Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Life in Japan and Korea: Myth vs Reality

I am not an angry blogger; I promise. I am not a bitter blogger; I mean it. Sure, there is a virtual poop-ton of bitter people who are fed up with living in Asia, but rest assured, at the time I write this blog (meaning never say never) I am not one of them. I am making this clear because I want all you out there reading this post to know that I am not trying to be a grumpy old fart raining on your parade for the sake of being a grumpy old fart.

This blog post is based in reality. I am being a realist. If you are an obsessed Japan or Korea fan you may not want to read what I will write, but tough, this is how it is!

I wanted to address some of the false images people have and false assumptions people make about life in Japan and Korea.


1. If I move to Japan or Korea, my life will be better: Maybe, maybe not. There are millions of factors that will cause this to become a reality or not.  Did you come to Asia to teach or live with a massive financial debt hanging over your head or were you running away from a messy divorce? If so, maybe life won't be better for you with a simple geographic change. For many out there though, life does become better.

Simple reasons for this: A massive geographic and cultural change is exciting. It is a sensory overload and an amazing learning experience. Moving to a culture completely foreign and learning to navigate it can be fun. Also, living in a place that may have a deeper history than where you came from may also seem interesting.

2. I want to live in Japan because I love anime and manga: Japan isn't a comic book or a cartoon. it is real and life here is real. It is very different than in Europe and North America, but it is real. People eat breakfast in the morning and go to work. They drink coffee during their coffee breaks and fall asleep with the TV on at night. Life in Japan is certainly cool, but it isn't like a manga or an anime. Sorry!

3. I hear everyone in Japan does Cosplay and I wanna see it: No they don't! To be honest, it is pretty rare to see people doing Cosplay in Japan. It only happens in specific places and only sometimes. Although, as a Canadian, it is interesting and amusing to see people dress up in costumes, it isn't that common. According to my wife and many other Japanese people I have talked to, the regular everyday Japanese person thinks Cosplay is pretty weird. It is a subculture. Sorry folks!

4. If I move to Korea or Japan (some younger readers say this) then I'll never be bullied: ARGH! Please don't think that. Bullying is rampant in these two countries. Their teen suicide rate is through the roof. If you think bullying is bad where you are from, try being pushed to the outside in a group culture!

5. I love Korean dramas and want to move to Korea: Sort of like the anime thing. Life in Korea is interesting, but it is real. Dramas (soap operas in North America) are anything but real. That prince charming way that guys act in those shows...well....they're just TV shows. Nuff said!

6. I really want to move to Japan and Korea because I love the food: Good reason. The food in both countries is outstanding and a fine reason to set up shop there!

7. I wanna move to Korea or Japan cause all the ladies will want me: Did the ladies want you where you came from? If the answer is "No", than maybe you may have trouble here as well. If you go to a club and someone throws themselves all over you right away, either you look like Ryan Reynolds or they've done it many times before. To be honest though, you get a good lady here like you would anywhere else. Be interesting, charming and have some luck on your side!


8. I want to work in Japan or Korea, but I don't want to teach: That is cool. What is skill set though? Do you work for a large multi-national company that will transfer to Japan or Korea. Are you so fluent in the language that you can compete in the local job market? Are you a freelancer who can tele-commute from anywhere in the world? Will you be a language or university exchange student? If not....not sure what you will do?



I lived in Korea and I now live in Japan. They are very interesting countries to call home. They can at times be frustrating though. You will face many of the day to day living problems people all around the world face. You will also get to enjoy many of the benefits of life in such interesting cultures with rich histories.

Follow me on Twitter: @jlandkev

13 comments:

QiRanger said...

Good points. Many people come to Korea (and stay) for the wrong reasons and it's evident.

I will tell you the truth of Japan(which I think) said...

Japan and Korea are totally different.

This is the only reason why your article lacks credibility

David Bath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Bath said...

Also, in Japan, I'd say that people shouldn't come for architecture or nature. Although there's nice examples when you seek them out, Japan is a massive urban sprawl and even the country side (in my opinion) has nothing on the likes of England, Australia or USA (without making an effort to find a pretty bit). A lot of buildings look like they're either from a theme park or Soviet Russia and almost every river is concreted under. It's not a reason NOT to come, but if you're expecting 90 percent rolling mountains and valleys with wandering samurai and philosophical musing country folk, then you will be disapointed.

Marcus75 said...

I actually have a college friend that teaches in Korea (past 7 years) so your blog sounds familiar to his experiences! Great that I found you!

nyyankees8989 said...

Since I was 12, I've always wanted to go to Japan and live there because of anime/manga. Growing older, I realized that life there is just like life anywhere else. So my views have completely changed. Now at 22, I'd still like to go to Japan, but just to visit for the cultural experience and the exciting new feeling. Long term stay would be a no for me. Asian women are beautiful, but I also like variety haha. Love your blog man keep it up.

staff said...

Couple more reasons people want to go to Japan or Korea that you left out:

1. I want to go to Japan because my parole officer lives in the United States.

2. I want to go to Korea because I've never seen a nuclear blast up close.

3. I would like to go to Japan or Korea because I just got a suit for my 36th birthday and they won't let me wear it in the kitchen at Denny's.

MyFC said...

Err not true... Outside the city and country side there are lots of rolling hills and mountains... I'm in Fulushima... It's farms and rolling hills here cowboy.

Death by April said...

I'd love to go to Japan because I like their culture of being polite and being private. That's why they have mixi instead of facebook. Also, I love the general atmosphere of their country, it's full of cute things and it's safe(well compared to ours).

And lastly, my life in my country has literally gone to the dogs, it's reached it's dead end, I live in a third world country where there is pollution,poverty and full of crimes and plus I hate our culture, I feel like I don't even belong here, but in general I am used to living here and have come to like it, but lately my life has been going downhill, and I've always dreamt of someday moving to Japan.

I'd love to start anew. In a completely different culture. I'm just 20. Any of you have that kind of plans of moving there? or know how to move there?I'd be happy for some kind of recommendation.What kind of jobs could I possibly get that's not a teaching one.

belinda said...

Hi, I read your blog its really interesting to know about it. Thanks dudes for this useful post.

Life in Japan

Sigit Pratama said...

Also, in Japan, I'd say that people shouldn't come for architecture or nature. Although there's nice examples when you seek them out, Japan is a massive urban sprawl and even the country side (in my opinion) has nothing on the likes of England, Australia or USA (without making an effort to find a pretty bit). A lot of buildings look like they're either from a theme park or Soviet Russia and almost every river is concreted under. It's not a reason NOT to come, but if you're expecting 90 percent rolling mountains and valleys with wandering samurai and philosophical musing country folk, then you will be disapointed.
http://gambaranimekeren.blogspot.com/

Xenia Foneko said...

nice one. just come back from japan. it was my dream for 15 years. im 30 now and i want to move there. but i love korea so much., but never been there....so difficult to decide....

Asklepios said...

Very true. It took me several years of studying Japanese and about a year of living there to realize these simple truths.