7 Myths About Japan

Since I won’t be able to put up an episode of the JUST JAPAN PODCAST this week (busy with work and the end of the school term…as well as some Graduate School stuff) I wanted to do something I don’t do so much these days. I wanted to write a little post about life in Japan.

I always get lots of interesting questions about Japan on my Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Some are very well thought out and others not so much. I wanted to just address some in a not so serious post about “Myths About Japan.”

So here they are, some MYTHS ABOUT JAPAN (said in a rather loud and echoing voice…also with reverb):


1. Japan is a Really Expensive Place to Live:  I suppose it might be if you are interested in buying real estate in Tokyo or even renting a large apartment in downtown Tokyo, but for the most part, it honestly isn’t so bad when compared to a country like Canada (where I’m from). The last Canadian city I lived in was Ottawa (Capital city with about a 1 million population). I know live in Kobe, Japan (about 1.5 million). In Ottawa I was paying about $700.00 a month for a ratty one-bedroom apartment in a not-so-nice neighborhood. Utilities were included, but I also had frightening neighbors, lots of cockroaches to call “friend” and a balcony that was deemed not safe to walk on by the landlord!

I know live in what would be the equivalent of a 3-bedroom apartment and pay the same for rent. Utilities are extra, but it is a very nice (and SAFE) and clean place and wonderful for raising a small family.

When I look at things like food, some items are definitely more expensive in Japan (meat), but others are cheaper (booze).

Fancy Smancy rich area of japan...Ginza!
Fancy Smancy rich area of japan…Ginza!


2. Living in Japan is Just as Exciting as an Anime:  NOOOOOOOOOO! Life is never like a cartoon! Never…never…anywhere!


p.s. It is a pretty cool place though

One Piece...Japanese Anime
One Piece…Japanese Anime


3. All Japanese Women are Beautiful:  Nope. Japan is like any other country in the world. Some people are good looking and others maybe not so much.

That goes for the men as well.

Beautiful Japanese Woman
Beautiful Japanese Woman


4. There are Used School Girl Underwear Vending Machines: Maybe there are, but I’ve never seen them and have never met someone who has either. They may exist in the deep bowels of Akihabara in Tokyo, but they may also be a complete urban myth.


5. You Need to Speak Japanese in Order to Teach English in Japan:  Nope! It’s always good to know how to speak Japanese in Japan so you can be independent, make local friends and enjoy life to it’s fullest, but you don’t need the language skills to teach English. In fact, most places teachers will work teaching will forbid them to speak Japanese around students. Students (or parents of students) are paying for a teacher to speak English, not for a teacher to practice their Japanese.

That being said, having a good knowledge of Japanese sure makes it easier to explain grammar and more difficult concept to students (but depending where you work, you might get in trouble if you do so).



Japanese classroom
Japanese classroom


6.  Japanese are Big Drinkers:  Some are, but many are not. Also, if like me, you’ve had a chance to live in work in a country like South Korea, you realize that when it comes to booze intake, the Japanese are lightweights in comparison.


7. Coming to Japan Will Make My Life Better no Matter What:  Not necessarily! If you think that coming to Japan will make a problem-filled life become perfect, you probably are in for some disappointment. Japan is a nice place to live and I like it a lot, but if you are someone with a great deal of emotional baggage, simply changing geographic locations probably won’t be enough to fix things.

Likewise, if you are having financial problems because you are crap with money in your native country, chances are you’ll probably be crap with money in Japan.



Japan is a cool place. It is a good place to live, travel, learn, have fun and even raise a family. I live here with my family. I do eventually plan to resettle in Canada, but Japan is worth checking out.

This is just a “light” answer to some of the many comments and questions I get.


Remember to follow me on Twitter: @jlandkev



  1. I’m glad you included a picture of a beautiful Japanese woman haha 😉 That’s a good list, though! I’ve definitely been asked some of the same questions! The answers regarding expense and knowing Japanese tend to make people feel pleased, while the answers to all Japanese being otaku and/or beautiful tends to lead to some disappointment.


  2. Awesome article, sweet and concise.

    I did stumble upon something that looked like used underwear in Akiba but I couldn’t tell what they really were, also they were in a capsule vending machine lol.

    Also should be mentioning that you need an higher education certificate most of the time to even start thinking about teaching English in Japan.. or be really lucky.

    Btw first tip second paragraph, the second word should be now.


  3. You are so right Kevin running someplace else will not solve your problems no matter where you go. I have lived in Japan and Korea but I love my home in Cambridge best and I found the rents in Tokyo and Seoul a lot cheaper. It is very safe in Japan, Korea and China unlike the U.S.


  4. Hey Kevin,

    I’m an ESL teacher in Busan. I’ve been here for about a year. Your blogs have really helped me and I still read them for fun. Even though I don’t teach in japan and have only visited this article seems completely true.

    Keep living the good life,


  5. So I guess my other comment didn’t go through.. I was just saying how great this post was and that there’s a typo in the second word of the 2 paragraph for number 1.


  6. I’ve never heard of #6 before, but maybe that’s because I’m German and we don’t consider any other nation but ours to be big drinkers. *sigh*
    I was surprised to see how quickly my Japanese co-workers got drunk when I first came to Japan.

    As for #1, I find I have way more money here in Japan than back home. Again, it depends where you’re from. In Germany taxes are extremely high that you might only see 55% of your salary at the end of the month.


  7. I am 67 and I love Japan. Will be in Tokyo 6 days from 2. September. This is my visit number 6 since april 2012!!


  8. I already knew all these but it’s nice reading what others say…sigh…It’s my dream to go to japan even if it’s for 5 seconds XD Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you ^_^


  9. I would comment that …”Japan is jut like everywhere else.” I know that would come as shock to many people but after 25 years here and now seeing our children leave the nest. I felt that I have had a pretty similar life compared to my country of birth. My wife and I considered where to live, raised our children, paid the bills, worried about school, contemplated buying a new or used car, worried about our parents getting old, planned for retirement,.. everything; all the good, bad and neutral, points that we would have had to do regardless of what country we were residing in.
    Adding in the cultural aspects and that’s where it gets interesting.


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