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4 month sabbatical. Where to stay what to do? 2019/7/11 17:24
Hi everybody,

Ifm from Germany and am 34 years old.
Ifve been on vacation in Japan the third time this spring with a friend and I have decided I want to see more of the country and want to live there for some time. So, I figured I want to do a 4/5 month gsabbaticalh next year from April to July/August. I saved some money for a few months off, so I donft need to work there to support me.

Now Ifm at the point where Ifd need some inspirationc

Ifve already seen a bit of (south) Japan on my previous visits (Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka, Kochi, Matsuyama, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Kagoshima) and since Ifm planning on staying there for a few months I was thinking about making a city my home base and renting a furnished apartment instead of constantly changing locations. I always found it hard to make (local) friends when always on the move and Ifm alone this time, so I really need to make some friends.

The cities Ifm considering are:

1. Fukuoka (my favorite at the moment)
2. Hiroshima (a lot of western tourists)
3. Kyoto (even more tourists)
4. Sapporo (donft really know what to expect)

What do you think?

Since I donft need to work but donft want to slack around there all the time, I was thinking about picking up a course in Japanese at a language school. In fact Ifll start learning Japanese here in Germany next week, so I can at least communicate on a very basic level. Then I could improve my Japanese in the country. Do you have further ideas what to do (besides sightseeing and partying) to get a daily routine down and get to know people?

What do you think which type of visa I should get for my plan?

If you have further tips or inspirations it would be very much appreciated 😊
by Lofidelity  

Re: 4 month sabbatical. Where to stay what to do? 2019/7/11 18:46
Assuming you are German , you can go with a normal tourist visa. Once in Japan you can extend it to 6 months.

You are NOT allowed to work but you can go to a language school.

The schools I know expect your application several months before and start classes every 3 months. (Eg early April) and are strict on attendance. I have heard good things about one school in Fukuoka but donft remember the name.
There are other schools (eg Coto in Tokyo) that offer shorter, less intense courses that allow you better to travel around.

Getting to know Japanese might be more difficult but getting to know other foreigners through a language course is definitely a good idea.

You are going to stay into the summer , so maybe my idea would be to do 2 months in Fukuoka and the 2 months when it gets hot in Sapporo. But this depends on your heat and humidity tolerance.

Enjoy your time in Japan!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 4 month sabbatical. Where to stay what to do? 2019/7/11 20:00
About visa: if a German national wants to come visit Japan as a tourist, youfd get 90 days just with your passport as gtemporary visitor.h As Japanese traveling to Germany can get up to 6 months as a visitor, reciprocal treatment should give you 6 months period from the start, but it doesnft work that way – I have seen that German nationals get 90 days upon entry into Japan, and toward the end of the 90 days they need to go to the nearest immigration office and ask for an extension of the gtemporary visitorh resident status. At that time you will probably have to show proof that you have enough savings to live in Japan without working in Japan.

If you wanted to study for, letfs say, full 6 months and at a good timing (meaning if the school term timing works out), you gmighth consider enrolling full-time in a Japanese language schools for six months and applying for a gstudenth visa before you come to Japan. Probably that would be two school terms.

About locations, it depends on the season and your preference. Among the candidates, Kyoto would get extremely warm during summer and Sapporo would be nicer then, but if you are coming in winter Sapporo would be quite snowy. I donft know what you are used to.

Oh, you say April to August, so probably Sapporo would be more pleasant. If it is from April, you might consider enrolling in a language school for April – June/early July time period? That would be for one term. In August schools are likely to close except for some schools that do summer intensive course for three weeks/one month.
Enjoy your time in Japan.

by ....... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 4 month sabbatical. Where to stay what to do? 2019/7/11 20:35
I would dearly love to do something like this! There are many things to consider, and how I would do it is probably not how you would do it. But how I would approach it myself is probably to study for about the first three months, but only at a moderate-intensity course (like maybe half-days, rather than full-time). You won't learn as much Japanese, but you'll have more time to sightsee, socialize, and generally drink in the culture. The intensive study courses are designed to prepare people for attending a Japanese college or working in Japan, and they are quite rigorous (and pretty expensive). Then, after that I would travel for about a month throughout Japan, or at least to some of the major areas other than where I was based for the language study part.

I don't know the ins and outs of getting a tourist visa extended after the first 90 days (or 3 months), but I would favor getting a tourist visa because it will allow you to take advantage of many fantastic rail pass deals that are not available if you are on a student (or other) visa.

Of the four cities you named, I would definitely choose Kyoto myself. The reason is that there are so many more opportunities for great regional sightseeing there, at a relatively low cost. And the array of regional transit passes available in that area is vastly better than in other areas. Nearly all of these passes are available for purchase after you get to Japan, so you can spontaneously take weekend trips, and/or do something more substantial at the end. Also, the number of absolutely fabulous sites within the city itself is far better than anywhere else in Japan. Don't be put off by the reports that Kyoto has been "ruined" by foreign tourists! The truth is that 99.9% of them never venture beyond the Top Ten sites. I keep hearing of people who "don't go to Kyoto anymore" because it has become so "awful," and then I go there and find almost nobody at the wonderful places I visit. I avoid the tourist magnets, for sure (and I don't go during the busiest seasons). If you are staying in a residential area and not regularly relying on transit that is used to go to the major sites, the glut of tourists will probably only be at most an occasional annoyance. (For longstanding Kyoto residents who have increasingly seen negative impacts over the last 5 or 10 years, I do understand the antipathy, and I sympathize, while unapologetically being part of the problem myself.)

I don't know anything about short-term rental prices in Kyoto (or neighboring areas of Kansai), but probably it is the most expensive area on your list. However, for any of the places you're considering, be sure you have enough money saved. Language school tuition varies a lot (and this might be a factor in your decision-making), but it will likely be a lot no matter what. You may have enough saved for basic living costs, but it can be depressing if you don't have enough money to travel a bit. Also, "partying" can get pretty expensive. It would be kind of a drag to have to seriously tighten the belt after you are there for a while, and end up not even having enough money for beer!
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 4 month sabbatical. Where to stay what to do? 2019/7/11 23:00
Wow! Thanks for the quick and helpful replys 😊

Ok, like I said I donft need to work for the time Ifm there. So, a tourist visa seems the way to go. Thanks!
Ifll see what info I can get on extending it. Doesnft seem very comprehensive to me from what I read by now.

For the language course: I donft want to attend a university (already did that, puhh) and have no preassure to get to a certain level. I was aiming at half day courses maybe 4-5 days a week anyway. I primarily want to do it so I can establish some kind of daily rhythm and get to know people. If that makes sense ^^. I hope I can learn enough in the 9 months from now to April to get along when I get there and have somewhat of a starting base.

Weather wise Ifm ok/good with heat but not so much with humidity >70%. LikeBikefs approach seems to be a good compromise even though Ifm not pumped about moving after two months. Time always flies when you do smth. like thatc

Kim, how would you approach this? Like I said, Ifm looking for some inspiration.

About Kyotochmmmmc I have been to Kyoto twice now. Last time earlier this June and I must say I reaaaaally like it. We did all the top 10 sights the first time I visited it 5 years ago. But now it really has exploded with tourists (and like you mentioned, I also was one of them- canft forget that).
However I get your point. I experienced that in Hiroshima. I was very surprised how little tourists there were when you went off the beaten track. In Kyoto I felt they are everywhere.
I didnft notice that in Hiroshima and in Fukuoka there were nearly no western tourists. A lot of Koreans and Taiwanese tho but for that I donft care.
Now for your most important sentence: gIt would be kind of a drag to have to seriously tighten the belt after you are there for a while, and end up not even having enough money for beer!h hahaha so true ^^
My budget is around 8k USD per month. I think thatfs more than enough to get drunk on Yamazaki 12 every other night.

by Lofidelity rate this post as useful

Re: 4 month sabbatical. Where to stay what to do? 2019/7/12 07:52
What a fantastic plan!

We had three months in Japan last year, house sitting for a friend in Yokohama. We covered her regular outgoings for the time, which was the equivalent of 2-3 nights in a hotel, so that was very affordable. You could look into something similar perhaps?

Many local authorities offer free Japanese lessons run by volunteers, and we participated in some of those. While they are not professional teachers (well, some are, one of our teachers was the author of a prestigious textbook, apparently) the classes can be fun and a nice way to meet people. You can google around to find the classes in different areas, which might help you with your choice of where to stay. My husband had some casual lessons at a language school in Tokyo-another friend uses and recommended it-and he enjoyed that. It was quite a big school and they arranged all kinds of meet ups and social activities. That could be a good compromise rather than signing up for a lot of lessons.

We met some locals and enjoyed some local activities-there was a big dojo in the park near the apartment and there was always a lot on. The classes seemed quite hard to get into, though. Staying in one spot allowed us to appreciate the rhythm of life much more than travelling around does. People also got used to seeing us around and that made us feel a little like we were part of the community.

I think it is hard to get to know locals-we had many invitations and opportunities thanks to our home-owner, who went out of her way to make sure we had a good time, and we did. Without wishing to over-generalise, Japanese people are very private.

Our travels have taken us to Japan several times in the last few years and we didn't end up travelling as we thought we might-just settling in to where we were, and getting involved in local activities, was very satisfying.

My two cents on where you go is that it probably doesn't matter, unless you have a preference re weather. We were staying three subway stops from Yokohama Station-could easily walk there in under an hour-and in our little bit of Yokohama saw only one or two non-Japanese people over the three months. There are a lot of people in Japan, and most of them aren't tourists, despite how it feels sometimes as a tourist.

I see the sense in Kyoto as a base-it is within striking distance of a lot. Also there's a lot of Kyoto that's not 'overrun with tourists' though getting around on the bus is grim, thanks to the tourists. There are treasures to see and enjoy all around that area, without living amidst the most famous ones.

Fukuoka gives you great access to Kyushu and also Chugoku-Chiho, a favourite area of mine. Hokkaido is very different from the rest of Japan. I imagine the weather there would be lovely for the time you want to go. We've only had a day or two in Hiroshima, and found people there very friendly. I wouldn't be surprised if there are huge areas of Hiroshima-away from the tourist sites-where you don't see a foreigner.

You could always choose two bases for six weeks each and have a month travelling.

We got quizzed pretty hard on entry about our length of stay-maybe 88 days-but in the end they let us through.

I hope you can make this work for you-have a wonderful time in Japan!
by Who? (guest) rate this post as useful

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