A lot has changed since I moved to Japan 4 year's ago. First of all, I'm way past the honeymoon period and left with the reality of my situation. Japan is awesome, but it's not the place I thought it would be.
When I first arrived
I was young and impressionable. Like many people visiting Japan for the first time, I had my breath taken away by the culture and was astonished by how ancient everything was. This gave me the false impression that I was somehow whisked into a time capsule and living in the past.
Everything seemed so traditional and organized. The food was a stark contrast to the fast food, greasy burgers, I was used to back home. I felt that I was becoming healthier just by eating tempura (in reality its's just as bad as any other fried food).
As time passed
I'm not sure when it happened. But I know when it started. I was at a hotel and I was watching a Samurai play. I noticed that the actors, were just that, actors. They weren't martial artists, just a few young guys, trying to make it in theatre, like the many actors that I've met in the U.S. I don't know if this was a pivoting point, but it was when I realized that the sword wielding, Samurai fighting, kimono wearing days of Japan were over. In fact they were over a long time ago. I was living in some fantasy world, where I thought it was still happening, because of my love for Samurai movies and martial arts.
"I realized that the sword wielding, Samurai fighting, kimono wearing days of Japan were over"
Not to say that Japanese people do not follow traditions.In fact some people still practice Iado(pronounced Ya-i -do) and Kendo, both sword wielding martial arts styles. But these people were not the norm. In fact some Japanese people look at them, the same way some Americans looked at me, when they found out I practiced Karate(like a person playing dress up outside of the Halloween season).
Like a burning coal
One thing I can say is that although Japan did not fit the stereotypes that I had for it, it surprised me in many ways and captivated me nonetheless. Although most of the Expats I met when I first arrived, already gave up and left, I stuck around. There are still a lot things I am learning about Japan and it's people. I sit and wonder what the next 4 years have in store.
My advice to any of you considering an Expat life in Japan, it will be like a marriage, with ups and downs. If you can get through the downs, you will learn a lot from the experience. You may even enjoy the downs more than you think.
Social Gelo with Angelo
Angelo Ferrer (American Expat in Japan)