Moving from Japan to New York, America

New York City, USA is one of the most loved cities in the world. World-renowned sites like Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty attract millions of people every year. Even if you are in Japan, you perhaps hear about this city very often. When visiting New York, there is a lot to learn before stepping off the plane at JFK or Laguardia. When moving to New York, it is imperative to study how to survive and thrive in the Big Apple. Below are some suggestions of things to learn about before you go. Whether you are moving from Japan to America and New York City is where you are going to live or you are moving there from another state in the USA, you will perhaps find them useful.

About New York City

LINGO

First things first, learn to talk like the locals. “The city” refers to Manhattan. “The bridge” refers to the Brooklyn Bridge. “New Yorkers” live in New York City itself and the term does not apply to someone who lives anywhere else in the state of New York.

NEIGHBORHOODS

New York neighborhood names are fascinating. Many names are shortened forms of geographical location. For example, Tribeca is a shortened form of the TRIangle BElow CAnal street. Look at a map and it will make sense. Soho stands for SOuth of HOuston. Dumbo is an acronym for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.”

HOUSTON STREET

Yes, Houston Street deserves its own paragraph. Because if you pronounce this street’s name wrong, you will stand out quickly as a someone who is new to New York. Whether visiting or living in NYC, you want to know how to pronounce this street correctly. Do not say it as you would the largest city in Texas, HEW-ston. Think of a house, and pronounce it HOUSE-ton. It might seem like a small thing to some, but for New Yorkers, it can be a big deal.

TRANSPORTATION

When moving to New York, it is necessary to study streets, avenues, maps, and cardinal directions with a certain amount of vigor. No matter what mode of transportation you use, this will come in handy.

WALKING

Using your two legs is often the best way to transport yourself. Yes, there are tips for how to walk in New York City! Avenue blocks, which run north and south, are longer than street blocks, which run east and west. It takes approximately three minutes to walk an avenue block and one minute to walk a street block. This math is very helpful and you can use it to help you calculate if you should take the subway or walk somewhere.

CARS

Driving in Manhattan is intimidating and often somewhat dangerous. One also has to keep an eye on pedestrians more than other vehicles, and finding parking in NYC is an expensive hassle. There are also frequent street cleanings, so that if you do park your car outside of your apartment, you might have to move it across the street the next day. Traffic is notoriously horrendous as well. Thankfully, public transportation in New York is amazing, convenient, and well-connected.

SUBWAY/TRAINS

The subway will soon become your best friend. At first, it can be a challenge like it is for those who come to Tokyo for the first time. Once you have mastered the NYC subway, you will feel a sense of pride and should pat yourself on the back. Here are some tips to help you master the subway experience.

  1. Learn the difference between uptown and downtown and make sure you enter the subway station heading in the direction you want to be going. Make sure you read the signs WELL, so you don’t waste money or time. Once you exit a subway station, it can take a minute to orient yourself. Two key buildings can help you distinguish uptown from downtown. The Empire State Building is on 34th street, closer to uptown. One World Trade Center is way downtown. These buildings, if you can see them, are a quick way to orient yourself. Consider downloading a compass app on your phone as well. If it is cloudy or raining, it will come in very handy.
  2. Once you have learned uptown and downtown, make sure that you integrate them into your subway lingo when getting and giving directions. Do not use north and south. Also do not refer to trains by color, but by number. For example, you refer to the 4 train or the 6 train.
  3. The subway runs less frequently on the weekends. Sometimes trains might do something drastically unexpected, like run on a different line, or stop running 3 stops before yours. Prepare and research accordingly or pay high dollar for a taxi cab ride. (See #5 for transportation apps.)
  4. Get a public transportation app, along with a compass app. Here are some suggestions.
    • iTrans
    • Citymapper
    • KickMap
    • Exit Strategy NY
  5. The end cars on the subway are normally less crowded. Middle cars are more crowded. Choose wisely.

TAXI CABS

Hailing a taxi for the first time is exhilarating. As seen in the movies, a quick arm thrust into the air and eye contact with the driver normally does the trick. No need to wave your arms around and jump up and down. Most cab drivers will maneuver through four lanes of traffic to pick up a rider. If a taxi is open for hire, there will be a lit sign on top of the taxi. If that sign is not lit up, they are not available for hire and there is no need to try to hail that cab. Make sure you have an exact address to give the cabbie each time. 4 to 5 PM or during a rainstorm is the worst time to try to hail a taxi. Be aware that there are also cars-for-hire that might offer you a ride as well. Fares are not guaranteed, so agree to a price beforehand, and beware that some only take cash, so you must ride at your own risk.

BUSES

Buses in New York are often late, and will of course be late when you need to be somewhere on time. Avoid buses unless it’s raining, you have a lot of spare time, or you want to read a book or send a long email on the way to your destination.

New York Way of Life

Things that you come to expect as a normal way of life in many areas of the world are not normal in New York. There is always something unique to the New York way of doing things.

FOOD

Just like in Tokyo and unlike other US cities, most people don’t have cars, therefore, you must carry all of your groceries with you, which means making more frequent trips to the grocery store. It can be a unique challenge to find the time for these extra trips. Any food you take to work for lunch, you must tote it with you on your commute via foot and subway. Thus many Manhattanites regularly eat out. It is part of the city’s distinct way of living and eating. If you really want to experience traditional New York food, eat a hot dog from a hot dog stand, grab a slice of New York pizza, and try a New York bagel. Ask a coworker or neighbor where to get the best of each nearby.

COFFEE

Ordering a “regular” coffee means it will come with milk and sugar. Order accordingly.

SPACE

With rent prices sky high, most New Yorkers forego many luxuries or simple amenities that they may have been accustomed to in their previous city, like a dishwasher, elevator, or any sort of green space. Space is a rare and prized possession in NYC. Apartments can be so small that it is not unheard of for the refrigerator door to hit the toilet or to have a shower in the kitchen. So when you move to New York, pack lightly. Donate, sell, or put your furniture in storage. Also, be prepared to be aggressive when looking for an apartment in New York. Good apartments go quickly. When you relocate from Japan to USA, you will find most places spacious, but if you move to New York, it might be quite the opposite and find that space is precious.

BATHROOMS

Public bathrooms in New York City is a slightly depressing topic. They are hard to find, and when you do find them they can be very dirty. Make sure you always use the restroom whenever possible. Go before leaving a restaurant, movie theater, or museum. You never know when you’ll find another restroom. Once you have lived in New York for a while, you will learn where the public bathrooms are on your daily route. Until then know that Grand Central Station, Madison Square Park, large department stores, bookstores, and many Starbucks have restrooms.

There are a lot of things to learn about when moving to New York City from Japan, from any other country or from any other US state, but each thing you learn will help to make your experience in New York all the better. The ultimate way to learn is by being there and immersing yourself in this outstanding, beautiful city.

Shipping from Japan to New York City

Needless to say, New York City is one of the most popular shipping destinations from Japan. If you are shipping by air, the shipment will go to JFK Airport but if you prefer to have it sent to Newark, contact us and ask for an advice. For service by air, we normally use Japan Airlines, who offers direct flight service from Japan. JFK Airport is a huge hub airport and it is one of the busiest airports in the world. Because of the large size of the airport, it may take a little more time to navigate yourself to find the airline’s office or customs office compared with smaller international airports in USA, but the office hours of both airlines and customs office are longer than those of small international airports. If you opt to ship by ocean, the shipment will arrive at the port of Los Angeles, California first and then it will be transported to New York area by truck or by rail. Port-to-port transit time from Japan to New York is about 27 days and weekly service is available.  

Good luck on your move to the most exciting city in USA!