Friday, September 9, 2011

Random Thoughts: Gilligan's Island

When you live in Japan, people make an assumption about why you are here. More often than not, they fill the gap in their knowledge with their own motivation or ones that they are familiar with based on what others have said or they have read. Some people come here because they love aspects of Japanese culture, especially manga, anime, or pop culture. Others follow a dream of knowing this "exotic" culture better after falling love with it from afar. Yet others have a Japanese friend or romantic partner that sparked their interest in this country and they followed them here. Only a very few people know why I'm here, and I'm pretty sure none of my readers know. However, the fact that I approach life in Japan with a very different attitude than most people may be better understood if I explain how I got here.

I will start by saying that I had zero interest in Japan when I first came here. That's right. ZERO. In 1987, I had a penpal from California who I fell in love with. He and I exchanged cassette tapes with each of us talking to one another rather than writing letters. We started off speaking for about 45 minutes to an hour on 60-minutes tapes, and moved up to marathons which had us cramming several 90-minute tapes into packages. We talked a lot and knew each other better than most people know one another face-to-face. When all you have is talk, you explore every facet of conversation and information about each other.

My penpal's charm was so beguiling that I fell for him when I listened to the second tape that he sent me, but I was not going to risk putting my feelings out there. To make a long story (a very long one) short, about 6 months later, he admitted he felt the same way about me and we decided we wanted to be together in the flesh. Unfortunately, his admission (on July 18th) came after signing a contract to spend a year teaching in Japan starting in August. He had just graduated from university and the job looked appealing so he took it, and we were facing a forced year apart in different countries rather than simply on opposite coasts (I was in Pennsylvania) because he had to honor this commitment.

My penpal-boyfriend, who I'd never looked in the eye but was madly in love with, flew off to Japan and we burdened the postal service with package after package with tapes and care packages. I sent him food and reading material from home. He sent me amazing Japanese collectibles pertaining to my favorite rock group. And we both ached to actually be together.

Though I was quite poor and not making a lot of money at my first job at a halfway house for mentally ill people (taking advantage of my degree in psychology), I saved enough money to arrange to come to Japan and finally meet him in March 1988. The only reason I came here was to meet him. Japan was just the place he was living in and where I had to go to finally see him. I'm sure that many can imagine how many butterflies I had associated with this experience. What is more, people around me were constantly warning me about how dangerous what I was doing was going to be. I wasn't just coming to meet someone I'd never met face-to-face but had a relationship with, but I was going to be staying in the same tiny Japanese apartment with him for an entire month.

At this point, some of my readers might be anticipating a story of disastrous first meeting and painful disappointment. That wasn't what happened. It was the greatest month of my entire life, a honeymoon  filled with joy and every expectation about what my boyfriend was like exceeded. He was brilliant. We got along wonderfully and had perfect chemistry emotionally and physically. It was a dream that was so incredible that I sometimes couldn't believe I'd actually lived it. And, yes, I later married that man and have been incredibly happy with him since that time.

Japan was incidental, not my great passion. When my future husband finished his contract and returned to his home in California, I joined him and we lived there for 10 months. We did not exactly flourish in that setting and based on how things went for him in Japan, we both decided to come back together for a five-year plan. The idea was to pay off our student loans and to save $50,000 in that time frame. Japan was an interesting place to be, but it was more a place to work. I had no idea at that time what living here was going to mean psychologically and only knew superficially about the culture, but I had that month of heaven to draw on as a lure to return. Also, my husband flew to Japan alone after our wedding and secured a job for himself so we were already halfway there.

The original plan of 5 years and $50,000 fell by the wayside as we both grew comfortable with the lifestyle and circumstances. We decided to stay as long as it felt "right" rather than place arbitrary limits on our time here. I cannot and will not go into the fluctuations in priorities, feelings, and situations which lead to us being here far longer than originally planned (about 23 years). I would need to write an entire book to talk about it all or to start a new blog that I'd have to work at for years to tell the entire tale, but suffice it to say that life is more complex than short talks of "reasons" can convey. We haven't just "lived in Japan" during all of this time, but we have also lived a full, rich life which has been satisfying on multiple levels. Being in Japan played a role in that, but it wasn't the end-all and be-all of it. If you think living in Japan is supposed to only be about Japan, then you're missing out on a fuller sense of what it means to exist and be a human being.

Japan is where I happen to live, but it's not necessarily why I live here. It's not that it isn't an interesting place to live in many, many ways, but I'm not "in love" with it as many people are. I ended up here because I was in love with someone who happened to be here and happened to think it was a good idea to come back. This means my perspective is not altered by a need to frame it in a particular manner (positively or negatively). Japan ended up being a place where I could experience a great deal of personal growth and a gold mine for someone who is interested in psychology. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime in that way, but there are fascinating opportunities to explore psychology everywhere.

Being in Japan for me has been like that fateful journey on the S.S. Minnow piloted by the Skipper and his first mate Gilligan. They bargained for a three-hour tour, but ended up on an island living a very different existence than they expected for a much longer time. I planned on staying here for 5 years, but it ended up being more than I expected and was harder to leave than one might anticipate. I like living here, and am very happy with my life, but I didn't come here out of abject adoration of Japan and it's not why I remain here. I stay here because it continues to offer unique personal learning and growth opportunities. I'll be going when I think I've tapped that potential, and that's what I'd be doing no matter where I was living.

I'm opening up comments on this post (only) because I want to allow people to share their reasons for coming to Japan if they would like. Please keep in mind, when commenting, why I generally don't allow comments, and please keep comments on this topic rather than comment on other posts.

25 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that you've opened comments for this. I've been reading your blog now for some time and have enjoyed sharing it with expats and natives alike. I came here myself as an intern in university for 1 year. 25% because I was interested in anime (animation in general, in truth) and 75% because I wanted a year away from school. The people I met left a huge impression on me. The patience and the willingness to endure rather than rock the boat, was a welcome change of pace and I found I missed it when I returned home.

    After graduation, I wanted to come back to teach English but was offered a job at the company I worked for before for 1 year. That "1 year contract" has been extended 8 times now. Like you said, as long as I'm enjoying it, I'm not putting any arbitrary timeline on when I may return home. I enjoy reading your blog especially as you articulate rather well the things that I observe everyday working and living here. The honeymoon is long over but it's still a great place to be and the people, kind and quirky that they are, make it worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Stuff of films and novels, your story there. It's incredible, really. :)

    Hi I am an avid reader of your blog ever since I stumbled here Googling stuff on Japan. I would really love to experience life in Japan someday. Realistically speaking though, I don't think I'd like to live there for very long but just for a bit, a year or two perhaps would be great. I love the Japanese language and I think it's one of the world's most beautiful language, which prompted me to minor in it in university. Am also a huge fan of the pop culture - music (total fangirl!), Hello Kitty, anime/manga, fashion and of course, the food.

    Reading your blog, I've always been curious though. How would everyday life in Japan be for an Asian foreigner? I've more than once wondered if there will be a much of a difference, as perhaps Asians do not look as much "foreign" in Japan a Caucasian would. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I fall into the "have a romantic partner from Japan" bucket. I knew about Japan before, from friends in college who were into anime and the culture, but I never really was in love with it or had a burning desire to go there. I rather became more interested in it after I met someone from there - namely, my wife. After going a few times, I knew that I'd dive more into it but as a tourist. I could easily see how it would not be better or worse but "different" living in Japan. We live in the USA, and she is certain she wants to stay here with me (thankfully!).

    I like the blog. I read it a few times a week. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I came here out of comparison. I was living/working in Taiwan and came here on my summer vacation with no real expectations. After backpacking for a month with no plan I had fallen in love with all of the positive things I had seen and compared to where I was living and all the places I had lived before I felt I had found I place I could be happy. I decided to try living here for a year and that was 6 years ago with no plans to return "home".

    As the others, I enjoy your blog very much. Thank you for taking the time to write it and share your life.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah, thanks very much for sharing! It is very interesting.

    Well, I belong to the "I like Japanese culture...other things" category. I grew up in Hong Kong and I was exposed to Japanese things since I was a child. When I was a child in Hong Kong, Japanese things were always considered as having "high standards", "good qualities. I later moved to Canada. I've always been interested in the Japanese culture and the language. I still remember I once said to myself (I now have no idea why I would make such comment..), "I have to visit Japan before I die!" haha.....

    After graduating from uni, working, and going back to school for a bit, I got the opportunity to teach English in Japan with the JET programme. I'm entering my 2nd year in Japan and I am enjoying my experience here. I have learnt a lot about the Japanese culture and I've grown a lot as a person too. Since teaching is also my field, I've been also learning a lot professionally.

    I, too, enjoy your blog a lot! I've been reading before coming to Japan. =) Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  6. First of all, thank you for what you write. I, personally, found it very helpful after I decided to move home to New Zealand in my second year on JET. You put so much into perspective, it's great.

    Now, why I went to Japan. I, as many young New Zealanders do, was looking for a place to do my O.E. (Overseas Experience). I had hosted numerous Japanese language students from the English school that I now work part time at over the years and thought Japan would be worth a shot. I visited as a tourist and like others thought that Japan would be different seen from the perspective of a resident. When I returned home for my final year of university I applied for the JET Programme, got in and discovered how true that is.

    I had followed through on a desire to know more about my friends' culture and found so much more. After two years, I started to see that annoying side of things and often could not get my head around them. Now, from outside, I see the merit in those things and definitely think that I will be back. It's a matter of when, not if. That feeling was reinforced tonight watching Japan play France in the Rugby World Cup, I felt so connected to the Japanese team that I definitely think a return is on the cards.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great article, it really adds some insight to your unique perspective on Japan. I'm headed to Japan next week on military orders and I cannot wait to arrive. How long did it take you to learn enough of the language to hold a conversation? I'm thinking it will take me at least a year...

    ReplyDelete
  8. I got married to a Japanese man and came here under the impression we would only be here for 2 or 3 years tops. That impression was born from the promise he made to me and my family that we would be transferred back to the States through the company he works for.
    We're going on our 7th year here and the company keeps saying "(suck air through teeth)...very difficult, we still don't when or if we can transfer you."
    It's all one big joke---on me.
    I was foolish to believe him in the first place.
    Bitterness aside, I really love your blog and it is definitely one of things I look forward to on my blogs I follow list.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the way you write. I have a similar story of how I met my husband of 25 years. I went to California to be with him because he was in the military, and we are just ending our travels with his retirement from the service. We were in Japan on a military assignment. The two of us enjoyed our time and made the most of it, but the people on whom living in Japan had the most influence were my kids, especially my son, who keeps thinking up ways to get himself back there.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I too am glad you've opened comments because for a long time I've wanted to tell you how much I've loved reading your blog. I like the very practical and clear-eyed approach you take to the culture around you, and never once have I thought you weren't entitled to your own views on the life you live there. It's just fascinating.

    Me, I have a crush on Japan for various reasons and am planning a trip there next month, so I also appreciate your realism when I'm tempted to romanticise things.

    Blog on!

    ReplyDelete
  11. "If you think living in Japan is supposed to only be about Japan, then you're missing out on a fuller sense of what it means to exist and be a human being."
    Love that sentence...loved it all, really!
    I've always loved to escape from reality. Still do. Books, radio and TV were my initial escape methods, like most people I guess. I could listen to radio programs like "Mystery Theater" or watch shows like, yes, Gilligan's Island or I dream of Jeannie and Bewitched, or Twilight Zone. Outside of my home, I developed a fascination with high speed travel, particularly trains. Loved them. Still do. I would ride the NYC Subway just for fun. Choose a line to explore, hop on it and ride it from the beginning of the line til the end. In some cases we're talking two to three hours, like a stint from Coney Island Brooklyn to the tip top of The Bronx (D Train) I'd pretend to runaway from home, and just go...I studied subway maps and knew every station. I chatted with conductors and motor men (no women back then). I just knew I'd be one of them when I grew up, so I wanted to know all there was to know about running trains. Mind you, this was all per-adolescence.
    Soon however my attention shifted to the people on these trains as I realized that different lines went to different neighborhoods populated by people I never got to see otherwise.
    I started getting off the train in these exotic locales where people who looked like me were scarce. It was like the trains had transported me (Star Trek like) to another reality. Architecture was different, as were smells and sights. Adventure became my calling.
    Anyway, to make a long story short, after a while I felt like I knew all there was to know about NY, but as NY has a tendency to do every few years or so, it changed. Factors like gentrification, "White Flight" Red-lining, crime, inflation etc etc (Concepts I couldn't grasp at the time) changed demographics, cultures, and attitudes significantly. Even New Yorkers couldn't keep up with the pace of change.
    I turned inward and started creating my own realities where I could control the pace of change and the outcome. I began complimenting my TV and Movie watching with writing.
    At the time, Bruce Lee was my hero. he began my lifelong fascination with the Chinese...martial arts in particular. I studied Karate and Judo but not with any particular passion. I preferred to read and watch stories and create my own.
    Bruce Lee was followed by Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and my first desire to go to another place (aside from another galaxy)was hatched. Visiting China had resided atop my bucket list since I was a teenager.
    Several books full of events distracted me from making this list a priority over the course of the next couple of decades.
    Then one day a friend of mine invited me to come visit him in Japan. Like yourself Orchid, Japan never did it for me. Of course Ninjas were my favorite villains and being a War buff, I had a morbid interest in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but little else about this place held my interest. But, I came, and Japan worked some of its charm on me. Brought back that feeling I'd had when I rode the trains as a child. That off chance that I might learn something new about people and about me. The trains here really grabbed me. I think it was one of the most appealing aspects. Guess I've always been something of a train Otaku, and I knew after my 10-day visit I'd be back.
    I had no idea it would go on this long though...(8 years now) So, I guess I'm kinda like you. Just replace a mate with trains. I stayed for Aiko, the opportunity to learn about people- especially about myself- and hopefully grow in the process.
    Thanks for opening up comments Orchid! Sorry if I dragged this on so long, but as you know I have a lot to say.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Glad to be able to comment on this one.

    I had visited Japan a few times while in the Air Force, once on leave, once while stationed in Korea to pick up an AWOL, and once to visit my finance---whom I had met in the US, not Japan.

    We were later married in the States (she is Japanese) and after I got out of the AF, I went back to college, and she began too. At that time, the "Bubble economy" was going full bore, but just about to crash. Listening to all the nonsensical chatter amongst the TV experts about how Americans needed to learn about Japan and to learn Japanese as the "Pacific Century" was about to dawn, I idiotically change my major from Wildlife Management to Japanese Studies. Although I had a Japanese wife, I had no special interest in living in Japan. Neither did she, as she was and remains critical of much of Japan, and has no patience with the Japan-romanticists.

    In the early 90s after graduation, I had a chance to spend a year at a Japanese company in Toyama, and as I thought that it was a good opportunity, I accepted. It wasn't much of a job, as I was more of a token foreigner. Apparently, giving me "good memories" of Japan was viewed as more important than real responsibilities.

    Just after the bubble burst, we came back to Tokyo, and as I could not find a job I wanted, I decided to go back to the US and after getting settled, bring my wife back. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law suffered a stroke (which one of the "physicians" at a hospital in Mizonokuchi, misdiagnosed and sent her home with her left side nearly paralyzed). My wife as an only child had to stay and take care of her.

    My wife found an very good job at a US company (she refuses to even consider working at a Japanese company) while I found a decent job with a large company Washington state. I tried about every way I could think of to get a transfer to Japan, but after 6 years apart, I gave it up as being nearly impossible.If we were to live together again, I'd have to go back to Japan, without a guaranteed job.

    Anyway, in January 2000, I came back. Never planned on being here much more than another 5 or 6 years, but it's going on 12. Maybe in a dozen more I'll be able to figure out just what is so uniquely unique here, but so far I have missed it. Wait! FOUR SEASONS!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you so much for writing this! You say it would take a book to tell the whole story and I for one would read it! I love your blog, thank you so much for writing both... It is such an interesting and wonderful insight into a culture I may never get to see first hand.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, what a great story!

    For a while now I've wanted to send you an email but fortunately you've opened up comments for this post :)

    I've been reading your blog almost since the beginning and I continue to do so because I really love your realistic attitude towards life in Japan. For some reason, there's something about this country that sends a lot of people's heads into this crazy state which they can't see past the rainbows and ninjas. There are many awesome things about Japan, but like any other country on Earth there are also not so good things. However, it's the latter that really help us see our own cultural perceptions from a different point of view and learn more about ourselves.

    I'm generally quite an optimistic person (I think you have to be to live in Japan as a foreigner long term) but there are things that I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one in love/annoyed with.

    You keep mentioning the people that I assume send you unpleasant mail but I'm glad you don't take it to heart. Having lived in Japan for a whopping 23 years (older than some expats!) I think you've earned the right to say what you like really.

    Keep up the great work,
    Jessica D.

    ReplyDelete
  15. A beautiful love story. And all the more impressive seeing as you kept in touch through cassettes and letters!

    I came to Japan five years ago, but as you know am now back in the UK. I came here because I'd had an interest in Japan as a child, but it was always far too expensive to just come for a holiday. I did a TEFL course and came to teach English.

    Although I was interested in Japan, I wasn't as fascinated as some are. I had a debt to pay off and thought Japan would be an interesting place to do it, plus it was a challenge to come so far from home. In actual fact I spoke Italian pretty well before I went to Japan - it needs a bit of improvement - so that would've been a more obvious port of call, especially as my two oldest friends are there. I guess I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit, which I certainly did.

    I would say I enjoyed my time in Japan on the whole, although I disliked most of the aspects of my job; the corporate stuff plus I had the co-worker from hell. I was certainly glad to get home to the UK, which I appreciate so much now. That's not to say I don't like Japan. I certainly do and can't wait till the time when I can go there for a proper holiday.

    I gained so much there, including developing my art career. It's an amazing country and if I'd fallen in love with a Japanese man and he'd persuaded me to stay then I can probably I would have.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Really nice story - congratulations to you and your husband - that's ridiculously romantic!


    Although I did like anime when I was a teenager (seems long ago now), I had almost come to actively dislike it by the time I ended up here.

    My fiancee and I had always wanted to live abroad, after a lot of backpacking and adventures.

    In the end a teaching job virtually fell into our open hands, and our plans changed from Venezuela to Japan.

    That was several years ago. Jobs and opportunities have changed since then, and now we're in a situation where we feel happy and ready to start a family here.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'd like to express how glad I am that you opened up comments today. I find your blog inspiring, especially your "don't delude yourself into thinking this is objective" stance. Also, in this particular instance, I enjoyed the Gilligan's Island metaphor.

    I made a LOT of Japanese friends in college and came here expecting to spend a lot of time with them. I actually ended up living far away from all of them, and have been drastically re-evaluating my own life choices. I like Japan and at the same time I don't like Japan. Only time will tell how long I'll stay, I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for opening up the comments today. I really enjoyed reading your story and I think the tale of how you met your husband is very romantic =)

    I'm like you in that I really didn't have much interest in Japan prior to coming here. If anything, I had a slightly negative feeling towards it because a lot of my acquaintances had an irritating habit of idolizing Japan because of anime. I spoke no Japanese whatsoever and was far more interested in European cultures.

    Then I finished university and, desperate to travel and for a job, I got a job working as an English conversation teacher in Chiba. I met my boyfriend (now husband), had an amazing time and returned to Australia for a couple of years before bouncing back here again.

    I like Japan. I'm not completely in love with the country but overall, I like it. Right now, living here works for us but I don't know if we'll stay "forever". We'll see what pans out. I like your idea that you'll stay as long as it feels right very much!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow, surprising post. Loved reading this, Orchid!

    For me it just started as a decision to study Japanese in university. I had a language requirement, and Spanish, Italian, etc seemed too common...wanted to study something more unusual. And hey, I liked sushi, so why not Japanese?

    At first it was very difficult for me and I was planning on quitting after the first semester...but then something clicked and I've been studying it since. I got involved with the school's Japanese Culture Club, studied in Tokyo twice, had a Japanese girlfriend, and learned about JET...knew from freshman year I wanted to do it.

    Beyond a passing interest in select elements of pop culture (a particular cartoon here, the fact that I took Judo as a kid), I haven't really ever been enamored with Japan, but did enjoy living there...and it's become a big part of my life, so I want to stay connected even though I've moved back to the States.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you for opening comments here. I have been able to read your blog from long ago as well as the current ones so I am somewhat familiar with the story, but thank you for the mostly full version. What a wonderful way to explain why you are there and what your plans are for the the future.

    My family was stationed there in the late 70's and I fell in love with the country, people, and culture back then.

    Just a huge thank you for being a voice that allows me to keep a realistic grip on my love for that country and all its facets.

    I only wish that there wasn't a small group of people who think it necessary to insult you about your opinions so that you could have a dialog with your readers.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm posting this for Lily, who couldn't navigate Blogger's requirements to post her own comment:

    I think people should be aware of the caveat to be careful what you wish for, because it can come true with a vengeance! When I was a girl, I always wanted to live in a foreign country. And look what's happened! My wish did come true, but far beyond the extent I expected.

    After I finished university in England, I dropped out and took the hippy trail overland to India, where I stayed for nearly two years, most of the time with little or no money. I was happy there, but the desire to see more of the world gnawed at me, so I decided to try to get to South America. I'd majored in Spanish, so this was a natural destination for me. Somehow, I borrowed the money to get
    to Hong Kong where I taught English for a while.

    I repaid my debt, but was finding it difficult to save, when one day I was told that the pay in Japan was considerably better, so I bought a ticket to Osaka. I arrived in Japan, knowing no one, without a ticket out and six dollars. Looking back, I can't believe I put myself in that situation, but I was young and believed something would turn up. Something did. A month later I met my Japanese partner, whom I am still with after 38 years. I found English-teaching jobs, and
    we saved enough to go and live in South America. Two years later, we had to return to Japan due to insufficient work opportunities there.

    I didn't want to live in Japan but recognised that I needed an income, so I used my qualifications to get a university job and to escape from teaching, set about learning Japanese and eventually received an MA and started translation work.

    We bought a house and that was it. The roots have become too deep and I can't see myself leaving. I'm not a woman given to regrets even though I've spent most of my life in a country in which I know I will never be accepted. I focus on what I have obtained here. Financial security enabling me to travel all over the world.

    This summer saw my 25th visit to Africa for instance. As I grew older, I joined local women's cooking and sewing groups so I have enough Japanese female friends (no male ones) that I don't feel lonely.
    Japan just happens to be the country I live in, but of course, I would never have considered that, if I'd not met my partner, which I still think that was the best thing that ever happened to me!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I've been living in Tokyo for nearly as long as you have...it's already been twenty-one years now (since 1990).

    Like you, I don't put many personal details on my blog...and, like you, the series of events that led me here aren't the usual story.
    Maybe one day, I'll do like you did and write a post detailing what brought me to Japan.

    "Tokyo Five"
    http://tokyo5.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. You should definitely bring "1000 Things About Japan" to youtube also. Keep the same thing going on. Picture/video about something, with you doing off-camera commentary. Briefly talking about your likes and dislikes. Maybe it will raise some interesting discussions among youtubers. Think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. What a fascinating story, and I'm so happy for you both. I moved to Japan for a similar reason--to be with the person I loved at the time. He was in love with Japan--into anime and all that. I didn't really care where I lived, and he did, so we went.

    Ironically, I was the one who got the job (he didn't have a degree while I did, and this was the early 90s, when that became a necessity where we were) and he spent his days playing go and sightseeing. I did not enjoy the culture shock and poverty, and he did not end up finding work, so at the end of our 3 month trial period/visitor visa, as per our agreement, we returned home, where I discovered that his "trouble" finding employment in Japan was symptomatic of a much worse problem. I still remember the months we spent in Sapporo fondly, but can't even imagine what it'd take to get me back there.

    I love your blog because it reminds me of how I felt about Japan while there. It was neat, with its ups and downs like any country has, but it wasn't the end-all be-all of my existence. It's like you and your husband are what me and mine might have become had he gotten a job and we'd stayed. My passion now is Italy, but I'm careful not to make Italy into what anime freaks consider Japan to be. There is no city with streets made of gold; it's a bad idea to think that a destination can substitute for the journey.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm not sure how I missed this post before but I'm glad you linked back to it. What a fascinating story. I love to hear how married couples meet - especially the ones that are more unusual.

    I spent 3 years in Japan not because I loved the culture or dreamed of going there one day but because the sister city exchange through my university had ALT positions available in a tiny town in Aichi with a Toyota factory. A friend of mine had been before me and liked it well enough. I was growing tired of my corporate job and since I had taught English in France for a year after college decided to pick up and teach it somewhere else.

    I grew to love my adopted home and the friends I made there. I'm still not that interested in Japanese pop culture but I paint etegami, enjoy Japanese food, especially Kit Kats :) and miss the ofuro at my gym.

    I came home to be closer to family and to advance my career as a teacher. I enter a master of arts in teaching program this summer. I had to choose between a promotion at my job or becoming an ALT and I have never once regretted the decision to leave the known and safe world of my office job for the unknown and exciting world of living abroad. Living in Japan helped clarify that I do have a passion for teaching, foreign languages, and travel. I'm heading back to visit friends in May and I look forward to future trips as well. I was never interested in Japan but Tahara will always be my second home.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated and will not show up immediately. If you want to make sure that your comment survives moderation, be respectful. Pretend you're giving feedback to your boss and would like a raise when you're speaking. Comments that reflect anger or a bad attitude on the part of the poster will not be posted. I strongly recommend reading the posts "What This Blog Is and Is Not" and "Why There Were No Comments" (in the sidebar under "FYI") before commenting.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.