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Thread: What are your thoughts (feelings) about living and surviving here in Japan

  1. #1
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    Default What are your thoughts (feelings) about living and surviving here in Japan

    I thought I 'd post this to get more activity here on the forum. You all are motorcycle guys, but me, well, hey I'm happy to have a 50cc scooter to get around here in Yamaguchi. I can tell you this, I can go anywhere here on the scooter other then where it is prohibited.
    Anyway, life here in Japan for me was a real economic change for me. In the States I was a license contractor (subcontractor) and a license real estate broker in California.
    Yet when I moved here, I found my place in Japanese culture (married to Japanese) very fast. It was like , well I'm not going to talk negative here. But I got to say, if you or your Japanese spouse has good business skills, while you are young, go for the yen because when you are my age, you are most going to need it.
    The Japanese pension for people that are self-employed is very low. About 150 USD a month which you get paid every 2 months. OK its about 33000 yen every 2 months.
    Don't believe me, well, I can show you. And I and my wife have paid into for many years. I understand there are 2 types of pensions in Japan. But self-employed people fall into the one we have. It sucks.
    Of course you can't live on 150 USD a month here even if you have govt. housing. OK, the truth is both the wife and I collect Social Security from the US. If it weren't for that and some savings, shit man, I don't know what life would be like in Japan for us.
    Do I like living here? Life style has been enjoyable for the most part. Now if I can only buy a motorcycle this year. LOL

  2. #2

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    Most folk have moved over to the Gaijinrider Facebook group. There is a lot more heated debate,
    and no history so a different system, but it is easier and instantaneous.

    The pension system here, does sound like it sucks, big time. Don't believe i could survive, or would even try, on 15,000/month.
    In OZ, on the pension, you get about 150,000/ working adult. Plus they get concessions on so many things.
    Also, unlike Japan, the pension is not taxed and you pay no other taxes, unless you have other income. So yes,
    Japan is a poor choice of countries to have to reply on the pension.

    My hope for my retirement is that, i can work part time for my current business, or at least use some of the equipment to
    create an income. But in life things change so who knows.

    Are you not able to pick up a part time teaching gig? Or rent some land and grow something? Locally i can rent land for very cheap
    so have been toying with the idea of micro farming. I had a block of land i was renting for 10,000/year 20m * 40m but lost it as i parked
    a car on the land and the owner received a complaint and cancelled the deal ( none of the cans and can't were discussed so renting without
    a contact is risky ).
    Apexmoto Inc - Dyno tuning, engine/chassis/suspension upgrades, repairs, shaken, tires & changing with balancing, graphics printing, stickers, media blasting, painting & powder coating.

  3. #3
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    One good aspect (related to pensions) is Japan has reciprocal agreements with countries so people can get a pension from home if entitled.
    A friend of mine living in Philippines had to go back to Australia and remain there for two years to get the aged pension, and after this if he returns to Philippines the amount paid will be cut.

    I have a reasonable sum in my superannuation, but I cannot access it until 60 which is a little way off still. I like Japan but its a lonely existence compared to former life, huge change from executive to housekeeper.
    I find it mentally very demanding to not be working. Seemed a good idea but having a sense of purpose and stimulation from interacting with others is valuable stuff for ones well being.
    See what this year brings, have to find something to do or leave before I go crazy. (more crazy than I already am ha-ha)

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    We've only just (1.5years ago) moved back to Kansai, so it's a bit early to tell how this will work out but my wife and me we're both still working part-time from home, so we still have salaries - and time to figure things out.
    When we moved, I did not expect how much fun a little farm is (we're in the sticks and the house came with more land than we had expected). Definitely, to make a proper living from farming is hard and there are loads of professional people who're better at it. However, there are companies (besides JA) that ship and sell produce from small-time farmers and there's a pretty big niche for somewhat "organic" (ie to me, no herbicides or pesticides) not-so-perfect-looking products. I'm currently looking for stuff to grow that the neighbors don't have - for bartering and also to sell it. Growing stuff is fun, if you like a bit of hard work outside... (and if you have a bit of spare cash you can buy/repair lots of little two-strokes)
    As Jav mentioned it is pretty easy to find a bit of unused land that can be had/borrowed for very little - and in my opinion the deciding factor in successfully growing and selling something is how much time and effort is put in.
    (And if you're not into plants, bees are really good fun, too! The set-up cost is very low, you just need to set up a few empty hives and prep them to attract the bees when they are swarming - and if you're lucky you'll get a free population of bees to take care of)

  5. #5

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    Lot of respect for folks who do this. Can I ask where you learned about farming? Self-taught? Grew up with it? Learned from someone here in Japan?

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    Well, always lived in cities and then needed to find a cheap house in japan... so we bought a lovely kominka that came with some fields with all sorts of trees etc. on it. Steep learning curve but more fun than I'd ever thought and the internet and the neighbors are very helpful (and it's not rocket science). So, a bit self-taught and mostly figuring things out by reading and listening. :)
    Some stuff is really scary, though. Top of my list are the hornets, followed by the fricken' centipedes and then I like to scare myself felling trees.

  7. #7
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    Can you say which part of Japan you're doing this in? I am wondering how far from a city one needs to go to find such a situation. . .

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthbyNW View Post
    Can you say which part of Japan you're doing this in? I am wondering how far from a city one needs to go to find such a situation. . .
    We're in Kainan (Wakayama-ken), south of Osaka. It's actually not very remote - just outside of commuting range for Osaka. By highway it is a bit more than an hour into Osaka but there's plenty of shops etc. within 5-10min (by bike or car).
    A bit deeper (10-20min) into the hills there's plenty of abandoned houses that can probably be had for next to nothing (+ a lot of work fixing the place)...
    I think this is quite typical for most slightly rural places in japan...?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by clubtoothedgapfoot View Post
    We're in Kainan (Wakayama-ken), south of Osaka. It's actually not very remote - just outside of commuting range for Osaka. By highway it is a bit more than an hour into Osaka but there's plenty of shops etc. within 5-10min (by bike or car).
    A bit deeper (10-20min) into the hills there's plenty of abandoned houses that can probably be had for next to nothing (+ a lot of work fixing the place)...
    I think this is quite typical for most slightly rural places in japan...?
    In Yamaguchi-ken, once you get out of the few big cities here, it gets very rural quite fast. Lots of land. I actually see a lot of vacant old commercial buildings, like restaurants, gas stations and other odd buildings.
    I also see some run down homes that probably been vacant for over 10 years. One major problem is that the jobs are moving toward the bigger cities these days and the young generally don't stick around in the rural area much these days. Of course, this isn't 100% true. I think the reason I see this is that where I like to hang out where the motorcycles people go, I see many in their late 20's and the place is about as country as you can get.
    To grow fruits and vegetables is kind of a good idea, but the marketing would have to compete with Maruki stores and they have their own produce and fruit growers. Like just yesterday bought a whole big box of tomatoes for 600 yen. Just can't compete with those prices.
    Anyway, as we get older and our working income dwindles life in Japan without a savings would be almost impossible to stay and live here, but I guess the same would be true in ones own country too. I know with my SS, if I try to live in the States, I'd have to have govt. housing, food stamps and a bicycle. It's true.

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by adventurous biker View Post
    In Yamaguchi-ken, once you get out of the few big cities here, it gets very rural quite fast. Lots of land. I actually see a lot of vacant old commercial buildings, like restaurants, gas stations and other odd buildings.
    I also see some run down homes that probably been vacant for over 10 years. One major problem is that the jobs are moving toward the bigger cities these days and the young generally don't stick around in the rural area much these days. Of course, this isn't 100% true. I think the reason I see this is that where I like to hang out where the motorcycles people go, I see many in their late 20's and the place is about as country as you can get.
    To grow fruits and vegetables is kind of a good idea, but the marketing would have to compete with Maruki stores and they have their own produce and fruit growers. Like just yesterday bought a whole big box of tomatoes for 600 yen. Just can't compete with those prices.
    Anyway, as we get older and our working income dwindles life in Japan without a savings would be almost impossible to stay and live here, but I guess the same would be true in ones own country too. I know with my SS, if I try to live in the States, I'd have to have govt. housing, food stamps and a bicycle. It's true.
    I absolutely agree with you - almost impossible to compete with professional farmers on mass produced vegetables or fruit. However, if you look at what you're actually trying to achieve, if you grow your own stuff, you'll be spending less on produce from the shops. Also, you'll have a supply of things to bring along when you visit friends (dang, brussel sprouts, again?) and to barter with your neighboring farmers. For that it is good to start with a bit of everything you feel like growing, also to see what actually grows and survives (if you're anything like me, a lot doesn't). And then you take it from there...
    One word of advice, the homecenter seedlings are often not worth the cash, these are grown in high nutrient, sheltered conditions and then have a hard time in a field... better to grow from seeds, I think (and cheaper).

  11. #11
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    I live on a rice farm with my Japanese wife. the farm was a super healthy organic rice and veg farm, we use ducklings in the rice fields to eat the insects and weeds so we use no chemicals what so ever. The disaster destroyed the concept of healthy from Fukushima and the farm as functioned on survival mode ever since. We are near Aizuwakamatsu and according to ail the radiation testing we continually do, the disaster has had no physical impact but the name is forever tarnished. Start ups here are much more accessible and I have now developed a cola drink made from rice which I've just started selling. My hope for retirement is to have a small business to run as I have no other income.

  12. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rich 400 View Post
    I live on a rice farm with my Japanese wife. the farm was a super healthy organic rice and veg farm, we use ducklings in the rice fields to eat the insects and weeds so we use no chemicals what so ever. The disaster destroyed the concept of healthy from Fukushima and the farm as functioned on survival mode ever since. We are near Aizuwakamatsu and according to ail the radiation testing we continually do, the disaster has had no physical impact but the name is forever tarnished. Start ups here are much more accessible and I have now developed a cola drink made from rice which I've just started selling. My hope for retirement is to have a small business to run as I have no other income.
    Wow, very sorry to hear that. I've read about rice farming with ducks-as-weed-killer system and was very surprised to see nobody in our area farming that way, it makes so much sense. We don't farm rice otherwise I'd given that a shot. The cola drink sounds interesting! Hope it will work out and also that Fukushima will eventually get its reputation back... but sounds like it will be while. :/

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren View Post
    One good aspect (related to pensions) is Japan has reciprocal agreements with countries so people can get a pension from home if entitled.
    A friend of mine living in Philippines had to go back to Australia and remain there for two years to get the aged pension, and after this if he returns to Philippines the amount paid will be cut.

    I have a reasonable sum in my superannuation, but I cannot access it until 60 which is a little way off still. I like Japan but its a lonely existence compared to former life, huge change from executive to housekeeper.
    I find it mentally very demanding to not be working. Seemed a good idea but having a sense of purpose and stimulation from interacting with others is valuable stuff for ones well being.
    See what this year brings, have to find something to do or leave before I go crazy. (more crazy than I already am ha-ha)
    Are you Australian? I am, and hope to go back soon.

    In many places in the world people are going to have to have some extra income after 'retirement'. The property and stock market in Japan seems much harder to make money from than the U.S. or other countries.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by oi oi oi View Post
    Are you Australian? I am, and hope to go back soon.

    In many places in the world people are going to have to have some extra income after 'retirement'. The property and stock market in Japan seems much harder to make money from than the U.S. or other countries.
    Yes I am Australian. My wife lived in Australia 13 years is now settled back in Japan and will not move.
    I miss some aspects of Australia but there are also plenty things I am glad to have left behind as well things here I enjoy.

    Most of my friends there have a focus on asset accumulation and seem to think they will live forever.
    But I see my former colleagues from 65 years change rapidly. Their health and confidence falls away and from 70 most hit a invisible wall and couple passed away.
    My goal is to do all my bucket list rides before retirement because the term 'one day' becomes past tense once you reach a certain age.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jav View Post
    Most folk have moved over to the Gaijinrider Facebook group. There is a lot more heated debate,
    and no history so a different system, but it is easier and instantaneous.

    The pension system here, does sound like it sucks, big time. Don't believe i could survive, or would even try, on 15,000/month.
    In OZ, on the pension, you get about 150,000/ working adult. Plus they get concessions on so many things.
    Also, unlike Japan, the pension is not taxed and you pay no other taxes, unless you have other income. So yes,
    Japan is a poor choice of countries to have to reply on the pension.

    My hope for my retirement is that, i can work part time for my current business, or at least use some of the equipment to
    create an income. But in life things change so who knows.

    Are you not able to pick up a part time teaching gig? Or rent some land and grow something? Locally i can rent land for very cheap
    so have been toying with the idea of micro farming. I had a block of land i was renting for 10,000/year 20m * 40m but lost it as i parked
    a car on the land and the owner received a complaint and cancelled the deal ( none of the cans and can't were discussed so renting without
    a contact is risky ).
    The thing with us now, if we make a small amount of money, everything increases. Kaigohoken goes up, national health insurance goes up and other stuff that I'm not aware of will go up according to the wife.
    She says to really think its worth working one must think of at least 500000 yen a month now, that would be between the both of us. So basically she said "no work" for me.
    I would like to have a sizable garden and to door to door selling of what I grow. We live in a neighborhood where most people know me so I don't think my idea is a bad idea.

  16. #16
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    Yup, my friend, everything is getting more and more expensive (but not just over here in the "land-of-the-not-always-rising-sun", as I like to call it sometimes).
    Cutting cost is one way to make ends meet. Cheaper cell phone, no cable TV, buying stuff when and where it's cheap, stocking up on those items if possible and of course having your own little piece of land to grow things (or, if you are very lucky having some neighbors providing you with cost-free veggies and so on, as in our case). As I told you, for me it's another 4 years until retirement and we shall see what happens then. With my Japanese plus German (little only) retirement pay we should be able to survive. The bike, however, maybe remain a dream!
    Klaus D.
    A Kraut living in Japan

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by klausdorth View Post
    Yup, my friend, everything is getting more and more expensive (but not just over here in the "land-of-the-not-always-rising-sun", as I like to call it sometimes).
    Cutting cost is one way to make ends meet. Cheaper cell phone, no cable TV, buying stuff when and where it's cheap, stocking up on those items if possible and of course having your own little piece of land to grow things (or, if you are very lucky having some neighbors providing you with cost-free veggies and so on, as in our case). As I told you, for me it's another 4 years until retirement and we shall see what happens then. With my Japanese plus German (little only) retirement pay we should be able to survive. The bike, however, maybe remain a dream!

    Hey Klaus, you know the bike is my dream, but money talks and bs walks. Sad but unless some easy money comes my way, I'm just going to settle for the scooter. I'm actually on course to save 200000 yen for a new one this May.
    I know going from a motorbike to a scooter isn't cool, but you might consider that. As you know I'm up there in age also. My wife keeps saying , a man with no money is a nobody. She's somewhat right about that and it is especially true once you hit 60 years of age. Luckily my wife was putting money aside for the last 27 years here. But really, what I posted about kokumen nenkin is true. It really is 33000 yen every 2 months. Sad. I hope the govt. here raises it to 70000 yen every two months, that sure would help.
    Anyway, I hope to travel to Shikoku with my new scooter this summer. Let's get together and have some coffee then. Yep! I'm doing it with a new scooter. My old one as you see, I'm trying to sell it, not because its no good, its just old and I want to go farther this year.

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