Possibly the most asked question is “Why did you choose Japan?”. On average, I would say that I get this question once or twice a week. Most recently, my mom introduced me to someone and mentioned that I was preparing to teach in Japan. Can you guess what followed this person’s surprise? Yep, “What made you choose Japan?”. To which I responded that “I felt led there”. That is, quite literally, the shortest answer I could summon at the time. But having thought about it I would say that the seed was planted years ago.
As a kid we never had cable tv. Which meant that we were subjected to watching whatever came on the public stations. Our family favorite was PBS. Each day you could find documentaries on foreign lands and peoples, cooking, cartoons, crafting, painting, musical guests, and an odd telethon. Of all the programs, my favorites were the ones that dealt with travel. Simply because nothing incites the desires of a poor kid like the idea of escaping. One of my favorite travel dudes to watch was Rick Steves. He traveled in and around Europe. And while all those places looked exciting and new, I knew that I would visit them one day but had no desire to stay there.
So after years of watering this seed (interest in traveling/living abroad), I considered how I could make traveling a reality in my life. I considered joining the Navy, whose unofficial slogan is “Join the Navy, See the World”. I nixed that idea once I considered that while I would “see the world” there was a real possibility that it wouldn’t be the sights that I wanted to see. I briefly considered the Peace Corps, then missionary work. It wasn’t until after undergrad that I discovered programs that allowed you to study abroad or teach abroad.
I’d like to make it known that there were many countries that I considered living in: United Arab Emirates, China, India, South Korea and Japan. The final two were South Korea and Japan. The lure of living in a homogenous society, so unlike the U.S., was strong. After grad school I was “gung ho” about applying to EPIK and heading to Korea. But somewhere along the lines I realized that I didn’t find Korean culture as interesting as I did Japanese. So it was after watching many, many Youtube videos about expat teachers that I finally realized that Japan was it. All this happened within the last 7 years. Japan was a sure choice for 2 of those years.
Inspiration for wanting to live in Japan (2009 edition)
- Naruto is Japanese! I went through a huge Naruto faze. (Naruto (ナルト) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto.)
- Ichiraku Ramen is real!!!!!! The ramen shop where Naruto was constantly found eating (It’s located in the city of Fukuoka, Japan and its on my list of places to see and eat. Apparently, Masashi Kishimoto frequently ate ramen there during his university years.)
I didn’t complete the Naruto series. I stopped on episode 300 (during the ninja war).
My reasons for wanting to live in Japan now have greatly changed. More on that in another blog post.