4 Ways You Can Fly to Japan for Free

There are four ways you can fly to Japan for free. This depends on whether you’re planning a short-term visit or a long-term stay. Of course, there are conditions attached to the word “free” as with everything else nowadays!


A SHORT-TERM STAY

1. A STOP OVER:

If you’re planning a trip to Australia or New Zealand from the UK or vice versa from Australia or New Zealand to the UK, then you can get a free stopover in Tokyo included in the price of your air ticket, if you choose to fly with Japan Airlines. It’s a very long flight from one hemisphere to the other (approximately 23 hours) and therefore a stopover in Tokyo makes perfect sense. Not only do you get a rest before completing the second leg of your journey but you also get to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world for free.

I guarantee you’ll never forget your first trip to Tokyo and I’m sure you’ll want to visit Japan again and again once you’ve experienced a taste of what this amazing country has to offer.

I spoke with a representative at Thomson holidays (a UK-based travel operator) and she said a third party will organise your hotel stay in Tokyo and there is a choice of hotels to choose from depending on your budget.

Japan Air

A LONG-TERM STAY

2. THE JET PROGRAMME:

Applications are now open for the JET Programme in the UK. If you’re successful, you could be flying to Japan for free and starting work next year in August 2014.

The JET Programme is currently recruiting participants from 40 countries. If you have a Bachelor’s degree in any subject and native written and spoken English language skills as well as a keen interest in Japan, then you might want to consider a teaching position in Japan for at least a year. The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme provides a free return flight to Japan if you meet and fulfil the conditions of your contract with them. Please note British citizens need to have British citizenship, not simply residence, to apply. However, British citizens may apply from abroad as long as you can guarantee you will be in the UK at certain times during the application and selection year.

I’ve never taken part in the JET Programme but I know there is a considerable amount of respectability attached to this programme and it has a very good name in Japanese circles. The JET Programme participants are contracted to local or prefectural governmental contracting organisations and you would typically work as an English Language teaching assistant in rural areas.

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The annual remuneration is about ¥3,360,000 (~£21,000.00/US$34,000.00) in the first year but participants need to take into consideration you pay about ¥40,000 (~£252.00/US$410.00) per month towards mandatory health insurance and a pension fund. Also, applicants must pay rent – the cost of rent varies according to the participant’s contracting organisation and the location in Japan. On the upside, the amount remaining after all your expenses have been paid is more than sufficient to live on in Japan. The contracting organisation will also help participants to find housing and this takes away many of the stresses involved with finding accommodation if you’re not fluent in the Japanese language.

3. DAIWA SCHOLARSHIP:

The Daiwa Scholarship is a unique 19-month programme of language study, work placement and homestay in Japan for British citizens. This scholarship offers young and talented UK citizens with strong leadership potential, the opportunity to acquire Japanese language skills, and to access expertise and knowledge relevant to their career goals. No previous experience of Japan or Japanese is necessary. The Daiwa Scholarship starts in mid-September and finishes at the end of March.

The recipients undertake intensive Japanese language study at the Tokyo School of Japanese Language, known also as the Naganuma School. After 15 months, they are expected to reach an upper-intermediate level of language ability. Also, a series of weekly seminars in English are held for Daiwa Scholars at Hosei University in Tokyo. These are designed to give Scholars an introduction to Japanese life, culture and society. Daiwa Scholars also spend one month with a Japanese family as part of a homestay outside Tokyo at the end of the first year, to improve their language ability and to enhance their understanding of Japan. As well as this, the Foundation arranges individual work placements appropriate to each Daiwa Scholar’s career goals.

Please note there are usually around 230 applications for the Daiwa Scholarship but only 6 places are granted, so it’s very competitive. Also, applicants must realise this is not simply a “year out” in Japan – scholars are expected to be very conscientious in their approach to their studies at the Naganuma School, in exchange for the funding they receive.

Daiwa Foundation

Completion of the programme is marked by a graduation ceremony in Tokyo at which each graduating Scholar gives a short speech in Japanese. Scholars then automatically become members of the Daiwa Scholars Alumni Association.

Candidates for the Daiwa Scholarships must be British citizens, aged between 21 and 35 years of age by the time of departure, graduates or due to graduate by the time of departure. Applicants should be equipped with a strong degree in any subject or with a strong record of achievement in their field and in possession of clear career objectives and a commitment to furthering UK-Japan links.

The Foundation meets all tuition and examination fees associated with the Scholarship. Daiwa Scholars will also receive a maintenance grant for the duration of the Scholarship which is to cover accommodation and living costs for a single person. Furthermore, the Foundation meets the cost of economy-class travel to and from Japan at the beginning and end of the Scholarship. It’s important to note that while scholars are on the programme, they may not undertake remunerated work.

For their first weeks in Japan, Daiwa Scholars are accommodated in a hotel in central Tokyo. During this period, they will look for rented apartments in which they will live for the remainder of the Scholarship. All Daiwa Scholars contribute to the compulsory Japanese Government Health Scheme from their maintenance. In addition, the Foundation provides standard medical insurance for Daiwa Scholars while they are in Japan on the programme.

4. JAPANESE GOVERNMENT MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology) SCHOLARSHIP:

The MEXT Scholarship is a Japanese government scholarship programme that is offered to international students who wish to study at Japanese universities as research students.

There are several requirements that an applicant needs to fulfil. An applicant must have the nationality of a country which has diplomatic relations with the Japanese government and he/she must have been born on or after 02 April 1978. The applicant has to have completed or will complete a 16-year school curriculum in a foreign country or he/she must be aged 22 or older and have taken an individual entrance qualification examination which has been judged by a graduate school as being equal or superior in academic ability to a university graduate. Furthermore, the applicant should apply for the field of study he/she studied at the previous university or any related field.

Please note the applicant must be willing to learn the Japanese language, they must have an interest in Japan and they need to be enthusiastic about deepening his/her understanding of Japan after arriving. They also need to show they are capable of engaging in study and research while adapting himself/herself to life in Japan.

The applicant also needs to obtain a College Student (ryuugaku 留学) visa and be prepared to be screened by means of submitted application documents, written examinations and interviews. If the applicant is successful they will be advised to learn the Japanese language and to acquire some information on Japanese weather, climate, customs, university education, and conditions in Japan, as well as about the difference between the Japanese legal system and that of his/her home country before departing for Japan. Students will be accommodated in university halls of residence, in private boarding houses or apartments.

Not only will each grantee receive a study scholarship, they will also receive at least ¥143,000 (~£920.00/US$1,468.00) per month for expenses and a free return economy class air ticket. However, the recipient should bring approximately US $2,000 or the equivalent to cover immediate needs after arrival in Japan.

MEXT Scholarship

Above are four different ways to get a free return airfare to Japan. If you have more ideas on how to fly to Japan for free please reply to this blog post so that we can share the information with other people who are just as passionate about visiting Japan.

Tokyo Has Been Chosen to Host the 2020 Olympic Games: A Good Decision? You Decide

I’d like to say congratulations to Tokyo for being selected to host the Olympic Games in 2020. I think this is wonderful news and an excellent decision which has definitely uplifted the spirit of the Japanese people.

Japan Olympics

There has been a lot of controversy about whether this was a wise decision due to the ramifications following on from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. I understand this is an on-going issue and many people in Japan and on an international scale are concerned about whether this continuing nuclear problem will be properly addressed now that Japan needs to spend so much to provide for the 2020 Olympics. Many questions are being asked about why such a huge amount of money is being spent on the Olympics when so much money is still needed to fix the problems in Fukushima.

I’ve been trying to find the answers to these questions and therefore I’ve been reading a lot of articles online about the Olympics and the concerns surrounding this decision to stage the Olympics in Tokyo.

One publication that has closely covered the Olympic decision and which has tried to be unbiased about the decision to have the Olympics in Tokyo is the online newspaper The New York Times. This newspaper stated on 07 September 2013 that Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, has asked the public to “Please look at the facts, not the newspaper headlines.” After reading several newspaper articles, I’m convinced Mr Shinzo Abe will certainly be addressing all of the nuclear issues and the problems associated with them as quickly as possible. I believe Mr Abe will not ignore the problems and he is proactive in his decisions. The New York Times also stated that “Since Shinzo Abe came into power late last year and unleashed bold monetary and government reforms to jump-start the economy. Japan has gone from a global economic laggard to the fastest growing nation in the Group of 7.” I’d like to point out that if Mr Abe can do this for the economy in such a short amount of time, he can also clean up the Fukushima problems in a timely and effective manner.

While many people are sceptical about whether the Japanese government is ignoring the nuclear issues, I believe it has to be said that the decision made for Tokyo to host the Olympics in 2020 has definitely increased the confidence and optimism of the Japanese people and how they believe Japan is represented on a worldwide scale. I’d like to add The New York Times also included a quote from Harumi Arima, an independent political analyst, saying “Japan has seemed to be overshadowed by the rise of China and other developing nations. These Olympics will give Japan a chance to be reborn, to feel for themselves that Japan can still be vibrant.”

Japan elated over Olympic decision

After speaking with a few friends in Tokyo in the last few days, I can confidently say they were elated to hear the news Tokyo was selected to host the Olympics in 2020. I was also really pleased to hear so much excitement and hope in their voices now that they feel their country Japan can look forward to a brighter and better future.

My favourite shop in Ginza, Tokyo: KYUKYODO

Ginza is famous for being one of the most expensive shopping areas in the world and you won’t have any trouble finding the most elite Japanese and Western fashion houses in this exclusive area. However, despite the fact hundreds of people from all over the world spend trillions every day in this fascinating shopping district and even I like to admire the latest fashions from the best designers just as much as any other woman, I’ll often walk straight past the big brands and head directly to my favourite shop in Ginza called Kyukyodo, whenever I’m in Tokyo. This wonderful store opened in Kyoto in 1663 and in Tokyo in 1880 and it’s still run by the Kumagai family to this day. I believe it stocks the finest and most accessible selection in Japan of modern and traditional stationery as well as postcards, handicrafts, writing instruments, calligraphy supplies and high-end incenses.

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You won’t find designer threads, sparkling jewels or fancy accessories in Kyukyodo, but you will feel a sense of tradition as well as a well-developed respect for these traditions and the essence of Japan as you browse through the first and second floors of this marvellous shop.

You might think I’m a bit old-fashioned if I admit I prefer to send and receive letters via the postal service, but I think a lot of people would agree with me when I say it’s so much nicer to receive a hand-written letter on a pretty piece of paper rather than a rushed email sent straight to my inbox.

So if you’re planning to visit Tokyo or you live near Ginza, take the time out to visit Kyukyodo and I’m sure you’ll leave with the same sense of awe and wonder that I experience every time I walk out of this lovely store, after seeing such beautiful Japanese paper goods and handicrafts on display.

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Kyukyodo is located at 5-7-4 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo, not far from the Matzuzakaya department store in Ginza.

(Images of Kyukyodo courtesy of Alex Kwa)

What Not to Do in Social and Business Situations in Japan

– Don’t spear your chopsticks or stick them upright into a bowl of rice or a piece of sushi
– Don’t point your chopsticks at other people
– Don’t take food directly from a dish and put it in your mouth. Add it to your bowl first
– Don’t pour soy sauce directly on to your rice
– Don’t wear your shoes inside the home
– Don’t wear the house slippers in the toilet. You need to change into the toilet slippers
– Don’t tip in restaurants, taxis or at hotels
– Don’t use sarcasm
– Don’t eat while you’re walking
– Don’t blow your nose with a handkerchief. Use a tissue
– Don’t wear shoes with too many ties or buckles. You’ll need to remove them in Japanese homes and at traditional Japanese restaurants.
– Don’t wear socks with holes in them if you know you’re going to have to remove your shoes
– Don’t use too much eye contact or physical contact as this is considered to be rude

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– Don’t show too much emotion in business meetings.
– Don’t be too negative in business meetings. Try to avoid the word “No”
– If you’re offered a business card, accept it with both hands and don’t put it in your wallet without looking at it
– If you’re doing business with a Japanese company, don’t use aggressive sales tactics
– Don’t forget to introduce your colleagues. Proper introductions are important in all business and social situations
– Don’t chat too much in social or business situations. Silence is more important than constant chatter
– Don’t use sarcasm or joke about your manager in a business meeting
– Don’t expect business connections with the Japanese to form straight away or too quickly
– Don’t forget to nod to show you’re listening when a Japanese person is talking to you
– Never forget harmony and etiquette are the basis of all good social and business interactions in Japan
– Don’t wear flamboyant clothing. Men should wear dark suits and a tie for a meeting or an interview and women should wear a dress or a skirt with heels
– Don’t forget to take gifts from your own country if you’re meeting with a Japanese company or if you’ve been invited to a Japanese home
– Don’t be late for meetings. Punctuality is important
– Don’t use sloppy wrapping techniques when you give a Japanese person a gift. The wrapping is just as important as the gift giving process