Life in Japan

Japanniversary: 6 Years Of Living In Japan – Review

Wow, has it really been 6 years already? emoticon

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.

Japanniversary: 6 Years of living in Japan

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! emoticon
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. emoticon
And in 2013, I finally managed to hit the 100 mark of Japanese castles I’ve visited. emoticon

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! emoticon
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:

A Few Of My Worst Memories While Living in Japan:

6 Years of Living in Japan

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. emoticon
Thanks for taking this journey with me and I hope you’ll stick around to see what the next few years will bring! emoticon

emoticon

41 Comments

  • Congratulations Zooming Japan! おめでとうございます! You sure have packed in a lot during those 6 years in Japan. I’ve enjoyed reading about your experiences and travels on this blog. I hope you have many more years to come in Japan :)

  • Thank you for your time and effort sharing your experience in Japan. I hope I can follow your thoughts and adventures for years to come!

    • Oh, I love sharing all of this, especially the photos!
      More often than not I find something where I simply think: “OMG! This is so freaking beautiful. Others NEED to see this, too!” *g*

      I hope you’ll stick around and thanks so much! :D

  • Happy birthday Zooming Japan. Time goes quickly when we are passionate and thank you very much to share you experience with this blog and social network. 6 years ago you make a big step in your life. I’m envious from your more than 100 castles visited ;-) Have fun in Japan -?

  • “Congratulations” !

    I’m a lil’ bit curious here : “In the following 2 years, I studied Japanese even harder, passed N2”
    It took you 2 years to pass the N2 or did you study Jp before coming in Japan ?

    Thx !

    K.

    • Thanks, Kankeinai!~

      Uhm, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I studied a bit of Japanese back in 2002 at university, but really only the basics and then I was too busy to continue.
      By the time I came to Japan in 2008, I had some basics down. I really can’t remember exactly, but I’d say around 100-200 Kanji, basic grammar rules and I could have a simple conversation. My listening skills were pretty good already. Right after I came to Japan, I started studying like crazy. I spent most of my free time (before and after work) studying.
      I could have passed 2kyuu in 2009, but I missed the application deadline. Then, they changed the system and I decided to try N2 in 2010.
      I probably could have passed N1 by that time, but I didn’t want to risk it.

      And … I ended up never taking N1. Maybe I should. *g*

  • Congratulations Zooming for 6 years of trekking!! Again, I really love the way you organize and write your thoughts. I am amazed at the life you’ve had and wonder in awe at the incredible experiences in your life. I am very jealous and yet happy to have been able to share some thoughts between us. You are an amazing person J. and Japan has helped you blossom. I can only hope that you find true contentment and happiness in life no matter the choices you make for you are a truly beautiful person. Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your life!! :heart: :D

    • OMG!
      You see me blushing in the color of the cherry blossoms (that will hopefully bloom soon). *g*
      So many nice compliments, I don’t even know what to say. THANK YOU so much, Bud! ^_____^
      I’m really happy to see you’re supporting me. It means a lot! :D

  • Congratulations Zooming Japan! I just can’t honestly find the very right words to express my gratitude for always sharing your story, opinion, adventure, and everything about Japan with us until now.

    I hope this illustration is enough to encourage you to keep this humble regular reader to visit your site more often. Thank you^^

  • Hey Jasmine, congrats on your 6th Japaninniversary. Wow, 6 years is such a long time and I think in the beginning it must’ve been quite an adventure to come to Japan for you. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and beautiful photos in your blog. I’m sure many readers get lots of inspirations for their upcoming Japan travels and see many things which aren’t mentioned in the usual travel guides. You’re such a nice and amazing person and I wish you all the best for the future and that all your wishes and dreams may come true. ;P Keep up the great work and thanks again for all your help. You’re the best. ;)

    • Iris, thank you so much for your nice and encouraging words! (*____*)b

      I really hope that my blog can inspire people or help planning their trip to Japan.
      I hope this blog will become more and more useful with a steadily increasing number of posts. :D

  • Congratulations Jasmine for these 6 years in Japan, and best wishes for all those will come! :fan:
    It’s a great pleasure to know a little better Japan through your eyes and your experiences; I would tell you more, but my English is too poor to express properly my thoughts.
    …But I want to console you about the last point, when the kids pointing at you and saying “gaijin”: me, my husband and our friend were in Nara when we met some children and they pointed at us and they said, believing that we can’t understood: “bijin ja nai “. :huh: :bleh:

    • Kiruccia,

      Is “Bijin ja nai” a kansai slang term? or is it something that any rude Japanese person would say?

      • It’s not a slang. It simply means “She’s not a beautiful woman / girl”!
        Whatever that was supposed to mean.
        It’s something you could hear just about anywhere in Japan, but of course it’s not nice to tell someone that he or she is not pretty. ^^;;

    • Don’t worry, your English is fine! ^____^
      I’d love to hear more next time. Don’t be shy. :D

      And thanks so much for your nice comment. :)

      What a weird experience! I wonder what was going on.
      Maybe they only have seen foreigners on TV thus far and those are usually Hollywood stars or models. Compared to them we all aren’t very beautiful or handsome, I guess. ;)

  • Congratulations!! Sounds like it’s been quite the eventful 6 years! :thumbup: Did you have anything special planned for this year!? :D

    • Thanks, Alyse! :D

      Yeah, a lot has happened in those 6 years and who knows what is yet to come! ;)
      No, I haven’t planned anything special. At least not yet. For me it’s just a “normal year”. ^__^

  • Hi Jasmine, there are probably a lot of readers of your blog who are dying for an update to your post on dating in Japan. Those posts are still your most popular ones!

    So after 6 years in Japan, have you found a companion? We’re dying to know! ;P

    • Glad you mention that, David! :D
      Updates are actually on their way already. Hope you can wait just a little longer. *g*

      Guess, that’s the big secret then, huh? emoticon

  • It’s always great to read your blog. Just love your stories about your time in Japan and the gorgeous pictures you take makes things just perfect.

    Keep it up and thanks for showing me so many places I need to visit in japan :)