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Okayama City...any tips?

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  • Okayama City...any tips?

    Good morning and afternoon.

    I hope someone will be able to help me out. I will be travelling to Japan this October to do the "teaching for a year thing".

    I have read some very interesting conversations on these boards, and some of them have made me aprehensive. What reaction will I receive when I get to my new home? I guess I am the classic Gaijin, one who has this romantic idealistic vision of Japan. So I was wondering if anyone would set me straight.

    I dont mean the myth of how Japanese women throw themselves at every foreigner. That, I am pretty sure is not accurate, and I dont really care since that is not my reason for going there.

    My concern is more about how I will be treated in stores, and on the street. I know from reading that Okayama City (where I will live) is considered a backwater within Japan, hence it seems more likely that foreign elements will have a more direct impact than say in Tokyo.

    My other concern is that I am quite tall, by western standards, and this worries me about my life in Japan. Any other tall men find difficulties in general living? I am about 6'6, so I know clothes will be a problem. I hope that my stature does not preclude me from making local friends, ie. scare them off.

    That above all would "suck". I want to make good friends in Japan, so that I can really see the lives of people there, and not just have the Alice In Wonderland experience.

    Anyways...comments, suggestions etc. are welcome


  • #2
    Re: Okayama City...any tips?

    Hi there Adamski

    Okayama is not a bad place, kind of a big small town. Never lived there myself but been there a few times. Generally, the only problems your height should pose are getting new clothes, and door frames. I am 6' myself and constantly have to duck my head here so take care and bring al the clothes you need from home.




    • #3
      Re: Okayama City...any tips?

      Hello Adamski

      I live in neighbouring Hiroshima Ken and have been to Okayama enough to know that things are pretty much the same here as there. I'm 6'4" and can assure you that you won't be scaring anyone other than maybe a few six year olds. Just the opposite, like having blonde hair, being tall attracts curiosity and attention like you would not believe. This is bound to be unwelcome at times when you hear the muttered "se ga takia" for the hundredth time as you walk past people in the grocery store, but nothing you can't handle, I'm sure. People will want to talk to you and ask you how tall you are, giving you a chance to talk to people you may otherwise not meet. Be patient - you may feel like a circus freak at times, but it comes with the territory of living in a country that is as sheltered as Japan.

      The other side of the coin is that Japan is NOT built for the tall. I've developed back problems since living here and although my prime suspect is the Edo period chairs used in my office, I'm not convinced that it isn't all the bending and stooping I have to do all the time. Clothes that fit are pretty much impossible to find, living where you live, though you might stumble on the occasional thing that fits. Shoes are right out so bring some extra ones with you. Seoul is a good place to buy cheap, large clothing and shoes, so you might try a mid-year visit there (Korea is a great place and has a lot to offer a visitor willing to explore a bit ie. get out of the cities and check out some mountains and temples)

      Sorry, getting off track. The point is, you will get stared at and you will get a LOT of comments (Tokyo and Osaka people reading this, yes it's true, I'm not exaggerating or being oversensitive or misunderstanding what people say. Life in the Ȃ@(countryside) is just different) but it sounds like you have the right attitude and if you're patient and willing to make friends, you'll be great. Incidentally, if you play basketball or any other sports it's a great way into a group of guys to hang out with. I got into a basketball circle when I first got here and met a lot of great people. Sorry about the ramble. Good luck.



      • #4
        Re: Okayama City...any tips?

        FallingDownBlue & Harry

        Thank you very much for your feedback..its as I expected. Hopefully I can do some stretching and back muscle buildup before I go overseas....make the back a bit more resistant to the rigours of a "short" life

        Hopefully I can get into the Basketball, Volleyball thing, that would be great.

        I also hope to make it a priority to learn at least passable Japanese before I go.

        Once again, thanks for the feedback.


        • #5
          Re: Okayama City...any tips?

          Okayama's not so bad, Harry's "big small town" is just about right. With regard to clothes, you'll be okay at the GAP or at Eddie Bauer, both of which stock Western sizes up to and including X-large (I'm quite at a loss as to who buys them barring the odd English teacher).
          I don't know whether either of these has a branch in Okayama, but Hiroshima or Kobe should have branches of each. The downside, of course is that you'll be looking a little more 'East Coast college boy' than you might want to.


          • #6
            Re: Okayama City...any tips?

            Hi. Okayama is a great place - I lived there for a while when I was 16, and I went back for a while last year to visit friends. Yeah, the staring thing there is worse than it is in Tokyo. After living in Tokyo for so long, where foreigners are a dime a dozen, I really felt the eyes upon me when I was back in Okayama. But it's not a bad thing. People are just not used to seeing foreigners and they're naturally. You'll mostly get comments from kids or old people about your height. Clothes shouldn't be a problem - Okayama has all the well known stores stocking western brands and sizes.Okayama food is delicious - it's known for it's mandarins.
            The area around Symphony Hall on the main street is the best for shopping. You'll also find the big Maruzen bookshop there - they stock English books as well as Japanese ones.Check out Okayama Korakuen while you are there, just down the road from Symphony Hall, ranked as one of the 3 most beautiful parks in all of Japan.
            Kurashiki is another beautiful area you should definitely check out. It's a very historical area with art and other museums, old houses, wares and other great things to see. It's about half an hours drive from Okayama, but I think you can also get there by train.
            Hope you have a great time.