One year ago I quit my job and moved back to Italy. I didn’t give myself much time to rest, but it was nice to be in a familiar place with familiar faces. I mostly tried to organize my blogs and take care of myself. When news that Japan was opening to foreign workers and students, I thought it was time to apply. It was November.
I’ve lived for three months in Tokyo before, but this was the first time I had to apply to a visa. I wanted to be sure to do everything right and maximise my chances. Plus, anxiety started to take over around that period, so I decided I couldn’t do it all by myself like I usually do. I knew people who used Go! Go! Nihon to come to Japan and everyone had positive words for the service, so I decided to give it a go. I was a bit scared, because I had a service that was supposed to help me settling in Germany, but they only created problems and there were lots of misunderstandings. I’m glad that it didn’t happen with Go! Go! Nihon.
I checked Japanese language schools before and I was ok with one they partner with. The student coordinator I was assigned to has been amazing, he’s been so nice despite me not being able to keep anxiety under control all the time. It happened that I sent him a message and thought I could have waited and given myself time to think things through, because more than all, they have the situation under control.
As someone wrote on some social media, you do have to do part of the work. You have to have all documents ready and don’t expect Go! Go! Nihon to search and collect your documents for you (I didn’t expect them to, but some people apparently did?). In Italy, documentation involving personal information is not processed by offices, you’re supposed to rely on “self-certifications”, so that one was tricky. Thankfully, you just need to talk with city hall staff members and they’ll provide official documents to be used abroad.
Once I had provided all the documents they need, I waited. A lot. The only way I got past my anxiety was to stop thinking about Japan. After the receiving confirmation that the COE had been issued, it was all downhill. The first thing I booked was the flight, because there is a limit to the number of passengers who can enter Japan per day, so tickets are scarce and expensive. About a month and a half before leaving, I started looking for houses and found the one I live in pretty quickly (I also had to arrange electricity, water and wifi separately). Go! Go! Nihon offers a room (or apartment) search service, but I decided to look at places on my own.
Oh, in the meantime I also had two university exams and trouble with said uni – so much I seeked a lawyer’s advice. This slowed me down a lot.
In all honesty, the hardest thing was finding a place for the PCR test. Many smaller laboratories don’t carry PCR tests unless you’re sick, or they close on Saturdays. Some people also don’t understand the 72 hours issue. The PCR test needs to be valid through your entire journey, because they will be asking for it at the airport in Japan. I spent quite some time trying to explain this to a lady at one of the laboratories, as she insisted that a test taken on Friday morning at 7:30 am (Italy time) was still valid on Monday at 5-6 pm (Japan time – there’s a 7 hours difference). She also kept telling that they don’t write the date and time the sample was taken, but those of the result, which I believe is illegal in Italy, and that they were a “serious lab”. Yeah, sure.
With the new color system, being Italy in the blue group, I also needed to download and register to the MySOS app and the Visit Japan Web website. The process is pretty straightforward and there are instructions in English online. If you upload the test result, once they’ve checked your information, the app screen would turn blue or green. This gets you through immigration faster and you don’t need to fill in the paper version of the custom declaration form. It took me less than an hour for immigration procedures once at Narita.
Go! Go! Nihon offers packages for hotel and airport transfer and I went with that, as I arrived too late to go directly to my new home. I signed the contract for the house the day after, and had a couple of “vacation” days before school started to explore and catch up with friends.
Very few people knew that I was going to move to Tokyo this June, as I was pretty sure some of them were going to send me bad vibes, and I can be an extremely superstitious person at times. I still think they’re going to send me bad thoughts now that they know.
I have all the intentions to keep this blog updated with my explorations (I don’t care if something it’s touristy or not) and resume making videos for my YouTube channel – I want to show this city to people I love that I left at home!