Reflection time. Someone left a comment on my yesterday, asking why I first came to Japan. It is something I get asked almost everyday, but here goes…
I first visited Japan on a Lions Exchange trip after I had completed my first year of university. I spent a fantastic 6 weeks in Fukuoka and traveling around Kyushu. I didn’t speak a word of Japanese at the time, or any other foreign language. The experience blew me away and left a lasting impression on me.
After I finished my second year of university, I was getting pretty bored of studying Computer Science. For many years I wanted to study architecture, but the economy had tanked and there were stories going around of people who had graduated from architecture and were driving taxis. Computers and IT seemed to have a bright future.
I put my degree on hold after my second year, saved some money for an airfare by doing some gardening and with a group of other Aussies (and a Kiwi) headed to Japan to work on a golf course as a caddy.
I tried to study Japanese pretty hard before I left, but by the time I arrived in Japan all I could say was “where is the station?” (eki wa doko desu ka?) I worked at the golf course for 9 months, doing a lot of drinking and generally just having a good time. I spent the last 3 months at a small ski-resort in Shiga prefecture.
I had no other foreigners to talk to at the ski resort, except with a Queenslander, so the Japanese started to pick up then. I got back to Australia one weekened and started at university the following Monday. By then, I was pretty hooked on Japan and took on Japanese as a minor elective. For the first time I actually looked forward going to class!
As my final year of university approached, I knew I needed to get away from computers. It is a bit of a shame because I think back now and it was mostly just the hard core programming that I didn’t enjoy. I probably would have been fine doing something database or network related. The internet at the time was still all text based.
I was fortunate enough that my Japanese lecturer helped me get a fairly lucrative teaching job not far from Tokyo. It was probably the most carefree time of my life: good salary, lots of free time, free rent, lots of holidays. My only regret now is that I wish I had of gotten into the Internet back then.
I spent three years teaching, followed by a year in China before I went back to Australia for almost 2 years. I think my family thought I was settled back after I bought an apartment in Australia, but it wasn’t long before another opportunity came up which brought me back to Tokyo.
Almost five years have now passed here in Tokyo. It is difficult to answer exactly why I like living here, but I suppose it has just become comfortable for me now. Perhaps if I had a family, Tokyo wouldn’t be so great, but as a single guy it is pretty easy living.