One of the best aspects about living abroad in Japan, is the people you meet. Within the foreign community, people are coming and going all the time, but this often heightens the sense of we’re all in this together and we’ve got to make the most of the time now. Despite the brevity of many encounters, shared experience of a strange, new country cements people. My closest friends are those I’ve made in Japan.
Because most teachers here aren’t working jobs that will become their careers, there is a sense of postponed adulthood. Often, in good and bad and nostalgic ways, it’s very similar to being in high school again, except with more money.
Japanese friends meanwhile, are much more stable both emotionally and physically. The language barrier can be intimidating on both sides initially, but is definitely worth working to overcome.
One way to do this is by hanging out somewhere loud and fun, where words are unnecessary but the mood is high. Most people settle for bars and nightclubs, while others rent a cabin in the woods and bring their instruments, friends, and kids along. What can beat a big, mixed, rock-out, live music party with home-made curry and a Christmas tree for those missing home during the holiday season?
One of the reasons I like living in Japan is that events like these never seemed to happen when I was at home. Maybe I just wasn’t invited, but also, after university there was a shrinking of social connection, entirely contained to those I worked with. Here you can encounter random strangers on the train, or at a festival, and start a conversation simply because you both have living in a foreign country in common.
I will end this Postcard with some sound from the day: an acoustic cover of Britney Spear’s classic Hit Me Baby One More Time. I hope you enjoy it.
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