It’s no secret that I love Japan. I mean, I really, really love Japan. I felt more at home in Tokyo than I ever have anywhere else, and I think about going back all. the. time. I’m even thinking about it right now.
You’re probably reading this right now because, at the very least, some tiny part of you is curious about whether you should do it. It might be the tiiiiiiiniest little part, but I’m sure it’s there. Maybe you don’t want to admit it because it seems pretty impossible, and yeah, I will admit that if you have a job that you don’t want to leave, strong family ties, kids, pets, or no money (among other things), it must seem like a distant what-if that will never happen.
Here’s the thing. If you’re really, honestly interested, then make it happen. Because guess what? You freaking can make it happen, and don’t let anybody tell you no. If you’re coming up with a “But…” right now, I’ll stop you right there!
“But I have kids/pets…” Figure out how to take them with you, because you can!
“But I don’t want to leave my job…” Take a sabbatical for a year, look into transfers to a branch abroad, look for a better job in the same field in Japan, or look into whether this job is really worth giving up on this dream (maybe it isn’t).
“But I can’t speak the language…” So? I moved to Japan and didn’t speak a word. Some people learn before they go, some people learn while they’re there (me), and some people never learn (I don’t recommend this).
I could go on forever, but the whole world is at your fingers if you really want it! I seriously believe that. It’s not always easy, but if you want something badly enough, don’t you owe it to yourself to at least try?
Anyways, let me give you the top reasons why I think that you should give living in Japan a try!
1. Living in a different culture opens your eyes.
This especially is true if you immerse yourself in as much of the culture as you can. Make Japanese friends, learn about what people do on a daily basis and what they believe in. Try doing things in ways that are new to you. Try new foods! Mochi is the schiz, by the way!
Once you’ve experienced doing new things, it will change how you do things even if you return back home. I will always have a no-shoes policy in my house (it’s so much cleaner!), I absolutely CRAVE a train system (if only!), and I have a newfound respect for walking and cycling. I never did this when I was little, but now, if I can, I walk!
2. You’ll have a fresh start.
In your new home in Japan, you won’t have any of the drama that surrounded you in your old one. Thanks to the internet, we can still keep in touch with friends and family, but being a few thousand miles away from them will keep a lot of the drama to a minimum. Take a chance to stretch your wings and see what kind of person you are when you have the freedom to be you without their judgement. Trust me, it takes a weight off being in a new place where nobody knows who you used to be (or who they thought you used to be). Oh, and you know what? I bet that you will love yourself more than you ever did before.
3. Japan is a magical place!
Seriously. Cherry blossoms, gorgeous temples and “castles” (I wouldn’t call them castles, but they’re called that nonetheless, and they’re really cool anyway), a rich history filled with Samurai and ninjas (who doesn’t love ninjas?), seasonal treats, and an entire culture that grew up reading manga. How does this not sound like an amazing place to live?! And no offense to any other country, but Japanese trains come quickly, go almost everywhere, are extremely punctual, and pretty clean, which makes them (Tokyo especially) easily #1 in the world in public transportation. Now that sounds magical to me.
4. Universal Health Care.
If you’re American like me, this will make a HUGE difference in your life. Trust me. If you come from pretty much any other 1st world nation, it probably won’t matter as much, though. But at least it’s good!
5. Japan is safer than where you came from.
There’s no gun violence. There’s very low crime in general. You can walk in the dead of night in the seediest parts of town, as a woman, alone, and still feel perfectly safe from other people. From earthquakes is another matter, but you’ll get used to them really fast, and Japan is built to withstand all but the biggest.
There is a concept called wa in Japanese society, which essentially promotes practicing peace and harmony in your daily life. Wa is obvious in everything from traditional architecture and decor to the way that people act around each other– courteousness, quiet, and respect are what you expect most from your neighbors. You’re never going to wake up to your neighbors blaring music at 3am having a raucous party. Even drunken people wandering the street are more polite than not (although most of them just sort of stumble home or sit down where they are for the night– but remember, Japan is safe so they only thing they have to worry about is getting chilly). We could all use a little bit of harmony in our lives, and that’s something that Japan taught me to value. I’m surprised that yoga isn’t more popular, since they’re pretty in tune with each other.
7. All the new gadgets, and all of the old culture.
Sure, Silicon Valley is where a lot of new apps are coming out, but if you want lots of little weird but useful gadgets to make your life easier (or more interesting), take a stroll through Akihabara. Plus, there are tons of cheap versions of what you’re used to, like large-capacity flash drives and SD cards. And I would be remiss in not mentioning the used electronics! Smartphones! Right next to small neighborhood temples, btw. It’s the only place to find Ayanami Rei in a kimono, wandering the street. The best of both worlds!
8. MANGA AND ANIME EVERYWHERE.
This should be your main reason. This should be enough of a reason. Not only is it available everywhere, but events abound. If you wanted, you could go to an anime-related event every weekend of the year. Also, let’s not forget that it’s the only place to see all of the anime movies released in the theater, go to the official events (like Jump Festa, Comicket, World Cosplay Summit, and Anime Japan, among others), and see the musicals, seiyuu radio shows, and stage plays. If this isn’t reason enough, you’re probably in the wrong place.
9. It’s cheaper than you think.
I lived in Tokyo, and then I moved back to the US, thinking that because I was living in a place often called “The Most Expensive City In The World,” it would be cheaper here. Nope.. Apartment rents, even in small cities, are at least the price that I was paying in Tokyo (~$600/mo). And try finding that in LA. So far I haven’t had any luck, and especially not in the areas that are actually sort-of-kind-of safe. Food is also about on-par with the US, especially domestic food. Considering that it’s an island, it’s actually really, really cheap. Food in Hawaii cost sometimes 3-4 times what I was able to get it for in Japan. Then, when you factor in healthcare, which is pretty cheap (what you pay for the insurance is based on your income, and then it covers 80% of all your bills — this is a simplification, but generally holds true), and transportation costs (you don’t need a car, therefore no gas, no insurance, no car maintenance fees), it’s downright cheap. Even living in Tokyo.
10. You will never run out of things to do.
In nearly a decade, I never ran out of cool things to do. Can you say the same about the city that you live in now? Thought so.
Ah man, I kinda feel ready to jump back on a plane and move across the ocean… three cats and all! Somebody hold me back… resistance is fading……………….