9 Questions About Living Elsewhere

1. Where did you live and for how long?
   -Japan for one year. First, just outside of a city of about 300,000 called Yokkaichi, which is close to Nagoya. Then Tokyo for 7 months.

2. What made you decide to go there?
   -Bored, wanted to live somewhere else and just sort of happened into it.

3. Did you have to lie to enter the country?
   -No, but I lied a lot once I was in the country.

4. Were you/are you legal? Plan on becoming so?
   -Legal, I believe my passport said something about human relations specialist? (I also found that amusing)

5. How did you/do you make money? Did you go there with a job or have to find one?
   -Teaching English. Like 99 percent of the other white foreigners in Japan. Had the job before I went.

6. Was housing easy/difficult?
   -Taken care of by the company I was working for. But then I moved in with a friend/student -which was actually forbidden by the company.

   -Oh well, they had me paying through the noise for a shitty apartment in Yokohama. Even a bigger rip off than usual in the greater Tokyo area, but this place was a fucking shoebox that I shared with a sloppy Australian kid.

   -Finding a place by yourself in Japan is notoriously difficult. You also have to pay the landlord something called "key money" which is a non-refundable deposit. Sort of keeping with the Japanese tradition of generous gift-giving.

7. Was the language a problem?
   -Sometimes. A lot less in Tokyo than the first city. Tokyo's pretty foreigner friendly for English speakers. Plus almost all Japanese speak some English, and they are often happy to practice after they overcome their chronic shyness/timidity.

8. Favorite things/worst things about the place?
    -Lots of good things. Interesting history. Very unique country where a lot of new meshes with a lot of old. Like a geisha standing in front of a wall of graffiti. Clean, safe, amazingly polite people, good food, pretty girls, great cartoons (anime), and more entertaining kitsch than you can shake a chopstick at...etc...

   -Worst things-seeing people work for a million hours a week and walk around like zombies from being so tired and empty. [check this out, a photo gallery of japanese salarymen either dead alseep on the train or passed out drunk by the side of the road. MF] Japan is still way behind the times in terms of gender equality, which is very sad. Many girls aspire to be either a housewife an airline attendant. Many even go to college with the sole purpose of finding a husband (sort of like a separate major) Also, a lot of conformity and group thought, people afraid to be individuals or be in the public eye at all.

   -Unfortunately, the country as a whole very much looks up to the west and America in particular. Consequently they've inherited a lot of this country's worst traits. Pollution, mindless consumerism, the bad things that go with capitalism...

9. Any good stories about it or advice for others following?
   -Too many stories to list here, the language thing always made for some interesting times. i.e. Someone once asked me, "Can I hold you please?", instead of "Can you hold please?"

   - I would recommend living or visiting Japan to anyone. There really is no other place in the world like it. I've come to think of it even as separate from the rest of Asia. Definitely worth giving a shot.

 

- Ryan McClughen