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! 😀