Counsultation Chiefly for Family

JISTEC's Counseling & Information Division has provided services for foreign researchers over a wide range of topics. The following are some frequently asked questions and our answers.

I am going to Japan with my family. What should I bring with me from my own country?

That is a difficult question to answer since everyone has different needs. I would suggest that you don't bring household goods like furniture, curtains, etc since these things might not fit in to a Japanese size apartment. One of the more common complaints here is the lack of space so less is probably better. You might want to bring with you some medicine which you are familiar with and if your size is on the big side, buying clothes here may be frustrating. There are a lot of wonderful toys in Japan, but some books and other learning toys in your own language would be good to bring. Lately, the variety of goods available from abroad has increased and therefore you might not have so much of a problem finding what you need.

My children will need to go to school in Japan. What can I expect?

I can understand that the education of your children is a major concern. Unless you have an abundant amount of money, the international schools available might be too expensive and that leaves you with a Japanese public school. The Japanese schools are getting more and more foreign students and you have to live very far out in the countryside to be the only foreigner in the class nowadays. That doesn't mean that it is always easy. It will require some flexibility from both your child, you and the school, but it has been my experience that most Japanese school teachers are quite dedicated and willing to do what they can to make their foreign student feel welcome. Many schools have special programs to meet the needs of foreign students, for example, Japanese classes or one on one help in the class room by volunteers. Your child will have to attend the school that is assigned to the area where you live, so that is a factor to keep in mind when looking for housing.

My wife has a chronic illness and I'm worried about her getting good treatment in Japan and also I worry about the cost.

There are many diseases that are covered by the national government special financial assistance scheme. JISTEC can direct you to the appropriate resources for finding a doctor and explain how to utilize the services that exist.

Lately I'm having trouble sleeping and I feel depressed. Can you help me?

Yes. This is not an uncommon question. Being away from home, without your usual support system to help you can make anyone feel "low". There are several places to look for support. Why not start by calling the Tokyo English Life Line (crisis phone counseling), they offer support, problem solving and information on where to get affordable professional counseling.

We are having a baby next month. What do I need to do to register my child?

After the birth, the hospital will give you a birth certificate. The left side will already have been filled in by the hospital and you need to fill in the right side and submit it to the city office. The document has to be written in Japanese and the person at the city office is forbidden to do it for you. So you need to find someone who can help you write it .You take this document, both parent's passports and Alien Registration cards, and the mother-child book and go to the city office. If you have National Health Insurance, you also need to apply for an health insurance for your child and depending on your income you can apply for various benefits. (please check with your local city office). Don't forget that you also need to apply for a passport for the baby at your embassy and a status of residence at the nearest immigration office. For information on that, contact your embassy.

Coping with culture shock.

Let's keep the following eight things in mind.

Become aware of and accept your feelings and reactions
Be willing to laugh at the situation and often at yourself. Be willing to forgive. Learn to tolerate ambiguity and enjoy not knowing what to expenct. Be secure in yourself and things will usually work out, even if everything else is unpredictable.
Develop social supports beyond your immediate family
Knock on the doors of churches, clubs, schools, special interest groups, and organizations catering to the foreign community. You will often find welcome support from others in the same situation.
Study Japanese
Efforts to study and use Japanese will increase your independence and self-confidence.
Keep in touch with your support systems at home
Write to family and friends, send videotapes or DVDs.
Find good friend
Confiding in a trusted friend is one of the best stress relievers. Speak out and feel the weight drop off your shoulders.
Set up realistic, limited, attainable goals for your adjustment
Pace yourself, accepting your limitations. Be happy with small successes. Don't over commit yourself and then burn out.
Have fun
Finding humor and making room for fun in a foreign culture is an excellent way of coping with stress. There are usually many reasons to laugh and smile

★ Please feel free to contact us