Lately I’ve been watching football and other USA sports and shows live using USATVnow. No setup, no software, I just watch directly from my browser. I’m currently using the free plan that gives you access to ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, and PBS. It’s worth checking out. They have a paid option too which would eliminate my local cable costs and give me 200+ channels, HD, and HBO and Showtime. I might consider it, but for now the free version is perfect.
Are you an English speaking Mac user in Japan? If you need support, I found the answer to your problems!
American entrepreneurs Aaron & Josh have recently founded a new remote tech support service at TokyoMac.com where expats and other English speakers can visit to get help with Apple OS X products. They are currently offering a special price for new customers of only ¥1,017 (about $12 USD) for their first hour of tech support. Payments are easily made using the worldwide PayPal service. They are in the process of adding more team members to expand available service hours.
They know sometimes there are not many tech support choices in Japan that offer service from easy to understand native English speakers, and wanted to offer this new option to the English speaking community. It’s great to see Apple Certified and A+ Certified professionals offer affordable solutions living or traveling abroad. They are also on Facebook and are looking to make some new friends on there, so make sure to drop by their FB page and say hi!
For many years the Japanese kitchen remained a mystery to many people, and it was only until Sushi restaurants began to appear, did the concept of eating Japanese food begin to capture the imagination of an increasing number of people, simply because Japanese food has its own distinctive tastes and appearance, is healthy and basically easy to prepare.
Japanese food is mostly rice based, and can be spicy but not overly so, with lots of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices being the principal ingredients.
There a number of basic ingredients that you will need to have on hand when you set off to cook a typical Japanese meal. Here is a list of the top five.
Surprising though it may seem, the most popular ingredient of any Japanese dish is rice. But not just any rice- Japanese rice. Most home cooks when they think of rice almost always connect up with either Persian rice, Jasmin rice or some of the other common brands of Thai rice. However Japanese cuisine lends itself much more to rice that is basically tasteless as well as being capable of absorbing and retaining lots of water which is highly important in the preparation of Sushi.
Japanese food is characterized by its many subtle flavours, with a lot of the nuances being provided by the adding of Soy Sauce to herbs and vegetables. Once again it is important for the sake of authenticity to find a genuine Japanese Soy sauce with the most popular Japanese brands, which can be found in most leading supermarkets or oriental food stores coming from the Kikkoman Company. Kikkoman produce two types of soy sauce, the first Koikuchi which stands out for its black, deep colour and Usukuchi which is lighter in colour but has a saltier taste. An experienced Japanese chef will know exactly where to add each of these varieties of this essential ingredient.
Rice wine is another must on the list of essential ingredients in Japanese food, with Sake being the best known, while Mirin also carries out the same role in flavoring rice, although it comes with considerably lower alcohol content. By adding rice wine, the rice will not only taste better but will have a shiny appearance and be less inclined to stick to the cooking pan.
Good Quality Raw Fish
As the bulk of the Japanese menu is based around raw fish, it’s possible to understand why a good fish stock powder is a very common ingredient in Japanese cooking. Other flavorings that will need to figure near the top of any Japanese shopping list are Ponzu which adds lemon flavoring to Japanese dishes and also mayonnaise, but only that made in Japan.
Add to that list lots of fresh vegetables, particularly peppers as well as raw fish especially salmon as well as edible seaweed known as “Nori” which is used to bind the “maki-zushi” variety of Sushi.
Cooking Japanese food can be an invigorating challenge for any competent cook. However the chances of success will be that much higher if the proper ingredients are used.
Andrew is a specialist in Japanese food. Over the last 4 years, Andrew has been distributing equipment for Japanese restaurants including conveyor sushi belts and rice cookers. Allan is also a regular blogger and forum contributor.
This summer, Japan Airlines (JAL) will start offering high-speed, wireless internet connection service, the JAL SKY Wi-Fi. The airline is currently in progress in equipping their aircraft across its international fleet using the broadband Ku connectivity solution eXConnect by Panasonic Avionics Corporation. It will be gradually introduced onboard JAL’s international flights. If possible, I think it’s a great time to utilize a VPN service while connecting to their wifi network to encrypt and secure your internet connection.
Airline’s customers in every cabin class will be able to surf and browse the web and access their accounts using their personal electronic devices such as tablets, laptops, and other Wi-Fi enabled gadgets with the use of JAL SKY Wi-Fi. This serves as an alternative option for in-flight entertainment as well as getting some work done if they have.
Installation will start on a 777-300ER and JAL SKY Wi-Fi will become accessible on flights between Tokyo (Narita) and New York (John F. Kennedy) on every other days from July 15, 2012, and everyday from early August. Soon after this, by the end of October JAL expects to bring its latest service on flights to and from Jakarta, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And by next spring, JAL expects to deliver its service to Frankfurt, London, and Paris.
A charge for the usage of JAL SKY Wi-Fi is USD11.95 or the first hour and USD21.95 for 24 hours upon activation. Customers who purchase 24 hour usage can continue to enjoy the service on a connecting JAL international flight that has the JAL SKY Wi-Fi system as long as it is within the time limit. Charges are payable through credit card only and if the customers are using JAL CARD, JAL USA CARD, or the JAL Shanghai Pudong Development Bank credit card, they are entitled to the special rates of USD10.75 for the first hour and USD19.75 for 24 hours of usage. Continue reading
Flights are expensive, and that’s why I’m happy to see budget airlines succeed and expand. Air Asia, a Malaysian company, is a very affordable airline that mostly flies around South East Asia and in 2011 they teamed up with Japan’s All Nippon Airways to offer affordable flights to and from Tokyo and Osaka. I wasn’t sure how the company would do since they recently pulled AirAsia X out of Europe, but things seem to be fine and they’re moving forward.
This year I’m pretty excited about their proposed expansion into Fukuoka, Okinawa, and Seoul Korea. I’m looking forward to seeing what destinations are offered departing from Fukuoka and how much the airfare will cost. There are a lot of places I’m interested in traveling to.
In other news, ANA (All Nippon Airways) announced it will sell 914 million new shares priced at 184 yen ($2.33) each, with the proceeds used to fund a huge purchase of Boeing Dreamliners and boost its international network.
A new residency management system will be introduced on July 9th. Get ready! You’ll have 3 years from this date to get your new Residence Card (zairyu card). This new system will apply to mid-term and long-term residents in Japan. The aim is to enable the Ministry of Justice to maintain up-to-date information required for managing the residency of foreign nationals and to help local authorities provide them with better administrative services using that information.
The introduction of the system will bring big advantages, including easier procedures for foreign nationals residing in Japan to reenter the country and longer maximum periods of stay. This program will introduce the new residency management system.
What exactly is the new residency management system? You can get more info at that site and also download a PDF file. If they take the PDF offline, I have uploaded a copy
See even more in depth details here
Target Group – Permanent Residents
Expiration date of Alien Registration Card (gaikojin torokusho) – 3 years from the date the new system goes into effect. As for a person under 16, whichever takes place first: 3 years from the July 9, 2012 or your 16th birthday.
New certificate type – Residence Card
Where to switch over to Residence Record – Regional Immigration Bureau
Target Group – Others
Expiration date of Alien Registration Card – When your Period of Stay and/or Status of Residence changes after July 9, 2012
New certificate type – Residence Card
Where to switch over to Residence Record – Regional Immigration Bureau
Every lose your Alien Registration Card (aka Gaijin Card)? Lynn has, and wow does is there a story to tell! So here’s Lynn’s story and how the situation was resolved…
Hello! This is Lynn from Wander Tokyo, and I have a confession to make.
I am an idiot. Also, I lost my alien registration card in Japan. These two things are not entirely unrelated!
Although come summer 2012, the alien registration card system will be abolished, what should you do in the meantime if you happen to lose your alien registration card? I hope my mistakes can be of some use to anyone in the same situation. Here is, step-by-step, what I did to get a replacement alien registration card.
- I didn’t panic. To be honest, I should probably have been more anxious than I was. According to Japanese law, all aliens “must carry [the alien registration card] with him/her at all time.” Additionally, if caught without the alien registration card, the punishment can be “a fine not exceeding 200,000 yen.” Of course, anecdotal evidence shows that such fines are probably rare, especially in situations like mine, where the alien registration card has been lost, but it is still a little nerve-wracking nonetheless.
- I backtracked. Where did I last have my alien registration card? I checked my tiny apartment, the convenience store where I had copied my registration card earlier, and my route to work. While looking, I made sure to have my passport, since I figured it would dissuade any overzealous police officers from slapping a fine on me.
- When it became clear that I was not going to find my registration card, I headed over to the koban (police box). I had a speech planned, but the only thing that came out was something like: “Sumimasen… gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho… nakunarimashita…” (“Excuse me… alien registration card… lost…”) The point seemed to get across, though. Instead of arresting me, which in my sudden nervousness I feared, they made some sympathetic comments, copied my passport and Japanese national health insurance card, and gave me a cup of coffee. Then, they had me fill out a lost-item form, which asked some basic questions like name, what was lost, when I last had it, when I discovered I had lost it, and likely places I may have lost it. The form was in Japanese, but the officers helped me fill out the parts I had trouble reading. After I filled out the form, I was given a certificate called ishitsubutsu todoke juri shomeisho, which is basically just proof that I had reported the alien registration card missing. Last, they told me to go to the city hall as soon as possible to replace the card and wished me well.
- Since the city hall was open that day, I headed over. When you go, be sure to bring: lost item certificate issued by the police, passport, national health insurance card, any other form of identification, and two passport-sized photos. Also, it couldn’t hurt to bring your hanko (name stamp) just in case. I forgot the passport photos, so I had to go get my picture taken at a nearby photo booth. This is my biggest regret in losing my card. My photo on my first card was really great, but the new photo I took for my replacement card was awful, since I was rain-drenched and not-very-happy.
At the city hall, I filled out a form much like the one I had filled out at the police box, stating when I had lost my alien registration card. Next, I filled out a form much like the one I had filled out when first applying for the alien registration card, which asked things such as my name, residence, and so on. After this, I was given a redemption certificate that stated I could come back to the city hall for my new card in three weeks.
- In three weeks, I went back to the city hall. Be certain to bring the redemption certificate you received at the city hall previously! You typically have about a period of one week to pick up your card. I wondered if there was some sort of fee or fine involved in getting a new card, but it turns out there is none. I handed in the redemption certificate and got my shiny, new alien registration card. Success!
Here’s a quick run-down of items you should bring when getting a replacement alien registration certificate.
Items to take to the police box:
- Health insurance card
- Any other forms of identification
Items to take to city hall when applying for a new alien registration card:
- Lost item certificate issued by the police box
- Two passport-sized photos
- Heath insurance card
- Any other forms of identification (hanko, etc)
Items to take to city hall when picking up your new alien registration card:
- Redemption certificate issued when you applied for a new card
I hope this guide has helped you. Good luck with your life in Japan!
If you liked this article, please check out Wander Tokyo where Lynn posts about Tokyo and Japan travel advice.
I’m an entrepreneur, haha that’s not too broad is it? I focus on marketing consulting for established and start up companies. On top of that I’m a media buyer, and an angel investor. My clients used to be exclusively U.S. based but then I branched out into the Asian market and that means learning the basics of new languages, educating myself about new customs, and traveling to awesome places. But will people in Japan ever understand what an entrepreneur is or does or how he or she lives?
When I’m at home I work from my SOHO (very small office home office) but in the last few years problems have come up that can affect relationships because people don’t understand my work schedule and situation. I don’t keep a routine schedule, it’s not the standard Japanese way, and I don’t play by the rules of a normal work environment or a Japanese company (or any other).
Besides the fluctuation in my work hours, I think there are two main factors involved. One is called “Holiday Mode” and the other is called “In The Zone Mode” and it’s hard for people in my life to witness the transition from one to the other. I see a lot of confusion, jealousy for having too much play time, and anger for not having enough time. Here’s a quick breakdown…
Holiday Mode: Some days people see that I work only 1-2 hours giving me a lot of free time. My clients are taken care of, I need a break, and it’s the perfect time for me to take advantage of this. I have time to spend with my loved ones, time to explore, time to travel to visit family and friends, time to party, time to spend money and have fun. I go to sleep late, I wake up late. Holiday Mode usually lasts anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks with an occasional blip (once it lasted more than a month).
In The Zone Mode: When I need to get things done I dedicate everything to my clients and projects. I enjoy what I do and I can easily get “IN THE ZONE!” with a full tank of energy and confidence. I’m no stranger to working 80 hours a week when I need to. My sleep schedule starts to become batches of 2-4 hours so my working hours can conform to other timezones. Some days I’m so busy that I work long stretches without stepping away for a meal or to answer non business related calls to my keitai (cell phone). I’m marketing, networking, researching, ad buying, having conference calls, among other things, and “In The Zone Mode” usually lasts 1-2 weeks at a time.
Regular Mode: This wasn’t mentioned as a problem because it’s not an issue This mode comes up once in a while and I can keep regular Japan time office hours.
My work structure goes in cycles. From Holiday Mode to In The Zone Mode to Holiday Mode to Regular Mode back to In The Zone and so on with little prediction of when things will change. My work schedule offers me my own time off but that time off usually doesn’t land on many national holidays.
Let’s face the facts… I wasn’t raised in an Asian or Japanese culture and I’m not a “salary man” that slaves away with a set schedule with certain days off. Over 7 years ago I left a six-figure income job to pursue my dream of owning a business that gives me freedom, time, and money. Sure it was a bumpy ride in the beginning but I pushed ahead and smoothed things out. Now I’m living abroad, enjoying what I do, and it feels like I’m making magic happen. I’ll hit the grind stone when I need to because I don’t want to end up being forced to go back to the U.S. or work for an unpleasant employer while possibly earning a lower salary than I’m worth. When I’m in the zone, I have to take full advantage of the situation and mental power because it’s a part of my life.
Here’s more details of the problems with people not understanding what it means to be an entrepreneur.
During Holiday Mode my woman and friends love it! Sure, why not? I’m a younger looking enthusiastic gaijin that seems like he’s on a permanent holiday with time and money to burn. A lot of fun times could be had! On the down side sometimes friends and family get jealous if they are a slave to the office. They go to sleep when I’m still out having fun or they wake up when I’m still sleeping or playing video games.
During In The Zone Mode my woman easily gets upset. She thinks I’m ignoring her, my personal schedule changes and all of a sudden I have no time for fun, and she doesn’t understand why I’m working so much and ignoring friends and family. People go to sleep while I’m still working, and people wake up to go to the office when I’m still working. In the home base I speak firmly, I speak briefly, when I say I’m going to eat out it means I’m leaving in 3 minutes with or without a companion, and this easily causes her to become emotional. (It feels like a woman having her period for a really long time!) Luckily I quickly learned to ignore things that negatively affect my In The Zone Mode and that means Holiday Mode will be more enjoyable because I won’t be carrying around any resentment.
In Japan I feel that people define one another too much based on what job you have, meaning ‘what you do‘ is ‘who you are‘. On the flip side, a lot of Japanese girls (and guys) see a job or work like this… a person works for a boss who tells them what to do, a person talks up or down to coworkers depending on status, a person does his or her task for a set amount of days per week, a person gets paid holidays, a person gets a paycheck and after a person puts in a lifetime of work that person retires with a nice pension, the end. That’s not usually how an entrepreneur works.
I feel that life needs to be prioritized especially when you work for yourself. Money = taking care of family. Do you love your family? Sure! Having a good job can cover that money issue, but if you run a business there’s more at stake The equation should look something like Work = money = family financial security = family understanding. But that understanding part isn’t so easy. Also an entrepreneur that works from home experiences many tough situations because his wife or girlfriend sees him all the time and might associate his work with “playing on the Internet” and start asking for help with household chores or help with something ‘really quick’. This would never happen in an office, and having somebody breaking your train of though to ask you these questions destroys productivity.
Because of the way of life Japan, I think it’s easy to become less manly and have less control of the family and finances. As an entrepreneur you need to really cowboy up and take control of the situation before it gets too deep into the dead zone of unhappiness, but at the same time don’t forget to understand and respect the culture of the country you’re living in.
Owning your own business, even one online with or without employees, you will most likely create a business forecast estimating your profits and losses. See profits? Work hard and make more. See losses? Work harder, and get back into the green zone. But make sure to take some time to enjoy life! Anyway, this is the end of my little rant and I wish all international entrepreneurs and foreigners working abroad the best of luck!
Here are some books worth reading that will help you improve your life and business.
Adam e-mailed me and wanted to share some quick tips about the customs he encountered while living in Japan.
Japan has an amazing and dynamic culture. It has fascinating buildings and architecture that date back thousands of years that simply ooze Japanese culture. This history sits along the much more modern elements of the shifting fashion trends and technological development that is constantly reinventing itself. This mix of old and new creates a country of stark contradictions which is one of the reasons Japan is a must visit destination. Before you go, here is a quick heads up on Japanese customs and how to get along if this is your first visit.
If you are eating out with the locals and you’re presented with a traditional Japanese dish, you may find it hard not to be a noisy eater and to slurp on the food you’re not so used to eating. Its commonplace in Japan and for everyone to do so and it’s seen a sign that you are enjoying your meal! If you find it hard to eat noodles or rice with chopsticks, it’s more than welcome that you are allowed to raise the bowl you’re eating from to chin level. This will reduce any chance of an accidental spillage. Before you even start to eat anything that has been offered to you, it’s polite to say “itadakimasu” which means I will receive. This is expected whether you are in the best five star restaurants or sampling a taste of food at the local market.
In countries such as the US, Tipping is expected and is often automatically added on to your bill. The very opposite is true in Japan. In restaurants for example, they believe that the price they set for a meal is the price they believe it to be worth. Any more is seen as offensive and frowned upon. You will find that some waitresses will begrudgingly accept a tip just to avoid the confrontation but in general, it’s seen as an insult. So remember the price you see is the price you pay.
Visiting someone else’s home.
It’s custom in Japan for you to remove your shoes as soon as you step into someone else’s home and in most cases, if you enter a hotel or business too. There are a few westernised businesses based in Japan that don’t require you to remove your shoes so it’s not always necessary. As soon as you pass through the door, you will probably notice other people’s shoes lined up and a pair of complimentary guest slippers will be sitting nearby; many Japanese bring a pair of indoor slippers just in case. And be careful to remove the toilet slippers waiting for you in the bathroom once you leave the bathroom. If in doubt, take your shoes off! If the host doesn’t expect it, they will let you know.
During your trip you will notice public bathhouses (Sento) dotted all around Japan whether you are in a major city or a small village. You might also notice the hot springs (Onsen) too. Unlike their use in the western culture, a Japanese bath is a place for you to relax after you have washed. It’s not a place for actual scrubbing! If you are in the home of a local, you may be offered the choice of using their bath. This is seen as an honour and you should be careful not to dirty the water you bathe in. The sanctity of the Japanese bath (Ofuro) is incredibly important.
This guest post was provided by Adam, cheap car hire provider, Carrentals.co.uk. If you are travelling anywhere round the world and want the ease that a car brings, take a look at the site for the best deals around.
You’ve decided to let go and move overseas. It’s time to sell as much as you can, if not everything! I sold stuff at a flea market, in the newspaper, using Craigslist, and on eBay, and I had a garage sale. I donated some household items and clothing, and the rest of my stuff I just gave away for free. These methods helped me get rid of everything I owned in the U.S.
But what about staying in contact with your home country? You know… a phone number, voice mail, and a mailing address? Sure you can use your parents address or another family members address and this would be the most affordable way, but sometimes it feels good not to have to rely on anybody to get things done. Here are some steps on how to make it happen on your own terms.
- Get a new address first using a 3rd party service. You could use the service Mailboxes Etc, but it’s not convenient. I recommend an online service such as Earth Class Mail. They’ll email you, scan your mail, even forward things to you. It’s important to do this first because once you decide where you’ll be getting your mail you need to get a notarized copy of USPS Form 1583 to authorize the service to receive mail on your behalf. Get this done at a notary or your local bank. But watch those fee totals! You’ll be paying a monthly fee + scanning fees + mail forwarding fees. Last year I spent a more than $1200 USD on this service. This year I’m estimated to spend about $800.
- Keep one credit card with a small limit. This is my recommendation so you can shop online more securely. You don’t want to become a victim of fraud where somebody drains your Bank Debit Card and you have to fight with your bank (while in Japan) about how to get your money back. You can check your credit score free at Credit Karma and they also can recommend credit cards based on your score.
- Get a bank account you want to keep for a long time or forever that offers nice online banking and minimal fees. You’ll need this to pay bills that may come up, etc. I have a checking account but I also bank with Capital One for savings (high yield money market account) and the cheapest withdrawals. I also just got a Charles Schwab savings account. They told me they don’t charge a conversion fee and reimburse ATM fees worldwide. I also signed up with mint.com to track all of my bank accounts from one login.
- Get a PayPal account and tie it to your bank account and any credit card you need to. Sometimes it’s a convenient solution to paying people or to buy products, but you should consider getting it even though you might not use it. I can access Paypal on my iPhone!
- I run my business online (from my ‘virtual office’ aka laptop) so I also have a fax number. I got a free fax number from j2.com so I can receive faxes. I also then use a send-only service like Green Fax to send outgoing faxes using my email.
- More than 90 days before moving, renew your driving license for the longest time possible. This way you can use it to get an International Driving License, and when you return home it might still be valid. Why 90 days? Well sometimes if you have the proper visa it can be transferred to a Japanese license. Please don’t ask me about this, I have no idea how to do this or the rules because I use the subway. On a side note – make sure your passport is current!
- Secure your internet connection. When you do online banking, work, and even Facebook it’s a good idea to use a VPN. I use TunnelBear’s VPN service on my laptop and my iPhone. TunnelBear works great in Japan and gives me a dynamic USA IP address. They do offer a limited free version, but I pay for the premium membership for unlimited speed and server locations. Before using a VPN I’ve gotten locked out of my PayPal account a handful of times and my regular bank account. And wow, it is a pain to get the accounts verified and re-verified when you need your money asap. I’ve even had to verify orders I make in America or the UK over the phone because my IP was coming from Japan or wait for mail to be delivered and scanned. The benefit of using a VPN service is you’ll be able to encrypt your internet connection at home, at an internet cafe, wifi hotspot, and even on your smart phone. We’re talking serious business here… 2048 bit VPN encryption for my laptop and 128 bit for my iPhone at the same time (it’s basically 2 accounts for the price of one)! TunnelBear let’s me choose the server I connect to each time (USA, UK… for now) I’ve also been able to use geographically restricted sites like Hulu and U.S. network TV and even listen to Pandora online.
- Secure your laptop. Most likely you’ll have everything on your laptop (banking, contact info, important documents, photos, etc) and it’s stuff you can’t afford to lose. It’s a good idea to sign up for LogMeIn (even the free account) in case you lose your laptop or it gets stolen. I used to use 2GB of free online storage with DropBox and treat it as “My Documents” but then I switched to SugarSync that offers 5GB of free storage and multiple folder backup, then I back everything up using Carbonite in case my hard drive crashes.
- Get a phone number. One that you can receive calls to and originates from your home country. I recommend doing this through Skype. It’s a solid VOIP company and I haven’t had any problems over the last 3+ years. For $60 a year you’ll have a number your friends and family can call to talk to you, leave voice mails, and you can use it to call phones for an unlimited amount of to the US and Canada. If you’re from another country then visit their site for more details on what they offer. I can use Skype on my iPhone! So that’s an added bonus.
And there you have – those are my tips for moving overseas and living in Japan or a another country abroad while still having a presence in the United States. It’s all about living a location independent lifestyle! If I think of anything else I’ll update this blog entry. If you have any useful tips please post them in the comments section.