Life in Japan and all of its practicalities can be overwhelming, even for the most experienced. From discounted late-night bento boxes to the life-saving power of Google Translate’s camera feature, there are many facets of life in Japan that we’d like to know earlier. It can range from the basics (buying at 100 yen stores) to the weird (when NHK comes to your door, say “nihongo tabemasen,” according to user smokeshack on Reddit). And who would know this advice better than the people who document it? We’ve asked some of your favorite Japan-based YouTubers and Influencers to share their tips to help save us time, money, and stress.
“If you want to save money, buy food from the supermarket after 8pm or so, as they usually offer discounts of up to 50%. But a lot of people do too, so be careful because if you arrive too late, everything will be full! Finally, you can always use Google Maps wherever you go in Japan. It makes train information such as where to exit the station and train numbers very easy to access.
Originally from Jakarta, Indonesia, Jerome Polin is a YouTuber, internet celebrity and co-owner of Indonesian Cafe Menantea, while studying in the Applied Mathematics program at Waseda University. Follow her channel to eat shows, student vlogs, konbini races, and the Southeast Asian experience in Japan.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals. Most of the time, the locals are fine to talk to you, even if you are not good at Japanese. Most of the time, if you are friendly and do your best to interact with them in Japanese, they will take this as a sign of respect for their culture and do their best to engage in your conversation. Many Japanese people are very shy, especially around new people (especially if you are a foreigner), so it’s important that you are the one to initiate the conversation. You never know… you might even find a new friend because of it! “
Joey is a Japanese-Australian YouTuber, voice actor, musician, and podcast host. From his beginnings experimenting with YouTube videos as a student at the University of Sydney, this great digital mathematician now shares content including (but not limited to) anime, manga, games, extreme challenges and more. Japanese culture to more than three million people.
“When you learn Japanese, I recommend that you take what you learned that day and start using it immediately. Otherwise, you will forget about it. If it’s a new sentence, keep using it and have fun changing the words with new vocabulary. As scary as it sounds, learning Japanese means you’re going to have to talk to people even if you don’t say it correctly. It’s inevitable that you’re going to mess it up, but that’s how you learn. Overcome this fear and keep learning and engaging in the conversation.
Aki, popularly known as Akidearest, is a Filipino-American YouTuber and content creator from Las Vegas, Nevada. She is widely known for her videos on anime, manga, games and for making accessible to all the most specialized concepts of Japanese culture.
“YAMAYA. It sounds very Japanese, but if you have a craving for foreign food or snacks this is one of the best stores to find them! They even have real cheese! It’s a channel that you can find all over the country.
Born and raised in Victoria, Canada, Sharla is a YouTuber who has lived in Japan for over 15 years. She currently lives in Sendai City, Miyagi. On his channel, you’ll find videos documenting his travels, home renovations, pet cat Maro, daily life in the peaceful Japanese countryside and more.
“Avoid almost all embarrassing situations in Japan by saying something (in Japanese) first.
Whether it’s the stares, the awkward silence when you walk into a restaurant, or your first time in a group of Japanese colleagues / students, you can save yourself a lot of frustration by realizing you must be the first person to say something. At a local restaurant, try “Ima yatteimasu ka? (Are you open?) Or “Hitori / futari daijoubu desu ka? (Can you seat one / two people?) And POOF, they know you are not a walking TOEIC exam. Even if you know the answer, you don’t REALLY ask these questions, you say, “Okay, this is not an English test. Was good.
Just keep at least one quick phrase in your back pocket for a wonderfully non-intrusive time and the chance to start fitting in.
Loretta is a vibrant and lively polyglot who has been on the YouTube scene for over 10 years now. Originally from New York, she specializes in videos useful for newcomers to Japan, as well as language content.
“If you want a free travel souvenir, you can collect train stamps at some stations! Popular train stations (usually JR) have a train stamp stand. You can also request it directly from the train staff (they will take out the stamp + ink). Tokyo also has many interesting local cut-out postcards from Japan Post (“gotochi shaped cards”). These are great keepsakes for your friends living outside of Japan.
Use Instagram hashtags to find unique and interesting places to visit. I usually type “# 東京” in the search box and go through the various popular hashtags. If you want to know recommended cafes / restaurants by location, you can search for something like “# 渋 谷 グ ル メ” or “# 渋 谷 カ フ ェ”.
If you’re interested in Japanese stationery, arts and crafts, and other journaling related content, Kaila knows all about it. She is a Filipino lifestyle blogger and content creator based in Japan.
“I use LINE not only as a messaging app, but also as a coupon. They offer coupons for some restaurant chains, conbinis and pharmacies. All I have to do is show the coupon code to the cashier. I also often use cashless payment – not only because it’s better for “life covid” – but I can get some points back as well. I can even get loyalty points with my credit card when I pay with my card. As far as I know, services like Paypay, LINE pay, Rakuten Edy even have English translations!
Asagi is a native Japanese speaker and fluent in English. His YouTube channel, which promises “No BS Japan,” is a hotbed for reactions to Western culture from a Japanese perspective.
“I absolutely love trying new restaurants and activities, but being a vegetarian it can be more difficult to live in Tokyo! I use google maps to mark new or favorite vegetarian restaurants, shops or activities that I hear about by selecting the location and adding it to the ‘saved’ section. When I’m on the go and ready to eat or see something new, I pull out my google maps and search my red hearts to see the closest place that matches my particular occasion! It always leads to new, exciting experiences.
Caitlin Steiner is a travel blogger and influencer with experience in marketing and events in New York, Seoul and now Tokyo. This jet-setter documents her travels, her fashion and beauty tips and her experiences on her Instagram.
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