Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Explanation This Blog Deserves


I’ve avoided posting on this blog for a long time because I was being a coward.  But not anymore!

The truth is, I’m leaving Japan, and I’ve known it for a very long time.  What I’m about to say might come across as… harsh.  I might piss some people off, and I've braced myself for potential backlash.  But I think honesty is the best course of action, and if you read this all the way through, my ultimately positive outlook should become clear!

So... it might seem a little strange that someone who took night courses on Japanese in high school, took four years of Japanese in university, studied abroad in Tokyo for one year, graduated with a double-major in Japanese and East-Asian Studies, and worked in Japan for two years would suddenly say, “y’know what?  Fuck it.  I’m outta here.”  In fact, when people tell me, “well, at least you can return to the United States and use your Japanese to get a unique job,” I say, “not interested.”  And when people tell me I can become a translator, or work in ESL, or tutor Japanese, I say, “not interested.”  When people tell me I can use my experiences as a band girl in Japan to find a creative outlet, I tell them:

Not.

Fucking.

Interested.

It might sound sudden, but it’s not.  There’s no dramatic story or sudden betrayal that made me decide to leave.  It was something that crept up on me slowly; something I was vaguely aware of that felt so right when I finally figured it out.  It was like being stuck on a train racing down the tracks and finally realizing, for the first time, that I can fucking jump off.  Sure, the landing might hurt, but then I’m free! 

Every day, I see people from all over the world sinking their claws into Japan even as the tide tries to drag them away.  To them, Japan is not a country – it’s a goal.  A medal.  An achievement.  A badge that says, “I made it, when all those other losers didn’t!”  Rather than a country, Japan is an escape.  A delusion.  A place to run to when the world around us – when our responsibilities – becomes too frightening to manage.

In the underground concert culture, I’m surrounded by this attitude the most.  All too often, I see foreign fans attending concerts for every reason except the music.  To these people, JRock bands are not bands, they are models.  They are not bands, they are hosts.  They’re a group of moderately attractive men who smile at you, notice you, and bolster your tarnished ego.  They make you feel like you’re important, like you stand out, like you finally matter to someone.  Similarly, many foreigners come to Japan to feel special or needed.  In their home countries, they are no one.  To escape that crushing realization, they come to Japan, where they’re finally considered “unique.”  Some people need this feeling so badly, they’ll do any manner of destructive things.

They’ll take out massive loans.

They’ll leave loving relationships.

They’ll quit profitable career paths.

They’ll sell valuable, meaningful possessions.

And Japan eats it all up with a smile.  All-too-often, Japan takes self-conscious, complex-riddled foreigners, and wraps them in its strong, comfortable arms.  What many foreigners don’t realize is that Japan is secretly reaching into their back pockets and stealing their money, time, and self respect.

Foreigners take jobs they hate, accept living conditions they despise, associate with people they can’t stand, and give up all their power to a country that doesn’t want them.  I’ve heard stories about foreigners who are practically abused at their jobs – treated as slaves, forced to work obscene hours, and fired for no reason.  Yet those foreigners insist on staying because, for some reason, “being in Japan” is enough.  We can’t just blame Japan, because this is masochism on the part of the foreigner who continues to stay.

Even though I’ve been aware of all these issues from the start, I was a willing participant in the system.  I wanted adventure.  I wanted a niche.  I wanted to be part of something unique.  I was sucked deeper and deeper down a rabbit hole because I simply didn’t have any other idea what to do with myself.   I was afraid to fail, so I did what came easiest to me.  I was afraid of America’s poor job market, I was afraid of “not being good enough,” and I was afraid of slipping through the cracks of normalcy like everyone else. 

And, in the end, normal and typical is exactly what I became.  I became That Foreigner.  That Foreigner that takes a shitty job to go to shitty concerts and live in this one, specific country.  I was becoming an inexplicable Lifer.  I became exactly what I hated from the start.  I made excuses all the time.  I used this blog to justify continuing my lifestyle, and I used my Japanese studies to justify a career path I knew I could never achieve.  I simply couldn’t see another way.  I’d come this far, so there was nothing left to do but keep walking straight.  If I spent so much time and effort learning Japanese, what choice did I have but to be in Japan using it?

Although I’ve been having such thoughts for awhile, I suppose the turning point for me came at a staff party a year ago.  Our faculty was eating at a lousy French restaurant and forcing our company on each other.  Eventually, the principal pulled me into a conversation.  I smiled politely and indulged him for awhile.  The alcohol loosened his tongue, and he started asking me some very sharp questions, such as:

“Why are you here?  Why would a girl who is so young, smart, educated, and attractive be wasting her time doing a job like this?  Don’t you want a real job?  You have so much going for you…”

My own principal was basically telling me, “I think it’s stupid that you work for me.”  It hurt, to be honest.  I smiled through everything he said, but I went home fuming.  How dare he say such rude things to me!  It’s not his place to judge my life!

But I knew he was right.  I wasn’t angry at him, I was angry at myself for allowing it to be true.  Here I am, with all these talents and skills, wasting every day of my life sitting at a desk reading the internet and playing with my iPhone, or standing purposelessly in class, teaching children who don’t need to learn English and don’t want to either. 

The devil and the angel were on my shoulders.

The devil said: “You know why you’re here.  You only live once!  Look around you!  Look at all those older people who are so jealous that you’re enjoying your life!  They wish they’d spent their youth having fun, rather than focusing so diligently on studying and work!  You’re enjoying yourself while you still have energy and time.  There’s nothing wrong with that!  Sure, the job is lame, but every weekend is spent having fun!  You get to go to all these cool, weird concerts!  How sweet is that?!  And your job is sooooo easy.  Enjoy it!  Sitting around doing nothing and getting paid out the ass for it?!  Who would turn that down?!”

And the angel said: “You enjoy your weekends?  Well, that’s great.  And five-out-of-seven days are torture.  You’ll be an outsider forever, no matter what you do.  The teachers won’t talk to you or acknowledge you, and they have no respect for what you do because you do nothing.  You’re a plaything to the students, a tape recorder to the English teachers, and an awkward nuisance to the rest of the staff.  You live in the middle of nowhere, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  You have no access to upward career mobility or stable relationships.  Available friendships are temporary and fleeting.  Every year that you spend here, you become buried deeper beneath Japan’s foreigner bureaucracy.  You’re in a country with abysmal health care, a failing economy, and a terrible education system.  You chose this.”

“But the concerts,” I argued.  “They’re so much fun!”

And the angel snickered and said: “Who are you kidding?  You never cared about visual-kei in the first place, and you never liked indies music.  You hate the people at indies concerts.  They’re self-entitled, self-important, egocentric bitches.  The Japanese girls are spoiled and desperate, and the foreigners are competitive and hateful towards each other.  It’s a beehive of self-confidence complexes and poor self-esteem, and the more time you spend with those people, the more like them you become.  Friendships made at concerts are shallow.  You hardly like a single band.  The music is low quality, repetitive, and unoriginal.  It’s a glorified aerobics class.  Besides, visual-kei - and Japanese rock in general - is dying.  Do you truly believe this system will hold up for another ten years?  You’ll throw away all your opportunities just to have fun, and then you’ll find yourself in your thirties with no passion, a terrible job, and the scene will be gone.  What will you do then?!”   

It was a terrifying realization, but I knew it was true.  If I stayed in Japan after my contract, I had two options:

Option A: Join a private English school or another English teaching program and continue teaching with longer hours and lower pay.

Translation: Kill me.

Or, Option B: Improve my Japanese and join Japan’s business world.

Translation: Fucking kill me.

I have no interest in teaching, and no interest in business.  Option A means spending the rest of my life teaching, even though I don't enjoy it.  What frightens me is how readily I accepted the idea of Option B, knowing full well how much I despise business.  I have no skills for business, or any patience for a cubicle lifestyle.  Neither option utilizes any of the skills I actually succeed at.  In other words, both options mean a lifetime of “never being quite good enough” at what I do, which is exactly what I was avoiding in the first place. 

Do you see now why I call this masochism?

Of course, there’s Option C: meet a Japanese guy and getting married.  First of all, the likelihood of me meeting a Japanese guy I can enjoy communicating with for the rest of my life is infinitesimally tiny, and marrying for a visa is gross.  I’m not a whore, and I’m worth a helluva lot more than that.

I suppose the difference between me and people who are willing to get married for a visa is that I’m not willing to do whatever it takes to remain in Japan.  Why should I?  Why should I get on my knees for this country?  What is the reward, exactly?  I get to go to concerts?  So what?  The bands are temporary, and there’s plenty of music beyond Japan that I enjoy.  Is there anything else I like about Japan?  Well… no.  I don’t care for anime or manga, I don't like Japanese movies or dramas, I have no interest in history or ikebana or kendo.  I’m not willing to sacrifice my time, a career, relationships, my family, or my self-respect on a country that will fight me every step of the way.  I’m not giving up, I’m taking back my power.  Japan and I were butting horns like two rams, and in order to win, I backed away and let Japan fall down.  When I handed in the papers that informed the Board of Education that I wasn’t going to re-contract, I felt so triumphant, I bought a small cake.

Of course, I’m no fool.  I know what faces me when I return to the United States.  I’ll have to (temporarily) give up my independent living situation.  I’ll have to (temporarily) take a minimum wage job that makes me want to jump off a cliff.  I’ll have to (temporarily) leave my best friend behind.  But, in the end, it’ll be worth making the leap off that train.  Besides, Japan will always be here.  Unless Godzilla sinks the islands, the country’s not going anywhere, and I can always come back.

Everything I’ve said above might sound cynical, but the truth is, I’ve loved the time I’ve spent in Japan.  I’ve had an amazing experience, and there’s nothing I would change.  I met a lot of wonderful people, made some great friends, and I’m not at all lying when I say I regret nothing about the time I’ve spent here.  I accomplished exactly what I intended to do: I had a great time and some awesome experiences and I enjoyed the hell out of myself.

But now it’s time to grow up and move on to greener pastures. 

My decision to leave is what’s best for me, but it’s certainly not for everyone.  There are many foreigners in Japan finding their own paths to success and happiness.  Some of them discover they actually enjoy teaching and want to take it to a career level.  Some of them find loving, happy relationships.  Some of them use their time in Japan to jumpstart a very successful – even awesome – career in fields beyond teaching.  And I think that’s amazing.  This world is shrinking and becoming increasingly globalized, and we need more internationalized people to help bring nations together.  Everyone has a right to find their own happiness, and if merely being in Japan makes someone happy, well… that’s great for them.  I’m not like that, but some people are.  Unfortunately, all-too-often, those people are the exception to the rule.  Japan isn’t as open to globalization as its foreigners are.  Japan tends to see foreigners as a commodity to be used and discarded, and there are only so many times you can be discarded before there’s nothing left to throw away.  My cynicism doesn’t even stem from my experiences.  I work at a pretty great school with an awesome salary, friendly staff, and fantastic working hours.  I have a really great situation, to tell you the truth, and I'm not ungrateful.  But I look around me, at the people in my life, and I see what lies in the rapidly approaching future.  I see what I might become if I stay.  Some people need a Japanese boyfriend, or they need to go to concerts, or they need to run away from their families.  But I don’t.  Those things don’t make me happy.

I can honestly say this blog was one of the best parts of my entire Japan experience.  It was years ago that I realized I actually enjoyed writing on this blog more than I enjoyed going to concerts.  The people who commented or sent me emails or said “hi” to me at shows made me so happy.  The truth is, it’s this blog that finally made me realize what I want to do with my life.  I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a writer since I was very small.  The only problem was that I was ashamed of my writing, and never thought it was good enough to be seen.  Since I was old enough to type, I’ve horded literally thousands of pages of unseen text.  But this blog finally gave me the courage to let my writing be seen, and it allowed me to hone my skills and test the waters without excessive fear of repercussions. 

The realization dawned on me while I was studying for the JLPT N2: I have no interest in learning Japanese.  After all this time, I finally realized how much I don’t care.  The reason?  Because I love English so much.  I don’t say that because it’s my native tongue – I say that because English is one of my few passions.  It’s an amazing language – an amalgamation of the languages of the world – pliable, flexible, and ever-changing.  I love it.  If I could, I would fill a bathtub with English and soak myself inside it.  I want to write.  That’s all I want to do.  It’s what I should have turned to in the first place.  I don’t get paid to write on this blog – it’s a hobby.  Writing on the side doesn’t make you a writer.  Anyone can write.  Recently, a wonderful friend of mine encouraged me to participate in National November Writing Month.  I completed NaNoWriMo’s fifty-thousand word goal several days early, with ninety pages of material.

And then I kept going.  An actual book is forming!  I’m going to return to the United States, and I’m going to work on getting into writing and getting published.  I’m not going to waste any more time in Japan avoiding what I love because I fear not to succeed.  I’m going to return home, grab life by the reins, and ride that bitch into the sunset.  Japan asked me to get on my knees and beg, and I uppercut Japan in the nutsack and ran off with my dignity still clutched in my arms.

It’s been an awesome three years, but it’s time to go.  I’m scheduled to leave in August.  I’m still going to concerts on the side, and I’m still having a great time.  I want to be present on this blog again, but it’s hard to find time between work and writing a gigantic, out-of-control novel.  I just wanted to let everyone know what happened, and why I faded away.  I’m not dead, and nothing dramatic or terrible occurred.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t abducted by aliens or anything exciting like that either.  I’m hyper-focused on writing a book and gathering up the pieces of my life, and it doesn’t leave a lot of mental power for this blog.  There’s not much left to say about concerts around here, because I see very few bands, and those bands don’t do anything particularly worth noting at their shows.  Oooh, so-and-so has new pants.  Edgy.

For now, I’ll either shift this blog’s gears in another direction, or make a new one.  I’m not entirely sure.  I have a couple concert reports – half-written – that I could possibly post here, but it might be counterproductive at this point.  Basically, I want to start doing something a lot more serious than Twisted in Tokyo.  Whether that means writing a book, or professionally blogging, or freelancing, I don’t know.  I’m still trying to figure all that out.  But the “not knowing” is half the fun of the adventure!  All I can really tell you is that I’m alive, and I haven’t forgotten my wonderful readers.  You guys are amazing, and you didn't deserve my unexplained absence.  I'm truly sorry I was being such a coward.  I’ll be around as much as I can be, and I’ll try not to vanish.  And whatever I do move onto, I’ll let everyone on this blog know! :-)

I hope the people in my life, or the people who read these words, will understand.  My true friends will support me, and my shallow friends will scoff, and that will tell me all I need to know.

Until the next time I haul my lazy ass around here, I bid you adieu.

~*~ Kita ~*~

33 comments:

  1. Hopefully you'll get around to reading this.

    I am so fucking happy for you.

    To be honest; yes I'll miss the reports. You write some of the best reports and I've found some great music because of them. But you've found what you want to do with life. That's something a lot of people don't find or delude themselves into thinking they've found. So now that you know what you want to do; do it. Grab life by the reins and never let go. I hope I find a physical copy of something you've written someday and get to read it. Here's to your success Kita :)

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    1. Thank you so much T__T You have no idea how much this means to me. I wrote this post over a month ago and couldn't get up the courage to post it, and after I did, I just waited for some kind of negative backlash. And then, today, I was starting to have doubts again, now that it was all out in the open, but your words reminded me again that I'm doing the right thing. I found what I want to do with life. Thank you for your kind words :-) I promise I'll keep this blog updated on anything serious that I do - and I also hope you'll have a physical copy of my writing someday! :-D

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  2. Great to hear you're still around! :D
    I never cared much for the bands you wrote concert reports about (a little too heavy for my taste xD) but I found your reports so entertaining and fun to read it didn't matter~~ :) Your writing is creative, amusing and straight to the point! I am looking forward to seeing what you will write in the future~ ^-^

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    1. Thank you so much! :-) I'll try to write as much as I can from now on, lol XD

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  3. For all my anxiety, and sadness, and anger, and frustration at coming back to England, and for all the shows I was afraid I'd miss ...

    ... the only things I miss now are the friends I made.

    The shock of not missing bands and concerts is even bigger than the sadness I felt when I first thought about what I'd be missing out on.

    I wrote exciting tour dates in my diary for later this year ("OH it's their tour final!" "OH, that's gonna be an amazing two-man!"), and I made plans to go back for them, but ... I even look at those dates deliberately and don't understand why I would shell out for them.

    What you're doing is brave, and awesome, and girl I am so very proud of you. It's great that we all think we're there for a reason, but it's even better when you realise that your reason is to avoid no reason. I mean it's fucking terrifying and very, very sad, but it's pretty empowering for a while too. And that you know what you want to do ... that's the icing on the terrifyingly oversized Ueno Hard Rock cake.

    I have to e-mail you soon, I miss you guys like fuck. Enjoy the rest of your time there!

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    1. OMG, it's so good to hear from you!!! I've been kinda worried about how you were doing! I really hope you've settled into things for now. I felt so bad when you left because I knew that, unlike me, you really didn't want to go. I'm both sad you had to go, but hopeful that you're finding other happinesses (not a word, lol). I agree with you that the thing I'll miss most when I go home is my friends. I met some really awful people in Japan, and I also met some of the best people of my life. And even my friends who return to their respective homes eventually will be too far away to visit (why must the U.S. be so big, and Europe so far away?!!). You should totally email me some time (and leave me some contact info to reply with ^_~)! Seems like we have a lot to talk about, and we can probably help positive each other up, hahaha XD

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  4. Your writing is excellent :)
    It's awesome that you know what you want to do. Japan is a good stepping stone for a lot of people -or more like a stone that you just hover on for a while... - but it should be treated as such. I want to stay in Japan longer, but that's largely because I don't know what I want to do with my life. Until I figure it out, I need to concentrate on saving up some money. Plus, I know the jrock scene isn't going to be around forever, or at least not how it is now. I want to enjoy it while I can.

    The sad truth is, Japan is rather hostile to foreigners. Not hostile in an overt way, but under the surface, slowly pushing us away. It's a common enough known fact that no matter how long you live in Japan, no matter how much you immerse yourself, you will never be Japanese. I don't understand why anyone would choose to live in a country like that for the rest of their life... and I never will. Once I figure out what I want to do, or even if I don't, I will eventually leave.

    Good luck with everything~!

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    1. Thanks for the well wishes ^__^ I felt the same way as you when I returned to Japan after study abroad. It was like, "well, I don't know what to do with my life, and I wanna have a good time while I still can and the scene I enjoy is still around, so I'm gonna go do that!" And, honestly, I'm glad I did. A lot of people never get to have a "fun" period in their life after university (or even during university, sometimes), so I'm really glad I got to enjoy myself, see a ton of bands I wanted to see, save up some good money, and learn a lot about myself. Honestly, if I hadn't realized how badly I wanted to get a career in writing and getting published, I probably would've stayed in Japan another year at least. I love the country (despite the undercurrent of hostility), but it's my time to go. I wanna leave while it's still awesome, so I won't leave with too much bitterness or any overtly negative feelings. For now, let's both rock on! \m/(>_<)\m/

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  5. I'm so glad to hear from ya & know that you're alright!!

    Very interesting read, this entry. Gives me a lot to think about!

    It's fantastic that you found out what you want to do! I wish you the best of luck!
    (I'm sure you'll be just fine! ^^)
    Thank you for writing this awesome blog & I look forward to future entries!!

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    1. Thank you so much :-) I'm looking forward to writing more ^__^

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  6. I was wondering how you were doing and if everything was okay so I'm happy to hear that you hadn't updated because of anything bad happening!
    I think you're right to leave Japan if it's not something that's making you happy. It's a brave thing too because going out into the world and finding your own way is fucking scary!

    Honestly though, I've really enjoyed reading your live reports and I wish you all the luck in the world. You come across as happier in this post I think or maybe it's that you've found your focus and have a goal in your sights.
    I'll still be stopping by here to see how things are going if you do decide to keep posting but I understand if you'd want to start fresh with a new blog too.

    Hope you enjoy your remaining time in Japan! XD

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    1. Thank you for your kind words :-) And I'm sorry I worried you m( -_-)m I really should've said something sooner, but I felt too guilty >__<

      And I hope don't disappoint with future writing. I think, along with sounding happier, my writing improves significantly when I'm really into what I have to say. Hopefully this blog will improve, or I'll find an outlet to do something awesome ^__^V

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  7. Hi Kita! It's been a long long time since I last visited your blog. I was starting to worry about your whereabouts lol, but I'm content you're doing ok... First things first, I'm happy for you. You had the guts to open your eyes and realize where you were going in life. Second, I respect you because of everything you went through in order to achieve your goal. And not for only that, you are living in a whole different place where you used to live. Let me tell you, you ma'am, you are more than BRAVE!... see... I even used caps to emphasize my point XD. Lastly, Sure, I'm gonna miss your live reports, but not more than your unique way to share your ideas (:. I hope your book gets published. Of course, I'll get my copy as soon as it comes out (;. I really enjoyed reading your blog. If you decide to make another blog, I'll be more than happy to keep reading your entries, if you allow to do so lol. I wish you all the best in the future and enjoy your life! See'ya!

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    1. Long time no see, Zinn ^__^ Thanks for being so understanding :-) I'm very touched to hear I'm "respected" by someone! I don't hear that very often, haha. And I'm really glad you enjoy my writing as much as the blog's content - that means a lot to me! And I'm glad to know I've got a guaranteed reader if the publishers take pity on me and accept my crazy manuscript. I'll make sure to keep this blog updated on anything I do! Thanks again for your kind words! ^__^V

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  8. Thank god you didn't die or got abducted by aliens.
    But seriously, how awesome that you have freed yourself of your inner contradictions. And please tell us more about this novell. I really want to know what it is about :3 .

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    1. Hahaha, you make it sound fantastically epic. It's like I was chained to this wall of inner contradictions and broke free with a cry of, "FOR SPARTA!!!" Although it kinda felt that way, lol. When my first book (it's a trilogy) is more completed and polished, I'll let y'all know some more about it. But, oddly enough, it's not some kind of story involving Japan or music or anything. It's a sci-fi/fantasy, hahaha.

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    2. Ok,so since you seem to have some solid ground on what you want to do, you might need some financial backup which you can get : http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/art%20book?ref=sidebar You just need to make a little presentation on your book(s) and if you're lucky enough you get funds from the community.

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    3. That's awesome! Thank you so much for the support, I really appreciate it! I'll definitely look into this :-)

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  9. Good to hear from you once again, Kita!

    You might not know me and that's fine but I've been a reader for what seems like since the beginning. I can't say that I won't miss your live reports since you were amazing at it and also the one to steer me to bands with potential. Its great to hear that you found your calling. I'll be on the look out for your book, if and when you decide to get it published.

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    1. It's pretty awesome that you've been around since the beginning! It's been years O__O And I'm glad I was able to steer you towards some cool bands! I'll pop around here from time to time with some stuff to say, and maybe eventually I'll have some good news ^__^

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  10. This is so absolutely beautiful and major props to you to laying it all out like that. Everything you said is so spot-on and I think we have really, really similar views on a lot of things. Like... I don't even know what to say because you said it all. asdlfj
    I've recently been thinking about that "Japan as a goal" thing. I've realized I know people who I think work on that principle, because I keep thinking "what's next?" for them. Personally, I'm never happy with my current situation no matter what I've achieved; I always need something to work towards in life, so just getting to Japan wasn't good enough. Since I arrived, it's turned into where-to-aim-from-here. But so many people just stop at this and it's sad to witness.
    Japan was a notch on my bucket list. I can cross that off now and go for loftier goals; and I've realized, too, that I don't think this is where I want to spend my entire life. If I can land (or create) the kind of job I want in a year or two I'll stay, but I don't really feel like this is home. At least not yet. I'm not sure I've found that place; but maybe for me it's more an issue of wanderlust. :)
    I've totally rambled now, but just.. thank you for updating with this.

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    1. Heh, it sounds like you and I are on the exact same wavelength ^__^ Japan was an achievement for me but, like you said, it's not enough. There has to be "something more than this." Many people stop when they "achieve Japan" and stagnant, and they're never truly happy because they never strove for something better. And I know that I may never truly grasp what I want, but I'll regret it forever if I don't at least try. Hopefully we'll achieve our goals! Japan was a great experience, but it's time to aim even higher! :-D

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    2. I wanted to let you know I posted this on my FB and it got passed around like wildfire, haha. Lots of comments about how wonderful of a writer you are. I hope where you get where you want to go in that field!

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    3. Oh wow, really? That's... that's actually really amazing. Thank you so much ;__;

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  11. I always tell people to be true to yourself. This blog is a a shinning example of what that means. Keep is up

    SageofTruth

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    1. Thank you so much. It makes me really happy to hear that :-)

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  12. Wow this blogentry is the most honest one I ever read I think. You have a great writing style and you are able to put so nany topics in a nutshell.
    First I have to say that your entry kinda scares me although I know that you said, your decision is not the right desicion for everyone else.
    I will go to Japan for the first time in september, I managed to get a scholarhship and study there for one year. This was the biggest dream I had in my life until now so I think in this case I might be one of those people for whom Japan is an 'achievement"..
    Ok I don't think I'm one of the extreme naive persons who see Japan as kind of a 'wonderland' but I have to say, as I've never been there before, I really like it.
    I am afraid now. I study Japan in university, I KNOW that there is much racism in Japan still, but your blog entry makes me afraid of it even more. It sounds as if there is no way no be really happy in Japan, as if Japan was really extreme racist and wouldn't want to have foreigners in NO SINGLE WAY...
    Well I think I have to make my won experiences but thank you for this entry, it scared me but also I think it gave me a kind of foreboding..I try not to be too naive about Japan and now I will be even more careful when being there.
    Keep it up, have a great time!

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    1. It's just good to be realistic about it. There's nothing wrong with liking the country; it's more about not fooling yourself into thinking it's perfect.
      And, if you're studying, I'm sure you're still young! Japan is a good goal to have, but what's next? As long as you keep that question in the back of your mind, you'll probably have a better chance at not falling into the traps here, because really, it's so easy. Just keep aiming high. :D You got this far, you can definitely go farther!

      /random comment from a random reader, haha

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    2. Ku puts it perfectly ^__^ You should absolutely look forward to going to Japan! The year I studied abroad in Tokyo was probably the best year of my entire life. I'm being completely honest when I say that. Japan is an amazing place. But, as Ku said, it's important to think about "what comes next." You can't be a student forever, so it's important to think ahead and remember that Japan isn't perfect. But your experiences are what you make of them, so please look forward to studying abroad! You'll probably have a great time if you stay positive and look for interesting things to do! Don't let my entry scare you. Japan can be one of the best experiences you'll ever have!

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  13. This all from someone who used to bash me for saying the same exact things.
    Took you long enough ,but some people have a slow learning curve. Tut

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    1. I'm a notoriously slow learner. Unfortunately, I can't thank you for opening my eyes, as you're obviously too cowardly to tell me who you actually are.

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  14. I only discovered your blog a couple weeks ago, after having such a blast at my first DIR EN GREY concert in LA. While I have always been a Jrock fan since before high school, I have never really ventured past the GazettE or Diru, also I'm an international student studying in the US, so back where I'm from, Jrock bands almost never go. I'm was completely mind-blown at my first Diru concert, it was just SO GOOD. Then I went back home and searched the internet for info about the band and concert reports and such and came across many blogs. And yours was the one blog that had me hooked instantly and before I knew it I was reading through all your entries, on all the bands that I have never even heard of, but still thoroughly enjoying the posts.

    This is seriously like discovering a band that I really like, only to find out that they have disbanded a couple months back (read: D'espairsRay TT). Haha, even though I would definitely miss your posts on Japan very very much, I'm glad you wrote this post, because it also made me think about my obsession with all things Japan. Even now I'm still trying to figure it out, perhaps my passion for Japan is a little deeper than yours, I started off with manga/anime (as with most people) and just branched out into other things like music, history, arts, even politics. I'm majoring in International Relations and even my honors research paper is about Japanese pop culture and politics. Although the one thing that has always bothered me was that I never got the chance to take Japanese classes, and I really suck at self-learning or I'm just a complete lazy ass. But of course, what I really wanted to do in the future was to live and work in Japan. However I guess seeing your posts made me pause and consider my resolve, and honestly I haven't reached an answer yet, and it confused me so much. But I think I will continue searching for it and maybe try out the JET program to get experience. In any case, I'm still a good year away from graduation, so I guess I still have some time to think about it. Gah, life decisions.

    Thanks for keeping this blog, and starting a new one. I would love to read your book when it comes out so be sure to let us know! Also, I was wondering if I have any questions about JET or Japan can I still ask you about them? Haha :)))

    -- Leila

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