Craig note- Life in Japan can be picture-perfect if you just watch a lot of classic movies! (Enjoy!)
“I’m walking here! I’m walking here!” (“Ratso” Rizzo, “Midnight Cowboy“)
Yes, you are “walking here.” But, so is everybody else. People will jostle, nudge, or shove you in busy places in Japan. It`s a daily fact when life of commuting on the trains, especially in the big cities.
You can`t get angry every single time it happens. Trust us, that doesn`t end well for you.
Best advice, put on your blinders and go with the flow.
“My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.” (George M. Cohan, “Yankee Doodle Dandy“)
No doubt, you grew up being told to say, “please” and “thank you” in your home country. That`s great. But, in Japan, thanking people is an art form.
There are endless rules for the levels of thank-yous that one gives for events from weddings all the way down to what to bring when visiting someone`s home.
(You should bring Mister Donut`s, btw…)
Secretly, many of the obligatory gifts and thank-yous also annoy Japanese people. But, everyone follows the rules/customs anyway.
You should too.
“I want to be alone.” (Grusinskaya, “Grand Hotel“)
Funny, it tends to be the alone time here that gets most foreigners.
The hustle and bustle of daily life in Japan is overwhelming at times. But, then, you head back home.
The ominous clang of your apartment`s metal door can sound like a prison gate slamming shut upon your solitary soul. And, it can feel like there is no escape for you.
It`s important to get out and enjoy your life, even if it`s mostly solo.
“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” (Groucho Marx, “Animal Crackers“)
You live long enough in Japan, and
bad things will happen to you. Sometimes, those events will defy all natural logic.
There`s a choice to be made.
You can drive yourself crazy rationalizing life in Japan. Or, you can just throw up your hands and laugh (and/or swear under your breath).
We prefer the latter to the prospect of spending the rest of our natural life locked in a little rubber-padded room.
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” (Martin Brody, “Jaws“)
There is a
concrete ceiling that most foreigners hit here. This is especially true for those who stay long-term. Things can get complicated (and expensive) in a heartbeat.
Life is sails along in Japan just fine until you add a wife and family into the expat equation. After that, most foreign folks find paying for that “bigger boat” a heckuva lot of work.
You better be up for the challenge in a big, big, big way.
“I`m king of the world!” (Jack Dawson, “Titanic“)
It`s easy to feel super, super, super special as a foreigner in Japan. This is especially true as a Western one. And, to be sure, there are tons of perks to being an expat.
No doubt, you will get countless free meals and beers. Too, there`s a good chance that you will be popular with the local talent.
But, there are also times when it will be difficult to tell if people love for you or for your country of birth. A wise expat learns to tell the difference quick, fast, and in a hurry.
Make no mistake,
international friendship; like wi-fi, isn`t always free.
“Hey! Yo Tommy, I didn’t hear no bell!” Rocky Balboa, “Rocky V“)
The biggest factor in our success in Japan is our resilience.
Japan is going to knock you down. Likely, it is going to knock you down over and over again. And, there will be times you will not want to get back up.
But, every single successful foreigner we have ever met here has done exactly that:
Get back up.
The great expats answer the bell every time, and so should you.
Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin
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“The only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one.”- Elvis Presley