Gaijin Pot: a Vital Tool in Discovering Japan

By Sergio Lombardi

Japan is not a simple place. Anyone who has lived here more than a day will find that you are constantly bombarded with the everyday challenges of communicating, job searching, culture adaption, banking, commuting, and more – all in a nation and culture completely different from the rest of the world. It’s easy to get lost among a plethora of decisions one must make as they either move to Japan for the first time or continue their lives as a long-term resident, and even the most experienced of us occasionally draw a blank when faced with a new situation we’ve not undergone before.

Enter GaijinPot by GPlusMedia. This website somehow manages to take the huge amount of information that is relevant to anyone who wants to know more about the culture of Japan and present it in an organized and understandable fashion. Instead of dumping a discombobulated slurry of information upon unsuspecting readers, GaijinPot welcomes you with a clean front page that divides relevant information up into relevant groups that fulfill the website’s tag: “Live. Work. Play. In Japan.”

From there, GaijinPot attempts to meet every question you might have and nearly succeeds. Need to find a place to settle down temporarily? GaijinPot refers you to a host of apartment rentals, allowing you to search for specific accommodations or skim through their listings of luxury guesthouses or simpler abodes. Wanting to know what the options for your children’s education are? The website provides a comprehensive overview of the education system in Japan that proves helpful in answering many of your questions. Or perhaps you’re searching for potential job opportunities in the country but don’t know where to start – GaijinPot gives you free access to job listings with openings ranging from teaching positions to high-paying recruitment consultants.

If you are like me, you’ll want to learn more about the culinary culture and customs of the country. The website features an elementary but excellent run-down for foodies that won’t leave you dumbfounded when you are brought raw meat to cook at your own table at a restaurant specializing in Yakiniku. The list goes on, covering every topic from table manners to banking tips, investment strategies to how to pursue higher education in the country. Overall, a thorough reading of GaijinPot’s various informative articles will leave you with a sound beginning to understanding Japan.

Seasoning this brew of information are editorials and news stories that give insight into the goings-on of Japan. From stories on the international businesses of Japan to recent government policy changes, to humorous editorials on comic book releases and transportation tips, the entirety of GaijinPot is consistently full of well-written and useful content. Because of this constantly updated influx of information, keen editorial and news, GaijinPot would make an excellent homepage for your browser.

There is actually only one gripe about this site, and it is arguably not the fault of the webmasters and writers behind GaijinPot. Should you wander into the forums, proceed at your own risk. GaijinPot seems to have some of the most obsessive and fanatical forum dwellers around, and it is not uncommon to see members whose total amounts of posts rank in the thousands if not ten thousands. And while there is so much that is discussed – everything from (very) detailed relationship issues to heated political and economic debates (brawls might be a more accurate term) – it is highly unlikely you will find anything of use.

Trying to get information via the forums is like the blind trying to lead the blind – only in this case, the blind who are leading you are also incurably irate and not afraid to let you know it. Post a simple question inquiry and don’t be surprised if a poster goes for your jugular or at least your ancestors. The sheer fanaticism of the forum posters on GaijinPot detract from any informational value the forum might have – and the blood pressure-raising nature of debates mean they don’t make for good bedtime reading, either. To those wishing to avoid every-man-for-himself forum vendettas: beware this forsaken place.

However, don’t allow the forums to detract from this masterfully done website. Keep yourself in the content that is actually created by GaijinPot, and you’ll find yourself immersed in one of the more enlightening and up-to-date websites on Japan available. This site is a useful tool for both long-time residents as well as those who are just moving in to the country or are considering such a move.

As a restaurateur, a well-run establishment comes to mind when I think of GaijinPot – there are quite a few similarities. Both have diversity in their selections, simplicity in their menus, superiority of their offerings and evidence of hard work from a highly skilled staff. GaijinPot has masterfully earned this solid thumbs-up.

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~ by Japan Blog Review on August 11, 2010.

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