How Long Are You Gonna Stay in Japan?


Happy New Year! And welcome to my first post of 2013. The start of a new year is usually the time when people take some time to plan, think about the future, make resolutions…and what am I but another bumbling fumbling earthling trying to make sense of the vastness of the universe and the puzzle that is life?

The end of 2012 came with some big changes for me. I ended relationships, both romantic and platonic, and reconnected with old friends and family who had been somewhat neglected in favour of “finding myself” in Tokyo. Last year, I blogged that my homecoming at Christmas was kind of anticlimactic. However this time around, when it was time to go home I found myself in a bathroom stall in Pearson airport, staring at the speckled grey door in confusion with tears running down my face because I was so sad to be leaving Canada!

So although I still love my Tokyo, I’ve decided this will be my last year-and-a-bit in this city, and likely Japan. The yen is dropping, so I can’t make as much money. There’s no longer a love interest keeping me here. And truthfully I miss feeling like I belong somewhere. Though I’ve met some wonderful people here and I have a lot of fun,¬† there’s nothing like being able to let your hair down the way you can with people who’ve known you your whole life and love you unconditionally.

While I’m having the time of my life here there’s something about expat life, at least for me, that feels like a detour. I’ve even had some expat friends compare living here to being in university again, but with more money. I feel like at some point I have to “get back to real life”…though I’m not sure why I feel that way. I’ve always wanted to work as a writer/editor, and I can theoretically do that from anywhere in the world¬† now that we’ve got this magical new thing called in-ter-net. I guess there are other things to consider, like “settling down”. In my last post I touched on the trials foreign women face dating out here. There’s that, and I don’t really want to raise a child in Japan. On top of concerns about bullying/out-casting (this IS the country that still has a ‘no foreigners allowed’ policy at certain establishments), I don’t want to add language difficulties to the challenge of parenting.

Maybe it’s my impending birthday, looming like a hungry seagull ready to swoop down and snatch another french fry of life, that’s making me feel this way. I only have a couple of years of my twenties left, and I guess I feel once I’m thirty that’s the time to stop searching for materials from which to make a life and start actually building one.



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13 Responses to How Long Are You Gonna Stay in Japan?

  1. zoomingjapan says:

    I think it’s great that you were able to come up with a decision.
    I’m going into my 6th year here in Japan right now. I just turned 32(!!!).
    Since moving here I haven’t been in any relationship.

    I totally can relate to your feelings, so for me it’s kind of too late to go back home and settle down there, find someone and become pregnant. The evil clock is ticking.

    And I still haven’t found out what I really want to do.

    I really don’t know what all the expats always mean when they say “the real life” which is apparently not taking place in Japan. I just don’t get it.

    I also have no idea where I’d be going next. I’m not sure if I want to move back to my home country (Germany) or try yet another country in Europe. Actually Canada is on my list as well, but I heard it’s quite tricky to get a visa.

    Anyways, I wish you good luck and you still have lots of time here in Japan, so I hope you can make the best out of it and enjoy it to the fullest! *hugs*

    • Amanda says:

      Well, just because I made the decision doesn’t mean I’ll stick to it. You should be able to get a Canadian visa they are really open to immigration. And 32 is still quite young, not too late to settle down at all.

      • zoomingjapan says:

        You are right, of course! :)
        Great to hear that. I still need to look into it, but I’ve never been to Canada before, so it would be foolish to go there without even visiting once first! ^-^;

  2. Meh I somewhat understand the college comparison. I think it has a lot to do with the people around you. While most of my friends were establishing careers, going to grad school and getting married right out of college, I left for Japan and stayed for three years. I loved Tokyo but was also growing tired of a lot of things about Japan. And I wanted to go to art school. So I left. So when I came home, it seemed like everyone had settled down instead of me. Now a lot of my friends are well establish and everyone’s starting to have kids. I’ll be 32 this year and just now have what I consider to be a career and a relationship (though not married and not really interested in kids right now).

    But…you lived in another fuckin country! Do you know how awesome that really is! :) Heck a lot of my more established friends still think it’s cool I decided to take a detour, it’s something a lot of people want to do but don’t have the guts to do. A friend of mine was supposed to come home from a 5-year stint teaching in Korea. Instead she sold her condo in Chicago, teaches in Oman, and travels around the world.

    Sounds like you still have a lot of time to figure out what you want to do and who knows, maybe you will decide to take on another country or head back to Canada. Looking forward to seeing what comes up next!

    • Amanda says:

      Yeah, I don’t regret coming out here at all, and I know there are people at home who wish they could have done the same thing. I was always a late bloomer anyway so I’m not so phased by getting married later than other people in my circles or anything like that. I just feel there are certain experiences I was meant to have out here, and at some point it will be time to move on. I don’t want to get stuck in a rut.

  3. I think living and working in another country is an awesome opportunity, something that a lot of my friends and family are pretty jealous of, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to do it. But that whole ‘real world’ conflict really does exist. This is just like a prolonged vacation outside of time and reality. I know a lot of teachers stay here too long, and then get trapped here, either because of setting down family roots, or because their education/experience back home is out of date, and they’ll have to go back to school to compete in the job market. It’s smart to consider the things you want to do in the future, and then plan for them accordingly.

    As you know I’ve been here for over a year. And I’m leaving for good in April, so that I’ll be able to (hopefully) travel around Asia and work in Europe before returning to the real world.

    By the way, as I was typing this there was an earthquake- Not gonna miss those!!

  4. Matt says:

    I always seem to find other Japanese blogs with the writer talking about giving up and leaving. Aren’t there any new or continuing Japan bloggers out here? Still, I’ve read a few of your entries and it’s really good to read your direct opinion.

    • Amanda says:

      I think I would only be giving up if I had planned to try to live in Japan for the rest of my life. I always knew I would leave, it was just a matter if deciding when.

      • Matt says:

        Sorry I didn’t mean giving up as in ‘failing’ just as an ending. I’d never put down anyone who’s improving themselves by trying to live in another country. Apart from all those idiots who come here just to drink beer and find women…but that’s another story.

    • zoomingjapan says:

      If somebody never planned to stay in Japan forever, but only for a few years, why is it like giving up if one decides that it’s time to go home?

  5. Divine says:

    Nice post. Japan is a great place, but after a while you always wanna go home and be with people you are really comfortable with!!

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