Anyone who has been to Japan before mastering the language has had to learn the very valuable art of surviving in Japan without much Japanese. Whether it’s an important word like “トイレ” (toilet) or simple self-introduction, a little bit can go a long way. Which is why it’s so great to see a site out there like Surviving In Japan Without Much Japanese, which addresses this exact necessity and more.
The author of the blog, Ashley, is a 20-something former JET currently doing part time teaching and freelance work in Japan. The goal of her blog is not to give a definitive explanation on how to survive or teach all the nuances of Japan living etiquette, but to provide helpful tips, resources, and some guidance from her own experiences in “surviving” to help out others going through life under the rising sun as well.
In her “how-to index,” you’ll find an archive of articles arranged by key words on various topics. For example, you can skip ahead to Travel or Health, or just scroll down and look up each article individually beneath its heading, such as how to do a bank transfer (under Daily Life), how to find bus routes/schedules online (Travel), or words to know when ordering online (Food).
All of the articles are extremely practical without being too technical. Glancing through these, there are a bunch I wish I had had when I first studied abroad, such as how to find a good deodorant in Japan (Oh, the curse of being a foreigner in the land of spray deodorant! Alternatives do, in fact, exist!) or 7 words to know when you have a cold. And for the ladies who didn’t stock up before they left, there are helpful guides to things like finding Japanese tampons and pads.
Another great thing is that Ashley does Q&A posts as well, so you can send in your burning questions if you find yourself stumped. Almost all the articles have images and photographs to help you out where it’s relevant, and in addition to the posts themselves, Ashley has also compiled some basic internet resources that are useful to people struggling to get by without a lot of Japanese under their belts. The site has a simple, clean layout and is easy to navigate, so you’ll have no trouble finding what you’re looking for. There’s also a twitter account for the site, updated daily with additional neat and helpful things.
I highly suggest you peruse Surviving In Japan Without Much Japanese yourself and recommend it to friends you know taking their first (or second, or third!) leap across the Pacific.