Moving from Japan to the US: Expectations vs Reality

Planning a move is usually stressful enough when its between two cities. But the stress levels are turned up a notch when the relocation is between two different countries. Moving from Japan to the US is no exemption, but there is no need for you to panic.

Moving from Japan to the US

Knowing what to expect in advance and becoming familiar with some of the habits and expectations of the United States will make your move from Japan to America much easier. Perhaps it’s not the difference in cultures that has you stressed out. Maybe it’s the thought of all the organization that is needed for a successful overseas move. We’ve got you covered there too. It might not be easy but with some good advice and a few tips and tricks, you will learn how to prepare for your long-distance move in no time.

Expectations vs. Reality


In Japan, the western world is often portraited as very luxurious. Many Japanese nationals expect to live a life of luxury once they complete their move to the United States. America is viewed as one of the richest nations in the world. This is true, but only for the top class of its citizens. The middle class is living a very different lifestyle to that which is often portrayed in movies. Needless to say, this is far from the norm and a big difference between expectations and reality.

Culture shock

Many Japanese have a pre-determined notion about what to expect from the United States. Moving from Japan to the United States though is like moving between two opposites in terms of culture and traditions. And it’s not only the classic clichés like whether you will remove your shoes before entering a house or apartment, or the difference in approaching strangers with respect or suspicion. The people of Japan and the United States simply differ at a fundamental level. The way they have been brought up is different and, as a result, the way they think is completely different.

America is often viewed as the land of the free. It may come as a surprise to anyone moving from Japan to the United States that they are not quite as free to express their thoughts as they might have expected. This is due to an evergrowing tide of political correctness that has swept the country. Care must be taken not to offend anyone.

A sign saying “Political Correctness – words have power”
The US is known around the world as a place where one wrong word can lead to a lawsuit. Political correctness is essential.

Experiencing several cultural shocks can often lead to a breaking point for many people moving to the United States from Japan. Such changes are not easy but are easier to handle if you are not alone. Perhaps you are considering moving from Japan to the United States with your partner. If so, there are a few tips and tricks which could help young couples along the way when moving in with their partner for the first time.

Product availability

America is the land of plenty or that is at least how it is portrayed in movies and stories about the United States. There is nothing you cannot get in the States, right? Well as it turns out, not quite. Whilst most of the department stores in the States are esthetically pleasing and filled to the brim, the actual variety of goods available in them is usually far less than what one could expect to find in a large department store in Japan. So if there is something that you feel you simply could not go without and you aren’t sure about how to move it to the United States, get in contact with a company like Kokusai Express Japan and get an estimate of how much moving your essential possessions would cost.

Public transport

Whilst you would expect one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world to have sorted out its public transport system, this is unfortunately not the case. The public transport system in the U.S. is often subject to delays and malfunctions. As far as long-distance travel is concerned, one would expect there to be a high-speed rail system in place. This is however not the case and many of the train models being used in the U.S. at the moment would have been decommissioned long ago in places like Japan.

A Japanese bullet train preparing to start its journey.
A modern Japanese bullet train that can reach speeds up to 200 mph. Something you won’t be seeing on the US railroads.


The business life or professional aspect of life in the United States is often described as fast-paced and high pressure. In movies, everybody is doing important jobs requiring them to wear professional business attire. In reality, the vast majority of jobs available are in positions of a lower standard where professional attire is not required but working long hours from small, cramped and often dark offices might be.

Having a place to relax after a long day at work could prove to be crucial and a decisive factor in whether you make it or not in the United States. Taking your personal belongings with you to the United states will help you relax and make you feel more at home. Contacting an experienced moving company will help you find an easy way to ship your belongings to your new home.

Make sure that you check out the different levels of insurance coverage you can get for your possessions as well. Goods can become damaged during overseas freight and knowing the importance of moving insurance can help prevent serious financial losses.

The American Dream

The most famous expectation there is about the United States is the famous “American dream”. Almost everyone relocating to the United States is doing so in search of their American dream. Whilst many believe they can make their way from rags to riches based on their “brilliant idea”, the reality is that it is much harder than they expect.  Many have tried before and failed. The number of people chasing the American dream makes it difficult to think of anything new or original. Having said that, if you do manage to come up with a completely original idea and are willing to work hard and persevere despite initial failings, the United States is the one place in the world where you can truly go from rags to riches overnight.

The famous quote by Martin Luther King JR. “I have a dream” engraved in stone at the Lincoln Memorial.
The American dream is not only the national ethos of the US but a driving force for so many newcomers to the country.

Moving from Japan to the US is not easy. Some might view it as a clash between the east and west. However, preparation is the key to success. We hope this text helps you prepare and informs you about what you can expect. Don’t forget, the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. So, get to know the United States as much as you can before you even set foot in its soil.

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