First Few Weeks in Japan

It’s been nearly two weeks since I arrived in Japan, and so much has happened to seem to be enough to fill a lifetime.
I spent a few days in Tokyo, highlighted by my first meeting with my boyfriend. We arranged to meet at the Love Sign, and as the time drew nearer for me to leave my hotel I grew increasingly nervous. I arrived at the sign before him, placing a tree at my back so as hopefully to not be surprised from behind and proceeded to swivel my head in each direction trying to catch sight of him. Perhaps five minutes passed and severIMG_3313al false alarms of me thinking I’d seen him really set me into a mild panic, when I heard him say my name from behind. It’s a surreal thing, seeing someone for the first time in person that you’ve only been able to talk to through a screen for three years. I put the tree between us as shyness took over, but only for a moment before emerging to take him into my arms. He tried to let go after a brief moment but I said, “No, not yet”, and he squeezed me again with a laugh. When we let go we both turned into the shy couple that could barely even look each other in the eye. But as we started to walk together, he was quick to take my hand and I simply grew giddy.
Our first date involved heading to Tokyo Dome City, walking around, going to Starbucks, eating okonomiyaki, sitting close, and generally trying to get comfortable with each other. Unfortunately exhaustion from travel (I’d arrived only hours before) took my energy rather quickly, and we both had obligations in the morning, so we had an early separation.
The next day, we went to a park, sat on a bench and watched the crowd of Pokemon hunters go by until I pretty much fell asleep with my head on his shoulder and his arm around me. Another quiet, simple date.
And on my final night in Tokyo, we went to Harajuku, visited the Line Store, ate omuraisu, got told off by a hotel employee to not sleep in the lobby, and shared in our first kiss before having to separate.
The next day I was off on a shinkansen to my new home and job.
It was also the beginning of my first attempt at true adulting. This past week since my arrival in Niigata has been extremely busy. Fortunately I took notes or I’d never be able to get the events straight.niigata
Ultimately, I’ll simply summarize. It’s been wonderful, and it’s been frightening. Truly, everyone has been welcoming and I can’t complain. But living in a foreign country is a lonely business, and it hit me most yesterday. Upon leaving my local grocery store, an old man proceeded to point directly at me and proclaim something to another old man. I couldn’t understand clearly, but I think it was basically “Hey look, a foreigner. There’s a foreigner in our midst.” It was relatively harmless in and of itself, but it really made me realize that I am indeed something of an anomaly here, and I’m not sure I’m happy about that fact. I mean, sure I was aware it is something that could happen, and this awareness made me feel like I wouldn’t be affected. But I was. In the same day, the delivery man who came to my door really struggled to even speak until I told him it was fine to use Japanese. But well, I suppose that’s what I came here for- expose them to foreigners so they won’t be quite so bumbling or surprised when one happens to pop up.
The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how this “adulting” thing is really a farce. It’s all pretending, at least in the beginning. I’m constantly pretending that I know what I’m doing, that I know who I am, that I’m confident in myself.
I’ve been receiving a lot of praise from people for the thing that I’ve done- moving to start a life in another country. But the fact is I’ve been a nervous, anxious wreck the whole way through. On one of the first nights I cried because of frustration over not being able to read the manual to my new rice cooker. The bully within myself really wants me to stay in my apartment and never come out until someone familiar comes to rescue me.
And yet, I’m going out. I’m doing things. I’m visiting places. I’m talking to people. I surprise myself actually. The bully tries to make me not notice these accomplishments, but when I really think about it, it’s amazing. It’s not hubris, but simply someone with extreme anxiety realizing that I’m doing shit, even if it’s all under pretend confidence.


2 thoughts on “First Few Weeks in Japan

  1. Living in a foreign country is certainly not that easy, but luckily you have the boyfriend here in Japan, so you can rely on him in many ways I suppose.
    Good luck with your new life in Niigata! Keep smiling! That will help you a lot!


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