We landed in Yokosuka, Japan nearly 9 months ago and our lives have not been the same since. Japan is a beautiful place with plenty of opportunities for growth. As a foreigner, you can teach English as a hobby or explore the country by train. Our first few months were focused on the positives side of Japan but there are also downsides to this beautiful country we love so much.
As a military family living in Yokosuka, Japan, we have more benefits than the average foreigner but we still face some challenges so I’ll start with the positives.
- Hospitality: Most people we’ve met in Yokosuka are very friendly and accommodating. The amount of attention my family gets daily is overwhelming. when I was pregnant, a local father voluntarily helped me carry my son in his stroller down the stairway of a restaurant. Another time a lady randomly bought us more meals while we were eating at our favorite restaurant. Oh, the time a neighbor gave us cherry from his tree just because… I can go on and on.
- Food: We only hear about Japan and their love for sushi but what’s not talked about is the other varieties of foods like okonomiyaki, yakisoba, yakinuki, and our favorite, onigiri. Oh, let’s not forget all the French-inspired bakeries at every cover of the city. Fresh pain au chocolat from the bakery has become our norm as we head home from the market every weekend with a basket full of seasonal vegetables. If you’re a foodie, Japan is the place to be.
- Family Friendly: This is one of the main reason for loving this country and potentially why I wouldn’t mind living here for a long time. They are extremely child friendly. The child is treated with respect.
- Train System: if you want to be on time, take the train. The speed limit on a non-toll road is 40mph which is …. So it takes me roughly 40 minutes to get home by car. The train takes me about 20 minutes and I’m right in front of our place.
- Convenience Store: I seriously don’t know how we are going to survive without them if we move one day. Whether it’s paying a bill or picking up a bowl of ramen, whatever you need, you’ll find almost everything you need in a convenience store. It’s very convenient.
The negatives… this might not apply everyone but they have made our experience here less pleasant.
- Food: I’ve mentioned this before ( in this article) there’s pork in everything… including Tofu. International food is extremely expensive. It makes it impossible for foreigners to find food from their native country.
- Toll/Parking Fees: My least favorite part about living here. There are parking fees EVERYWHERE.
- Narrow Streets: The streets are very narrow here in the streets of Yokosuka, Japan. It’s so narrow, it’s could be intimidating to a foreigner. A few days after purchasing our first car, the car fell in the gutter on our way home from the grocery stores. Thankfully, the neighbors didn’t mind coming to our rescue. What we consider one way street in the states is the two-way traffic road here for cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians.
- Perfectionist: I love Japan but I truly believe it’ll be a better place if they didn’t focus so much on being perfect. Often time people are struggling but can’t seek help or don’t know how to. During our first month here, I saw a post in one of the local Facebook groups alerting other that the Keikyu line has temporarily stopped working because of a “Jumper” someone intentionally jumped on the tracks to end their life. The news was disturbing. Sadly, this type of posts become frequent every weekly basis. To make matters worse, the family of the deceased gets fined for “inconveniencing” the city.
- Use of plastic: plastic bags are very popular here. All retail stores across Japan will be required to charge shoppers for plastic bags.
- Mold: There is mold everywhere especially during the Summer/ rainy season. if you are moving to the Yokosuka then prepare accordingly. Don’t bring more than you need. All our stored items were molded during the rainy season.