Life in Japan

Sayonara Nippon! Why I’ve left Japan?!?

Huh? Wait! Jasmine has left Japan? When? Why? What? …
… is what you’re probably thinking right now.

I’m sorry if this comes as a shock to you. emoticon
Or maybe it doesn’t?

I’ve been living in Japan for seven years although I intended to only stay for one.
As you might know I’ve recently had a hard time deciding whether I should leave or stay.

It’s probably unnecessary to tell you how much I love Japan. It’s obvious if you look at my blog and all the travelling I’ve done. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have stayed for 7 years otherwise.

Why I've left Japan


Then why did I decide to leave Japan?

Hm. There are many reasons. And I’m not sure if I can explain them well enough.

I always wanted to decide on my own when it’s time to leave and not be forced to. I almost didn’t get my work visa and thought I had to leave Japan after just one year and that was quite horrible. It was important to me that I would decide when I go and not some unfortunate circumstances.

I was worried that if I’d stay “too long” I end up hating Japan and leave with those kind of feelings. Luckily that didn’t happen.
I still love Japan. I still consider living in Japan in the future once more.

But I am over 30 now.., have no family in Japan, felt kind of stuck and simply couldn’t decide whether I wanted to spend my future in Japan or in my home country Germany – or maybe somewhere completely else. I thought leaving Japan might help me getting out of my ‘comfort zone’ (= Japan) and that I’d be able to see things from a different perspective.

I had the feeling that if I continued my life in Japan with lots of enjoyable travelling, I’d wake up one morning and be 40.
40, single, without a family in a ‘foreign’ country where – although I consider it my home – I’ll be treated as the “eternal outsider“.
Or maybe I’d just turn into a crazy cat woman? Or a castle woman? I guess being single and over 30 in Japan already qualifies as being a “dried fish woman“. emoticons

I’m only half-serious. Please take this with a gra.. bucket of salt!


Eh? If you’re not in Japan anymore, what will happen to your blog?

Don’t worry. Nothing will change on my blog or social media.
I sometimes have the feeling that people actually don’t realize what it means when I say that I’ve travelled to all 47 prefectures and have been to many far more than once. emoticons
I have trillions of photos, travel advice, weird festivals and whatnot yet to share. It’s enough for years and years to come!
So much, actually, that I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to get it all online in this life. emoticon

And just because I’m not in Japan anymore, it doesn’t mean that I’ll lose all of my knowledge.
On the contrary, I finally might be able to get to know things from the “tourist point of view“. For example, thus far I couldn’t purchase the “Japan Railp Pass” because residents of Japan cannot obtain it.

I’ll also write about my “reversed culture shock” and maybe a guide for all of you who also need to move back home. Jeez, that was a LOT of work, I tell you!

So, nothing will change. The only thing that’s different is that I’m currently not in Japan.

Why I've left Japan


Will you ever come back to Japan?

That’s easy to answer: YES!!
I don’t know if I’ll live in Japan again or if I’ll just come back for even more travelling, but I cannot live without Japan, so the answer is: ABSOLUTELY YES!!
After almost a decade Japan has become my second home … maybe even my “first home”. There’s no way that I just close the “Japan chapter” forever.
I think anybody who has lived in Japan for a long period can understand what I’m trying to say. (^__^’)


Are you still in Japan? When did you leave? Woah!

No, I’m not in Japan anymore. I’ve already left.
I know, I know.
I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you guys right away. emoticon
But I hope you understand that I was insanely busy. Moving internationally is really no fun!

And I was hit by a super hyper giga “reversed culture shock“.
I didn’t want to whine about all the things while I still was in this “shock state”.
I’ll definitely share my feelings and encounters and tell you in detail about this creepy culture shock, so stay tuned.

I just needed some time for myself to say: Sayonara Nippon. emoticon emoticon

But I’m all good now and intend to just continue to share my previous Japan adventures with you.
I hope you understand and keep supporting “Zooming Japan”.

Thank you! ^___^


  • Welcome back!
    Having done your experience 3 years ago (moved back to Germany after 4 years JP) I want to give you some encouragement! :-)
    Yes, I had this shock phase, too and some days it was hard, but after several weeks already it levelled out quite nicely.
    Things I remember:
    – more dirt on the streets. This one I underestimated, I still get pissed by it sometimes.
    – friendliness of people. I was surprised, most people are friendlier (not polite!) than in JP
    – service quality. It is and will never be on par with JP. But it improved during the years I was away. I don’t experience more issues than I had in JP.
    – public transport. No big change. It ain’t fun/relaxing most of the time. After 2 years I bought a car.
    – dependence on location. I was surprised to see (e.g. in cities) much more bigger differences between places (dirt, people, etc) as opposed to JP where I felt everywhere was fine
    – the nature: I miss that, yes. On the other hand here in central Europe you can go cheap to many places. Still I plan 2-3 weeks holiday trips to JP every 2nd year at least.

    Enjoy Schland! And eager to read about your shock phases ;-)

    • I will write about it in detail in a separate article, but it’s interesting to see what it was for you.
      All I can say is that my list would look quite a bit different, not entirely, though. :D

      Thank you!! ^_____^

  • Wow, this was definitely a surprise! I love your blog and you have been very helpful in pointing out good places to visit.

    Since you brought up your personal life in this post (being over 30 and single) I can’t help but to say something. Will you write about your personal experience dating Japanese men? What worked and what did not work? Obviously things did not work out for you, but I have to wonder why. During my short stay in Tokyo and Kyoto, I was pleasantly surprised at the AM/WF couples I saw. I have always thought that it would be relatively easy for a western woman to find an Asian boyfriend or husband. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I would love to read more about this subject on your blog!

    • Hey, David! :)

      Like I said I was only half serious about that one.
      What I really meant is something else. The older you get, the more likely it is that you get sick. What if you get REALLY sick and you’re stuck in Japan and all your really good friends and family are 10.000 km away? If you have a Japanese partner and the support of the whole family there, it can make a huge difference.
      I just think it won’t be fun to sit around in Japan all alone in your 60s when you’ve seen pretty much everything in Japan and are maybe too exhausted to travel or explore new things. If you’ve found really good friends who treat you as a normal person and not as an eternal outsider, then maybe it could be nice being a 60+-year old foreigner in Japan without family or kids, but it just doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

      I don’t know if you’ve read all the articles, but there are quite a few about dating.
      I’ve also written it in those articles, but I have no personal experience dating an Asian man.

  • Hallo :-)
    Ich folge dir auf Twitter und hab in einem Japan-Forum die Diskussion verfolgt und kann mir kaum vorstellen, wie schwer die Entscheidung gewesen sein muss. Viele deiner “Fans” wünschen sich, an deiner Stelle zu sein und in Japan zu leben. Aber oftmals denkt man gar nicht weiter. Wie es dann letztendlich ist, allein in Japan zu leben.
    Ich finde deine Entscheidung mutig und wünsche dir für deine weitere Zeit alles Gute.
    Und ich bin gespannt auf deine weiteren Blogposts. :D Mein Mann und ich brauchen für unsere nächste Japan-Reise weitere gute Ideen. ;-)

    Liebe Grüße,

    P.S.: Ich hab versucht, auf englisch zu schreiben, aber das wurde einfach nix. -_-

    • Hallo,
      ja, das kann ich mir schon vorstellen. Um ehrlich zu sein hatte ich auch eher einen “Shitstorm” erwartet a la wie blöd ich denn nur sein kann, dass ich Japan einfach so verlasse, wenn es auf der anderen Seite so viele gibt, die gerne dort leben würden. ^^;
      Aber die könnten das wohl erst dann nachvollziehen, wenn sie selbst mal einige Jahre dort gelebt haben.
      Und bei mir war es ja auch so, dass ich von Anfang an eigentlich nie vorhatte, dort für immer zu bleiben. :D

      Danke, ich hoffe, ich kann euch bis dahin noch einiges Interessantes liefern! ^___^

      P.S.: Haha, keine Sorge. Und danke, dass du es versucht hast. (^-^)b

  • Oh, this came as such a surprise to hear you’ve left! I completely see your reasoning and applaud you for making the decision to go back to Germany. Ironically, in a few months we’re about to leave Japan ourselves and make the move to Germany for a few years. I’ve been looking into online tutors and programs to learn German, so if you were ever up for teaching an American to speak German on the side, I’d be that happy (paying) American!! ;) ;)

    I truly hope the culture shock gets less and less each day. Wishing you all the best as you transition into your new normal. :)

    • Wow, what a coincidence! ^____^
      It will be very interesting to hear about your experience then. I wonder if you’ll have some sort of culture shock as well coming from Japan to Germany.
      I’d love to hear back from you once things have calmed down after your move! :D

      Haha, why not?
      As it looks right now, I’d be available, but I’m not sure if I’d be a good German teacher. ;P
      But I’m willing to help if I can, of course. ^___^

      Aww, thank you so much!
      I wish you good luck with everything as well! ^_^

      • I’m sure I won’t have anything near the level of yours. I go back to the states every few months and that helps keep me all off balance on things. haha

        My friend from Leipzig (now living in Los Angeles, CA) was teaching me 13 years ago the basics of German, and amazingly a lot of it has remained…granted stage fright of speaking in front of someone other than her has me lose it all in the blink of an eye, but I do have the smallest of grasp on things, so it wouldn’t be completely new in teaching me. ;P

        I’ll switch to email if you don’t mind, to really discuss it. A trial run perhaps, to see if you really wanna. haha ;P

        • Yes, that definitely helps. I only went back to Germany 3 times in 7 years for 2 weeks each time. ^^;

          I’ve received your e-mail and will reply right away! ^__^

  • Yo, surprised to see that you have left the magical land that is Japan.

    Tend to follow you more on Facebook but happened to be on here and noticed the article and I was like, you be trolling? haha

    I wish you all the best, will definitely continue to follow your adventures.

    Looking forward to see what’s new :)

  • Haaaaa????? What???? I was hoping to have the opportunity to meet ypu while I will be walking around Japan next year :(

    Anyway, enjoy your life and I’m sure you’ll come back and enjoy it even more ^_^

    • WAAAAH!!! I’m so sorry!!! emoticon

      Next year? Well, who knows. I might be back in Japan next year already. (^-^”)b

      Thank you!!! Enjoy your walk all around Japan. Sounds so exciting! :D

  • I feel really out of touch. With the exception of posting occasionally to my blog, I had somewhat retreated from blogs and the entire expat social media before your blog came on the scenes, and now as I’m making an effort to get back into it, you are leaving Japan. I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle. Ah well, that is life. Hope you have success back home and if you ever do make it back to Japan, near my area, provided I haven’t disappeared again (if a second child arrives, perhaps) we’ll have to get together for a drink. Good luck!

  • When I saw the title of your post on the starting page, I thought “no way, must be a teaser”. Well, it turned out that you really left Japan. It must be a tough decision, and I can understand your motivations. I have a similar view, I feel that in Japan, a foreigner will be always a foreigner, no matter how well they speak Japanese and how long they live in the country. I therefore came to Japan knowing that I will leave after some time.
    I also am very interested in a description of your reverse culture shock. But another interesting thing is the “second culture shock”: How will you feel when you go back to Japan, f.ex. for traveling? I spent 6 years in France and when I visited again some while ago the city where I had lived, things appeared differently as I remembered them. I could not feel “at home”, although I was there for such a long time. It is as if it got estranged from me. Now France and Germany is not that different, so I wonder how it will be with Japan? Will the feeling of “home” be back immediatly, will it be strange again, will it be just changed a bit?

    Wie dem auch sei, ich wuensche Dir viel Erfolg fuer die Zukunft und dass der Kulturschock bald vorbei ist.

    • Haha, I wouldn’t be THAT mean .. I think. ;P

      I didn’t even have time to think about how I’d feel once I go back to Japan. That would be very interesting indeed and of course I’ll write about that as well. :D

      Vielen lieben Dank! ^___^

  • Hi zoomingjapan (“⌒∇⌒”).

    This post really struck a chord with me as I have been thinking about all of the same things recently. I’ll be a himono onna soon I guess, and it’s tough! I don’t want to die and be eaten by cats ( ;∀;) lol.
    I don’t want to hate Japan either, so I need to do some soul searching. I think your blog will help, so thank you Jasmine!

  • I take it you were not interested in Japanese guys, since you mentioned being worried about waking up and being 40 and still single, so you do want to date and eventually have a family from that statement, its just you want to go to your home of Germany and marry a German guy… Well its not really a surprise as many non-Asian women are not interested in Asian men. Also I wonder why you are so worried with what society thinks of you maybe turning out to be 40 and single, if your happy with single life do you need to conform just have society approve? I think people seem to think getting married is a to-do chore list or something and that they are worried what society will think of them if they don’t monkey-see monkey-do type of thing.

    • Hello Yuli.

      It seems you clearly misunderstood me.
      I think I made clear that I was half-joking.
      Where did I ever say I’m not interested in Japanese / Asian guys?
      I don’t care about the nationality at all. There are far more important values about a person than that.

      I’m not worried what society thinks about me. I just stated it as a fact that in Japan women over 30 who are still single are seen that way.

      • Sorry I think I sounded angry, I did not mean it. My english is not good so I did not understand that you joked about worrying about being single. It is hard for me to know a sarcastic joke in english. It is good relief that you don’t care if people think you are single or not and about nationality.

  • I read this with mixed feelings! haha. I lived in Japan for a year during university exchange, came back to Canada for 4 years, and now I’ve just been offered a 4 month internship in Tokyo. I’ve always thought of going back, but now that I have the offer.. oddly, it feels weird. The context is that I may have another job offer elsewhere that pays more, but they’re not ready to offer me anything yet in the hiring process. Reading this post makes me wonder if I want to truly go through it all again or do a new adventure haha. Man…

    • I truly don’t think it’s so bad if you only stay for a short time. I’m still convinced that I wouldn’t have struggled that much had I left after 1-3 years.
      It’s when you stay for a really long time that you feel torn between two countries. Now I’ve been back in Germany for over a year and I still feel torn. Maybe this feeling will never go away no matter if I keep living in Germany or go back to Japan.

      Try to listen to your guts. ^___^

  • I have only been to japan on vacation but I have to say I also like the homogenous population there better. Germany continues to become worse and worse, it is a boiling frog syndrome. If you dislike the diversity here, then voice your opinion and fight the political correct stupidity. Not all diversity is good diversity. Not all relations are symbiotic. Diversity with east asians is certainly a good diversity, but muslims and black immigrants who refuse to integrate make Germany worse and are responsible for the ever rising crime rates. Don’t be afraid to be considered racist just because ideologist fundamentalists cannot think rationally and try to enforce their moral values on society.

    • I totally agree with you on this one.
      Germany has changed so much in recent years and it’s only getting worse from here on.
      But as soon as you dare to say something you’re being called racist. Everybody tries to stay “good” and just nod to what the politicians have to say, but I fear this all might end in a big bang. We might already be beyond rescue.
      And I don’t see a much brighter future for many other European countries.

      I’m envious of isolated islands such as Japan or New Zealand, for example.
      Especially because I know how life can be there compared to here.

  • I have read your posts before…to be honest not just yours of course but literally everything google has to offer when you search the words ( to leave or stay in Japan ) and any variation or combo of similar words you could think of…大変よ…been living in a Japan for 3 years now and…I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE WHAT TO DO.

    Moved around from Kansai to Shikoku to Chubu, I am in Nagoya now, plus have traveled most all of Japan. Originally from NY, came here for college back in 07-08, lived in Kobe during that time. Went back to NY finishing college, worked for a few years, grew tired of the job I had so packed up and moved back to Japan. Fast forward, 3.2 years and still counting…Everyone has their own reasons for going and staying but I honestly don’t know what I want to do; part of me says keep traveling the world as that was once my dream, but once I got to Japan quickly realized Japan itself needed MUCH MORE EXPLORING than a typical run through…I know exactly what you went through. I have heard longer one stays abroad in general it is harder to find work once back in home country, I am really getting nervous and anxious about that.

    I know in Japan I make more $$ than if go back but I know I will always be an outsider, even with speaking the language and having Japanese friends, this isn’t a melting pot nation like the US is…めちゃ難しい. Glad to see you were able to just make a choice and run with it…do keep your posts up so we all can see how your decision plays out…

    • Hi JJayy,
      Wow, you’ve been to pretty much everywhere in Japan in just 3 years? How? That’s pretty awesome! :D
      It took me much longer to cover all 47 prefectures. ^^;; ….

      I see you’re in the exact same dilemma I was in.
      Nobody can really help you with that decision, but I hope you’ll find the right answer. :)

      Actually, I’ve recently updated and talked about how I feel 2 years after leaving Japan. ^_^

  • Hi,
    I am a JPN guy living in USA. I am 関西人 by the way.
    People say “never say never”, but I probably might end up my life in this country…

    My situation was JPN vs. USA which is different from yours, but I had quite similar situation (being aboard) and I had to talk to myself sitting in my room not only once but multiple times( I hope no more talking like that!) and make such decisions over the various issues such as US work visa, job security in USA and Japan etc..- well, is such thing still exist? ;)

    When I read your comments under “Then why did I decide to leave Japan?”
    You brought up my past memories and my heart bit ached.. :)
    Hope you find a place for you to fully settle.


    • I’m sorry that my post made you a little bit nostalgic.
      I hope those were not just bad memories.
      It sounds like you’re settled now and that’s something I’m really jealous of.

      I hope I can find my place in the future as well, but maybe “my place” = moving around every few years, changing countries.
      Who knows? ;)

  • Hello Jasmine.

    I hope this finds you well-settled in Germany :)

    I used to follow your blog before moving to Japan in 2015. I remember reading this particular blog entry when you posted it, and bookmark it back then as I thought one day I will have to do the same. Well, that time has come. I am on my 7th year in Kobe and have decided to go back to Sydney. My reason for going back are somewhat similar in some respects.

    Unlike yourself, I traveled back home twice a year and regularly kept-in-touch with family and friends so I do have an idea on how life in Sydney had changed during my time in Japan. Even having done so, I am not looking forward to a number of aspects of Sydney life and western culture :P

    I honestly feel sad about having to leave as there is so much of my Japanese life that I know I will sorely miss. However, I do hope that someday I will get another opportunity to call Japan home.

    Anyway, I just thought it might be nostalgic to bring up this post again :)

    Best wishes from Kobe

    • Hi Eddie,

      Thank you for the comment. It’s always interesting to read about other people’s experiences in Japan. :)
      I’m currently very happy in Germany, but I did have a severe reversed culture shock for about a year after moving back.
      Now, the only thing that annoys me is that I cannot travel back to Japan thanks to the big C.
      Usually I went to Japan at least once or twice a year, so it was a good compromise.

      Not being able to go to Japan at all at the moment really hurts.

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