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Thread: What keeps you in Japan ?

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Jul 17, 2002

    Question What keeps you in Japan ?

    I read Mark Kitto's book China Cuckoo. For those who don't know him, Mark Kitto is the founder of the famous English-speaking magazine (and now also website) That's Shanghai (later followed by That's Beijing and That's Guangzhou). After years of incessant administrative and legal struggles with the Chinese authorities, the Communist Party seized his company and forbid him to ever work in the media in China again.

    He was encouraged to leave China, but stayed and started a B&B business with his Chinese wife on top of Moganshan mountain, 100 km south-west of Shanghai. He tells his story about his life in Moganshan in China Cuckoo. In the epilogue, he wonders what has kept him in China in spite of all the conflicts and setbacks he experienced with the Chinese government.

    What he writes on p.342 makes for an interesting topic for long stayers in Japan too. Please read the passage and share your story about how you came to live in Japan and what made you stay.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Kitto
    I am often asked what am I doing here, why did you come to China in the first place. It is a standard question from friends in the UK. Long-term China hands who know something of my story ask me the more awkward one: 'Why are you still here?'
    Good questions.
    Why leave home, friends, family, the familiar environment and lifestyle that brought you up, that your education prepared you for, and take off to live in an alien country and culture? And China of all places, a particularly alien country and culture that outsiders have been struggling to understand and adapt without success for centuries? What is it about China? And why, for heaven's sake, stay here when you have been so completely shafted?
    Just replace 'China' by 'Japan' in the text, and that works pretty well for our own interests here.

    In my case I left, but I want to hear the story of those who stayed, who are still there after many years. I you have lived less than 3 years in Japan, please abstain (you could still change your mind, believe me).

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  2. #2
    Regular Member FrustratedDave's Avatar
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    May 19, 2007
    For general background, I am fast approching the point where my time here will be longer than where I was born.

    There is a flaw in your generalizations about people who are still living here, you are assuming that all foreigners here have been "shafted" in one way or another. The fact of the matter is, not everyone feels the same way, I know I have been treated very well by most people here (I won't say all, but I would encounter rudeness even if it is in a different manner where I was born).

    I see a lot of people get all upset where they "think" they are being discrimnated against or they believe that they are being treated the way they are b/c they foreign, but in most cases those doing the "mistreating" would most likely treat their fellow Japanese the same way. It is so easy fall back on the "its b/c I am foreign" mentality b/c we feel so insecure about our environment b/c ultimately it is foreign to us. I won't say discrimination does not occur here, but in our daily lives I rarely come across anything that would make my life more difficult than where I was born. (I say where I was born b/c I feel Japan is more my home now)

  3. #3
    Offender of all religions Emoni's Avatar
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    Sep 20, 2003
    Very good topic...

    For me I've only been here coming up on 3 years now. Mine interest is mostly academic, so I'm currently working on my Masters. I plan to look for a job teaching here after completing a PhD, but honestly I'm taking things as they come. What keeps me here is the interest of learning more most of all.
    "Been there, done that, came back, going again."

  4. #4
    Just me Glenski's Avatar
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    Aug 20, 2003
    Somecity, Japan (American)
    Why leave home, friends, family, the familiar environment and lifestyle that brought you up, that your education prepared you for, and take off to live in an alien country and culture?
    I like to think that in my case (American), my education has prepared me to see the world as a place where there is a diversity of cultures and lifestyles, so why not travel/live elsewhere if one chooses?

    What keeps me in Japan? (been here 12 years)
    A job and family and a general liking of the place.

  5. #5
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Jan 19, 2005
    Goodlettsville, Tennessee
    Interesting topic, as usual, Maciamo.

    Since I am not living in Japan at the moment, but will definitely move back in a short while, I can only give my opinion on why I stayed for nearly two decades.

    Moving there at 18 with the US military I came to truly love Japan, made many Japanese friends, married, eventually left the service to attend university in Japan and divorced in Japan while a student.

    It became a place that I was comfortable with and it felt (at least to me) no different than living anywhere else. I learned the language, lived and worked as any Japanese would, married again, and it just became "home". I worked at both teaching English and working for a Japanese company or two as a sarariman and eventually started my own English school.

    Sure, Japan had/has it's problems with discrimination and finding an apartment and such, but I did find one or two in a short time and I never faced the problems that other foreigners faced or let them get to me like the typical 20 question routine, or the shock and awe that I could use chopsticks, enjoyed a Japanese bath, or slept in a futon and had virtually no furniture other than a kotatsu and clothes box. In other words, I never made them bigger than what they were. I understood Japan was Japan and I would either have to adapt and accept it or I could just leave.

    Never letting Japan's downsides bother me made for a much better living experience which I have enumerated on in previous posts. I would probably still be living there if the Japanese economy did not crash when I was just getting started in life and a few years into my business.

    However, what kept me there, besides from ignoring the downsides, was the ease of living, the ease of making friends and just the overall nature of the place which appealed to me. What it exactly was/is I cannot put a finger on it. All I know is that I was more more comfortable living there than anywhere I have ever lived or am living presently even though I knew I would always be a gaijin no matter how well I spoke the language or how long I had lived there. In all honesty it never bothered me. Even being arrested in Japan and confined for two weeks did not deter me from continuing to live there. Weird to be sure, but it is something that defies explanation.

    Therefore, I can understand where Mr. Kitto is coming from on his desire to live in China. Even though he was shafted, and lost his business, it is something that cannot be fully explained or understood by one's countrymen or other foreigners as I was/am asked the same questions. Why are you still here? Why do you want live out your days in Japan? Why do you want to go back?

    It is something that is inside you and you just follow what's in your heart and what makes you feel most comfortable even though others cannot understand it. It could be China, Japan, Korea, Europe, Australia, Canada, another state, etc. It's wherever you feel the best and are most comfortable with and the heck with what anyone else thinks.
    Do What You Love And You'll Never Work Another Day In Your Life!

  6. #6
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Mar 15, 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by Chidoriashi View Post
    I have no intention of staying here forever and from the moment I came here the plan always was to come home someday. I say this because I'm sure that many people who come and end of staying forever at first did not intend to, and those that did probably went running home to mommy after the first year because they came with high expectations that could not possibly be lived up to
    We all know the dubious nature of anecdotal evidence, but I'll say this anyway.....

    I passed the "over half my life in Japan" mark a few years ago and have known a small number of foreigners who have lived here a similar amount of time. Of them, and including myself, not one had as their intention to stay here forever.

  7. #7
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    Sep 17, 2005
    I stayed in Japan because I was comfortable there. Pretty simple, really.

    I left because of familial issues, and I must admit to being more attached to my family than to any place. Otherwise I'd still be there.

  8. #8
    RoninDave RoninDave's Avatar
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    Feb 11, 2010
    What keeps me in Japan?

    Festivals, food, and floozies!

  9. #9
    ֗ orochi's Avatar
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    May 1, 2004
    I came for the anime. I stayed for the family and job.

  10. #10
    Lost in the maze of life
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    Jul 18, 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by RoninDave View Post
    What keeps me in Japan?

    Festivals, food, and floozies!
    Just curious tho, what kind of festivals that keeps you in Japan?

    For me, its my job.
    If I were to go back, I probably would be working in a factory as low salary grunt with no future. My skills doesnt really sells back home.

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