Jun 16, 2016

Why did you move to Japan?

Why did you move to Japan? photo

Of ALL the places in the world, what is so magical about Japan?

It’s one of the common questions Japanese people love to ask foreigners living in Japan.

What’s so awesome about my country that you wanted to live here? Tell me how awesome my country is? (What they really mean?)

I’m happy that Japanese people have a sense of pride about their country. It’s almost as if they want to know who let the foreigners in on their secret and what sold us on coming.

I feel as if I could make up plenty of funny answers for this question:

I couldn’t get a job in the US. No really.

Sushi in the US just isn’t the same. 

Police officers in Japan are so kind! 

Why did you move to Japan? photo

Anyway, the reasons for moving to Japan are usually complex and hard to explain to someone either in Japanese or in English (when it’s not their first language). Usually I stick with random answers like:

I love onsen. 

I like teaching English to Japanese students. 

I had Japanese exchange students stay with my family as a kid. 

Why did you move to Japan? photo

You will, inevitably, be asked the same question from most of your friends and family.

It’s helpful to understand this question when you hear it in Japanese, and know how to answer it in Japanese. Your task, if you’re planning on moving to Japan, is to come up with a good answer. It might take a while, and after living in Japan your answer might change (maybe to “I’m not sure anymore”).

Maybe you discover the awesomeness of tsukemen or yakiniku… (why is it always about food?) Maybe you love the moment when something clicks in your students’ minds and they get an ‘Aha!’ look on their faces. Maybe living abroad in itself is just a radical experience. What's your reason?

PS: Random ajisai (hydrangea) photos as it’s the season.

Originally published on my helloalissa blog here.



What if whales don't communicate with whale calls & they're just farting?


  • KpQuePasa

    on Jun 17

    My husband's company has their headquarters here, so for most management it's understood that to move up in the company you have to spend some time in Japan on assignment. But ultimately what sold *me* was the safety! We did an assignment in Mexico before this and I was advised never to leave the house by myself. Then we came here for our house-finding trip and I watched 5 year old kids riding the train to school. By themselves. I was sold.

  • helloalissa

    on Jun 17

    @KpQuePasa Yes, that's one amazing difference about Japan and the paranoia that is common in most of north America. I'd hate to not be able to feel independent living in Mexico. But eating Mexican food every day... I wouldn't mind that.

  • TCWest

    on Jun 21

    Was supposed to go to Germany and when the aircraft landed and the door opened up onto the tarmac at Haneda International Airport, the first thing I noticed was everything in Japanese and not German. That was my first significant emotional event. I have been trying to figure out what happened ever since... .