Once Upon a Tanbo

Not today thanks…

Posted on: March 7, 2008

I feel like today is going to be one of those “vent” type days for me. I have been feeling so tired lately. In a way its good as all of the days of doing the same thing over and over are blending together, but in a way its depressing.

I’m hitting what in probably the first really hard thing about staying in Japan and that is that pretty much everyone I have made friends with in the first 2 years I’ve lived in Kobe is leaving and will be gone before the end of summer. In particular, next month my best friend from my first year (who I had a falling out with about a year ago but in the last few months have patched up our relationship) and my best friend from my second year here will both be leaving within a matter of weeks of each other. The other friends I have are all 2nd year JETs who will be moving on to bigger and better things when their contracts are done this summer. In my “original plan” I would have been going home then as well.

Not that I feel like people should be staying here because I am. It just feels so lonely to think that all of them will be moving on with their lives while I stay behind here. Obviously some of us will try and stay in touch, but besides my friend Ana, I don’t think that there will be enough of a bond to keep in lasting contact once they leave Japan. For me, it just seems so hard to stay in touch, especially if we had little in common besides being in the same country at the same time. Other friends, who’ve connected with based on hobbies, views, or just unexplainable chemistry are easier to stay in touch with, but to be honest with an exception or two, I just haven’t really found that here.

I think I’m a little jealous too. Its not in my future plans anymore but of course part of me wants to go home a well. Although I haven’t come across some of the discrimination and issues my friends have, I miss being able to eat my favorite foods, buy clothes that fit my curvy body type, and take in the sights and culture of living in America. I miss the informal feeling when meeting people and not having to worry about the sempai/kohai relationship, or committing other cross-cultural no nos. But, at this point, it doesn’t look like I’ll ever be able to “live” in America again. Ryohei, although he doesn’t mind visiting, has shown little to no interest in pursuing a life in America. He wants to live in or as close as he can, to his home town and raise our children in the countryside of Japan.

He’s had to make some sacrifices as well, back last year when I told him I hated the salaryman life he was pursuing in Tokyo and that I couldn’t deal with his 16 hour days and his irritability as well as the distance, he quit. He tried to find a way to make us both happy, although it’s a very difficult path, he’s shelled out a lot of money for his schooling and he studies about 10 hours a day for his tests, if he passes he will have a stable, decent paying job with 20 days of vacation a year that you can actually take and his work hours will be 9-5:30 without overtime.

But yesterday when I went to coffee with some JET girlfriends who are leaving and they asked me things like “Why don’t you take Ryohei back to America?” and “Are you really ok with living here your whole life?” and “You should be speaking to Ryohei in English more so that he can learn it.” It’s so frustrating… even if I try to explain it’s like they can’t comprehend why I’m doing things the way that I am. It seems like every one I know is headed on to their next stage of life and I’m just stuck. I don’t want to be in Kobe for the next year and a half… I really want to move on as well. But that doesn’t depend on me anymore. I have to stay here because of my work because at this point I won’t be able to find a better deal that will will give me translating/interpreting experience as well as a decent salary and vacation package. I think about moving all the time, I think about how much I want to start a family and spend time outdoors and being active instead of gaining weigh by sitting on my patoot all day in an office. I’m greatful that I came to Kobe because this was how I found Ryohei but it is not where I want to spend the rest of my life.

My life isn’t all bad of course, besides feeling stuck and lonely I do have one happy thing, being with Ryohei is great. I am so happy that of all the people in the world that we ended up together. I’m feeling so blue lately but just being with him makes me feel complete. Maybe he’s the reason I feel like I can stay here, I wouldn’t ever want to give him up.

But I’m bored and there isn’t going to be a change coming for a while. Watching as everyone else takes off from the sidelines doesn’t feel so great. I’m trying to meet people who are in the same position as me, people who weren’t born here but have decided to stay here and raise their families here… maybe that’s why I feel an affinity with fellow bloggers Lulu and Nay who like me within the next year or 2 will be married and starting their new lives in Japan. Actually I enjoy reading all my favorite blogs (see right) they are all women with a lot of courage and spunk and reading their various stories encourages me when I sit at work with nothing to do except cross the days off my calendar as I wait for July 2009.

Note: I wrote this post while at work today feeling sad and gloomy, now that I’ve had some time to come home and breathe in the fresh air I feel a lot better. I also saw Ryohei after work and we talked a little bit about how I’m feeling. Anyways its the weekend! Time to pass out for about 48 hours!


9 Responses to "Not today thanks…"

Oh big virtual hugs!!! I totally understand what you mean….so far none of my close friends have left Japan exactly…In fact since I am going home soon for a year I am leaving them and I feel bad about that!

I think once you are settled in one place (ie nigata) that you will feel more settled and making friends that will stick around more will happen a bit more easily…Plus Nigata isn`t far from Tokyo (and Shizuoka) ….and thank god for the internet!

It is hard for people to understand about kokusai kekkon…and kokusai relationships unless they are in one. The thing that is so difficult to explain that is in this kind of relationship sacrafices are made all the time. But we make them because we love our partners….Sometimes I get crazy and yell and say that living here is stupid but I know that we are both happier here than we would be full time in Australia. I like my life here and I am prepared to make a go of it! Just like you are!!!!

As for your job, I would kill for a job where I got to use Japanese more and translating experiece! I envy you!

ps: I feel the same about you and Nay, because we our lives mirror each others in many ways.

pps: have a super duper weekend!

*HUGZ* I hope you are feeling a little bit better! Keep your chin up. As Naoki always says to me, if you always happy, then you lose sight of the true meaning of “happy”. It is only when you feel sad, that you can really experience happiness. Does that make sense at all?? lol

Sometimes I feel like that when I am in Japan as well… I wonder what I am doing, and if I am doing the right thing. I miss Australia all the time I am in Japan. It’s not that I don’t like Japan, because I do… but nothing bets the comfortable feeling of “home” does it? But like you, being with Naoki is the best thing of my life, and I never ever want to live a life without him. So for now, and maybe for a long time, I am going to be in Japan. As Lulu said, being in a kokusai relationship is not easy… But remember you always have us for support!! And hopefully we will one day be able to meet in person, and form a friendship that will last a lifetime!

I am glad that I have “met” both you and Lulu. It helps knowing that someone is feeling and experiences the same thing I do, roughly the same time!!

oh my spelling sucks!! I was meant to say “beats” not bets. Sorry!!

First, congrats on you marriage! I understand what you mean about everything being on a new level. 🙂

I also get what you’re saying about feeling like you’re on the sidelines…unfortunately, this will continue to happen when you talk to friends back in your home country even years from now. It’s good to meet other women who are in your same situation because right now, you’re the one who’s different than your friends who are leaving and they have very little understanding about how your life has changed. You might want to check out your local international exchange org, or groups like AFWJ (www.afwj.org) to meet up with women who are in the same situation. I’m far away, but I completely understand! 🙂


I found your blog through Christelles!

I am a former JET who came for a year, met my future hub the first week I was here (though didn’t start dating till over a year later) and got stuck. Like you, I stayed the third year mainly for the job, wedding plans and final decision about whether this was the man and the life for me or not. The job by that point sucked mightily!

I came to Japan in 1991, got married in 1994 and I am still here. And still happily married! That is NOT to say that we don’t fight, nor that we have not gone through sometimes lengthy miserable periods, but we have always done it together, with the expectation that we would work things out, and so far we have. I have never regretted my decision to stay here and marry him.

We do have very different lives from the single JET types, the expats and the Japanese women around us. Are you a member of a foreign wives/SO’s group like AFWJ (The Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese) or in MIJ (Married in Japan – a yahoo group)? AFWJ in particular for me has been a lifesaver. Where a foreign friend would urge you to divorce the guy, and a Japanese friend would advise you to suck it up and gaman, the women in these groups know exactly where we are coming from and can empathise.

Good luck! You may not have an easy life ahead of you (but who says you’d have an easy life if you went home anyway??) but it will be rich, exciting, stimulating…..

Sorry for the lateness on my reply comments!! It’s been a busy weekend!!

Lulu – Thanks, its nice to see that sometimes you feel the same way as well. I agree that a lot of times Ryohei and I get catagorized in a
“western relationship” by some of our friends. Him having been raised in a different culture, thats obviously not going to be a very good scale to base our relationship on.

I enjoy my job too, I think I’m just getting tired of the daily grind. I’ve always moved from school to job and never had much of a vacation. Part of me just wants to be on my own schedule for a little bit! Anyways thanks so much for all your comments and encouragement, I really appreciate it!

Nay – Thank you so much! I like the Naoki quote, actually it makes a lot of sense to me! He sounds like a wise guy! I think you guys will be a really happy couple.

I think it is just the feeling of “home” and “familiarity” that I miss. Unlike a lot of people, I’m not very close to my family back home, so its not too much of an issue, but I just miss being able to “know” whats going on. In Japan some things I just don’t get, and I think that because I was born and raised in a very different culture
I probably never will.

Anyways like Lulu said Shizuoka and Tokyo aren’t too far! I’m sure we’ll be having yearly or twice annual family meetups in no time!! In the meantime I’m excited to hear about your wedding preperations!

Ms. Kuri- thank you!! hehe, it was kind of embarrasing to say that but even though we just handed over a piece of paper I guess I really feel like I commited to both Ryohei and staying here in my heart.. its hard to explain!! I’m glad you could understand.

Yah, as much as I like Japanese women, I haven’t met that many I can relate to on a true friends level, and the ones that I have usually have lived abroad for a couple years or are in a realtionship with a foreign man themselves. I’m actually in FWC and will probably join AFWJ this summer when I have a little more cash… unfortunately, the biggest difficulty just seems to be the age/experience difference. Still being 24 w/o kids and well, it seems a little hard to relate. I actually went to a Kansai AFWJ with my friend and we were the youngest there by about 5 years… as much as I enjoyed all of the advice, it was hard to make the kind of connection that you make as a friend.. I think that as I get older or maybe once I have a baby it will be easier to make those kind of connections. but, I think that the group support is really good and will definetly appreciate it.

Vicky –
Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!! Wow, you met your husband quite early on!! I was about 3 months into my first year before I met him!

Seems like our situations were quite similar. And I guess that you would completely understand about having a different life from the single jets, I’m sure it was even more difficult when you first came on Jet.

I am a member of MIJ, not yet of AFWJ although I’d like to join, as I said to Kuri I enjoy the advice, but sometimes I feel like the age gap is too big, espicially being in my mid twenties when a majority of the members seem to be about 10 years or older than me, many with children. What was it like when you had joined?

At this point, more than advice I’m seeking friendship, I still feel very young, and just don’t know how to connect with those with more experience than me, I guess I just feel I wouldn’t bring much to the realtionship.

I have a feeling in the future when I am settled down and have a family I will probably be heavily involved in AFWJ… Anyways thank you very much for your comment!! The paricular example you gave really does highlight the spectrum of opinions you get from those who aren’t living the same situation.

I hope you contiune to visit my blog!! I’d be interested in hearing more of your stories and experiences!

Hello! It may seem random, my commenting on this post, but I’m also a member of FWC and have sort of lurked for awhile on a lot of expat wife blogs as a sort of mental preparation for what I may be in for. I met my boyfriend in 2005 when I was studying abroad in Osaka and he then transferred to my university here in New York the following fall (not to follow me, but he was so sure he was sick of Japan – well, he missed the food, anyhow!). We’ve been living together since fall of 2006 and coming this fall it will have been three years.

He will graduate next spring, and we’ve gone back and forth in discussing where we’d like to live. I don’t know quite yet that I want to spend my whole life in Japan, but, if I ever have children (veeeeeerry far down the line) I think I would like them to live in Japan for awhile to be aware of their culture. Naofy doesn’t seem to think this is important, but I think it’s critical. I’m very close to my family, though, too, so that has a large part in it…

Wow, pardon me for rambling! I sort of meant to say “you’re not alone”, but not in a billion words. 🙂

Hey Earenwe
Thanks for commenting on my blog!! I never get tired of people “de-lurking” so I’m really appreciative of your comment!

So you are also a FWC member? Haha.. I read a lot, but still feel so “inexprienced” when it comes to a lot of the things most of the members talk about.

I agree that finding where you want to go in the future is important! To be honest having a guy who is willing to stay with you in America seems so nice, but then again, I would agree that giving your future children a chance to experience their fathers culture, whether it be living here a few years or coming for summer vacations.

Anyways I really appreciate the comment!! I hope to hear from you more! Let me know whats going on with your situation!

By the way, where did you study abroad in Osaka? My husband went to school at Kansai Daigaku.

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