My little monster was being her cute destructive self, and I got to thinking about how I never, ever imagined I’d be married with a dog and a baby here in Japan. Needless to say, life, when you’re single, is much different than life when you’re married and with a child. And reaching all those milestones when in a foreign country can be overwhelming.
When I started this post, I was just typing whatever came to mind. And when I got home, I wrote some more, until I ended up with 3,000 words! I guess after all these years I have a lot to say! So I’m turning this “Honest Look At Life In Japan” into a three-part series, starting with a look at working and dating.
You’ll find that many foreigners here in Japan are here to teach English. I think it’s a great way to get your foot in the door. Not necessary to move on to something “better” but if you want to live in Japan or experience living abroad, I think it’s an option that should be seriously considered.
Since I didn’t get my start teaching, I can’t talk about the pitfalls of teaching or survive on “only” 250,000 yen. I see blog posts like that from time to time and just shake my head and laugh. I was making 950 yen an hour… and still managed to save enough to go home to the States once a year – for an entire month. Well, when you only eat once a day and get serious discounts on clothes, I guess it’s possible.
Working in a Japanese company, I can’t compare to anything, except that it was an incredible learning experience. And by “incredible” I mean soul-crushing.
It’s easy to see how Japanese people get burned out. Constantly having to use proper language to superiors and clients and customers. Always deferring to others. Going out after work with the same people when you’d rather just go home. Having to follow everything to a T and doing everything by the book with no room for improvision.
I also understand why name brand items (burando/ブランド) are so popular. You work for long hours and can barely take your holidays. How else can you justify being cooped up behind a desk and in a cramped train for hours a day?
“I don’t have a social life outside of company gatherings, but I have a new (insert brand name item).”
Still, it was easy for me to absorb the “Japanese way” — I had nothing to compare it to! I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it over here all on my own. That and the fact that my company sponsored my visa and apartment.
They owned me, body and soul. But, at least I looked good. My makeup was always on point and I always had the latest fashions.
When I started teaching in international schools, now that was some real culture shock! Using English every day, the casual way teachers approached the headmistress, the lack of planning and effort (in my opinion) that my coworkers put into their lessons.
The first year was rough and I really wanted to go back to a Japanese company, if only because it was familiar territory!
Now I love teaching, and I especially love the new career that I’ve carved out for myself as a content creator. I now get to use the best of both worlds, my language skills and passion for Japan.
“Do Japanese guys date white/latina/black women?” is probably the most common question out there if you’re planning to come to Japan. Of course, if you’re living abroad, you don’t want to spend all your time alone, right?
I didn’t have an issue dating, probably because of my grasp of the language, and how I adapted myself to the fashion trends. In my gyaru days, it was so easy to date — I worked in Shibuya 109, went to club events, I was in gyaru magazines, I had an unlimited source of suitors in my tiny bubble. Dating for fun versus dating for a serious relationship, however, was a challenge.
I think finding the ‘right one” is not just an issue for expats, but it’s certainly hard if you don’t know the language and don’t have plans to settle in your host country.
Japan was always my end game. I knew I wanted to date someone with an international background. A US citizen with a long-term visa here or a Japanese citizen with dual nationality or a green card. And once you narrow your dating pool like that you don’t have any more room to be picky!
My advice? If you want to date Japanese guys, don’t feel like you have to “compete” with Japanese girls. Honestly, in my experience, the reason why people always say “be yourself” is because it’s the best thing you can do when dating!
I’d love to write more but the monster urgently needs my attention. Next week’s installment will be about safety, sexism, and sexual harassment in Japan.