Reflections on Japan
I’ve returned from my annual trip to Japan suitably enthused and inspired. This year’s visit was focused on Kobe and Osaka due to both the short-notice and the need to complete some admin and research before my emigration.
Again there has been much to take in and observe; from the subtle controls that allow a passenger to raise and lower blinds in their subway car to the flyers that break all accepted “rules” of Western advertising design, yet appeal to their target audience. I’ve enjoyed the pleasures of Japanese bureaucracy, learnt to break eye contact when I bow and recovered from a social faux pas. Finally I’ve tuned into the joys of the hundred yen shops.
An important decision was made this trip. I’ve relied too heavily on my partner to guide me around Japan, filling in for my shockingly bad Japanese (you’d have thought I’d have got the hang of it by now) and helping to navigate the intricacies of culture. If I am to become a Kobenite I need to knock away the crutches and take responsibility. The plan has been hatched to spend a month in Japan alone and working in 2019. It will force me to confront Japan not just as a tourist, but as someone living and working in the city who has to get by on their own.
I know I’ll screw up. I know I’ll offend someone, or buy the wrong thing or just feel a bit lonely. But that’s the point. I’ve got to find out where my weaknesses are so I can address them before I make the biggest move of my life. I’m not a teenager going to study overseas, I’m a 46 year old selling up so I can move to another country where I have zero shared culture or experience.
Frankly I’m looking forward to it.