4 Years in Japan
Today marks my 4 year anniversary of moving to Japan. It has definitely been an interesting 4 years filled with joy, sadness, surprises and whole bunch of other indescribable feelings. I still believe to this day it was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
Living in Japan has made me grow tremendously and given me the chance to have so many experiences I otherwise couldn’t have had back in the UK. I believe one of the biggest things I have attained is the ability to speak a second language. When I had first moved here, I could only say a few important sentences which were: “One beer please” and “Where is the toilet?” but now I am able to have conversations with the natives. Even recently I was asked to be an MC at my friend’s wedding which was definitely an honour even despite how many mistakes in Japanese I made!
Learning Japanese has given me another view of people who learn languages and how much effort they put in. I wouldn’t have thought about this in the UK. I was always in the comfortable environment of speaking English so I never appreciated the effort that people have put into learning English as a second language.
One aspect of Japan that has changed me is how people focus there effort on one particular hobby and become amazing at it. In Japan, I think there’s a strong negative image outside of Japan of people always working overtime and being exhausted. This can be somewhat true but most people I have met had a hobby outside of work and demonstrated a mastery. Be it the salesman who is a hip hop dancer, the designer who is a professional photographer or the bartender who is a manga artist and comedian. I truly respect people that place an insurmountable effort to the point where they can awe people with their talent. I have met so many people here like this and it inspires me to do my best with whatever I’m working on such as Japanese, programming etc.
I have come across many experiences here in Japan. Some good and some bad. Good experiences of being loved by friends and past partners and being able to communicate with them freely about anything I had been struggling with. Bad experiences of losing some of these relationships which had made me distraught. Good experiences of being able to explore Japan with friends which often meant getting extremely drunk but lead to some of the most amazing nights I’ve ever had. Bad experiences of being too poor that not only I’m unable to leave the house and trying to survive on instant yakisoba noodles for weeks. Life is full of these experiences and these experiences have made me what I am today.
A question I have been asked a million times now is “Will you stay in Japan for good?”. Honestly I’m still not sure, even though I am still incredibly comfortable my home is in the UK and I do miss it. One thing I do know is that I am attempting to get permanent residency here. Not exactly because I want to stay here forever but because I want the flexibility of choosing where I will live in the future. I do love Japan, it is my second home now where many of my good friends reside so I don’t want to the lose ability of moving back if I do move away. That being said I think I will definitely be here in Japan a while before I consider leaving.