Thoughts on moving to Japan [Part 1] – Money, work and childcare.

I had no idea which picture I should use for this post, because when searching “Japan” on image searches, so many different kind of pictures shows up. The beautiful ones of nature or historic places, the pictures of busy city lights and skyscrapers or the goofy ones of everything weird in Japan. Japan is so many thing and I’m still not sure, after all this time, what Japan actually is to me. Most of all I would like to see it as a beautiful country, with stunning sceneries and friendly people and there’s no doubt that this is a part of Japan, but there’s also so many other things – some positive, others… not so much.

After all these years traveling between Denmark and Japan and been in a Japanese marriage, I do feel like I’ve seen a lot of sides of Japan, some I would have liked to leave out, but it’s still a country, still a place with more than 100 million people, so you are to come across both positives and negatives. Just like everything else in life.

This blog will probably both be filled with the fun moments, but also the struggles I will face when I begin my life in Japan. I’ve known for 4 years that I would move to Japan in the year of 2014 and on the way there’s been many doubts if this was the right choice. I love my own country, with our high taxes, high quality in life, free schools, doctors and hospitals and a government which is ready to catch you if you fall down. It’s a lot to leave behind. Going to Japan I’ll enter a life with more uncertainty, lower taxes, but medical and education bills, almost no economical security net if get lost somewhere along the way and not to mention lower salary and close to non-existent childcare service. A country with lower equality of the sexes and where women often have to choose between family or career – because trying to juggle both will mostly just leave you stressed out. Even though women do have to chance to work on the same terms as men, they will also have to face the extreme over time schedules, the possibility of being transferred far away and close to no holidays.

The husband is often also taxed a lot higher if his wife earns a full time salary, and that tax money often equals a good amount of the wife’s salary, which just makes it seem like she’s working for free. Why even bother? The childcare service for children under 3-4 years of age is also extremely limited, have long waiting list and will take a big bite of your possible salary.

I will probably stay at home the first few years with our future children. Not because I in any way believe it’s a woman’s place, but because I feel it’s the best course to take in Japan. I could find a full time job, get pregnant, take leave, pay big bucks for a nursery, then I want a second child and it’ll probably be even more complicated to take a leave again and once again pay a lot of money for someone to look after my child. It’s not impossible – far from, but I don’t really have any career dreams. I think I would like to be a teacher or something, but if I have to chance I feel like I want to take things slowly and therefore have one or two kids before searching for work. I think I want to do some work from home – I have some business plans I want to elaborate in a later post.

My husband and I do think about our future economy a lot. It is kind of embarrassing to say as a soon-to-be university graduate, that I have no career goals. I have a lot of goals and dreams when it comes to children and family life, but none for any future jobs. Does that make me sound old-fashioned? For me, I think I find these dreams acceptable, because they are my own, not any social norms or society told to. I guess somewhere, women of the modern world started to feel bad about wanting to focus more on family, house and childrearing, rather than career, because women for decades have fought for the right to leave their houses and seen equal to men. I did take an education – I went 4 years to university and got almost only A and Bs. I speak several languages, I have strong opinions and I know what I want to in life – and… it’s not a stressful job.

Look at me talking about women’s rights and such, this what not what I was going for in this post, I guess as a women we’re brought up to not only believe that we can do everything – but also believing that we should.

I think the only reason why I know that I will find a job in a near future is not because of financial reasons, well maybe a little, but also because being home everyday would bore me to death. I’m not a native English speaker, which puts a few bumps on the path to become an English teacher in Japan, but I guess it’s not impossible. At least I speak Japanese, unlike many other foreign English teachers.

So I think I will end this post now, since there’s a lot of other things I have been thinking about, but I’ll safe that for a later post. Who want to read too long blog posts anyway?

I will move to Japan around the middle of September this year. It still seems far away, but considering how fast the past 4 years have flown by, 7-8 months is nothing and there is a lot to prepare.

4 responses

  1. I really find it funny how women fight for “equal rights”, however, want to be paid for in restaurants, expect their men to carry their heavy begs, etc, etc. Aren’t we all so happy to be charged less/enter free to clubs and get long and paid maternity-leaves? If anybody should fight for “equal rights” it’s men LOL.
    Anyway, I do believe in having hobbies/work/interests outside of being a housewife, but I also feel we can’t go against nature since the beginning of humanity of being the primary child caretaker and not the breadwinner (unless it’s an absolute necessity) . What kind of business would you like to make?

    • Long time no see (if I can say that, since we’ve never met in real life XD)! Women do love selective “equal rights” I think. We want mean to know that we can do everything just as well as them, but at the same time we want men to pamper us and tend to our needs. We want everyone to see women as strong and smart, but still being seen as the weak gender has its’ perks. Like you say, make men pay for our things and carry our stuff (I mean… that’s my husband’s job XD). In Denmark the whole discussion is about the army. All boys have to serve one year in the army (unless they draw a free card), where’s women only have to go if they want to. So people fight about this a lot, if men and women are equal, shouldn’t women be forced to go as well?
      I also think there’s some natural things we can’t go against. We’re the one giving birth to children and it’s in our nature and instinct to take care of others – where men protect.
      The business I want to do is being a middle person in Japan – helping people to order things from Japan for a small fee and send it to them – in the beginning there’ll be a focus on the Japanese disney store, since I already have met a lot of people online who wants to order things from there. I’ll also get involved with ebay – there’s a lot of good opportunities there. XD I hope you and your family is well.

      • I’m happy you feel the same way I do!
        Yes, it’s not only about the society treating women differently, it’s about that we are different from men on almost every single level and that’s how nature wanted us to be 😉
        But wow, I had no idea that Danish guys got the army duty! I thought it’s rather in countries that are under constant war threats…But well, I guess one year of service might be actually a good thing for men…you know, because they probably get out all muscular and mature…? ^-^
        I think online business is a great option for SAHMs! Especially since you choose something which you understand in (J-Disney store trends and foreign demands). I wish you to succeed and maybe be the next Rakuten! 😀

  2. Very interesting thoughts, I feel the same way! I’m glad to see your move is almost here, I wish you all the best in your move! I’m looking forward to seeing your pictures of the area you choose 😀

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