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Life in Japan - How to Get Permanent Residence

A permanent resident visa (aka "PR") is the Mr. Miagi black belt of visas in Japan.  Why?  Well, I'll tell you why:

* Almost all work visas in Japan require some kind of sponsor, usually a company or a spouse.  The problem here is that if something happens to your sponsor--e.g. your company suffers a financial crisis, or sweet love turns sour--then your visa could go bye-bye.  PR does not have this problem.  You're your own sponsor.
* You don't have to renew it every 1~3 years.
* You can get stuff like credit cards and home loans.  While it's not impossible to get these without PR, you can enjoy more options and higher credit limits closer to what Japanese citizens enjoy.
* You can work in any industry.  Company-sponsored visas usually lock you to a particular industry, but with PR you're free to do whatever you want.
* It's about as close to becoming a Japanese citizen without actually becoming a citizen.
* PR makes you instantly awesome.

As you'd expect, getting something as all-powerful as a permanent residence visa in Japan isn't easy.  Unfortunately, it's made even more difficult since the Immigration Bureau's website (esp. the English one) provides very little information as to what's required.  Having gone through the process myself, I thought I'd outline it--potentially saving you a headache or two.

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Mobile Phones in Japan

I'm "the" IT guy for the Tokyo branch office of a much larger European firm, so I often have to assist visitors from overseas offices with their Japan mobile phone woes.  I never understood why sometimes their Blackberries just wouldn't work in Japan.  Well, after some research, I think I now know.

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How You Know You've Been in Japan Too Long

  • You bow when talking on the phone.
  • You've figured out kanji for your name.
  • You have a personal inkan and a koseki, and you know what those are.
  • You've accidentally said 「お疲れ様です」 to a friend from your native country.
  • You take your shoes off when visiting your native country.
  • You get upset when having to use a toilet without a heated seat and butt spray.
  • You forget to tip when visiting your native country.
  • You've gotten stuck in the door when rushing for the train on multiple occasions
  • You've been scolded by train station staff for rushing into the train on multiple occasions.
  • The first thing that

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USA vs. Japan - Beer

This comparison will be snappy quick and simple.  Japan just doesn't stand a chance against the USA in the beer arena.

Japanese Beer is Too Expensive
Japan does make some great-tasting beer, but unfortunately tobacco-loving Japanese politicians decided to tax the crap out of it, building a massive barrier to my regular beer enjoyment (unless you're paying).  Beer isn't good for you, but cigarettes make a much more appropriate taxation target.  Cigarettes are both bad for you and annoy others around you.  Beer at least doesn't give off carcinogenic fumes.  I digress.

To skirt the beer tax and improve sales, Japanese brewers release cheap

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Strong Yen Weak Dollar

During my recent trip back to the States, I engaged in an engaging conversation with a learned compatriot, the staunchly patriotic father of one of my best friends.  I bragged about my enjoyment of the current strong yen / weak dollar situation.  I am a rich man in my home country--almost as rich as Scrooge McDuck from "Duck Tales."  As such, I spoiled myself with flower pedal walkways, palm leaf fan-downs, direct-to-mouth grape feedings, and many a decadent shopping spree during my visit.  I even bought a pony!

My learned compatriot asserted that the dollar is not weak.  How can it be when a single dollar purchases 78 yen?  Meeting the first person not to be

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