Life in Japan

Our daily life while in Japan

Gaijin Survival GuideLife in Japan

Why We Moved to Japan

Anne & Sig at the Robot RestaurantAnne & Sig at the Robot Restaurant

Anne and I came to Japan as travelers, but travelers who live wherever they travel. Since we sold our home in 2015, we have lived on the road. We roamed around America for 3 years in an Airstream trailer and documented those travels at TrailAndHitch.com. After almost three years of exploring America, we were at a crossroads.

Our cash reserves were running a little low, and we had been to most of the places in the US we’d always wanted to see, plus quite a few more. I really needed to try and focus more on making some money, but it was clear my entrepreneurial spirit was not exactly up to snuff. I took a day job in San Diego while we tried to sort it out.

We wrestled a bit with different ideas including driving up to Alaska where I have a lot of family. The problem was, it’s a long trip and there weren’t many ways to make money, and plenty of ways to spend it. Staying in San Diego was cheap and comfortable but we didn’t have any ambitions to live there.

Finally, we decided to poll ourselves. I asked that we each think about where we would go if we could go anywhere. We each made a top three on our own and then revealed them. Japan was at the top of both of our lists. After just a few moments of discussion, we decided that is where we would go.

Off to live in the land of the Kaiju!

But why Japan?

Basically, both of us held life long admiration of Japanese cultural and products. The Pacific Northwest of the US has lots of Japanese immigrants and American families with Japanese heritage. As a result, the artifacts of Japanese culture are all around you.

I grew up with Shogun Warrior robots as the toy I desired most as a child but was never able to obtain. I also loved cartoons from Japan, though at that age, I didn’t know that’s where they came from. And like many kids, I thought Godzilla was great!

As I got older, ninjas, samurai, and karate all caught my interest and I came to understand that my favorite cartoons were all actually Japanese in origin. I was an Anime fan when no major video store carried them and before there was internet. I got bootleg copies of anime from shops in Chinatown.

Anne’s story is similar, though she was a half a generation younger so she became interested in Anime and Manga when it was first achieved mainstream attention in the US. She was also a fan of the food, adoring sushi, teriyaki, rice crackers and perhaps most of all, matcha green tea. Our mutual love of these things was part of what started our mutual love of each-other.

Cuppa Matcha Latte! Yummy!

How long will we stay?

We don’t know for sure. It may be as long as we can, or as long as we want to. As foreigners, it isn’t easy to live in Japan. You have to meet your visa requirements and they are not designed for someone who just wants to explore the country and the culture. They are mostly for people who want to work.

So we are at the mercy of the immigration board and whether they judge us fit to stay in country for an extended period of time. Once you are here, it’s not especially hard, but if you make one wrong move, that could be the end of your stay.

As a ballpark, I expect to live in Japan for about two years. I think wanderlust will pull us elsewhere by the end of that time, but it’s hard to say for certain. We aren’t going to try to put down permanent roots as there is a lot more of the world to see. But, I do want to get a good feel for what it is like to live in Japan and be a part of Japanese society.

Godzilla Street
Godzilla Street

Gaijin Survival GuideJapan: For Better or WorseLife in Japan

Japan: For Better or Worse

Tokyo Tower at NightTokyo Tower at Night

It’s fun to make comparisons. I’ve lived all my life in America as an American, and this is my first chance to live in another nation and see how they do what they do. I can’t help but compare life in America to life in Japan every day I’m here.

This article series is about making comparisons between the way Americans do things and the way Japanese do things in day to day life. For any given subject, I’ll make a judgement: Better or Worse. This post is a sort of explanation and disclaimer about this article series.

Disclaimers attack!

#1. I am not an expert
As I write this, I’ve only been in Japan for 1 month. I don’t know the language and I don’t truly know the culture. Take everything I say with a huge grain of salt. It’s just my opinion, and it could well change as I learn more.

#2. I live in Tokyo
Tokyo is special. It is the largest city on earth and it is very different from other parts of Japan in many ways. Since I haven’t gotten out too much, most of what I’m observing and discussing is how they do things in Tokyo. It is also one of the cities in Japan most used to having visitors from other countries.

#3 These are my personal opinions
I am not making a cosmic judgment or claim to objective truth. These are just my thoughts about what I like more or less about life in Japan vs life in the US. I’d love to hear if you disagree with my judgments and why.