American Expat Living in Japan - Interview with Jeridel

Published: 25 Apr at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Japan
Jeridel is a manga podcaster, fiction writer, freelance graphic designer, and English teacher living in Okinawa, Japan. Jeridel's expat blog is called Jade's Escape (see listing here)

Here's the interview with Jeridel...

Where are you originally from?
California, USA.

In which country and city are you living now?
Okinawa, Japan

How long have you lived in Japan and how long are you planning to stay?
Lived in Okinawa for almost 4 years. Planning on staying for 5.

Why did you move to Japan and what do you do?
I came to Japan as a JET Programme participant because I wanted to fulfill some of my dreams: live and work in Japan. I also wanted to learn more about Japanese art since I studied it in college.

Did you bring family with you?
My hubby-san.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I'm still transitioning, in a way. At first, everything's exciting! "Oh my God, Japan!" Then you start comparing things...actually, that never really stops. Finally, there's just an acceptance to most things and you settle in to life. The hardest things from coming to a closed country like Japan was the language and the unnecessary bureaucracy in the most mundane things.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Sometimes, I do socialize with other JET Programme participants, but usually, it's just my hubby, me, and my cat. I've made friends with Japanese folks, but there's still that distance that Japan's so great at doing. Still, I find other foreigners in the strangest places, and we just nod at each other to say, "Yeah, we know what's up."

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Become a runner, a drunk, or a monk. Besides all the drinking places, Okinawa is a pretty poor and boring. You could eat Okinawan soba, or buckwheat noodles in soup, all day long, but then you'd have to go running. Or you could go running at night and get fit and wear those ridiculous spandex underneath some tiny short shorts. I'd go with the monk.

What do you enjoy most about living in Japan?
I love my quality of life here. I get paid well enough without a boss hovering over my shoulder. I get national healthcare, so I don't have to worry about paying my medical bills ($5 for a doctor's visit, yay!). I get so much time off, I finish books by the bushel every week. People don't care what I do, what religion I'm into, what candidate I'm rooting for. I have time for myself, for my husband, for my cat, and for all the hobbies that I couldn't do in my home country.

How does the cost of living in Japan compare to home?
Japan's expensive! Almost $100 for 4 mangoes. I'm not kidding!

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Japan?
The closed-off nature of folks. Even if you jump into a nice friendship with the locals, there's still a distance, a wall that you can climb if you learn the language and completely submit to Japanese etiquette. Oh and the bureaucracy. It's so bad! Why do I have to re-submit the same application for a job I already have every year?

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Japan, what would it be?
Learn Japanese. Learn how to read, write, and speak Japanese.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Understanding Japanese, both the language and the customs. Sometimes, I get it. Sometimes, I don't.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I'll be fine. I've learned patience while living in Okinawa.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn Japanese.
  2. Bring lots of money.
  3. Don't do expensive habits (smoking, drinking, steak-eating) if you plan on going back to your country with more money than when you entered.
  4. Bring lots of clothes and shoes in your size, especially if you're bigger than a size 3. They don't have your size.
  5. Make trustworthy friends with base access. You'll need it for your homesickness fixes.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I write about anime, manga, Japanese culture, and my own life living in Okinawa. Most of it is to disperse the foreign viewpoint of the Japanese lifestyle.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Twitter or email

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJeridel is an American expat living in Japan. Blog description: Alias Jade decides to go to Japan as an English teacher--without knowing Japanese. Jade's Escapes are her adventures--school life, Japanese life, comparative life--in the Land of the Rising Sun.
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Comments » There are 2 comments

Ked wrote 7 years ago:

You think Okinawa is poor and boring, and you've lived there four years? It's true there is a lot of lower income blue collar families, but boring? Really? There's plenty to do and to recommend to others moving there: beachcombing, haikyo exploring, beach camping, scuba or snorkelling, all sorts of martial's a great spot if you are interested in getting better at almost any ocean sport. And that's just for the main island, the outer islands offer even more opportunities. You can even surf and dive right off Chatan, super convenient! For those less adventurous, the shopping, food sampling and people watching are excellent. I think you were trying to be humorous in your response, but you did a terrible job representing what is quite a special prefecture. Also $100 for 4 mangos is for gift or omiyage fruit and is NOT the norm. Any local farmers market sells second rate mangos for a lot less, in addition to many other amazing local tropical fruits. Finally: No photos?

Ken Seeroi wrote 7 years ago:

That was a good interview, although I agree with the previous poster. I live in Japan myself, and don't find it to be expensive in the least. Actually, quite the opposite. As for boring, well Okinawa isn't Tokyo, but it's not Nebraska either. At the end of the day, it's on you to make your own fun. Spot on about becoming friends with Japanese people though. I'm fluent in Japanese, and it's still difficult. There are a lot more barriers than just language.

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