A Life in Japan

A Life in Japan

2013, Society  -   52 Comments
Ratings: 8.32/10 from 109 users.

Ever wondered how it would be to live in Japan? In this documentary a variety of foreigners tell about their experiences, likes and dislikes.

It's not a complete picture of Japan of course. You will see the country through the eyes of a few, mostly western, foreign residents, who have stayed in Japan between a few months and several decades.

The intention was not to try to give an objective all encompassing picture of Japan, but to let you experience it through personal opinions and experiences of different people.

The interviewees had the chance to speak freely, within loose frames, about the topics of their choice.

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52 Comments / User Reviews

  1. david walton wright

    This may be off-topic for this space of comments but in another area many were comparing Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor, the "sneak attack," as they say. For one thing that was used as propaganda to get Americans to accept a war they didn't really want. For another, and this is more important, I think: the US does this often. But when they do they don't call it a sneak attack. They call it a "preemptive strike."

  2. Scott

    I've just decided to take a trip there this spring, Cherry Blossom time.

  3. Lorenzo Jones

    We should all be students of history. Historically there is a wide separation between the culture of ordinary Japanese and the warrior class history. No country including the USA is exempt from major mistakes in foreign policy. Lots of terrible decisions are made based on errs of understanding. (the war against Native Americans for example). From my limited experience, the Japanese People are honorable, energetic, creative, artistic, and extremely talented. Their cuisine, their bonsai, their architecture, and art is venerable.

    1. bluetortilla

      Despite my comment below (coming from another angle), I totally agree. I feel the same about China and can only regret the animosity between individuals of complementary and reenforcing cultures. The press and public education cause so much damage you'd think the devil himself was behind it.
      I respect the Chinese with the same positivism as you have honored the Japanese. They coexist without a doubt in the same garden.

  4. bluetortilla

    Jeez who made this propaganda? I've lived in Japan over twenty years (China three) and while there are a lot of great things about Japan, it's not the paradise they make it out to be here. While the Japan bashing of the 80's/90's was exaggerated, there is of course a very black side to Japan as well that is quite real.

  5. Leega

    I loved this video. Thank You for posting it. Thank you for showing the variety of opinions from varied cultural and racial backgrounds as well. Very helpful !!!!!!

  6. Yrwin Ty

    It seems odd why the Chinese woman didn't want to have her face shown, and that she said more negative things about Japanese people than good. Conflict perhaps? I've lived in Japan for a bit and I have to say that it is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia that I have been to! I knew basic Japanese before I went. People have language barriers there yes, but wow people there are super kind and super nice. Sometimes more than my own!

  7. 31jetjet

    Is it just me or is the guy in the fedora who talks about going to the English style pub a little bit of a creep with an Asian fetish? Everytime he talks more creepy words come out.

    1. Rasmus Fugl

      Seems to me like he's just making jokes. That, or he's being honest about it and doesn't care what people think.

  8. lisa renee

    Great film.

  9. kieran gallagher

    found this a great documentary it's great when they give people a free reign of what they talk about.

  10. Julia Dufaj

    Very well done documentary, giving what seems like a well-rounded view of living in Japan as a foreigner. I think the graciousness, the manners, the respectful way of life would be very good. I do think I would miss the acceptance of radical individualism, but everything's a trade-off. The U.S.. has many defects that get to me every day. I would like to see someone make an analysis of how the change was made from a samurai/war lord society, in which most interactions appeared to be through grunting and drawing swords, to this quiet, mannerly culture. Seems very different today.

  11. Gordon Giroux

    such nice people. so sad and cowardly to drop the bomb on them, nice goin yanky-doodle

    1. Name

      About as cowardly as them bombing pearl harbor right?

    2. Gordon Giroux

      that was a military target, not two entire cities.

    3. dlhoneysnaps

      Many parties committed terrible atrocities during the war, including the Japanese. It happened. Let's move on.

    4. Gordon Giroux

      yeah your right, i guess someone had to get a sample of war's new toy

    5. dlhoneysnaps

      Just to be clear, I'm not defending the bombing. I just think it's a lot more complicated than they way you put it. It wasn't like they had nothing to do one day so, "hey, let's nuke Japan." I suppose it's difficult to get into the heads of people at war for years and fighting for their lives.

    6. Gordon Giroux

      well i think the japanese planes were very hard to beat, and then pearl harbor, the boys were a bit freaked out and felt they had to do it i think

    7. majere880

      It is sad, but the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor was pretty sad and cowardly, as well. Anyway, like others said, Let's move on.

    8. Gordon Giroux

      they shouldnt have used nukes and leveled two entire cities is what im saying, if the japanese came back the week after and nuked NY and LA then i think people would get my point allot more clearly wouldnt they? pretty easy to justify it when it wasnt YOUR moms face the h-bomb vaporizied. and i am moved on, never was hung up, just my opinion same as everything you read on here.

    9. majere880

      Who are you to judge what they should have done? You weren't in that situation, to have to weigh the choices and make that decision. They made the choice to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because they believed it would save more lives by ending the war with that one attack, then by prolonging the war in the Pacific. Whether they were right or wrong is subjective, but irrelevant. It's over; done with. Also the same thing about "your mom killed" could be said about the innocent soldiers and families in Pearl Harbor and many civilians caught in the attack, so it's really meaningless to say that.

    10. Gordon Giroux

      umm hello you dont join the military to be innocent , if ur in the military u should be ready for death should you not? pearl harbor was a huge military base with training area's airfields gunships destroyers and a bunch of other crap, not noodle huts, parks ,factories and apartments your way of thinking is why 10 year old boys get their legs blow off by helicopter gunships today. kill first cover-up or deny later. the yanks were getting beat so the japs got cheated is the point im trying to make you should all move on i do believe

    11. majere880

      Ah so your true colors finally come out; An anti-American irrational. I'm not sure what your definition of innocent is, but those soldiers and our country did nothing to provoke the attack aka innocents. You're so brainwashed you can't even see your bias.

    12. Gordon Giroux

      i dont mean to use "yanks" or "japs" to be disrespectful they are just nicknames the world made up. lots of countries have one. im from new britian conn by the way. who's brain washed here again? the yanks were getting beat up in the skies by the japs so they cheated and now your getting mad about it.also who's bias here you think its ok for another country to catch a nuke but not yours. let me guess you think a wars real reasons are told to you by the media and that osama did it right?

    13. Gordon Giroux

      and what the hell are you talking about it was world war 2. everybody was provoking everybody trying to push their belief's on eachother

    14. Gordon Giroux

      im not picking sides they are both great countries.

    15. Gordon Giroux

      im not anti american but i am anti bullshitting lying cheater (not you) unless of course your a politician lol

    16. mako

      so positive!!! love

    17. majere880

      Haven't you ever heard, "all's fair in love and war"? There is no "cheated". You use the tactics you have to, to win. Yes, we have rules and laws in place now against nukes, but they weren't part of the game back then. Morality aside, this is why it happened. If they had used nukes on us, I wouldn't have blamed them.

    18. zazen

      obviously, you don't know much about the actual war of the pacific theater from 1941-45.. there was no guarantee that the u.s.a. was actually going to win.. people were tired of working day and night while listening to the reports on newsreels that we had just lost another 2000-3000 marines in taking another tiny island for another airfield.. this went on from australia to okinawa.. the question faced by truman was: lose another 1,000,000 soldiers in an assault on the southern home island of kyushu and drag the war out at least another two years or drop this new, untested device and be home by xmas.... the american population was truly afraid that we might fail to "unconditionally" defeat japan 'and' contain the spread of communism all by themselves.. the decision proved itself.. watch ken burns' series about wwII and you'll hear what i'm talking about from real survivors of that era.. and, i might add, the japanese should be forever grateful for the amount of assistance they received from us in their reconstruction.. i doubt the soviet union would have been 1/10 as forgiving.

    19. Myathewolfeh

      We knew what the bombs would do and yet we still chose to drop not one, but two. We killed thousands of innocent civilians, what a cowardly thing to do. There are better ways to win wars than leveling whole islands. And we came in and helped mostly out of a desire to make Japan another one of our Pacific outposts and to spread our influence. There was very little love for the Japanese at home, so much so that even award-winning Japanese-American soldiers were not welcome. Nothing will ever be able to justify our actions back then.

    20. bluetortilla

      Nothing personal, but I don't understand why people use the word 'we' when talking about countries. 'I' for one had nothing to do with leveling any island or dropping an atomic weapon. 'I' may not even be 'designated' by any government of a particular nation, in this case the U.S., and yet the writer still writes 'we,' as if to assume that all the readers are U.S. citizens like him (and apparently accept that fact without a fight). I may be, for example, from Bangladesh. I'm not trying to be politically correct here; this is literally a problem of semantics. I dissociate myself from any allegiance to or recognition of the validity of any nation-state upon this earth. Please exclude me from the 'we.' I don't bomb people.

    21. Norman McKinnon

      There is no way the japanese Military would have surrendered without the Atomic Bomb Attacks. The Emperor didn't have the nerve to take on the military prior to 1945. He assented to the attacks on China , Pearl Harbour & S/E Asia. The Japanese thought they were entitled to a Colonial Empire like that of the UK & USA.
      The Japanese Govt & indeed the Emperor likely knew that Japan could not win a long war of attrition with the uSA. They hoped for a quick knockout attack; which was incredibly euphemistic. The Japanese have a long history of sneak, undeclared attacks, as indeed so did the Germans.

  12. Paula De Silva

    Great documentary!! Very interesting points of view.

  13. LivedinJapan

    I like how this documentary gives a non-biased view of living in Japan and doesn't glorify or vilify it, which often happens. The truth is that living in Japan is entirely subjective but has both good and bad sides, many of which are accurately tackled by the filmmaker.

  14. seamus watson

    Their food looks disgusting.

    1. asd

      well, it might taste great

    2. zazen

      and, it is.. everything is tiny bits of unidentifiable "stuff" - fish, octopus, squid, greens that look and taste like something cut from the back lawn, salty salty soups, rice, rice cakes, rice porrage (for breakfast), half cooked eggs, and occassionally a little bit of beef grilled over charcoal.. i ate yaki soba (noodles with some flavoring) day and night.

  15. John Mulvihill

    I like the way the "foreigners" accept not being fully accepted. They're like, "Okay, I can have this much." And that's enough.

    1. John Marus

      You hit the nail on the head; I've been an expat for 12 years in a Latin country ~ and we "gringos" will never be one of "them"; which is cool. They accept us in their society, and while few will resent us, you won't experience the pure Hate some people have in America towards others different than themselves. Having a "little bit of paradise" outside the "corporation" is worth having "only this much". Great observation, let freedom ring

    2. Slippery

      Ya funny how that works in other societies. But in White societies, we can never have our own exclusive culture. Ya, funny that..

      So it's not racist there... but it in Europe, America, Australia, Canada... don't you dare to identify as anything but a good global citizen on the plantation. No nations, no races, no culture, no traditions, no future. That's the West. But it will end, because it's unsustainable.

  16. norlavine

    Beautiful xx

  17. War Dog 666 - U

    Very interesting video, it appears I have misjudged Japan BUT this video portrays nothing on Japanese nationalism, nevertheless Japanese culture seems superior in most ways compared to Western values. . Would still like to see a lot less over-fishing on the behalf of the Japanese fishing industry.

  18. englishgirlinjapan

    Thank you Vlatko.  

    Japan is certainly a great place to live. It's beautiful, unique, efficient, clean and the people are wonderful and really look out for each other. Feel safer here than anywhere else in the world!

  19. alans

    Seems they're doing good, they should keep it that way. Don't let foreigners ruin it.

  20. John Marus

    very good documentary, loved it!

  21. Rebeca Wellensittich

    living in a foreign country like this must be very exciting but also it must to be hard to use to it

  22. Ed Swain

    Very nice documentary. I've met people who taught for some of the language schools there, but they never seem to feel so free to discus or portray their experiences as the people in this documentary.

  23. Pysmythe

    There is a whole world of things the West could stand to learn from Japan, and the East, in general. Also... a number of things we could all stand to unlearn. If you watch this documentary (which may not be everyone's cup of tea, as it's largely just more or less ordinary folks talking about everyday things), you'll be certain to pick up on many of them. Made me miss the time I spent in the East back in the 80's and 90's, that's for sure. I really enjoyed this one.

    edit- Btw, just as a silly aside, I'm listed as #2 on a Japanese language website of the world's top contributors of 3-diminsional puzzles for the game PQ2.
    o/ Yay!

  24. John Krisfalusci

    Great documentary~! But for some strange reason, I have a feeling I've seen this before... I just can't remember where... >.<

    Oh and P.S. no gun deaths here... EVER so Japan here I come ^_^

    1. zazen

      in 1984, while living in sasebo, kyushu island of south japan, i told a guy i could get "things" from the u.s.a. what would he want ? the first and only item he asked for was a pistol.. they know what they're missing.