Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Four Years In Japan

On this day the 31st of May 2007, I arrived in Tokyo.

I had high hopes for a major seachange in my life, and what better way than get out of your country?

I remember on arrival that it was pouring rain and the humidity was fairly high. Shinjuku was slightly familiar from a few years traveling through Japan before, but there was a nervous excitement of something new.

The apartment was very far away from Tokyo. I had to pay my rent money upfront. With nowhere else to stay I'd stay there for the first six months.

I met my first flatmate. He seemed indifferent to me. He didn't look like someone I'd call "friend". I learned later that he spoke unfavourably about me in his blog. He took a LONG time to remove my name once he found out I knew.

Other teachers that started at the same time as me are long gone from Japan. It doesn't really matter as I never really bonded with them either while they were here.

Have things changed?

Well I put up on that "wonderful" social network of my four year anniversary and the reaction from my "friends" in Japan. What reaction? Wow.

Have I changed?

I thought that I had, but the more I think about it, I don't think a person can really change their fundamental characteristics. I believe I'm still the same person that got off that plane four years ago. Japan puts you in that false sense of confidence because you are the novelty here, and just about anything you do makes you more "interesting", because you are a foreigner. My job gets me to feel confident because well.. that's my job to make conversation, and I get paid for it.

BUT.. put me back home and I think I'd be back where I started. That scares me a lot.

My recent outings at the park with my guitar remind of my favourite memories of relaxing at Roma St Parklands. So peaceful and calming. The true friends I have here have been more than great, but there's something.. missing. It's hard to put into words but this song sums up my feeling. The production and singer hides the message a bit, but it's a great song.

If I left tomorrow I'd feel incredibly disappointed. Yet, I wonder why I'm still here. After the earthquake, my family were urging me home. But I'm not ready.. yet.


Carlos said...

Hey Jimmy,
You are never going back to Australia. At least not voluntarily LOL. You have now experienced different cultures and ways of living. You are absorbing the best of both worlds. Now you are a foreigner in Japan but, also a foreigner in the country that saws you grow. Wherever you go, you will always be the cool outsider.
It is not easy to do what you have done. If not, everybody would do it, right? That "confidence" you refer to, gives you new opportunities that otherwise would never present themselves. I see it as something positive. This is coming from a Spaniard that lived for seven years in a foreign country and went back to his homeland. Now I just work back and forward between both countries.

Change happens with time to everybody; even the fundamental characteristics. At least, I have changed. The problem is that you will never know to what extend your foreign experience has created that change. And the truth is that it doesn't matter as long as you take the best out of every single experience you have. You are lucky. Enjoy what you have, be grateful and make the best out of it.
Keep Rocking, Jimmy!