I love Japan, but…

I love Japan. I think all of you know that. In fact, as of this moment, I love Japan so much that I’ve been living here for 2 years, 5 months and 23 days.   When I came to Japan I wasn’t sure if I could last a year living in a foreign country, especially one so foreign as Japan, but I did. And at the end of that year there was no doubt in my mind that I would be staying for another, and maybe more. In fact, I thought I might stay forever.

But forever is a long time, and things change.

So, even though I love Japan, it is with great excitement that I am writing this post to announce that I’ve decided it’s time to move on. My contract at the company I’m working for expires in April next year, and I have decided not to stay in Japan. I’m going home.  I should be home by Easter.

I know this will come as a big surprise to most people. Actually, it came as a bit of a surprise to me! I had been contemplating “what next” and considering my options for a long time. I toyed with other ideas, such as moving to Tokyo (where everything seems more exciting), but in the end I had to boil it down to what I want out of life. I asked myself a lot of questions, including:

*Why are you living in Japan?

*Where do you want to be in 10 years?

*What do you want to do?

The answer to the first questions was simple: I’m living in Japan because I love Japan, and I want to have an adventure. But, when I thought about that, I realised that my adventures are actually few and far between.  Work and daily life often get in the way of the kind of adventures I want to be having.

As for the second question, I often answered “in Japan” when people asked me before. But this time I thought about it less physically and more mentally. I want to be happy with my life, I want to feel like I’ve achieved something. In ten years I’ll be nearly 40 – I want to have enough money to support myself and enjoy my life.

So then, what do I want to do? It’s always been the same – ever since I was a little kid – I want to write. Now, I have been lucky this year in that I’ve managed to get a few articles published. However, although that was a great achievement for me, it’s not exactly a career. I’ve always thought that the ideal path to writing is working in publishing. So I looked into my options in Japan – could I work in publishing in Japan? And the answer was a resounding “you’ll be lucky”. It’s possible, of course, but my Japanese is not up to working in a Japanese company, and the skills I have are not so useful here.

That was how I came to the conclusion that I might be better off at home. Besides those things, I’ve been missing a lot at home. Friends have got married, had babies, moved houses, and I haven’t seen any of it. I live a life where I can only see my mum for two intense weeks a year, and via web cam. It’s not enough. Also, I miss other stuff. I’ve never been one for being really homesick, but more and more these days I find myself missing the convenience of living in my own country. Japan is wonderful, but they don’t sell shoes in my size. Japanese food is great, if I can find something without pork in it. Japan is exciting, if I can read the kanji and figure out what’s going on. You get the picture.

I thought I would feel heartbroken to leave Japan, and I know that, nearer the time, I might. But right now I feel like I am, without a doubt, doing the right thing. I feel hopeful about my future, and grateful for the experiences I’ve had here. And I know that Japan will always be here (earthquakes willing!). If I can get a job which pays enough, I can save up to come back as a tourist (with a JR Pass!), and enjoy Japan like I did the first time round in 2006.

So, my love affair with Japan is not over, and this site certainly won’t be either. I plan to continue studying Japanese, cooking Japanese food, and participating in Japanese-related events in England. I also plan to travel A LOT more, so maybe I’ll start another blog for that…. Watch this space!

For now, nothing changes. I have another 7 months here in Japan, and I’m going to make the most of them! I have to save a lot of money, but I think I can have one mini-adventure a month, if I’m careful! Any suggestions?  What are the top things I have to do while living in Japan? What are the top places I have to see?  Please leave your comments and suggestions below! 😀

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13 thoughts on “I love Japan, but…

  1. I haven’t quite been here two years yet, and I’ve got a couple more years left on my assignment, but I fully understand the disconnect from home. The weird part, is that the longer I’m here, the more I start to feel stateless.. Not really here, but not really anything to go home to. It’s weird..
    But I do understand completely what you’re talking about.
    Anyhow, best of luck to you, and here’s to the next 7 months being a blast!

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    • I was feeling the same, Kevin, but now I feel like I’ve worked out what I have to go home to. It’s weird how being here can make you think about your life so much. Good luck to you, too! 🙂

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      • yeah.. It’s kinda like that “life suspended” feeling. I guess it would be different if you actually moved here with the intent of staying here and started a new life, but unless you do that, there’s always that old life waiting for you to step back into. It’s a safety net, but it also makes what you’re currently doing feel like procrastinating..
        Cheers!

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  2. Wow Alison, that’s a big decision but like you say, Japan’s not going anywhere and sometimes I think people get “stuck” here as they can no longer imagine a life back home. NZ opened my eyes to the possibility of living somewhere else too, so we’ll see where that goes. I think it sounds like a good time for you to leave but I’m sure Japan will miss you as much as you will miss Japan! Enjoy the rest of your adventures here and the planning of your future adventures x

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  3. Hi Ali,

    I think you’ve made the right decision and having made it you can work towards the next step and also enjoy your remaining time. Being back home will give you a chance to think and re-group and work out what you want from life.

    I’ll try and think of a few ideas for things to do before you go back.

    Chris

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  4. I was in the same position several years ago. I sincerely wanted to stay in Japan but I wanted accomplish several things in my life that I needed to be in the States for. Thanks for saying out lound the many thoughts that I had rattling around in my head back then. I do miss Japan so much. I plan on taking my family back there for a viisit soon. Untill then, I’ll stay tuned to your blog!

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  5. Things change. Who knows where you’ll be in 10 years… or even next year. When you manage to support yourself full time through writing, you can probably do it anywhere and one of those anywhere’s might be Japan again.
    Raather than get stuck in a rut move on to your next adventure and follow your dream where it leads you. (I envy you your courage) がんばって and Good Luck.

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  6. Indeed. I have to decide by the end of the month whether or not I’ll stay on for another year. It’s not an easy decision, but right now I’m leaning towards returning home in August.

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