A compilation of essential sites for Japan living


Weather and Natural Disasters
Travel and Timetables
Shopping Resources
Entertainment
News
Other

Tips/Hints

  • The English Web and Japanese Web are separate information spaces. If you can't find what you're looking for when searching in English, chances are you need to be searching in Japanese.
  • This isn't really a website, but if you're using Firefox and are viewing Japanese websites, Rikaichan is an excellent plug-in extension that will allow you to hover over kanji for a definition.
  • If you're using Google Chrome, it has an added feature which allows you to translate pages from Japanese to English. (helpful when viewing weather websites, information about places or stores)
  • When purchasing from online food sites, if you can go in with several people it will reduce the costs of shipping. Just make sure that if anything is perishable, the person receiving the food has enough room in their fridge.
  • 12 tips to use your Japanese IME better.
  • AJET.net

Weather and Natural Disasters


Yahoo Weather 岡山
This is the Japanese Yahoo site for Okayama city weather, but you can search your area name or postcode to get more accurate weather. Yahoo is considered by many people to have the best weather information in Japan.

MSN Weather
English site for weather in Okayama, you can search for your area in English.

Weather warnings for Okayama
In Japanese, but has regularly updated information for different areas in Okayama.

Japan Meteorological Agency
Provides official English information and warnings on earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural events within minutes. Also contains the most up to date weather and earthquake information (although more general in area), along with animated maps and predictions.

Travel and Timetables


Hyperdia
Train travel planner; will tell you the timetables and routes of getting from A to B in Japan.

Jorudan
Similar to Hyperdia but requires kanji reading. If your Japanese is good enough, it's a much better service than Hyperdia, offering tips on where to sit on the train for fast transfers, more accurate track information, and a "Seishun ju hachi kippu" AKA local trains only option.

Japan-Guide
Traveling around Japan? You need to know about this site. It has awesome guides for sightseeing which include tourist spots, historical locations, off-the-beaten path locations such as hiking routes, festivals and more. It also has some limited information on hotels and lodging, though this tends to be bogged down with ads. For lodging use the site below, Jalan.

Japan Tourist
Another fantastic travel site with loads of information and intimate, local reviews. Check out the section on Okayama, you'll be surprised!

Jalan
Available only in Japanese, but easily the best and most comprehensive accommodation site in Japan. Covers hotels from large to small, expensive to cheap, as well as ryokans (bed-and-breakfasts), and many hostels. Rife with limited-time-only deals, the site often covers meal options and can sometimes have cheaper offers than are available directly through the place you want to stay.

Shopping Resources


Online Shopping

Amazon.co.jp
For English books, DVDs, music, games, etc. Payment options include 'Cash on Delivery', ATM transfer (furikomi), Conbini (7-11/Lawsons...) and by credit card.

Rakuten
Has pretty much anything, from clothes to food to alcohol to electronics. This more or less fills the niche that Amazon serves in other countries for products beyond books and media. It's based in Japan but is one of the leading Japanese businesses pushing English usage. That said, the English product pages often show less information and have dodgy translations. But seriously, if you can't find it on Rakuten, it probably doesn't exist. Payment options vary between different retainers.

Foreign Buyers Club
Buy many international food products and even English teaching materials. They have a store in Kobe.

Yoyo Market
Similar to the FBC, but with the added feature of being able to order items from COSTCO and IKEA.

The Meat Guy
Any kind of meat you can think of, delivered directly to your door.

British Corner Shop
British foods/drinks - pay by credit/debit card or paypal.

Bom Preco Mercado
Brazilian food/drinks and things like spicy peppers and cheap meat. Website in Portuguese but that's what google translate and pictures are for.

Cuoca
Supplies for baking; is there anything that's hard to find in a grocery store that you need for your favourite baking recipe? Cuoca has it, as well as pots and pans to make it in!

Helpful Information

Shoe size conversion chart
For finding out just how large your gaijin feet are going to be.

Clothing Conversion Chart
For a general idea. Though like manufacturers everywhere, please check individual brand sizes.

Entertainment


Podnapisi Subtitles
This site provides a large catalogue of subtitles in many languages for movies and television series new and old. Useful for getting Japanese subtitles for things you want to show to Japanese friends, or students.
*The Japanese subtitles are usually provided in .srt format with Shift-JIS encoding, which require Japanese language support and fonts on your PC. Additionally, sometimes the files are taken from DVDs or created for versions of the film different from your own (special edition / TV / DVD), and may require you to adjust timing of subtitle display within your player, or obtain a new version that more relate to the file.

Internet TV Guide
Set the main page to display '岡山' and see a list of all programs airing right now. Additionally, see the daily television guide for up to a week, or view individual genres (movies, sports, anime, dramas...) for up to a week.
Note: Movies in English are often played on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 9pm on non cable channels.

Hulu Japan
Online TV/Movie streaming service. Cost is 980yen per month. Payment is via credit card. A 2 week free trial is available.

Play Asia - Video games for multiple systems and from multiple regions. Quite reliable, with decent prices, and accept multiple payment methods.

Steam- Steam's online shop for PC games. You may find you cannot purchase games from Steam due to billing address not matching IP. In this case you may need to contact Steam support to 'unlock' restrictions on your account.(after an attempted purchase) then use the website, adding the appropriate ending to the URL for your home country. Aus ?cc=au - US ?cc=us - UK ?cc=uk ... (Example: http://store.steampowered.com/?cc=au).


News


The Japan Times
Japan's largest English language newspaper.

The Daily Yomiuri
Japan's second largest English language newspaper.

Japan Today
A very decent English language news source.

The Mainichi
A small and current news site in English.

Kansai Scene
Nice bi-lingual magazine covering music, art, and life in the Kansai area and beyond.


Other


GaijinPot
The largest English language site for employment listings, apartments, classifieds, information and forums

Surviving in Japan
A fantastic site for general information about living in Japan. That sounds like crap, but it's not, it's really useful and well maintained, it's like advice from people who have been here for years. The archives have lots of information.