Japanniversary: 6 Years Of Living In Japan – Review
Wow, has it really been 6 years already?
I’ve always been interested in Japan, but never had a chance to visit until the summer of 2007. That was right after graduating from university. I had a great time in Japan, but I remember clearly that I also was glad to be back home in Germany again.
But then, something strange happened that I really didn’t see coming.
I missed Japan! I was suddenly craving for Japanese food, I had the urge to go back, to experience MORE of what Japan is truly like.
Shortly after that I was sitting in a plane to Japan again, with a “working holiday visa” valid for a year, and I was sure that I would leave again after that.
My First Year in Japan (2008) was ALMOST also my last:
When I first came to Japan, everything was still so new, exciting, but also weird. I was exploring new things on a daily basis.
I couldn’t speak Japanese fluently yet and I had to learn a lot about the culture. It was interesting, but also very challenging.
When that year was coming to an end, I already made up my mind that I wanted to stay another year. Clearly that first year wasn’t enough. There were still so many things I wanted to learn and explore.
The only problem – and that was a huge one – was obtaining a “work visa“. I had to change from a “working holiday visa” to a “proper work visa”.
As I was working at an English conversation school, more commonly known as “eikaiwa“, I needed a “specialist in humanities visa“, but being a non-native speaker of English made it difficult.
When I first applied, it was rejected and I thought I had to leave Japan. That was a horrible time!
I always wanted to be the one to decide when it’s time to leave. I didn’t want to be forced out!
Luckily, everything went well on my second try thanks to the help of great people such as my former boss.
I got a 1-year visa and could stay in the land of the rising sun.
The Years 2009-2011 and The Great Earthquake and Tsunami:
In the following 2 years, I studied Japanese even harder, passed N2, won a prefectural speech contest, attended a Japanese wedding and travelled some more.
At the end of my 3rd year I was thinking a lot. I never planned on staying in Japan forever, but when would be a good time to leave? Would I regret leaving now?
I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. I still had things I wanted to learn, places I wanted to explore. So, in early 2011 I decided that I’d stay another year.
However, as we all know something truly horrible happened then. It had a huge impact on our lives.
I’m talking about the Great Earthquake and Tsunami.
That was a tough time! And a lot of people I knew considered leaving Japan.
Actually, many left – and they never returned. I stayed. And I’m so glad I did!
The Years 2012-2013: Travelling Spree
My interests slowly changed and travelling became my passion.
Although I did travel a lot from 2007 to 2010, I explored even more places from 2011-2013.
By the end of 2012 I had been to all 47 Japanese prefectures. Originally that was never a goal of mine, but when I noticed that I was very close to accomplishing it, I was insanely happy.
And in 2013, I finally managed to hit the 100 mark of Japanese castles I’ve visited.
As I had a lot to share about my life here in Japan and also about all my trips, I decided to create this blog which went officially online in November 2011.
6 Years of Living in Japan – Reflections:
If you told me 10 years ago that I once would live in Japan and that my interests would completely change from manga / anime to travelling and Japanese culture, I would have called you CRAZY! *g*
In the past six years, I’ve seen a lot of good, weird, funny, but also bad things happen.
After living in Japan for some time, it got kind of annoying that Japanese people kept complimenting my Japanese after a mere “arigatou” (thank you). People often assume that I’m American, although I’m German. The daily staring got really to me as it made me feel like I didn’t belong here. Although, I considered Japan as my second home, I always felt – and still often do feel – like an outsider.
It’s not exactly easy to find “true” Japanese friends. Many just want you as a “free English lesson” or an “exotic accessory“. And even the ones who don’t, won’t open up easily, so it hardly feels like a “real friendship”. Of course, there are exceptions, but don’t expect it to be like back home.
Dating in Japan can also be challenging, especially for foreign women.
Crime-wise Japan is a relatively safe country, so I feel comfortable living here.
However, there are a lot of weird guys out there, so as a girl you need to be careful. Stalking, grabbing on trains and stuff like that is very common. Luckily I never had a problem with that in all the time, but I’ve seen weird guys.
I’ve seen a male student sitting in a train, licking his cellphone displaying a photo of a girl, for example.
Living in Japan also taught me a lot about myself.
I never thought I could move to a foreign country and take on so many challenges!
I mastered yet another foreign language, one that isn’t particularly easy, and I can manage my daily life in this foreign country that has become my second home.
I can handle a conversation in a Japanese hospital, I can somewhat deal with the freaking insects and the bad insulation of Japanese houses.
I noticed that no matter what it is, I can do it by myself.
In Japan I discovered new interests and new sides of myself.
Let me finish today’s celebratory blog post with my greatest and worst memories of my time here in Japan thus far:
Some Of My Greatest Memories While Living in Japan:
- Swimming with dolphins on Mikurajima (Tokyo)
- Scuba diving and exploring the mysterious underwater ruins on Yonaguni Island (Okinawa)
- Climbing Mt. Fuji with my brother
- Visiting Mt. Koya with a German friend who was totally fascinated and thanked me later
- Seeing Himeji Castle for the first time in 2007, thinking how nice it would be to live nearby (and later actually living not too far away from it)
- Finally obtaining my work visa, securing my stay in Japan
- Winning a prefectural Japanese speech contest where a lot of other foreigners also took part
- Visiting the snow monkeys in Nagano (it was so much fun!)
- Having an outdoor onsen (rotenburo) in Shirahama all for myself as it was raining cats and dogs
A Few Of My Worst Memories While Living in Japan:
- March 11th, 2011
- Experiencing my first Magnitude 6 earthquake
- Visiting Ishinomaki and seeing the devastation caused by the tsunami
- Bats invading my apartment, frogs robbing my sleep and monster insects everywhere
- Being stuck on Mikurajima and the crazy trip in a fishing boat to nearby Miyakejima
- My application for a work visa in Japan being rejected, thinking that I had no choice but to leave Japan
- All the events that come along with being an “ame onna“
- A Japanese kid pointing at me, screaming “gaijin” (foreigner) in a loud voice, all the people turning around to look at me – and similar situations
It’s so great to see that I have your support. You have no idea how much it encourages me!
This awesome graphic was made for me by Denny Aryadi expressing his gratitude.
I can’t even tell you how happy I am!
Thanks so much Denny and everyone else who keeps supporting me!
I’m glad I’ve been in Japan for 6 years now and I hope to continue sharing my experiences here with all of you.
Thanks for taking this journey with me and I hope you’ll stick around to see what the next few years will bring!
Enjoyed this post?
Sorry but there are no related posts for this entry!
41 Comments Add your comment
Events in Feb/Mar 2017:
- Feb 3: Setsubun (nationwide)
- Feb 3-12: Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi
- Feb 6-12: Sapporo Snow Festival
- Feb 7-12: Asahikawa Winter Festival
- Feb 15-16: Yokote Kamakura Festival
- Feb 17-19: Tokamachi Snow Festival
- Feb 18: Naked Festival at Saidai-ji
- Mar 1-3: Awashima Jinja Grand Festival
- Mar 1-14 : Omizutori (Nara)
- Mar 3: Hina Nagashi Matsuri (Wakayama)
- Mar 11-12: Sagicho Matsuri (Shiga)
- Mar 12: Takaosan Hiwatari Matsuri