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Asia Insight: Expat Life In Tokyo

by on June 3, 2010

 For many lawyers thinking of living abroad, Tokyo may be an attractive destination, but the size and bustle of the sprawling city can be daunting to people unfamiliar with life in Japan’s biggest city.  Recently, Peter Kilner, Managing Partner for Clifford Chance’s Tokyo office, talked about life as an expat lawyer in Japan.  Here is an excerpt from his interview with Law and More:

“What do you think are the main benefits of moving to Tokyo?
It has to be the food – Tokyo has the best restaurants in the world, no argument.  In fact the first Tokyo Michelin Guide came out last year, and Tokyo has more stars than any other city – in the world!  And it’s not just raw fish either (although the sushi and sashimi are delicious) – you get restaurants just doing noodles, others specialising in tempura (battered deep-fried fish and vegetables) and some just serving fugu (the poisonous puffer fish).  Then there are excellent French restaurants, Italian, Thai, Chinese … I could go on!
On top of that, everything works so well: The bullet trains (shinkansen) are never more than a few seconds late and you get great service from friendly and helpful people wherever you go.  It’s also a good base from which to explore Asia, from China in the north to southeast Asia and Indochina.

Any obstacles?
There’s a way of doing things here and that’s the way it has to be done – although allowances are made for foreigners.The language is no easy task either – it has three different alphabets including kanji with thousands of characters, and a completely different grammar and vocabulary.

What advice would you give anyone planning to live and work in Japan?
Make sure your firm sorts out the basics for you – visa, accommodation, bank account, gaijin card (alien registration card), utilities, etc.  It helps to learn a few words and phrases of Japanese to settle in. And make sure your socks don’t have holes!”

You can read the full interview here.

You can also find resources for expats working abroad at Law Alliance.

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