It’s already been three weeks in Tokyo. I managed to find a lovely 2 bed roomed apartment in a quiet suburb of Tokyo called Mitaka City. It finally hit me that I am an adult when I finally moved into this apartment. Ever since graduating from JKUAT, I have mostly been living with friends; although I moved back home briefly at some point. Llater when I moved to Japan, I lived in the university housing for students, which was already fully furnished.
So this apartment is a chance for me to decorate it the way I want, just like the apartments on the Instragram interior decor pages. I’m trying to make it sparkle with joy. But I am finding out that making things sparkle with joy is a FULL time job! And an expensive one at that. You want matching towels neatly folded? It will cost you. You want matching, minimalist furniture? Fork out the cash.
Below, Jeremy enjoying playing the keyboard in his new room.
Of course as many have said it, is the pursuit of joy the goal of life? I don’t know. The apartment itself sparks joy, with the sunlight coming in through the windows in the throughout the day. That’s enough for me. I am going to have to live with a little clutter until I have enough time and money, but so far so good. I am also yet to finish unpacking and buying all the furniture and stuff I need in the new apartment.
About work.. it has been a crazy three weeks. I joined the Hitachi Research and Development Group! How cool is that! The work and the working environment is great thus far. But it takes time to transition from doing part-time post doc in rural Japan to a commuting and working full time in the big city. In addition, Jeremy also just started elementary school and the procedures for that were a ton! if I piled up the documents that I have filled in so far, it would form a pile Jeremy’s height!
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First day of school was officially fun. But it was tiring, we're yet to settle into an official rhythm. A routine is the best thing ever (never thought I'd say this but I love mundane days now!) Yes, he's in a weird yellow hat. All first graders wear it so the public knows they're new to school life and will help them cross the road, and be careful when driving or cycling around them because they walk to school.
Here are a few observations/differences about working for a big company in Japan (from my point of view as I experienced working in Kenya):
Most* Japanese companies will pay your expenses for you to go to the on-site interviews. They don’t ask you to go by the cheapest way either, but by the fastest way, i.e. bullet train fares, which are quite expensive (it costs ¥13,500 one way from Kanazawa to Tokyo). Some will even pay your hotel expenses if you are coming from too far away and are unable to go back home on the same day.
When I was in Kenya, I had to ask my parents/friends for fare to the interviews. I don’t know a single company in Kenya that refunds your interview expenses. This would be a great idea especially if the interviewees are students who’ve just graduated and have had no income yet.
I know in the US, the likes of Google and Facebook have this practice as well.
Again, most* big companies in Japan will cover your relocation costs. They will usually hire a moving company to come to your house and move your stuff, or refund you if you hire the moving company by yourself.
In Kenya, if you are moving from Nakuru or wherever to Nairobi, for example, it is up to you to cover the cost of relocation; when you are yet to have your first salary.
Say you’ve passed the interviews and have now started working. In Japan, for almost all companies big or small, your commuting expenses will also be taken care of, depending on the distance you are to travel. You will be asked to get a 6 month train or bus pass, and will be refunded the exact amount. This is is a separate amount from your salary. (I am pretty sure it is not taxed). Basically, your commuting expenses don’t have to come from your salary, which is pretty great. In Kenya, it is up to you to budget your commuting expenses from your salary (after tax). When I worked at EY though, if we went to a client’s site that was a certain distance from the office, then we could apply for a mileage allowance. But there was none for commuting to the office.
Obviously, there are many more differences because Kenya and Japan are completely different countries, culture-wise and economic-wise. So it wouldn’t do to compare everything directly. However, I am a Kenyan living in Japan, I can’t help but note the differences.
Anyway, that was just a quick update on the blog. I have been working on this post for almost two weeks now, that’s how busy I have been. If you would like to see more frequent updates (hopefully), follow me on IG. I know for sure that life is gonna be so interesting, it has already started on a high note.