The international and expatriate population of the Tokyo metropolitan area has been growing rapidly in recent years. One in every 25 residents of the capital is now of foreign origin, according to government statistics, and despite a dip last year due to the pandemic, this trend is expected to continue going forward as Tokyo and Japan as a whole become more integrated with the global community.
Many people arrive in Japan with little language ability and sometimes struggle to find the goods and services they need to thrive in their new home. Expat Expo Tokyo provides opportunities for international residents to learn about local businesses and government services that can help make their lives here more comfortable. Indeed, the expo is the only event of its kind in Japan that is specifically tailored to foreign residents.
The 2021 expo will take place on Nov. 5 and 6, kicking off at 10 a.m. both days and going to 5 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday. The venue is the Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Trade Center’s Hamamatsucho-kan, an exhibition and convention center reborn in the recently opened Tokyo Portcity Takeshiba building. The complex is between JR Hamamatsucho Station on the Yamanote Line and Takeshiba Station on the Yurikamome Line. Admission to the expo is free and visitors do not need to register to attend.
A wide variety of groups and organizations will have exhibits at the expo. Many fall under the theme of services aimed at helping international residents become more integrated or more familiar with Japanese society. This includes everything from Japanese-language schools, tourism organizations and tour providers from different regions around the country, as well as makers or retailers of traditional craftworks to decorate or use around the home.
Another category of exhibitor comprises businesses that facilitate the nuts and bolts of daily life in Japan. These include real estate agencies that can help new and established residents find the perfect home to rent or buy. Additionally, there are companies set up to help expats navigate administrative procedures and other tasks made difficult by the language barrier, such as paying taxes, making financial transactions, finding the right school and registering for government services.
While the main goal of the expo is to connect international residents with the goods and services they need, another important feature allows them to explore and enjoy Japanese culture.
Both days have a number of fun, hands-on events aimed at kids, adults and families. These include demonstrations of samurai warrior skills, opportunities to try on traditional kimono, lessons in Japanese calligraphy and workshops for playing the shamisen, a traditional three-stringed instrument. While the kids are taught how to make a kaleidoscope using traditional methods, moms, dads and other adults can sample a cup or two of sake with a geisha.
There will also be a “stamp rally,” in which participants collect stamps from different parts of the expo, which, when completed, will make them eligible to enter a drawing for special prizes. In addition, presentations on topics from real estate and sustainable living to navigating cultural differences are scheduled for both days.
The expo receives official support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Minato Ward, the Japan National Tourism Organization, Japan Association of Tourism Agents and several foreign chambers of commerce.
A new addition to the expo this year is International Job Fair Tokyo, which is aimed at all foreign job seekers, whether fresh graduates or seasoned professionals looking for a midcareer change. Dozens of companies, recruiting agencies, universities, training institutes and nonprofit organizations will be on hand to network and provide advice about opportunities in Tokyo and beyond.
Multiple career-related presentations on specialized topics are also scheduled on both days of the expo. These include seminars on Japanese business and cultural practices, navigating interviews and the job hunt, as well as on specific industries like information technology, food service and tourism.
The job fair is also designed to serve companies interested in hiring foreign workers. Businesses that facilitate the employment of international professionals will have booths at the fair, and there will also be lectures held on the subject.
Expat Expo Tokyo can help international residents as they build careers, families, homes and lives in Japan. Newcomers looking for help getting established in the capital, as well as long-term residents who want new avenues to explore and experience, are sure to find something at the expo.