Last weekend I wrote a post that seemed to stir a great deal of interest in a lot of people. "So wanna live in Japan?" drew more traffic to my blog than any other post I have written. Actually, my blog saw more traffic that day than any other! I suppose (actually, I know for a fact) there are a lot of people out there who are really interested in Japan and would of course like to come here. Some people would like to venture to Japan's shores simply to visit, while others would like to work and live here. This post will be something of a follow-up to "So you wanna live in Japan?"
I didn't write that post to be a negative person. In fact, I don't think it was negative in anyway. I think it was a realistic look at what you need to do if you are looking to come to Japan long-term. Of course, if you are just planning to come and visit, there are no problems, but if you are seeking a more permanent situation, you must put thought into it. Simply showing up in Japan with a backpack and some money and expecting to make a go of it might not work out. I do realize that it can for some people, but not for everyone.
Japan is a place like any other place. It does of course have a rich history, interesting culture and awesome cuisine, but in the end, other places do as well. I really enjoy living here. There are some wonderful aspects of life in this country. There of course many wonderful aspects to my home country of Canada as well, a place I miss considerably. Much like when I lived in Canada and Korea, I wake up in the morning and go to work. I have a routine similar to that I had in other places. Of course, there are many interesting and exciting things around me, but at the end of the day, life goes on in quite a normal fashion for me.
I think some people have unrealistic expectations. Japan is definitely cool, but it isn't a place where anime characters walk off the TV screen into real life. It isn't a place where manga can solve all of life's problems. It isn't a place where women blindly throw themselves at foreign men just because they are foreign. It is however a place, where you can be very happy and successful if you work hard and have the right attitude.
In my "So you wanna live in Japan?" post, I talked about people who think anyone can become successful and famous in Japan. If that were the case, I wouldn't be doing what I am today. I would be far to busy counting piles of money and managing my television appearances. Sadly (but not too sadly), that isn't the case, but I am doing what I am meant to do. I'm a teacher.
There seems to be a lot of negative sentiments surrounding the education industry in Asia. I suppose that is because many of the people who are drawn to Asia are interested in the place and not the work. They become teachers because it is the only field they can find employment in. They want to be in Japan, not in a classroom in Japan. I of course completely understand. Teaching is definitely not for everyone. Actually, being a teacher isn't for most people.
I was an ESL teacher for five years in South Korea and enjoyed teaching so much that I went back to graduate school in Canada, got my teaching certification and then experience in Canadian public and Catholic schools. Then I came to Japan. I am a teacher now and I love it. Teaching is what I do. I am not searching for something else, but I can understand those who do. My career path may change in the future if better opportunities arise, but for now I am content.
At the end of the day, if you are driven enough to do anything, you can make it happen. If your goal in life is to become a lawyer, doctor or artist, etc., you can do it with enough focus and determination. Coming to Japan is of course no different. You can make your way to Japan's shores and become successful. It may take time though. It will also take persistence. Again, it is the same as in the country you call home.
I hope you set your goals and I hope you can do all of the things you want. Japan is a great place and it makes sense that so many people want to come here. If you are one of those people, do your research and enjoy everything when you finally land in Tokyo, Osaka or wherever you may be.
here is a glimpse of downtown Kobe, Japan as I saw it this evening on my way home from work.