If you are reading these lines, there is a good chance that you are passionate about Japan but between appreciating the country through a prism and living there is a world.
This is why in order to help you understand what awaits you there, whether for studies or work, we have decided to share with you some interviews of people who have taken their courage in both hands in order to to try the Japanese adventure.
For this first interview carried out in April 2018, our editor Yoyo asked Julie, a French blogger who has been living in Japan for a year: @yurie_travel.
Yoyo: Let’s start at the beginning: could you introduce yourself quickly? What’s your name, how old are you?
Yurie: My name is Julie, I am 27 years old, I come from Lyon. I did a literary baccalaureate, then an English-Japanese LEA in Grenoble. After my license, I stopped my studies and I worked a little: I was a bookseller, I sold manga!
Today, I am a model and an actress (actress, I have only been since I was in Japan, but I had already modeled at Japan Expo, for example). My hobbies: photography, music, and fashion. And then I have a blog and I am an instagramer.
Yoyo: Actress, too?
Yurie: Yes, I’m in a talent agency (Editor’s note: タ レ ン ト). I appear in TV ads, etc. It’s quite easy when you’re French, in fact; especially when you are blonde! Besides, that’s why I changed color: normally I’m brunette, but I was asked to dye my hair! Blonde with blue eyes, it’s good, you are immediately taken! (laughs)
Yoyo: So let’s get to the heart of the matter: Why Japan?
Yurie: Since I was 5, I grew up with a half-brother who dated a Japanese woman. They spoke Japanese all the time to each other, so I learned a few words… And then growing up, I always said to myself that I would like to go there one day.
So I first learned Japanese on my own, with some advice here and there, and then I went to college. When I arrived here, for example, I didn’t know how to talk too much, but I understood.
Yoyo: Is this your first time in Japan?
Yurie: No, it’s the 3rd time: first in Kansai, then the north, and finally I moved to Tokyo.
Yoyo: How did you come to Japan, and how is it here?
Yurie: One day I was walking on Facebook, I was bored to death that day, I remember… And there I saw an advertisement: “you want to go to Japan? Click on the link ! “. I clicked… And there you are, I arrived on the Study in Japan site.
Yoyo: And you made up your mind in how long?
Yurie: Me, instantly, right away! (laughs) Then the trick was to convince the family behind it, because you need a guarantor, and then you have to have a minimum of money aside, too. So I did it quite a bit in advance: I made the request the same day, in April 2016, and I left in April 2017.
Yoyo: And you came for how long?
Yurie: Basically it was just for a year… but in the end, I’m not going to leave! (Laughs) Suddenly, my visa expires in June, because it’s a one-year and three-month visa (the duration of the courses), but I will continue with a WHV afterwards, to stay.
Yoyo: It must cost a certain amount, 15 months… no?
Yurie: Yes, all the same: the first payment was 3000 € for 6 months, administration fees included.
Yoyo: Could you detail the process for coming to Japan a bit?
Yurie: I was put in touch with a French adviser, they ask us for the necessary information, we complete the file… If something is missing, they come back to us.
The Japanese are very thorough, so that can take a long time! Then, they help us with all the procedures (visa, passport), to find work there, to find accommodation, etc.
Yoyo: Difficulties, in particular?
Yurie: Mainly to find the surety. Afterwards, the administrative procedures can be quite heavy, but it’s worth it; and then we are well accompanied, it’s reassuring.
Yoyo: Do you take the opportunity to travel to other Asian countries or elsewhere in Japan?
Yurie: As for Asia, I’ve been to Korea, Thailand twice, and I’ll probably go to Bali. And for Japan, every weekend, I leave Tokyo: I was in Chiba last weekend, another time in Shizuoka, there I’m going to Sendai to see the “fox village”, and during Golden Week I went to Aomori.
Yoyo: You take advantage of your travels to feed your Instagram account and your blog, I imagine?
Yurie: Yes, with my camera (I’m also a photographer). Basically, I took pictures for an idol group site (Editor’s note: ア イ ド ル)… But it didn’t last long.
Yoyo: And where are you installed?
Yurie: My school is in Shinjuku, and I live two stations away, with my boyfriend, who I met in Japan. But initially, I spent about 10 months in a “sharehouse”: it was very interesting, we meet a lot!
Yoyo: How’s school going? Your typical day, for example?
Yurie: Initially, I had class in the afternoon. We started at 1:30 p.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m. So a typical day was: I get up, I get ready, I do my hour of sport in the morning, lunch then class. And then baito, until 11pm, on the days when I have work… And free weekend.
The lessons are: kanji, listening, writing, and grammar. And besides, the teachers speak Japanese, not English, for the lessons, so… that’s what makes us progress quickly, but we have to hang on!
Then I went to morning class (it depends on the level: as I progressed I moved to the other group). Now I finish at half past twelve. And suddenly, in the afternoon, I can devote myself to my contracts as a model, for example, or walk around Tokyo to take pictures!
Yoyo: How long did you pass this level after?
Yurie: 1 year or so. After that, it depends on the schools, I’m at Arc Academy, but it’s not exactly the same everywhere.
Yoyo: Didn’t you feel too lost when you arrived?
Yurie: When you arrive here, at the beginning, you have the impression of being in the land of Care Bears ^^ For 2-3 months, you have fun, you go for walks, you spend a lot … And then you realize that all is not rosy either, you come back to reality. You miss family sometimes, of course, that stuff.
But it’s much better when you regularly leave Tokyo! Tokyo is good, but it gets really crowded. Even if there is always things to do, it’s nice to go out, to visit a little other regions.
Yoyo: How are the baito going?
Yurie: At the beginning, I worked in a Franco-Belgian restaurant, in Otemachi, for only 3 months. Then I joined the agency. I also gave French lessons from time to time, via a site called Hello Sensei.
Moreover, it earns quite well: 3000yen per hour! And sometimes we can go up to 6000, but I am not a French teacher at the base, so I did not want to abuse! (Laughs)
A little advice for our readers?
If you still hesitate to come and study in Japan, go for it with your head down! Whether it is learning Japanese or the experiences you will have there, you will not regret anything, on the contrary!
To follow Yurie’s adventures, we invite you to follow his Instagram account: @yurie_travel
You can also find more information on the organization “Study in Japan” by reading our article: I want to live in Japan! How to do !?.
Do you also live in Japan and would like to share your experience with our readers? Contact the editorial staff at [email protected]