The post where I act very sappy and sentimental…

7 10 2012

So I’ve now been in Japan for over two and a half years. It’s surprising to think that it has been this long already. Time really has flown. I think back to when I first came here and it seems like mere months ago rather than years. I remember when I first came to Japan, I had the idea that I would only stay for one year, yet here I am, original plans scrapped still enjoying life and everything I do. There are hard times here, of course it can’t be perfect everyday but it seems like I have really adapted to life here in Gifu. When I think about returning to Australia, there is an immediate sense of fear that passes through me. Even during the short trip back a year and a half ago, I remember vividly the last 30 minutes on the airplane before landing and literally shaking at the thought of returning to that life. When I go back (and it will have to happen, I can’t be a lifer, this I know) culture shock is definitely going to be a bitch.

So why am I still here? What is it about Yamagata, Gifu and Japan that keeps me putting off the inevitable return to ‘normal’ life? Let’s try and list some of the reasons why, because dammit, lists are fun.

Temporary haunted house in the Yanagase area of Gifu.

* Safety and security

Yup – it’s true. Japan is a bloody safe place. I can leave my door unlocked at night and still go to sleep feeling completely secure. People will leave their cars running while they go into a convienience store for a few minutes. I laughed when the police told me to be careful that the old area I lived in was dangerous because they had one robbery in the space of about 9 months. Sure it seems a little silly that there are community ‘patrols’ but if this is the result, keep them going. I kind of feel though that when I go travelling again, the safety of Japan will have ruined me. I’ll be too relaxed about my own personal security 笑.


A lot of this boils down to Gifu and where I live. From my front door, I can go to downtown Nagoya within the hour. In that same hour I could be hiking up any number of mountains. I can buy a beer at 7am, pay a bill while I’m doing it and it’s only a couple of minutes walk. Trains, when I use them, run on time. And I can ride my bicycle around the city and enjoy everything it has to offer. Even the little things I want like Vegemite I can still find, so I rarely lack for much.

* The people

This goes for both the Japanese people I meet and the foreigners that are here. Of course there are going to be people that you don’t get along with, that’s just a standard part of life. But here, everyone gets along with everyone for the most part. Sure it’s down to Japanese culture and the problems of a high density population but unlike Australia, where you can ‘hate’ someone with ease, here I can’t say I really hate anyone. The foreigners who come here are people who want to see the world too so they are immediately in the plus column for me.


After a day of hiking, leeches and injuries, this is a nice way to relax. In Miyama, Yamagata-shi

Still, two and a half years later and Japan is still an interesting place to live. While I don’t get the chance to travel so much anymore, and the places I haven’t seen are that little bit farther away, there is still a sense of discovery to living here. My summer holiday trip to Kagoshima and Yakushima proved that life still can be awesome. Even the little things in Gifu like seeing a new temple or doing something like floating down a river in an inflatable doughnut make life here worth staying for.


What the fuck? You’re putting work on your list?!?! Yup – sounds completely crazy but I still like my job. There are problems and frustrations with it but I still love doing what I do. I’m not sure I still would if I had changed schools or areas, because I would be losing a bond with Yamagata but I enjoy the people I work with, the kids that I have seen grow up and their little nuances and the fact that some of my kids now speak with slight Australian accented English. The English system in Japan is incredibly flawed but, in my corner of the world, it’s great.

Now you’d expect me to write about what the hell I hate about Japan but I figure that I shouldn’t get myself down on that crap. 6 more months and it will make three years here. The time will eventually come when I will leave Japan. When that time comes, I want it to be when it’s at the top. I want to leave still thinking this place and these years have been awesome. The above points should hopefully still be constants… Until next time…




3 responses

7 10 2012

Its sounds like you want to stay a bit longer but I am glad you are still enjoying your time there. The memories will stay with you always. Japan will always have a special place in your heart as will the kids.

8 10 2012

Obviously you are enjoying your time in Gifu, and now you are trying to justify your leaving. If you still have the passion and drive too stay, then maybe a re-think is in order. Sounds like too many good things too leave behind, or is it getting too close to your deadline date and relisation has kicked in. Whatever your decision, we both have and will support your decision. Best of luck. Dad.

PS. It is easy to change a one way ticket to return.

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