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Subject: Possible move to Tokyo rss

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Robin Breeden
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Tonight at 8pm my wife has her third interview for a possible job transfer to Tokyo. If the offer is made it is likely we will pack up the family and move to Japan for a two year stay. So what's the game scene like in Tokyo? How easy is it to meet people? How easy is to find games in english? Is there a minis scene or RPG scene? Will an award American gamer and hi 15 year old gamer son be able to survive in the world largest city when they can't speak or read the language?

Please help...
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Mercedes (Mandy)
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Hi
OOh please feel free to come over and join us

The board game scene in Japan
The board gaming scene is now going crazy. By crazy I mean there's a huge boom. It started maybe around last year, and I've seen a hobby like this grow this quickly in such a short time. You can read my mini blog Japan Thru My Eyes when you have time. It talks about gaming events in Tokyo.

Board Game groups in Japan
In Japan there's several board gaming groups (Japanese/other). The biggest English speaking group is Japan's International Gamers Guild Tokyo (JIGG Tokyo) which also is quite active in the Kansai area. We're one big happy family. In Tokyo we game every weekend, and possibly even more as people are also hosting individual game events throughout the week. I think over Summer I hosted about 8 game days, and there were many more I wasn't able to attend.

How easy is it to meet people?
Meeting other foreigners is really easy. Meeting Japanese people are easy too, if you have a hobby or something you want to learn, then join a class/something and you'll make friends that way. I did sign language etc, and my friend does Taiko, and all sort of other things. I also occasionally join the Japanese Rummikub group, and while I was playing board games with my friends, some older gentlemen invited us to join in and play SHogi with them.

Finding Games in English
It's not too hard, most of the board game stores import a lot of games from America and a LOT more from Germany. But prices are a lot more expensive that the US. If you come from OZ/NZ the prices are almost the same.

Is there a minis scene or RPG scene?
Yes, and Yes. A lot of RPG-ing going on here. I used to play a lot also, but now I board game more.

Will an award American gamer and hi 15 year old gamer son be able to survive in the world largest city when they can't speak or read the language?
Totally! I came over knowing zero Japanese, just got a job, and here I was. Just have fun learning about the language, interacting with the locals and you'll be fine They also offer free Japanese lessons at most of the community centers. When I first arrived here, I took free classes weekly, and met a LOT of friends & the teachers were extra nice. They took us to other events, got me to do a state speech contest...hehe and we went sweet potato digging, and all sorts of fun stuff.

There are a lot of foreign families over here working. I'm sure your son will really enjoy the gaming scene here. Plus all those cool computers and gadgets! (This is from a person who used to work in IT - that's one of the reasons I came to Japan)
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Herb
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Don't know much about gaming in Tokyo, but housing is very very expensive. Traffic is worse than horrible in that area. A 30 mile round trip is an all day adventure. Public transportation is really the way to go.

All in all my wife and I was shocked by expenses when we moved to the San Fransisco area from downtown Denver. Hope you don't have that problem.

When I visited many years ago it was surreal. I was a newborn in a 2000 year old culture. I could recognize a newspaper box, but couldn't read anything in paper. Couldn't read a map at all. Didn't know how to say Help, Fire or policeman. Went into a small grocery store and couldn't read a word of Japanese, but I was amazed at how many things I could recognize by the packaging. In US I am well educated, but in Japan a 4 year old could interact better than I.

Then again there are wonderful sights to see. Many of the younger generation speak English. Everyone I meet was polite and helpful.

Good luck!

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Mercedes (Mandy)
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I came over to stay for 1 year...and now it's been about 10 yrs, or longer...whistle and I just wanted to get integrated into everything as much as possible and enjoy my stay, and try to learn the language (that was my personal goal - hehe not sure if I've accomplished that but I had fun in the process). My foreign coworker also came for a year, stayed for 1.5 and decided she didn't want to learn the language etc, but that was her choice. She wanted to focus on enjoying her stay. She enjoyed it a lot and then went on to travel to other countries. Then other people I've met stayed for 1 month, and then went home, and another good friend of mine that had never travelled abroad before came over, and I was really worried that she wouldn't like staying here. She stayed for a few years. Went back home, and came back a 2nd time.

So I think it depends. Everything here will be in Japanese. Public transportation-wise, most train stations have signs in English (or nearly all of them do). When I go shopping around the place, some staff talk to me in English e.g. Starbucks, Franc Franc, and other stores. I was once trying to order some lunch, and the kind older lady (about 70yo) behind me who somehow spoke perfect English started chatting with me. Same when I went to the hospital for physio, met an 80yo lady who had perfect English, and she was telling me about her life story & all about how she met her husband overseas etc. It's just moments like that, that make it memoriable for me

Tokyo is a fast paced city, and during peak hour, it's just rush rush rush But if you accept that part of living in a big city, I think you'll do fine I've trained plenty of new teachers arriving from overseas that have never travelled abroad before etc.

I will say one thing, is that it's really easy to make friends for life here maybe it's because we're all working here in a foreign country that we find it easier to bond.

Money-wise:
You can buy a decent lunch in Tokyo for about $5-$10US.
Gadgets here cost the same as overseas.
Rent in the heart of Tokyo is expensive, I live about 19mins by train away (still considered in the heart of Tokyo) and it's about $1000 a month for an apartment. But it varies, the closer to the station the more expensive, and the bigger the place the more expensive. Plus the upstart cost is quite expensive to get a place. But a lot of people have done it before and survived and stayed
Fresh produce is more expensive as it's sometimes imported.
I make about 1/3rd of the salary I would make back home, but I have enough to go board game crazy hehe. Don't tell my husband.
I don't drive in Tokyo bc I don't have a Japanese license but some of my friends do, so I don't know too much about that aspect.

The majority of the board games in our group have stayed in Japan for a while, but we also have a lot that are in transition e.g. they are working here for 1 year, or studying for a few months, we even get visitors who are here for 1-2 weeks for work, and they come and join us. But if you ever need help or something while you're here just give us a shout.

There's a huge foreign community of people who are living in Japan because of work You could stay here and not learn a bit of Japanese, like my friend, and still survive

Living in a foreign country does get some getting used to, and there is a big cultural adjustment you need to make. Just come over with an open mind and an open heart and just have fun
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Robin Breeden
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For us to make the move we'll need a pretty good Expat package... not sure what that will be yet but if we can't afford it then we will remain in Indianapolis. We'll be bringing two of 3 kids with us... my son will be 15 in October and is starting high School next Wednesday. MY youngest daughter is 10 and starting 5th grade. Our oldest daughter is a junior in college and will remain here.

IF my wife gets the job shell most likely head over first while I close up here and get the kids through their first semester. The hope is for the rest of us to arrive around the first of January and have our kids start in one of the international schools at the beginning of their Winter Semester. This will hopefully give me time to find a job and get the kids accepted into a school.

Of course this a speculation hinging on an offer we don't have yet. We're just trying to glean as much information as we can before we have to make a decision.
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Bill the Pill
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Robin, I had some Japanese before I went to live in Japan for five months, but my wife didn't. I tried to get her to learn Katakana, one of the writing systems, before she came and while she was living there. She didn't, and was often frustrated. Start learning Katakana now! You'll be able to sound things out (many are foreign words in katakana anyway) and find things like hotels and corn starch with ease.

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Robin Breeden
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Interview three seemed to go OK now we wait for 4.
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Yannis
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Sweet, good luck!

I see you are an X-Wing fan.
The joint fleets at JIGG Tokyo now consist of.

7 X-wings
11 Tie fighters
4 Y-wings
6 A-wings
3 Tie Advanced
6 Tie interceptors
2 Falcons
2 Slaves


And most of all we need more players!
I hope to see you in one of our game days!
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Robin Breeden
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They made an offer to my wife this morning. They are putting an E-xpat package together and are bringing the two of over to Tokyo for a few days to look around before we commit. Here we go...

Yannis if move (and It's looking like) I'll bring my fleet- Should be picking up a few series three ships at GenCon this weekend. Thanks guys for you answers hope to meet you all soon.
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Yannis
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Awesome!

If you bring your stuff, we well be looking for games in the 400-500 points range!

I need to print a biger map ASAP, the biggest one I have is 4.5'x3' feet only.

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Robin Breeden
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Looks like we will be there for a look see trip around the beginning of October with the move occurring by the end of the year. SO what's a good neighborhood for expats?
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Dave K
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Great to hear the tabletop scene in Japan is doing well. When I was there (2.5 years during different times 2002-2005) tabletop games were a very, very small hobby.

I haven't made it back to Japan since 2006 or 2007 (I forget which) but I'll definitely take a look at the gaming stores when I am able to go back again.

Robin, as far as expat neighborhoods go, I really would focus on picking a 'nice place' first rather than trying to be near other expats. The areas that overtly try to attract foreigners were kind of nightlife-focused rather than resident-focused. YMMV of course, Tokyo is a very, very big city.
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CJ
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RBree wrote:
...his 15 year old gamer son be able to survive in the world largest city when they can't speak or read the language?


I will say only this: I f***ing WISH I had lived in Japan when I was 15. Wish. This wish has nothing to do with gaming.
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Stephen Cooper
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Reading all posts here they are very helpful specifically Mercedes. Congrats to your wife. I just got back from japan I was stationed there for 4 years. I am from NY so driving is no problem neither is navigation. If you live in Tokyo (Tokyo is a business district) you dont need a car. The trains are to the second on time, extremely clean, honestly quite intuitive, and most important much faster then driving. The yen was more expensive then the dollar when I left a few months ago but there has been a shift and now I believe its about even in currency however japan is more expensive then the states (and again im from NY) the adjustment is easy. Meeting people is so easy 90% of people are friendly and if you are lost they will help you if you are learning Japanese (most Japanese people speak english and most signs are in english as well) people will gladly help you. Ohio Go-Zai-Mas (good day to you) is a great way to say hello. I went to the tokyp game show 2 years in a row been all over japan climbed Mt. Fuji and countless other things it is very easy to get along. Also as stated board games are taking off to get you started some place to check out- Yellow submarine (shinjuku) has a lot of gaming stuff its 5 floors small rooms but they pack a lot in each. Also they have themed restaurants like biohazard cafe (resident evil themed) thats closing this year was a limited time thing. If you have any question im happy to answer just Inbox me. Any traveling experience is what you make it. so why not make it awesome?
-Coop
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Yannis
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RBree wrote:
Looks like we will be there for a look see trip around the beginning of October with the move occurring by the end of the year. SO what's a good neighborhood for expats?


Do you have any idea in which part of Tokyo you will be working?
Also very important, are they gonna cover the rent or you have to find a place yourself.
I ve lived pretty much all around Tokyo and have a good idea about how different is the living cost depending on the neighborhood.
Would you prefer to live in an area that is popular with foreigners but rater expensive or something more rural but cheap?
There are many options around depending on your priorities.
as for gaming, no mater where you live, there is gonna be a game day close by.
We have spaced them so that we cover most Tokyo and Yokohama.
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Mercedes (Mandy)
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Yannis would be the go-to guy about places to live. I've only lived in 4 parts of Tokyo. I'm more a country girl hehe, I've spent more time living outside of Tokyo than in Tokyo.

I think if I were looking for a place, I would look for it to be close to work & where your son's school is. If you can find somewhere that's about 20-30mins commute for your son that would be ideal. Trains run almost every 5 mins here, and buses usually around every 8-10mins. Plus transport is amazingly awesome here compared to back home. Most workers commute about 30mins-1hr, some 1.5hrs or more, eek. I did the 1hr commute for the last 3 years (3 trains & a bus), but it wasn't too bad as I could listen to all the gaming podcasts I want hehe. Now I commute 30mins and have no time to listen to any podcasts hehe. doh!!

Find somewhere:
- convenient for your wife & son to commute from
- about 5-10mins walk from a train station (and look for a nice route that has a nice amount of foot traffic)
- make sure there are some shops nearby (especially a supermarket)
- if you're interested, you might also want to check out the community center/city hall in that area. Most of them offer free-really really cheap Japanese lessons etc. My area has 5 different lessons run by 5 people, and I think it's $5 a month.

As for my English speaking friends, they live all over Tokyo hehe, so I commute to their house, and they commute to mine So usually the furthest commute between friends is about 1hr, but because public transport is so convenient, we commute everywhere So I think you can live anywhere in Tokyo even if there's not a big foreign community there. I didn't really know anyone in my area, but through BGG & JIGG I found & made a lot of friends that lived reasonably close Plus a lot of gamers, live at the same station and didn't even know it heheh (2 of my gamer friends live at the same station...doh! hehe). That happened to me also hehe (same station, nearly the same apartment block heheheh). That's what's cool about Tokyo. It's like 2 degrees of separation hehe, plus with meetup these days it's a lot easier to find foreign hobby groups and then make friends that way.
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Ahmad Lokman Ishak
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She may move into Tokyo if the player who is now in Tokyo yield.

Edit:
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Robin Breeden
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Allison's job is in Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, the kids ( 15 year old son / 10 year old daughter) will most likely go to ASIJ in Chofu, but we are still working that out. We'll be looking for a three bedroom apartment under $4,000 a month. I will also be looking for some part time work after we settle in if that's allowable.
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Bill the Pill
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I'd look for a place close the JR Chuo line.
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Goran Topic
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That's quite a bit of distance. Musashisakai and Shinjuku will be a focus station for you, since you'll either live there, or someone will transfer at them.

Living near Musashisakai will be most convenient for your kids. It's not really a foreigner area though, I believe, more like a nice Japanese suburban residential area, some universities, some hospitals. Pick this in particular if you're looking for immersion opportunities.

On the opposite end, you have Marunouchi area, which is quite foreigner-friendly, but also very expensive and high-end, and your kids would have to commute for an hour each way to school.

As DrFlanagan says, anything on JR Chuo is in between, and a trade-off between your wife's commute and your kids'.
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Yannis
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RBree wrote:
Allison's job is in Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, the kids ( 15 year old son / 10 year old daughter) will most likely go to ASIJ in Chofu, but we are still working that out. We'll be looking for a three bedroom apartment under $4,000 a month. I will also be looking for some part time work after we settle in if that's allowable.


My inlaws live in in Chofu, I go there a lot!
Like Goran said, your wife's work and the school are almost at the opposite ends of Tokyo.

The areas closest to the school are Chofu and Mitaka.
Morning and evening rush hour trains from/to Chofu (keio line) or Mitaka (chuo line) are a nightmare. Your wife will have to spend about 1 hour to get to work in a packed train. Also, living around Chofu or Mitaka a car is a mast. The good thing about that area is that it is cheap and quiet. You should be able to rent a small house for less than $2000 for sure. Grocery shopping is also cheaper than central Tokyo.

The area around Tokyo station, where Kyobashi is, is the business district. Very few options for housing and probably quite expensive.
Groceries shopping will be a problem too unless you buy everything at the department stores around Tokyo station and of course pay department store prices. The kids at least will be commuting away from the rush hour trains, but they will still have to do 1 hour on the trains every morning and evening.

A nice area in central Tokyo is around the Yoyogi and Sendagaya stations (on JR Chuo line). It is expensive but with a $4000 budget you should be able to find something nice.
It is next to Yoyogi park and Harajuku (that your daughter is gonna love) and is also relatively popular with foreigners lately. Commuting to work should be less than 30 minutes for your wife and the kids will move away from the rush to go to school. Groceries is gonna be expensive again but not as problematic as around Tokyo station.

Sasazuka station (on the Keio line) is also an option. Being able to use the Keio line is gonna be good for the kids to commute to school. The express trains to Chofu take less than 20 minutes if memory serves and around 30 minutes to Tokyo station for your wife (she will have to change trains though.

Finally, the most popular station on the Chuo line at the moment is Kichijoji. Its a semi rural but with lots of stores and restaurants for shopping and dining out. Groceries shopping should be relatively cheap and easier to do than central Tokyo. Your wife will have to commute a bit longer but at least its on the Chuo line so she doesn't have to change trains to Tokyo. Also lets the kids use either the Keio lines or the Jr lines to go to school. Chofu is easily accessed using the Keio lines. The JR chuo line does not go to chofu but to the stations north of it. If the scholl does pic up from one of the Chuo line stations too then the JR Chuo line is convenient. If they have to commute themselves to school after they get of the trains, then being able to use the keio lines is a big advantage.

If I was in your in your place I would either go for something at Kichijoji or in Yoyogi/Sendagaya.
Hope this helps a bit.
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Robin Breeden
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Thanks guys this helps a bit but It's still pretty confusing. Hopefully we can make some sense of it before we come in for the look see trip and our final decision to this. ASIJ has bus routes that pick up in Ropongi and Hiroo as well as some other central Tokyo locations . How do those areas translate to Allison's work and what are the neighborhoods like?
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Yannis
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There is a good reason why they have bus pick up in those areas.
Thats probably where most foreigners live in Tokyo.
They are also the most expensive spots to rent an apartment in Tokyo, but very easy access to your wife's work, probably under 20 mins.
Obviously nice neighbourhoods if you can afford them. Mind you everything around that area is expensive, not just rent but groceries and restaurants as well.
Two of my banker friends that live in the area pay over $3000 for a two bedroom apartment around 50 square meter. A place as big as you want could be even more. This is also the case for the Yoyogi/ Sendagaya area I recommended above.
What other locations does the school have pick up?
There might be some cheaper options too.
 
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Robin Breeden
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My wife wants me to ask aquestio she thinks is more important thanwhere to live... Can she get Dket Dr Pepper there?
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Yannis
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I think I ve seen it at costco but not quite sure.
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