I guess I should start with a self introduction of sorts. So let’s begin with who I am. My name is Brian. I’m a native New Yorker born and raised in the Lower East Side of Lower Manhattan. After living in the L.E.S. for 31 years I decided it was time to follow a dream. Now I’m an ALT living in Tokyo. As of the time I’m writing this I have lived here for almost 2 years. I’m learning that following your dreams may not always turn out the way you hope. However you have to keep moving forward. Live, learn, and deal with it.
“…let me welcome you to life in Japan as seen through the lens of my life.”
Why has it taken so long to start writing about my life in Japan? This was something that was originally planned to start from the first day I arrived in Tokyo. Truthfully I’m glad that it didn’t because this would be a very different account of my life in Japan. I think I needed this time in order to grow. There were many things that I had to learn in order to step outside of the bubble I lived in. It wasn’t so much that I was naive or ignorant but that I had to experience things first hand.
“The point is that we all chose to leave everything behind in the pursuit of what we believe to be a better life.”
Living in another country isn’t as different as we’d like to imagine it is. Just think of your current situation. Take away a few things such as being a citizen, the rights you are guaranteed where you live, any form of government assistance, and most of the foods or drinks you currently enjoy. It sounds very scary but this is what life in another country is. Now imagine what every person who is not born in the United States of America who lives there goes through every day. Can you tell who is a foreigner? In the US, it can be difficult to tell. In Japan, however it’s still quite clear. Despite a report from the Japan Times reporting that, “nearly 20,000 children are born every year to a mixed-race couple, which makes up 2 percent of the country’s total births.” The gap is still overwhelming. Essentially the rule of thumb is if you’re not Japanese then you’re a foreigner.
“I’m learning that following your dreams may not always turn out the way you hope.”
Then why choose to live in Japan knowing all this? Because I chose to follow a dream I’ve had since I was in junior high school, to live and work in Japan as an ALT. Now that I’m living the dream I’m slowly starting to wake up and realize that dreams are just goals. Now that I’ve lived in Tokyo for as long as I have I now have new goals. I want to get to N2 level Japanese, I want to find a better apartment, I want to have a better work – life balance, I want to get a better paycheck, etc. The point is that it doesn’t stop there will always be new goals. I’m sure that most of these goals are in the minds of foreigners who live in the US, minus learning Japanese. The point is that we all chose to leave everything behind in the pursuit of what we believe to be a better life.
“There were many things that I had to learn in order to step outside of the bubble I lived in.”
This will be the start of a series of articles that I will write for Samurai Beat Radio about life in Japan. My opinions are my own and are based on my everyday life and experience in Tokyo. I’ll write about topics that may interest you, topics that others fear to write about because of backlash, and topics that you may not care about. Regardless of where I live I’m a New Yorker at heart and I’m going to tell you how it is whether you want to hear it or not. So let me welcome you to life in Japan as seen through the lens of my life.