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GaijinPot’s Top 12 Articles for 2017

This year, our most popular articles cover pretty much everything we believe the GaijinPot beast to be: all the info you need to navigate a successful life in Japan.

By 6 min read

As the year comes to a close and we look back on the top articles for 2017, we can’t help but get a little nostalgic, a little sentimental even.

This year’s list of our top articles that were popular with readers pretty much represent what we believe the GaijinPot beast to be:

  • A hodgepodge of practical — and even quirky — information on everyday life.
  • Guides on how to navigate life as a foreigner in Japan.
  • Insights on jobs and working in Japan as well as Japanese language and travel trends.
  • Personal (and brave) stories from our writers and guest writers on issues that not many other media outlets are spotlighting in the foreign community here.

Maybe you can relate to being a “foreign chick” working in a male-dominated environment, a “non-Japanese Japanese American” living here or dealing with the effects of depression in a foreign country. Then again, maybe you can’t identify with these exact situations, but we’re sure you can relate to these very human instances of vulnerability in some way.

With an impeccable range of topics that represent the diversity of foreigners and their interests in Japan, here are 12 that made the list in 2017.

1) Invisible Gaijin: Postcards from a Non-Japanese Japanese Person Living in Japan

“Being a visible foreigner in Japan comes with its pros and cons. You don’t have to worry about speaking imperfect Japanese, but you may also become frustrated when Japanese refuse to respond to you in anything other than broken English. For better or for worse, those particular problems will never apply to me. Living here as an American of Japanese descent — an “invisible” gaijin — has been both enlightening and extremely vexing.”

Read the full story by Kristy Ishii here.


2) Ink and Onsen: How to Enjoy Hot Springs if You Have Tattoos

Phuket, Thailand – October 18, 2015: Art of body tattoo on the back of young fellow, in the vegetarian festival.

“A unique and compelling aspect of traveling throughout Japan is sampling the various onsen (hot springs) and sento (community bathhouses) available. Both terms refer to public baths, the difference being that an onsen is fed by natural geothermal springs while a sento (generally) uses heated tap water. To maintain the distinction, there are legal restrictions on onsen requiring that they contain at least one of 19 specific natural chemical elements, like iron or sulfur.”

Read the full story by Martha Knauf here.


3) Top 5 Must-See Places in Japan for 2017

Kyoto was one of the top 5!

“The past year saw a record number of tourists visit Japan’s shores to experience the country’s fascinating blend of historic shrines and temples together with its innovative architecture and ultra-modern cities. As Japan prepares to host the 2020 Olympics, the time has never been more right to plan that trip.”

Read the full story by John Asano here.


4) 25 Things to Do in Osaka

Osaka Castle.

Osaka is a city with a heck of a lot to offer; interesting museums, scenic parks and world-class shopping, with more than its fair share of quirky charm and thousands of back streets to explore. And let’s not forget its reputation as “Japan’s kitchen,” where kuida-ore, or eating oneself bankrupt, is not just accepted, but encouraged. So what to do in one of Japan’s most vibrant and lively destinations? Here’s 25 ideas to get you started.”

Read the full story by Martha Knauf here.


5) 5 Things You Should Know About Drones In Japan

Everything you need to know about drones…

“You’ve probably heard of drones by now. Also known as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), the word ‘drone’ brings to mind all sorts of images; from stealth reconnaissance missions in warring nations all the way to Amazon’s innovative delivery methods.”

Read the full story by Misha Yuchenko here.


6) The 6 Types of People You Meet on a Japanese Train

So. Crowded.

“Taking the train in Japan is always a challenge. With the main lines most always crowded — especially before and after work — you can never be quite sure which body part will be mangled into what painful shape as you enjoy becoming a sardine. After spending time riding the rails here underground and overground, I’ve begun to notice distinct groups of people that also frequent the hell that we all go through on the morning commutes.”

Read the full story by Alex Sturmey here.


7) Why Does Japanese Have Two Kanji for “Love”?

love in Japanese

“While no one would ever say that defining love in any language is simple, learners of Japanese have an extra problem. If we put the word “love” into most dictionaries, it usually yields two different words:  koi and ai . While at first they may seem indistinct, each of these characters actually have subtle differences in meaning that give them both a special identity.”

Read the full story by Matthew Coslett here.


8) 5 Things I’ll Never Get Used to in Japan

“During my first few weeks in Japan, I went to the convenience store looking for some familiar food — to aid the homesickness a little. Finding something familiar, I bit into some bread, only to be assaulted by an unexpected sugary, creamy concoction — one that Willy Wonka would consider a health hazard.”

Read the full story by Alex Sturmey here.


9) Smartphones in Japan: How to Buy, Unlock and Change Plans

Cellphones in Japan… decoded.

“A lot has changed in the mobile phone landscape in Japan the last few years. Cell phones used to be very heavily restricted. You had a choice of three large companies, all offering near-identical packages and prices, with customer service standards that generally fell well below what one would come to expect from Japan.”

Read the full story by Liam Carrigan here.


10) Japan’s Tourism ‘Fails’ Make it a Perfect Travel Destination

“It’s a mantra repeated by every traveler — no matter the destination: “I want to avoid the touristy spots.” If that’s the case, then Japan is your dreamland. And yes, even Tokyo has plenty of spots to discover that tourists rarely set foot in — shout out to my current stomping grounds of Nerima. Yet how can that be when tourism is quite literally booming in Japan with over 24 million visitors in 2016?”

Read the full story by Victoria Vlisides here.


11) How to Deal with Being the Foreign Chick in a Japanese Office

Japanese office workers stands outside an office building in Tokyo.

“You have successfully jumped through all the hoops and got yourself a job in Japan — congratulations! While you should celebrate with a nice glass of bubbly and start brushing up on your keigo (honorific speech), keep in mind that you may have to deal with colleagues and managers who have certain ingrained ideas about non-Japanese women.”

Read the full story by Chiara Terzuolo here.


12) Dealing with Depression in Japan

Man leaning with hands against wall, dark room

“The day of Sep. 25 marked exactly 11 years since I first arrived in Japan. In the years between then and now, I’ve had some amazing experiences and faced some unexpected challenges. However, without a doubt, the most challenging — and for a time the most debilitating — battle I have faced in my years living in Japan has been my battle with depression.”

Read the full story by Liam Carrigan here.


No matter what prefecture you’re living, traveling or planning to travel to in Japan, GaijinPot aims to present useful information on the many successes accompanied with the many struggles that come along with living in a foreign country.

Thanks for reading and thanks to our many contributors across Japan who make this all possible. Kudos to you.

What kind of content would you like to see more of on GaijinPot and GaijinPot Travel in 2018? Don’t be shy — let us know in the comments!

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