We're exposed to Japan's pop culture, words, mannerisms on a daily basis and don't even know it! You’ve seen anime on television and played several video games in your lifetime, I'm sure. You’ve heard the words, ‘karaoke’ or the phrase, ‘just a scosh!’ We eat sushi at sushi restaurants and take our kids to karate lessons. There’s so much we’re exposed to from Japan. Trends catch on, friends influence you, and your interests grow from that. That is exactly what happened to me. I fell in love with Japan at an early age and now, this country has become a part of me.
I started studying the Japanese language in Jr. high school. The moment I learned how to say, ‘my name is Kelly’ in Japanese was the day I fell madly in love. The words rolled off my tongue so fluidly. It was natural for me. From then on, I dedicated myself to Japanese classes, bought books on Japan, listened to Japanese music, learned the lyrics - it brought me so much happiness!
I later studied abroad in Japan in high school. I finished my final semester there and felt like I belonged. I felt my heart grow ten sizes larger each and every day. I'd often feel a lump in my throat many times throughout the experience as if I could cry for joy. It was an unforgettable experience and I couldn’t stay away.
I signed up for an internship and spent another three months abroad in college and after graduation, moved to Japan immediately and permanently. I’m a very shy girl who never had a single family member live in another country for an extended period of time. My determination to live in Japan was tried-and-true.
I haven’t left Japan in seven years and counting.
Now, I’d like to share the reasons why I don’t plan on leaving Japan and why you won’t want to leave either.
#1 THE PEOPLE
One thing I love about this country is how dedicated the people are. They’re hardworking, respectful of others, and stay true to who they are. They don’t try to be somebody else. As they age, they find peace within themselves and their lifestyle. The people of Japan slow down, take time to reflect, and never stop learning. My husband is Japanese, and I find all of those qualities within him. I look him in the eyes, and I find peace and purpose.
The Japanese people rarely complain. They go out of their way to help lost foreigners and respect the space of others. They keep to themselves but are always glad to take the time to help you find where you’re going.
Japanese people are passionate beings. They tend to latch onto one specific hobby and connect with it on another level. I’m always so impressed.
I find living amongst the Japanese easy. I was able to adapt to this life quickly and comfortably. I suffered from a lot anxiety but living in this world has shown me positive progress in my mind and my soul.
#2 CONNECTION WITH NATURE
A lot of these reasons can be put in its own blog post but I will briefly explain why this one hits home for me.
Before moving to Japan, I lived in a small suburb in Michigan. Unless you drove miles away, you couldn’t get deep into nature. Japan is much smaller than America. Taking the train to the outskirts of Tokyo is only a hop and skip away. Most nature is untouched. The trees are how they’ve been for many years, and you'll find temples and shrines deep within mountains, intact with little damage. It’s something I've never witnessed before in my lifetime.
Religion in Japan surrounds the spirit of nature. A sense of calm and serenity is encompassed within the worship of nature. The Japanese do not see one god but several and they're all around us. It’s difficult to explain unless you’ve traveled or lived here for an extended period of time but the energy of this country feels as if it’s pulling me back and keeping me from leaving.
#3 THE DIFFERENCES IN CULTURE
Did you know that if your brain doesn’t get a workout, it can lead to bigger problems in the future? Exercising your brain by learning something new, reading, studying, etc. can lead to healthier habits, success, and happiness.
Every day in Japan, I'm learning something new. Whether it’s through my own experiences, from friends, my husband, or the morning Japanese news - I am learning. Every place I’ve traveled has given me the opportunity to expand my mind and my journey. Japan is the most different from my own country and for that reason, I've continued to be curious enough to NOT leave.
#4 THE SIMPLE LIFE
Now that I’ve experienced a lot in Japan, I broke out into a new territory of the Japanese lifestyle and that is its Zen teachings and Japanese mindset strategies. These studies have breathed new life into my experience abroad. It’s put me on a path to healing and longevity.
There is a deeper meaning to Japan that most foreigners haven’t explored. The Japanese lifestyle is simple. The way of life is easier than what most people in the world envision it to be.
The deeper I dive into this new territory, the more I see myself staying here for a lifetime.
More on this in my upcoming course.
#5 THE OLD AND THE NEW
When most people think of Japan, they think Tokyo, advanced technology, bright lights, and strange concepts but in reality, it’s much more. Japan is a mix of the old and the new. The history and traditions date back thousands of years. There's a lot of practices untouched, echoing through time. You’ll learn all of this after you’ve gone through the honeymoon phase of transitioning to life in Japan. You'll realize it all comes together like one big puzzle and the pieces will connect the longer you experience life here.
As you walk through Japanese neighborhoods, you’ll see brand new buildings next to ones that date back years before Japan was opened to the world. If you want to live in Japan for an extended period of time, you have to learn to connect to both the history and the modern world.
Japan used to have a special place in my heart but now it IS my heart. If you open yourself up to the culture and new ideas, you grow as a person and learn so much about yourself. Don’t take your experience living abroad for granted whether you’re moving here alone or with a partner. The stories you will eventually tell to friends, family, or even your kids someday will be golden.
See the full video below!