Friday, July 2, 2010

Zonajin Begins!

Greetings! I'm Mitch Davies and I'm an author from Arizona. I'm going to Japan for 3 months starting in August, 2010. Until then I'm going to write about how to prepare to make a 3 month long trip to Japan and tell you what I plan to do once I get there. After that I'll be posting every other day or so as I try out living in Japan.

First, let me tell you that this will be my 8th trip to Japan. It is an amazing place with plenty of things to do and very tasty food and I am a very food oriented guy. Most trips I take revolve around food. I once went to Memphis for a weekend just to eat ribs and pulled pork and that was the only thing I ate.

On my first trip to Japan with my family, I made 2 friends that I have maintained contact with since 2005 and they are helping me to get my trip in order, from Japan.

The 3 things I need to accomplish prior to arriving in Tokyo are finding an apartment, arranging for banking processes and getting a local telephone. I have a friend who works at the restaurant, La Rochelle, which is a great French restaurant owned and run by Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai. They have a website if you care to see what the Iron Chef is up to.

My friend has found me a 1 room apartment for about $1,000/mth US that includes everything. In most cases you have to pay extra for electric, water, utilities and the internet plus a cleaning fee. The apartment he's found includes it all for the one low price. The place is small, maybe 200 SF. There are places like this available in every district in Tokyo and you rent on a weekly, monthly or multimonthly basis. I won't know if I have the place for sure until the beginning of July but we think it should be available. I'll provide an update when I know.

With regard to acquiring a phone, I'm not anticipating any problems. The issue I am concerned about is banking. You have to have a permanent address in Japan in order to open an account. In the past they didn't check too deeply into a foreigner's address but I'm told they have tightened up a bit. I think the situation is similar in the US. I had a bank account here before I moved here in 1995. ( I'm originally from Calgary. ) Now you need a US address and some sort of immigration identification to open one here as well.

I'm pretty sure debit cards will work in Japan, I know AMEX works there but I'm concerned about exchange rates in Japan versus in America. My bank offers foreign currencies so I'll have Yen when I arrive but with no bank account in Japan I won't be able to do electronic transfers and I don't want to carry 3 months worth of spending money. The Foreign Currency department of my bank FedExs the money in America so I'm going to see if they will FedEx to Japan. I'll post what I find out later.

While I'm in Japan I will be working on a promotion campaign for my Young Adult novel, A Wind In Montana. ( Links below.) I will also be working with my editor to polish my second novel which I hope to publish when I get back at the end of October. And if that doesn't keep me busy enough, I will be doing research for my 3rd novel, of which I have completed 3 chapters. It is a novel about Japan that takes place just before the Meiji Restoration which, for those of you who are not familiar with Japanese history, is when the samurai way of life came to an end and Japan began to westernize.

So, that's what I'm going to do. Before I leave I will talk about many of the things about Japan that have caught my interest. I mentioned the food; I am also a sumo fanatic, love the train system in Japan and the historical places that can be accessed quite easily can fill up a long calendar of events.

When next I write in this space I will talk about my efforts to learn Japanese.

Soredewa mata. (That's it for now.)

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