companies or individuals can advertise here, so there’s quite a bit of variety. Each listing also has all of the related expenses and details of the apartment listed, often including maps and photos. Listings for key money (a onetime non-refundable ‘gift’ fee to the landlord) and agency fees are especially important, as a lot of foreigners don’t expect these if they’ve never rented in Japan. Search by area, price, building type, or any number of options and keywords.

Classifieds:

The classifieds section was one of the most important sections to me while I was in Japan. Why? Because some of the most annoying things to do when establishing or leaving life in Japan can be:

1)      acquiring furniture cheaply that you’re not afraid to toss out
2)      throwing away said furniture

Having lived in Yokohama, which has some of the most strict trash restrictions ever, being able to sell my things online easily (and not feeling it was a waste to buy them) without figuring out the trash system was a godsend. A lot of people leaving put up their belongings on these classifieds boards for cheap under the term “Sayonara Sale,” which pretty much speaks for itself. A lot of people just put up things for free, too. As long as you can pick it up, it’s yours!

There’s also some unique sections like “Lessons” for educational services, and a “Friends” section which is GaijinPot user personals for friendship or more. A couple steps up from Craig’s List, at least, if you looking for a buddy to drink with or a date for Saturday night. 🙂

In Japan:

The In Japan section is a collection of articles on various topics related to everyday living situations. If you’re looking for simple things like resources on learning Japanese or where to find a good restaurant in your area, or complicated ones like starting businesses or figuring out how to do your banking and investing, there’s bound to be something useful. For first timers, this section is great to help you know what to expect when it comes to things like getting a credit card or cell phone. There are also links throughout this section and on the main page that lead you to a variety of articles on current news, keeping you up to date with Japanese current affairs.

Also helpful, GaijinPot runs a forum for people to exchange information informally. If you have a question you can’t find the answer to elsewhere on the site, or want a different type of advice, you can ask forum members (though at your own risk, of course).

Because GaijinPot is such a massive site, obviously we can’t cover all of its features in depth here. But I highly suggest that you cruise the pages and keep its services in mind if you’re planning on getting a job in or moving to Japan. There’s tons of helpful and informative materials that we’re sure to link back to in the future on this blog.

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
This entry was posted in culture, housing, jobs, living abroad, social networking, study tools, useful links and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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