Moving to Yokohama Japan.

Updated on January 22, 2010
D.S. asks from Brentwood, TN
9 answers

We are moving to Yokohama in February with Nissan and with our just turned 3 year old little boy.
I am VERY aprehensive and nervous about the whole move.
Does anyone have any suggestions or advice?
Thanks ddd

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answers from Charlotte on

Enjoy living overseas! It was a great experience for us. I do have a few suggestions.

1. Read the book Crossing Cultures. It's got great advice for the move overseas, as well as the challenges when you come back home. You should be able to get it on Amazon for under $10.

2. Get a SKYPE acct. It's a great communication tool. You can even get a US number for friends to call you at anytime.

3. Check the web for an expat womans group, as well as international schools. I realize your child is too young for school, but they are a great community to get involved with, as well as a super resource. Websites, might also have tips for moving to the area - what things cost, where to get them, etc.

4. If you are a reader, check out a Kindle - you wouldn't have to waist your container space on books. We stocked up on DVD's but my kids were older and it was always great to have the movie library.

5. Look into an English speaking church. We found a great nondenominational Protestant one that was another great connection.

6. Keep a journal. You're going to have a lot of experiences that you won't want to forget. Also keep a camera handy.

I think you'll find the expat community very welcoming - they've all been thru the same thing, and can help you along.

Good Luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Knoxville on

Moving can be scary! I would go to the library and get books about Japan. Remember that every area is different. When you know about your new area, it will help you adjust. My uncle married a woman from Japan and they would go over for a long visit every other year. He never wanted to come back, he loved it in Japan. I do not remember what part though. Good Luck and God Bless!



answers from Fayetteville on

How exciting for you! As with any move, you will feel a little anxious or scared of discovering a new frontier. Our little Army family has lived in 3 states and did a 3yr tour in Germany in only 14 yrs of marriage. I flew solo with my kids to Germany, ages 5yrs and the other was 8mo, then back again 3 yrs later. So I understand the anxiety. BUT I will tell you this is a huge opportunity to experience things you never would otherwise living in the U.S. all your life. Your son will benefit the most by learning another language, culture, cuisine and countryside. This is going to be an adventure!

To prepare, I highly suggest you do your homework. Visit your local library for books, video and audio on Japan. You can also buy pocket flip books at your local book store to have quick reference phrases at your fingertips when you arrive. Also, take the family out to eat at a traditional Japanese restaurant to get a feel for it. Remember to buy fun travel toys for your son. It's a long flight!

I would also make sure all contact information for family and friends is up to date, i.e. phone#, address, email.

Find out how you'll be able to make phone calls there. If you will need calling cards buy them in bulk at Sam's/Costco because international calls use up your minutes FAST. Learn what the time difference is so you'll know when to call home.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Hire professional packers and movers and get personal property insurance. Stuff happens! Document and take pictures of valuables and make sure packing lists are correct. Hand carry these things and your receipts separate from the household goods you are shipping. If you're taking your vehicle overseas make sure it's properly cleaned and prepared for transport. TAKE PICTURES.

That's all I can think of right now. Being well prepared before moving day is key to a smooth transition. I wish you and your family the best. Make the most out of your stay there and make friends with locals. They'll be very helpful! Lastly, please, please remember that you are an unofficial ambassador for our country. Represent us well!



answers from Lexington on

Research is very important. I moved with my husband to Thailand (his home country) back in 1985, and I knew nothing about what I was getting into. Of course, that was long before there was internet.

I've only been in Japan long enough to change planes, but I can tell you a little about Asian culture in general. Politeness is everything. You'll have to learn the specific dos and don'ts for Japanese culture. Respect for elders is paramount, I'm sure. In Thailand, showing emotions in public was discouraged.

You should also find out the general prices of things there, if you can. In Thailand, for instance, it was very expensive to buy such American basics as potatoes and cereal. When I went over again I stocked up on some things, including peanut butter. I also took over many books, which cost quite a bit when I was there. They had Pizza Hut, etc, but a single pizza cost about $20. I'm sure Japan has most American foods, but they could cost quite a bit.

Of course, you'll need to take your son's favorite toys and books. I always packed a special bookbag for my kids to keep them occupied on the plane. That helped. And it would be good to take his favorite snack, if it's allowed. If not, you could pack some in your luggage. On the first morning my kids woke up in Thailand, they asked for pizza. (Of course, on the first morning they woke up back in the U.S., they asked for Thai curry.)

I can imagine how nervous you must be. This is a very big move. But you'll get through it, and I'm sure you and your family will learn a lot and come back feeling better for having this experience.


answers from Raleigh on


I can only imagine how nervous you must be! I moved from PA to NC and thought I was going to go nuts! HOWEVER, my aunt, uncle, and their three children (7,5,3) just recently moved to Africa, and I believe their transition was smoother than ours was. First of all, they attempted to make contact with people over there before they went. Maybe your husband can talk to Nissan about who is currently in Japan, what their families are like, etc. so you could possibly have at least someone once you get over there. If there is someone that you connect with, ask them what they did to make the transition smoother, if you can go places with them (grocery store, restaurants, etc.) when you first get there so you know what is going on. If there isn't anyone over there already that this would work with, maybe your husband can find someone else who will be going that you could talk with. At least there would be 2 of you in the same boat! Also, make sure you buy a web cam so you can skype people here in the states. It is so nice to see my family in Africa over a video versus reading an e-mail or talking to them on the phone. Finally, I would just do as much research as you can and try to talk to anyone that has ever been to that part of the world. You can attempt to explain what is going on to your son, but he isn't fully going to get it until you are literally in Japan. Think of this as an amazing adventure (what a great way for your son to experience another culture)! While I won't say I envy you, it would be quite an experience to live in such a different country! Good luck!



answers from Nashville on

I have known two families that have lived in Japan and they loved it. Literally did not want to come back. Get some books or CD's to study the main words in the language to get your way around. Three years old is actually perfect so he doesn't have to immediately start at a school not knowing anything. I bet there are several others there for Nissan from America that you can have your husband find out the part they live in and move near them. Good luck.



answers from Raleigh on

Hi D., I lived in Tokyo about 20 years ago. I went over to Yokohama a couple of times. I really liked it there. I am sure that it has changed a bunch, but I really felt safe there ... even using the subway in the evenings. When I was there, no one locked their bikes ... they would be all along the bike rack at the subways. That is just one example. The culture is very different than the U.S., so you may feel some isolation. I would learn as much as you can about the language and the culture, and I think that you would enjoy it. Feel free to write me with any specific questions. What will you be doing? Will you be working with Nissan, or your husband?

Good luck! D..



answers from Dayton on

Hi! My family just got back from Japan after living there for a year. I have two kids, they were 3 and 5 when we went over. I tell people it was the hardest year of my life, but also the best :) Adjustment wasn't easy for me and the kids, but completely worth it. We learned so much and made great friends. So my best advice is to try and relax and enjoy! We were with a Honda supplier- so I hope Nissan is providing you with lots of help. I actually found the company's counterpart in Japan much more helpful than the American side. Also, isn't Yokohama a big military site? There should be tons of resources and other ex-pat moms. And while it is a good idea to absorb as much as you can about japanese culture and language, you'll be okay. The japanese are some of the nicest and most helpful people I have met- and as a foreigner, they don't expect you to know everything about their culture and customs, though they really appreciate it when you try. And find some japanese moms to hang out with! It was the best thing I ever did- I have life-long friends now in Japan- and not only did they keep me sane, but helped me with everyday tasks that I could no longer do alone. You're lucky to be an American- there is a huge push to learn english in Japan, and you will find many people are interested in you and like to practice.
I could write a book about my experience- it's hard to know what to tell you. But if you have any questions or want to know anything in particular- please contact me. Good luck and have fun!!



answers from Nashville on

My daughter just moved back from Japan in August. She was there for two years teaching English in several High Schools. She loved living there and loved the people. With your child being 3 I would think that it will be an easy transition as they are not in school yet.

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