Though it’s not unique to the country of Japan itself, many expats find that exploring new hobbies while living in a foreign country is a great way to ground themselves and create a fun, exciting life outside of work that keeps them positive and happy. Hobbies can range from gaming to crafting to music and more, though a hobby doesn’t have to be costly or big to be important or relevant.
The most asked question I hear from fellow expats is, “How do I find a hobby to do in Japan?” Honestly, the simplest answer is that you look for something that interests you, whether alone or in a group, and go for it! For those who need a few ideas, I’ve laid out some pointers and tips to finding a hobby you might like while living in Japan!
If you’re not confident about your Japanese ability but want to grow you language skills, getting into a multi-lingual group for a hobby could be a fun and engaging way to do so. Many groups will advertise themselves as being multi-lingual, though you can always ask if your language would be understood or spoken should you join. Joining a local sports group, music enthusiasts, or even knitting club can help you find a positive, multi-lingual environment. Who knows – you might even learn another language while you’re at it.
If your in dire need for some expat companionship but don’t just want to sit at a cafe and chat for a few hours, you can join one of the many expat hobby groups that can be found in or near most major cities in Japan. There’s plenty of groups to join, including those that love playing board games, hiking, surfing, exploring areas of Japan on foot, or just discussing books they’ve read recently. Depending on what type of work you get into, there are also groups for those in certain sectors or industries to enjoy playing sports together or learning a new trade or skill side-by-side with other expats.
If you really want to increase your Japanese language ability (or keep it at its current level), then joining a local group to engage in a hobby is a great idea. You can play with a local team, jam with a local band, and exercise, explore, or just chat with locals in your area. You get to learn or practice your Japanese, and others can try out their English or other languages you may know with you as well. In the end, everyone can come together to help one another while still having fun and engaging in entertaining activities.
You don’t even have to leave the safety of your dwelling to engage in fun hobbies that can help pass the time and let you unwind and de-stress from a long day at work. Many find great hobbies that they can do from the comfort of their home while residing as an expat in Japan, like reading, playing video games, playing or creating music, writing, studying, and more. The sky’s the limit, despite the fact that you’ll have a roof over your head between you and the sky.
If you’re not a fan of being cooped up inside your own home, you can find plenty of enjoyable hobbies to do outside as well. Exercises like running, walking, or biking can be a great way to see more of the area you live in, and can even lead to potentially meeting new people. Hiking can be enjoyable as well, along with star-gazing, bug catching, and sightseeing. Personally, I consider shopping to be a sort of outdoor hobby, as you do have to go outside in order to visit the quaint little shops that hold a plethora of great items to view and purchase.
The internet is vast and seemingly endless, which means that there are plenty of opportunities for finding online hobbies while surfing the web. Some like to write blogs, engage in social forums, create videos or music, interact with others from around the country, and more. Online video games connect expats with their friends back home in a way that can be more rewarding than just a simple phone, skype, or FaceTime call. Graphic design, content creation, and creative writing are some more fine hobbies to enjoy in online communities. With access to almost the entire planet at your fingertips, there really is no wrong way of going about finding something you can do for fun.
Why not partake in a traditional Japanese hobby while living in Japan? Those who give these deceptively simple hobbies a try may find that it’s something to their liking. Japanese hobbies include mastering hand-held toys, like ‘kendama’ and ‘cup and ball’, folding beautiful paper to create origami figurines, putting together miniature models, and practicing the art of calligraphy. Many Japanese people also find joy in arranging flowers, singing, sewing, painting, and practicing selflessness. There’s no wrong way to enjoy Japanese traditions, so long as you are considerate of such practices. If anything, you might make a local friend or two who will want to show you such hobbies to spread knowledge of Japanese traditions.
There’s plenty of different hobbies to explore no matter what country you currently reside in; you just have to pick one and see if it sticks! It’s pretty hard to tell if a specific hobby is a good fit for you right off the bat, but if you try out a few things you should be able to tell pretty quickly just what you like and what you don’t . Keep trying, and keep an open mind!