Day 16: Tokushima

After living in Japan for a while I started to wonder if I’d changed. It’s very difficult to see change in yourself and when you move to the other side of the world by yourself there is no one else crossing to the new world with you. Your old friends at home don’t see a change as they’re not there to see you at all and your new friends can’t see any change in you as they didn’t know you before.
So I often wondered if I was still the same Danny.
I didn’t come to Japan in order to reinvent myself or start afresh. Many people do, and many of those never go home. But I was very happy back home and, while excited about my new adventure, was sad to leave not too small a circle of friends, both at uni and at home.
I think because I left such a wonderful group of friends there was always part of me that feared change. ‘I was obviously reasonably popular in the UK,’ I’d think, ‘so I don’t want to blow whatever was attractive about me by changing.’
I lost a girlfriend and I got a new one. My strongest tie to home had been severed (I always knew my family would be there if I were to go home) and a stronger tie to Japan had been made. I was committing myself to this change in me, whatever form that was taking.
Now I’m cycling across Japan. My girlfriend is in Shiga, as is my ex-job and my ex-apartment. I asked her if she thinks I’ll change. ‘You will,’ she said, ‘and it scares me a little bit, but you’ll only grow, and that’s a good thing.’
As I’m pedaling away I think about if camping alone on a windy cape with a wild boar outside has changed who I am. Or does asking a policeman if he knows any good camp sites make me different from before I asked that question. Perhaps the journey will change me or perhaps not but if it does I’ll be the last to realise.
This evening I went to play football. I was rubbish. So I guess I haven’t changed.

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4 responses to “Day 16: Tokushima

  1. How long have you lived in Japan? My husband is from Japan (still a Japanese citizen) and he has lived in America for like 14 years now. He is still very Japanese in so many ways. He talks in his sleep in Japanese. He eats most everything with chopsticks. Most of the news and radio programs that he streams are in Japanese. He came over to America for an adventure, and to go to college so he could become fully bilingual. He met me, and decided to stay after we got married. There are still some cultural issues that we struggle with and probably always will. I’d have to ask him this question. I think he would say he hasn’t really changed XD It’s hard because I didn’t know him in Japan, and the person he was at the time. But I think we are always changing whether we want to or not. I’ve been through a lot health wise, and it has greatly changed my personality and my perspective on life, mostly in good ways.

    • I’ve been here just 3 years but I know people who have lived here for over 20 years. I don’t think people ever lose their home culture and I think only very few would want to. It would take a lot if effort and will power to completely neglect who you were and the habits and traits you grew up with.
      Have you ever visited Japan? You should. It’s a wonderful country and a wonderfully interesting country. Perhaps if you shared an experience in Japan with your husband some if those cultural differences might not be an issue. Thanks for commenting and take care.

      • Yes, I’ve been to Japan a few times, and it is a beautiful country. My husband visits annually, but I haven’t been able to go every time because I’ve had 3 hip surgeries in the past five years. I think with any relationship between two different cultures there are certain difficulties. My husband was the one that made the comment that you don’t see a lot of Asian men with American women because American women are too bossy and aggressive (in general). The cultural differences actually didn’t even become that apparent till AFTER marriage. We dated off and on for 4 years and have been married for 7 years now. I don’t particularly want to get into the details because it’s long and complicated. It has nothing to do with religion though. Things are a lot better now as we have both had to make compromises. I understand, or I try to, where he is coming from. But he knew who I was when he married me. I wanted to work, and I have dreams of my own. We got married as I started pharmacy school. I went to college for 9 years and am a licensed pharmacist. I make twice as much as my husband for much less hours. In the beginning he was very upset that I was making more money than him, but he’s okay with it now. And when we have kids, I will be the one working part-time because his job is everything to him. The money isn’t as important to me as him being happy and fulfilled. And this issue is present in a lot of marriages as women are becoming more educated and independent. But in Japan, the amount of women that work full time after being married and having kids is much less than in America. A huge part of this is because Japanese people are very dedicated to their jobs and often work very long hours. So it’s very difficult to have two people in the household working 60+ hour weeks.

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