Before you come to Japan it is natural to have many questions, concerns, wonders, worries, uncertainties. This page will try to answer some of those questions.
Questions about coming to Japan
How much money do I need to survive coming to Japan?
You need quite a bit of money if you plan to come and spend a year as an ALT in Japan. The reason you need a fair chunk of cash is because you will need to set up your apartment, you will need to live, socialize, travel, and pay for everything until you get your first paycheck. When you are getting paid monthly this can mean working for two month before you see any cash in your bank account.
￥300,000 to ￥400,000 - The actual amount will vary depending on where you go and what you do, but this would be a safe minimum. This will let you do a few things but you will still need to be careful.
￥500,000 - This or more would be better and allow you to make the most of your time here. After all, you are here to have an experience as a working holiday right? You don't want to make it here on the skin of your teeth and spend the rest of your time saving just to get back home!
Is Japan a safe country?
Yes. Japan is very, very safe. It is generally known as one of the safest countries in the world, not only in terms of crime but also political stability. However, there are a lot of earthquakes and being an island nation is at risk of tsunami (as seen by the 2011/03/11 earthquake and tsunami). Saying that, Japan also has one of the best disaster response systems in the world.
How much money can I save as an ALT?
The amount of money you can save as an ALT depends on many things, such as where you live (ie rent), what company you are working for (ie salary), whether you are social (ie drinking money), whether you are going to travel (ie when school vacation comes around do you want to explore Japan or other exciting and nearby Asian destinations?).
Monthly expenses in Japan can be between ￥100,000 and ￥150,000 if you are thrifty.
With JET, your salary is around ￥300,000 per month (every month), with roughly ￥30,000 per month through the first year in tax and other deductions so over a year that comes to ￥3,000,000.
Living frugally maybe you can save ￥1,400,000-2,000,000 in your first year.
With Interac (a.k.a. Maxceed), your salary is around ￥230-250,000 per month (but pro-rated down to 60% to %80 four months of the year) with roughly ￥25,000 per month through the first year in tax and other deductions so over a year that comes to roughly ￥2,000,000. See the full year's Interac salary detailed here.
Living frugally maybe you can save ￥400,000-1,000,000 in your first year. But enjoying things like smart phones, drinking with friends and a tour of Japan will likely leave you just making ends meet.
Note: The above cases are very rough and depend a lot on your circumstances and various expenses and don't take into account arrival and leaving expenses. Also note that if you stay, tax increases from your second year on (income tax being based on your previous years income, which in your first year is "nothing").
Can I Bring Ritalin to Japan? Can I buy it in Japan?
In a word: no.
Read the details about ritalin in Japan.
Other points: Racism/Discrimination
Japanese people are racist and discriminative. Some will disagree and while it is true that it's not KKK type racism, it still exists. Those who admit to the racism consider is something like polite exclusionism - no matter how "nationalized" you become, you will forever be "gaijin" and never "Japanese".
(Have a google, or here's a few articles - link 1, link 2.)
However, that being said, it shouldn't ruin your time in Japan as an ALT. And this discrimination can also work in your favor with "gaijin magic" sometimes getting you places you wouldn't expect! Generally, having a smile and friendly attitude will get you a long way.