Feb
18
2015

About Leaving or Staying in Japan

It’s probably safe to assume that if you’re reading this, you’re interested in Japan. Maybe you even love this country of the rising sun.
So, now you wonder how would anyone who managed to come and live here want to ever leave again?

Well, I’m sure that anyone who has lived in Japan for a certain amount of time has had similar thoughts. I mean, it’s only natural, isn’t it?

Leaving or Staying in Japan

Living in Japan Forever?!

Think about it. Most of us didn’t come to Japan with the intention of living here forever, right?
And even those of us who did, might have changed their mind after living in Japan for several years.
There are several reasons to change your mind anyway.

 

My Personal Thoughts

I can only speak for myself here, but I assume that others might have similar feelings and thoughts.

I first came to Japan with the intention of only staying one year. After all, I only managed to obtain the “working holiday visa” which is valid for just a year. (Well, the German one is anyway.)
I had nothing to lose. I went on a short 3-weeks’ vacation and noticed that it’s not enough to explore Japan.
That’s when I decided to give it a try and live in Japan for a year.
If I would run out of money before the year is over, I’d just go back to my home country, Germany. Nothing to lose, a lot to win.

When that one year was over, it was crystal clear to me: This one year wasn’t enough!
There were still so many places I wanted to visit, still so many things to learn and explore.
Also, my interests had gradually changed after moving to Japan.

I obtained a “real work visa” and stayed for another year. And another. And then yet another.
Not that I’ve never thought about it before, but after all those years I finally began to seriously think about my future.
Do I want to stay in Japan forever?
If not, then how much longer?
Aren’t 4 years enough?
Wouldn’t it be difficult to find a job back home if I stay in Japan for too long?

I couldn’t make up my mind. I still felt that leaving Japan would be too early.
All I did was leaving my job and my old city to move to a different part of Japan … to explore … to learn even more!
Fast forward, 7 years and counting I’ve been living in Japan now.

Leaving or Staying in Japan

 

The longer you stay, the more difficult it is to leave.

A lot of people leave when their JET contract is over … or when their “adventure year after graduation” is over.
But for those of us who’ve been here for quite some time it’s getting more and more difficult.

Life back home has moved on without us. We’re not “part of the picture” anymore.
Maybe without us realizing it, our personalities have changed quite a bit, too.
At least I notice this every single time I visit my home country. We do behave quite “Japanese” in the eyes of a Western country.
We’re not doing it on purpose. We can slip back into our “old self”, but not completely. It’s awkward.

Thus, we wonder if we’re still “able to” live a proper life back home or if it’s “already too late”?
Do we even want to?

 

Why One Would Consider Leaving Japan

Even now, I still think that I don’t want to live in Japan forever.
At least not unless I get married and have my own family here. Other than that I just can’t see how … or why.
Yes, I love Japan. I’ve travelled to all 47 prefectures more than just once.
I’ve explored and learned so many things, but there’s always more to do and see.

BUT there are many other things to consider and I’m sure others have had similar thoughts.
For example, even if you have your own family here, but even more if you don’t, you’ll always stay an outsider. You’ll always be considered a foreigner.
You’ll never fit in completely.

While possible, it’s a lot harder to find real friends and a “real relationship” here in Japan. It takes some time to learn who’s really interested in you and not just in your “foreignness”.

Unless you put a LOT of effort into it, you’ll always struggle with the language especially when it comes to important things such as contracts, hospitals, bills etc.

Personally, if I can’t manage to have my own family here, I can only see myself as an old, sick grandmother who’s being treated nicely but yet is isolated as the “eternal foreigner“. That doesn’t sound like a desirable future to me at all.
At least, most of us still have family and friends back home. ;)

There might be a lot of other reasons why you wouldn’t want to stay in Japan forever, but I guess that really depends on the individual.
There are many things to consider such as career, family, friends, taxes, crime, natural disasters …. it’s really not an easy decision.
And for most of us, our home countries are quite different from Japan in many aspects: climate, culture, people’s mindset etc.

Leaving or Staying in Japan

Eventually nobody else can tell you what to do.
And after all, it’s not like you could never come back to Japan. ;)

What are your thoughts on this?

I think it would be very beneficial for others to read about YOUR story!
Are you currently living in Japan and thinking about moving back home or at least leaving Japan?
Have you previously lived in Japan? Did you move home?
Do you have any regrets?

Feel free to discuss and ask away!~emoticon

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