01-10-2017, 12:31 AM
I came to Japan in 2008 after having visited three times. During my previous visits I enjoyed the energy of Tokyo, the cleanliness, and the way things were organized. I had become tired of my old job and neighborhood in America, and decided to leave it all and move to Japan.
I began as many newcomers do, teaching English at a high school. I lived in a tiny apartment in Chiba, and taught 25 classes per week. The work was remarkably easy, the students were fun, and life in Chiba was laid back and inexpensive. I could go hiking in the small mountains nearby, or cycle to the beach and enjoy the surf. The people were friendly, and I often went to drinking parties with other teachers, and sometimes the parents of my students.
But in my life I have always been something of an entrepreneur. In America I worked full time as a police officer, but I also worked on the weekends painting houses, cutting grass, and doing other things. I also bought things from the city and state auctions and resold them for a profit.
After I became more familiar with Japan, I began doing extra work for more money, and eventually moved into e-commerce. I incorporated a company, rolled over all the money I made back into my business, and eventually was able to work full time on my own. Business continues to grow, I moved into a large, multi-million dollar apartment in Roppongi across from Mori tower. I married a Japanese woman who works at an American bank, and then we had children.
I am quite busy, but I love working for myself, and being able to have my office in my home. When I was young, I had lots of time, but no money, now the situation is the opposite. There used to be so many things that I wanted, but which I couldn't afford, now I can afford just about anything, but find that there is nothing that I really want.
Japan is a strange place for foreigners to live. Many are misfits, outcasts and losers in their home countries, who find that they fit in better in Japan. Others are the adventurous who want to spend time living in a different country. There are drifters who have floated to Japan, and float away sooner or later, and there are those who came to Japan for romance, with their Japanese girlfriend or wife, or boyfriend/husband.
Most foreigners who come here eventually leave, but quite a few stay. Some stay because they love living in Japan, and could never think of leaving, but many stay because they are stuck here. They can't easily leave because there is no market for English teachers in their home countries, and they don't know how to do anything else. For myself, it was a "crossing at the ford" moment, I needed a change in my life, and a fresh start in a new place.
If you want to live in Japan, you have to make a very educated decision. Life in Japan is not always rosy or interesting. For working people it means long hours at work for rather mediocre pay. It means long commutes by subway or train, and living in a small apartment. For those who get married, it means having a wife who takes your entire salary and gives you a small, daily allowance. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but many foreigners to Japan might find adapting to this kind of life difficult.
If you want to come to Japan, make it for two-to-three years. That will be long enough to get over the "honeymoon" phase, and adjust to the lifestyle here. If you still like living in Japan after this much time, you will probably like it enough for a much longer stay.