Grats on the move Frozen. I didnt even know you were in Hawaii, thought you lived in the south or something.
Well moving to Japan and living there for nearly 3 years was the best thing that ever happened to me. Obviously as I got married there and will be moving back next year to live again, this time permanently.
Came back to finish school, save/make money and give my wife the opportunity to live where im from for a few years before we have kids in Japan.
What I did to prepare before moving was take some college courses. I was a college student anyways so I got credits, win win. But I had a Japanese teacher from Tokyo who was really good and taught pronunciation firstly and most importantly. After you gain solid solid ground in that it really set things up for success in the future. What good is learning all these words and phrases if you cant even say them properly? So I literally got myself a sound recorder and taped myself saying syllables, words and phrases repeatedly, listened back to them and made my mental corrections from there.
When it came to Hiragana and Katakana, I wrote them down literally hundreds of times each. Kanji admittedly I have alot of trouble with and just get help from my wife when needed. That shit is no joke. One day I will get off my ass and apply myself.
Honestly you will probably skate by alot of times without having to read much Japanese. They cater to english speakers to such a high degree that you get used to it. And if you dont understand something, someone can help you.
Ultimately this could be your down fall in continued advanced learning as its easy to get by. Especially in my case as I always had a Japanese girlfriend or friend with me.
When it comes to living there though is when you'll start learning and remembering atleast one new word a day based on daily life. And if you dont learn a new word that day, get one and practice it. "kyo no kotoba" "Today's word".
In my case with my wife, im constantly bouncing questions off her still to this day and probably will for the rest of my life. Just as she does with me in English.
I have pretty much not kept up with my traditional study in years though. It's all conversational at this point. Mostly with her, my few Japanese friends in San Diego and my parents in law over skype.
I recommend listening to as much Japanese as possible. And not the crazy impractical Anime that fanboy's get hung up on. Watch Japanese movies, preferably light hearted comedy-drama's because they talk slow and usually speak in a non-accented Tokyo vocabulary.
I have alot of recommendations if you need them.
You're on the right track talking to Japanese people when possible, they usually dont mind and you'll need the practice as you already know.
Im really happy for you man. Hope it all goes well.
Giant wall of text hits you for 9001