Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sayonara, Nippon

Hi Everyone.

During the past few weeks I've been trying to find work in Japan, with no success. The Japanese economy has been in real trouble since the sub-prime crisis. The yen is skyrocketing, the JET program had to make massive cutbacks in enrollment (which probably played a factor in my being rejected last year), English language schools have been going bankrupt, and as I reported earlier, the Working Holiday Makers Association announced it was going to close it doors just the day before I picked up my visa from the Japanese consulate. This is not to say that I completely blame the economy. . . the truth is, I've been avoiding the fact that I was not ready to make this trip. My Japanese was not nearly as good as I thought it was, and my particular teaching experience was clearly not what the companies I applied to were looking for.

Any prospective jobs that might have been available from now on would not begin until October, and even then, the paychecks would not be given out until late October (in Japan, paychecks are given out monthly, rather than bi-weekly). As my rent was due no later than today, and my money was running out, I faced two options:

1) Continue my lease, with financial help from my family, in the hopes of maybe getting work.

2) Submit my one-month notice of vacation, use my remaining month of time to do the things I wanted to do in Japan (apart from the more unrealistic, like visiting Hokkaido, Kyoto, and Hiroshima), and come back to Canada to look for work.

A couple of days ago, I decided, with great reluctance, that would have to come home. By mid-October I will be back in Canada. From there, I will temporarily return to Prince George before moving to Victoria, where I will seek employment, hopefully at the University of Victoria, Camosun College, or as a private tutor. While there, I also plan to continue learning Japanese, most likely by auditing courses at the University, like I did at UNBC.

I was hard coming to this decision. Yesterday I revisited the Imperial Shrine grounds just outside downtown Tokyo. I came here again because I had taken some beautiful photos of the area which were unfortunately lost. Coming here again, I was filled not with the sense of adventure that I felt durig my first visit, but rather sadness. Call me a sappy sentimentalist if you want, but the truth is, after only two months of living here, I'm already sad to be leaving. This place, despite the short time, despite my inability to communicate effectively, already seemed like home to me. As late as last week, I was convinced that that's exactly what Tokyo would be, at least for the year that my visa was valid.

I want to stress that I'm not giving up on Japan; I will come here again. In the two months I have been here-- leaving aside the stress of job-hunting, not to mention the play "Imagine 9.11" which I'll talk about some other time-- I have had one of the greatest adventures of my life. I lived, however briefly, in one of the world's great metropolises. I engaged with a totally different culture-- two years ago I had not even left Canada or travelled further east than Edmonton. I witnessed Shinto festivals and massive fireworks spectacles. I climbed Mt. Fuji. I fucking met Sailor Moon. And I've only just begun.

As I said, I plan to continue learning Japanese until I achieve some level of fluency. When the time comes-- maybe a year, maybe a few years-- I will come back, perhaps with my family as a tourist, perhaps as a student, perhaps with work already arranged. But I will be back.

And as I said, I ain't leaving tomorrow, either. There's still plenty I wanna do: re-visit Mt. Fuji (I never got any pictures of the mountain from the ground, and my Mom keeps bugging me to put up some pictures with ME in them); visit Nikko; visit Yokohama and Yokosuka; go to Tokyo Disney Sea for a day (money permitting); go to a few more Sailor Moon locations; and hopefully try one more time to get a picture with Miyuu Sawai.

Stay Tuned.

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